Last year, inside our round-up in the latest in latte coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, a minimum of partly, 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 the past year, there’s been less of a focus on shifting work from a technology to another one, and more of a single on creating unique print applications who 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 designed to print on such things as golf balls and smartphone cases, approximately massive behemoths through which one can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, and other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units may also be in the process 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 about the front of the appliance similar to a dishwasher, an automobile dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or other medical items, and other types of printing that vary from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
Many of the flatbed units available today use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology which includes made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: just what is the one substrate that UV inks-thus far-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you think of it….) The most up-to-date trend in UV inks is really-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps instead of the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not just a new technology, but the costs from it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, causing them to be more desirable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs will also be said to be energy-efficient meaning cost savings. EFI particularly has been a highly active proponent of LED UV and it has announced its intention to completely secure the technology in all its UV offerings.
We have been also visiting a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that can also serve as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were regarded as “jacks of all trades, masters of none,” they may have improved to the level where they are respectedly regarded as means of giving shops the flexibility to consider numerous types of print projects. (Bear in mind, though, the same UV inks might not be suitable for all materials considering the respective dyne levels of ink and surface. Some surfaces might also require pre- or post-treatment to have UV ink to stay.)
Earlier this year on 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 the follow-around the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched two years ago, whilst the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is designed for short-run corrugated packaging and so forth, useful for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has also recently announced the Scitex 17000, created for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. Furthermore, 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 an issue of speed, and also of obtaining materials on / off press as fast as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is actually learning to make digital production more productive, and we’re seeking 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 development workflow is definitely a important element. Clients are requesting automation both around the prepress side as well as the finishing side.”
“We also have found 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 desire to jump into rigid, along with the market is polarizing between the high-end presses doing a growing number of volume and also the smaller devices which are doing very short runs.”
Mind Your Throat, Please
Roland DGA has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV flatbeds plus 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 has a “throat” (yes, that’s a real term) big enough that materials as much as six inches thick can be fed from the printer. In the Sign Expo, website visitors to the booth could witness the corporation running footballs with the printer.
“Print service providers are researching 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, together with smaller benchtop flatbeds such as Roland’s LEF series printers, open a completely new world of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a whole lot ‘What are you able to print on?’ but rather ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly astonished by the creativity of these using our technology to create stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on before.”
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 list but a number of. Mimaki also offers the lesser tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for the tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and several other novelty and specialty print objects.
“Customers are searching for 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 like personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Is It Possible 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 a lot of its brethren, the Arizonas are capable of printing on a variety of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and large prints tiled over multiple boards. Additionally they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-built to be board printers; they do not feature a roll option.
The latest Arizona printers are taking CSA in to a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular inside the mid-volume area, which takes us to the high end in the mid-volume, or perhaps the low end from the high-volume,” he said. “It’s taken us into new markets and new business. They either provide an Arizona or even a similar product now and so are growing their business and are looking for a more economical printer to incorporate some capacity and 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 an intriguing customer event where we given out stopwatches to all of the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed numerous boards, along with each of them time them. Sure enough, we had been right on the funds.”
Because I mentioned earlier within this story, EFI has become 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 that functions as a flatbed or perhaps a rollfed.
“One of the largest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing will come in the chance to transition analog work 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 taken a progressive stance from 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 the VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Firms that go into high-volume digital want the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are the companies from the screen or offset print space that are looking to replace some of their analog ability to digital, plus they can only do this when they are hitting maximum throughput over a digital production line.”
Last June marked the ten-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and although tin or aluminum may be 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 for indoor and outdoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked as 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 is made to print on a number of materials, especially 3D objects, up to 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is really a hybrid UV LED printer which comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, even though 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 made to be an eco-friendly ink option.
“The market for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and with the amount of applications coming to the top it isn’t surprising to discover sales of these machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of advertising, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on almost any substrate around almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the ability to purchase one of these brilliant machines very alluring to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that provide a variety 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 more unique applications for this technology.”
Durst offers many different flatbeds in the Rho number of UV machines. The most recent introduction was the t-shirt printer, which handle media up to 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 accessory for 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 in terms of being able to quickly switch between materials and jobs to handle lead times, and they need robust design and manufacturing to create on a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs would like to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so they have to have the flexibility to manage complex client projects that could come in with little notice, and require an immediate turnaround.”
It seems like fitting to round out this roundup using the latest model from Inca Digital, the corporation whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off of 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 purchased in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It could handle substrates as much as two inches thick.
Make sure you have a look at these along with other models at Graph Expo and 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 away from the flatbed wide-format market 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 might handle substrates as much as two inches thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be purchased through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of the Jeti
Also at the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira and also the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The former can be a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, whilst the latter is actually a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna brand of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We find that some print service providers prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems although some enjoy the flexibility of any hybrid device, therefore we carry both technologies,” said Larry D’Amico, Vice-President Digital Imaging, Agfa Graphics. “We offer roll-to-roll options on many of our true flatbed equipment so an alternative is accessible with a number of our printers. Currently, I see a mix of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and i also see this trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is distinct so it is essential to know what you primarily wish to accomplish with this particular equipment and select the technology that meets this anticipated mix of work.”