Just last year, within our round-up of your latest in coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, no less than in part, been designed to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically for stuff like posters, POP/POS displays, and so forth. Previously year, there’s been less of a focus on shifting work in one technology to a different one, 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 considered the raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios have huge variations from small table- or benchtop units created to print on things like golf balls and smartphone cases, up to massive behemoths in which anybody can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, and other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units will also be at the same time of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that is done within a manufacturing process, such as the control labels on the front of the appliance like a dishwasher, an automobile dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or any other medical items, and other printing that are different from the typical “print for pay” applications.)
The majority of the flatbed units on the market today use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology which includes made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: exactly what 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 being exposed to LED lamps instead of the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not a new technology, but the costs than it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, leading them to be a lot better for thin plastic substrates. LEDs may also be said to be energy-efficient meaning cost benefits. EFI specifically has become a highly active proponent of LED UV and possesses announced its intention to fully retain the technology in all of the its UV offerings.
Our company is also seeing a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that may also work as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were regarded as “jacks of all trades, masters of none,” they have got improved to the point where they are now respectedly seen as means of giving shops the flexibility to use on numerous types of print projects. (Remember, though, that this same UV inks may not be appropriate for all materials because of the respective dyne quantities of ink and surface. Some surfaces may also require pre- or post-treatment to get UV ink to keep.)
Earlier this coming year with 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-around the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched 2 years ago, even though the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is ideal for short-run corrugated packaging and stuff like that, 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. 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 matter of speed, but also of having materials on and off press immediately and improving automation.
“The focus is really how 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 amongst the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not only the printing speed, the development workflow is an extremely important element. Customers are looking for automation both in the prepress side and also the finishing side.”
“We have likewise observed 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 desire to jump into rigid, as well as the marketplace is polarizing involving 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 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 a real term) large enough that materials as much as six inches thick can be fed from the printer. On the Sign Expo, visitors to the booth could witness the organization running footballs from the printer.
“Print providers are searching 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 a little bit more with its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, as well as smaller benchtop flatbeds for example Roland’s LEF series printers, open up a new realm 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 before.”
Joanie Loves Tchotchkes
Mimaki’s JFX Series UV LED flatbed printers (comprising the 51-inch JFX200 as well as 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 a number of. Mimaki even offers smaller tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers to the 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 trying to find 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 for example personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Can You See
The most up-to-date models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched last 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 variety of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and enormous prints tiled over multiple boards. Additionally they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-created to be board printers; they actually do not have a roll option.
The new Arizona printers take CSA into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular from the mid-volume area, and this takes us towards the top end of your mid-volume, or the low end in the high-volume,” he explained. “It’s taken us into new markets and customers. They either have an Arizona or even a similar product now and so are growing their business and are seeking a far more economical printer to add a 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 1 hour. “We had an appealing customer event where we given out stopwatches to any or all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed a number of boards, and had every one of them time them. Sure enough, we had been directly on the cash.”
Because I mentioned earlier with this story, EFI has become 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 functions like a flatbed or possibly a rollfed.
“One of the most popular opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing is available 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 has gotten a progressive stance from the material handling necessary for a real analog-to-digital transition in higher-volume print with semi- and full-automation feed and delivery systems for our own VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Companies that go deep into high-volume digital need the most ROI from automated materials handling. Those are the companies coming from the screen or offset print space that want to exchange some of their analog capability to digital, and they also can only accomplish that should they be hitting maximum throughput with a 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, because this story was being finalized, EFI announced it had acquired Matan Digital Printers, an Israel-based manufacturer of grand-format (aka superwide) hybrid UV printers. Obtainable in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is made for indoor and outdoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked like a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the season.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has several options within the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer is made 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 that comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, whilst the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, in lieu of UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a type of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and designed to be an eco friendly ink option.
“The marketplace for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and with so many applications coming to the surface it isn’t surprising to view sales of those machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of advertising, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on practically any substrate up to almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of these machines very appealing to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops offering many different items that could be personalized with digital printing. Look for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, plus more custom jig choices to drive demand and start even more unique applications just for this technology.”
Durst offers various flatbeds in its Rho series of UV machines. The newest introduction was the dtg printer, which handle media up to 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is geared 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 accessory for 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 regarding having the capability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to handle lead times, plus they need robust design and manufacturing to produce over a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs are looking to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so they want the flexibility to handle complex client projects that can come along with little notice, and require a sudden turnaround.”
It appears fitting to complete this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the company whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off of the flatbed wide-format market in the past in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this current 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 around 2 ” thick.
Be 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 fitting to round out this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the company whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off the flatbed wide-format market in the past 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 may 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 along with the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The previous is actually 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 collection of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We learn that some print companies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems and some benefit from the flexibility of the hybrid device, so that we carry both technologies,” said Larry D’Amico, Vice-President Digital Imaging, Agfa Graphics. “We offer roll-to-roll alternatives on many of our true flatbed equipment so an alternative can be obtained with many 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 distinct so it is very important understand what you primarily might like to do using this equipment and select the technology that best fits this anticipated blend of work.”