Start Here November '21

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S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 1 Other types of large-format printing require numerous passes to achieve a multi-colored image, whereas on a UV-LED printer, all colors can be laid down at once because the ink dries so quickly. These machines remove steps other technologies must take to print an image, cutting back on time and cost. "The UV printing pro- cess has a trifecta of ingredients that create the mechanics of the machine; they involve the lamp, the print head, and the ink. If any of these are out of whack, then you have to reformulate, regroup, or renew," Roberts says. Ink Advancements If a printer manufacturer wants its ink to have better adhesion to a specific substrate, certain chemicals come into play that make them bond better to metal, steel, Teflon, or glass. Those bonding agents do impact how fast the ink can travel through the print head and how they are cured by the heat of the lamp. And the work is never done. Manufacturers work closely with customers to rework their inks to better serve specific needs so the innova- tion will continue. Mimaki is just one company in the printing industry to originally dedicate effort into the UV-LED space. "The ink technology was the biggest stall in the whole chain of events here," states Maxwell. "Mimaki engineering decided to invest in LED technology and manufacture the inks in-house, creating our own chemistry. We streamlined the process." UV lights have always been too intense to use on paper goods or thinner substrates, but LED heat lamps can do the job without burning or warping the thinner materials. That advancement paved the way for UV-LED flatbed printers that can do everything from printing on cardboard packaging to car wraps. (Image courtesy Roland DGA) UV-LED printers can print on some pretty unique surfaces, including metal, steel, glass, and even on sporting equipment. (Image courtesy ColDesi) Image courtesy Roland DGA 43 Image courtesy Mimaki

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