Technology and market trends are prompting industrial print production managers to consider UV LED inkjet printing to improve their product identification and decorating operations. The combination of digital inkjet printing and UV LED curing offers many benefits to existing in-house print operations in a wide variety of manufacturing plants. Many production managers simply retrofit their existing line to enjoy a quick return on their investment. In this article we’ll discuss the technology and market trends driving adoption, along with the benefits of using UV LED digital inkjet for industrial printing.
Industrial printing, a print operation used during the manufacture of a finished subassembly or product, is commonly used for many kinds of products from automotive interior parts to pharmaceutical packaging, promotional items, home appliances, and consumer electronics. Many of these print operations are simple marking or coding of required identification data such as UPC bar codes, serial numbers, etc. and already use thermal inkjet or have/are upgrading to use a UV LED digital inkjet printer, most often offered by the UV LED ink supplier.
What is more interesting and the focus of this article are industrial print operations which print more complex identification or even decoration directly onto the part, and are not currently using an inkjet printing process or are already using inkjet printing with traditional UV curing. For example, manufacturers using pad printing or silk screening to decorate or mark a part are now primary candidates for UV LED inkjet printing. Likewise, anyone already using inkjet printing with traditional UV curing on their manufactured part should evaluate upgrading to UV LED curing.
Converging technology and market trends
Let’s start by understanding some of the key technology and market trends. On the technology side, advances in digital inkjet printhead and UV LED curing technology make it economical to retrofit UV LED inkjet printing into existing industrial printing operations.
Digital inkjet technology advances
Digital inkjet printing has already made significant inroads into many traditional analog print processes (wide format, flexo, and other graphic arts printing) due to its inherent advantages of being easy to print variable data and almost no set-up time with near or equal print quality. Drop-on-demand, DoD, printheads, specifically piezo greyscale printheads are able to precisely print millions of drops per second on a micro scale to produce high-quality print more economically (faster printing with fewer printheads). Most industrial printing operations such as pad printing or screen printing already use single-pass, fixed printing, so it’s easy to retrofit single-pass inkjet printheads in the same space on the production line.