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How to Capitalize On Flatbed UV Inkjet Technology

(September 2006) posted on Wed Nov 01, 2006

Learn how to find a flatbed that's right for your operation and what you can do to take full advantage of its capabilites.

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By Scott Schinlever

Figure 2 Material Compatibility
The list of substrates supported by flatbed UV inkjets mirrors the range of materials that screen shops typically use. This list identifies some of the most common, along with the estimated percentage of total substrate use each type of material represents in an average graphics screen-printing company.

Material Estimated percent of total material use


Pressure-sensitive vinyl 22%
PVC (flexible) 7%
Styrene/ABS 10%
Polycarbonate/Lexan 12%
Foam/corrugated board 4%
Card stock/ paperboard 9%
Metal 11%
PVC (rigid) 5%
Polyethylene 4%
Polyester/Mylar 9%
Acrylic/Plexiglas 4%
Polypropylene 3%

"Tweaking" UV-curing parameters makes it possible to get inks to adhere well to a broader range of materials than screen printers have used in the past with a single ink set. The four-, six-, and eight-color ink sets typically available on flat-bed inkjets are matched to the printing equipment for optimal performance and excellent color-matching capabilities. It is interesting to note that many screen printers new to inkjet mistakenly believe that the single ink set is a limitation. Actually, it is an advantage because it allows for consistent quality, faster changeovers, and reductions in ink inventories.

In any event, now that flatbed UV inkjet printing is applicable to the full range of materials used routinely by graphics screen printers, it is only reasonable to evaluate the impact this technology might have on their business operations.

Core business enhancement

Depending on whom you talk with, screen printing can be the process of choice for print runs ranging from 25-1000 pieces or greater. Whatever the case, a flatbed UV inkjet printer can make significant contributions to the profitability of the screen printer's core business. The following sections describe how:

Short runs Flatbed UV inkjets are well suited for multi-market product rollouts, in which relatively small quantities of multiple campaign elements must be delivered to specific markets on short notice. They also are perfect for addressing the smaller-volume print needs of local retailers and other display-graphics customers.

Proofing Waiting for customers to sign off on press proofs can keep a screen-printing line idle for hours, if not days. An equally unattractive possibility is setting up another job if a long wait is anticipated. But flatbed UV systems can print one or several proofs without incurring setup costs.


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