This past year, inside our round-up from the latest in latte coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, a minimum of to some extent, been created to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically stuff like posters, POP/POS displays, and so forth. Previously year, there’s been less of a focus on shifting work from one technology to a different, and a lot more of a single on creating unique print applications which 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 have huge variations from small table- or benchtop units designed to print on items like golf balls and smartphone cases, as much as massive behemoths in which anybody can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, along with other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units will also be at the same time of blurring the line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing which is done within a manufacturing process, for example the control labels about the front of the appliance like a dishwasher, an automobile dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or another medical items, and other types of printing that change from the normal “print for pay” applications.)
Many of the flatbed units on the market today use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology which has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: what exactly is the one substrate that UV inks-thus far-can’t print on? Teflon. It seems sensible when you think about it….) The most up-to-date trend in UV inks is really-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps instead of the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not just a new technology, nevertheless the costs of it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, which makes them more suitable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs will also be said to be energy-efficient which means saving money. EFI particularly has been a highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to completely keep the technology in most its UV offerings.
We are also visiting 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 perceived as “jacks of all the trades, masters of none,” they may have improved to the stage where they are now respectedly regarded as means of giving shops the versatility to consider a wide variety of print projects. (Keep in mind, though, the same UV inks will not be ideal for all materials because of the respective dyne levels of ink and surface. Some surfaces might also require pre- or post-treatment to acquire UV ink to stick.)
Earlier this current 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 the follow-as much as the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched 2 years ago, whilst the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is designed for short-run corrugated packaging and stuff like that, useful for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has recently announced the Scitex 17000, designed 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 merely a matter of speed, but in addition of having materials on and off press immediately and improving automation.
“The focus is very how you can make digital production more productive, and we’re seeking 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 only the printing speed, the development workflow is an extremely important element. Customers are seeking automation both around the prepress side along with the finishing side.”
“We also have seen in general a trend toward lower-cost flatbed printers, especially low-end,” added Joan Pe´rez Pericot, Marketing Director for HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Smaller customers wish to jump into rigid, and also the marketplace is polarizing between the high-end presses doing a growing number of volume and also the smaller devices which 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 current 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 approximately six inches thick can be fed from the printer. With the Sign Expo, people to the booth could witness the business running footballs through 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, phone case printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability even more featuring its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, as well as smaller benchtop flatbeds like Roland’s LEF series printers, open up a new arena of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a lot ‘What are you able to print on?’ but alternatively ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly amazed by the creativity of these using our technology to produce 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 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 also has the lesser tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers to 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 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 Could You See
The most recent models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched a year ago-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 an array of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and big prints tiled over multiple boards. Additionally, they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-built to be board printers; they actually do not feature a roll option.
The newest Arizona printers are taking 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 also this takes us on the top end of your mid-volume, or the low end in the high-volume,” he stated. “It’s taken us into new markets and new business. They either provide an Arizona or perhaps a similar product now and therefore are growing their business and are searching for a far more economical printer to provide a little bit of capacity but in addition not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the new machines can print a maximum of 33 boards an hour or so. “We had an appealing customer event where we given out stopwatches to all of the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed a variety of boards, along with every one of them time them. Sure enough, we were 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, particularly the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer that also functions being a flatbed or perhaps a rollfed.
“One of the biggest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing can be purchased in the opportunity to transition analog try 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 within 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 get into high-volume digital require the most ROI from automated materials handling. Those are the companies coming from the screen or offset print space that want to switch a selection of their analog capability to digital, and they also 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, even though 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 that this 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 designed for outdoor and indoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked like a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the Year.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has a few options inside the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer was designed to print on a variety of materials, especially 3D objects, approximately 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is actually a hybrid UV LED printer that comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, whilst the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, rather than UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a sort of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and made to be an environmentally friendly ink option.
“The industry for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and with so many applications coming over to the surface it isn’t surprising to view sales of the machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of advertising, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on just about any substrate approximately almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of these brilliant machines very appealing to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that offer a variety of items that can be personalized with digital printing. Look for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and more custom jig options to drive demand and start more unique applications for this particular technology.”
Durst offers a number of flatbeds within its Rho series 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 aimed towards high-end applications for example 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 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 in terms of having the capacity to quickly switch between materials and jobs to deal with lead times, and so they need robust design and manufacturing to generate on a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs would like to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so that they require the flexibility to handle complex client projects that can come along with little notice, and require an immediate turnaround.”
It appears to be fitting to complete this roundup using the latest model from Inca Digital, the corporation whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off the flatbed wide-format market way back in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this coming year Inca introduced the Onset R40LT, a 3.14m (123.6-inch) by 1.6m (63-inch) flatbed that comes in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It can handle substrates around two inches thick.
Make sure to have a look at these and other models at Graph Expo and at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems like fitting to complete this roundup using the latest model from Inca Digital, the corporation whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked from the flatbed wide-format market back in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this coming 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 might handle substrates up to 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be found through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return from the Jeti
Also in the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira and also the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The previous is a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, as the latter can be a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna line of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We discover that some print service providers prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems and some benefit from 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 options on a number of our true flatbed equipment so an alternative is available with a number of our printers. Currently, I see a mixture 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 you should know very well what you primarily might like to do using this type of equipment and choose the technology that most closely fits this anticipated mixture of work.”