Just last year, in your round-up of the latest in coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at the very least in part, been intended to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, particularly for things such as posters, POP/POS displays, and so on. Before year, there’s been a smaller amount of a focus on shifting work from a single technology to a different one, and much more of one on creating unique print applications that had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects is among the most raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios run the gamut from small table- or benchtop units built to print on items like golf balls and smartphone cases, up to massive behemoths in which anybody can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, as well as other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units are also during this process of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that may be done as part of a manufacturing process, like the control labels about the front of any appliance just like a dishwasher, a vehicle dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or other medical items, and other sorts of printing that change from the standard “print for pay” applications.)
Many of the flatbed units available today use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology that has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: exactly what is the one substrate that UV inks-thus far-can’t print on? Teflon. It seems sensible when you think of it….) The most recent trend in UV inks is so-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps instead of the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not a new technology, nevertheless the costs than it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, leading them to be more desirable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs can also be said to be energy-efficient which implies saving money. EFI in particular is a huge highly active proponent of LED UV and has announced its intention to fully keep the technology in most its UV offerings.
We have been also going to a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that can also work as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were perceived as “jacks of all trades, masters of none,” they already have improved to the level where they are now respectedly seen as methods for giving shops the versatility to consider numerous print projects. (Take into account, though, that the same UV inks will not be ideal for all materials given the respective dyne amounts of ink and surface. Some surfaces might also require pre- or post-treatment to obtain UV ink to stay.)
Earlier this coming year in 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 is definitely the follow-approximately the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched 2 yrs ago, while the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is made for short-run corrugated packaging and the like, useful for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP also has recently announced the Scitex 17000, intended for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. In addition, it features the HP Scitex Corrugated Grip, a media handling system created to facilitate printing on warped corrugated boards.
For HP, the prevailing trend is toward more automation and improving productivity, which is not merely a question of speed, but also of obtaining materials off and on press as quickly 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 among the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not merely the printing speed, the production workflow is definitely a important element. Customers are asking for automation both on the prepress side plus the finishing side.”
“We have observed in general a trend toward lower-cost flatbed printers, especially basic level,” added Joan Pe´rez Pericot, Marketing Director for HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Smaller customers want to jump into rigid, and the market is polarizing involving the high-end presses doing increasingly more volume as well as 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 year, Roland launched its first big flatbed, the 64-inch VersaUV LEJ-640FT flatbed UV printer. This new flatbed carries a “throat” (yes, that’s an actual term) big enough that materials around six inches thick may be fed with the printer. In the Sign Expo, people to the booth could witness the organization running footballs with the printer.
“Print agencies are looking 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 using its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, in addition to smaller benchtop flatbeds such as Roland’s LEF series printers, start another world 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 excited by the creativity of these using our technology to make stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on in past times.”
Joanie Loves Tchotchkes
Mimaki’s JFX Series UV LED flatbed printers (comprising the 51-inch JFX200 and also 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 mention but a couple of. Mimaki even offers the lesser tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for your tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and many 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 for example 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-would 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 capable of printing on an array of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and big 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 include 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 in the mid-volume area, and that takes us to the top end of your mid-volume, or the low end of your high-volume,” he said. “It’s taken us into new markets and new clients. They either provide an Arizona or possibly a similar product now and so are growing their business and are seeking a more economical printer to add some capacity and also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the latest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards an hour. “We had a fascinating customer event where we given out stopwatches for all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed numerous boards, along with all of them time them. Sure enough, we had been directly on the funds.”
Because I mentioned earlier in this story, EFI continues to be dedicating itself to LED curing technology for the UV lines, specially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer which functions as a flatbed or possibly a rollfed.
“One of the most popular opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing can be purchased in the opportunity 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 gotten a progressive stance from 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 our own VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Firms that go deep into high-volume digital want the most ROI from automated materials handling. They are the companies coming from the screen or offset print space who want to exchange a selection of their analog capability to digital, and they are only able to do this if they are hitting maximum throughput on the digital production line.”
Last June marked the ten-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, even though tin or aluminum is 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 it 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 made for outdoor and indoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked as a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the season.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has a few options inside the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer is designed to print on various materials, especially 3D objects, around 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is 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 sort of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and built to be an eco friendly ink option.
“The marketplace for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and considering the variety of applications visiting the outer lining it isn’t surprising to see sales of those machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of promoting, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on virtually any substrate approximately almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of those machines very alluring to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops offering various items that may be personalized with digital printing. Look for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and a lot more custom jig choices to drive demand and open a lot more unique applications with this technology.”
Durst offers many different flatbeds in the Rho series of UV machines. The newest introduction was the t-shirt printer, which handle media as much as 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is targeted 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 addition to 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 regarding having the ability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to handle lead times, and so they need robust design and manufacturing to generate over a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs wish to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so that they have to have the flexibility to take care of complex client projects that come in with little notice, and require an instant turnaround.”
It seems like fitting to round out this roundup with the latest model from Inca Digital, the business whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked 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 can handle substrates around 2 ” thick.
Make sure you check out these along with other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems fitting to round out this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the company whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked from the flatbed wide-format market way back 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 comes in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It could handle substrates around 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be found through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return in the Jeti
Also on the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira and also the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The first kind is really a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, even though the latter is a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna brand of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We discover that some print agencies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems while some take advantage of the flexibility of a hybrid device, therefore we carry both technologies,” said Larry D’Amico, Vice-President Digital Imaging, Agfa Graphics. “We offer roll-to-roll choices on a number of our true flatbed equipment so an alternate can be obtained with many of our printers. Currently, I see a mixture of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and that i check this out trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is unique so it is essential to determine what you primarily wish to accomplish with this particular equipment and choose the technology that most closely fits this anticipated mixture of work.”