March 31, 2022 

Digital UV Printing Benefits and Common Uses

Digital UV printer benefits include fast drying times and full color availability.

Inkjet printing has existed in various forms since the mid-20th century. The first commercially significant form of inkjet technology, the continuous inkjet (CIJ) printer, was released in the late 1960s and was an instant market success. Offering fast printing speeds, diverse substrate compatibility, and 24/7 operation, CIJ printers were immediately popular upon release and remain a staple of industrial coding and marking today. 

A few decades later, in the 1970s and 1980s, the advent of drop-on-demand (DOD) inkjet printers signified another important advancement in inkjet technology. DOD printer types like valve jet printers and thermal inkjet printers changed the definition of what inkjet printers were capable of. Ranging from compact handheld printer models to large case coders, DOD printers expanded the possibilities of inkjet printing to benefit production lines everywhere. 

Now, the forefront of inkjet technology is being shaped by another exciting type of printer: the digital UV inkjet printer. 

More commonly referred to as “digital UV printers,” these printer models offer very different capabilities than other inkjet printer forms. Whereas CIJ and DOD printers are most frequently used as batch coding machines or carton coders, digital UV printers can create large, vibrant images with unlimited color possibilities and instant drying times. As you might expect, this leads them to be used for very different applications than conventional inkjet printers. 

Here, we take a look at all things digital inkjet, including UV printing benefits, common uses, and application specialties. 

How Digital UV Printers Work

Like other inkjet printers, digital UV printers place images and codes onto substrates by propelling tiny ink droplets in a precise, uniform fashion. Similar to CIJ and DOD printer models, these markings begin as digital files that users design and upload to the printer system. Once a substrate passes by the system’s printhead, the printer propels droplets of UV-curable ink onto the material surface to create the desired markings. 

Here’s where digital UV printers differ from other types of inkjet printers. 

Once the printhead is done creating the image, an ultraviolet lamp attached to the printer shines a curing light upon the ink. This causes the ink to dry instantly, resulting in a sharper image and preventing any possibility of ink bleed. 

Below, we take a look at the main benefits provided by this printing technology. 

Digital UV Printing Benefits

As alluded to above, one of the biggest digital UV printing benefits is speed. Digital UV models like Mimaki’s JFX600-2513 print at speeds up to 200m²/h, a rate significantly faster than other high-definition printing methods such as screen printing. Digital UV printers are also capable of creating images that are larger and more vivid than markings made by other inkjet technologies. For instance, the  JFX600-2513 can produce images at resolutions up to 1,200 DPI, with dimensions up to 2,500 ×1,300 mm. 

Other digital UV printing benefits include:

  • Wide substrate compatibility: Digital UV printers can print on a variety of porous and non-porous materials, including paper, plastic, metal, glass, canvas, and leather.
  • Full color availability: Digital UV printers do not pose limits on color options. Gradients and expressions that traverse the entire color spectrum are available for use. 
  • Environmentally-friendly properties: The parts and ink used by digital UV printers possess certain properties that make them more environmentally friendly than many printer alternatives. For one, their LED curing bulbs don’t contain mercury, making them easy to dispose of once they need to be replaced. Additionally, as part of the ink portfolio used by UV printers does not release volatile compounds into the air during operation, harmful emissions are minimized. 
  • Finally, LED curing lamps require less energy to run than mercury lights, lowering overall power needs. 

Common Digital UV Printer Applications

Digital UV printing’s substrate versatility and ability to create large, vibrant images make it a great fit for several applications. Some of the most common applications include:

  • Custom carton packaging: The high-resolution graphics produced by digital UV printers are ideal for creating well-designed carton packaging. The cosmetics industry, in particular, has begun using digital UV printers to mark the outer packaging used for high-end products. 
  • Primary packaging and direct-to-shape printing: The versatility of digital UV printers enables operators to directly print on nearly any material. As such, important product information and traceable variable data can be placed straight onto the primary packaging without the need for a label. 
  • Difficult dry time applications: While traditional piezoelectric DOD printers are capable of making high-resolution graphics, they don’t offer the quick dry times that digital UV printers do. For those who need instant dryness in their packaging processes, digital UV printing is a huge asset. 

In addition to these uses, digital UV printers are a more cost-effective replacement for high-speed inkjet models like the Kodak Versamark and Domino BitJet. Overall operating costs associated with digital UV printing are lower when completing applications like:

  • Batch numbering. 
  • Card printing.
  • Addressing.

If you’re beginning to look for a digital UV printer, we suggest starting models available from BellMark, Atlantic Zeiser, Norwix, XiJet, Squid Ink, and Kirk Rudy.

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C&M Digest Team

The C&M Digest Team is composed of experts from across the coding and marking world. Comprised of ink developers, hardware veterans, and engineers, our News Team delivers informed coverage that is always free from brand bias.

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