Like it or not, we live in an age of rapidly evolving technology where it’s become essential to diversify in order to stay ahead of the competition. In our industry, the methods of decorating products and substrates are constantly advancing, with greater capabilities than ever before. UV-LED direct-to-substrate printing is one of the fastest growing segments in the printing industry — offering huge advantages when it comes to cost, print quality, and the ability to customize unlimited types of substrates. But how do you go about introducing UV printing into your existing business, and what do you need to consider before taking the leap?
WHY DO YOU NEED IT?
First of all, you should ask yourself whyyou need a UV printer. Are you looking to replace outdated equipment, expand your production capabilities, or increase profitability by reducing the amount of business you outsource? Traditional methods of decorating awards and gift items include laser engraving, sandcarving, screen printing, and sublimation. UV printing can either be used as a replacement or as a complement to these techniques to add full-color, white ink, textures, and special effects to finished pieces.
The ability to personalize customer-supplied items or odd-shaped pieces gives UV printing an advantage over a few other methods. Some UV printers also offer rotary printing capabilities for decorating the entire circumference of cylindrical objects and tumblers.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
With the potential to customize any product on the spot with unlimited colors in a single step, a UV printer can save you a huge amount of time, man-power, and, ultimately, money. But, as the saying goes, sometimes, “You have to spend money to make money.” For the small- to medium-sized business owner, a quality UV printer is a major investment. Some of the smaller models are available for just under $20K, ranging all the way up to $100K for larger format flatbed UV printers.
It’s important to first determine which substrates you need to decorate, the size capacity and print capabilities you require, and then find the right fit for your needs. You will also want to factor in the cost of consumables including annual parts replacement and ink, which could add up to a few thousand dollars per year. Many UV manufacturers offer the option to lease equipment instead of purchasing, which can be beneficial if you don’t have a lot of cash up front.
It may prove advantageous to your workflow to have a dedicated laptop loaded with the software needed to run the printer, including design applications for creating and editing artwork files, as well as print drivers and RIP software required to run the printer. Most UV printers are fairly compact and don’t require a huge amount of space, but you’ll want to make sure you have an area set aside in a clean, climate-controlled environment to keep your printer protected from humidity and dust. You’ll want to treat your UV printer more like a Ferrari in contrast to some of your other equipment, which may be more comparable to a sturdy off-road vehicle. Fortunately, there isn’t much other supportive equipment needed with UV printing, so you can quickly get up and running and on to decorating everything in sight.
WHAT’S THE LEARNING CURVE?
If your current capabilities only include laser engraving or sandcarving, expanding into UV printing is a whole new ball game. For others who have already branched out into screen printing and sublimation, the learning curve may be a little smoother. Learning how to manage colors properly, navigate complicated RIP software, and maintain a high-tech machine like a UV printer can take some time. You need to decide if your current staff has the background knowledge to make an easy transition into UV printing, or if it makes sense to hire someone with design and print training.
During the research phase of your UV printer purchase, you may want to visit the manufacturer’s headquarters for a personalized demonstration of the equipment, or at the very least attend a trade show so you can see the printer in action and the steps needed to run it. Many manufacturers provide onsite installation after purchase, including hands-on training and education for all employees who will be involved in running the printer. There may also be training tutorials and how-to videos for printing techniques or part replacement, in addition to call-in or webcam support to walk you through any issues.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I CONSIDER?
While a UV printer is a considerable investment that can significantly increase your profits, you shouldn’t plan on it paying for itself overnight. Be prepared to do more than just transfer your existing business over to UV printing. Find ways to expand your line and add value to the products you offer by doing something that your competition can’t. Identify your market and find out what your customers want — they will gladly pay extra for the additional options UV printing can offer.
Bruce Gilbert at G&W Gifts and Awards has a few comments to offer on the topic: “Do your research — buying a UV printer is a long process. Learn about the company you are dealing with — that’s who you’ll be married to. If you don’t get along, you have a problem. Don’t be swayed by price. A few thousand dollars when spread over the life of the machine is not that much. The most important question is, (is the manufacturer) responsive when I call for help?”
The number one answer given by those in the awards industry when asked what’s most important in choosing a UV printer, is support. Most UV printer brands have comparable pricing and printing capabilities, but there’s no question that you will need to deal with the manufacturer on an ongoing basis for support or repairs during the life of your printer. Make sure you’re comfortable with the people you deal with during the buying process and that you can trust them to stand behind their product and continue to support you in the future. It’s always a good idea to ask others in the industry who have already ventured into UV printing for recommendations and advice while making your decision.
The most important thing you will invest when adding UV printing to your business is your time. As with any complex piece of technology, it takes time to learn how to make full use of all the exciting features of a UV printer. It also takes trial and error, and lots of practice to learn effective techniques for printing on various types of substrate and different-shaped objects successfully. Be prepared for some down-time or delays in production during the learning curve and plan accordingly. If you take the time to do your homework, you’ll soon be an expert in UV printing, and your bottom line will reap the benefits.
When thinking about cities like Las Vegas, New York and Tokyo, images of stunning, eye-catching signage often spring to mind. More and more we are seeing brightly lit displays being used to create unforgettable messages for advertising as well simple ambient appeal for restaurants, galleries and even modern home décor.
An innovative technique that is gaining popularity is the concept of designing Day/Night prints that incorporate not just one style or message, but two – from day to evening. The concept involves printing additional layers of artwork which are revealed only when a backlight is activated.
The image displayed during the day is front-lit by natural lighting, while a white barrier in between printed layers separates a more complex and color-dominant “hidden” image waiting for its evening debut. You can use this hidden layer to display text, change the color or add more visual effects to your design.
STEP 1: Selecting a Material
The Day/Night effect can be attained on a variety of transparent materials including, but not limited to: glass, clear acrylic, polycarbonate and other clear plastic materials. The key is having a nice clean, flat surface on which to layer your prints. UV printing technology offers the ability to print more than one layer at a time, resulting in perfect registration, which is a major key to achieving a stunning day/night transition.
STEP 2: Creating artwork for your backlit signage
This can be the tricky part, but here are a few tips that can help. When designing in a program such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, you can place artwork on separate layers, which allows you to easily register portions of the Day and Night artwork. If you design your artwork for Day and Night within the same file, you can set the Transparency of your layers to ‘Multiply’ to preview how the images will look once the backlight is turned on.
Once your design is finalized, just hide unnecessary layers before exporting each of the two separate Day and Night files for printing. The ‘Daytime’ image should be simple, with areas of plain color that will provide a base for your ‘Nighttime’ details to show through. Keep in mind that all creative elements used in the Daytime artwork will remain visible when the backlight is applied, so you need to account for this. For example, the solid Yellow in the dress of our Daytime image (Figure A) will combine with the Magenta dress in the Nighttime image (Figure B), resulting in a RED dress (Figure C). The black vector outlines on the Daytime image will remain visible when the sign is backlit, so there is no need to include these elements in the Nighttime artwork.
You can use photographic or vector images to build your artwork, or combine elements of each for a creative touch. In our example, a simple vector image with black outlines and areas of solid color was used for the Daytime artwork. The Nighttime artwork incorporates a photographic image of a city at night, along with some bursts of color.
STEP 3: Printing Layers on to Substrate
Now that the file has been created and the Day and Night layers are perfectly aligned, the next step is to sandwich them together on your substrate with a translucent, but still dense white layer in-between (Figures D & E). The key is to provide enough opacity to obscure the nighttime artwork during the day, while still permitting the backlight to shine through at night — this is the perfect balance.
With clear substrates, it’s best to print artwork on the back side to provide added protection from the elements. Since layers are printed on the back, the image will need to be mirrored or flipped — especially if there is any text in the design. This can be done using either the RIP software or within the design software used to create the images.
As illustrated in the diagram (Figure F), you will want to print your mirrored Daytime image first in color only, followed by a solid white layer, and lastly you will print your mirrored Nighttime artwork in color only.Once printed, good lighting and proper location are key to showcasing your display. Safe and energy-efficient LED lighting is recommended, but you can also experiment with other types of lighting to find the best overall luminescence and color balance when your backlight is activated.
These eye-catching and long-lasting displays can be easily produced using UV-LED printing technology. For more info and tips, visit: LogoJET.com.Additional Resources for Electronic Publication:Check out a great EFI tutorial on creating Dual Day/Night Backlit art files by clicking,here.
Today’s students will become tomorrow’s professionals in the printing industry, and since UV Printing is quickly becoming the wave of the future, many educational institutions have begun incorporating UV Printers into their classrooms and labs to enable students to become familiar with this printing process through hands-on experience.
Whether students enter into fields involving graphics, business, signage, promotional products, packaging or prototyping, learning to use UV-Printing Technology provides a marketable skill for their career ahead. Students are empowered to take their concepts and bring them to life on an unlimited number of substrates or 3D products. Most small format UV Printers now available are user-friendly, low maintenance and require minimal setup. Their small footprint makes them an ideal solution for producing impressive products in a contained environment.
Several universities and colleges across the United States who include UV and Direct-to-Substrate Inkjet printing as part of their curriculum have employed LogoJET Printers to train students to use the technology while producing valuable customized products that are used on campus or sold as memorabilia to bring in revenue for the school. A huge range of products are being produced, including pens, golf balls, name badges, water bottles, key chains, tiles, canvas artwork, phone cases, and the list goes on. A department head in the Design Media Production Technology program at one technical institute commented, “our requests are as varied as our students, and we love being able to produce what they need”.
Because of the flexibility offered by flatbed direct-to-substrate printers, one printer can accommodate an endless variety of products. Custom printing trays can be loaded with product and easily interchanged, and new products can be tested using a re-usable adhesive mat in conjunction with the automatically-adjusting height sensor.
Many students are inspired by what they learn from hands-on experience with UV Printing and move in an entrepreneurial direction after their schooling, developing their own small businesses powered by the extensive customization capabilities and low overhead required to maintain an in-house UV Printer.
With the competition for schools to remain high in the rankings by offering the most up-to-date curriculums and access to cutting edge technology, adding a UV Printer to their design lab certainly gives them an advantage. Contact LogoJET today to find out about the capabilities of UV Direct to Substrate Printers and find out which printer is right for you.
The use of promotional products as an advertising medium proves to increase interest and generate favorable attitudes toward any brand. With the introduction of UV printing into the market, these products can now be customized with any logo in small or large quantities with unlimited colors, meeting the demands of businesses large and small.
This year, some of the top trending promotional products caught our eye as perfect candidates for customization with UV Printing.
Drinkware: YETI cups and Glasstic Water Bottles
America as a nation is becoming ever more health conscious and environmentally aware, and that translates into our drinkware as well. Reusable, BPA-free water bottles are growing in popularity as promotional items, and our favorite has to be the Glasstic shatterproof water bottle. With a glass inner bottle encased in a BPA-free, shatterproof plastic outer bottle – there’s truly no other bottle like it. Glasstic bottles are a perfect candidate for UV printing, and both inner and outer bottles can be completely customized using LogoJET’s Rotary 360 device.
YETI cups are among the top trending products at the moment, making Amazon’s Best Seller list when it comes to tumblers. They are virtually indestructible, sweat proof, and made of 18/8 stainless steel with double-wall vacuum insulation to keep your drink as cold (or hot) as science allows. These tumblers can be customized with corporate logos or branding messages in endless colors using UV printing. The option of rotary printing is also available using LogoJET’s Tapered Rotary design for non-cylindrical objects.
Electronics: Power Banks, USBs and Bluetooth Speakers
As the technology explosion continues, popular promotional items like USB drives take on new shapes and come in endless styles and varieties. Bluetooth speakers have become a hot item, offering prime real estate for promotional messages and branding since they are often displayed in high traffic areas of the home or office. With all of the new Bluetooth technology needing to be charged, it’s no wonder that Power Banks have also become a hot item in the promotional products industry. These compact, portable devices are great for keeping your electronic devices fully charged while traveling or at the office while promoting brand presence. UV printing is a great solution for customizing these pieces, since there is little to no setup required which makes switching between different product styles a breeze!
Americans spend a huge amount of time on their cell phones, so what better place to display a branding message than on a cell phone accessory? Phone cases and accessories continue to top the charts as some of the most popular promotional products on the market. They can be customized in full color, with exciting effects and textures using UV printing. To keep up with the constantly changing phone case styles, LogoJET has created a Multi-phone case tray that fits almost any size or style of case!
Fall/Winter Trending Color Palette
When it comes to choosing colors for promotional products or design themes, you may want to take some inspiration from Pantone’s Fall 2016 Color Report. Twice a year, the authority on color releases their top trending colors for the upcoming season. Their most recent palette contains 10 colors led by the blue family, and includes anchoring earth tones and pops of vibrant color for a playful departure from the typical fall shades.
By combining the hottest products with the latest color and design trends, you’re sure to get the attention of those in the market for promotional products. UV printing can be the versatile solution you’re looking for to keep up with the constantly changing trends in this industry. Contact LogoJET today to find out more about UV compatible products!
Using direct-to-substrate printing, capture attention with packaging that shows it’s not just what’s inside that counts. Take branding or special events to new heights with quality logo detail and striking custom designs. There are many ways to maximize brands or promote with distinct packaging when printing with UV LED cured inks, including adding embellishments, fun sayings, using colorful logos, or other effective promotional methods such as integrating QR codes or serialization. Some software even offers the capability to integrate variable data into a design, customizing each printed piece to make it unique.
Having the freedom to print various styles using UV-Inks not only allows for adding a customized touch, but also creating striking presentations for high-end products and special gifts. Presentation is key for items such as jewelry, electronics, money clips, wallets, engraved pens and so much more. If you can think it, you can print it!
Using Different Methods
Traditional methods for customizing packaging, such as offset printing, can result in high costs when running lower quantity jobs, expensive metal plates, product loss when hot stamping or even slow dry times when using eco-solvent printing. Bypass these limitations and prohibitive costs with digital printing, which offers the ability to produce both low and high quantity jobs with a faster turnaround. This provides great options for both in-house and contract printing.
- Avoid set up cost associated with metal plates used in offset printing
- Avoid set up cost for multi-color prints
- Minimize material loss as a result of methods like hot stamping
- Benefit from faster dry times and turnaround
During the design process there are many aspects to take into account, such as desired output color, image quality or resolution. Digital printing provides flexibility in using different substrate sizes and resolutions ranging from 720X720 from 2880x1440DPI to optimize both quality and speed.
When printing digitally using a flatbed printer, there is no need for complicated set up or the use of printing plates like the ones used in offset printing. Simply load products onto the flatbed, open your image file, adjust printer to the product height using a built in auto-height feature, then press print. UV-printed packaging is cured while it prints, so it’s ready for immediate use after printing. With varying UV Printer sizes available (24x36x6, 24x18x6 and 12x24x5) you can accommodate a range of product or box sizes with ease. Check out our gallery to explore other products printed with our UV-flatbed printers.
Varnish Effects with UV Inks
Traditional offset printing methods make adding spot varnishes costly and time consuming. LogoJET UV Printers incorporate a Clear Gloss varnish right into the 8-channel ink system, so you can add these effects without extra setup. Go beyond clear coating on text. Specify areas of a printed design to receive a spot-varnish coating, or use the gloss alone to print patterns, logos or text on packaging, creating a sleek, tone-on-tone look. Embossed effects can also be created, either using the gloss or other colored inks. The possibilities are endless!
To learn more about printing with UV on any surface, contact us today or stop by our booth this month July 14-16th at the NBM show in Long Beach to see a demonstration of how you can be empowered to start customizing!
Why be confined to outsourcing printing or labeling for smaller cylindrical surfaces when it can be done in-house using the right printer and latest rotary attachment? Avoid processes that become more cost prohibitive as colors are added and setup time increases. Instead, here’s a great solution for digital printing on curved surfaces.
With recent developments in printing on cylindrical objects, direct-to-substrate printing offers the ability to wrap a design around a complex surface using an attachment. Rollers rotate the object during printing to enable graphics to be applied to the entire circumference of the product and the rotary is adjustable to accommodate different sized cylindrical objects. This cutting-edge technology has provided an option that has rapidly become a reality for customizing cylindrical-shaped substrates.
LogoJET’s new Rotary 360° attachment allows you to create one-of-a-kind pieces and give life and appeal to classic or trendy products like glass or plastic bottles, mason jars, cups and more. Masterpieces can be created by using recycled pieces and adding a new look and feel, turning these items into novelties that add a special touch at events.
Switch Gears with Ease
Simply select the desired artwork size and preferred color settings, load your product into the rotary fixture and you’re ready to print any elegant logo or colorful design using this attachment on a LogoJET flatbed! Not only is this a cost-effective set up, but various cylindrical-shaped products can be switched and re-loaded with ease. The fixture is convenient to attach and remove between different print operations, and its compact size makes it easy to take to tradeshows or to set up for a quick demo.
In just a matter of minutes, high-resolution graphics are printed by simultaneously applying full CMYK color plus white ink underlays to bring colors to life. Any surface color, whether it has a dark, transparent or white finish, can be accommodated with this advanced feature. Having this capability is also beneficial to efficiency and productivity, as well as to achieving precise prints.
Offer this new possibility to those seeking a more complex and finished look, or produce in-house, never-before seen designs with a rotary attachment that allows the freedom to choose any size art work or logo— as long as it fits on the product! There is no need to make precise calculations to discover the best print size for a curved surface; increase the print area by printing 360° around the circumference.
From the allure of custom jewelry, watches or handbags, down to the minute details of a Lego man or woman, rapid prototyping advances the development of high-end, limited-edition and innovative designs.
There are various applications when it comes to rapid prototyping and many benefits to printing short-run, customized pieces. When in the prototyping phase, there’s no need to be limited by high volume production when launching a new design in a niche, trending or tight market. It’s important to have the ability to tailor to specifications and produce quality prior to further production.
Rapid prototyping involves a variety of methods to quickly fabricate a scale model of a product for testing and approval before mass production. This usually involves some type of 3D Printing or “additive layer manufacturing” technology to create the 3D model.
To take the rapid prototyping process one step further, LogoJET offers direct-to-substrate digital printing technology to decorate 3D prototypes to more accurately simulate the finished product. Incorporate distinctive digital designs to embellish, personalize, add aesthetic appeal, functionality and more.
Bringing It In-House
By facilitating in-house decoration of prototypes, a UV printer offers not only a more cost effective solution, but convenience and efficiency that is not always available with other traditional decoration methods. Pad or screen printing techniques require time consuming, costly and messy setup including ink mixing, plate engraving and curing time for inks. They are also limited in the amount of colors and the complexity of artwork that can be applied.
The advantage of UV digital inkjet printing is that it enables full color, full resolution, complex artwork and photographs to be applied to almost any surface. The automatically adjusting height sensors make switching from one product to another quick and easy.
Offer quick turnaround, make improvements on the fly and produce production-quality products in relatively small volumes when needed, without the typical high cost of short-run production. UV-formulated inks cure by ultra-violet radiation by means of a built-in UV LED Lamp, creating prints that dry immediately onto the substrate so that are ready for their quick debut.
UV digital printers can also decorate surfaces with height variations (up to 4mm), as well as cylindrical objects with a 360° rotation for wrap-around decoration capability. This latest launch of a rotary design will be showcased at the Rapid 3D Exposition.
This Upcoming Show
LogoJET will be further exploring this new and exciting field at the upcoming Rapid 3D Exposition happening May 18-21 in Long Beach, California. We will be exhibiting our latest launches in printing technology and performing live on-site demonstrations using customer-supplied products while creating full-color prototypes and decorating 3D models. Join us in Booth #860 to learn more about LogoJET printers and see our UV2400 Printers in action, or contact us today for a personalized demo.