Awards & Engraving

August '19

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54 • A&E AUGUST 2019 Manufactured materials like Cordura can also be printed with UV inks, and inks that flex are especially beneficial in applica- tions like seat covers, cargo bags, and other items that require rugged materials and embellishment that will stand up to abuse. FLEXIBLE: A BRILLIANT CHOICE FOR KYDEX PRODUCTS One final area that is becoming a huge growth market that requires flexible print is the Kydex marketplace. Custom gun, knife, tool, radio, and cell phone holsters, as well as money clips and tactical wallets are all being made of Kydex, which is heat and pressure formed to fit the item. Since there is a lot of "forming" to meet the contours of a gun or knife, there needs to be a lot of flexibility in the inks used to decorate the preforming Kydex. Print the design you want on the item onto the unformed Kydex sheet then form the item as you would from unprinted Kydex. WHY FLEXIBLE AND HYBRID INKS? Before we wrap up this article, you are probably wondering, why do I keep reading about flexible and hybrid inks? Good ques- tion. Historically there have been two types of inks for UV-LED small- to mid-format printers: rigid and flexible. Flexible inks work well on flexible items such as those mentioned throughout this article but don't adhere as well to some more traditional materials like metals and some plastics. So there was a tradeoff. Recently some machine manufacturers have begun to offer hybrid inks that per- form well on a much broader spectrum of substrates, handle flexing at levels near the level of flexible inks, and still provide excellent performance on rigid items like metals and plastics. These inks allow much more versatility, meaning that you do not have to dedicate your machine to only rigid or only flexible applications. FLEXIBLE INKS OPEN NEW OPPORTUNITIES We have uncovered a lot of new oppor- tunities that exist by getting out of the old rigid world of UV printing so you can flex your digital printing muscles. Perhaps it's time to take another look at adding a UV-LED printer to your shop? Upgrading your current equipment and inks opens new doors for new profits. Today's machines have dual, long-lasting UV-LED lamps and a full-size fast bed that can provide clearance of up to 11.8 inches, which means you can print just about anything. And the flexibility the new inks offer means reduced waste, less inventory, accelerated workflow, and full- color process printing on a multitude of substrates to help you attract new business and customers. A&E

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