It appears that people in the personalization business are usually seeking the “next BIG thing” inside our industry. In the past, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation made a huge influence on the market. So what’s next? What magical innovation can come along that, once again, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Could it be UV printers? The fact is, it simply might be, and here’s why.
Many years ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the marketplace, then lasers did the same thing, and then some major technological advancements in sublimation came along cementing this procedure as the “next BIG things.” In the process, a number of other likely candidates cropped up, nonetheless they never quite managed to get for the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty enthusiastic about the AcryliPrint procedure for inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It is actually still an incredible process however it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there was the machine that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a pretty nice product nevertheless it never really took off. Finally, there seemed to be the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte art printer. I am just still holding out just for this anyone to pull off, but so far, just one or two passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, appears to be dealing with a life of its very own. For quite some time now, it offers all but dominated the industry events with some really big names taking a marked interest in showing their printers, even though they knew these folks were out of your price range for 95 percent of individuals walking the floor. I see these printers exhibited at big shows and small: Sign shows, personalization shows, awards shows and print shows are common hosting several manufacturers of UV printers which are displaying what is apparently a lot more models.
Steve Gluskin, director of marketing for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message our company is hearing from trophy and award dealers is the fact their customers are searching for new things. The cabability to add color is a perfect fit to enhance whatever they are presently offering. Even the capability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when producing an award is absolutely gaining interest. For instance, a laser engraved and a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, just as importantly, profit margin to the dealer. With the addition of UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from their competition.”
So what exactly is really a UV printer? Well, let’s start with the UV part, like in ultraviolet light. UV light is surely an invisible (for the eye) form of light found in many light sources, for example the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, specifically the ability to cure many photosensitive materials. In the matter of UV printing, a UV light source can be used for stopping (harden and solidify) the inks laid down through the printer.
UV inkjet printing is different from conventional solvent inkjet printing. As opposed to having solvents from the ink that evaporate to the air and absorb into the substrate, UV inks are subjected to UV lights which can be built into the printer which quickly cure the ink to make it from your liquid to some solid. This technologies have several positive aspects, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the capability to print on numerous types of substrates, high print speeds and a wide range of printing applications ranging from outdoor signage to golf balls.
So just why should we be so pumped up about this developing technology? Facts are, a year or so ago, very few people within our industry were very enthusiastic about this by any means. With price tags from the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many individuals who could seriously consider a UV printer being an option to start with. But as time has gone by, the costs have dropped and much more competition came to the market, making both a far wider variety of printers and print available options and also price points-even to the level that $20,000 are now able to buy plenty of printer.
Today, the trouble isn’t a great deal price just as much as it is confusion and misinformation as to what a UV printer can and cannot do, and how much market there is certainly to assist one.
As an illustration, I occasionally print a plaque using my a4 uv printer. The price is nearly negligible as well as the markup could be substantial, but just how many plaques are appropriate for this technology? Remember, sublimation could also be used to make full-color plaques. This is also true having a hundred other products including anything from metal plates to plastic toys. Simply speaking, much like most personalization processes, you can find stuff that work best finished with a UV printer and items that are the best carried out with other methods. UV printing isn’t a replacement for other processes, but an alternative to do most jobs and the best way to conduct a few.
I needed a task recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea the way i may have done this with some other process. UV printing was perfect because I could possibly print a good white image to make an opaque mask on the substrate after which print the total-color logo in addition to it. That’s the sort of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers provide an attachment for printing cylindrical items such as water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment can be obtained from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for many processes with some, such as sublimation, it’s nearly impossible. UV printing can also be more forgiving than other methods in relation to the type of substrates which it works with. Sublimation, for example, nearly always needs a special polyester-coated substrate to be effective at all. UV printing, however, could be used to print on numerous substrates of colors, textures, shapes and sizes. But, much like other processes, it doesn’t work with everything. In fact, there are numerous substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky comply with without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can actually spray an adhesion agent around the substrate through the printer nozzles while with some other printers, you must hand put it on. In any case, there is no ensure that the ink will bond until it really is tested.
Adhesion then, for me, becomes the greatest symptom in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their own inks and adhesion additives, and every is unique. What this means is it is actually ultimately vital that you test both the inks and also the printer to make sure they may work on the substrates you need to print before making just about any buying decision or promises to customers.
Along with having to discover adhesion with t-shirt printer, it is also crucial that a prospective buyer discover the various properties from the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks to be considered but a majority of try to provide a “one size fits all” recipe that may or may not work for you. At one time, I presumed that the ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and consequently I printed employment for exterior use. Unfortunately, I found myself wrong and also the signs faded into nothingness within months. Lesson learned? Well, some printer manufacturers claim their inks are UV safe and although I would personally definitely not doubt their word, it could cause me to cautious-once burned and that.