It appears that folks inside the personalization business will almost always be looking for the “next BIG thing” inside our industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation crafted a huge influence on the industry. So what’s next? What magical innovation can come along that, once more, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Is it UV printers? The reality is, it really could possibly be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the market, then lasers did the same, after which 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 to the “next BIG” level. I recall getting pretty excited about the AcryliPrint technique of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It can be still a great process however it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there seemed to be the system that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a pretty nice product but it really never really took off. Finally, there seemed to be the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using coffee printer. I am just still holding out just for this anyone to take off, but thus far, just a few passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, appear to be dealing with a life of its very own. For quite some time now, they have all but dominated the industry events with some really big names having a marked interest in showing their printers, even though they knew these were out of the cost 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 appears to be progressively 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 the fact that their potential customers are searching for something totally new. The ability to add color is an ideal fit to augment whatever they are offering. Even the ability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when producing an award is really gaining interest. As an example, a laser engraved and a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, in the same way importantly, profit margin for your dealer. With the addition of UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from their competition.”
So what is really a UV printer? Well, let’s get started with the UV part, like in ultraviolet light. UV light is an invisible (on the eye) method of light located in many light sources, such as the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, particularly the opportunity to cure many photosensitive materials. In the case of UV printing, a UV source of light can be used to stop (harden and solidify) the inks laid down from the printer.
UV inkjet printing is different from conventional solvent inkjet printing. As an alternative to having solvents from the ink that evaporate in to the air and absorb in to the substrate, UV inks are subjected to UV lights which can be built into the printer which quickly cure the ink to transform it from a liquid to some solid. This technology has several positive aspects, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the opportunity to print on a wide variety of substrates, high print speeds and a wide range of printing applications ranging from outdoor signage to golf balls.
Why then should we be so excited about this developing technology? Truth is, a year or so ago, very few people within our industry were very excited about this at all. With prices from the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t a lot of people who could think about a UV printer as an option from the beginning. But as time has gone by, the prices have dropped and more competition has come in to the market, making both a lot wider number of printers and print available choices and also price points-even to the stage that $20,000 can now buy plenty of printer.
Today, the issue isn’t a lot price around it really is confusion and misinformation in regards to what a UV printer can and cannot do, and exactly how much market there exists to aid one.
For example, I occasionally print a plaque using my small uv printer. The price is almost negligible and also the markup could be substantial, but exactly how many plaques are suitable for this technology? Remember, sublimation can also be used to produce full-color plaques. The same holds true with a hundred other products including everything from metal plates to plastic toys. To put it briefly, as with most personalization processes, you will find things that work best finished with a UV printer and items that work best done with other methods. UV printing isn’t an alternative for other processes, but an alternative choice to do most jobs and the only method to conduct a few.
I had a task recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea the way i might have performed this with every other process. UV printing was perfect because I could possibly print a great white image to make an opaque mask on the substrate and then print the entire-color logo on the top of it. That’s the sort of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers provide an attachment for printing cylindrical items including water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is accessible from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds is definitely a challenge for most processes together with some, including sublimation, it’s just about impossible. UV printing is likewise more forgiving than other methods in terms of the particular substrates that this works together. Sublimation, for instance, nearly always needs a special polyester-coated substrate to work whatsoever. UV printing, alternatively, enables you to print on numerous types of substrates of colors, textures, shapes and sizes. But, the same as other processes, it doesn’t work on everything. In fact, there are numerous substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky stick to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can in fact spray an adhesion agent on the substrate throughout the printer nozzles while along with other printers, you should hand use it. Either way, there is absolutely no ensure the ink will bond until it can be tested.
Adhesion then, in my opinion, becomes the biggest symptom in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their particular inks and adhesion additives, and each is unique. What this means is it really is ultimately vital that you test both inks and also the printer to ensure they are going to focus on the substrates you need to print before you make any kind of decision or promises to customers.
In addition to having to learn about adhesion with t-shirt printer, also, it is critical that a potential buyer find out about the various properties in the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks that need considering but many try to provide a “one size fits all” recipe that may or may not meet your needs. At some point, I presumed that the ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and thus I printed employment for exterior use. Unfortunately, I used to be 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 might not necessarily doubt their word, it could make me cautious-once burned and all sorts of that.