Mendelssohn: I think growth will center on resolution quality and speed. UV curable inks have many attributes to offer and they don’t require a laminate or coating to keep outdoor durability. The higher speed devices have been and will continue to grab people’s attention, simply because time is money and everyone is looking for extra work.
Muhr: From our point of view we do see two different growths in the market. The niche market is going to grow more slowly than the exchanges of printers which will be changed from solvent to UV technology. The R2R market will grow faster.
Paar: UV flatbeds have been the must-have products over the past few years. Now, roll-based UV printers are gaining popularity. Coupled with advances in ink formulations such as flexible UV inks, the opportunity to take some of the vehicle graphic work away from solvent based systems represents additional opportunity for UV printing going forward.
Urmano: It is difficult to project the growth of this market when we are basically redefining our end user base.
White: Industry forecasters indicate that UV-curable technology will continue to gain market share worldwide. UV inks are versatile, extending beyond CMYK to other colors that widen the palette for graphic communication professionals, allowing them to match custom colors and reproduce vibrant, eye-catching designs.
The benefits of this ink and its related inkjet technology are vast and include:
- The ingredients used in most UV-curable inks have low toxicity for safe handling, low irritants and, because they are polymerized, low odor
- They are formulated using high quality pigments, ensuring high fade resistance for long-term outdoor applications
- The inks are very stable, allowing for fast curing and easy handling
- They allow for higher printing speeds
- They have excellent jetting performance and good adhesion on a wide variety of substrates
- They have excellent light transmission, good color consistency and less ink consumption per square meter
- Most are designed for easy loading, with no risk of mixing colors
- Shelf life, depending on the specific ink, ranges from 12 to 18 months
We suspect finishing equipment will also grow and expand at a similar rate as UV Inks.
Wozny: Over the next three to five years, EFI expects that market to grow double digits.
4. What do you think will be the next evolution of UV technology?
Barbiero: In the UV space, the main vectors for innovation will be to enable a better match between the inks and the application, such as increased flexibility and a wider color gamut.
Brey: Manufacturers and integrators of UV print technologies continue to work on faster and more feature rich versions of their UV product lines. The challenge for the prospective buyer is to position themselves to capitalize on today’s latest technology without the risk of that their printers will become obsolete as technologies continue to advance. This can be accomplished through investment in a UV printing platform that can be upgraded by the manufacturer over time.
Brock: I am sure that as customers’ needs and demands change, UV technology will develop to accommodate those desires with better and faster products. We will see more and more speed come from the UV technology in the wide-format printer, that’s for sure. Gandinnovations has really been focusing on going “green” in the past couple of years with not only our printers but the ink we make and the substrates we recommend our customers use. Hopefully the industry will continue to make progress in this manner as well. As long as print shops can use it…it can and will be made for their needs.
Cich: Two things really. I see the inks becoming even more pliable, allowing for use in all fleet graphic applications with warranties. Second, as the print heads become wider, and UV prints drying instantly, the speeds of future generation of printers will be more robust.
Greene: I think the next major improvements will be in the inks themselves to allow UV to be used for more stretched and formed applications. This is where solvent has its advantage now. I know there are already a lot of improvements being made in this capability, but I think the expansion of this capability will increase the addressable market for UV-curable inkjet printers.