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UV Printers – Everything You Need to Know

SSE Worldwide offers a wide range of new and used UV printers. These are used by companies in a variety of industries, these include industrial printing, packaging, printing on glass, point of sale printing amongst many others as a more efficient method of ink printing onto surfaces. But what exactly is a UV printer and how do they work? What makes them so special?

In this article, we explain how a UV printer works and what you can expect from it. We also discuss the advantages of UV printing over traditional types of printing and how it has revolutionised printing across a range of industries. If youre looking to acquire a UV printer, well also cover what to consider.

What is a UV Printer?

UV printers are different from standard inkjet printers in one particular way. Instead of using solvents or water within the ink, a UV printer uses ultraviolet radiation to solidify the ink as it’s printing.

The inks used within the UV printer are reactive to the UV LED lamps built into the printer. The UV rays turn the ink from a liquid into a solid, instantly curing it on the material you are printing on. There are no solvents, therefore hardly any absorption of ink. This means you can print on many different types of media using UV inks.

UV printing is suitable for a range of different surfaces and since these surfaces may come in different shapes and sizes, so do the UV printers. Some jobs may require a large format flatbed UV printer whereas for others, a small format UV printer will suffice. Some printers even allow for industrial printing on cylindrical and conical objects.

Advantages of a UV Printer vs Solvent Printers

Whilst UV printers and other types of digital printers have a lot in common, their one difference is what gives UV printing the advantage.

A UV Printer is better for the environment

A UV printer is much more sustainable since it does not use harmful solvents in the process to dry the ink. In traditional inkjet printers, the solvents used can be extremely toxic and hazardous.

The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within the solvents evaporate as the prints dry. When the solvents are released into the atmosphere in this way, they cause ozone pollution. Since UV printers do not rely on this method of drying, they are the most ecologically friendly solution for professionals within the printing industry.

When UV printers first started to appear, they used metal-halide lamps to cure the ink. These lamps do consume large amounts of energy. Whilst they are not as harmful to the ozone layer, they use more energy and create a larger carbon footprint. Modern UV printers are much better for the environment because they now use the latest LED technology. LEDs use much less energy, are cheap to produce, durable, and do not contain heavy metals such as mercury. The added benefit to LED technology is that it emits less heat, allowing UV printers to work on heat-sensitive materials with little risk.

Quicker turnaround

Regardless of the water or solvents that evaporate on the material, there would still be a short period of time where prints would need to dry with conventional printing. Depending on the material on which you are printing, this could take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Whether a beginner or an experienced professional, everyone within the industry knows how frustrating it can be when waiting for prints to dry.

With UV flatbed printing, this process is virtually instantaneous. This means that the printed material can be removed from the printer, packed and quickly be replaced for the next prints to go on. Say hello to increased productivity for you or your business!

Better quality prints

Because a UV printer immediately dries the ink, it is not left wet and therefore not susceptible to smudging or dissolving. They can also be printed over, to apply textured effects and even facilitate Braille printing.

The inks used in inkjet printing rely on the ink to become absorbed into the material, such as paper and PVC. Through this absorption, the colours risk becoming diluted and less bright. A UV printer does not rely on this absorption which means the colours appear as intended, leaving a high quality print.

Moreover, because of the UV curing technology, it means that the prints are more durable and weather-resistant. In situations where prints are used outdoors, for example as signage, the ink can usually last for about 2 years plus. If it is protected by a material such as laminate, it could last much longer, depending on the materials used.

Print on anything

A UV Printer using UV ink is capable of printing on so many different materials. In fact, it would be much easier to provide a list of materials it cannot print on, rather than a list of materials it can.

Unlike water, oil or solvent based inks, the UV-cured ink has the ability to adhere to a wide range of substrates without any etching or biting. This means it’s perfect for almost any industrial application including papers, plastics, fabrics, metals, glass and delicate materials.

Advancing Technology

Traditional printing on an industrial scale has passed its peak. On the other hand, UV printers are relatively new and have already seen a range of improvements over the years. Whether it is the print heads, the precision dot placement techniques or the quality and composition of the inks that it uses, UV printing technology is constantly being improved.

What can you use a UV printer for?

In short, almost anything! A UV printer and its ink is extremely versatile. With UV printing, you are normally only limited by the size of the printer itself.

Here are just a few examples of where a flatbed UV printer is useful:

  • Point-of-purchase advertising
  • Display graphics
  • Posters
  • Signs
  • Banners
  • Rigid boards
  • Outdoor graphics
  • Exhibition and stage graphics
  • Architectural graphics and murals
  • Backlit displays
  • Flags
  • Vehicle graphics
  • Bus shelters
  • Textiles
  • Personalised Printing

There is also the technology available for cylindrical and conical printing which is rather self-explanatory. Its the same process as a flatbed printer, but with the ability to print on objects that arent flat.

Here are some examples of cylindrical and conical printing jobs:

  • Beverage cans
  • Tin cans
  • Beverage cups
  • Plastic bottles
  • Plastic tubes
  • Cosmetic packaging
  • Candles
  • KEG barrels
  • Gas cylinders
  • Wine bottles
  • Jars
  • Tumblers
  • Candles

SSE Worldwide now has a range of cylindrical and conical UV printers available. Contact us for more information on these.

Things to consider when buying a UV printer

A UV printer is a big purchase, and one youll need to be committed to. Its like buying a car – you would take time to make sure that the cars you are interested in are right for you. And UV printers are no different.

Investment vs Profitability

Is the price you are paying for a new UV printer worth it? UV printers can greatly increase your productivity and help your business bring in more money. However, its worth working out the numbers and choosing a UV printer that isnt going to leave you or your company in the red. SSE Worldwide has a range of new and used UV printers to help you find the right printer for your situation and needs at a reasonable price.

Physical Space

It may go without saying, but make sure youve got the space and access for a printer first! If you’re buying a roll to roll printer, youll only need a few metres of space on average to do your printing. However, if you require a flatbed printer, you need to make sure youve got plenty of room to operate it efficiently.

The printing environment

Prior to installation, there steps you may need to take in relation to the workspace in which you plan to place your printer. Static electricity affects print quality. Taking steps to control the static, such as using anti-static flooring and ionisers, help minimise the risk.

Air quality and ventilation is an important factor when working with UV printers. The air needs to be free from dust to avoid contaminating the media.

Print Size and Productivity

Weve already touched upon the topic of physical size, however you also need to make sure that youve got a sufficiently sized printer for what you intend to print.

Secondly, consider whether having a larger printer will enable you to increase productivity. A small printer may be able to print one piece before you need to replace it with a new piece of media. A larger printer might allow you to print 10 at once. This means less down time and more printing time. Higher productivity means higher profitability.

Training and Installation

It may be your first time buying a UV printer. Whether this is the case or not, make sure you know how to use it. Receiving training is the best way to quickly get up to speed with any new or unfamiliar software, as well as learn all the ins and outs of your new printer. SSE Worldwide are happy to be able to provide you with training from our experts. This will ensure you can get to work as quickly as possible and continue with your new and improved printing process.

Installation is also an important aspect of buying a UV printer. Once youve made the purchase, it needs to be correctly installed within the work space. Make sure that a professional installs it for you. SSE Worldwide can provide this service for you also.

Technical Support and Servicing

There will come a time when your printing equipment will need maintenance and servicing. When you have purchased UV printer, it is recommended that it is serviced annually or after 2,000 hours. Usually the seller or manufacturer provides servicing and technical support.

Whether buying a new or used UV printer with SSE Worldwide, you have the option to receive full engineering support and a service package, so you know that your printer will be capable of staying in the game for longer.

Ink Storage

Because of the UV inks chemistry any UV rays are able to cure it. This means, therefore, that it is very reactive to light and heat. Make sure you have a closed area available to store the ink before using it.

Ideally, the ink should be stored at a temperature between 5 and 30°C. The viscosity of the ink can change over time, to avoid this it is recommended using the UV inks within the date marked on the packaging, provided they have been stored correctly.

RIP Software

Most UV printers require a RIP (Raster Image Processor) to perform vital functions before the printing process. Most image manipulation tools, such as Photoshop will produce graphics and images in a language that printers cant read. Raster Image Processing software makes this possible. It converts images in vector format into raster graphics images or bitmaps, readable by printers.

We advise that you check whether the RIP is provided with the printer or not, as this can make a difference to the total purchase price. It is another vital element to the printing process but manufacturers do not always provide the software that is required. 

Printer features

Think about what sort of features you need from a UV printer. Do you know how fast the UV printer will print and will this be sufficient for your business model? If it prints too slow for your industry, you may end up losing money. Choosing a printer that allows upgrades to the printing speeds will play a big part in making your decision.

Think about the quality of the prints you require. There is a sacrifice in speed for print quality and vice versa. Take the time to learn about what the UV printers actual output quality rather than just the resolution in DPI.

Choosing a UV Printer

When it comes down to choosing the right UV printer, you need to have all of the facts and figures to make an informed decision about which one to purchase. SSE Worldwide have experts to help you make an informed decision about which UV printer is best suited for your needs. Our experts are knowledgeable on all forms of printing equipment, from roll to roll printers to flatbed and cylindrical printers.

Not only do we provide new UV printers, but we also offer a range of used printers that allow you to achieve great results with a better price tag.

Speak to us today to discuss about the choices of UV printers. We can arrange a demo so you can see the capabilities of our UV printers.

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