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What is UV Printing?


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One of the most popular technological advancements in the digital printing world is ultraviolet printing, also known as UV. Ultraviolet printing refers to the process of drying or curing ink using ultra-violet lights.

This type of printing is more popular than the traditional one due to its sustainability. When using the conventional method of printing, you have to wait for the ink on the paper to dry before you can fold, bend, or do whatever you want with it. You are not required to do the same with UV printing because the ink dries up immediately it comes into contact with the ultra-violet lights. This shorter process saves you time and makes your work easier.

During UV printing, low levels of heat and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted. Therefore, the process is environment-friendly. Also, it allows you to use materials such as aluminum, wood, acrylic, or glass on a flatbed printer, which is not possible with the traditional form of printing.

The inks used for this type of printing are resistant to weather elements. This resistance helps the printed material to last longer. Thus, you end up with a product that doesn’t fade quickly.

Initially, ultraviolet lights were used in the beauty industry to make gel nail polish dry faster when doing manicures. With time, their use spread to commercial and industrial markets.

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How does UV Printing work?

The difference between UV printing and conventional printing is the type of inks used and the process of drying/curing the ink.

Traditional printing involves using solvent inks. During the printing process, this ink evaporates into the atmosphere and thus is not suitable for the environment. However, Ultraviolet printing uses ink that is free from solvents. Therefore, there are no chemicals released into the air with this method.

A UV LED printer is usually used for ultraviolet printing. What happens is the ink is applied to the material being printed. The other name for the material is a substrate. The ink is then exposed to UV lights that dry or cure the ink immediately. This process is fast, and it doesn’t allow the ink to smear on the substrate. Therefore, the final result is text print and images that are clearer than those printed through the traditional method.

UV Printing Software

Let’s say you have realized the importance of ultraviolet printing and you want to get started on it. What’s next? You need UV printing software.

RIP Software

RIP stands for Raster Image Processor. You need RIP to carry out ultraviolet printing because it gives you the best image quality. This software can skip the many programs on your computer and directly give instructions to the printer.

What RIP does is it convert the vector images on your computer to high-resolution ones referred to as bitmap. Bitmap, in this case, is a matrix of dots that a printer can interpret and thus print. Therefore, RIP connects your computer to the printer.

RIP also can convert files that are in various formats such as JPEG, Illustrator, PDF, InDesign, or Photoshop into printable matrices. Thus, the Raster Image Processor enables you to correct colors.

Note, when using RIP, you can match the color you want to be printed with the one on your screen. If you are working with multiple networked printers, you can use RIP to send out a print job to all of those printers at the same time.

There are steps that a page on your computer goes through before it is printed. The RIP software you use first translates what’s on your screen to become an internal representation. The software does this page by page. After that, it changes the description into a bitmap.

Most of RIP software effect step one and two consecutively. After that, the software changes the bitmap to become a halftone image that resembles dots. The dot pattern is then sent to the printer, and the printer interprets the messages before printing it.

It is important to note that the Raster Image Processor you use will determine the quality of the final printed product. It can do this because it controls the pattern, resolution, and color of anything you print. Therefore, it’s advisable to get a good RIP software.

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Examples of UV Printing

Now that you know what ultraviolet printing is and how it works, it’s time to look at some examples.  

  1. Apparel

It’s hard to talk about printing without mentioning apparel. There are so many garments that are printed from T-shirts to caps to overalls and sportswear.

The inks used for ultraviolet printing react to UV light. Thus, when exposed to it, the inks become dry. By the time you get apparel out of the printer, the ink has already dried and set. You don’t need to use a drier or heat press machine to set the ink the way you would do with conventional printing.

If you have a custom apparel business or want to customize clothing, UV printing will come in handy.

  1. Interior Design

You may be surprised to learn that UV printing is a significant part of the interior design world. Interior design is a fast-evolving sector which always requires superior products. Thus, Ultraviolet printing helps businesses to achieve this.

UV printing enables you to print on wood from small objects to large ones like doors. Therefore, you can use printed wood to design your home or business. The size of the wood you are working with will determine the type of printer you’ll use. The good news is that you can print your wood with UV lights regardless of the kind of printer used. If you like the rustic or country vibe, then this is what you need.

Did you know that you can print on glass? Well, this is possible with ultraviolet printing. Also, the printed glass is resistant to both water and scratches. Printed glass is excellent for decorating a room since it is aesthetically pleasing.

If you want to decorate your office or home floors and walls with ceramic tiles, or you have clients who are interested in that, UV printing is the way to go. This trend is catching on fast as people prefer to express their style through ceramic tiles. With ultraviolet printing, you can have your preferred design printed directly onto the ceramic tiles.

Since UV printing applies to garments, it is used to print upholstery, which is an integral part of interior décor.

  1. Print and Copy Shop

Today’s print and copy shop go beyond printing, photocopying, faxing, and scanning documents. Print and copy businesses have also incorporated digital printing.

Therefore, if you are running such a shop, you can benefit from ultraviolet printing. The fact that you do printing means you can incorporate ultraviolet printing because you’ll need to print letterheads, brochures, business documents such as reports, and also business cards.

Using UV printing will set you apart from the other print and copy shops because it will enable you to deliver superior quality products to your clients.

  1. Commercial Printing

Businesses that deal in high-quality business documents and professional advertising materials love ultraviolet printing.

UV printing’s popularity among businesses comes from the fact that it produces superior quality products. Images are sharper, and they help to create a perfect first impression.

You can use UV to print catalogs, newsletters, brochures, posters, and prospectuses, among others. High-end businesses that deal in commercial printing greatly benefit from ultraviolet printing because it is versatile. Its versatility means that you can use the method for a wide range of materials, more than any other type of printing can allow.

  1. Promotional Goods Production

Businesses need promotional materials to help increase their customer base. There’s no way around it. Research shows that 8 out of 10 Americans have promotional items. Also, 85% of individuals with promotional products engage in business with the company that gave them the products.

Promotional items aim to make potential customers interested in doing business with a particular firm or company. That is why businesses include their logo and details they would like to convey to their target audience. The need to capture attention calls for printing.

With ultraviolet printing, you can have a company’s information on water bottles, pens, badges, bags, CDs, umbrellas, golf balls, phone cases, and ties, among others. The options are limitless because UV printing can be done on a wide range of materials such as wood, fabric, acrylic, glass, canvas, aluminum, and so on.

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Learn How to UV Print

Now that you have learned all you need to about ultraviolet printing, it’s time to look at how you can apply it. These are the steps you can take to carry out UV printing.

  • Have a design

You need to have something to print. If you have design skills and you can come up with something then well and good. If not, you can hire a designer to create a design or go online and look for available designs. If you are doing this for a client, they may have their design which you can use.

  • Pre-treatment process

Ultraviolet printing ensures that your product comes out of the machine as a finished product. However, there are things you need to do before the printing process, and one of them is pre-treatment of the substrate.

Pre-treatment makes it easier for the material to absorb the ink during printing. Therefore, it leads to a better-quality product and makes the product resistant to water and tear and wear.

The process requires spraying pre-treatment liquid on a substrate’s surface. There are different types of pre-treatment liquid, and they can be used on different materials. It is also important to note that not all substrates need to go through pre-treatment before printing. The materials that require this process include glass, acrylic and metal. The pre-treatment liquid takes about 3 minutes to dry up.

  • Processing image using Raster Image Processor (RIP)

You can’t send an image file directly to the printer without before converting it. That’s why you need (RIP) to transform the file into a raster image. To do this, open the RIP software then select the file you want to print and open it.

Once the image is opened, you can edit it to fit the specifications you want. The size and position should depend on the material to be printed. For example, if you put an exceedingly larger size than the substrate, then you will end up with a half-printed product.

Edit the colors too. For single color images, go to the area indicated black under color settings and change it to white.

  • Print

It is now time to print. Still, on settings, choose print and select the resolution you want. Under modes of printing, select UV mode. Choose user definition and the illumination level (23% is excellent).  Under ink density, increase it to around 10 – 20%.

You can now make the file ready to accommodate clear print layer. Choose panel settings under printer settings and then choose thickness vigor print. You have now prepared your file for printing. Send the job to the printer, load the printer with the material and wait for incredible results.

The world of ultraviolet printing is wide, mostly because it accommodates printing on almost every kind of material. Also, the benefits associated with it, such as being environment-friendly and producing superior quality materials have made a favorite among businesses and clients.

This guide helps to simplify the world of UV printing and help you determine whether you would benefit from it. It may be time to embrace this technology.

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