UV curable direct-to-product decoration is used to transform the plain, blank canvas of many manufactured items into visually appealing surfaces that display single or full colour graphics and designs; clearly identify brand names, trademarks, logos, and internal contents; promote and celebrate organizations and events; and provide text and symbolic guidance for use, care, and disposal.
Unlike labels and appliques which are generated in separate manufacturing processes and then physically applied to the exterior of finished goods, many decorating processes print directly onto an item’s surface. For more demanding applications that require greater chemical resistance and/or longer life, pre-printed and UV cured films and foils, as well as thermoformed UV printed plastic sheets, are seamlessly injection moulded directly into part structures.
Product decorators rely on a mix of UV printing and coating technologies to fulfil a wide range of decorating and performance needs including pad, screen, digital inkjet, dry offset, offset metal decorating, and indirect flexo, all of which can be equipped with GEW’s mercury arc, UV LED, and hybrid lamp designs that provide the ability to quickly swap between arc and LED curing technologies.
UV curing benefits to direct product decoration
eliminates label stock inventory and facilitates quick design changes
eliminates long, energy-consuming drying tunnels and wicket ovens
negligible heat transfer to thermally sensitive parts
nesting, stacking, forming, packing, and shipping of decorated parts immediately following cure
fast machine speeds and cycle rates
instantly cures interdeck or in a single full cure station
superior lightfastness, weatherability, and chemical resistance of cured products
GEW product advantages
UV output suitable to fast machine speeds and cycle rates
complete and easy-to-integrate curing systems
low-profile UV LED curing systems facilitate straightforward interdeck integration
integral shutters for mercury lampheads
remote performance monitoring and troubleshooting of all internet connected lamps
Metal decorating presses create text and images on large sheets of metal by offsetting high viscosity paste inks using a series of rollers, aluminium printing plates, and transfer blankets. Each colour is applied and cured individually using a dedicated print deck and interdeck curing lamp. Additional lamps are installed after the varnish coater and at the end of press (EOP). Sheets are stacked as they exit the decorator and are immediately ready for further processing.
UV metal decorating enables high quality, durable graphics and text to be applied at press speeds that can exceed 8000 sheets per hour. The use of UV curing eliminates wicket ovens, decreases processing time, reduces overall footprint, and provides significant energy savings to sheet metal decorators.
In dry offset container decorating, plastic and metal parts are printed using high viscosity paste inks, a series of rollers, aluminium plates, and a common rubber transfer blanket. Each colour is individually printed to the blanket as the blanket indexes to each print deck. Full-colour images are then offset from the transfer blanket directly to the part being decorated in a single step. Cure happens as cylindrical parts rotate, or as flat parts pass linearly, in front of a UV curing system. With dry offset printing, no fountain solution is necessary.
Dry offset presses typically consist of a single UV curing lamp located in the indexing station immediately following the full colour blanket offset station. Occasionally UV curing lamps are also installed after a first pass of white ink. Decorator speeds vary based on container size with larger pails run at speeds of 10 pieces per minute, smaller yogurt cups exceeding 600 pieces per minute, and caps printed in a range of quantities based on the number of lanes in the cap decorator.
Screen printing for product decoration involves transferring a single ink colour through a mesh screen using a squeegee. A dedicated screen per colour permits the desired portion of text and graphics to pass through to the item being printed. One colour at a time is individually printed to the part as the part indexes in front of each print station.
A UV curing system is installed after each colour, and cure happens as the parts pass in front of the UV lamphead. Screen decorators are typically arranged in an in-line or carousel configuration.
In addition to dry offset, screen, and sheetfed offset metal decorating, GEW’s mercury arc, UV LED, and hybrid curing solutions are easily integrated into other processes, including:
letterpress and waterless offset
UV digital inkjet
screen and web offset labels for IML-IMD-IME
flexo PS applied labels
GEW will be pleased to assist your evaluation and decision-making process to ensure that the optimal solution is matched to your application, process, and integration needs. Please contact our experienced team for guidance on product selection. We can deliver the level of system integration experience you require.