Cich: It has allowed service bureaus to turn around jobs faster at less cost. UV printers print directly to rigid substrates, eliminates the need to mount and laminate prints, which also reduces labor and “reprints” due to issues during mounting and lamination. UV technology is like the holy grail of digital printing—with direct print to most substrate, you get a superior end product. You don’t just eliminate mounting and lamination, you eliminate a major source of product failure: de-lamination, bubbles, out gas, etc. It revolutionized the large-format digital printing industry.
Greene: I think the biggest changes are in productivity, by dramatically increasing the speed and overall productivity of wide format digital printers, UV has enable companies in the high-end of the market to participate in wide-format graphics business. At the same time, the instant drying allows companies in lower ends of the business to turn jobs around faster. There is another thing too, and that is that the addition of UV-curable inkjet has enabled many competitors to compete in the market against larger companies that have in essence, “locked up” other conventional wide-format graphics printing technologies.
Kendle: Prior to the introduction of UV technology, roll fed printers were running exclusively with solvent inks. While they work well on some plastics, they are not suitable for long-term outdoor applications nor for all materials. UV technology has provided printers with equipment that is more versatile and able to tackle a wider range of materials. In addition, UV inks do not contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds), so they also have certain advantages environmentally.
Mendelssohn: INX Digital has helped lead this change by offering innovative, cost-effective products that take many things into account, including where these products will lead down the road whether it is two years, five years or even 10 years from now. UV Curable printers will be significant factors in the future and we’ve been planning for them most of this decade. Large corporate clients have been thinking this way for the same amount of time. Given the economic situation, we believe the corporate world will embrace Green technology in the next year of two, so UV technology will continue to affect the wide format market in the future.
Muhr: The market has changed through these new technologies with more possible applications for the wide-format market. Less expensive substrates can be printed. The range of materials to print on became huge. The prints became much brighter in terms of color management. Also for any restrictions to print with solvent, the UV technology has an answer.
Paar: Turnaround time has improved and costs have been reduced. UV technology has enabled shops to begin printing direct to rigid substrates eliminating much of their cost of mounting and trimming previously required to mount roll based prints onto boards.
Urmano: UV has changed the type of print media materials used and has broadened the application base past sign graphics to a number of different application areas.
White: Unlike aqueous, solvent and oil-based inkjet inks, UV-curable inks can be printed onto almost any substrate, both flexible and rigid, coated and uncoated. (These include papers, plastic substrates such as vinyls, polycarbonate and polyesters, as well as textiles, wood, glass, ceramics and more.) UV technology allows operators/users to print onto substrates that were not possible previously. These new abilities have opened many new creative doors for the designer and for manufacturing processes.
Wozny: UV technology has had a significant, positive impact on the WF market. For example, allowing direct to substrate printing. Previous technologies required the printed substrate to be mounted to a rigid board. The benefit of printing direct to board is lower total job costs, shorter turnaround times, and better overall quality resulting in increased growth rates for UV specific applications.
2. What applications/niches offer the greatest growth opportunity for shops? Why?
Barbiero: The best types of applications for UV printers include high-quality POP/POS displays, indoor and outdoor signs, banners, billboards, vehicle graphics, tradeshow graphics, interior decorations, short-run packages, and street furniture. UV-curable ink offers very high productivity, application and media versatility, and a low cost per square foot, providing opportunities for growth and expansion and for UV digital printing to take on more in the field of graphic communications.