As demand for personalized items increases, the business case builds for people to go beyond printing on traditional substrates like vinyl and banners. To satisfy today’s customers, you need to be able to print on golf balls, phone cases, plaques, and maybe even 4 x 8 sign blanks. To meet this demand, manufacturers are building new and newly improved UV-LED printers. UV-LED technology is a perfect choice for these direct-to-substrate applications. Our UV-LED printing product offering now includes Direct Jet, ValueJet, and F-24 UV-LED printers. Each model offers unique features and advantages. Whether you’re looking for versatility, ease of maintenance, or maximum size, there’s one here for you. But which one is your perfect choice?
UV-LED Process and Advantages
Process: UV-LED printers are re-engineered inkjet printers originally designed to carry aqueous or solvent based inks. These inks are replaced with UV-curable ink and an ultraviolet LED curing lamp. The lamp cures the ink immediately after it hits the substrate. The LED light source used in today’s modern UV-LED printers produces instant light at a lower temperature and with less warm-up time than traditional mercury UV lamps. They also have a longer service life which reduces maintenance cost over the life of the printer. The UV lamp cures and encapsulates the ink making it instantly dry and abrasion resistant. Most UV-LED printers use a combination of process color (CMYK), white ink, and clear coat or varnish.
Advantages: UV-curable ink doesn’t require an ink receptive topcoat like standard aqueous ink. And it doesn’t need to burrow into the surface of the media like eco-solvent ink. Because of this, UV-LED printers can decorate a wider variety of media and substrates, including wood and plastics. Since the ink is cured immediately, once the item is printed, it’s ready for use. No need to let it dry or out-gas before it can be mounted or sold. This adds a measure of efficiency relative to aqueous and solvent or eco-solvent printers.
UV-LED printing also enjoys advantages relative to rotary and laser engraving for the production of gifts and awards. As the name implies, engravers can cut or scribe into an object, but lack the ability to apply full color raster images. UV-LED printers can apply high resolution color to the same objects used in traditional engraving businesses. These include wood and acrylic plaques, pens, and plastic indoor sign blanks. Furthermore, the use of white ink enables decoration of non-white or transparent substrates like glass, wood, and hockey pucks.
New & Improved: DirectJet MVP Series
Direct Color Systems has been one of the pioneers in this segment. They’ve expanded the Direct Jet product line with a new line of printers called the MVP Series. There are four new models ranging from the 1018MVP2 to the 1024MVP15. The new features in the MVP printers include…
• 300ml stainless steel internal ink tanks instead of the 17ml refillable cartridges in the standard models. The new ink tanks support greater efficiency due to longer uninterrupted print runs.
• Internal re-circulation for white ink. Any printer using white ink is susceptible to clogged print heads or ink lines if it is not used or maintained daily to keep the ink flowing. The Direct Jet MVP series eliminates this requirement with an advanced internal ink re-circulation system.
• Higher clearance. The 1024UVMVP15 is the industry leader in print clearance with a maximum substrate thickness of 15″. Direct Color Systems’ flagship printer can handle anything from luggage tags to toolboxes.
• Rotary Printing: The new EasyCyl attachment supports printing cylindrical objects up to 5″in diameter. The EasyCyl attachment is included with the 1024UVMVP4, 1024UVMVP6, and 1024UVMVP15.
• ADA-Compliant Braille Printing. Originally developed to take full advantage of Direct Color System’s Texture 3D technology, the ADA module supports production of braille and ADA way-finding signage by precise control of the texture and height of the ink. In addition to this profitable B2B application, the Texture 3D feature also adds a delightful tactile element to B2C products like cell phone cases and key chains.
• ACS™ Anti-Curing System: Standard on all Direct Jet 1024UVHS and MVP models, Direct Color Systems has designed the ACS to diminish the curing of ink in print head nozzles when printing on reflective, shiny, or mirrored (RSM) substrates through a precise combination of firmware, reflectors, sensors, and software settings.
• All of these new features compliment the already stellar print quality of the Direct Jet product line. The Direct Jet printers can produce an industry best print resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi. And they’re still the only printers in the segment Made in the USA.
New MUTOH UV-LED Printers
Mutoh has entered the market with two models using UV-LED technology and their patented Intelligent Interweave firmware to bring their game-changing blend of quality and speed to new markets. MUTOH brackets the market with the new ValueJet 426UF and 1626UH.
ValueJet 426UH: The 426UH is a desktop UV-LED printer with a maximum print area of 13″ x 19″ and a maximum substrate thickness of 2.75″. Like most UV printers, it offers a six-color ink set of CMYK plus white and varnish. The ink comes in 220ml plug-in cartridges. As noted above, the ValueJet 426UH includes MUTOH’s patented intelligent interweave firmware that eliminates visible banding while maintaining superior production speed. The 426UH prints at up to 89 sf/hour at 720 x 720 dpi.
While it doesn’t have the range of features and applications of the Direct Jet UVMVP product line, it is simple and affordable at only $19,995.00
ValueJet 1626UH: The 1626UH stakes out the other end of the digital printing spectrum. It’s a large format workhorse that accommodates substrates up to 64″ wide and prints at over 100 sf/hour. Like the 426UF, it incorporates MUTOH’s I2 print firmware to eliminate banding. It also comes with an optional on-board spectrophotometer for creation of custom ICC profiles. That’s a handy device for a printer that may be used to print on cardboard and other substrates for which no ICC profiles are available. The 1626UH’s maximum media thickness is only 1/2″; a far cry from the 15″ maximum of the similarly priced Direct Jet 1024UVMVP. Clearly, printing on toolboxes isn’t the ValueJet’s raison d’etre.
The ValueJet 1626UH is designed to print direct-to-substrate signage. Instead of the standard sign industry practice of printing on vinyl, then laminating it, then mounting it to a signboard, a 1626UH owner can just print directly to the sign board, saving two steps and lots of time and material. For signs that need to be outdoors for more than a few months, lamination is recommended. The 1626UH is also a champ at printing on card stock for packaging and prototyping. Like the 426UF, it incorporates CMYK plus white and varnish, so it can be used to print on clear and non-white materials. And like the DirectJET UVMVP printers, it incorporates an internal ink re-circulation system that eliminates the need for time-consuming daily maintenance and frees you from worrying about clogged heads and lines.
F-24 and F-24XL
Our newest offering in the UV-LED printing segment is from Graphics One and Compress. The F-24 is a robust, well-engineered machine that offers some unique advantages and outstanding value. The F-24 bridges the gap between desktop and large format applications by starting with an 18″ x 24″ print area. This is perfectly sized for the sign maker who wants a high volume print solution for 18″ x 24″ yard signs. Rather than printing on vinyl and mounting it to corrugated plastic, you can print right on the sign blank. The F-24’s 10″ Z-axis also accommodates non-traditional items like toolboxes, packaging prototypes, luggage, whatever. If you need something even larger, the F-24XL has a full 24″ x 47″ table that prints just under two by four foot signs.
The F-24 not only prints bigger items, it does it faster. It can print at a best-in-class speed of 100 sq feet per hour. Like the MUTOH and DCS offerings, the F-24 uses an advanced piezo electric print head. The maximum resolution is an impressive 1440 dpi. Bundled with the Wasatch RIP, you’ll have a UV print solution that excels at quality and productivity.
Finally, the F-24 offers easy maintenance and low operating cost. The innovative ink recirculation system agitates the ink inside the bulk bottles mounted to the rear of the printer. This means you don’t have to remember to remove and shake any white ink cartridges to prevent clogging. And the printer comes with a free two years’ supply of ink. So economy is baked into the F-24 formula. For those who want to GO Bigger, print faster, spend less time on maintenance and less money on ink, the F-24 and F-24XL may be the perfect print solution.
The UV-LED field is growing, offering more and better solutions for awards and engraving, personalization, ADA signage, large format signs and more. If you want the king of the hill for small format personalization, check out the new and improved Direct Jet MVP series. If you need maximum value in a basic desktop, consider the new MUTOH ValueJET 426UH. For more efficient large format sign-to-substrate applications, check out the new MUTOH Valuejet 1626UF. If you’re looking for a direct print solution for yard signs, maximum speed, and easy maintenance, the F-24 may be your best option. Still not sure what you need? Give us a call and we’ll help you figure it all out.