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UV Direct Print on Glass

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UV Direct Print on Glass

Postby BobH » July 14th, 2015, 10:53 am

I can't say I'm an expert in printing on glass, but I have printed on glass and have easy access to some experts. I have a Direct Color Systems (DCS) UV Direct print that uses Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, White and Clear inks and can print in 3D textures. I have been UV printing for 2-1/2 years.

To print on glass, raw metal and acrylics and wipe on treatment is recommended. For metal and glass I use BOHLE METAL-GLASS PRIMER FOR FULL COLOR UV PRINTING - BO 5209489. It is not sold by DCS (they sell another product) but this product is also recommended by them and works best. You simply wipe it on and it dries immediately. Printing on glass without it works fine but with the treatment is much more durable.

As the inks are immediately dried by the UV light, there is no drying time and the product is ready to go. As the inks are UV cured, they are UV stable. I have left UV prints in the sunlight for two years without any noticeable change in color. I have tried removing the inks with alcohol, citrus based cleaners, plastic cleaners, paint thinner and even acetone. No ink was removed. I have to scrape it off with a razor blade and that is not an easy task. Mistakes can be costly. So far i have printed on raw and painted metals including powder coated, plastics and acrylics of all sorts, wood, leather and glass. You cannot print on very slick plastics or rubber products such as silicone.

Products have to be fairly fairly flat (or round with the EasyCyl as described below). Any thing sticking up will hit the print head so it would have to be removed in order to print.

I have seen ADA signage with raised braille bumps and letters printed on glass and acrylic. As these can be touched a lot, I would expect it would have to be very durable, but I have not spoken to anyone who has had them in use for a long time.

I have printed textured photos where you can raise either light colors or dark colors provided a 3D effect. I printed an old man who had not shaved for days and it prints so fine you could rub your have on his beard and fell it. I have printed vector graphics of basketballs and footballs in 3D mode and you can feel the threads and bumps.

I will be getting an EasyCyl from DCS. this device allows you to print completely around a bottle. I have seen many prints on bottles including 3D vector and photos. I don't know a lot about it yet, but do know figuring out where the print will start is tricky. They have a laser device that helps with this but I have not seen it operate.

The largest challenge with UV Direct print is the same challenge there is with working with any full color printing system...learning full color printing and working with others vector art. I have gotten to the point that I insist on creating the artwork myself. I will use vector logos, bitmaps and whatever pieces the client wants, but I want to construct the printed graphic. Most clients expect this but working with graphic artists is the real challenge. The reason for the challenge is two things: layers - placing artwork on top of each other; and color management- "that's not the color I sent you or I don't like that color". These are complex topics that I won't try to tackle here, but the importing of graphics created somewhere else creates interpretation issues with both layers and colors.

I hope I have provided enough information to offer a basic understanding of the possibilities of UV Direct print. I will be happy to answer any questions or get the answers for you.
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Re: UV Direct Print on Glass

Postby Terry W » July 14th, 2015, 12:17 pm

Hi Bob, and welcome to the forum

I have seen some of the larger flatbed uv printers printing on glass. Pretty neat and gives a person all kinds of ideas until you see the price tag.

As for working with graphic artists. You run into the same thing here as well. Send me a vector file. Graphic Artist, OK. here it is. They would have 1000 lines for a square.

I have seen some awards printed as you say with the white ink put down last. Really makes it pop.

Thanks for all the info. :TU:
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Re: UV Direct Print on Glass

Postby BobH » July 14th, 2015, 1:23 pm

Hi Terry,

You're right about the graphic artist issue. Very few have any understanding of any media other than the web and for paper. I also have a problem getting black and white for sand etching. Many think grayscale IS black and white!!!

As to the UV printer. Mine is 10 by 24 inches, much smaller and less expensive (but not cheap), than the big flat beds. My printer will print white ink and the bottom or the top (for reverse glass prints) for that extra pop. It's really handy printing on dark materials. I can also print clear on the bottom to build the graphic up or on top for a glossier look. Clear is used mixed in with all inks to provide extra hardening. The extra layers are all printed in the same pass, so no extra time is needed.
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Re: UV Direct Print on Glass

Postby David Takes » July 14th, 2015, 3:38 pm

Bob,

Thanks for the great info. I'll be in the market for this technology in about 9 months, but just waiting a little longer for some of the newer manufacturers to work through the bugs and the market to create a little more competition. At that point I'll be ready to buy a machine outright and snag up a show special.
David Takes
Expressions Engraved
St. Joseph, Missouri
http://www.expressionsengraved.com
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Re: UV Direct Print on Glass

Postby BobH » July 15th, 2015, 12:05 pm

Buying a UV Direct Printer

David, as you stated an interest in purchasing a UV printer in the future, I'll post for everyone some key things I found was important in buying and owning one.

I'm fairly mechanically and electronically competent as I have always done all my maintenance and repairs on my sandblasting equipment and my laser engraver. Full color print machines are more complicated, yet I have done repairs in the past on a few machines. There have been some repairs I needed a technician for. So when shopping for a UV printer consider if the company offers regionally located technicians who can do repairs if ever needed.

Parts are another concern. Is the machine made in America? How available are ALL parts? What hours is phone support available? What training is available...on-site and in other forms? Ask to review the machine/software manuals...are they easy to understand and are well written for the novice?

As David has stated...having tecnology be available and sold on the market for a year or longer is an excellent idea. Let others work the bugs out. Show specials or buying the sales person machine is often a very good idea. Not only do you get a good price, but someone else has worked the bugs out of your machine and you still get a full warranty.

Warranty...What is the warranty? What does it cover? Is labor covered? Can any of the warranty work be done on-site? Is shipping covered? Know what costs you will bare before you buy.

Education - What is taught in on-site? You want enough to get started with doing simple prints on products you offer. You also want to learn most everything you need to know about maintenance. Maintenance is the key. Make sure you do the 5 to 10 minutes of maintenance on a regular basis. Most people who have bad experiences beat up their machines or do poor maintenance if any at all. I have spoken to many. Who does their training? I have found those that have a good technical understanding of the machine (like a technician) to be a better trainer in general than sales people. Expecting training to cover advanced techniques is not reasonable as you will already be overwhelmed by the basics. Good phone support later is key.

Color education - If you don't have a lot of experience working with full color art, begin your education as soon as you decide to buy a machine. There are many sources on the web. Understand Pantone colors; CMYK vs. RGB color formulas; various color spaces including those that are web based, Adobe and others. Make sure you ask your trainer what color space the production or RIP software works in. Learn about converting vector files into the appropriate color space upon import. Producing colors that are those that your client wants is important and you cannot always rely on the files you are given, even if you are importing graphics that have Pantone colors.

I want to share a Pantone story with you. A client sent me three vector files of their logo. A pdf, ai and eps file. As I was importing each one to look at them, the software I use with my UV printer tells me what the Pantone colors are and the CMYK formulas imbedded in the art. All three files had the same Pantone colors, but each was interpreted as different CMYK color formula (yea, how can that be!). So I went to the Pantone website to see what the real CMYK formulas is, and sure enough it did not match any of the three files. I used the Pantone CMYK formula provided and the client was pleased. The following week, a friend called from a sign shop who was doing a job for this client and they imported the files into Adobe Illustrator (the same software used by the original artist) and sure enough they had the exact same issue. So I can safely say that exporting and importing color files can cause color formulas to change, even if it is the same software product is used on both ends.

Enough for now!
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Re: UV Direct Print on Glass

Postby kuluchicken » July 15th, 2015, 1:18 pm

Very interesting information. Thank you for sharing that with all of us.
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Re: UV Direct Print on Glass

Postby Roderick » July 15th, 2015, 8:54 pm

Great information. Can you tell us what the minimum and maximum sizes that can be printed and the cost to purchase one of these printers would be?

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Re: UV Direct Print on Glass

Postby Rich » July 15th, 2015, 9:57 pm

Bob, this is great information. Very interesting.

It occurred to me when I read your story about the panatone color definitions exporting and importing incorrectly I recalled I also ran in to this problem in my own environment. By that I mean I needed to export and import files and noted a shift in the color formula's. I dove in to it and discovered that there are several import/export Illustrator options you can specify which will affect the resulting files in the way we are talking about. And, as you know, that turns out to be critical when you want an exact color for a client to meet a spec they have given you. In my own experience when I first started with Illustrator, even after having taken a 10 week class on the basics I ended up messing with those options. I did not realize the effect it would have until much later. I don't know if that fits your scenario but it may be a place to look for answers.
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Re: UV Direct Print on Glass

Postby BobH » July 16th, 2015, 10:08 am

Roderick,

My table size is 10 X 24. There is also a 10 X 14. Later this year I believe DCS will be coming out with even larger table sizes. The DCS UV printer uses the Epson print engine so it is very reliable. My printer was about $20K, but as I traded in a solvent printer I got it for less than half of that. DCs is particularly good about trade-ins. This is my 3rd DCS printer going back 13 years. You can purchase HS (high speed) and MVP with direct drive for precision (for doing ADA signs). My printer was purchases before these models came out and provide plenty of speed and precision for my needs. Although I print on just about every material, I print mostly on various plastics, wood and metal (painted and raw). The HS & MVP versions are in the 30K plus range.

Rich,

Would you be willing to share anything you learned about exporting color or even B&W or grayscale files from Illustrator that would be helpful for those receiving them? It is an excellent topic that would be useful to many of us. You have knowledge very few have on this topic. Your THE expert!
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Re: UV Direct Print on Glass

Postby Rich » July 17th, 2015, 10:22 am

Well I would not call myself an expert. I have met those people and it is hard to understand how they know what they know. Most of my knowledge is experience based but I have taken a few classes. I ran into the critical issue of Panatone colors when I started doing a little screen printing for my gilding work. I took a brief, basic class in screenprinting and 85% involved Panatone color definitions because it is fundimental for printing. The whole Panatone thing really comes out of the print world (I think) which means Graphic Artists have to deal with it as they design/develop both for print and digital mediums.

I spent some time trying to figure out specific color value issues which were coming up because it was kind of interesting and important to know if you are going to do much color work in any graphic tool like Illustrator etc. But I quickly found out how technical it is and how much there is to know about it. It was about that time I decided I would rather spend my time doing my thing than becoming a wiz at all things Illustrator. I know enough to hurt myself with it but I can also do some critical things I need to do. One of those things is exporting and importing files. I must say, I don't understand the behavior of all the things I see when I do this but some of the subtle effects I referred to are in the profile you can set up for the document or even at the object level in Illustrator for both the incoming and outgoing files.

Exporting is also effected by the settings you select for color matching and specific color definitions and WHERE they come from. The big subtle thing is where they come from because you can set up Illustrator to default to taking system settings or the specific setting of the selected output device (printer, file, cutter, etc.) and, again, at the object level or document level.

The same is true for importing and you can force color matching, discard profiles in conflict with your system default and on and on. I am not an Illustrator expert. Sites like Linda.com are well worth the money if you really want to know the product. There is a lot to it but don't be discouraged. There are good sources of information from Adobe and their forum too but for my money Linda.com (maybe it's Lynda.com?) is really the best option.

I hope that helps some.
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