A year ago, in your round-up of the latest in coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, no less than to some extent, 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 stuff like that. In past times year, there’s been a smaller amount of an emphasis on shifting work from one technology to another, and more of merely one on creating unique print applications which 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 run the gamut from small table- or benchtop units built to print on stuff like golf balls and smartphone cases, approximately massive behemoths by which one can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, and also other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units are also during this process of blurring the line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing that is done as part of a manufacturing process, like the control labels in the front of an appliance such as a dishwasher, a vehicle dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or some other medical items, and other sorts of printing that differ from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
A lot of the flatbed units that you can buy 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-thus far-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you think of it….) The newest trend in UV inks is really-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under being exposed to LED lamps rather than traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not really a new technology, however the costs from it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, causing them to be a lot better for thin plastic substrates. LEDs are also reported to be energy-efficient meaning financial savings. EFI especially has become a highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to totally secure the technology in all its UV offerings.
We are also seeing a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that could also function 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 already have improved to the stage where they are now respectedly regarded as ways of giving shops the versatility to consider numerous print projects. (Remember, though, the same UV inks is probably not appropriate for all materials considering the respective dyne degrees of ink and surface. Some surfaces could also require pre- or post-treatment to get UV ink to keep.)
Earlier this current year in 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 the follow-up to the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched 2 yrs ago, whilst the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is made for short-run corrugated packaging and so forth, ideal for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has additionally 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 built to facilitate printing on warped corrugated boards.
For HP, the prevailing trend is toward more automation and improving productivity, which is not merely a matter of speed, but additionally of obtaining materials on / off press as fast as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is really 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 probably the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not only the printing speed, the development workflow is an extremely important element. Consumers are asking for automation both around the prepress side plus the finishing side.”
“We have found in general a trend toward lower-cost flatbed printers, especially low-end,” added Joan Pe´rez Pericot, Marketing Director for HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Smaller customers want to jump into rigid, along with the marketplace is polarizing in between the high-end presses doing increasingly more volume and 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 and also the VersaUV LEJ-640 hybrid printer. Earlier this current year, Roland launched its first big flatbed, the 64-inch VersaUV LEJ-640FT flatbed UV printer. This new flatbed has a “throat” (yes, that’s an actual term) big enough that materials around six inches thick might be fed through the printer. On the Sign Expo, website visitors to the booth could witness the business running footballs throughout the printer.
“Print providers are researching 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 a little bit more with its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, together with smaller benchtop flatbeds like Roland’s LEF series printers, open up a completely new world of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a whole lot ‘What are you able to print on?’ but rather ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly surprised by the creativity of the using our technology to make stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on before.”
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 name but a number of. Mimaki even offers small tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for the 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 lets them replace labor- and waste-intensive processes and print direct-to-substrate, while adding value with higher margin applications such as personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Are You Able To See
The most recent models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched a year ago-will 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 designed for printing on a wide array of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and large prints tiled over multiple boards. Additionally, they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-built to be board printers; they are doing not come with a roll option.
The new Arizona printers take CSA into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular inside the mid-volume area, and that takes us on the top end of your mid-volume, or perhaps the low end from the high-volume,” he was quoted saying. “It’s taken us into new markets and new business. They either have an Arizona or possibly a similar product now and they are growing their business and are looking for a far more economical printer to incorporate a small amount of capacity and also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the latest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards 1 hour. “We had an intriguing customer event where we handed out stopwatches to all of the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed numerous boards, and had every one of them time them. Sure enough, we had been directly on the funds.”
While I mentioned earlier within this story, EFI is dedicating itself to LED curing technology because of its UV lines, particularly the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer that functions like a flatbed or perhaps a rollfed.
“One of the largest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing comes in the opportunity to transition analog work to digital with higher-volume equipment,” said Ken Hanulec, Vice President, Marketing, Inkjet Solutions, at EFI. “So, beyond developing imaging systems that approach offset quality, EFI has gotten a progressive stance inside the material handling required for a genuine 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. Firms that go into high-volume digital need the most ROI from automated materials handling. Those are the companies from the screen or offset print space that want to change a selection of their analog ability to digital, and they could only achieve that if they are hitting maximum throughput on a digital production line.”
Last June marked the 10-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and although tin or aluminum will be the traditional 10th anniversary gift, for EFI it’s apparently equipment manufacturing companies. On July 1, simply 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. Obtainable in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is designed for indoor and outdoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked as being a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the Year.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has a number of options from the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer is designed to print on a variety of materials, especially 3D objects, up to 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is really a hybrid UV LED printer that 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 type of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and made to be an eco-friendly ink option.
“The marketplace for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and considering the variety of applications coming to the outer lining it isn’t surprising to discover sales of those machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of advertising, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on just about any substrate as much as almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of these simple machines very attractive to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that offer many different items which can be personalized with digital printing. Look for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, plus more custom jig choices to drive demand and open much more unique applications for this particular technology.”
Durst offers many different flatbeds in the Rho group of UV machines. The most recent introduction was the dtg printer, which handle media around 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is aimed towards high-end applications for example 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 addition to the 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 ability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to deal with lead times, and they need robust design and manufacturing to make on a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs are looking to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so that they need the flexibility to manage complex client projects which come in with little notice, and require a sudden turnaround.”
It appears to be fitting to round out this roundup using the latest model from Inca Digital, the organization whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked away from the flatbed wide-format market 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 may handle substrates as much as 2 ” thick.
Be sure to check out these as well as other models at Graph Expo and at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems like fitting to complete this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the organization whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off 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 is available in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It can handle substrates around two inches thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be found through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of your Jeti
Also with the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira and also the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The previous is actually a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, even though the latter can be a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna type of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We realize that some print companies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems and some enjoy 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 choices on many of our true flatbed equipment so an alternative is offered with many of our printers. Currently, I see a mixture of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and that i see this trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix differs so it is very important understand what you primarily might like to do using this type of equipment and select the technology that best fits this anticipated mixture of work.”