This past year, within our round-up from the latest in latte printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, a minimum of in part, been meant to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically such things as posters, POP/POS displays, and stuff like that. Before year, there’s been less of an emphasis on shifting work from one technology to a different, and a lot more of merely one on creating unique print applications who had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects has become the raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios have huge variations from small table- or benchtop units built to print on such things as golf balls and smartphone cases, approximately massive behemoths by which one can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, as well as other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units will also be at the same time of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing which is done as part of a manufacturing process, including the control labels in the front of your appliance like a dishwasher, an automobile dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or another medical items, and other sorts of printing that change from the typical “print for pay” applications.)
The majority of the flatbed units currently available use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology containing made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: just what is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you consider it….) The latest trend in UV inks is indeed-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps rather than traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not much of a new technology, however the costs from it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, making them more desirable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs may also be reported to be energy-efficient which means cost benefits. EFI particularly has become a highly active proponent of LED UV and has announced its intention to fully retain the technology in every its UV offerings.
Our company is also going to 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 trades, masters of none,” they may have improved to the point where they are now respectedly regarded as ways of giving shops the flexibility to take on numerous types of print projects. (Bear in mind, though, how the same UV inks will not be ideal for all materials because of the respective dyne quantities of ink and surface. Some surfaces can also require pre- or post-treatment to get UV ink to adhere.)
Earlier this year on the International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo, HP launched several new flatbeds in its 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-around the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched two years ago, as 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 has additionally recently announced the Scitex 17000, made for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. Additionally, 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 also of getting materials off and on press as fast as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is actually how you can make digital production more productive, and we’re looking 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 only the printing speed, the production workflow is definitely a important element. Customers are looking for automation both in the prepress side as well as 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 wish to jump into rigid, as well as the marketplace is polarizing in between the high-end presses doing a lot more volume as well as 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 plus 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 features a “throat” (yes, that’s an actual term) big enough that materials around six inches thick may be fed throughout the printer. In the Sign Expo, targeted traffic to the booth could witness the business 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, uv printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability even further using its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, along with smaller benchtop flatbeds like Roland’s LEF series printers, open up a completely new realm of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t so much ‘What can you print on?’ but alternatively ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly astonished by the creativity of these using our technology to create stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on in the past.”
Joanie Loves Tchotchkes
Mimaki’s JFX Series UV LED flatbed printers (comprising the 51-inch JFX200 and 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 number of. Mimaki also has small tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for your tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and lots of other novelty and specialty print objects.
“Customers are trying to find feature-rich, high-quality versatility that enables 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 Could You See
The most recent models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched just last year-are definitely 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 an array of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and huge prints tiled over multiple boards. Additionally they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-designed to be board printers; they are doing not include a roll option.
The new Arizona printers are taking CSA in to a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular within the mid-volume area, and also this takes us on the high-end of your mid-volume, or maybe the low end of your high-volume,” he explained. “It’s taken us into new markets and customers. They either offer an Arizona or a similar product now and are growing their business and are trying to find an even more economical printer to add a little bit of capacity but additionally not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the newest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards 1 hour. “We had an interesting customer event where we given out stopwatches to all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed several boards, and had all of them time them. Sure enough, we had been directly on the funds.”
Because I mentioned earlier with this story, EFI continues to be 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 that also functions like a flatbed or perhaps a rollfed.
“One of the biggest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing will come in the ability 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 from the material handling needed for a true 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. Businesses that go into high-volume digital have to have the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are the companies coming from the screen or offset print space that are looking to change some of their analog opportunity to digital, and they also can only achieve that when they are hitting maximum throughput with a digital production line.”
Last June marked the ten-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, even though 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 that this had acquired Matan Digital Printers, an Israel-based manufacturer of grand-format (aka superwide) hybrid UV printers. Offered in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is 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 from the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer is made to print on many different materials, especially 3D objects, up to 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, in lieu of UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a type of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and created to be an eco-friendly ink option.
“The niche for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and with so many applications coming over to the outer lining it isn’t surprising to view sales of the machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of advertising, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on virtually any substrate approximately almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the ability to purchase one of these simple machines very alluring to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that supply many different items that can be personalized with digital printing. Try to find thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and a lot more custom jig options to drive demand and open up much more unique applications for this technology.”
Durst offers many different flatbeds within its Rho series of UV machines. The most up-to-date introduction was the dtg printer, which handle media approximately 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, 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 sturdiness are what printers need,” said Christopher Guyett, sales and marketing coordinator for Durst Image Technology. “They need flexibility in terms of having the capability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to take care of lead times, and so they need robust design and manufacturing to generate on the 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs wish to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so that they need the flexibility to take care of complex client projects that could come together with little notice, and require an instant turnaround.”
It seems fitting to complete this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the business 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 coming 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 can handle substrates approximately 2 ” thick.
Make sure you take a look at these and also other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It appears fitting to complete this roundup using the latest model from Inca Digital, the organization whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked 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 comes in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It could handle substrates as much as 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be purchased through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of the Jeti
Also on the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira and also the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The previous can be a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, while the latter is really a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna line of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We find that some print agencies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems although some take advantage of the flexibility of your hybrid device, so that 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 substitute is available with many 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 is distinct so it is essential to know very well what you primarily might like to do with this particular equipment and select the technology that most closely fits this anticipated mixture of work.”