This past year, inside our round-up in the latest in coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at the very least to some extent, been designed to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically things like posters, POP/POS displays, and so on. In the past year, there’s been less of an emphasis on shifting work from a technology to a different, and more of a single on creating unique print applications who had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects is among the most raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios have huge variations from small table- or benchtop units made to print on such things as golf balls and smartphone cases, up to massive behemoths whereby one could run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, as well as other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units are also during this process of blurring the line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that may be done included in a manufacturing process, including the control labels around the front of the appliance just like a dishwasher, a car dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or another medical items, and other printing that change from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
The majority of the flatbed units that you can buy use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology which includes made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: what exactly is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you think of it….) The latest 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 really a new technology, however the costs than it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, leading them to be more suitable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs are also said to be energy-efficient which suggests cost savings. EFI in particular has become a highly active proponent of LED UV and possesses announced its intention to completely keep the technology in all its UV offerings.
We are also going to a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that can also function as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were regarded as “jacks of all the trades, masters of none,” they already have improved to the level where they are now respectedly regarded as means of giving shops the flexibility to use on numerous print projects. (Keep in mind, though, that this same UV inks may not be suited to all materials because of the respective dyne quantities of ink and surface. Some surfaces may also require pre- or post-treatment to obtain UV ink to stick.)
Earlier this current year on 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 the follow-approximately the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched a couple of years ago, even though the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is for short-run corrugated packaging and so forth, ideal for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has also recently announced the Scitex 17000, intended 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 only a question of speed, and also of getting materials on / off press immediately and improving automation.
“The focus is really how you can make digital production more productive, and we’re attempting 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 just the printing speed, the production workflow is a very important element. Clients are requesting automation both in the prepress side along with the finishing side.”
“We also have seen 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 wish to jump into rigid, along with the industry is polarizing involving the high-end presses doing a lot more volume as well as 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 current year, Roland launched its first big flatbed, the 64-inch VersaUV LEJ-640FT flatbed UV printer. This new flatbed includes a “throat” (yes, that’s a genuine term) large enough that materials approximately six inches thick can be fed from the printer. In the Sign Expo, visitors to the booth could witness the organization running footballs from the printer.
“Print providers are looking 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 further having its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, together with smaller benchtop flatbeds like Roland’s LEF series printers, open a completely new field of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a lot ‘What can you print on?’ but instead ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly amazed by the creativity of people using our technology to create 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 mention but several. Mimaki also has the smaller tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for the 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 lets them replace labor- and waste-intensive processes and print direct-to-substrate, while adding value with higher margin applications including personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Can You See
The latest models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched a year ago-are definitely 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 array of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and large prints tiled over multiple boards. They also support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-designed to be board printers; they actually do not include a roll option.
The new Arizona printers are taking CSA into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular within the mid-volume area, and also this takes us to the top end in the mid-volume, or perhaps the low end of your high-volume,” he said. “It’s taken us into new markets and new customers. They either have an Arizona or perhaps a similar product now and therefore are growing their business and are trying to find an even more economical printer to add a small amount of 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. “We had an appealing customer event where we handed out stopwatches to any or all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed numerous boards, and had all of them time them. Sure enough, we were directly on the funds.”
When I mentioned earlier in this story, EFI is 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 a flatbed or perhaps a rollfed.
“One of the largest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing can be purchased in the chance 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 gotten a progressive stance in the material handling essential for an actual 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. Businesses that enter into high-volume digital require 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 opportunity to digital, and so they is only able to accomplish that should they be hitting maximum throughput on the digital production line.”
Last June marked the ten-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, even though tin or aluminum may be the traditional 10th anniversary gift, for EFI it’s apparently equipment manufacturing companies. On July 1, because 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. 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 Year.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has several options in the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer is designed to print on a variety of materials, especially 3D objects, around 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is actually a hybrid UV LED printer that comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, while the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, in lieu of UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a sort of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and made to be an eco-friendly ink option.
“The marketplace for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and considering the variety of applications visiting the surface it isn’t surprising to discover sales of such 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 ability to purchase one of these brilliant machines very alluring to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that offer a variety of items that may be personalized with digital printing. Seek out thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and much more custom jig choices to drive demand and open up a lot more unique applications for this particular technology.”
Durst offers a variety of flatbeds in their Rho combination of UV machines. The most up-to-date introduction was the textile printer, which handle media up to 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is geared towards 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 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 regarding having the ability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to deal with lead times, and so they need robust design and manufacturing to make on the 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs want to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, therefore they want the flexibility to manage complex client projects which come in with little notice, and require a quick turnaround.”
It seems fitting to complete this roundup using 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 is available in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It could handle substrates around two inches thick.
Make sure you have a look at these and other models at Graph Expo and also at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems like fitting to complete this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the business 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 is available in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It can handle substrates approximately 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers are available through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return in 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 previous is a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, while the latter is actually a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna brand of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We discover that some print companies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems while some take advantage of the flexibility of a hybrid device, therefore we carry both technologies,” said Larry D’Amico, Vice-President Digital Imaging, Agfa Graphics. “We offer roll-to-roll choices on a number of our true flatbed equipment so a substitute is offered with many of our printers. Currently, I see a mix of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and that i check this out trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is distinct so it is very important know very well what you primarily want to do using this type of equipment and choose the technology that meets this anticipated combination of work.”