The other day, we kicked off 2017 with an introduction to the roll-to-roll latte coffee printer landscape. This week, we’ll perform the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been quite as much action in flatbeds as in rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, less than much flatbeds. (Actually, you are able to print textiles on a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds will not be designed or sold specifically for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by exposure to ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing is done using mercury vapor lamps, however the past many years have seen an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under exposure to LED lamps. The main advantages of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run very hot), and much less energy required to run them, energy that’s wasted such as everything heat. LED also allows for printing on very thin plastic materials which could warp or discolor when subjected to hot curing lamps, although a good vacuum system will help avoid warpage when using thin substrates irrespective of heat.
The latest models which may have appeared in the marketplace as of late boast faster speeds-like virtually any new equipment-and also some degree of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing in the mid-volume range, and even more entry-level machines. Additionally there is a greater proliferation of hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll machines. (We’ll look specifically at hybrids inside 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, along with orange and green or orange and violet, hitting the gamut of brand and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution in comparison to the 1030/1330, even though the latter ups the pace to as quickly as 1,250 square meters hourly. The 1000 series complements the industrial-level Rho P10 series, consisting of the 200/250 and hybrid 200/250HS, the HS models being hybrids. These 154-inch (3.9-meter) machines offer ink sets that come with CMYK plus light magenta and light cyan, white, and a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and they are targeted toward outdoor and indoor 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 over 16 in the past together with the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed printing device line in Fall 2015. These fall saw the launch from the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet inside the Onset series, said to print around 9,600 sq ft (180 boards) hourly. Colorwise, it supports CMYK plus white or orange.
Inca Roads-The Onset X3 is the fastest Onset yet.
Inca flatbeds are distributed by Fujifilm, which possesses its own longstanding combination of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The newest entry, introduced last year, is definitely the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, thought to print at speeds up to 620 square feet hourly. It might print on an array of substrates as much as 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and lightweight magenta, plus white or clear). A year ago, Fujifilm also introduced the most recent in the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) phone case printer with speeds said to be up to 2,100 sq . ft . an hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 may be the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity series of flatbeds
As of late, Fujifilm has become touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a mixture of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based on the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. Employing a broad number of inks and color management software, the goal of FIT is image optimization, speed, and suppleness.
In 2016, Canon Solutions America (CSA) launched two new Océ Arizona group 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 approximately four colors, the 1260 as much as six colors, and the 1280 up to eight colors. The Arizona 1200 series printers are mid-volume flatbeds targeted toward sign and display shops, specialty printers, and photo labs.
Also in 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 a six-color machine and also the 2280 is undoubtedly an eight-color machine. The main difference between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 sq . ft . an hour and also the 2200 XTs at 691 sq . ft . per hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit in 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 around 1,668 sq ft an 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 could print on flexible or rigid substrates approximately 63.2 x 98 inches (1.6 x 2.5 meters) and 5.9 (.15 meters) inches thick. Attendees towards the SGIA Expo in 2015 may have seen it printing on footballs. Roland now offers the 64-inch (1.6-meter) hybrid VersaUV LEJ640.
The VersaUV LEJ-640FT is Roland’s entrée in to the UV flatbed market
Not long ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, thought to print up to 675 square feet per hour. Last year, it had been joined by the JFX500-2131, a smaller footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, plus a primer for substrates that require it. A year ago, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles paper region of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is actually a dual-zone flatbed which allows for printing in just one portion of the bed as the other is now being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds would be the 106.3-inch (2.7-meter) Jeti Mira MG 2732 HS along with the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) Jeti Tauro H2500, the second which gained an autoboard feeder just last year, while 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 another hybrid; other Anapurnas include the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H stands for hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You could recall from last November that I was quite definitely taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a method of printing lenticular images around the Jeti Mira by using a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish might be layered to generate lenticular effects
EFI has had a lot of irons inside the fire as of late-especially post-Reggiani-and possesses been paying attention to the hybrid market. In 2015, the corporation 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 comes with an extensive variety of in its entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI has become 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 use in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are designed for specialty printing applications, including 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 last year the corporation introduced a huge brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which can print right on 3D objects as much as 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Also, it is competent 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 may be replaced with a new primer option, for people unusual substrates which require it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 with the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that adds the newest primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory to the VersaUV tabletops, which supports printing on cylindrical objects.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 is for printing on 3D objects such as golf balls, smartphone cases, and several other items
This past year, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer designed for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects approximately 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) or higher to 6 inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG as well as the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, by having an accessory known 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 even offers a line of tabletops, such as the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, effective at printing on a variety of 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, whilst the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP has been fairly quiet about the Scitex flatbed front as of late, 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 feature corrugated equipment from the flatbed printer category, but do desire to at the very least mention in passing the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are 2 of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while finally year’s drupa, EFI announced their 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 aspects of the wide-format market since their killer app is simply because they can print on almost any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out of your box”; sometimes the outer lining should be pre- or post-treated) making them perfect for a myriad of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or some other 3D effects, in addition to print Braille. You’ll have to get feelings of the ink cost and printing time before starting these sorts of projects, however.
Of course, the initial question to inquire when looking for a flatbed is, what would you like to print? Large POP along with other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mix of as many different product types as is possible? That can know what size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t want a specific benchtop unit if you want to print 3D objects; any flatbed is going to do, you’ll only need additional accessories, that is to be cheaper than getting a whole separate unit.
Maybe the biggest question before you even examine models is, do you possess room to get a flatbed with your current shop? Otherwise, can you justify acquiring extra space to house it? Interestingly, we located in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the results which are provided in your new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to purchase t-shirt printer, and 14% said they were planning to invest in “additional space/new location.” Correlation is just not causation, needless to say, so we don’t know to what extent they’re the same 14% to 15%, but, you realize, these devices could get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to question will be the flip side of one I suggested when looking at rollfeds: do you really need roll-to-roll printing at the same time? Hybrids are great options if you plan to possess a blend of flexible and rigid substrates, but get feelings of what the ink costs are likely to be. UV inks could be higher priced than other kinds of inks, if you have a higher amount of things like vinyl graphics, you may be more well off having an ecosolvent machine.
As I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, focus on “under the hood” forms of issues, including the details of the warranty, exactly what it covers, how much time it lasts, of course, if there are stuff 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. Especially with flatbeds, discover what form of training may be involved.