UV flatbed printing has begun to mark the next shift in the sign and print industry. In a way, it represents the third major transition in modern sign-making history. First came (hand) painted signs. This was followed by the advent of the plotter and signs made with counter-cut vinyl. In the 80’s the digital printer began to be widespread, and over the next few decades most signs today are made using printed media that gets applied to sign substrates.
With the advent of the modern UV flatbed printer, the industry is in the midst of its next transition. Unlike the digital media printers that proceeded it, flatbed printers have a major advantage: their “flatbed” shape and design allows for sign substrates to be directly printed onto the substrate; thus eliminating the need to print to a media first. (Unlike normal printers, where the media is fed through the printer, UV flatbed prints move both in the X and Y axis, meaning the printhead travels over the entire sign face, while the sign face remains in place.) Of course this saves the need and cost of the media, but also the time and labor needed to apply the media to the substrate!
In addition to their flatbed shape, UV flatbed printers use UV curable inks which allow for almost instant dry time. Using UV lights, the ink is cured almost as soon as it’s set down. This means the little droplets of ink don’t have the chance to “settle” or spread out, which means greater detail.
There are only really two downsides to UV flatbed printers. The first is size – since most are designed to print onto at least 4’x8’ substrates, most UV flatbed printers take up quite a bit of space. And given the printhead must move about over and around the sign face, you need a substantial buffer around the machine. The other downside is cost. Most UV flatbed printers cost in the $80,000 to $160,000 price range, with most costing well into 6-figures once delivery and options are added in. In short, these greatly limit the number of facilities that can offer this type of printing option.
So now that you know the benefits of UV flatbed printing, why not reach out to a company that can use it to make your next sign? Contact Signs of San Antonio to see how we can print your next project faster – and at less cost – than ever before!