UV printing is a new form of technology that has revolutionised the world of printing. Not only does it offer improved quality, but it can also provide printing for a wider range of materials and shapes all with the sharpest quality in min. It is now beginning to take the world of printing by storm as many more individuals and businesses consider whether UV printing could be beneficial for them and their work.
The UV printing industry is experiencing massive growth because of the many benefits that it brings. The use of print is just as important as it ever was, but there is now a greater demand for high-quality and speedy delivery. Many people are now finding that UV printing can give them an edge to make them competitive in creating a wide range of products that need to uphold the highest design standards. In this article, we take a look at what UV printing really is and what its benefits are.
What is UV printing?
UV printing is a form of digital printing that makes use of special UV inks which have been designed to dry under ultraviolet light rather than the heat that is used in the traditional process. This ensures that it hardens almost instantly and is based on the technology that was originally used to develop gel nail polish.
This curing process occurs when the photoinitiators within the ink absorb the UV light and undergoes a chemical reaction to cause the ink to harden immediately. This process means there is no ‘ink set off’, and so sealing coats and power sprays are not required.
The UV print heads deliver ultra-precise ink placement using perfectly spherical dots of different sizes to ensure the greatest possible control over the quality of the printing as well as the colour density and finish. The UV light itself follows close behind the printing heads to ensure that all of the ink is cured instantly.
One of the biggest advantages that UV printing offers is speed. The fact that the ink can dry under a UV light in a matter of seconds means that the whole printing process can become vastly quicker, whether you are producing a single item or vast numbers. The increased speed of the drying process means that you can not only cut down turnaround times by around 40% but costs can also be reduced.
In the time it takes for a solvent-based ink to dry, the wet dots that have been created get the chance to spread out. With the instant effects of UV curing, this does not have the time to happen and so UV printing can produce much higher quality results. This allows you to print fine detail accurately and keep lines clean. As the ink has also not been given a chance to soak into the material that it is being printed on, UV printing can also offer a much more vibrant colour, ensuring results are always accurate and photorealistic.
UV printing machines can also apply ink selectively, allowing you to build up embossed objects and letters as well as custom textures. This ensures that every item that is printed has the look and feel of something very expensive, even if it cost you less to create it than it would have done using traditional, less accurate methods.
The nature of UV printing means that there is almost no limit on the type of materials that it can work on. It is capable of printing on traditional mediums such as paper and fabric as well as non-porous materials such as glass, metal, and plastic.
As there is much less heat involved in the process, UV printers are also well suited to materials that are sensitive to heat, such as thin slides, and self-adhesive sheets of stretched PVC. The UV inks are flexible which allows them to print curved lines or onto elastic materials.
It is also able to print on cylindrical surfaces, making it the perfect choice for bottles and mugs. As the ink dries instantly, it also means that the item can be used or packaged immediately.
Anyone who has worked in printing knows that distinct smell of solvents in the air which have been released by the ink. As UV inks do not contain these solvents, they create a much more pleasant atmosphere to work in thanks to the cleaner, healthier air in the workspace.
It has been found that on average, a UV printer can use around 20% less ink than a traditional printer as many traditional inks would shrink during the drying process. This means that UV printing is not only a great cost-saver but is also much better for the environment.
UV inks contain much fewer volatile organic compounds than traditional inks, meaning that you can impact what is put out into the environment whilst you are printing. The reduced drying times also mean that less power is used, which is another way to ensure that your processes are more environmentally friendly.
As a business, it is now more important than ever to be environmentally conscious, and this can be another small step in making your business greener and more sustainable.
As the LEDS in the printing lamps can last for as much as 10,000 hours, they tend to have a long lifespan. They ensure a consistent output at all times and keep added costs and downtime to a minimum.
UV printing is now proving to be incredibly versatile, which is why it is being brought into an increasing number of industries. Its ability to improve productivity whilst keeping costs down and quality high is a combination that is difficult to resist.
As technology has developed, it has meant that more materials can be used, opening the method up to a greater number of industries. With great results and seemingly endless results, it is no surprise that the popularity of UV printing is set to rise even further.