While it is more advanced and therefore more expensive, UV-curing technology poses several benefits over other inkjet inks, and offers a competitive advantage that make the investment worthwhile.
Compared to other inkjet inks, UV-curable ink has the advantage that it cures (dries the ink) on top of both roll media and rigid media.
For example, solvent ink technology needs a system to heat the material for the pores to open to capture the ink drops. The solvent, which functions as the vehicle of the pigment, evaporates. This process causes considerable smell.
On the other hand, media does not need to be preheated with a UV-curing printer, because the ink formulation is designed to create a layer on top of the media.
The ability to print on different types of roll and rigid media is one of the main advantages of UV-curable ink, and one that opens the possibilities of the media types you can print on.
Décor Applications with UV-curing ink
Over the course of the last ten to fifteen years, we have visited several factories, demo rooms and sign shops that display applications other than signage.
Some time ago we published an article that contains several architectural materials you can print on:
- Aluminum composites
- Ceiling tiles
- Ceramic tiles
- Toilet seats and lids
- Venetian blinds
- Wood: doors, shutters, cabinets
For example, Qres (previously known as GRAPO) has an impressive demo room with décor applications printed on with their UV-curing printers.
DPLUS, is a sign shop in Dubai that offers interior decoration services. Their applications are printed on with UV-curing ink.
According to the company’s website, DPLUS prints unconventional materials for interior decoration. Among the applications listed you can find:
- wall panels
- applications on wood
- applications of glass
Hybrid Services, a printer distributor based in the UK, is one of the distributors of Mimaki in that region.
In their website, Hybrid Services lists some of the materials that can be printed on with the Mimaki JFX-200 flatbed UV-curing printer:
- aluminium composite
And of course, this printer handles a dozen other types of media for signage.
Why hasn’t décor taken off in the UV-curing industry?
As mentioned in previous articles, most of the major printer manufacturers have a rather discreet approach as to the range of applications they advertise for their printers.
Ten years ago, you could see tradeshows and printer expos filled with UV-curing printers printing on wood, concrete, tiles, cork and other décor applications.
But as the industry learnt, adhesion is one of the most crucial aspects that need to be addressed by ink manufacturers and print businesses if they want to have décor applications as a core stream of income.
Most of those printer brands that used to adventure with applications outside the signage realm, are now defunct, or were acquired. Of course, one thing is not necessarily cause of the other, but it is a sign that most serious printer brands are cautious about the print applications they promise.
This historical aspect is not meant to discourage you to try décor applications with UV-curable ink, but to make you aware of the need to ask your ink provider to certify the use of their product in specific materials.
Ink companies that manufacture UV-curable ink for décor
This is a preliminary list of ink companies that currently sell UV-curable ink for décor and interior design applications:
INX Digital has an interesting series of UV-curable inks for metallic applications.
This company has been developing a UV-curable ink that can be used on both decoration and packaging applications. It can be used to print on
- semi-rigid plastics
- rigid plastics
- synthetic substrates
Marabu Inks manufactures the Ultra Jet DUV-GR, a UV-curable ink that can print on
- aluminum composites such as Dibond, and
Also, Marabu’s Ultra Jet DUV-A is an ink that prints a wide range of signage products, but also prints on
- coated metal
- wood boards
- MDF boards
Sun Chemical manufactures the SunJet Dimoda, which is formulated to print on
- décor papers
- primed particle boards
- MDF boards
- vinyl flooring
This is only a preliminary list of the ink companies that have solutions for the décor industry. We will be completing this list as we learn about more options.
As you probably know, there are several types of UV-curing ink, depending on the applications you look to print.
If you are interested in printing applications outside the signage realm, such as décor, you should ask your printer company or printer distributor whether your UV-curing printer is compatible with other types of UV-curable ink.