Endless opportunities with Mimaki’s direct-to-object printers

For years the preserve of pad and screen printing, direct-to-object printing has been transformed by digital technology like Mimaki’s UJF Series LED UV flatbed printers. Delivering all the advantages of inkjet printing: photo quality reproduction, short runs, zero setup cost and fast turnaround, it has enabled a vast array of industries to leverage the technology and brought new revenue streams to print providers whilst revolutionising the manufacturing process.

Direct-to-object printing can be summed up as taking a ready-made item and printing onto it for any number of purposes; for example, to create a branded promotional item, bespoke décor or to aid manufacturing by the inline printing of component parts. This concept succeeds either by generating value add, by reducing lead times, by reducing costs, or in many cases, by a combination of some or all of the above.

Value add
Personalisation is a great way to increase revenue. Create a limited edition product and people will frequently pay more for ‘exclusivity’ and the ultimate exclusive is something designed specifically to the customer. It could be something as simple as a personalised phone case, ranging to costlier projects such as large acrylic photo blocks or even printed and laser engraved artwork; the opportunities are endless.

Mimaki’s opaque white ink, primer and clear printable varnish all offer extensive creative potential, ensuring there are no material or application limits to trip designers up, and with proprietary Mimaki technologies such as ‘long drop’, even non-flat surfaces can be printed to. Take it one step further and with the addition of the optional Kebab unit, it’s possible to personalise the entire circumference of objects such as aluminium water bottles and other cylindrical items.

Corporate personalisation
Another value add area is the extension of the idea of personalisation – where a print run becomes personal to a brand, with the creation of promotional items and event collateral. With no minimum run length, direct-to-object printing brings the creation of 20 branded pens, 50 commemorative notebooks or even 100 name badges well within the budgets of event organisers and brand managers.

Reducing lead times & costs
Whilst typical screen or pad printing run lengths are dictated by the necessary start up elements, with no films, screens or pads to be manufactured, the minimum run length for a Mimaki UJF is one item – and a lead time measured in minutes and seconds. Two items will cost twice that and each can be different – something that’s completely outside the bounds of traditional print technologies, so those 20 branded pens can each bear the sponsor’s logo accompanied by each attendee’s name, resulting in great positioning for the brand, along with collectable value for the recipient.

In a manufacturing environment, the ability to produce one-offs extends the potential that print brings to the process. In applications where accuracy is paramount, such as the creation of dials and gauges, the high tolerances of the Mimaki UJF’s output comes to the fore. Add in the ability to choose from a range of flexible inks to suit the substrate (the final product can even be vacuum formed when printed with the appropriate Mimaki UV ink) and not only can product designers include more creative elements in their print, they can leverage the digital workflow to include custom content, highly accurate Pantone colour matching and instantly dry ink.

Best tool for the job
Of course, there will still be jobs that, through their particular requirements, suit a pad or screen print process, but in more and more cases, a Mimaki UJF will be the best tool for the job. Gone are the days of turning away jobs because the run length is too short to make it worthwhile, the creative too complex or the deadline too close – it’s time to rise to the challenge and grasp the opportunities that are out there for clients with specific requirements that play into the hands of the Mimaki’s range of small format LED UV flatbeds!