Last week, we kicked off 2017 with an overview of the roll-to-roll latte coffee printer landscape. In the week, we’ll perform the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been quite as much action in flatbeds as with rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, less than much flatbeds. (Actually, it is possible to print textiles over a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds will not be designed or sold particularly for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by contact with ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing has been done using mercury vapor lamps, but the past several years have experienced an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under being exposed to LED lamps. Some great benefits of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run hot), and fewer energy found it necessary to run them, energy that’s wasted by means of everything heat. LED also provides for printing on very thin plastic materials that may warp or discolor when in contact with hot curing lamps, although a good vacuum system may help avoid warpage when utilizing thin substrates no matter what heat.
The new models who have appeared on the market lately boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-in addition to some degree of automation. We’re also beginning to see more models appearing from the mid-volume range, and many more entry-level machines. Additionally there is a greater proliferation of hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll machines. (We’ll look specifically at hybrids within a future feature.)
Durst Imaging’s Rho 1000 flagship series comprises the 282-inch (7.2-meter) Rho 1012/1312 and 1030/1330, UV flatbeds whose ink sets include CMYK plus light magenta and lightweight cyan, as well as orange and green or orange and violet, going to the gamut of brand name and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to 1030/1330, whilst the latter ups the rate to as fast as 1,250 square meters each hour. The 1000 series complements the industrial-level Rho P10 series, comprising the 200/250 and hybrid 200/250HS, the HS models being hybrids. These 154-inch (3.9-meter) machines offer ink sets including CMYK plus light magenta and lightweight cyan, white, and a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and so are targeted toward indoor and outdoor signage and POS/POP, in addition to packaging and backlit applications.
The Durst Rho 1030 offers fully automated production.
Historically, Inca Digital launched the flatbed printer category greater than 16 in the past using the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed printing device line in Fall 2015. The following fall saw the launch from the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the quickest model yet in the Onset series, thought to print around 9,600 square feet (180 boards) each hour. Colorwise, it supports CMYK plus white or orange.
Inca Roads-The Onset X3 will be the fastest Onset yet.
Inca flatbeds are distributed by Fujifilm, which features its own longstanding number of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The most up-to-date entry, introduced last year, is the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, believed to print at speeds as much as 620 sq . ft . per hour. It might print on an array of substrates approximately 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and light-weight magenta, plus white or clear). A year ago, Fujifilm also introduced the most recent from the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) uv printer with speeds reported to be up to 2,100 square feet hourly, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 will be the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity number of flatbeds
Recently, Fujifilm has been touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a mix of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based around the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. By using a broad number of inks and color management software, the goal of FIT is image optimization, speed, and adaptability.
In 2016, Canon Solutions America (CSA) launched two new Océ Arizona number of wide-format UV flatbeds. The Océ Arizona 1200 series includes the 49-inch (1.2-meter) GT and 121-inch (3.1-meter) XT models. The 1240 prints as much as four colors, the 1260 as much as six colors, as well as the 1280 approximately eight colors. The Arizona 1200 series printers are mid-volume flatbeds targeted toward sign and display shops, specialty printers, and photo labs.
Also from the mid-volume production category, CSA also introduced the Océ Arizona 2200 series, also available in GT (49-inch/1.2-meter) and XT (121-inch/3.1-meter) models. The 2260 is really a six-color machine along with the 2280 is undoubtedly an eight-color machine. The principal difference between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 sq ft each hour and the 2200 XTs at 691 sq . ft . hourly.
These new mid-volume printers fit between the entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, and the top-of-the-line 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) Océ Arizona 6100 series, comprising the six-color 6160 XTS and seven-color 6170 XTS. The 6100 series can print approximately 1,668 sq ft each hour.
The Océ Arizona 6100 series is Canon Solutions America’s top-of-the-line flatbed line.
In 2015, Roland launched its first flatbed model, the VersaUV LEJ-640FT LED UV flatbed. It uses Roland Eco-UV inks, such as gloss and white for effects and textures. It might print on flexible or rigid substrates as much as 63.2 x 98 inches (1.6 x 2.5 meters) and 5.9 (.15 meters) inches thick. Attendees to the SGIA Expo in 2015 could possibly have seen it printing on footballs. Roland even offers the 64-inch (1.6-meter) hybrid VersaUV LEJ640.
The VersaUV LEJ-640FT is Roland’s entrée into the UV flatbed market
A few years ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, said to print approximately 675 sq ft each hour. Last year, it had been joined through the JFX500-2131, a reduced footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, along with a primer for substrates which require it. This past year, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles paper area of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 can be a dual-zone flatbed that permits for printing in one part of the bed even though the other is being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds will be the 106.3-inch (2.7-meter) Jeti Mira MG 2732 HS as well as the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) Jeti Tauro H2500, the second that gained an autoboard feeder this past year, whilst the former gained a new roll-to-roll option. In other Agfa hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll news, the Anapurna H3200i LED UV printer is yet another hybrid; other Anapurnas are the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H represents hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You could recall from last November i was quite definitely taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a means of printing lenticular images around the Jeti Mira utilizing a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish may be layered to make lenticular effects
EFI has had a lot of irons in the fire lately-especially post-Reggiani-and contains been centering on the hybrid market. In 2015, the company launched the 126-inch (3.2-meter) hybrid VUTEk HS125 Pro also launched the entry-level 64.9-inch (1.65-meter) hybrid EFI H1625-SD UV printer, which will come with EFI SuperDraw UV ink for near-photographic imaging on thermoformable substrates. EFI posseses an extensive quantity of within its entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is a strong proponent of LED curing and virtually its entire portfolio has become LED-based.
EFI’s H1625-SD UV printer can print on plastic substrates suitable for thermoforming applications
I include in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are designed for specialty printing applications, such as 3D objects like pens, golf balls, smartphone cases, and even cylindrical objects like water bottles and YETI cups.
Roland has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV printers, and a year ago the organization introduced a large brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which could print right on 3D objects as much as 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Additionally it is effective at higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. The other day, Roland announced the subsequent-generation of LEF-20, the VersaUV LEF-200, a 20-inch benchtop UV printer that prints CMYK plus white and gloss. The gloss channel could be replaced with a new primer option, for those unusual substrates which require it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 with all the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that adds the new primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory for your VersaUV tabletops, which supports printing on cylindrical objects.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 is designed for printing on 3D objects for example golf balls, smartphone cases, and many other things
A year ago, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer made for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects around 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) and up to 6 inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG as well as the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, with the accessory termed as a Kebab, can print on cylindrical objects from 30 to 330 millimeters long and 10 to 110 millimeters in diameter.
Mimaki’s Kebab accessory enables printing on cylindrical objects like bottles
Mutoh also offers a type of tabletops, like the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, capable of printing on various 3D objects up to 2.75 inches thick and directed at the packaging prototyping market. These join Mutoh’s hybrid UV LED printers, the 64-inch (1.6-meter) ValueJet 1617H, ValueJet 1626UH, and ValueJet 1638UH printers. The former uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, even though the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP has been fairly quiet on the Scitex flatbed front recently, nevertheless in 2015 launched the 64-inch (1.6-meter) HP Scitex FB550 and 120-inch (3.-meter) FB750. The HP Scitex 11000 series industrial press has replaced the 10000 platform.
I’m not inclined to incorporate corrugated equipment from the flatbed printer category, but do want to a minimum of mention in passing that the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are 2 of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while at last year’s drupa, EFI announced its own Nozomi C18000 single-pass corrugated press, while Durst announced the Rho SPC single-pass corrugated and label solution. Also at drupa, Screen and BHS Corrugated announced a partnership to formulate the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are some of the most exciting parts of the wide-format market since their killer app is because they can print on practically any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right from the box”; sometimes the outer lining has to be pre- or post-treated) which makes them perfect for a myriad of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or another 3D effects, in addition to print Braille. You’ll need to get feelings of the ink cost and printing time before starting these sorts of projects, however.
Remember, the initial question to ask when looking for a flatbed is, what do you wish to print? Large POP as well as other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mix of several different product types as you can? That can know what size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t want a specific benchtop unit in order to print 3D objects; any flatbed can do, you’ll only need additional accessories, which will be less costly than buying a whole separate unit.
Perhaps the biggest question before you even have a look at models is, do you possess room for any flatbed in your current shop? Otherwise, can you justify acquiring extra room to house it? Interestingly, we found in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the outcomes of which are provided within our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to invest in t-shirt printer, and 14% said they were planning to invest in “additional space/new location.” Correlation is not really causation, naturally, therefore we don’t know to what extent they’re exactly the same 14% to 15%, but, you understand, these devices can get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire will be the flip side of one I suggested when thinking about rollfeds: do you want roll-to-roll printing as well? Hybrids are perfect options if you intend to experience a mix of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of what the ink costs are likely to be. UV inks may be more costly than other sorts of inks, so if you have a much higher level of things such as vinyl graphics, you might be better off having an ecosolvent machine.
While I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, pay attention to “under the hood” types of issues, such as the details of the warranty, just what it covers, just how long it lasts, and in case you can find things that might nullify it, like using third-party inks, replacing a printhead, or damaging the heads by printing on unusual or downright wacky materials or objects. Particularly with flatbeds, discover what form of training can be involved.