2020 UV Comparison Printers

Top 4 Best Small Format UV Printers

Pricing, Videos and Comparision Chart.

Once again, Mutoh takes the lead in our newest small format uv printer review.

We looked at the day to day performance and features of the four best UV printers, and the Mutoh ValueJet 426UF came out on top.

But not for the reasons you may be thinking of…

Small format UV printers are blowing up the customized products business. 

But what are they exactly?  And what could having one mean for your business?

Table of Contents

Mfg/Line Mutoh 426UF VersaUV LEF 12i VersaUV LEF2-200 Mkii UJF-3042 Direct Jet 1800Z4 Compress iUV-600s Compress iUV-1200s
Ink 220 ml cart. 220 ml cart. 220 ml cart. 250 ml/1 liter bottles 200/500ml/1 liter Bulk Bulk
Ink Cost $94.95/CART. $94.95/CART. $94.95/CART. $101/250 ml, $210/liter $110/$259/$469 $149-179/500ml $149-179/500ml
Ink Type UV Rigid Hybrid Eco-Sol Hybrid Eco-Sol Rigid, Flex, Hybrid Rigid, Flex, Hybrid UV Hybrid or Rigid UV Hybrid or Rigid
Bed Size 19" X 13" 13.2" x 12.2" 21.2" x 14.2" 11.8" x 16.5" 12" x 24" 24" X 18" 45.3" x 29.5"
Print Area 18.6" X 12.5" 12" x 11" 20" x 13" 11.8" x 16.5" 12" x 24" 23.8" X 18" 44.7" X 29.5"
Depth 2.75" 3.94" 3.94" 4" 6" 11.8" 11.8"
Max. Weight 11 lbs 11 lbs 11 lbs 11 lbs 30 lbs 23 lbs 122 lbs
UV LED Lamps One One One One One Two Two
BOFA Filter* N/A $3599 $3599 N/A N/A Optional Optional
Vacuum Table Standard Optional Optional Standard Optional Optional Optional
Rotary Attachment N/A $2,995 $3,195 $2,495 cylinder only $2,995 $3,995 - holds 2 $4,495 - holds 2
RIP Software Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard
UV Designer Software Optional N/A N/A N/A Standard Optional/Standard Optional/Standard
Tabletop/Free Standing Tabletop Tabletop Tabletop Tabletop Tabletop Free Standing Free Standing
Warranty One Year On-site Two Years Two Years Two Years One Year One - Three Years One - Three Years
MSRP $19,995 $17,995 $25,995 $19,995 $32,995 $29,995 - 34,995 $45,995 - 49,995

Instantly Dry* Custom Printing Has Arrived...

Not too long ago, you needed a big pile of gold buried in your backyard to be able to afford a custom UV printer.  To get your work out fast, a large-format UV beast was your only option.

But then came the mid-format UV printers like the Compress iUV600s and the UV-1200s.   While the Compress iUV600s is not quite a “small” format UV printer, it’s price and features make it important to note.  More on mid-format UV printers here:

Both the machines were released with DUAL, long-lasting LED UV Lamps and a wide, fast bed that provides a clearance of up to 300mm (11.8″).  The enormous flatbed printing depth allows you to print just about anything.

UV printers like this allowed for Instantly dry* prints with 3D textures and very fast color digital printing on unique materials.

UV Printers allow you to print glass, metal, plastics, board stocks, acrylic and more.  Even flexible substrates were completely possible – like textiles and Leather.

imag of UV LED Printer

*UV ink curing time begins as soon as UV light hits the ink.  It’s measured in milliseconds as compared to the typical hours needed for most non-UV inks.

How Do UV Printers Work?

For a long time, scientists have known that certain chemicals react to UV light.  They harden or cure when exposed to an intense burst of UV.

But it took a while for the chemists to be able to work out how to take advantage of those properties for inks.

Now, top printers like the Mutoh Value Jet 426UF have a built-in UV LED light source that flash cures the ink just milliseconds after it’s applied.

The UV light source (which is attached to the print carriage) throws out a spectrum of light that reacts with the photoinitiators in the ink to cure the ink and initiate a strong bond with the substrate.

This unique way to cure the ink gives a number of advantages:

UV printing allows you to create photo-realistic graphics on a variety of unique materials including items like plastic, glass and metal.

Mutoh Value Jet 426UF

Review & Comparison

product image for Mutoh JV-426uf

Winning Specifications

Our choice for overall quality and ease of use was the Value Jet 426UF.  The build quality and unique specs make it stand out for the price.

  • 19” x 13” print size makes this unit perfect for promotional items
  • 2.75" thickness to fit most small-format items
  • Variable dot output of 3.7 picoliter for precise printing and superfine resolution
  • Quality materials backed by the precision manufacturing of the Mutoh research and development teams
  • Inks that allow printing on more items with less hassle than other printers

Lower Costs

Because of the finished hardness of the ink, you often don’t need to buy additional materials for finishing and mounting the work. 

Special covering laminates are often not needed at all.  By printing directly, you only pay for the ink you use and not all the extras.

For The Environment

Because the ink cures quickly, the printed items do not spend hours (or sometimes days) releasing volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere.  

Little to no (VOCs) are off-gassed which makes for an eco-friendly process.

Faster Production Speeds

UV printing saves money because unlike traditional printing it does not require lots of wait time (and space) while it drys.

You can move directly to the next step in the process. The faster print speeds and faster production times means you get more done in a shorter period of time.

That extra time allows you to do more with the same machine. or frees you up to go find the next job.

Roland LEF 12/20

Review & Comparison

The VersaUV LEF-200 prints on substrates such as plastic, wood, glass, and metal, much like the other printers in our line-up.  

And, this UV printer is designed for short runs, of customized products in the small to medium-size category.

However, the UV LEF is the only model to use a solvent-based UV hybrid ink.  To accommodate the solvent use, you’re going to need to outfit your shop with additional equipment and take extra precautions.

This solvent/UV hybrid ink will require an air filtration system. There is a distinct smell that comes off the machine that some people may find objectional.  

The additional outlying benefit of the hybrid inks is not easily offset by the extra costs of procurement.

The LEF-200 also uses an optional on-board primer cartridge.  Often requiring an extra step (at the machine)  to prime certain materials that are not well suited for solvent inks.

Mimaki UJF-3042FX

Review & Comparison

review image for mimaki ujf 3042

While the UJF-3042 offers speed improvements over the previous models, the machine has an overall thickness limit that is about 30% less than the leading printer in this line up.  

All prints will need to be under 2″ category for thickness.

The machine offers the MAPS4 multi-pass system which is designed to reduced banding.  Also, It also includes a white ink circulation technology which is designed to keep the white ink in solution.

However, on certain models, the vacuum system designed to hold down thin prints can end up leaving depression marks on thin substrates. 

You’ll want to make sure to test out any thin substrates for vacuum deformations that could affect the final print.  Mimaki’s approach is to have a separate machine better designed to do flat goods.

Regardless, the  UJF-3042 and can be used to decorate promotional products, create indoor signage, awards, packaging and more.

DCS 1800s

Review & Comparison

image of the dcs 1800 uv printer

The DCS 1800s has been upgraded to offer higher output for substrates such as wood, metal, ceramic tiles and other promotional products.

The machine offers inline printing of any combination of colors and clear finishes along with white in a single pass.

It can handle thicker prints up to 4″ at lengths of up to 24″.  However, it lags behind the ValueJet 426UF in width at only 12″ wide. -Allowing only five items across for any 20″ wide prints.

DCS is touting its new large capacity bulk Ink system, which decreases the time between refills but can become a problem if the machine is only used intermittently.  

The machine comes with a white ink circulation system that is programmable and is designed to encourage 100% usage of the ink.

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