This past year, in your round-up in the latest in coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at the very least to some extent, been meant to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, especially for stuff like posters, POP/POS displays, and stuff like that. In past times year, there’s been a smaller amount of an emphasis on shifting work from a technology to a different, and a lot more of a single on creating unique print applications that had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects is one of 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 stuff like golf balls and smartphone cases, up to massive behemoths through which one can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, along with other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units may also be along the way of blurring the line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that may be done included in a manufacturing process, such as the control labels around the front of your appliance similar to a dishwasher, a car dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or other medical items, and other kinds of printing that differ from the normal “print for pay” applications.)
Most 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: what exactly is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you think about it….) The most recent trend in UV inks is so-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, nevertheless the costs from it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, making them a lot better for thin plastic substrates. LEDs may also be reported to be energy-efficient which means cost savings. EFI especially is a huge highly active proponent of LED UV and it has announced its intention to completely secure the technology in all its UV offerings.
We are also visiting a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that may also function as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were perceived as “jacks of most trades, masters of none,” they may have improved to the stage where they are respectedly viewed as methods of giving shops the flexibility to consider a wide variety of print projects. (Keep in mind, though, how the same UV inks may not be ideal for all materials given the respective dyne levels of ink and surface. Some surfaces may also require pre- or post-treatment to get UV ink to stick.)
Earlier this 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 may be the follow-as much as the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched two years ago, while the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is ideal for short-run corrugated packaging and so on, ideal 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. Furthermore, it features the HP Scitex Corrugated Grip, a media handling system made to facilitate printing on warped corrugated boards.
For HP, the prevailing trend is toward more automation and improving productivity, which is not merely a matter of speed, and also of getting materials off and on press as fast as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is absolutely learning 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 among the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not simply the printing speed, the development workflow is definitely a important element. Customers are looking for automation both in the prepress side as well as the finishing side.”
“We have found in general a trend toward lower-cost flatbed printers, especially entry level,” added Joan Pe´rez Pericot, Marketing Director for HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Smaller customers would like to jump into rigid, as well as the market is polarizing between the high-end presses doing more and more volume as well as the smaller devices which can 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 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 an actual term) big enough that materials up to six inches thick could be fed throughout the printer. With the Sign Expo, visitors to the booth could witness the organization 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, led uv printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability further with its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, in addition to smaller benchtop flatbeds including Roland’s LEF series printers, open up a new arena of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t so much ‘What could you print on?’ but alternatively ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly surprised by the creativity of the using our technology to make stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on in past times.”
Joanie Loves Tchotchkes
Mimaki’s JFX Series UV LED flatbed printers (comprising the 51-inch JFX200 and also 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 several. Mimaki also provides 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 looking for 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 such as personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Can You See
The latest models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched last year-are definitely 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 variety of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and huge prints tiled over multiple boards. Additionally, they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-designed to be board printers; they generally do not feature a roll option.
The latest Arizona printers take CSA in a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular in the mid-volume area, which takes us on the top quality from the mid-volume, or maybe the low end of 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 therefore are growing their business and are trying to find a more economical printer to include some capacity but also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the latest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards 1 hour. “We had an intriguing customer event where we passed out stopwatches to any or all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed numerous boards, and had all of them time them. Sure enough, we had been right on the money.”
Because I mentioned earlier in this particular story, EFI has been dedicating itself to LED curing technology for the UV lines, especially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer that functions being a flatbed or perhaps a rollfed.
“One of the largest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing will come in the opportunity 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 required for a real 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. Businesses that get into high-volume digital want the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are companies coming from the screen or offset print space that are looking to change a selection of their analog capability to digital, and they also are only able to accomplish that should they be hitting maximum throughput on the digital production line.”
Last June marked the 10-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and although tin or aluminum is 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. Obtainable 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 like a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the season.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has several options inside the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer was created to print on many different materials, especially 3D objects, around 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is actually a hybrid UV LED printer which comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, while the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, in lieu of UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a sort of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and designed to be an environmentally friendly ink option.
“The market for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and because of so many applications coming over to the outer lining it isn’t surprising to see sales of those machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of Marketing, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on just about any substrate approximately almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the ability to purchase one of these simple machines very popular with many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that supply a number of items that can be personalized with digital printing. Try to find thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and a lot more custom jig options to drive demand and open more unique applications for this particular technology.”
Durst offers various flatbeds in their Rho combination of UV machines. The newest introduction was the textile printer, which handle media up to 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is aimed towards 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 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 when it comes to having the capacity to quickly switch between materials and jobs to take care of lead times, plus they need robust design and manufacturing to produce with a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs want to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, hence they require the flexibility to handle complex client projects that can come along with little notice, and require an instant turnaround.”
It appears to be fitting to round out 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 coming 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 could handle substrates as much as 2 ” thick.
Be sure you check out these along with other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It appears to be fitting to round out this roundup using the latest model from Inca Digital, the company 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 comes in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It might handle substrates approximately two inches thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be found through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of your Jeti
Also at the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira along with the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The former can be a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, even though the latter is really a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna brand of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We discover that some print companies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems while some take advantage of the flexibility of a 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 a number of our true flatbed equipment so a different is offered with a number of our printers. Currently, I see a mixture of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and i also see this trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is unique so you should understand what you primarily want to do using this type of equipment and select the technology that meets this anticipated mixture of work.”