Wide-format printers based on UV-curing technology have many advantages over other types of wide-format printers for signage.
But the more complex technology and chemistry involved in the UV-curing printing process imply the use of jargon and specific terms that are sometimes confusing and overwhelming.
This glossary of UV-curing printing technology is meant to help technicians, sales reps., writers and technology reporters, but also sign shop owners that want to expand their range of printers with a UV-curing inkjet printer.
abrasion resistance: The level of adherence of UV ink to certain materials when their surface is constantly rubbed with another surface or object. In other words, the level of resistance of UV ink to friction.
adhesion: The length of time ink is able to adhere to the material it is printed on. When adhesion is bad, UV ink begins to flake off.
backlit mode: When you select this print mode, you get a higher ink laydown to increase color saturation when the image is illuminated from the back.
Banding: A continuous horizontal defect in print jobs. A UV-curing printer may have banding problems caused by a number of reasons, such as
• When a group of clogged nozzles in you printhead
• When the feeding mechanism moves media too far or not far enough.
carriage or printhead carriage is the structure that holds the printheads; the carriage rides along a rail that is held in support by the gantry.
combo is the FLAAR classification designation for printers that use a transport belt to move the materials instead of a platen with pinch roller working against a grit roller. A combo system works better on moving thick rigid materials.
We classify UV-curing printers by its feeding mechanism:
In some cases, these designations have sub-classifications, due to the optional features offered by some printer manufacturers.
dedicated flatbed is a printer designed exclusively to handle rigid materials. However, most UV-curing flatbed printers have optional dancer bars to handle roll media.
entry-level is the designation for the most affordable printers, as opposed to high-end, which are the most expensive machines.
firing frequency is the number of ink drops ejected from a printhead nozzle per second. Firing frequency is measured in kHz (kilohertz). One hertz means that an event repeats once per second. So, a kilohertz means 1,000 droplets fired per second.
Most printheads have a firing frequency of around 10 kHz.
Grayscale is a printhead capability of producing ink drops of different sizes. Bigger drops give you coverage and color density whereas smaller drops provide the fine details in an image.
Hybrid (printer) is a kind of printer that uses the chassis of a small roll-to-roll printer. Equipped with accessory rear and front tables, can now handle thin rigid materials.
Of all the types of feeding mechanisms, hybrid printers are the least suggested type of UV-curing printers.
ICC profile is the color ID of a device or a picture. ICC profiles are used to produce more accurate colors when printing.
Profiles describe the color attributes to guarantee a color consistency throughout all the equipment used to produce graphics.
LED stands for light emitting diode. Most UV-curing lamps are Mercury arc, which produce lots of heat and consume considerable amounts of power. But LED lights are cooler than all other currently used forms of lighting. Cooler lights mean that thin or heat-sensitive materials do not bubble, curl, or otherwise deform as they pass through the printer.
Mercury arc lamps are the type of UV-curing lamps that use mercury vapor to emit ultraviolet light.
Mercury arc lamps are used in 80% of the UV-curable inkjet printers today. The percentage used to be higher, but LED lamps are becoming more popular as they have noticeable benefits.
nozzle is an orifice or opening through which ink droplets are fired.
Picoliter (pL) Also called Picolitre in the UK, is the parameter to measure the volume of ink droplets. One picoliter is a trillionth (one millionth of a millionth of a liter).
Said in numbers, a picoliter is the 0.000000000001st part of a liter.
Polymerization is the process of curing during which monomers form polymers. May be used as synonym for UV curing itself.
Recirculation system is a system that makes the ink flow continuously around the printhead.
This newer printhead feature means the printer manufacturer no longer needs to design a recirculation system between the ink tanks and the printheads.
RIP stands for Raster Image Processing software. This is the software used to take an image file, and translate it into bit language (a bitmap) that is sent to the printer’s electronic system.
Short run printing means printing one, two, or several hundred copies. Short run printing means not doing the large minimum runs required by a screen press to be economical, or on an offset press due to the fast speed.
Transport belt, may informally be called a conveyor belt, but it is really just a single wide belt.
The main feature of a printer classified, as a Combo printer is the transport belt used to feed the rigid or roll material into the printing area.
What holds the material (being printed on) to the belt is a vacuum system.
UV is standard abbreviation for ultraviolet. For inkjet printers, it means that UV radiation is used to turn the ink from a liquid (squirted from the nozzle) into a solid ink film on the substrate.
VOCs are the Volatile Organic Compounds found in solvent ink. The absence of VOCs in UV-curable inks is one of the main advantages of this type of inkjet ink, especially because VOCs are carcinogenic.
Water cooled means the UV curing lamps are cooled by water because if air-cooled, the air might blow the drops of ink off track as they are been jetted from the nozzle.
This is a short, web version of our glossary of UV-curing printing technology.
If you are interested in a more complete version, we have an extended Glossary of UV-curing Terms and Jargon in PDF format, and another document on the Anatomy of UV-curing Printers.
These reports are part of our Introduction to UV-curing Printers series, which you can order as a group, or individually in this page.