Apparently people inside the personalization business are always trying to find the “next BIG thing” in our industry. Yrs ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation made a huge influence on the market. So what’s next? What magical innovation will come along that, once more, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Is it UV printers? The fact is, it really might be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the industry, then lasers did the exact same thing, then some major technological advancements in sublimation came along cementing this procedure as the “next BIG things.” As you go along, several other likely candidates cropped up, nonetheless they never quite caused it to be for the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty excited about the AcryliPrint procedure for inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It is still a fantastic process but it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there was clearly the device that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a pretty nice product but it never really took off. Finally, there was clearly the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte art printer. I am just still holding out with this anyone to take off, but up to now, only a few passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, is apparently undertaking a life of its very own. For several years now, they have all but dominated the industry events with some really big names taking a marked curiosity about showing their printers, even though they knew these people were out from the range of prices for 95 percent of people 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 that are displaying what appears to be an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of promoting for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we have been hearing from trophy and award dealers is that their clientele are searching for new things. The cabability to add color is an ideal fit to augment whatever they are now offering. Even the cabability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when designing an award is really gaining interest. For example, a laser engraved along with a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, in the same way importantly, profit margin to the dealer. With the help of UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from their competition.”
So what is actually a UV printer? Well, let’s start out with the UV part, like ultraviolet light. UV light is an invisible (towards the eye) method of light seen in many light sources, like the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, in particular the cabability to cure many photosensitive materials. In the case of UV printing, a UV light source is commonly used to cure (harden and solidify) the inks laid down with the printer.
UV inkjet printing is different from conventional solvent inkjet printing. As opposed to having solvents within the ink that evaporate to the air and absorb in to the substrate, UV inks are exposed to UV lights which are that are part of the printer which quickly cure the ink to transform it from the liquid to a solid. This technology has several advantages, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the opportunity to print on a wide variety of substrates, high print speeds and an array of printing applications ranging from outdoor signage to golf balls.
Why then should we be so enthusiastic about this developing technology? Facts are, a couple of years ago, few people within our industry were very pumped up about this in any way. With prices in the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many individuals who could consider a UV printer for an option in the first place. But as time has passed, the prices have dropped and a lot more competition comes in to the market, making both a far wider variety of printers and print possibilities in addition to price points-even to the point that $20,000 are able to buy plenty of printer.
Today, the trouble isn’t a great deal price up to it is confusion and misinformation in regards to what a UV printer can and cannot do, and exactly how much market there exists to support one.
For instance, I occasionally print a plaque using my small uv printer. The price is practically negligible along with the markup can be substantial, but how many plaques are ideal for this technology? Remember, sublimation may also be used to make full-color plaques. The same holds true using a hundred other products including everything from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, as with most personalization processes, there are actually stuff that are best carried out with a UV printer and things that would be best done with other methods. UV printing isn’t an alternative for other processes, but an alternative to do most jobs and the best way to perform a few.
I needed a task recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I do not know the way i might have done this with almost every other process. UV printing was perfect because I was able to print an excellent white image to generate an opaque mask about the substrate then print the complete-color logo on the top of it. That’s the type of job UV printers work great at.
Many manufacturers offer an attachment for printing cylindrical items including water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is accessible from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for the majority of processes and with some, like sublimation, it’s nearly impossible. UV printing is also more forgiving than other methods in relation to the kind of substrates that it works together. Sublimation, for instance, nearly always needs a special polyester-coated substrate to be effective at all. UV printing, however, may be used to print on numerous substrates of colors, textures, sizes and shapes. But, much like other processes, it doesn’t work towards everything. In fact, there are many substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky stick to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers may actually spray an adhesion agent around the substrate throughout the printer nozzles while along with other printers, you have to hand use it. In any case, there is not any ensure that the ink will bond until it is tested.
Adhesion then, in my opinion, becomes the biggest problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their own personal inks and adhesion additives, and each and every differs. This simply means it can be ultimately vital that you test the inks and the printer to make sure they will work with the substrates you need to print before you make any sort of buying decision or offers to customers.
As well as having to discover adhesion with garment printer, additionally it is essential that a prospective buyer read about the various properties of your 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 do the job. At some point, I presumed that the ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and thus I printed work for exterior use. Unfortunately, I found myself wrong as well as the signs faded into nothingness within months. Lesson learned? Well, some printer manufacturers claim their inks are UV safe and although I would personally most certainly not doubt their word, it could make me cautious-once burned and all sorts of that.