In the swim

Foam kickboard

UV printing has been around for quite a few years now and oh how it has changed. The machines, for instance, have become more compact and have reduced in price making them an easier addition to your current machine base. John-Paul Burton, director of YES Ltd reports.

The number of products that can be printed has ballooned to the point where you can just about print onto anything. One of the biggest advances though is the fact that small orders are no longer a problem.

The digital operation of the current batch of machines such as the Compress iUV 600S make small orders just as cost efficient as large orders. Apart from satisfying the small order market this also opens up the lucrative personalised market. In fact combining the reduced footprint of the machines and the digitisation even makes these machines comfortable in a shop environment.

New opportunities

As with all industries, this one is always on the lookout for new opportunities. One area that has been looked at in the past but never fully taken advantage of is the swim industry and there are reasons for this.

Chlorine for instance can have a devastating effect on print as, indeed, can excessive exposure to salt water and sun. These problems can be a thing of the past now though as new techniques and inks means that prints can withstand the stresses and strains of swimming and water sport in general.

You probably wouldn’t though be looking at printing swimwear as this can be handled by other printing methods more suited to garments but there are other areas where UV printing comes into its own – foam for instance.

No, not the sort you get on the top of a wave but rather the type that is used to manufacture a whole host of swimming aids and accessories. Body boards and surf boards for instance are known for their bright decoration but by making use of UV printing means you can now personalise these. It may be just adding a name or it could be adding competition details or team details. This is possible because although the footprint of modern machines is somewhat smaller than their earlier cousins, the print area is still quite big. The UV 600S mentioned earlier for instance has a standard print area of 604mm x 450mm but there are other models that will extend this to 2000mm. All models will handle products up to a depth of 300mm. Now this will vary with different manufacturers but it is clear to see that the new range of machines can handle a wide variety of products.

Of course foam is used in other areas of water sport. Buoyancy aids for instance are found in every swimming baths in the country and I dare say that some inevitably go missing. By personalising them they are clearly the property of a particular venue.

This month’s article was never about how you can print onto foam but more to exercise the fact that you can print onto foam. This is a relatively untapped market for the UV printing industry but it one that can be successfully approached with the confidence that UF printing is possible on this type of media and on this type of product.

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