UV Printing, otherwise know as Ultra Violet Printing is a printing technique that uses special UV curing ink that allows the ink to be printed onto a large range of materials or ‘substrates’. The printer will place the ink on the material and a specifically design UV light, acting as a catalyst, will follow behind, drying (or curing) the ink so that it drys hard instantly. This reaction causes something called polymerisation to occur. The UV ink curing process was originally designed to rapidly dry gel nail-polish during ladies manicures. It quickly became apparent that this quick drying print technology could be very useful in more commercial and industrial applications such as within the sign and print industry.
The UV ink curing process was originally designed to rapidly dry gel nail-polish during ladies manicures
Let’s get technical
In the ink, you will find small polymers and monomers. These are very light molecules that fuse together to form polymers. The hardening and drying of the Ink happens so rapidly that the wet ink dots do not have a chance to spread out and expand. This results in much finer detail/ higher resolution than other types of printing technologies. If a super-high resolution isn’t a good enough reason to give UV printing a try, UV inks have even more benefits. They are fade and weather resistant and the process of curing the inks is also better for the environment than solvent printing as they give off fewer VOC’s and odours! Win-win! I hear you say.
The UV light, heat and warping
If you are using non-LED bulbs, there is a lot of heat created during the printing process due the the high intensity of the ultraviolet light. When you heat a material or substrate on one side it can become prone to warping due to one side being hotter than the other. (Thicker materials are generally more prone to this). This warping and bending is overcome by clamping down the material so that it is unable to lift up. The UV flatbed printer will also have suction holes in the print bed that will create a vacuum which helps the material from lifting from the print bed.
Avoid the heat with a UV LED light
All UV printers, both flatbed and roll to roll that Granthams sell use LED ultra violet bulbs. Using an LED bulb makes the curing process a heat free affair. This eliminates the warping and bending issues described above and makes them energy efficient and environmentally friendly at the same time.
So why is UV print so popular?
UV printing technology contains some of the most up to date printing technology in the world and can be used on a huge range of materials. They are also low odour and great for the environment.
What materials/substrates can you print on with a UV printer?
UV printers can be used on a huge variety of materials/substrates. Some of these include Perspex, plastics, wood, glass, tiles, metals, paper, cardboard, Dibond and Correx. In terms of practical applications, think glass bottles, mobile phone cases, golf balls, pens & pencils, key rings, plastic cards ie. membership cards. The UV ink sits just above the surface of the substrate and sticks to it’ face. Darker colours can feel slightly higher on the surface due to the amount of ink needed to cover and generally speaking the finished print can feel slightly rough.
Some common questions answered regarding UV printers
Will a UV printed material glow under UV light? After all, a Ultraviolet light was used in the printing process. No. You’re finished print will not glow under ultra violet light. The fact that an ultra violet light was used in the curing/drying process does not mean the finished print will glow in the dark.
Does a UV print mean it is fluorescent? Rest assured, you’re finished UV prints will not be fluorescent.
What are the benefits of UV printing?
- Fade and weather resistant
- High photographic detail due to the high resolution
- Flatbed and roll to roll UV printers are available so you can print onto rolls or rigid substrates.
- There is no need to laminate a UV printed surface
- Your prints will be scratch resistant
- The finished print will generally have a more durable surface than a solvent printer
- UV printers are environmentally friendly when compared to other types of printer.
Granthams sell a wide range of UV printers including flatbed UV printers from Mimaki and roll fed UV printers from Mimaki and Roland. In this article I will explain exactly what UV printing is, what applications it can be used for and why it is so popular amongst sign makers and print shops all over the world.
I hope I have provided you with some value in this article. If you are interested in purchasing a UV printer, please feel free to view our range of UV flatbed printers and UV Roll to roll printer below. Or contact us for more information.