Last year, in our round-up of your latest in latte coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at the very least in part, been designed to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, particularly for stuff like posters, POP/POS displays, and stuff like that. Before year, there’s been a smaller amount of a focus on shifting work in one technology to another one, plus more of merely one on creating unique print applications that had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects is one of the raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios run the gamut from small table- or benchtop units created to print on stuff like golf balls and smartphone cases, around massive behemoths whereby anybody can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, along with other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units will also be along the way of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing which is done as part of a manufacturing process, like the control labels in the front of an appliance like a dishwasher, an automobile dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or any other medical items, and other printing that are different from the typical “print for pay” applications.)
A lot of the flatbed units currently available use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology that has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: what exactly is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It seems sensible when you think of it….) The newest trend in UV inks is indeed-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps rather than traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not just a new technology, although the costs of this are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, making them more desirable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs can also be reported to be energy-efficient which suggests saving money. EFI particularly is a huge highly active proponent of LED UV and it has announced its intention to fully retain the technology in every its UV offerings.
We are also seeing a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that will also serve as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were regarded as “jacks of all trades, masters of none,” they may have improved to the level where they are respectedly seen as methods for giving shops the versatility to consider a wide variety of print projects. (Take into account, though, that this same UV inks will not be suited to all materials given the respective dyne quantities of ink and surface. Some surfaces could also require pre- or post-treatment to obtain UV ink to stay.)
Earlier this year in the International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo, HP launched several new flatbeds within its Scitex line. The 64-inch HP Scitex FB550 and 120-inch FB750 hit the sign and display sweet spots
HP Scitex 11000 Industrial Press may be the follow-approximately the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched 2 years ago, even though the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is designed for short-run corrugated packaging and the like, useful for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has additionally recently announced the Scitex 17000, designed for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. In addition, it features the HP Scitex Corrugated Grip, a media handling system created to facilitate printing on warped corrugated boards.
For HP, the prevailing trend is toward more automation and improving productivity, which is not merely an issue of speed, but additionally to getting materials off and on press immediately and improving automation.
“The focus is absolutely steps to make digital production more productive, and we’re seeking to push the break-even point so customers can move printing from analog to digital,” said Isaac Meged, Worldwide Marketing Manager for HP Scitex Industrial Presses. “This is one of the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not just the printing speed, the development workflow is an extremely important element. Customers are looking for automation both in the prepress side plus the finishing side.”
“We have seen in general a trend toward lower-cost flatbed printers, especially low-end,” added Joan Pe´rez Pericot, Marketing Director for HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Smaller customers would like to jump into rigid, and also the industry is polarizing in between the high-end presses doing a growing number of volume along with the smaller devices which can be doing very short runs.”
Mind Your Throat, Please
Roland DGA has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV flatbeds along with the VersaUV LEJ-640 hybrid printer. Earlier this year, Roland launched its first big flatbed, the 64-inch VersaUV LEJ-640FT flatbed UV printer. This new flatbed features a “throat” (yes, that’s a true term) big enough that materials approximately six inches thick can be fed with the printer. At the Sign Expo, people to the booth could witness the company running footballs throughout the printer.
“Print companies are looking for ways to differentiate and expand their businesses-opportunities that flatbed printers certainly provide,” said Jay Roberts, Roland DGA’s Product Manager, uv printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability even more with its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, together with smaller benchtop flatbeds like Roland’s LEF series printers, unlock a whole new realm of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a whole lot ‘What can you print on?’ but rather ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly surprised by the creativity of people using our technology to make stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on previously.”
Joanie Loves Tchotchkes
Mimaki’s JFX Series UV LED flatbed printers (comprising the 51-inch JFX200 and also the 82.7-inch JFX 500) are targeted for such applications as backlit displays, signs and posters, interior décor, and glass and metal decorative panels, to call but a few. Mimaki also provides small tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for your tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and a lot of other novelty and specialty print objects.
“Customers are trying to find feature-rich, high-quality versatility that lets them replace labor- and waste-intensive processes and print direct-to-substrate, while adding value with higher margin applications for example personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Can You See
The most up-to-date models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched just last year-are the six-color (CMYKLcLm) Océ Arizona 6160 XTS and seven-color (CMYKLcLm white) Océ Arizona 6170 XTS. Like several of its brethren, the Arizonas are capable of printing on a wide range of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and large prints tiled over multiple boards. In addition they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-designed to be board printers; they are doing not include a roll option.
The brand new Arizona printers take CSA right into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular inside the mid-volume area, and this takes us to the top end of your mid-volume, or perhaps the low end of the high-volume,” he stated. “It’s taken us into new markets and new business. They either have an Arizona or even a similar product now and so are growing their business and are seeking a more economical printer to include some capacity but also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the newest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards an hour or so. “We had an interesting customer event where we passed out stopwatches to all of the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed several boards, along with all of them time them. Sure enough, we had been right on the funds.”
When I mentioned earlier in this story, EFI continues to be dedicating itself to LED curing technology due to its UV lines, especially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer which functions as a flatbed or a rollfed.
“One of the biggest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing is available in the ability to transition analog try to digital with higher-volume equipment,” said Ken Hanulec, Vice President, Marketing, Inkjet Solutions, at EFI. “So, beyond developing imaging systems that approach offset quality, EFI has taken a progressive stance inside the material handling needed for a genuine analog-to-digital transition in higher-volume print with semi- and full-automation feed and delivery systems for our VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Firms that enter into high-volume digital want the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are the companies from the screen or offset print space that are looking to change some of their analog capacity to digital, and so they is only able to do this should they be hitting maximum throughput on a digital production line.”
Last June marked the 10-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and while tin or aluminum may be the traditional 10th anniversary gift, for EFI it’s apparently equipment manufacturing companies. On July 1, since this story was being finalized, EFI announced which it had acquired Matan Digital Printers, an Israel-based manufacturer of grand-format (aka superwide) hybrid UV printers. Available in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is ideal for outdoor and indoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked being a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the season.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has a number of options inside the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer was created to print on a variety of materials, especially 3D objects, around 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH can be a hybrid UV LED printer that comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, whilst the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, in lieu of UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a kind of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and designed to be an environmentally friendly ink option.
“The industry for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and because of so many applications arriving at the outer lining it isn’t surprising to see sales of these machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of Marketing, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on just about any substrate as much as almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the ability to purchase one of these simple machines very appealing to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that offer many different items that may be personalized with digital printing. Seek out thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and a lot more custom jig choices to drive demand and open up even more unique applications for this particular technology.”
Durst offers various flatbeds in the Rho combination of UV machines. The most up-to-date introduction was the t-shirt printer, which handle media approximately 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is targeted at high-end applications such as backlit displays for windows or light boxes, particularly for luxury goods, outdoor and indoor signage, POP and POS displays, and small to medium-sized packaging.
“In addition to the obvious speed and productivity, flexibility and durability are what printers need,” said Christopher Guyett, sales and marketing coordinator for Durst Image Technology. “They need flexibility when it comes to having the capability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to handle lead times, and they also need robust design and manufacturing to make on a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs want to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so that they have to have the flexibility to deal with complex client projects that can come together with little notice, and require an immediate turnaround.”
It seems fitting to complete this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the company whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked away from the flatbed wide-format market back in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this current year Inca introduced the Onset R40LT, a 3.14m (123.6-inch) by 1.6m (63-inch) flatbed that can be purchased in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It can handle substrates as much as 2 ” thick.
Be sure you have a look at these along with other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems like fitting to round out this roundup with the latest model from Inca Digital, the company whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked away from the flatbed wide-format market way back in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this current year Inca introduced the Onset R40LT, a 3.14m (123.6-inch) by 1.6m (63-inch) flatbed that can be purchased in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It may handle substrates as much as two inches thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers are available through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return in the Jeti
Also with the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira and the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The first kind is a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, whilst the latter is actually a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna type of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We realize that some print companies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems while others take pleasure in the flexibility of your hybrid device, so that we carry both technologies,” said Larry D’Amico, Vice-President Digital Imaging, Agfa Graphics. “We offer roll-to-roll alternatives on a number of our true flatbed equipment so an alternative is accessible with many of our printers. Currently, I see a mixture of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and so i see this trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is different so it is very important know very well what you primarily need to do with this particular equipment and select the technology that best suits this anticipated mix of work.”