A couple weeks ago, we kicked off 2017 with a summary of the roll-to-roll latte coffee printer landscape. In the week, we’ll carry out the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been as much action in flatbeds like in rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, less than much flatbeds. (Actually, you can print textiles on a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds are certainly not designed or sold specially for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by contact with ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing is done using mercury vapor lamps, but the past many years have observed an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps. Some great benefits of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run sizzling hot), and less energy needed to run them, energy that’s wasted by means of all of that heat. LED also permits printing on very thin plastic materials which could warp or discolor when open to hot curing lamps, although a great vacuum system may help avoid warpage when utilizing thin substrates irrespective of heat.
The newest models which have appeared available on the market as of late boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-in addition to some degree of automation. We’re also beginning to see more models appearing within the mid-volume range, and much more entry-level machines. Additionally there is a greater proliferation of hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll machines. (We’ll look specifically at hybrids inside a future feature.)
Durst Imaging’s Rho 1000 flagship series comprises the 282-inch (7.2-meter) Rho 1012/1312 and 1030/1330, UV flatbeds whose ink sets include CMYK plus light magenta and light cyan, in addition to orange and green or orange and violet, hitting the gamut of brand name and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to the 1030/1330, while the latter ups the rate to as fast as 1,250 square meters per hour. The 1000 series complements the industrial-level Rho P10 series, comprising the 200/250 and hybrid 200/250HS, the HS models being hybrids. These 154-inch (3.9-meter) machines offer ink sets which include CMYK plus light magenta and lightweight cyan, white, along with a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and are targeted toward outdoor and indoor signage and POS/POP, and also packaging and backlit applications.
The Durst Rho 1030 offers fully automated production.
Historically, Inca Digital launched the flatbed printer category greater than 16 yrs ago with the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed computer printer line in Fall 2015. The following fall saw the launch from the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet in the Onset series, believed to print around 9,600 square feet (180 boards) per hour. Colorwise, it supports CMYK plus white or orange.
Inca Roads-The Onset X3 is definitely the fastest Onset yet.
Inca flatbeds are distributed by Fujifilm, which possesses its own longstanding combination of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The newest entry, introduced last year, is the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, thought to print at speeds as high as 620 square feet hourly. It may print on an array of substrates around 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and light-weight magenta, plus white or clear). This past year, Fujifilm also introduced the latest inside the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) flatbed printer with speeds said to be around 2,100 sq ft per hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 is the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity combination of flatbeds
Recently, Fujifilm is touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a variety of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based around the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. By using a broad assortment of inks and color management software, the aim of FIT is image optimization, speed, and adaptability.
In 2016, Canon Solutions America (CSA) launched two new Océ Arizona number of wide-format UV flatbeds. The Océ Arizona 1200 series includes the 49-inch (1.2-meter) GT and 121-inch (3.1-meter) XT models. The 1240 prints around four colors, the 1260 around six colors, as well as the 1280 around eight colors. The Arizona 1200 series printers are mid-volume flatbeds targeted toward sign and display shops, specialty printers, and photo labs.
Also from the mid-volume production category, CSA also introduced the Océ Arizona 2200 series, available too in GT (49-inch/1.2-meter) and XT (121-inch/3.1-meter) models. The 2260 is a six-color machine and the 2280 is definitely an eight-color machine. The main difference between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 square feet hourly as well as the 2200 XTs at 691 square feet an hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit involving the entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, and the top-of-the-line 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) Océ Arizona 6100 series, comprising the six-color 6160 XTS and seven-color 6170 XTS. The 6100 series can print as much as 1,668 sq ft per hour.
The Océ Arizona 6100 series is Canon Solutions America’s top-of-the-line flatbed line.
In 2015, Roland launched its first flatbed model, the VersaUV LEJ-640FT LED UV flatbed. It uses Roland Eco-UV inks, such as gloss and white for effects and textures. It can print on flexible or rigid substrates approximately 63.2 x 98 inches (1.6 x 2.5 meters) and 5.9 (.15 meters) inches thick. Attendees to the SGIA Expo in 2015 may have seen it printing on footballs. Roland even offers the 64-inch (1.6-meter) hybrid VersaUV LEJ640.
The VersaUV LEJ-640FT is Roland’s entrée in to the UV flatbed market
Not too long ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, thought to print up to 675 sq ft hourly. Just last year, it was joined by the JFX500-2131, a lesser footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, along with a primer for substrates that need it. This past year, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles paper part of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is actually a dual-zone flatbed that permits for printing in a portion of the bed as the other is now being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds will be the 106.3-inch (2.7-meter) Jeti Mira MG 2732 HS along with the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) Jeti Tauro H2500, the second that gained an autoboard feeder just last year, while the former gained a whole new roll-to-roll option. In other Agfa hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll news, the Anapurna H3200i LED UV printer can be another hybrid; other Anapurnas include the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H stands for hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You may recall from last November i was very much taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a means of printing lenticular images about the Jeti Mira utilizing a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish could be layered to create lenticular effects
EFI has experienced lots of irons inside the fire lately-especially post-Reggiani-and contains been focusing on the hybrid market. In 2015, the business launched the 126-inch (3.2-meter) hybrid VUTEk HS125 Pro also launched the entry-level 64.9-inch (1.65-meter) hybrid EFI H1625-SD UV printer, which comes with EFI SuperDraw UV ink for near-photographic imaging on thermoformable substrates. EFI has an extensive number of within its entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is a huge strong proponent of LED curing and virtually its entire portfolio is already LED-based.
EFI’s H1625-SD UV printer can print on plastic substrates designed for thermoforming applications
I use in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are equipped for specialty printing applications, like 3D objects like pens, golf balls, smartphone cases, and in many cases cylindrical objects like water bottles and YETI cups.
Roland has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV printers, and this past year the business introduced a big brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which may print right on 3D objects approximately 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. It is additionally effective at higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. The other day, Roland announced the subsequent-generation of LEF-20, the VersaUV LEF-200, a 20-inch benchtop UV printer that prints CMYK plus white and gloss. The gloss channel could be replaced from a new primer option, for all those unusual substrates which require it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 with all the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, which also adds the brand new primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory to the VersaUV tabletops, which supports printing on cylindrical objects.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 is ideal for printing on 3D objects including golf balls, smartphone cases, and many other things
A year ago, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer intended for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects as much as 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) or higher to six inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG as well as the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, having an accessory referred to as a Kebab, can print on cylindrical objects from 30 to 330 millimeters long and 10 to 110 millimeters in diameter.
Mimaki’s Kebab accessory enables printing on cylindrical objects like bottles
Mutoh also offers a brand of tabletops, for example the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, able to printing on a number of 3D objects as much as 2.75 inches thick and targeted at the packaging prototyping market. These join Mutoh’s hybrid UV LED printers, the 64-inch (1.6-meter) ValueJet 1617H, ValueJet 1626UH, and ValueJet 1638UH printers. The first kind uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, as the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP is fairly quiet about the Scitex flatbed front recently, nevertheless in 2015 launched the 64-inch (1.6-meter) HP Scitex FB550 and 120-inch (3.-meter) FB750. The HP Scitex 11000 series industrial press has replaced the 10000 platform.
I’m not inclined to incorporate corrugated equipment in the flatbed printer category, but do want to at the very least mention in passing that this HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are two of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while at last year’s drupa, EFI announced its own Nozomi C18000 single-pass corrugated press, while Durst announced the Rho SPC single-pass corrugated and label solution. Also at drupa, Screen and BHS Corrugated announced a partnership to develop the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are some of the most exciting aspects of the wide-format market since their killer app is simply because they can print on virtually any surface (although, it needs to be stressed, not “right out of the box”; sometimes the top should be pre- or post-treated) causing them to be suitable for all types of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or some other 3D effects, as well as print Braille. You’ll want to get a sense of the ink cost and printing time before embarking on these sorts of projects, however.
Of course, the initial question to inquire when shopping for a flatbed is, what do you wish to print? Large POP as well as other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mix of several different product types as you possibly can? That may evaluate which size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t want a specific benchtop unit if you want to print 3D objects; any flatbed will work, you’ll only need additional accessories, that is to be cheaper than investing in a whole separate unit.
Probably the biggest question even before you look at models is, have you got room for any flatbed with your current shop? Or else, is it possible to justify acquiring more space to house it? Interestingly, we located in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the results that are supplied in our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to get t-shirt printer, and 14% said that they were planning to buy “additional space/new location.” Correlation is not causation, needless to say, so we don’t know from what extent they’re the identical 14% to 15%, but, you understand, these products will get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to ask is definitely the flip side of merely one I suggested when viewing rollfeds: do you want roll-to-roll printing as well? Hybrids are excellent options if you plan to get a blend of flexible and rigid substrates, but get feelings of exactly what the ink costs could be. UV inks might be more costly than other sorts of inks, when you have a much higher volume of stuff like vinyl graphics, you might be happier with the ecosolvent machine.
When I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, pay attention to “under the hood” sorts of issues, like the details of the warranty, what it really covers, how long it lasts, and when you will find stuff that might nullify it, like using third-party inks, replacing a printhead, or damaging the heads by printing on unusual or downright wacky materials or objects. Particularly with flatbeds, discover what type of training may be involved.