Last year, inside our round-up from the latest in latte coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, a minimum of partly, been intended 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. Previously year, there’s been a smaller amount of an emphasis on shifting work from a single technology to another, and more of merely one on creating unique print applications who 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 designed to print on such things as golf balls and smartphone cases, approximately massive behemoths by which anybody can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, along with other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units can also be along the way of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that is done as an element of a manufacturing process, including the control labels around the front of any appliance similar to a dishwasher, a car dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or some other medical items, and other types of printing that differ from the typical “print for pay” applications.)
Many of the flatbed units currently available use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology which has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: exactly what is the one substrate that UV inks-thus far-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you consider it….) The most up-to-date trend in UV inks is really-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under exposure to LED lamps rather than the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not really a new technology, but the costs of this are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, leading them to be a lot better for thin plastic substrates. LEDs can also be said to be energy-efficient which means saving money. EFI particularly has become a highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to fully support the technology in most its UV offerings.
Our company is also going to 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 all the trades, masters of none,” they may have improved to the level where they are respectedly considered as ways of giving shops the versatility to battle numerous print projects. (Keep in mind, though, that this same UV inks is probably not appropriate for all materials given the respective dyne amounts of ink and surface. Some surfaces may also require pre- or post-treatment to have UV ink to adhere.)
Earlier this year on the International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo, HP launched several new flatbeds in the Scitex line. The 64-inch HP Scitex FB550 and 120-inch FB750 hit the sign and display sweet spots
HP Scitex 11000 Industrial Press will be the follow-up to the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched two years ago, whilst the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is for short-run corrugated packaging and stuff like that, ideal for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has additionally recently announced the Scitex 17000, intended 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, and also of obtaining materials on / off press as quickly as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is really how 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 only the printing speed, the production workflow is certainly a important element. People are seeking automation both around the prepress side plus the finishing side.”
“We have likewise seen in general a trend toward lower-cost flatbed printers, especially entry level,” added Joan Pe´rez Pericot, Marketing Director for HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Smaller customers want to jump into rigid, as well as the marketplace is polarizing between your high-end presses doing more and more volume as well as 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 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 an actual term) big enough that materials up to six inches thick could be fed from the printer. With the Sign Expo, website visitors to the booth could witness the organization running footballs through 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, uv printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability even further having its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, as well as smaller benchtop flatbeds such as Roland’s LEF series printers, open a new field of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t so much ‘What could you print on?’ but rather ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly astonished by the creativity of the using our technology to generate 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 along with 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 number of. Mimaki also offers 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 seeking feature-rich, high-quality versatility that allows 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 Could You See
The most recent models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched just last year-will be 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 capable of printing on a wide array 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-created to be board printers; they generally do not include a roll option.
The new 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 in the mid-volume, or the low end of your high-volume,” he explained. “It’s taken us into new markets and customers. They either have an Arizona or a similar product now and are growing their business and are looking for an even more economical printer to include a small amount of capacity but also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the new machines can print a maximum of 33 boards one hour. “We had an intriguing customer event where we passed out stopwatches for all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed a variety of boards, and had every one of them time them. Sure enough, we had been directly on the cash.”
Because I mentioned earlier in this particular story, EFI is dedicating itself to LED curing technology due to its UV lines, particularly the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer which functions like a flatbed or a rollfed.
“One of the largest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing can be purchased 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 brought a progressive stance inside 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 go deep into high-volume digital need the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are the companies from the screen or offset print space that are looking to replace a selection of their analog capability to digital, and they can only accomplish that if they are 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 will be 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 which it had acquired Matan Digital Printers, an Israel-based manufacturer of grand-format (aka superwide) hybrid UV printers. Offered in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is designed for indoor and outdoor 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 in the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer is made to print on various materials, especially 3D objects, up to 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH can be a hybrid UV LED printer that comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, as the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, rather than UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a type of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and built 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 the machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of Marketing, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on virtually any substrate approximately almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the ability to purchase one of these brilliant machines very attractive to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops offering various items that could be personalized with digital printing. Try to find thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, plus more custom jig options to drive demand and open much more unique applications with this technology.”
Durst offers many different flatbeds in the Rho number of UV machines. The newest introduction was the t-shirt printer, which handle media as much as 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 addition to the obvious speed and productivity, flexibility and sturdiness are what printers need,” said Christopher Guyett, sales and marketing coordinator for Durst Image Technology. “They need flexibility when it comes to having the ability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to deal with lead times, plus they need robust design and manufacturing to create over a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs would like to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, hence they require the flexibility to manage complex client projects that come together with little notice, and require a sudden turnaround.”
It appears to be fitting to complete this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the company whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off the flatbed wide-format market way 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 found in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It may handle substrates approximately two inches thick.
Be sure you take a look at these as well as other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems like fitting to complete this roundup using the latest model from Inca Digital, the company 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 found in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It may handle substrates up to 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers are offered through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of your Jeti
Also on the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira along with the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The first kind is actually a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, whilst the latter is really a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna collection of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We realize that some print providers prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems although some 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 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 so i check this out trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is unique so it is important to know what you primarily want to do with this particular equipment and choose the technology that best fits this anticipated mix of work.”