LED-UV Expands Applications
No, “UV” isn’t an acronym for “ultra versatile,” but it certainly could be. LED-UV can accommodate a broad expanse of applications.
“UV in general is a versatile ink, certainly allowing for broader applications versus other inkjet printing technologies,” says Mark Goodearl, senior ink product manager, EFI. “LED, however, goes one step further, allowing for printing on thinner, heat-sensitive materials. We have customers now doing vehicle graphics, wall coverings, double-sided graphics and other applications.”
The technology is opening doors, enabling print providers to distinguish themselves with specialty substrates, expanding their businesses.
A few application examples to consider:
- Wall décor: “This is a huge growth opportunity, and we’re just scratching the surface,” says John Kaufman, senior marketing specialist, Canon Solutions America. “With our Colorado printer and UV gel inks, we’re able to be type-2 certified in certain buildings, after putting ink on without lamination. The wall décor market is really a great opportunity for UV printers.”
- White ink: “You can use this in many applications,” notes Deborah Hutcheson, director of marketing at Agfa Graphics, like clear window film, printing onto non-white materials (e.g., wood, metals and black foamed PVC), and day-night graphics for bus shelters. It’s also great for five-ink layer printing on clear substrates like PETG or window film, she adds.
- 3D textures: “Advancements in UV ink technology allow PSPs to wow their customers with 3D textured printing that they can see and feel,” Hutcheson says. “Shops can create 3D effects by adding a layer of varnish on top of the CYMK layers to embellish certain areas of a print; this 3D elevated or textured printing adds value to print, creating a full sensory experience.”
- Vehicle wraps and roadway signage: EFI’s 3M Super-Flex inks offer elasticity for fleet and vehicle graphics, says Goodearl, and “are the most flexible inks we’ve ever produced; they’re designed to be a solvent-replacement ink.” EFI has also partnered with 3M for a UV-printed solution for traffic signage.
Related story: The Evolution of UV