What is UV Printing
UV printing makes use of ultraviolet (UV) light to print on any material, like paper, aluminum, foam, or acrylic.
UV printing works by drying the ink while it’s printing it – almost as soon as it hits the material. This opens up a lot of printing options – including printing on posters, fabrics, wood, or even glass.
With a UV printer, you can print clear, high-quality images on any material. The images last for a long time because the UV ink is very resilient to any agents of corrosion. It makes UV printing perfect for printing banners, billboards, displays, flyers, and more.
In this article, you’ll learn:
UV Printing vs Conventional Printing
Let’s simplify how UV printing differs from conventional printing.
Conventional printing is your regular type of printing – using solvent inks and great for printing daily use documents (on ordinary paper). However, the solvent inks often evaporate and release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals can be unsafe for the environment.
In conventional printers, spray powders are used to help dry the ink. The final colors of the printed material may seem diluted or faded since some of the ink ends up getting absorbed in the printing medium.
Moreover, conventional printing can’t be used for materials like plastic, glass, metal, foil, or acrylic. The printing process is only limited to paper and card mediums.
Meanwhile, in UV printing, the inks dry and cure through a photomechanical system. During the printing process, the inks are exposed to ultraviolet lights, which instantly turns them from a liquid to a solid. There’s also very little evaporation of solvents, and almost no ink is absorbed into the paper stock.
As a result, you can use UV printers to print on any material you want.
Moreover, because the inks dry almost immediately and release no VOCs, UV printing is cleaner for the environment. It leaves nearly zero carbon footprint.
Types of UV Printing
There usually are three types of UV printing that you can choose from. Although UV printers use the same mechanism to work, the different types of printers can be utilized for other purposes.
Before we delve into the specifics, let’s clarify what a “flatbed” printer means.
Flatbed Screen Printer
Flatbed digital printers are called what they are because they come equipped with a flat surface on which a material can be placed to print on.
They use UV curable inks that are made of acrylic monomers and expose them to strong UV-light to cure or polymerize them. This process allows UV flatbed printers to print on a wide variety of surfaces.
Moreover, the adjustable printing bed allows you to print on materials regardless of their thickness. From a sheet of paper to a few inches, the density of the material doesn’t matter.
DTG (Direct-to-Garment) Printer
The primary difference between flatbed screen printing and DTG printing is that while the former is a more traditional technique that involves pushing the ink onto the fabric through a stencil, DTG printing is a newer method that uses a printer to apply the ink directly to fabric.
The DTG printing method has gained a lot of popularity in recent years thanks to technological improvements in DTG printers. DTG printing enables you to produce clear and vivid results, with attention to detail. It works wonders for products like graphic T-shirts.
The process uses specialized aqueous ink jet technology to print on garments. Moreover, these printers usually have a flat platform designed to hold the garment in a fixed position. The inks are then jetted or sprayed onto the material by the print head.
That aside, DTG printers are a great choice for printing images that are sharper and have higher resolution. Being a digital process, it ends up performing a lot better than conventional printing methods.
Roll-to-roll printing is also known as direct-to-fabric printing. Similar to DTG printers, roll-to-roll printers are typically used in the textile industry. The printing process involves printing directly onto a roll of fabric instead of on garments.
A roll-to-roll printer uses a special kind of ink to print directly onto the roll of fabric. The fabric soaks up the ink as it becomes part of the final product. And this avoids any kind of distortion to the print, such as fading of color, peeling of ink, or cracking.
Hence, this printing method allows for many textile applications, including home textile and activewear.
How Do UV Printers Work?
UV curing was only recently adopted by the printing industry to print on materials like glass or fabric (something that conventional printers can’t do).
The process is mostly the same as that of regular printers. However, the difference is in the inks used, the mechanism, and the drying process.
The ink used by UV printers consists of a mixture of liquid monomers, oligomers, and photoinitiators.
During the curing process, the printer uses high-intensity (UV) light on the printing material. The material is almost immediately exposed to the UV light as it passes through the flatbed printer and receives wet ink. The light and photoinitiator chemically react, which instantly dries the ink.
Because the UV light immediately dries the ink, it doesn’t let it spread or seep. The results are images or text prints of striking sharpness, brightness, and detail.
What Can UV Printer Do?
A UV printer can work with a range of materials, including paper and non-paper substrates. It works particularly well with synthetic paper, which is a popular substrate for maps, menus, and other moisture-resistant applications.
You can print on any material with a UV printer, including wood, glass, fabric, aluminum, acrylic, and canvas. Hence, you can use it for billboards, clothing, digital art, signs, flyers, and about anything you can think of.
As a result, UV printers have countless commercial applications and can be used for various businesses like retail, event planning, etc.
Besides, UV-cured ink is usually safe from scratches, scuffs, or ink transfer – such as during handling and transportation. It even resists fading.
How to Use UV Flatbed Printer
The printing colors are sharper and more vibrant. Like we mentioned before, the ink dries so rapidly that it doesn’t have a chance to spread or absorb into the substrate. As a result, the printed images are vivid and crisp.
The UV printing process is also cleaner for the environment. Because UV-cured inks are not solvent-based, there are no harmful substances to evaporate into the surrounding air.
How to Make Money with A UV Printer?
There are several ways that you can make money with a UV printer.
In the market, there are many different kinds of demands for UV printers. We have listed some of the most popular ones down below.
- Retail Businesses
One of the most common demands of UV printing is that of medium to large scale retail businesses. UV printers can be used to create new labels, logos, designs, and more. So, an excellent way to make money from a UV printer is to print product labels, brand logos, or store ads for people.
- Textile Industry
Another way to make money from UV printers is in the textile industry. Since UV printing can be used on fabrics, you can utilize this to print graphic T-shirts or other forms of designs.
- Digital Art Pieces
UV printing can be used to print digital art pieces for independent artists or original art to sell, promote, or brand.
- Billboards & Posters
You can use your UV printer to print billboard signs, flyers, or posters for people. An all-time demand, it’s likely to consistently profit you because there’s always a market for it.
Tips for Choosing A UV Flatbed Printer
If you’re choosing a UV flatbed printer for the first time, it can be hard knowing how to choose the right one. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.
For starters, you should look at the printer manufacturer or technology service providers to ensure that they are reliable. This means choosing a company that has a well-reputed name.
After this, you should consider why you want to buy a UV flatbed printer. Essentially, this means listing down your personal or business needs. Once you clarify this, you’ll be able to make a better choice. Most UV printers can print on all types of materials, but consider the size of the printer. Depending on what you want to print, the width of the printing head matters.
Next, there are a few primary areas that are important to consider.
The first one is the primer in a UV printer. The purpose of the primer is to increase the adhesive of the ink and the printed image. Hence, the printer you choose must use a good primer.
Secondly, you should also consider the quality of the inks before UV printing. The ink should be smooth so that it doesn’t block the printing head while printing. Otherwise, the printing head may get stuck, and you may have to replace it.
Apart from that, you may also consider the color reduction of the ink. To do this, you can compare the printed output with the image on the screen. If they are very close in color detail, it means the color reduction is better.
UV printing is still a relatively new printing technology. It used to be very expensive, but the cost is decreasing with time. As a result, it has become more accessible than ever before. UV printers can print on almost any type of material (as long as you can fit it into the printing press). From glass and wood to fabric or aluminum, there are no limitations!
Moreover, UV printing is a cleaner choice for the environment (as compared to conventional printing) as it doesn’t release any harmful solvents into the air. So, not only is it highly efficient but also environment-friendly. We can confidently say that UV printers are the future of the printing industry.