Awards & Engraving

January '20

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48 • A&E JANUARY 2020 U V- L E D p r i n t i n g i s q u i c k l y becoming a popular form of decorating within the awards and personalization industry. With its colorful capabilities and efficient printing process, the technology is making waves that are worthy of note. To get an insider's look at the UV-LED process and to understand its basic applica- tion process, A&E tapped the knowledge of Craig Smith of Innovative Digital Systems. The following Q&A session provides some insight to those wanting to learn more. A&E: What is the first thing you suggest a new user does when entering the world of UV-LED printing? Smith: The first and foremost step to entering the digital print market is to pick a company with experience that can offer you a total decorating solution for your digital printing. Expertise in overall product decoration allows for a smooth transition from your current method of decoration to digital printing. Look at how a digital integrator addresses future developments and whether or not it will adapt to the future needs of your company. The digital world is still an emerging market that is ever-changing, with new developments occurring on a regular basis. A company should have all of the solu- tions for digital printing, including access to major print head manufacturers, ink development (don't settle for a one-ink- fits-all solution), in-house printing, testing capabilities, software, and good technical support. A&E: What process considerations must be made before beginning this endeavor? Smith: Evaluate the product and the printing expectations. Can your product be decorated with the digital process? Are there any printing difficulties to over- come? Don't over-engineer a printing solution — be practical with the limi- tations of the digital printing process to your application. Ask questions: how is the digital process more cost-effective and what is the value added? Once your product evaluation is done and your product is a good direct digital candidate, then your ink selection is crit- ical. During this step, (have enough sub- strate material available) for ink testing. Testing can determine the proper ink set for adhesion, durability, and resistance for your particular industry standards. UNDERSTANDING UV PRINTING APPLICATIONS Your basic UV application questions, answered

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