A week ago, we kicked off 2017 with an introduction to the roll-to-roll latte printer landscape. This week, we’ll do the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been as much action in flatbeds like rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, not so much flatbeds. (Actually, you may print textiles with a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds are not designed or sold specially for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by being exposed to ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing is done using mercury vapor lamps, nevertheless the past many years have experienced an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps. Some great benefits of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run hot), and less energy found it necessary to run them, energy that’s wasted by means of all of that heat. LED also permits printing on very thin plastic materials which may warp or discolor when subjected to hot curing lamps, although an excellent vacuum system will help avoid warpage when utilizing thin substrates regardless of heat.
The latest models who have appeared in the marketplace lately boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-as well as some extent of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing in the mid-volume range, and much more entry-level machines. There is also a greater proliferation of hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll machines. (We’ll look specifically at hybrids in the 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 light cyan, as well as orange and green or orange and violet, hitting the gamut of logo and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to 1030/1330, while the latter ups the rate to as fast as 1,250 square meters hourly. The 1000 series complements the industrial-level Rho P10 series, composed 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 lightweight cyan, white, along with a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and so are targeted toward indoor and outdoor signage and POS/POP, as well as packaging and backlit applications.
The Durst Rho 1030 offers fully automated production.
Historically, Inca Digital launched the flatbed printer category more than 16 years back using the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed inkjet printer line in Fall 2015. The following fall saw the launch of your 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the fastest model yet in the Onset series, said to print approximately 9,600 square feet (180 boards) per hour. 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 series of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The most recent entry, introduced a year ago, will be the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, said to print at speeds as high as 620 sq ft each hour. It could print on a wide array of substrates up to 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and lightweight magenta, plus white or clear). This past year, Fujifilm also introduced the most recent inside the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) phone case printer with speeds reported to be approximately 2,100 square feet an hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 will be the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity series of flatbeds
Lately, Fujifilm has become touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a combination of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based upon the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. Utilizing a broad number of inks and color management software, the goal of FIT is image optimization, speed, and adaptability.
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 up to four colors, the 1260 approximately six colors, and also the 1280 around eight colors. The Arizona 1200 series printers are mid-volume flatbeds targeted toward sign and display shops, specialty printers, and photo labs.
Also from the mid-volume production category, CSA also introduced the Océ Arizona 2200 series, available too in GT (49-inch/1.2-meter) and XT (121-inch/3.1-meter) models. The 2260 is really a six-color machine as well as the 2280 is surely an eight-color machine. The main difference between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 square feet an hour along with the 2200 XTs at 691 sq ft each hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit involving the entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, along with 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 approximately 1,668 square feet each 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 may print on flexible or rigid substrates up to 63.2 x 98 inches (1.6 x 2.5 meters) and 5.9 (.15 meters) inches thick. Attendees on the SGIA Expo in 2015 could have seen it printing on footballs. Roland also provides the 64-inch (1.6-meter) hybrid VersaUV LEJ640.
The VersaUV LEJ-640FT is Roland’s entrée in the UV flatbed market
A few years ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, said to print up to 675 sq . ft . an hour. Just last year, it absolutely was joined through the JFX500-2131, a smaller footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, plus a primer for substrates that need it. A year ago, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles the print part of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is really a dual-zone flatbed that allows for printing in a part of the bed whilst the other is now being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds are definitely 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, even though the former gained a brand new roll-to-roll option. In other Agfa hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll news, the Anapurna H3200i LED UV printer is yet another hybrid; other Anapurnas range from the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H represents hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You might recall from last November that we was very much taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a means of printing lenticular images about 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 can be layered to produce lenticular effects
EFI has already established lots of irons within the fire lately-especially post-Reggiani-and possesses been centering on the hybrid market. In 2015, the organization 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 comes with EFI SuperDraw UV ink for near-photographic imaging on thermoformable substrates. EFI has a extensive quantity of in the entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI has become a strong proponent of LED curing and virtually its entire portfolio is now LED-based.
EFI’s H1625-SD UV printer can print on plastic substrates meant for thermoforming applications
I use in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are designed for specialty printing applications, like 3D objects like pens, golf balls, smartphone cases, and in many cases cylindrical objects like water bottles and YETI cups.
Roland has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV printers, and just last year the corporation introduced a large brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which may print directly on 3D objects as much as 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. It is additionally effective at higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. Last week, Roland announced another-generation of LEF-20, the VersaUV LEF-200, a 20-inch benchtop UV printer that prints CMYK plus white and gloss. The gloss channel might be replaced by way of a new primer option, for all those unusual substrates that need it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 together with the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that also adds the brand new primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory for that VersaUV tabletops, which supports printing on cylindrical objects.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 is for printing on 3D objects including golf balls, smartphone cases, and lots of other items
Last year, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer created for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects approximately 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) and up to 6 inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG and also the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, having an accessory called 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 also offers a type of tabletops, for example the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, effective at printing on various 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 previous uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, even though the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP continues to be fairly quiet around the Scitex flatbed front lately, but also 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 add corrugated equipment within the flatbed printer category, but do would like to no less than mention in passing that this HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are 2 of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while eventually year’s drupa, EFI announced its 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 build up the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are one of the most exciting regions of the wide-format market since their killer app is because they can print on just about any surface (although, it needs to be stressed, not “right from the box”; sometimes the top should be pre- or post-treated) causing them to be well suited for all kinds of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or any other 3D effects, and also print Braille. You’ll want to get a feeling of the ink cost and printing time before embarking on these sorts of projects, however.
As usual, the initial question to ask when looking for a flatbed is, what do you wish to print? Large POP and also other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mixture of as numerous different product types as you possibly can? That will determine what size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t need to have a specific benchtop unit if you wish to print 3D objects; any flatbed is going to do, you’ll simply need additional accessories, that will be more affordable than purchasing a whole separate unit.
Perhaps the biggest question even before you have a look at models is, do you have room for any flatbed inside your current shop? If not, is it possible to justify acquiring extra room to house it? Interestingly, we present in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the final results of which are given within our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to invest in dtg printer, and 14% said that they were planning to get “additional space/new location.” Correlation is just not causation, naturally, so we don’t know from what extent they’re the same 14% to 15%, but, you already know, these devices will get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire about is the flip side of a single I suggested when viewing rollfeds: do you really need roll-to-roll printing too? Hybrids are excellent options if you are planning to get a mix of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of just what the ink costs could be. UV inks may be more pricey than other kinds of inks, if you have a higher volume of such things as vinyl graphics, you may be happier with the ecosolvent machine.
As I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, focus on “under the hood” kinds of issues, for example the details of the warranty, just what it covers, how long it lasts, and when you will find things 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. Particularly with flatbeds, find out what sort of training may be involved.