UV printing is on the rise. It has rapidly become an essential tool for many print shops. Sign makers, graphic designers, and advertising agencies alike have found its abilities perfect for custom projects.

UV printers are capable of adding excitement and sophistication, both in color and texture, to your products. They are notable for their ability to print on nearly anything (within reason, of course).

If you’re looking to expand your print shop capabilities, you’re probably wondering if UV printing is for you. Here is an overview of the technology to explain why it is (or isn’t) a necessary addition to your printing shop.

What is UV Printing?

UV printing is a form of digital printing that uses ultraviolet lights to dry or cure ink as it’s being printed. Adding a fast, industrial-grade UV printer can help you design and print a wide array of products. You can execute full-color prints, logos, and textures on many mediums, such as wood, acrylic, glass, metal, paper, film, and plastic sheets.

The printer deposits ink on the surface of a substrate. UV lights follow the print heads and dry the ink instantly. These UV-curable inks are made of acrylic monomers. Without getting lost in the chemistry of it all: a monomer is a molecule that can be bound together with other identical molecules to form a polymer.

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How many types of UV printers are there?

Flatbed UV Printer

Flatbed UV printers are characterized by their flat surface, upon which material is placed to be printed. They are best suited for printing on papers, cards, envelopes, and plaques. You can also use flexible materials like cloth and canvas.

Roll to Roll UV Printer

Roll-to-roll printers avoid forming smudges or footprints through the use of wide-sized rollers. Their advanced technology gives them an ergonomic structure. Roll-to-roll UV printers are tailored for flexible materials like fabric, canvas, and stickers.

Rotary UV Printing

Rotary UV printers are specifically engineered with technology to work with cylindrical shapes.

What are the main components of a UV Printer?

uv printer image

Print heads. The print heads are directly responsible for determining the quality of the image. They have numerous tiny nozzles that systematically form your image by dropping ink.

Motors. Motors power the belt to move the carriage from one section to the other during printing. Many UV printers incorporate a premium servo motor and a rack-and-pinion drive system for precise movement and printing.

Sensors. UV printers come with sensors in order to detect and control their operating status. Sensors at different machine points serve different purposes. For instance, there’s the carriage sensor, ink cartridge sensor, height sensor, and so on.

Curing System. The curing system uses UV LED lamps to dry the ink drops. This is the component that separates UV Printers from traditional printing devices.

What can you do with a UV printer?

Océ Arizona 480 GT UV flatbed printer
Océ Arizona 480 GT UV flatbed printer

An easier question might be, “what can’t you print on with a UV printer?”

The primary benefit of these machines is that they allow us to work with substrates other than the usual cast of materials: paper and cardstock. Ink simply won’t adhere to certain surfaces. In some cases, you can use an adhesion promoter. Typically, the adhesion promoter is in liquid form and applied with a paper towel prior to printing.

Ultimately, the printer’s physical properties determine its design capabilities.

Printing possibilities can be increased further by adding a cylindrical attachment. This option may not be available for every printer. However, this attachment allows for printing on a slew of products, including glassware, water bottles, tumblers, mugs, candleholders, and other rounded items.

Should I invest in a UV printer?

UV printers have been relatively out of reach in the past. This is mostly due to their heavy upfront costs. Today, UV printers are more affordable and versatile than ever. Still, the premium design and technology give these machines a lofty price point, especially compared to their more traditional counterpoints.

Generally, flatbed printers sell for between $25,000 and $85,000. Wide-format flatbed printers will command between $78,000 and $115,000. But you can certainly find more affordable machines, such as the desktop small UV printer, for between $2,000 and $6,000.

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uv printer woman holding designs

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