What is
UV printing?


UV printing is one of the most flexible and exciting print processes ever created, and its uses are almost limitless. Discovering UV printing technology and learning a little about how it works will be beneficial for your business and you will be inspired by what you can achieve with it.

Do you need UV printing?

Gadgets, gifts, signage, merchandising, electronics, ceramics, jewellery, and homeware are just some of the commercial sectors touched by UV printing technology. Let's dive into it.

Meet the users' demand by printing outstanding results.

UV is speeding up and simplifying the personalisation print process meeting the increasing demand for limited runs of unique and decorated products.

At the same time UV print adds exciting and sophisticated textured special effects to the finished result. From bottles to pens to smartphone cases and USB sticks, UV printers, such as Roland’s VersaUV range, offers white and clear ink (matt and gloss varnish) that work with the standard CMYK colour gamut to create vibrant colours and outstanding gloss, matt, textured and 3D effects on a vast array of substrates.

So, to answer the question: UV? Yes, very much so.

UV printing has rapidly become an essential tool for sign makers, graphic providers, advertising agencies and designers and retailers. UV allows printing onto a breath-taking array of surfaces and shapes.

Even those who already have screen and pad printing as part of their skill set are enjoying a healthy return from the liberating simplicity, speed, and cost-effectiveness of UV digital printing in addition to their existing daily workflow.

In addition, UV printing can be easily placed into copy shops, printing centres and shops, to offer customised and highly profitable products .The question is not whether you should invest in a UV printer – it’s more of a case of how much you should invest, and what printer model best suits your needs.

What is UV printing and how it works

Let’s start with a brief but important explanation about the technology.
UV digital printing speeds up the print production process by instantly curing specially formulated UV inks on a vast range of materials using UV lamps. Let's see the three elements that produce the final artwork. A brief video will also show you the printing in action.

Print head technology

Precision ink placement is delivered using piezo print head technology, in which microscopic piezoelectric elements (such as crystals and ceramics) are mounted behind the print head nozzles.

When an electrical charge is applied these elements flex, ejecting precise quantities of ink onto the print media.

This advanced technology provides an exquisite degree of control over the machine’s ink delivery while also creating perfectly spherical dots at different droplet sizes for extraordinary control over print quality, colour density and finish.

This may sound very technical but don’t worry, the technology is there to serve you, not confuse you. You will notice the amazing print quality, and so will your customers.

UV inks

The ink is instantly cured during the printing process and there’s no need for degassing or drying.

An object can be printed and immediately used for its intended application, or the printed substrate – for example cardboard for a packaging prototype – can be taken straight from the printer to the cutter without any risk of the ink chipping or cracking.

UV inks like Roland ECO-UV are normally flexible, to follow curves, or print on an elastic medium.

UV lamps

UV digital printing speeds up the print production process by instantly curing specially formulated UV inks on a vast range of materials using UV lamps.

Cool-running LED lamps (as the one used in Roland UV products) are long-lasting, ozone-free, safe (emit only UV-A light) and cost-effective, plus they do not need any warm-up time to cure inks, saving both time and energy.

Such lamps allow the UV device to print on heat sensitive materials including shrink wrap, natural wood or the film used to protect smartphone or tablet screens.

Watch this video to learn more
about UV printing
and how it works.



   

 


UV printing opportunities

Using UV printing technology, it's possible to print unique designs, images, text and even textures directly onto a vast range of materials or products. For example, VersaUV printers are widely used for product personalisation and for offering your customers something totally different from the average printed product. 

It’s interesting to note that the Roland community use their VersaUV printers for an incredible variety of output:

 

  • Musical instruments like personalised drumsticks
  • Decorated electronics such as laptops
  • Eye-catching fashion accessories including leather bags and purses
  • Gifts like metal jewellery boxes
  • Signage and display graphics on typical and unusual substrates
  • Awards and trophies including those made of glass and acrylic
  • Homewares and keepsakes like clocks
  • Packaging prototypes and display mock-ups
  • Corporate gifts and promotional products like pens
  • Sports equipment such as golf balls

Hundreds of ideas
to make money from UV printing

Because you can print on almost any material without restrictions and because there is no complex learning curve – just a simple matter of creating the required design(s) and selecting the print mode – you can dip into the lucrative bespoke printing marketplace right from the start. Let's see how.


After a simple five-stage set-up procedure that takes no more than an hour the operator can start earning a return on their investment.

What you use your UV printer for is up to you. How about individually printed bottles of wine for special occasions? Miniature dolls and figurines printed with the faces of your favourite movie stars? Personalised trophies and staff awards? Hotel key cards? Embossed menus? Golf balls? Intriguing smartphone cases? Bespoke packaging?

The uses of digital UV are as individual and unique as the users’ and their customers’ imagination.

A UV printer gets your creative juices flowing and frees your mind to explore a brand new world of possibilities and combinations. UV printing is nothing less than the revolutionary fast track to flexible output and freedom of expression.

Put VersaUV to the test! Think of a product and print it with Roland's latest UV technology. And if you need some inspiration, this infographic shows hundreds of wonderful decoration and customisation ideas for you to try. Roland's flatbed UV printers are also ideal for printing directly to irregularly shaped items, and for really tricky objects it's easy to add a jig (template) to your system.

 

Find out more about creating a jig for your LEF in this helpful blog post and video. Rotary attachments are supported which are designed for cylindrical products like bottles. Experiment with personalised water bottles, sports kit and more.

Print special effects with UV inks

Roland VersaUV's gloss ink can be printed in layers to create astonishing textures. Simulated embossed finishes, raised text and Braille and incredible 3D special effects can all be achieved on a huge array of materials. Click on the texture to see the printed effects.

leaves texture printed lef2-200
leather texture printed on LEF2-200
metal texture printed on LEF2-200
Wood texture printed on an LEF2-200
Lace texture printed on an LEF2-200
Stitching texture printed on an LEF2-200

In fact, any linear design and pattern can be highlighted by over-printing layers of transparent ink to create a tactile structure, adding an extra dimension to the print project. Reproduce the look and feel of leather, create a woodgrain effect or simulate water droplets.

Enhance colour print or text with doming effects or glazing to add visual interest, reinforce the impact of the printed message, or provide an extra ‘wow’ factor to your work.

Special effects that would once have been complex, time consuming and even impossible to create are now available at the touch of a button.

See how print professionals have driven their customers wild with UV textures and effects in this blog.

UV, screen printing and pad printing
a perfect combination

UV printing can be used as a great stand-alone technology, but it is also a perfect – and powerful - complementary tool when used in conjunction with more traditional personalisation technologies such as screen and pad printing. Let's see why.

Pad printing is ideal for repetitive projects such as printing letters on computer keyboard keys and push button controls, and screen printing is perfect for long-run print projects once the frames and screens have been prepared (or for fine art limited runs such as Andy Warhol’s portraits in the 60s and 70s).

The main benefits of UV printing are simplicity and speed. It requires no silicon pad etching or colour-specific silk screen frames. This digital technology allows the user to print a single item with a bespoke design or complete a customised short run – such as printing 100 pens with 100 different names, during a single print run.

Handing someone a diary printed with your company name is a nice gift, but handing 100 people bespoke diaries marked up with their names and company details, all finished with embossed lettering, will have much more impact.

By adding UV printing to your skill set you will always be able to surprise your existing and potential customers with fresh, new ideas. They will soon become as excited about the possibilities as you are.

Compatible materials for UV print

It might be easier to ask what can’t be printed using UV. So, waterproofed or oil-surfaced material, doesn’t accept UV due to the water resistance treatment or plasticisers or protective films.

Everything else is printable – either direct or by using a primer. In general, you can print on an almost infinite catalogue of material with UV inks and a Roland LEF printer. Remember, the cool LED lamps cure the ink droplets immediately after they land on the material, which means they are not absorbed and do not etch, damage or react with the media.

And since no heat is used to cure the ink, printing on heat-sensitive materials isn’t a problem either.
This means ECO-UV is compatible with a wide range of unusual substrates, like some of the ones below:


Wood

Roland VersaUV UV printers can add customised designs directly onto wood and wooden products. Use compact VersaUV LEF printers for wine boxes, dominoes, drumsticks and picture frames, and the larger VersaUV S-Series for more ambitious wooden items like doors or table tops.

Find out more about printing on wood

Glass

You can print onto glass items, like window panes, jewellery boxes and wine bottles, with Roland VersaUV. Adding a primer layer can make even the smoothest surfaces printable.

Find out more about printing on glass 

Canvas

UV printing is great for canvas. Canvas art prints that stand out, canvas bags and shoes that make a fashion statement, traditional canvas sports equipment – add any colour and design you want with VersaUV.

 

Ceramic

Chase the trend for colourful interiors with creative ceramics, printed with VersaUV. A primer could help you achieve outstanding results on smooth ceramic tiles, ornaments and other objects.

Find out more about printing ceramics 

Leather

Roland UV inks are flexible, meaning you can print onto leather, vegan leather alternatives, faux animal skin and more – making bags, shoes and homeware truly unique. You can even print leather-like textures to other materials with Roland's clever VersaUV technology.

Find out more about printing on leather

Metal

Print onto metal with UV printers from Roland. Print colours and textures to metal water bottles, drinks packaging, retro lunchboxes, pet tags and many other cutting-edge customised products.

Find out more about printing on metal

UV print markets for you to explore

Okay. You’ve invested in your state-of-the art UV printer and opened your world to an almost unlimited number of print possibilities.You can print on as few or as many objects as you want with bespoke or unique touches to each individual piece. Your mind is fizzing in a sea of possibilities, but who do you offer these amazing services to?

The potential marketplace is breathtaking. With your new printer you can print on golf balls, menus, hotel key cards, school sporting awards and medals, packaging, chinaware, furniture…

The breadth of the markets now open to you are, like the surfaces you can print on, almost limitless.The most exciting benefit of UV printing is its flexibility and the creative potential it offers.


Combined with your existing technology – such as print & cut and screen-printing machines – an investment in UV printing means you will always have something fresh to propose to your customers.

A quick list could include customers as diverse as:

How business like
yours benefit from UV printing

An LED UV inkjet benchtop printer, such as Roland’s LEF series, offers astonishing flexibility when it comes to both the materials it can handle and the products onto which it can print.

It takes productivity to the next level and businesses around the world use VersaUV to create incredible things. Digital UV printing creates a pathway to a huge customer base including customised corporate merchandise, signs and gifts, personalised awards, models, notebooks and packaging prototypes. Be inspired by these stories and see how UV printing could boost your business.

 

Increased revenue by 300%

By spotting the trend for reclaimed wooden signs and gifts, Pretty in Polka Dots, were able to increase their revenue, a game-changer for this family business.

READ THE STORY (1 MINUTE)

Attract new markets

Beauty and perfume packaging specialists Qprint Osana have attracted a new market with their personalised and textured print offering.

READ THE STORY (2 MINUTES)

Become a market leader

Versatility, reliability and precision are key for Max Model who produce small-scale decals, and UV printing enables this, improving their competitive stance.

READ THE STORY (2 MINUTES)

Roland UV product range

LEF-12i

UV Flatbed printer 

LEF2 Series

UV Flatbed printers

LEC2-300

UV Printer cutter

LEJ-640

Hybrid UV printer

S-Series Flatbed

UV-LED flatbed printer

S-Series Belt

UV-LED belt printer

 

Download
our UV guide

Download your free UV print guide today to discover markets, materials, applications and more. Discover the colourful, touchable, customisable world of UV direct printing and see how it could transform your business.

Get the guide

Calculate
your own weekly profit

Check out our ROI calculator for VersaUV LEF benchtop printers. In five steps, it works out how much money you can make each week and how long it would take for your printer investment to pay for itself – with results calculated in seconds.

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