Large UV flatbed printer printing a project.

UV Flatbed Printing – How Does it Work?

You may have done some flatbed printing before or simply wondered how does a UV flatbed printing machine work?

We get asked many times about how a UV flatbed printing machine can print such enormously large graphics on a variety of surfaces (substrates) smooth or rough — without having the ink bleed or run off of the surface?

Flatbed Printer Ink

A UV flatbed printer works very similarly to an inkjet printer you might have in your office. The main difference for a UV flatbed printer is:

  • The type of ink used – usually UV ink
  • And how the ink is applied to the substrate — the surface being printed upon

Your office inkjet printer applies ink that embeds itself into the paper on which you are printing. UV flatbed printing devices apply UV ink to a substrate and the ink must be cured (dried quickly) to create a permanent image.

UV Ink Curing Process

When a printing project goes through the flatbed printer, the UV ink is applied, and almost immediately the ink is subjected to ultra-violet light (or some other light source depending on the make and model of printer). This light instantly cures or dries the ink to the substrate surface.

Because the UV ink has very little time to spread out or bleed into the substrate, UV flatbed printing produces amazingly accurate color details with very little if any image loss.

The UV ink hardens to a very strong finish, and is resistant to fading and weathering, depending on the surface being printed upon. This flatbed printing process is also more environmentally friendly than some other printing methods.

Flexibility of a UV Flatbed Printing

The flatbed printer machine is capable of printing on a variety of unique substances, both smooth and rough, including foam board, wood, aluminum, acrylic, coroplast, and a host of other different types of substrates. See our blog article entitled Direct to Substrate Printing for more information on substrates.

The head of a flatbed printer can raise or lower and allow for printing on very thin surfaces, such as promotional pieces for trade shows, or most often, on thick surfaces, such as office doors.

About PRI Graphics

Based in Arizona, family owned and operated PRI Graphics operates two printing locations, one in another in Phoenix AZ. Our line of professional printing services includes CAD printing, Digital printing, and Large Format graphics printing in color and in Black and White.

We also have an in-house graphic design team plus highly knowledgeable digital printing technicians that can help you with UV flatbed printing projects in virtually any size.

To learn more about how UV flatbed printing works or to discuss your flatbed printing needs, please call us at 602-393-3131 or call us toll-free at 1-877-409-8889 and we’ll be happy to help you. You can also reach us through our online contact form or by email.

More information on this topic can be found on this Quora page entitled, What is the application for a UV flatbed printer?

Check out our video on Flatbed Printing!