Just last year, in our round-up from the latest in latte coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at the very least to some extent, been intended to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically for such things as posters, POP/POS displays, and the like. Previously year, there’s been less of a focus on shifting work from a single technology to another, and more of one on creating unique print applications that 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 things like golf balls and smartphone cases, approximately massive behemoths by which you can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, and also other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units will also be along the way of blurring the line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that is done within a manufacturing process, such as the control labels about the front of an appliance such as a dishwasher, a vehicle dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or some other medical items, and other printing that vary from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
Most of the flatbed units available today use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology which includes 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 of it….) The newest 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, but the costs of this are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, which makes them a lot better for thin plastic substrates. LEDs will also be reported to be energy-efficient which implies saving money. EFI especially is a huge highly active proponent of LED UV and has announced its intention to fully retain the technology in most its UV offerings.
We have been also visiting 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 the trades, masters of none,” they may have improved to the point where they are now respectedly considered as ways of giving shops the versatility to take on numerous types of print projects. (Take into account, though, that the same UV inks will not be suitable for all materials due to the respective dyne quantities of ink and surface. Some surfaces might also require pre- or post-treatment to get UV ink to adhere.)
Earlier this coming year at the International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo, HP launched several new flatbeds within 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-up to the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched 2 yrs ago, as the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is for short-run corrugated packaging and stuff like that, a good choice for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has additionally recently announced the Scitex 17000, intended for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. Additionally, it 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 a subject of speed, but additionally of obtaining materials on / off press as soon as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is very steps to make digital production more productive, and we’re trying 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 production workflow is definitely a important element. Customers are looking for automation both about the prepress side plus the finishing side.”
“We have likewise 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 would like to jump into rigid, and the marketplace is polarizing involving the high-end presses doing more and more volume as well as 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 along with 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 features a “throat” (yes, that’s a genuine term) big enough that materials up to six inches thick might be fed with the printer. At the Sign Expo, visitors to the booth could witness the business running footballs from 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, uv printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability a little bit more featuring its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, as well as smaller benchtop flatbeds for example Roland’s LEF series printers, start a completely new field of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t so much ‘What is it possible to print on?’ but alternatively ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly surprised by the creativity of those using our technology to create stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on in the past.”
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 mention but a couple 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 many other novelty and specialty print objects.
“Customers are looking for feature-rich, high-quality versatility that lets them 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 Are You Able To See
The latest 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 wide range of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and huge prints tiled over multiple boards. They also support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-built to be board printers; they actually do not have a roll option.
The new 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 that takes us for the top end of your mid-volume, or maybe the low end from the high-volume,” he explained. “It’s taken us into new markets and new customers. They either have an Arizona or even a similar product now and so are growing their business and are searching for a much more economical printer to provide a small amount of capacity but additionally not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the latest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards one hour. “We had a fascinating customer event where we passed out stopwatches to all of the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed several boards, along with every one of them time them. Sure enough, we had been right on the amount of money.”
Because I mentioned earlier within this story, EFI has been dedicating itself to LED curing technology due to its UV lines, especially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer that functions as a flatbed or possibly a rollfed.
“One of the largest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing will come in the chance 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 within the material handling needed for an actual analog-to-digital transition in higher-volume print with semi- and full-automation feed and delivery systems for the VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Companies that go deep into high-volume digital need the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are companies coming from the screen or offset print space that are looking to switch a selection of their analog ability to digital, and they also can only do this if they are 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 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 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 for outdoor and indoor 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 number of options from the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer was designed to print on various materials, especially 3D objects, up to 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is really a hybrid UV LED printer that comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, as 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 niche for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and considering the variety of applications arriving at the surface it isn’t surprising to find out sales of such machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of advertising, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on practically any substrate as much as almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the ability to purchase one of these simple machines very attractive to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that provide a variety of items that could be personalized with digital printing. Search for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, plus more custom jig options to drive demand and open even more unique applications for this technology.”
Durst offers a number of flatbeds in its Rho series of UV machines. The most up-to-date introduction was the dtg printer, which handle media up to 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is geared towards high-end applications such as 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 accessory for 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 with regards to being able to quickly switch between materials and jobs to take care of lead times, and they need robust design and manufacturing to generate on the 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs wish to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so they want the flexibility to manage complex client projects that come in with little notice, and require a quick turnaround.”
It seems fitting to round out this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the business whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked away from 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 is available in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It might handle substrates approximately two inches thick.
Be sure to check out these as well as other models at Graph Expo and also at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems fitting to round out this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the organization 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 current year Inca introduced the Onset R40LT, a 3.14m (123.6-inch) by 1.6m (63-inch) flatbed that can be purchased in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It could handle substrates approximately 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be purchased through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return from the Jeti
Also at 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, while the latter is a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna collection of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We find that some print service providers prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems although some enjoy the flexibility of your hybrid device, so that 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 a substitute is accessible with many of our printers. Currently, I see a mixture of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and that i see this trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is unique so it is very important know very well what you primarily might like to do using this type of equipment and select the technology that best fits this anticipated combination of work.”