We’re very excited about our new acquisition, the latest 3.2 metre wide UJV55-320 grand format digital printer from Mimaki. Significantly improving and increasing our textile digital printing capability, it is more than just a printer in our eyes, but an investment in our commitment to quality, more sustainable events and more extraordinary outcomes
For several years much of our graphics production has shifted to textiles which we’ve been eager to embrace. It allows us to move away from the use of plastics and PVC’s in the production of our exhibition stands and graphics, which we’ve been doing at every opportunity. Our existing eco-solvent technology has proved equal to the task and we’ve achieved great results when it comes to fabric and textile printing over recent years, but we’ve had to make some compromises. Certainly eco-solvent (plant based with mineral oil/ether extracts) is much better than hard solvents and is bio-degradable, but the new UV ink capabilities take things much further.
It’s so exciting, we don’t really know where to start, but here’s just a few plus points:
Better for the environment – UV ink is aqueous (water) based so there are no solvents to release to the atmosphere when printing, no smell and no emission, mitigating the role VOCs play in other printing techniques and technologies.
More energy efficient – UV ink is instantly dried or ‘cured’ by an ultra-violet light source that immediately follows the machines print heads. So there’s no pre-heat, print platen heat, post heater or drying fans – no drying required full stop, all of which requires energy. As there’s also no odour, we don’t need extraction and scrubbers, all making for some serious electricity and energy savings.
Biodegradable and recyclable – most of our textile substrates have always been biodegradable however with new UV technology we can now print on a much wider selection of media. Many of these are not coated but natural textiles and substrates, making them much easier to recycle.
Faster production times – ink coverage is ‘cured’ instantly so there is no ‘off-gassing’ time to consider as with other technologies, so we can move printed materials onto our finishing processes much sooner.
Denser, more vibrant colours – UV inks have a much brighter colour gamut, so we can achieve
fabulous full colour results across all fabrics and textiles, even light-boxes. As the ink is denser and is cured instantly on the material surface it remains dense with minimal fading. This makes UV ink great for illuminated display graphics, both in full colour and reverse block applications.
Tough and resilient – once cured the UV ink coverage provides a water proof and more hardwearing finish on textiles than it’s eco-solvent predecessor. There is no ink transfer or ‘rub off’ to worry about.
There’s so much more we could share, but that’s a pretty decent summary for now. We could say the only downside in any evolution and investment is the initial outlay for the machine to start with. Hold on though, what do they say about clouds and silver linings? We’re pleased to say that the New Anglia Business Growth Programme has been able to help us on that front. The New Anglia Small Grant Scheme, which is part- funded by the European Regional Development Fund has assisted us with this purchase, living up to their title as an organisation committed to supporting growth in the local business community, so it really doesn’t get any better!
If you’re looking to grow your business and aspire to more, New Anglia LEP’s Small Grant Scheme is funded by the ERDF and can offer grants up to £25,000. Specifically for growing businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk it is an invaluable resource. Apply for up to 20% of total project cost, allowing you to think bigger, or invest elsewhere. Contact the New Anglia Growth Hub on 0300 333 6536 or visit www.newangliagrowthhub.co.uk/