It seems that folks in the personalization business will almost always be looking for the “next BIG thing” in our industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation made a huge impact on the marketplace. So what’s next? What magical innovation may come along that, once more, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Is it UV printers? Truth is, it merely could possibly be, and here’s why.
Many years ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the industry, then lasers did the same thing, then some major technological advancements in sublimation emerged cementing this technique as among the “next BIG things.” As you go along, a few other likely candidates cropped up, nonetheless they never quite made it for the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty pumped up about the AcryliPrint technique of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It is actually still a fantastic process but it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there was clearly the machine that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a pretty nice product however it never really took off. Finally, there seemed to be the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte art printer. I am still holding out for this anyone to explode, but so far, just one or two passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, seems to be dealing with a life of its own. For quite a while now, they have all but dominated the industry events with a few really big names taking a marked fascination with showing their printers, while they knew they were out of the budget range for 95 percent of those walking the floor. I see these printers exhibited at big shows and small: Sign shows, personalization shows, awards shows and print shows are hosting several manufacturers of UV printers which can be displaying what seems to be a lot more 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 clients are trying to find something totally new. The capability to add color is a perfect fit to enhance anything they are presently offering. Even the cabability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when creating an award is absolutely gaining interest. As an example, a laser engraved and a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, equally as importantly, profit margin for that dealer. With the help of UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves off their competition.”
So what exactly can be a UV printer? Well, let’s get started with the UV part, as with ultraviolet light. UV light is surely an invisible (for the eye) type of light found in many light sources, including the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, specifically the capability to cure many photosensitive materials. With regards to UV printing, a UV light source is used to cure (harden and solidify) the inks laid down through the printer.
UV inkjet printing differs from conventional solvent inkjet printing. As an alternative to having solvents inside the ink that evaporate into the air and absorb in the substrate, UV inks are open to UV lights that happen to be built in the printer which quickly cure the ink to change it from the liquid to a solid. This technology has several advantages, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the cabability to print on a wide variety of substrates, high print speeds and an array of printing applications which range from outdoor signage to golf balls.
Why should we be so excited about this developing technology? The reality is, a year or so ago, few individuals in our industry were very enthusiastic about this whatsoever. With costs within the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t lots of people who could think about a UV printer as an option in the first place. But as time has gone by, the values have dropped and more competition came to the market, making both a far wider selection of printers and print available options in addition to price points-even to the stage that $20,000 are now able to buy plenty of printer.
Today, the issue isn’t a whole lot price around it is actually confusion and misinformation about what a UV printer can and cannot do, and how much market there may be to support one.
As an illustration, I occasionally print a plaque using my uv printer. The cost is nearly negligible as well as the markup could be substantial, but exactly how many plaques are ideal for this technology? Remember, sublimation could also be used to produce full-color plaques. The same holds true by using a hundred other products including everything from metal plates to plastic toys. To put it briefly, as with most personalization processes, there are actually stuff that are best finished with a UV printer and things which are the best completed with other methods. UV printing isn’t an alternative for other processes, but an alternative to do most jobs and the only method to execute a few.
I needed employment recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea the way i could have done this with almost every other process. UV printing was perfect because I really could print a great white image to produce an opaque mask in the substrate and then print the entire-color logo along with it. That’s the type of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers provide an attachment for printing cylindrical items including water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is offered from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for many processes along with some, like sublimation, it’s nearly impossible. UV printing is likewise more forgiving than other methods when it comes to the particular substrates that this works with. Sublimation, for instance, nearly always demands a special polyester-coated substrate to be effective in any way. UV printing, on the flip side, enables you to print on numerous types of substrates of all colors, textures, shapes and forms. But, just like other processes, it doesn’t work towards everything. In fact, there are several substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky abide by without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can certainly spray an adhesion agent around the substrate with the printer nozzles while with many other printers, you must hand apply it. In any event, there is no ensure that the ink will bond until it is tested.
Adhesion then, i think, becomes the biggest problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their own personal inks and adhesion additives, with each is distinct. This simply means it really is ultimately crucial that you test the two inks and the printer to ensure they may work towards the substrates you need to print before you make any kind of buying decision or offers to customers.
Along with having to learn about adhesion with textile printer, additionally it is crucial that a prospective buyer learn about the various properties from the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks that need considering but the majority try to provide a “one size fits all” recipe that might or might not work for you. At once, I presumed that this ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and thus I printed employment for exterior use. Unfortunately, I found myself wrong along with the signs faded into nothingness within months. Lesson learned? Well, some printer manufacturers claim their inks are UV safe and although I would certainly not doubt their word, it might make me cautious-once burned and all of that.