The demand for decorating spaces – indoor and outdoor – with large format printed designs is increasing and evolving to include newer applications. Catering to such a demand has propelled the print industry to continuously pursuing technological advancements to improve efficiency, quality, and productivity. One such advancement comes with the introduction of UVgel Technology that can massively impact how large format printing is done.
Large format printing market and existing technologies
Leading research firms expect the worldwide eco-solvent, latex, and UV roll to roll print volumes to grow at a CAGR of 9% between 2018 and 2023. The large format printing market has always been a dynamic one. One can observe that change is occurring regularly and faster than ever before in this exciting industry. The latest trends suggest that changing demands and higher adoption are driving up volumes, and turnaround times for customers are reducing by the day. Consequently, increased productivity has become a key driver for print service providers (PSPs) to invest in new technology.
Most of the PSPs agree that there exists a gap between what the current technologies like 64″ latex and eco-solvent printing systems offer and customer demands. PSPs observe three important limitations:
- Low productivity
Prevailing systems are not suited to high-volume production. Dot gain(merging of two adjacent ink droplets) limits the volume of ink that can be laid down without compromising the quality and leads to a higher number of passes. Additionally, these devices require a drying stage to evaporate the solvent.
- Lack of quality at adequate speed
Newer applications such as indoor advertising and décor are subject to higher scrutiny and require greater quality. Higher-quality print modes in current technologies lead to a dramatic slowdown in output speed.
- Low versatility in media
The use of latex and eco-solvent printers is limited as heat drying is a must for evaporating solvent, and hence, these devices are considered unsuitable for heat-sensitive media.
None of the prevailing technologies satisfies the PSPs looking for the correct combination of productivity, quality, and versatility. They must compromise on one attribute for another.
That leaves a clear opportunity for an advanced printing technology that could overcome traditional methods’ limitations while providing the same benefits.
Introduction to UVgel technology
UVgel technology is designed to achieve the best of three worlds: the color gamut and lightfastness of eco-solvent, the fit for indoor use, and quick drying time of latex and the productivity and low-temperature printing process of UV. The combination of UVgel, piezo-electric print head, LED-curing, and heating method enables superior output quality at high speeds on various print media.
The UVgel printing stages can be simplified as follows:
- Inside the printheads, UVgel ink is heated and gets converted from a gel into a liquid.
- The temperature-controlled platen controls the temperature of the substrate constant regardless of external factors.
- The liquified ink immediately transforms back to its gel state on contact with the print media.
- In their gel state, the ink droplets get ‘pinned’ instantly to the media, aided by a partial LED ‘pre-cure’ process.
- Full LED curing occurs at a later stage after the image swathe is wholly formed and gelled on to the media.
Key benefits of the UVgel process
There are several notable benefits that can be reaped by PSPs through this technology.
- UVgel ink droplets, which remain in a gel state, do not merge among themselves; thus, controlling dot gain.
- Relatively more ink can be deposited in fewer passes, improving productivity & speed.
- It renders a unique and stable color accuracy and repeatability.
- UVgel ink enables separation of the image build-up process from the curing process. This allows a high gloss or matte finish.
- Immediate curing is not required, and hence, the process becomes faster.
- The evaporative drying process is not required as the prints dry out instantly.
- Unlike other processes, prints are very robust and require no lamination.
- It is completely odorless.
The ‘print-then-cure’ process, made possible by the UVgel technology, is poised to disrupt the large format printing market. Increased productivity, quality, and versatility are the fundamental differentiators compared to traditional methods.
CityBlue Technologies is an industry leader in providing Large Format Printing Equipment, Drone Services, Digital Platform Solutions and a wide range of products and services for the Architectural, Engineering, Industrial, Power, Manufacturing and Government Markets.
CityBlue Technologies offers a series of wide-format printers that contain UVgel technology. The company is considered one of the most excellent solutions provider for the architectural, engineering, and manufacturing industries. By providing top-of-the-line CAD Products and Supplies, CityBlue Technologies is tough to beat. Our CAD Products consist of our own private label product line along with Oce paper and toner products, RSA (Reprographic Services Association) paper products, HP (Hewlett Packard) inks, and papers, as well as all of your Canon ink needs. These high-quality products help deliver the total solution.
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