This past year, in our round-up from the latest in coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at least to some extent, been designed to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically such things as posters, POP/POS displays, and stuff like that. Previously year, there’s been less of an emphasis on shifting work from a technology to a different one, and more of just one on creating unique print applications which had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects has become the raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios have huge variations from small table- or benchtop units built to print on stuff like golf balls and smartphone cases, around massive behemoths in which you can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, and also other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units are also in the process of blurring the line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that is done as part of a manufacturing process, including the control labels around the front of an appliance like a dishwasher, a vehicle dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or some other medical items, and other sorts of printing that are different from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
A lot of the flatbed units that you can buy use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology which has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: what is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you think about it….) The most recent trend in UV inks is very-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under exposure to LED lamps as opposed to the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not really a new technology, although the costs of it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, making them more desirable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs are also said to be energy-efficient which suggests financial savings. EFI particularly is a highly active proponent of LED UV and possesses announced its intention to fully keep the technology in all of the its UV offerings.
We are also seeing a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that may also serve as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were perceived as “jacks of trades, masters of none,” they already have improved to the stage where they are now respectedly viewed as ways of giving shops the flexibility to use on numerous types of print projects. (Take into account, though, that the same UV inks might not be suited to all materials because of the respective dyne amounts of ink and surface. Some surfaces could also require pre- or post-treatment to have UV ink to adhere.)
Earlier this current year with the International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo, HP launched several new flatbeds in 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 is definitely the follow-around the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched 2 years ago, while the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is for short-run corrugated packaging and so on, helpful for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP also has recently announced the Scitex 17000, designed for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. Furthermore, it features the HP Scitex Corrugated Grip, a media handling system built to facilitate printing on warped corrugated boards.
For HP, the prevailing trend is toward more automation and improving productivity, which is not merely a matter of speed, but additionally of having materials on / off press immediately and improving automation.
“The focus is actually steps to make digital production more productive, and we’re looking 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 probably the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not simply the printing speed, the development workflow is certainly a important element. Clients are asking for automation both in the prepress side along with the finishing side.”
“We have also observed in general a trend toward lower-cost flatbed printers, especially basic level,” added Joan Pe´rez Pericot, Marketing Director for HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Smaller customers desire to jump into rigid, and the marketplace is polarizing between your high-end presses doing more and more volume along with the smaller devices that are doing very short runs.”
Mind Your Throat, Please
Roland DGA has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV flatbeds and also 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 has a “throat” (yes, that’s a genuine term) large enough that materials around six inches thick may be fed from the printer. On the Sign Expo, website visitors to the booth could witness the corporation running footballs with the printer.
“Print companies are searching for ways to differentiate and expand their businesses-opportunities that flatbed printers certainly provide,” said Jay Roberts, Roland DGA’s Product Manager, led uv printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability even more using its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, together with smaller benchtop flatbeds for example Roland’s LEF series printers, start a completely new realm of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a whole lot ‘What could you print on?’ but ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly astonished by the creativity of the using our technology to produce stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on in the past.”
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 mention but a couple of. Mimaki also has the lesser tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for your tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and lots of other novelty and specialty print objects.
“Customers are trying to find feature-rich, high-quality versatility that enables them to replace labor- and waste-intensive processes and print direct-to-substrate, while adding value with higher margin applications like 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 a lot of its brethren, the Arizonas are designed for printing on a variety of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and enormous prints tiled over multiple boards. They also support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-manufactured to be board printers; they are doing not have a roll option.
The latest Arizona printers take CSA right into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular within the mid-volume area, and that takes us on the high-end of the mid-volume, or maybe the low end in the high-volume,” he stated. “It’s taken us into new markets and new customers. They either provide an Arizona or a similar product now and therefore are growing their business and are searching for an even more economical printer to include some capacity and also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the brand new machines can print a maximum of 33 boards an hour or so. “We had an intriguing customer event where we given out stopwatches to all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed several boards, and had each of them time them. Sure enough, we were right on the funds.”
When I mentioned earlier with this story, EFI continues to be dedicating itself to LED curing technology for the UV lines, specially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer that also functions as being a flatbed or possibly a rollfed.
“One of the biggest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing comes in the ability to transition analog work to digital with higher-volume equipment,” said Ken Hanulec, V . P ., Marketing, Inkjet Solutions, at EFI. “So, beyond developing imaging systems that approach offset quality, EFI has gotten a progressive stance inside the material handling needed for an actual analog-to-digital transition in higher-volume print with semi- and full-automation feed and delivery systems for the 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 coming from the screen or offset print space that are looking to switch a selection of their analog capacity to digital, and so they could only do that should they be hitting maximum throughput over a digital production line.”
Last June marked the 10-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and while tin or aluminum is definitely the traditional 10th anniversary gift, for EFI it’s apparently equipment manufacturing companies. On July 1, simply because this story was being finalized, EFI announced it had acquired Matan Digital Printers, an Israel-based manufacturer of grand-format (aka superwide) hybrid UV printers. For sale in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is for indoor and outdoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked like 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 is made 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 type of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and designed to be an eco friendly ink option.
“The niche for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and considering the variety of applications coming over to the outer lining it isn’t surprising to discover sales of these machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of advertising, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on practically any substrate around almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of these simple machines very appealing to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that supply a variety of items that can be personalized with digital printing. Seek out thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and a lot more custom jig options to drive demand and open even more unique applications just for this technology.”
Durst offers many different flatbeds in the Rho group of UV machines. The newest introduction was the t-shirt printer, which handle media around 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is directed at high-end applications such as backlit displays for windows or light boxes, particularly for luxury goods, indoor and outdoor signage, POP and POS displays, and small to medium-sized packaging.
“In accessory for the most 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 with regards to having the capacity to quickly switch between materials and jobs to manage lead times, plus they need robust design and manufacturing to make with a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs wish to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, hence they want the flexibility to manage complex client projects that come together with little notice, and require an immediate turnaround.”
It appears fitting to complete this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the organization whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off the flatbed wide-format market back in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this season 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 up to 2 ” thick.
Make sure to have a look at these along with other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It appears fitting to round out this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the corporation whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off the flatbed wide-format market in the past in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this season Inca introduced the Onset R40LT, a 3.14m (123.6-inch) by 1.6m (63-inch) flatbed that is available in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It may handle substrates as much as 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be found through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of the Jeti
Also at the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira as well as the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The former is really a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, while the latter can be a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna brand of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We discover that some print agencies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems while some take pleasure in the flexibility of the 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 can be obtained 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 unique so it is important to know very well what you primarily need to do with this equipment and select the technology that best fits this anticipated mix of work.”