Last year, inside our round-up in the latest in latte printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, no less than to some extent, been meant to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically for such things as posters, POP/POS displays, and so on. In past times year, there’s been less of a focus on shifting work from a technology to a different, and 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 considered the raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios run the gamut from small table- or benchtop units created to print on such things as golf balls and smartphone cases, up to massive behemoths through which you can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, along with other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units may also be in the process of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that may be done as part of a manufacturing process, such as the control labels on the front of any appliance such as a dishwasher, a car dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or any other medical items, and other types of printing that are different from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
The majority of the flatbed units currently available use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology which has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: what is the one substrate that UV inks-thus far-can’t print on? Teflon. It seems sensible when you think about it….) The newest trend in UV inks is really-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps rather than traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not a new technology, nevertheless the costs than it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, making them considerably better for thin plastic substrates. LEDs will also be said to be energy-efficient which means financial savings. EFI in particular has become a highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to completely support the technology in all its UV offerings.
We are also visiting a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that can 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 have improved to the point where they are respectedly viewed as methods of giving shops the versatility to take on a multitude of print projects. (Keep in mind, though, how the same UV inks will not be suitable for all materials considering the respective dyne amounts of ink and surface. Some surfaces may also require pre- or post-treatment to have UV ink to adhere.)
Earlier this season 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 will be the follow-approximately the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched two years ago, even though the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is for short-run corrugated packaging and the like, helpful for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has also 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 built to facilitate printing on warped corrugated boards.
For HP, the prevailing trend is toward more automation and improving productivity, which is not merely a question of speed, but in addition of getting materials on and off press as fast as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is actually how you can 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 one of the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not simply the printing speed, the production workflow is a very important element. Consumers are seeking automation both about the prepress side and also the finishing side.”
“We have found in general a trend toward lower-cost flatbed printers, especially basic level,” added Joan Pe´rez Pericot, Marketing Director for HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Smaller customers desire to jump into rigid, and also the marketplace is polarizing involving the high-end presses doing increasingly more volume along with 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 coming 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) big enough that materials around six inches thick may be fed throughout the printer. At the Sign Expo, targeted traffic to the booth could witness the company running footballs with the printer.
“Print companies 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 even more with its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, together with smaller benchtop flatbeds such as Roland’s LEF series printers, start a whole new arena of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a lot ‘What can you print on?’ but rather ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly amazed by the creativity of the using our technology to generate 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 along with 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 also offers the smaller tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for 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 trying to find feature-rich, high-quality versatility that enables them to replace labor- and waste-intensive processes and print direct-to-substrate, while adding value with higher margin applications like 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 a year ago-are definitely 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 array of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and large prints tiled over multiple boards. They also support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-designed to be board printers; they do not feature a roll option.
The newest Arizona printers take CSA right into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular inside the mid-volume area, and that takes us towards the top end from the mid-volume, or maybe the low end of the high-volume,” he was quoted saying. “It’s taken us into new markets and new clients. They either provide an Arizona or possibly a similar product now and they are growing their business and are looking for a much more economical printer to provide a small amount of capacity but also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the new machines can print a maximum of 33 boards an hour. “We had an intriguing customer event where we given out stopwatches to any or all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed numerous boards, along with each one time them. Sure enough, we were directly on the cash.”
Because I mentioned earlier in this particular story, EFI is dedicating itself to LED curing technology because of its UV lines, particularly the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer which also functions as being a flatbed or a rollfed.
“One of the biggest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing can be purchased in the opportunity transition analog try to digital with higher-volume equipment,” said Ken Hanulec, Vice President, Marketing, Inkjet Solutions, at EFI. “So, beyond developing imaging systems that approach offset quality, EFI has gotten a progressive stance in the material handling necessary for an actual 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. Businesses that enter into high-volume digital want the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are the companies coming from the screen or offset print space that are looking to switch some of their analog ability to digital, plus they could only do this should they be hitting maximum throughput on a digital production line.”
Last June marked the 10-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, even though tin or aluminum is definitely the traditional 10th anniversary gift, for EFI it’s apparently equipment manufacturing companies. On July 1, since 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. Available 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 as a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the season.
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 created to print on a variety of materials, especially 3D objects, up to 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 form of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and created to be an environmentally friendly ink option.
“The industry for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and because of so many applications arriving at the outer lining it isn’t surprising to view sales of such machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of Marketing, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on almost any substrate approximately almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the chance to purchase one of these simple machines very attractive to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that offer various items which can be personalized with digital printing. Seek out thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and more custom jig options to drive demand and open more unique applications just for this technology.”
Durst offers various flatbeds within its Rho series of UV machines. The most recent introduction was the dtg printer, which handle media around 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is directed at high-end applications including 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 when it comes to being able to quickly switch between materials and jobs to deal with lead times, and so they need robust design and manufacturing to generate over a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs are looking to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so that they need the flexibility to handle complex client projects which come in with little notice, and require a quick turnaround.”
It seems like fitting to complete this roundup with the latest model from Inca Digital, the corporation whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off of the flatbed wide-format market way back 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 comes in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It might handle substrates around two inches thick.
Be sure you take a look at these and other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It appears fitting to complete this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the organization whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off the flatbed wide-format market way 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 can be found in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It might handle substrates approximately two inches thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers are offered through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return in the Jeti
Also in the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira and the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The previous is a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, while the latter is actually a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna line of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We discover that some print companies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems although some benefit from 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 choices on many of our true flatbed equipment so an alternative is accessible with many of our printers. Currently, I see a mix of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and that i see this trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is distinct so you should know what you primarily might like to do using this equipment and select the technology that meets this anticipated mixture of work.”