Just last year, within our round-up from the latest in coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at least to some extent, been meant to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, especially for such things as posters, POP/POS displays, and so on. In past times year, there’s been a smaller amount of a focus on shifting work from one technology to another one, plus 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 considered 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 things like golf balls and smartphone cases, around massive behemoths whereby one can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, as well as other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units will also be in the process of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that is certainly done as an element of a manufacturing process, including the control labels in the front of any appliance like a dishwasher, a car dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or any other medical items, and other kinds of printing that change from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
Many of the flatbed units available today use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology containing 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 indeed-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, but the costs than it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, which makes them more desirable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs are also said to be energy-efficient meaning saving money. EFI specifically is a huge highly active proponent of LED UV and it has announced its intention to completely retain the technology in every its UV offerings.
We are also seeing a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that could also serve as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were perceived as “jacks of all the trades, masters of none,” they have got improved to the point where they are now respectedly considered as means of giving shops the flexibility to use on numerous print projects. (Take into account, though, how the same UV inks will not be suitable for all materials due to the respective dyne quantities of ink and surface. Some surfaces could also require pre- or post-treatment to acquire UV ink to stick.)
Earlier this current year 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-up to the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched two years ago, whilst the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is ideal for short-run corrugated packaging and the like, a good choice for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has additionally recently announced the Scitex 17000, designed for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. It also 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, but additionally of having materials on and off press as soon as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is really learning to make digital production more productive, and we’re trying 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 just the printing speed, the production workflow is definitely a important element. Clients are looking for automation both in the prepress side along with the finishing side.”
“We have likewise 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, and also the market is polarizing between the high-end presses doing more and more volume and the smaller devices that are 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 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) large enough that materials around six inches thick can be fed with the printer. With the Sign Expo, targeted traffic to the booth could witness the organization running footballs throughout the printer.
“Print companies are searching 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 even further having its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, together with smaller benchtop flatbeds like Roland’s LEF series printers, unlock a completely new arena of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a great deal ‘What can you print on?’ but alternatively ‘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 call but a couple of. Mimaki even offers the smaller tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for that tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and several other novelty and specialty print objects.
“Customers are looking 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 Are You Able To See
The newest models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched a year ago-are 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 huge prints tiled over multiple boards. They also support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-built to be board printers; they are doing not feature a roll option.
The latest Arizona printers are taking CSA right into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular in the mid-volume area, and that takes us towards the high-end in the mid-volume, or perhaps the low end in the high-volume,” he explained. “It’s taken us into new markets and new customers. They either have an Arizona or even a similar product now and so are growing their business and are searching for a much more economical printer to incorporate a bit of capacity but additionally not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the latest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards one hour. “We had a fascinating customer event where we handed out stopwatches for all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed a number of boards, along with each one time them. Sure enough, we were right on the amount of money.”
As I mentioned earlier in this particular story, EFI has been dedicating itself to LED curing technology for its UV lines, particularly the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer which also functions like a flatbed or a rollfed.
“One of the biggest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing will come in the ability to transition analog work 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 taken a progressive stance in the material handling required for a true analog-to-digital transition in higher-volume print with semi- and full-automation feed and delivery systems for your VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Businesses that go into high-volume digital have to have the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are the companies from the screen or offset print space who want to replace a selection of their analog ability to digital, and so they is only able to accomplish that when they are hitting maximum throughput with a digital production line.”
Last June marked the 10-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and even though 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. For sale in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is for indoor and outdoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked being a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the season.
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 was designed to print on various materials, especially 3D objects, approximately 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is actually a hybrid UV LED printer that comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, whilst 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 because of so many applications coming to the surface it isn’t surprising to see sales of these machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of advertising, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on practically any substrate around almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of these simple machines very popular with many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops offering various items that may be personalized with digital printing. Try to find thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and more custom jig options to drive demand and open up a lot more unique applications with this technology.”
Durst offers various flatbeds in their Rho group of UV machines. The newest introduction was the t-shirt printer, which handle media around 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is geared towards high-end applications like 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 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 produce with a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs would like to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so they want the flexibility to take care of complex client projects that could come along with little notice, and require a sudden turnaround.”
It appears fitting to round out this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the organization whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off the flatbed wide-format market in the past 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 is available in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It can handle substrates around 2 ” thick.
Be sure to have a look at these and also 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 business whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off 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 up to two inches thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be purchased 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 and the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The previous is actually a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, as the latter is really 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 take advantage of the flexibility of your hybrid device, so we carry both technologies,” said Larry D’Amico, Vice-President Digital Imaging, Agfa Graphics. “We offer roll-to-roll options on a number of our true flatbed equipment so a different is available with a number of our printers. Currently, I see a mix of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and so i check this out trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix differs so it is very important know very well what you primarily want to do with this equipment and select the technology that best suits this anticipated mixture of work.”