Last year, in our round-up from the latest in latte printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at the very least in part, been created to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically for stuff like posters, POP/POS displays, and so forth. In past times year, there’s been a smaller amount of a focus on shifting work from a technology to another one, and much 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, as much as massive behemoths by which you can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, along with other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units may also be in the process of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that is certainly done as part of a manufacturing process, for example the control labels about the front of an appliance like a dishwasher, a vehicle dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or other medical items, and other types of printing that differ from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
Many of the flatbed units that you can buy use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology containing made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: exactly what 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 really-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, however the costs from it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, leading them to be a lot better for thin plastic substrates. LEDs are also reported to be energy-efficient which implies cost benefits. EFI specifically is a huge highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to totally retain the technology in all of the its UV offerings.
Our company is also going to a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that could also function as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were regarded as “jacks of most trades, masters of none,” they have improved to the stage where they are now respectedly seen as methods for giving shops the versatility to consider numerous types of print projects. (Keep in mind, though, that this same UV inks might not be suitable for all materials given the respective dyne degrees of ink and surface. Some surfaces might also require pre- or post-treatment to get UV ink to stick.)
Earlier this coming year with the International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo, HP launched several new flatbeds in their 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-as much as the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched two years ago, while the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is made 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, created for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. Furthermore, it features the HP Scitex Corrugated Grip, a media handling system designed 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 obtaining materials on and off press as fast as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is actually learning to 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 one of the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not just the printing speed, the production workflow is a very important element. Consumers are asking for automation both around the prepress side plus the finishing side.”
“We have likewise 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 would like to jump into rigid, along with the industry is polarizing between your high-end presses doing more and more volume along with the smaller devices that happen to 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 carries a “throat” (yes, that’s an actual term) big enough that materials approximately six inches thick can be fed with the printer. With the Sign Expo, website visitors to the booth could witness the organization running footballs from the printer.
“Print agencies are researching 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 a little bit more using its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, as well as smaller benchtop flatbeds including Roland’s LEF series printers, open a new realm of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a whole lot ‘What are you able to print on?’ but ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly excited by the creativity of the using our technology to generate stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on before.”
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 smaller tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for that 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 looking for 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 for example personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Could You See
The latest models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched this past year-will be the six-color (CMYKLcLm) Océ Arizona 6160 XTS and seven-color (CMYKLcLm white) Océ Arizona 6170 XTS. Like most 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. In addition they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-created to be board printers; they do not feature a roll option.
The new Arizona printers take CSA in a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular from the mid-volume area, and also this takes us for the top end of the mid-volume, or even the low end of the high-volume,” he stated. “It’s taken us into new markets and customers. They either come with an Arizona or a similar product now and they are growing their business and are looking for a more economical printer to provide a bit of capacity but additionally not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the latest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards one hour. “We had a fascinating customer event where we passed out stopwatches to all of the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed a number of boards, and had all of them time them. Sure enough, we had been on the cash.”
As I mentioned earlier in this story, EFI continues to be dedicating itself to LED curing technology due to its UV lines, specially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer that functions being a flatbed or possibly a rollfed.
“One of the biggest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing will come in the chance 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 is taking 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 the VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Firms that go deep 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 want to replace some of their analog ability to digital, and they also could only achieve that if they are hitting maximum throughput on the digital production line.”
Last June marked the ten-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and even though tin or aluminum is definitely the traditional 10th anniversary gift, for EFI it’s apparently equipment manufacturing companies. On July 1, since this story was being finalized, EFI announced that 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 ideal for indoor and outdoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked as a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of year.
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 designed to print on a variety of materials, especially 3D objects, up to 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is actually a hybrid UV LED printer which comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, while the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, rather than UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a form of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and created to be an eco friendly ink option.
“The niche for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and considering the variety of applications coming to the surface it isn’t surprising to view sales of those machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of Marketing, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on practically any substrate approximately almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of these machines very popular with many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops offering a number of items that may be personalized with digital printing. Look for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and a lot more custom jig choices to drive demand and open up even more unique applications for this technology.”
Durst offers a number of flatbeds in its Rho series of UV machines. The most recent introduction was the textile printer, which handle media approximately 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is directed at high-end applications including 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 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 take care of lead times, and 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, therefore they want the flexibility to manage complex client projects that can come along with little notice, and require an immediate turnaround.”
It appears fitting to complete this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the business whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked away from 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 might handle substrates approximately two inches thick.
Make sure to look at these and also other models at Graph Expo as well as November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems like fitting to round out this roundup with the latest model from Inca Digital, the business whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked from 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 could handle substrates up to two inches thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be purchased through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of the Jeti
Also with the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira and the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The former is really a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, even though the latter is a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna collection of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We realize that some print agencies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems although some benefit from the flexibility of any hybrid device, therefore we carry both technologies,” said Larry D’Amico, Vice-President Digital Imaging, Agfa Graphics. “We offer roll-to-roll options on many of our true flatbed equipment so an alternative is offered with a number of our printers. Currently, I see a mixture of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and I see this trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is different so it is very important determine what you primarily wish to accomplish using this equipment and choose the technology that meets this anticipated combination of work.”