Can we use UV ink on fabric?
With all these good things, more and more companies are providing printers for new applications where other inkjet or analog printing technologies have been widely used. One area that has gained a lot of attention is fabric printing. Here we will explore the pros and cons of using UV LED inkjet in these applications.
Safety Considerations with Fabrics
UV LED inkjet inks require much more care in their use and disposal when compared to pigment or dye water based inks (including Latex inks) and even pigment-based eco-solvent inks. These UV LED inks are made of reactive chemicals and in the uncured state pose chemical hazards.
Consulting a Material Safety Data Sheet for a set of UV-LED inks provided by the printer manufacturer, the hazards listed for the un-cured inks are concerning:
"May cause skin irritation and discoloration, may cause allergic reaction and will cause irritation in eyes, will cause irritation and mild central nervous system effects such as headache, dizziness, drowsiness and coughing in the respiratory system, may cause upset stomach, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and discoloration of mouth, teeth and throat if ingested. Acute exposure will affect skin, central nervous system and eyes. Chronic exposure will affect skin, kidneys, liver, central nervous system and reproductive system."
So, what about the "cured ink"? Is it safe? Well, it depends. First, is it completely cured? Second, what bad actors may remain even if it is completely cured? What can be done to ensure no problem chemicals remain? This is particularly important if the fabric is used in apparel applications.
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