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 Are you looking to replace outdated equipment, expand your production capabilities, or increase profitability by reducing the amount of business you outsource?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.
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!