Digital Inkjet Printing Explained

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  • Digital Inkjet Printing Explained
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Unique Assembly & Decorating offers a detailed explanation of the digital inkjet printing process for 3-D products.


Digital inkjet printing is the newest product decorating technology for 3-dimensional products. This direct-to-substrate digital inkjet printing process features precision 4-color process printing plus white for plastic, glass, and metal substrates.

This four color process printing allows for spot color printing and limitless color combinations. In addition, the white is bright enough to be used as a spot color or as a base to print on dark surfaces. The most obvious advantage to this process over traditional printing methods (e.g., pad printing or screen printing) is the elimination of labels (pressure sensitive or in-mold), films, printing plates, clichés or screens, thereby lowering setup cost. The distinct digital advantages this process provide include variable data, barcoding, and full color printing.

What is Industrial Digital Inkjet Printing?

This process uses 4-color process imaging to print spot color images and 4-color process images directly onto 3-dimensional parts. Just like your standard desk top document printer, with this process, no films or printing plates are needed. While some systems use fixed print heads and the parts pass under them, with most systems the print heads travel back and forth over the parts. The ink is dropped from the print heads directly onto the parts to print the images. While solvent based ink machines are still offered, most systems use UV cured inks. For the 4-color process imaging to work properly and to produce the highest image quality, the parts / the print surface must be relatively flat - no more than 3 or 4 mm from flat is recommended. However, some equipment manufacturers offer tooling to print cylindrical parts such as metal water bottles.

Why choose Industrial Digital Inkjet Printing?

Without the films and plates used in traditional printing methods, industrial digital inkjet printing can be a cost effective printing method when printing the same product with many different images at low volumes – especially if multicolor images are required. It is also an advantage compared to pad printing with the smaller table top units, when the printable area is quite large. This process is a good alternative for large parts requiring larger printed images regardless of order size or overall volume – again, especially when multicolor is required.

I hope this information has left you with a better understanding of the industrial digital inkjet printing process. Feel free to contact Unique Assembly & Decorating if there is anything more you’d like to learn or understand about industrial digital inkjet printing -- how it works or how it relates to your project or industry.

Steve Brock – Sales Manager, Unique Assembly & Decorating

630.241.4300 / steveb@uniquepadprinting.com



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