Awards & Engraving

January '18

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18 • A&E JANUARY 2018 U V-LED technology has matured quite a bit since its incep- tion less than 10 years ago. As in most maturing markets, competition among manufacturers has increased, produc- tion volume has increased, and production cost has been reduced. This has led to the development of new printer models offering awards and engraving businesses superior performance and features at significantly lower pricing. Many entry-level UV-LED printers of 2018 compare to, or exceed, the capabilities of their mid-level counterparts of two years ago. Entry-Level UV-LED Printing 2018 By Bill Leek Direct Color Systems (DCS), Mimaki, and Roland, the pioneers of UV-LED printing in my opinion, still offer excel- lent products today for a new user; Mutoh also carries a product that is ideal for an awards business. This is based on several factors: hardware reliability and features, ease of use of RIP software, training, and manuals/videos combined with excellent service and warranties. Many users make the mistake of purchasing on the basis of price and specifications alone. It's impor- tant to evaluate the reputation and overall capabilities of the manufacturer, especially for a new user. APPLICATIONS Some UV-LED applications utilized in the awards and engraving market include the following: • Print your designs onto wedding gifts, small souvenirs, earthenware, art frames, and hundreds of other exciting giftware items. • Print directly to clear, light, and dark acrylic awards, plaques, and signage including Braille and ADA- compliant signs. • Print phone cases with photo-quality images and raised texture artwork. • Print full-color, photo-quality images, logos, and text directly onto golf balls. • Print crisp text and vibrant, full-color images using UV inks on wood, stain- less steel, ceramic and stone tiles, acrylic, plastics, glass, aluminum, and more. PRINTER SPECIFICATIONS AND OPTIONS There are several things to consider before selecting a UV-LED printer: • What is the largest printable dimen- sion and weight capability needed? • What are the thickest items the printer can handle? • How fast can it print, especially with white and color inks used simultaneously? • Is the print resolution high enough? • What options (cylindrical printing, direct-to-garment printing) can be easily and affordably added and installed? Here are a few UV-LED benchtop printers and some main recommended features. Stone and ceramic tiles produced using a UV-LED printer. IMAGE COURTESY DIRECT COLOR SYSTEMS

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