UV printing: what is it?

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What is UV printing ?

UV printing is a digital printing technique that involves using a UV cured ink featuring a network of polymers. This has the advantage of drying instantly with a UV ray, thus speeding up the manufacturing and printing process. As a result, products are ready as soon as they come out of the machine without there being any need for drying time. More precisely, it is not penetration or oxidation that dries UV inks, rather they are dried by the polymerisation of the UV photoinitiators in the ink. This makes drying instantaneous, especially with LED lamps. This technique makes it possible to use the object straight after printing. When you need to mark several dozens, even thousands, of products per hour, you cannot have the luxury of using a stacking lane to wait for the products to dry – they have to be ready to be packaged as soon as they are marked. UV printing is used on any material, on an object or flat.

What are the benefits of UV printing ?

Using a UV printing machine is ideal for personalisation and creating customised objects. It can also be used to make limited series of unique products or very small quantities. Since UV printing on objects is done in all kinds of quantities, the result is of very high quality, allowing for the application of special effects, such as reliefs, to your substrates.

Moreover, this printing technique uses very little ink. As the ink dries immediately, only the amount required is propelled on to the product. The number of drops needed for marking is assessed beforehand to ensure only that amount is used.

Lastly, UV printing is high quality because the appearance of the prints is not even altered by the sun.

In what areas is it used ?

UV machine printing can be very useful in an array of sectors, such as visual communication, interior decoration or customising all kinds of objects. At Alpilles Automation, we do UV printing with our Iris range of machine.

What is IML (In-Mould Labelling) ?

In-Mould Labelling (IML) is only used for marking plastic objects. During the plastic-making process, plastic is injected into moulds to produce objects such as bottles, lids, boxes and so on. The technique involves positioning a label in the plastic mould before the substance is injected into it so that it is taken in liquid form and becomes part of the substance.

This technique is particularly useful for packaging and high-speed printing.

However, there is a major drawback: the cost of the labels is very high and, furthermore, when the label is changed, the whole stock has to be replaced and the old stock discarded. So using this technique represents a considerable investment and the technology is not very flexible.