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Blog Home Applications Application Spotlight: UV Printing on Mugs
ApplicationsDecember 7, 2023

Application Spotlight: UV Printing on Mugs

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UV Flatbed Mug

The mugs present in our everyday lives have been around much longer than one would imagine. The coffee mug that gently start our day, or re-charge us come afternoon were invented much earlier than one might have thought. Much like most products, there has been an evolution to the design of the classic mug.

Mugs came to be around 10000 BCE, made from bone or wood, and lacked a handle. Typically, those made from bone or wood were carved, but others made from clay were shaped. Porcelain mugs, characterized by a thin wall came to be around 600 CE in China. But the first coffee mug debuted in the 19th century. The previous thin-walled mugs were too delicate to handle hot coffee. Thomas Sullivan designed a heavy-duty ceramic mug, after the invention of the first compact vacuum coffee maker. These new coffee mugs were affordable and have held strong ever since.

Printing on mugs is difficult due to their handle. Unlike growlers, the handle on coffee mugs protrudes. For printing one- or two-color logos, pad printers can be a great option for printing on coffee mugs. Screen printing is another common practice for printing on mugs. However, what if you are looking to print a full color image? Enter UV printing on mugs. Digitally decorate mugs with UV flatbed printers for full-color high-resolution graphics.

How to Digitally Decorate Mugs

UV flatbed printers are generally used for flat or slightly curved surfaces. Mint tins, coolers, and stationary makes for ideal applications for flatbed printers. However, we often print on sporting goods such as footballs, basketballs, and soccer balls with a UV flatbed printer—how could a coffee mug be much different?

UV Flatbed Printer for Mugs

X5 UV flatbed printerWith the use of a custom fixture, an entire tray of mugs can be printed at once with a printer like the X5®. The X5® UV flatbed printer can decorate in full color a full 43.4” x 24” area in under two minutes. This printer features a flatbed that has vacuum capabilities to ensure alignment and a precise degree of parallelism. Equipped with up to four Ricoh Gen 5 print heads, the X5® prints CMYKWW with an optional varnish.

While there are limitations to printing on mugs with a flatbed printer, there are benefits. Flatbed prints for coffee mugs are unable to print wrap graphics, however this is a universal problem when it comes to digitally printing on mugs. Full wrap mugs are often printed by sublimation. Achieve smaller size, high quality full color prints on mugs with a flatbed printer at high speeds due to the nature of the bed allowance. Whereas sublimation is one at a time, flatbed printing allows high output.

Custom Tooling for Flatbed Printers

One of the services that Inkcups offers customers is for creating custom tooling. If you’re looking to get started digitally printing on mugs with a flatbed printer, contact us today for custom fixturing. During the printing process, mugs will be held secure; eliminating the ability for parts to shift while the flatbed travels.

For further questions, contact your local sales representative. To see Inkcups machines in action, check out our Trade Show schedule to see where we will be next. Additionally, find all of digital flatbed printers here: UV Printers.

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