By Cassandra Balentine
Part 2 of 2
Neon and fluorescent inks are one tool wide format print service providers (PSPs) can add to their arsenal to stand out from the competition. While the appetite for these inks is specific, there is a market and it seems to be growing.
Part one of this two-part series discusses the demand and trends surrounding neon and fluorescent inks. Here, we highlight some of the systems—including dye-sublimation (dye-sub) and UV—that print these ink sets.
Both UV and dye-sub printers are on the market to handle neon/fluorescent inks.
Canon Solutions America offers the DGI POSEIDON and FH-3204 dye-sub fluorescent printers. The 64- and 74-inch POSEIDON and ten-foot FH-3204 printers utilize industrial Kyocera printheads to achieve print speeds of over 1,500 square feet per hour. The printers run at the same speed whether printing process color or fluorescent inks.
The Epson SureColor F9470H and SureColor F10070H dye-sub printers offer fluorescent pink and yellow inks. “Fluorescent inks are used as spot colors to provide an expanded color gamut, delivering outstanding gradients and allowing print shops to expand applications. Epson developed the fluorescent inks using a proprietary encapsulation method that prevents the ink solids from settling and ‘clumping’ together, which reduces printhead nozzle clogging. The fluorescent ink solids used in Epson’s UltraChrome DS inks feature outstanding color vibrance,” shares Tim Check, senior product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America.
Kornit Digital currently offers neon in its roll-to-roll/direct-to-fabric print system, which is also compatible with polyester.
Mimaki USA, Inc. offers fluorescent yellow and pink ink its SB54 dye-sub ink set, which is compatible with printers like its entry-level TS30-1300 dye-sub dedicated transfer print. The device is built to produce short-run pieces, samples, and custom work. For example, create apparel prototypes or custom goods and add a pop of neon with fluorescent yellow or pink ink.
In April 2021, NUtec added both fluorescent yellow and fluorescent pink to its Aquamarine water-based ink offering. The Aquamarine AQ10-DST-HC ink is a dye-sub range developed for use on Epson DX4, DX5, DX6, DX7, 5113, PrecisionCore TFP, XP600, and EPS3200 printheads and is optimized for transfer printing on coated and uncoated transfer paper. Recommended applications include activewear, interior décor textiles, graphic arts, and soft signage using substrates with a minimum 60 percent polyester content.
Roland DGA Corporation offers fluorescent yellow and fluorescent pink inks specifically for its dye-sub printers. The Texart SBL3 dye-sub inks are designed for Roland’s Texart printer line, which includes the RT-640, XT-640, and RT-640M. The Texart RT-640 and XT-640 models are transfer dye-sub printers, while the Texart RT-640M is a multifunction dye-sub printer that allows for both transfer and direct-to-fabric printing.
swissQprint recently introduced neon inks for UV printing. The company now offers neon pink and neon yellow. Printing the two together results in neon orange.
Mike Kyritsi, president, swissQprint USA, points out that its slogan “neon meets UV” perfectly summarizes the approach. “This is a novelty and a great opportunity for digital PSPs. They can differentiate themselves while benefitting from all the advantages a UV printer offers. So far, neon inks are commonly used in sublimation or screenprinting.”
Kyritsi says swissQprint neon inks work with rigid and flexible media and can be combined with other inks of the company’s machines. This allows for combinations with process colors as well as white or varnish and expands the scope of possibilities.
Two of the swissQprint flatbed models—Impala 3 and Nyala 3—as well as the roll-to-roll printer Karibu run the new neon pink and neon yellow inks. The ink channels are retrofit-able so existing customers can upgrade at any time.
Since apparel is a hot area for neons, digital textile printers are specifically suited to handle materials for performance and activewear segments.
Celine Tezartes Strauss, director of consumables and specialty systems, Kornit, says people want design variety and the ability to print multiple application types using one system. They want photorealism and semi-transparencies, and to prevent dye migration. Kornit’s Poly Pro system meets these needs.
“Traditionally, there are not many options for printing to polyester; dye-sub, screenprint, and heat transfer require multiple steps. Dye-sub handles more complicated designs on white polyester, but Kornit’s Poly Pro system can do all of this and more, including semi-transparencies and complex photorealistic designs,” offers Tezartes Strauss.
Dave Conrad, partner business manager, HP Inc., points out that many of the features that this segment of the dye-sub market find most important are also shared with other segments such as home décor, fashion, and soft signage. “One of the major complaints of the printer operators is waste. Based on feedback from printer operators in this segment, about 25 percent or more of their waste is associated with the printing process,” he explains.
The main causes of waste in the printing process related to the printer include cockling, banding, and dropped nozzles. HP developed the STITCH dye-sub printer specifically to address these issues.
For signage, a UV machine that can run neon inks offer endless possibilities. Kyritsi says this could be a one-shot or a whole campaign, which may include rigid boards or roll stock—sales posters, point of sale displays, event signage, trade fair booth elements, or stretch frames.
Glow for It
Wide format printer manufacturers continue to meet demands for neon and fluorescent inks. Whether you want to add pop to a display or graphic or support safety or fashion trends in apparel, there is a bright solution out there.
Jul2021, Digital Output