UV Printing was almost unheard of until recently. Many printers are now offering UV printing due to its many advantages over traditional (aka: convention) printing.
The printing process is almost exactly the same for both conventional and UV printing; the difference comes in the inks and the drying process associated with those inks.
Conventional offset printing uses solvent inks – which are not the greenest option – because they evaporate into the air, releasing VOC's. They often require additional spray powders to aid in drying. Because they are absorbed into the paper, colors can become diluted and less bright. Depending on the papers character and weight, drying can add days to each job. Conventional inks must be absorbed by the substrate they are printed on therefore, you can not use them on materials like plastic, foil, or acrylics.
UV inks dry through a photomechanical process. The inks are exposed to ultra-violet lights as they are printed, immediately turning from a liquid to a solid with very little evaporation of solvents and almost no absorption of the ink into the paper stock. So you can print on virtually whatever you want when using UV inks!
Since they dry immediately and release no VOC's into the environment, UV printing is considered a green technology, safe for the environment and leaving an almost zero carbon footprint.
Of course, because UV inks dry on contact, they never smudge. And that means, no matter what type of paper you use, you will never need to add costly coatings to protect against smears and rub-offs.
At HardingPoorman, we are proud to say that we print UV in our conventional, digital, and large format pressrooms!