Printwear

Start Here October '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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S T A R T H E R E 2 0 1 8 U V- L E D technology has matured quite a bit since its inception less than 10 years ago. As in most maturing markets, competition among manufactures has increased, production volume has increased, and production cost has been reduced. This has led to the devel- opment of new printer models offering award 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. Direct Color Systems (DCS), Mimaki, and Roland, the pioneers of U V- L E D 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 used 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. By Bill Leek Bill Leek of Houston, Texas, has over 33 years of experience in digital decorating sys- tem development and graphics design. He has developed several lines of color imprintable products utilizing inkjet, sublimation and color laser transfer tech- nologies. In addition, he has extensive working knowledge of color management and product durability testing and has consulted for many of the industry's leading companies. FACT BOX: Estimated Cost of Entry: The entry-level cost for a smaller, light-produc- tion printer like the Roland LEF-12i is $15K. The other three larger, faster, full-featured printers covered in this feature range from $18-24K (basic printer price only). Shop Space Required: The use of a UV-LED curing unit resolves all the limitations of the older mercury lamp design and allows the production of a compact, efficient UV printer that fits an office/light-production envi- ronment. A UV-LED printer uses only 20 percent power of a water-cooled lamp model, offers immediate power-on, and has a 10,000 hr. LED lamp life. These can operate in a normal office or light-production space. In addition, they are environmentally friendly. Basic Equipment Needs: a sturdy table if one is not provided by the manufacturer; a UPS system to protect the printer from power failures and surges; a color-managed monitor and printer; and an up-to-date PC with good graphics software and the manufacturer's RIP designed for your printer. In addition, you may need an adhesion promoter and lami- nation materials for a limited number of surfaces. Time Needed to Become Proficient: Onsite training from the manufac- turer or dealer is typically two to five days depending on the model and options. As with any new technology, expertise increases with self-study and actual use after formal training. 52 An example of textured, ADA, Braille sign produced by DCS. (Image courtesy Direct Color Systems) Entry-Level UV-LED Printing

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