Just last year, in your round-up of the latest in latte coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at least in part, been intended to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically such things as posters, POP/POS displays, and so on. In past times year, there’s been less of a focus on shifting work from one technology to a different, plus more of one on creating unique print applications which had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects is considered 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 items like golf balls and smartphone cases, up to massive behemoths by which you can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, and other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units may also be along the way of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that is done included in a manufacturing process, including the control labels about the front of the appliance similar to a dishwasher, an automobile dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or some other medical items, and other printing that change from the typical “print for pay” applications.)
The majority 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: what is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you think about 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 the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not just a new technology, nevertheless the costs from it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, leading them to be considerably better for thin plastic substrates. LEDs can also be reported to be energy-efficient which means saving money. EFI especially is a huge highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to fully support the technology in every its UV offerings.
Our company is also going to 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 perceived as “jacks of all the trades, masters of none,” they have got improved to the point where they are respectedly viewed as means of giving shops the flexibility to battle numerous print projects. (Remember, though, that this same UV inks may not be suited to all materials considering the respective dyne quantities of ink and surface. Some surfaces might also require pre- or post-treatment to obtain UV ink to adhere.)
Earlier this current year at 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 will be the follow-approximately the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched a couple of years ago, even though the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is designed for short-run corrugated packaging and so on, a good choice 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. It also 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 an issue of speed, and also of having materials on and off press immediately and improving automation.
“The focus is absolutely steps 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 among the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not merely the printing speed, the production workflow is an extremely important element. Consumers are asking for automation both in the prepress side along with the finishing side.”
“We have noticed 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 desire to jump into rigid, as well as the marketplace is polarizing involving the high-end presses doing a lot 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 plus 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 true term) big enough that materials approximately six inches thick might be fed through the printer. On the Sign Expo, people to the booth could witness the corporation running footballs with 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, phone case printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability a little bit more featuring its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, in addition to smaller benchtop flatbeds including Roland’s LEF series printers, start a whole new world of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a lot ‘What is it possible to print on?’ but rather ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly amazed by the creativity of these 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 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 several. Mimaki even offers small tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for that tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and lots 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 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 this past 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 an array of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and large prints tiled over multiple boards. Additionally they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-built to be board printers; they generally do not feature a roll option.
The new Arizona printers take CSA in to a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular in the mid-volume area, and this takes us for the top end of your mid-volume, or maybe the low end from the high-volume,” he was quoted saying. “It’s taken us into new markets and new clients. They either have an Arizona or even a similar product now and are growing their business and are trying to find a much more economical printer to include a small amount of capacity and also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the newest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards 1 hour. “We had an intriguing customer event where we given out stopwatches to any or all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed several boards, and had every one of them time them. Sure enough, we had been directly on the amount of money.”
Because I mentioned earlier with 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 most popular opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing will come 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 is taking a progressive stance inside the material handling required for a real 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 go deep into high-volume digital have to have the most ROI from automated materials handling. Those are the companies from the screen or offset print space that are looking to replace some of their analog capability to digital, and so they are only able to accomplish that when they are hitting maximum throughput on the digital production line.”
Last June marked the 10-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and although tin or aluminum is definitely 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. 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 as a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of year.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has a few options from the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer is designed to print on a number of materials, especially 3D objects, as much as 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is really 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 form of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and created to be an eco friendly ink option.
“The marketplace for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and with the amount of applications coming to the surface it isn’t surprising to find out sales of the machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of promoting, 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 opportunity purchase one of these simple machines very alluring to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that offer a number of items that can be personalized with digital printing. Search for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, plus more custom jig options to drive demand and open up a lot more unique applications with this technology.”
Durst offers a number of flatbeds within its Rho combination of UV machines. The newest introduction was the dtg printer, which handle media as much as 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is aimed towards 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 addition to the most 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 in terms of having the capacity to quickly switch between materials and jobs to take care of lead times, plus they need robust design and manufacturing to create on the 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs want to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, therefore they need the flexibility to handle complex client projects which come in with little notice, and require a sudden turnaround.”
It appears fitting to complete this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the corporation 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 year 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 around 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 to be fitting to round out this roundup using the latest model from Inca Digital, the corporation whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked from 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 is available in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It may handle substrates around 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 along with the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The first kind is actually a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, as the latter is really a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna collection of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We find that some print companies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems and some take pleasure in the flexibility of your 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 accessible with a number 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 distinct so you should understand what you primarily might like to do with this particular equipment and choose the technology that best fits this anticipated combination of work.”