Awards & Engraving

January '20

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50 • A&E JANUARY 2020 These printers work best in a work cell environment because they are a "batch-type printing process." For example, let's say your printer takes five minutes to print a tray of parts. Ideally, your operator should utilize that time to prepare the next tray of products and package the previously printed tray for shipment. This maximizes your production efficiencies. A&E: What should a user never do when UV-LED printing? Smith: To answer simply, the following three tips are important guidelines to follow: 1. Never allow an inexperienced oper- ator to operate the machine. 2. Your print heads are the most expen- sive item on your machine. Do not allow a head crash (a strike of the heads onto the substrate). 3. Your print head must never have direct light exposure from the curing lamps. This cures the ink within the print head. A&E: Let's talk about the challenges that new users face with UV-LED technology. How can those be addressed? Smith: The challenges in UV digital printing include finding a good machine operator. These printers can print a variety of products, but each application has its own uniqueness, and you must have a good understanding of the process and the machine's capability to achieve success. In the current work environment, finding the right operator is key. Secondly, understand enough to deter- mine whether something is a good product to digitally print. My suggestion is that until you have a lot of experience, that you reach out to your machine supplier to help you find the right solution for your applica- tion. Your supplier most likely has already seen this application and is able to provide you with an appropriate solution. A&E: Can you list the ideal substrates for UV printing? Which aren't ideal for this process? Smith: Today's UV printing has come a long way. There are only a few substrates that UV printing hasn't been able to get a good adhesion on, mainly Teflon and silicones. So, the best way to answer the question is to break down some of these different materials and how to print them. Metals, in general, need a primer. This primer can be jetted through a print head if the right print head is used. Most machines have some type of head that can be used as a primer. The main thing with metals is Metals, in general, need a primer to achieve good adhesion. IMAGE COURTESY PDS EQUIPMENT

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