Since the introduction—and continued evolution—of UV-curable printer technology, many wide-format print service providers have been able to take advantage of the new business opportunities it’s offered. The technology provides users with a high level of flexibility and versatility with the ability to print on nearly any type of substrate. New niche markets—such as interior design/décor and personalized/customized short run graphics—have developed as the technology continued to evolve.
In this article, Wide-Format Imaging spoke with a number of experts in the UV market to discover how the technology has changed, where growth markets lie, and what the next revolution of the technology will be.
- Claudia Barbiero, large-format segment marketing manager, HP Graphic Solutions Business
- Curt Brey, Gerber director of digital solutions, Gerber Scientific Products
- Cory Brock, director of marketing, Gandinnovations
- David Cich, vice president of sales and marketing, CET Color
- Tim Greene, director, wide-format & jetting technologies, InfoTrends
- Heather Kendle, director of marketing, Inca Digital
- Susie Mendelssohn, International Marketing Coordinator for INX Digital International Co.:
- Sylvia Muhr, sales director, Europe, WP Digital
- Randy Paar, display graphics product manager, Océ North America
- Steve Urmano, marketing director, Mimaki USA Inc.
- Mike White, wide-format manager, Industrial InkjetSystems, Agfa Graphics, North America
- Mike Wozny, product manager, EFI VUTEk
1. How has UV technology changed the wide-format market?
Barbiero: More than the technology itself, what has really changed are the needs of the printer’s end user. Marketers, for example, are dealing with shorter product cycle times—they need to speed up the design to execution process for their materials in order to improve the overall time to market. Today, billboards change every two to eight weeks on average, as compared to only once a year in the past. UV-curable technologies have advanced to meet the evolving needs of the market, leading to a new breed of technology that is highly versatile with speeds and productivity features that deliver a broad range of applications to market in record time. The industry-wide push towards technologies that lower the impact of printing on the environment has also led to increased attention on UV technologies, as UV-curable inks produce very low VOCs and require no special ventilation to meet occupational exposure limits.
HP has made significant strides in the UV arena to meet the increased demand and is working to empower our customers with the speed and quality needed to accommodate the new demands of the marketplace. Also, by adding enhanced features to our engines, such as the three-quarter automated loading on the HP Scitex FB7500 Printer, HP customers can diversify their product offering by acquiring new business on different substrates; they can reduce outsourcing and provide a better value.
Brey: UV print technology has dramatically changed the wide-format printing market through direct-to-rigid print capability. This technology eliminates the material costs associated with vinyl and in most cases lamination and the associated labor and risk for error in their application. In some businesses we have seen the material savings alone pay back the investment made in a flatbed UV printer.
Brock: UV technology has totally changed the wide-format market in recent years. It has enabled printers to reach new speeds that were once unheard of. Just a couple of years ago when we started getting into the UV technology, we only had 24 print heads in our roll-to-roll printers and now have managed to double that with 48 heads in most of our machines. The dry time is cut so drastically that we can pack in the output for the same great quality as before but with much more speed. Just some simple modifications on the “stepping” of the UV printers to produce high quality and speed.