This past year, in our round-up of your latest in coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at least in part, been designed to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically things such as posters, POP/POS displays, and the like. In past times year, there’s been a smaller amount of a focus on shifting work from a 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 among the most raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios run the gamut from small table- or benchtop units designed to print on stuff like golf balls and smartphone cases, around massive behemoths in which one can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, along with other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units can also be in the process of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that may be done as an element of a manufacturing process, like the control labels on the front of the appliance just like a dishwasher, an automobile dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or another medical items, and other printing that differ from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
Many of the flatbed units on the market today use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology that has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: just what is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you think of it….) The most up-to-date trend in UV inks is indeed-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under being exposed to LED lamps rather than the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not much of a new technology, however the costs than it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, leading them to be more desirable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs can also be said to be energy-efficient which suggests cost savings. EFI especially is a huge highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to completely secure the technology in all of the its UV offerings.
We are 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 perceived as “jacks of all the trades, masters of none,” they have got improved to the level where they are now respectedly viewed as means of giving shops the versatility to battle numerous print projects. (Take into account, though, that this same UV inks might not be ideal for all materials because of the respective dyne levels of ink and surface. Some surfaces can also require pre- or post-treatment to acquire UV ink to stick.)
Earlier this season at 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 definitely the follow-around the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched two years ago, whilst the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is ideal 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, made 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 only a matter of speed, but in addition to getting materials off and on press immediately and improving automation.
“The focus is actually learning to make digital production more productive, and we’re looking 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 just the printing speed, the production workflow is an extremely important element. Consumers are looking for automation both on the prepress side plus the finishing side.”
“We have also 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 wish to jump into rigid, and the industry is polarizing between the high-end presses doing a growing number of volume as well as 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 has a “throat” (yes, that’s a genuine term) big enough that materials around six inches thick can be fed with the printer. In the Sign Expo, people to the booth could witness the corporation 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 further having its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, as well as smaller benchtop flatbeds such as Roland’s LEF series printers, start a whole new field of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a whole lot ‘What could you print on?’ but ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly astonished by the creativity of the 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 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 name but a couple of. Mimaki even offers smaller tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for that tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and many 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 such as personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Could You See
The most up-to-date models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched last year-are the six-color (CMYKLcLm) Océ Arizona 6160 XTS and seven-color (CMYKLcLm white) Océ Arizona 6170 XTS. Like several of its brethren, the Arizonas are designed for 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-manufactured to be board printers; they are doing not come with a roll option.
The latest Arizona printers take CSA into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular within the mid-volume area, and also this takes us towards the high-end from the mid-volume, or maybe the low end from the high-volume,” he stated. “It’s taken us into new markets and new clients. They either have an Arizona or possibly a similar product now and so are growing their business and are searching for an even more economical printer to include a small amount of capacity but also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the brand new machines can print a maximum of 33 boards an hour or so. “We had a fascinating customer event where we passed out stopwatches to any or all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed a number of boards, along with every one of them time them. Sure enough, we had been on the money.”
While I mentioned earlier in this story, EFI has been dedicating itself to LED curing technology for its UV lines, specially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer which functions as a flatbed or a rollfed.
“One of the largest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing will come in the ability 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 brought a progressive stance inside the material handling essential for a genuine 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. Companies that enter into high-volume digital have to have the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are companies from the screen or offset print space who want to replace a selection of their analog opportunity to digital, and they is only able to do this if they are hitting maximum throughput over a digital production line.”
Last June marked the ten-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and while tin or aluminum may be 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. For sale 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 being a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the Year.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has a few options in the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer was designed to print on a number of materials, especially 3D objects, around 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is a hybrid UV LED printer which comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, as the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, rather than 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 because of so many applications arriving at the surface it isn’t surprising to find out sales of those machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of promoting, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on almost any substrate around almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of those machines very alluring to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that provide a number of items that may be personalized with digital printing. Look for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and much more custom jig options to drive demand and open up even more unique applications for this technology.”
Durst offers a variety of flatbeds in their Rho series of UV machines. The most recent introduction was the t-shirt printer, which handle media as much as 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is directed at 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 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, and they need robust design and manufacturing to produce over a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs would like to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, hence they have to have the flexibility to handle complex client projects that can come in with little notice, and require an instant turnaround.”
It appears fitting to round out this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the business whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off of 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 comes in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It could handle substrates as much as 2 ” thick.
Be sure you have a look at these as well as other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems 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 in the past 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 can be found in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It can handle substrates approximately 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers are offered through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of your Jeti
Also in the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira and the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The former is actually a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, as the latter is a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna brand of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We realize that some print service providers prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems while some enjoy the flexibility of any 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 a number of our true flatbed equipment so an alternate can be obtained with many of our printers. Currently, I see a mix of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and I check this out trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix differs so it is very important understand what you primarily might like to do with this particular equipment and select the technology that best fits this anticipated mix of work.”