Digital Printing on Plastic Parts

Elevate the value of your injection molded plastic components with Novation’s in-house digital printing solutions. Digital printing is superior to other forms of decorating plastic parts such as pad printing, screen printing, hot stamping, or using labels. Digital Printing on plastic delivers faster throughput, better results and increased flexibility.

With Novation’s injection molding equipment and digital printing solutions co-located under one roof, we can deliver cost savings, unmatched quality and fast turnarounds. Our digital printing capabilities can add significant value to your injection molded parts and improve your supply chain efficiency by simplifying inventory management and production scheduling. Contact us today to learn more about our digital printing solutions.

Digital Printing by Novation
  • Large-format print area of 98.4″ x 51.2″
  • Full color CMYK + spot colors, up to 1,200 DPI
  • High quality UV ink with zero dry time required
  • Flat or “embossed look” printing capabilities
  • High-speed throughput
  • Exceptionally crisp and durable results
  • Capable of printing a wide range of part shapes
  • Printing on polystyrene, ABS, acrylic, and many other substrates
  • Fast changeovers from one design to another
  • Minimum print quantities of only 500 components per run


What are the methods used to print on plastic parts and components?

Common printing methods for plastic components vary widely. Digital printing is the newest and most modern solution. Here are some of the most common methods currently used, as well as pros and cons of each:

Pad Printing: Pad printing is a versatile solution often used for various curved, convex or concave objects. It can offer high abrasion resistance and good overall visual results. However, pad printing’s excessive set up time and high cost make it a good fit only for very high-volume printing projects.

Screen Printing: Screen printing on plastic, also called silk screening, is traditionally used on fabric and paper materials. With different inks, it can be used for printing on plastic parts as well. Screen printing, however, can be slow with long setup and dry time requirements. In addition, full-color decorations require the creation of multiple screens, which can create registration and alignment challenges.

Hot Stamping: Also called hot foil printing, hot stamping can be cost-effective for shorter runs and offers a range of colors and finishes that are generally long lasting and durable. However, hot stamping is only applicable on mostly flat surfaces and doesn’t allow for color matching.

In-Mold Decorating: Here, the mold itself contains the decoration element, creating an embossed, raised image on the part itself. This can be very cost-effective once the molds have been created, but it requires high upfront investment. In addition, in-mold decorating eliminates any flexibility for future design changes, and it does not provide color options as the raised image takes on the same color as the part.

Labels: Although labels can offer a manufacturer design flexibility, the plastic component usually requires a recess to support the label. Plus, labels can peel off. The biggest challenge with this solution, however, is that labels require additional operational steps, adding costs and slowing overall throughput.

Digital Printing: This is the newest and most modern solution. In this method, UV ink is applied directly to the component through a digitally controlled ink jet head. Although digital printing isn’t ideal for every part, plastic injection molding manufacturers have found that digital printing offers the best combination of throughput, speed, quality results, durable decoration, and low cost.

How does Digital Printing Compare to other forms of plastic printing such as pad printing, hot stamping, and screen printing?

Digital printing offers the following advantages over other methods of printing:

Speed: With very low set up time, no requirement to produce plates or screens or molds, and no dry time, digital printing offers faster changeovers and higher outputs.

Quality: The widest color variability and accuracy, combined with durable and long-lasting high-definition print, makes the quality from digital printing second to none.

Cost-Savings: Digital plastic printing can deliver significant cost-savings vs. other methods due to its efficiency and lack of tooling requirements. And when co-located with injection molding production equipment at Novation, the time and cost savings of eliminating shipping and secondary work can have a tremendous impact.

Flexibility: Digital printing can be used on a wide variety of plastic parts. In addition, should the decoration designs or colors ever need to change, digital printing makes this incredibly easy. Plus, with lower print quantities, components can even be customized for specific customers or uses.

Eco-Friendly: Digital printing user less ink than many other options. In addition, digital printing solutions create less waste and consume lower amounts of energy.

Can I print my parts at Novation even if they’re not made at Novation?

Yes. Novation now offers printing for plastic parts that have not been manufactured within our injection molding facilities. Contact us to discuss your needs.

What equipment does Novation use to print these plastic parts?

Novation uses a JFX200-2513 EX UV-LED large flatbed printer from Mimaki Global. The machine offers incredible speed, print size and quality. It’s “2.5D Texture Maker” enables semi-stereoscopic (raised) or flat printing outputs. And the technology enables automatic detection and recovery from common printing issues, such a clogged nozzle. The advanced equipment, combined with Novation’s plastic injection molding experience and decoration know-how, delivers exceptional results.

What types of plastic substrates can be digitally printed?

Plastic substrates that we print include all commonly used injection molding materials, including acrylic (PMMA), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), nylon polyamide (PA), polycarbonate, polyethylene, polyoxymethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene. thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).

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