Just last year, inside our round-up from the latest in latte printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, no less than to some extent, been designed to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically for things like posters, POP/POS displays, and the like. In past times year, there’s been a smaller amount of an emphasis on shifting work from a single technology to another, plus more of merely one on creating unique print applications that had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects is considered the raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios have huge variations from small table- or benchtop units designed to print on such things as golf balls and smartphone cases, approximately 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 may also be in the process of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing which is done within a manufacturing process, including the control labels on the front of your appliance like a dishwasher, a car dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or other medical items, and other sorts of printing that vary from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
Many 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-thus far-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you think of it….) The newest trend in UV inks is so-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under exposure to LED lamps as opposed to the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not really a new technology, but the costs of it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, which makes them a lot better for thin plastic substrates. LEDs can also be said to be energy-efficient which suggests saving money. EFI specifically is a highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to fully secure the technology in all of the its UV offerings.
We have been also visiting a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that will also function as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were regarded as “jacks of trades, masters of none,” they may have improved to the level where they are now respectedly viewed as means of giving shops the versatility to use on numerous types of print projects. (Remember, though, the same UV inks might not be appropriate for all materials because of the respective dyne amounts of ink and surface. Some surfaces may also require pre- or post-treatment to acquire UV ink to adhere.)
Earlier this current year with the International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo, HP launched several new flatbeds in the Scitex line. The 64-inch HP Scitex FB550 and 120-inch FB750 hit the sign and display sweet spots
HP Scitex 11000 Industrial Press will be the follow-approximately the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched two years ago, even though the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is made for short-run corrugated packaging and so forth, useful for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has recently announced the Scitex 17000, made for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. Furthermore, it features the HP Scitex Corrugated Grip, a media handling system designed 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 in addition of having materials on and off press as fast as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is really how 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 probably the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not just the printing speed, the development workflow is certainly a important element. People are looking for automation both about the prepress side and also the finishing side.”
“We have found 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, and also the market is polarizing between the high-end presses doing a growing number of volume along with 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 coming 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 a true term) big enough that materials approximately six inches thick may be fed through the printer. On the Sign Expo, visitors to the booth could witness the company running footballs from 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, phone case printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability a little bit more with its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, as well as smaller benchtop flatbeds for example Roland’s LEF series printers, open up another realm of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a whole lot ‘What are you able to print on?’ but alternatively ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly astonished by the creativity of those using our technology to generate 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 list but a few. Mimaki also provides smaller tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for your tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and a lot of other novelty and specialty print objects.
“Customers are looking 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 like personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Can You 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 a lot of its brethren, the Arizonas are designed for printing on a wide range of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and huge prints tiled over multiple boards. They also support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-manufactured to be board printers; they do not come with a roll option.
The newest Arizona printers take CSA into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular in the mid-volume area, and this takes us for the top end of your mid-volume, or the low end from the high-volume,” he explained. “It’s taken us into new markets and new customers. They either come with an Arizona or possibly a similar product now and they are growing their business and are looking for an even more economical printer to incorporate some capacity but also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the new machines can print a maximum of 33 boards an hour. “We had a fascinating customer event where we passed out stopwatches to all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed numerous boards, along with each of them time them. Sure enough, we were directly on the cash.”
As I mentioned earlier in this particular story, EFI has become dedicating itself to LED curing technology because of its UV lines, specially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer that also functions as being a flatbed or even a rollfed.
“One of the biggest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing comes in the opportunity to transition analog try 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 in 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 the VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Businesses that go deep into high-volume digital require the most ROI from automated materials handling. They are the companies coming from the screen or offset print space who want to replace a selection of their analog capability to digital, plus they could only accomplish that should they be hitting maximum throughput on the digital production line.”
Last June marked the 10-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and even though tin or aluminum will be the traditional 10th anniversary gift, for EFI it’s apparently equipment manufacturing companies. On July 1, as this story was being finalized, EFI announced which 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 ideal for outdoor and indoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked as a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of year.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has a number of options inside the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer was created to print on a number of 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, while 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 designed to be an eco-friendly ink option.
“The market for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and because of so many applications arriving at the outer lining it isn’t surprising to discover sales of the machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of promoting, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on just about any substrate up to almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of these machines very alluring to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that offer various items that could be personalized with digital printing. Seek out thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and a lot more custom jig options to drive demand and start more unique applications for this particular technology.”
Durst offers a variety of flatbeds in the Rho group of UV machines. The newest introduction was the dtg printer, which handle media up to 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 with regards to having the capability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to take care of lead times, plus they need robust design and manufacturing to generate on a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs are looking to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, hence they need the flexibility to deal with complex client projects which come in with little notice, and require an immediate turnaround.”
It appears fitting to round out this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the organization whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked 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 can be found in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It can handle substrates up to two inches thick.
Be sure to look at these and other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems 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 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 might handle substrates up to 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers are available through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return in the Jeti
Also in the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira as well as the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The previous can be a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, whilst the latter is really a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna type of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We find that some print service providers prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems although some benefit from the flexibility of the hybrid device, and then 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 can be obtained with many of our printers. Currently, I see a mixture of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and so i see this trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is unique so it is essential to understand what you primarily might like to do with this particular equipment and select the technology that most closely fits this anticipated combination of work.”