A year ago, inside our round-up from the 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, especially for stuff like posters, POP/POS displays, and so forth. In past times year, there’s been less of a focus on shifting work from a technology to another, and more of one on creating unique print applications who 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 have huge variations from small table- or benchtop units created to print on items like golf balls and smartphone cases, up to massive behemoths by which one could run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, along with other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units are also in the process of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing which is done as an element of a manufacturing process, like the control labels on the front of any appliance similar to a dishwasher, an automobile dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or any other medical items, and other kinds of printing that differ from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
Most of the flatbed units on the market today use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology which has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: what exactly is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It seems sensible when you think of it….) The latest trend in UV inks is really-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under exposure to LED lamps instead of the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not a new technology, however the costs than it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, causing them to be more suitable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs can also be reported to be energy-efficient which means financial savings. EFI in particular is a highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to completely secure the technology in every its UV offerings.
We are also going to a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that could also work as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were regarded as “jacks of most trades, masters of none,” they have got improved to the level where they are respectedly considered as methods of giving shops the versatility to consider a wide variety of print projects. (Keep in mind, though, that the same UV inks might not be suited to all materials given the respective dyne quantities of ink and surface. Some surfaces may also require pre- or post-treatment to obtain UV ink to stay.)
Earlier this season on the International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo, HP launched several new flatbeds in their 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 2 years ago, as the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is for short-run corrugated packaging and the like, useful for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has 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 built to facilitate printing on warped corrugated boards.
For HP, the prevailing trend is toward more automation and improving productivity, which is not only an issue of speed, but additionally of obtaining materials on and off press immediately and improving automation.
“The focus is really 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 among the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not simply the printing speed, the production workflow is an extremely important element. Consumers are requesting automation both in the prepress side along with the finishing side.”
“We have observed 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 desire to jump into rigid, along with the industry is polarizing between your high-end presses doing a growing number of 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 and also the VersaUV LEJ-640 hybrid printer. Earlier this season, 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 genuine term) large enough that materials as much as six inches thick might be fed through the printer. On the Sign Expo, website visitors to the booth could witness the company running footballs throughout the printer.
“Print service providers 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 a little bit more featuring its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, as well as smaller benchtop flatbeds like Roland’s LEF series printers, open up another field of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a whole lot ‘What is it possible to print on?’ but ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly excited by the creativity of people 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 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 list but a couple of. Mimaki also offers the smaller tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for your tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and a lot of other novelty and specialty print objects.
“Customers are trying to find 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 most recent models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched a year ago-will be the six-color (CMYKLcLm) Océ Arizona 6160 XTS and seven-color (CMYKLcLm white) Océ Arizona 6170 XTS. Like many of its brethren, the Arizonas are designed for printing on an array 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 are doing not have a roll option.
The newest Arizona printers are taking 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 this takes us on the top quality of the mid-volume, or even the low end from the high-volume,” he stated. “It’s taken us into new markets and customers. They either offer an Arizona or even a similar product now and therefore are growing their business and are seeking a far more economical printer to provide 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 one hour. “We had an intriguing customer event where we passed out stopwatches to all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed a number of boards, along with each one time them. Sure enough, we were right on the money.”
As I mentioned earlier within this story, EFI has become dedicating itself to LED curing technology due to its UV lines, particularly the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer which functions as being a flatbed or even a rollfed.
“One of the biggest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing can be purchased 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 in the material handling necessary 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 get into high-volume digital require the most ROI from automated materials handling. Those are the companies coming from the screen or offset print space who want to exchange some of their analog ability to digital, plus they is only able to do this when they are hitting maximum throughput on 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, 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 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 within the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer is designed to print on many different materials, especially 3D objects, around 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is really 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 kind 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 coming to the surface it isn’t surprising to see sales of the machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of promoting, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on practically any substrate around almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the chance to purchase one of those machines very popular with many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops offering a variety of items which can be personalized with digital printing. Search for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and a lot more custom jig choices to drive demand and start even more unique applications for this technology.”
Durst offers many different flatbeds in their Rho series 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 for example 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 when it comes to having the capability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to deal with lead times, and they also need robust design and manufacturing to generate with a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs want to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, therefore they need the flexibility to manage complex client projects that can come together with little notice, and require an immediate turnaround.”
It seems fitting to round out this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the corporation whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked away from the flatbed wide-format market back 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 may handle substrates up to 2 ” thick.
Make sure you have a look at these along with other models at Graph Expo as well as 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 away from 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 can handle substrates approximately two inches thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be found 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 as well as the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The previous is a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, whilst the latter is a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna line of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We discover that some print agencies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems while others enjoy the flexibility of the hybrid device, therefore 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 a substitute can be obtained with a number of our printers. Currently, I see a mix of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and i also check this out trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is unique so it is essential to determine what you primarily need to do with this equipment and select the technology that best suits this anticipated combination of work.”