Start Here November '21

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42 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 1 UV-LED UV-LED printing has been around for 20 years, but it has only been the last five to 10 years that have seen the industry really come into its own because of advances in inks, print heads, and light sources. This technology is rising in popularity, in large part because shops can print a project and package it immediately because the inks dry so quickly under the UV or LED light. The sign industry was an early adopter of UV technology because it "skips a lot of manual processes they had to incur," says Michael Maxwell, Mimaki USA. Another segment that was an early adopter of UV-LED was the point-of-purchase and package prototyping industry. "UV curable created an opportunity to create a mockup in a short period of time, a day or two, or a couple of hours, depending on the need," he adds. Jay Roberts, Roland DGA, says that he loves the fact that he can print on a product, like a keychain, and it is ready to go imme- diately. You can pull it off the printer, wrap it up, and ship it out instantaneously. He adds that the processes have gotten faster, and the textures of the images have gotten better. What is UV-LED Printing? UV-LED printing is a one-step process, unlike heat transfer printing and dye-sublimation where heat presses are necessary to set the inks. In UV-LED printing, a thin layer of ink is spread over the printable surface and instantly cured or hardened using ultra-violet or LED lamps, which makes the overall process versatile and quick. Applications and processes for this quickly growing segment of the graphics industry Paula Aven Gladych is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. She can be reached at By Paula Aven Gladych As technology has developed, decorators have been able to print on more and more items, including golf balls. (Image courtesy Roland DGA) UV-LED flatbeds provide a variety of options to print to a wide range of substrates, such as signage, posters, wayfinding, decorative panels, and more. (Image courtesy Mimaki) GETTING STARTED IN UV-LED Printing

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