What Is UV Flatbed Printing And How Does It Work?

What Is UV Flatbed Printing And How Does It Work

With the advent of UV flatbed printing, the overall sign and print industry has been revolutionized. 

In some ways, it symbolizes the third significant change in the history of contemporary sign-making. First, came the hand-painted signage. This was followed by the advent of the plotter as well as the signs that were made with the help of vinyl, especially the counter-cut ones. 

The digital printer became widely available in the 80s, and for the following several decades, most signs were created by making use of printed media applied to the sign substrates.

The industry is in the middle of its next shift, with the introduction of the modern UV flatbed printer. Flatbed printers tend to offer a key benefit over digital media printers in that their “flatbed” form, as well as the design, enables sign substrates to be directly printed onto the substrate, removing the need to print to a media first. 

The movement of the UV flatbed prints occurs both in the X as well as Y-axis, meaning the printhead goes across the full sign face while the sign face stays in place, unlike normal printers where the medium is fed specifically through the printer. 

Of course, not only does this reduce the need as well as the expense of the media, but it also reduces the time and labor required for the application of the media to the substrate. 

UV flatbed printers, in addition to their flatbed form, employ UV curable inks that dry almost instantly. UV lights are again mainly used in this case for curing the ink as soon as it is laid down. This implies that the little ink droplets don’t have a chance to spread out or “settle”. Thereby, it results in greater detail. 

There are just two drawbacks of making use of UV flatbed printers. The first one is size: most of the UV flatbed printers take up a lot of space since they are meant to print on at least 4’x8′ substrates. 

Again, because the printhead must travel over as well as around the sign face, a substantial buffer is particularly needed around the UV printing machine. Another disadvantage includes its cost. 

The UV printer price is generally between $80,000 as well as $160,000, with the cost of most of them can go into six figures if options and delivery are added in. In other words, the number of facilities that can provide this particular option of printing is severely limited.

Now, I hope, you have got a short overview of UV flatbed printing. In the below-mentioned section, we will focus on talking about this printing method in more detail.

So, let’s get started with our discussion. 

Detailed Discussion about the UV Flatbed Printing

There’s a lot of curiosity among the people about this very new technology i.e. – UV (ultraviolet) printing that has rapidly emerged in the printing industry. 

However, before we look at how flatbed UV printing works as well as what a UV printer is, we must first consider the capabilities as well as limitations of conventional printers.

The medium that any printing machine can print upon tends to effectively determine its capabilities. For instance, the laser as well as home inkjet printers, are typically used for printing on paper.

Then there are wide-format inkjet photo printers, which can efficiently print on canvas, vinyl rolls, and, to a limited extent, fabric or cloth. Solvent printers are involved in reproducing images on flex banners as well as hoardings. 

Finally, large offset and digital presses can print on textured and coated paper sheets, as well as card sheets, in addition to regular paper.

However, as you may have noted, each of the printing instances listed above requires specially manufactured media.

Wood and pulp must be pressed into thin paper sheets. PVC must be converted for making of flex or vinyl rolls. Cotton fiber must be weaved into fabric or canvas before being wound tightly into rolls. Only after that, these media can be employed in conventional printers.

How Do You Figure Out Which Materials Can Be UV Printed On?

The media whether it’s plastic, paper, or fabric is designed or made compatible to work with the printer it’s meant for. So, the media can only be used for printing purposes if it meets the requirements of the printing equipment i.e., inkjet, laser, offset, etc.

The printer generally sits in its exact position and the paper sheets or plastic rolls pass through its innards. 

Different printing technologies or processes, such as inkjet, laser, or offset printing, are used to transfer the print image to the media. Just after that, the printed media flows or passes out of the printer as well as into our hands.

But, if that’s the case, how would you consider printing on something that wasn’t manufactured specifically for being printed upon?

UV Flatbed Printing That Is Used Directly On Objects

Assume you wish to print on a wooden block or a glass slab. Have you ever contemplated printing in a cricket bat made of willow or pine into your home inkjet printer? A sheet of paper bends through the laser printer’s rollers. So, one of the most important things to consider in this aspect is that how would a glass sheet do the same thing? 

Have you ever wondered whether it’s possible to print directly onto an object, such as a marble block?

UV flatbed printing enables printing directly onto a wide range of rigid objects. This type of technology is first introduced in this particular industry. for the first time. 

So, this type of printer has effectively changed the print paradigm. With the help of this, you would be able to print on a completely new class of materials. It fundamentally alters how we think about printing.

Inside the UV printing machine, you can place almost any flat object. After that, the UV printer will particularly print upon it for you. In fact, with the help of this, you would be able to print upon the surface of almost any object. 

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How Does A UV Printer Help To Reproduce Images Directly On Objects?

By having a look at how the laser, inkjet, offset, solvent, and other printers works, you would be able to get an understanding of the specific way in which a UV flatbed printer differs from the others. 

The media has to pass in as well as out of the printer, conforming to a strict set of specifications which include paper thickness, size, uniform flatness, etc. in each of these machines. 

Keep in mind that the printer stays in its place only. It is the media that is moving every time. 

A UV flatbed, on the other hand, is constructed differently. It comes with a stationary table or bed. Inbuilt vacuum suction is also included with this table.

The UV inkjet printing heads are mounted specifically on a gantry that travels along the table’s X and Y axis (which include length as well as breadth). 

You just place it on the print-bed or vacuum table whenever you require to print upon an object. 

The object is held in its original position with the help of vacuum suction. This prevents the object from shifting accidentally or as a result of machine vibrations.

The gantry tends to move the print mechanism in the directions of left or right as well as up or down once the printing begins. The print heads that are attached to the gantry aids in covering the whole print bed area. Any object put on the bed is fired with the help of ink and then it gets printed upon. 

UV Inks Can Adhere To Almost Any Surface

As evident from its name, the UV inks get cured specifically by the UV rays. These inks are sprayed on the print surface in a liquid state. After that, an ultraviolet lamp is passed over the inks which results in the solidification of it in the proper position. 

Other printers again make use of inks that are only compatible with certain types of media. For instance, to reproduce high-resolution images, the inkjet inks particularly require coated papers. Laser toner again fails to adhere well to textured as well as rough papers. 

UV printing inks, on the other hand, are unique in the sense that they are not dependent on the media. These inks can be applied to smooth surfaces, such as plastic, or else rough surfaces like wood. 

Again, you would be able to use them for printing on ceramics, stone, glass, marble, acrylic, and other materials. As long as the UV lamps are involved in properly curing the inks, they tend to solidify and stick well to just about any rigid surface. 

Furthermore, when UV-led printer inks are cured, they tend to become rock hard. They are not readily scratched off. Also, they are resistant to sunlight as well as water. All of these properties make them an excellent choice for the branding of products. 

Various Types of Objects Which Can Be Printed Upon By Making Use of UV Flatbed Technology

Flatbed UV printers are designed as well as constructed in such a manner to enable the below-mentioned things: 

  • They generally allow for an object that is to be placed on the print bed. 
  • They utilize inks that adhere to almost any surface.

The applications of flatbed UV printing are only limited by your creativity due to the two properties described above. Some of the applications of the same are listed below: 

  • Printing Product Photos And Logos On Folders And Diaries: 

Customers tend to bring in folders as well as diaries from stationery shops. So, the above-mentioned procedure of UV flatbed printing can be used for printing company logos and product images directly on the same. 

  • Printing On Wood: 

Some of the customers also consider bringing in woodblocks to be printed upon in a web to print store. So, this type of printing is very much popular and a lot of businesses are presently opting for this particular option. 

  • Print on ACP Sheets: 

Name boards that display the names of the occupants need to be installed in the lobbies of residential buildings. These names can be directly printed on sheets of ACP or aluminum composite panel by making use of this UV flatbed printing.

  • Print On Glass: 

Flatbed UV printing can also be done on the reverse surface of glass sheets. Whenever you consider viewing the glass from the front, you will be able to see a very pretty back-painted glass effect. 

  • Print On Acrylic: 

One can make use of flatbed UV printers for printing directly onto acrylic sheets. Whenever printed on acrylic, the display boards, company logos, images, and other graphics look fantastic.

  • Print On Control Panels, Switchboards, And Membrane Panels: 

Another interesting application of the UV printer involves control panel printing. Clients bring in their blank panels in this case and the web to print service providers are involved in reverse printing the company logo, control symbols, directions, and other information directly onto the same. In this case, web to print software contributes to play a very important role. 

  • Printing On Gift Items: 

Using UV LED printers, personalized gift items have become very much easy. Printing service providers are involved in printing on a wide variety of items such as keychains, sippers, pens, tea coasters, mousepads, and even computer accessories like keyboards as well as the mouse. 

  • Print Nameplates: 

Using UV printing technology, the nameplates especially made of acrylic, wood, ACP, or even glass can be promptly produced.

Final Verdict 

The technology of flatbed UV printing is still at an initial stage. But the print service providers are rapidly adopting it. As it can print directly on objects and so, people will dream up for more and more of the new applications on the same. 

As the machine contributes to becoming mainstream, and so, extremely large objects such as floor tiles, wood planks, big glass and stone slabs, etc. will be regularly processed on the same.

Now that you’ve learned about the advantages of UV flatbed printing, why not contact a business that can help you in using it for making your next sign? Contact a professional, skilled, and reliable web to print company today to see how they can print your next project quicker – and for an affordable cost. 

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