UV printing cost: Is it Expensive? How to Calculate? [Updated]

UV printing is a relatively young and highly dynamic technology fully transforming the printing industry, enabling the use of ultraviolet light to dry inks. This drying technology allows for almost instant drying of the inks, dramatically accelerating the whole printing process. Still, drying is not an ultimate benefit, considering a more vivid, long-lasting, and durable quality of the print.

If you want to invest in UV printing, or as print shop owners and operators, besides reading the UV printing guide, a profound understanding of the costs related to the process is not just useful but vital for proper business performance and strategic planning. This guide will focus on various cost aspects that have tangible implications on your firm’s performance.

How Much Does UV Printing Cost?

UV printing can work onto many materials and surface such as wood, acrylic, cylinder glass, canvas and etc, as a result, generally, the UV printing costs from $1.25 to $1.44 per square meter, or $12.5 to $14.4 per square foot. As UV printing has various products and applications, here are 2 real cases: print phone caseprint on wood panel as example.

Calculate UV Printing Cost: 4 Key Factors

The UV printing cost is mainly composed by 4 key factors: ink costs, UV printer and maintenance costs, electricity costs, labor costs. The details provided below consider the total cost of UV printing, implied several critical parameters that have a substantial influence on the final bill.

Ink Costs

UV printing inks are not only a consumable but also a massive cost item. The ink quality and type you utilize will significantly affect the expense and result of your printed items. UV inks cost from $28 to $35 per liter. For our computations we will use an average of $30 per liter. This ink covers 100 square meters of print for ink only from $40 to $60 depending on the printer’s efficiency and the complexity of the print. Thus, we obtain that:

Example Calculation:

If one liter of ink costs $30 and we cover 100 squares with it, ink is spent per square standard $0.3. It is important for us when issuing rates for consumables, supplies for precise projects, or calculated ink costs for normal work practices.

UV Printer Price and Maintenance Costs

Considering how much you would spend on purchasing a UV printer, the starting price can be quite high, the UV printer price varies from $4000 to $40000. Depending on the model and incorporated technology capabilities, the cost varies significantly. Fortunately, some industry leading manufacture offers UV printer at flexible price for printing business starter or small / medium business owner.

On the other hand, buying a UV printer is not the only expense you have to plan. Maintenance is a recurring cost that implies such activities as scheduled cleanings and the necessity to replace the print head and UV lamp – that is, parts crucial for the operation of your device. Consider the following example of a maintenance cost:

Example Calculation:

Two print heads usually need a straightforward cleaning, which involves 4ml of ink per head. If one liter of ink cost $30 and your printer needs, on average, to be cleaned every two prints per square meter, maintenance ink price added up to $0.52 per square meter printed.

Electricity Costs

This treatment is tied to the previous because the UV printer uses UV light to “cure” the color instantly. Taking the latest popular UV printer: STAR V 6090 as example, it requires 800 watts/hour of power. Naturally, its electricity reliance should be even greater when the ink applies. Thus, the only factor, such as the price of electricity, can determine the appropriate expenses.

Electricity Calculation Example:

For instance, knowing that the kilowatt-hour costs $0.1621, one can calculate that it costs $0.12968 to print one hour with an 800-watt printer. In the same time, a UV printer covers 2 square meters per hour, this amount of electricity costs $0.0648411 per square hour.

Labor Costs

On the other hand, labor costs facilitate significant expenditures since they are dependent on the salary of the persons working on the printer’s machine. The labor costs per square meter or printed item is much cheaper when one person operates the machine, considering it as the most substantial variable cost. While a printing operator is paid 15 dollars per hour and can operate the machine very well, the exact labor cost should be determined:

Labor Cost Example:

If one operator can oversee the printing of 500 square meters in an 8-hour shift, the labor cost per square meter is $0.24, calculated by dividing the total daily wage by the total output.

Real Examples: Calculate UV Printing Costs with Breakdowns

Printing on mobile phone case and wood panels are 2 of the most popular applications of UV printing, here are the details and breakdown of calculating the costs.

UV Printing Cost:

Mobile Phone Case

One of the more common items produced using UV printers are mobile phone cases, known for their custom designs and rapid production. To print phone case, considering the variables discussed earlier, it’s about $0.0443 per phone case, following are the breakdown:

Ink Costs:

Assuming the phone case covers 0.02 square meters and ink costs $0.3 per square meter, the ink cost for one case is $0.006.

Electricity Costs:

If the printer produces 500 phone cases per hour and the electricity cost is $0.06484 per square meter, the electricity cost for one case is $0.0013.

Labor Costs:

With an operator managing 500 cases per hour at $15 per hour, the labor cost per case is $0.03.

Total Cost Per Case:

Adding up the costs, we have:

  • Ink: $0.013
  • Electricity: $0.0013
  • Labor: $0.03
  • Total: $0.0443 per case

This example demonstrates the affordability of UV printing for small items, which can be produced quickly and at a low cost per unit, making it an attractive option for businesses focusing on custom merchandise.

Large-scale UV Printing Cost on Wood Panels

UV print on wood

Now, let’s consider a larger and more complex project—UV printing on wood panels, which are often used in interior design and signage, it costs about $16.36 per panel, the breakdowns are:

Project Specifications:

Each wood panel measures 2 square meters.

Ink Costs:

If ink costs $0.3 per square meter, then for a 2 square meter panel, the cost is $0.6.

Electricity Costs:

Assuming the printer handles 2 square meters per hour (reflective of the slower speed needed for high-quality prints on wood), the electricity cost per panel is $0.06484.

Labor Costs:

If an operator can manage to print on one panel per hour, and the wage is $15 per hour, the labor cost per panel is directly $15.

Total Cost Per Panel:

– Adding up the costs, we have:

  – Ink: $1.3

  – Electricity: $0.06484

  – Labor: $15

  – Total: $16.36484 per panel

This example illustrates that while the per-unit cost for larger items is significantly higher, the value added by custom, large-scale prints justifies the expense, especially in high-margin markets like custom interiors and signage.

Additional Considerations

Apart from the detailed analysis of the major costs, other expenses or depreciation events to consider are the cost of a UV printer, rent for the space, or software license, etc.. It should be emphasized that these elements also contribute to the overall structure of the cost of an operation, but these are usually divided by numerous jobs and, therefore, do not significantly impact their effect per item or per square meter.


For a print shop owner to accurately measure how much it costs to produce a printed item using UV printing, it is essential to stay well-informed about all the inputs, including materials, labor, maintenance, and overhead. As the example above has shown, it allows for a timely and structured approach to the development of a pricing strategy, which helps maintain the financial balance of the operation while improving its profitability.

Are you looking to go more in-depth into the requirements for the costs surrounding UV printing for your business projects? Having said that, whether you wish to optimize your existing business or you would want to tap into this new business segment, this is your playing field. Likewise, feel free to schedule for an expert consultation and utilize this guide as an entry-level step to assist in making these strategic business decisions for your UV printing business.

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  1. thanks for sharing the article. just wanted to ask the rate the UV print on canvas

    • Hi alex, it’s about $2 to $2.7 per square meter if you wanted to use UV printing on canvas. but as the article explains, it varies if taken various factors into account. if you wanted to get more accurate rate, detail conditions are required.

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