A couple weeks ago, we kicked off 2017 with a summary of the roll-to-roll coffee printer landscape. In the week, we’ll perform the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been quite as much action in flatbeds like in rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, less than much flatbeds. (Actually, you may print textiles with a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds will not be designed or sold specifically 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, but the past a few years have observed an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under being exposed to LED lamps. The advantages of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run very hot), and less energy necessary to run them, energy that’s wasted as everything that heat. LED also provides for printing on very thin plastic materials which could warp or discolor when subjected to hot curing lamps, although a great vacuum system will help avoid warpage when utilizing thin substrates no matter heat.
The latest models that have appeared in the marketplace recently boast faster speeds-like practically any new equipment-and also some degree of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing from the mid-volume range, and even more entry-level machines. There is also a greater proliferation of hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll machines. (We’ll look specifically at hybrids in a 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-weight cyan, as well as orange and green or orange and violet, to hit the gamut of logo and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution in comparison to the 1030/1330, while the latter ups the pace to as fast as 1,250 square meters per hour. 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, and a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and therefore are targeted toward outdoor and indoor signage and POS/POP, in addition to packaging and backlit applications.
The Durst Rho 1030 offers fully automated production.
Historically, Inca Digital launched the flatbed printer category greater than 16 years back together with the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed computer printer line in Fall 2015. The subsequent fall saw the launch from the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet in the Onset series, believed to print as much as 9,600 sq ft (180 boards) per hour. Colorwise, it supports CMYK plus white or orange.
Inca Roads-The Onset X3 is definitely the fastest Onset yet.
Inca flatbeds are distributed by Fujifilm, which features its own longstanding series of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The latest entry, introduced just last year, is definitely the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, thought to print at speeds as much as 620 sq ft each hour. It might print on an array of substrates up to 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta, plus white or clear). Last year, Fujifilm also introduced the latest in the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) phone case printer with speeds said to be around 2,100 sq ft hourly, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 is definitely the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity series of flatbeds
Lately, Fujifilm continues to be touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a combination of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based around the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. Employing a broad selection of inks and color management software, the aim of FIT is image optimization, speed, and suppleness.
In 2016, Canon Solutions America (CSA) launched two new Océ Arizona number 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 as much as four colors, the 1260 up to six colors, and the 1280 approximately eight colors. The Arizona 1200 series printers are mid-volume flatbeds targeted toward sign and display shops, specialty printers, and photo labs.
Also in 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 a six-color machine along with the 2280 is undoubtedly an eight-color machine. The key distinction between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 sq ft each hour along with the 2200 XTs at 691 sq ft an hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit involving the entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, and also 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 as much as 1,668 sq . ft . an 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, that include gloss and white for special effects and textures. It can print on flexible or rigid substrates as much as 63.2 x 98 inches (1.6 x 2.5 meters) and 5.9 (.15 meters) inches thick. Attendees for the SGIA Expo in 2015 could possibly have seen it printing on footballs. Roland also offers the 64-inch (1.6-meter) hybrid VersaUV LEJ640.
The VersaUV LEJ-640FT is Roland’s entrée in the UV flatbed market
Not long ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, believed to print as much as 675 sq . ft . each hour. Last year, it 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 paper region of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is really a dual-zone flatbed that permits for printing in just one part of the bed while the other is being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds would be 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 in which gained an autoboard feeder this past year, while the former gained a new roll-to-roll option. In other Agfa hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll news, the Anapurna H3200i LED UV printer is also a hybrid; other Anapurnas add the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H stands for hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You could possibly recall from last November that we was significantly taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a means of printing lenticular images in the Jeti Mira utilizing a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish could be layered to make lenticular effects
EFI has had plenty of irons inside the fire recently-especially post-Reggiani-and it has been paying attention to the hybrid market. In 2015, the business 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 will come with EFI SuperDraw UV ink for near-photographic imaging on thermoformable substrates. EFI comes with an extensive number of within its entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI has been a strong proponent of LED curing and virtually its entire portfolio is currently LED-based.
EFI’s H1625-SD UV printer can print on plastic substrates designed for thermoforming applications
I use in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are designed for specialty printing applications, for example 3D objects like pens, golf balls, smartphone cases, and even cylindrical objects like water bottles and YETI cups.
Roland has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV printers, and last year the corporation introduced a big brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which could print entirely on 3D objects around 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. It is also capable of higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. The other day, 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 may be replaced with a new primer option, for people unusual substrates that require it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 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 such as golf balls, smartphone cases, and many other considerations
Last year, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer intended for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects around 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) and up to six inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG along with 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 has a collection of tabletops, including the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, capable of printing on a variety of 3D objects around 2.75 inches thick and targeted 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 former uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, while the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP is fairly quiet about the Scitex flatbed front lately, but 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 from the flatbed printer category, but do wish to at least mention in passing the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are two of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while eventually year’s drupa, EFI announced its very 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 develop the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are some of the most exciting regions of the wide-format market since their killer app is simply because they can print on practically any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out of the box”; sometimes the top must be pre- or post-treated) which makes them suitable for all kinds of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or other 3D effects, and also print Braille. You’ll want to get a sense of the ink cost and printing time before starting these types of projects, however.
Of course, the initial question to inquire about when buying a flatbed is, what do you need to print? Large POP and also other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mixture of as much different product types as possible? That will figure out what size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t want a specific benchtop unit in order to print 3D objects; any flatbed is going to do, you’ll only need additional accessories, that is to be cheaper than purchasing a whole separate unit.
Maybe the biggest question even before you have a look at models is, do you have room to get a flatbed within your current shop? Otherwise, is it possible to justify acquiring extra space to house it? Interestingly, we located in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the results that are provided in your new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to invest in t-shirt printer, and 14% said that they were planning to get “additional space/new location.” Correlation is not causation, naturally, and we don’t know to what extent they’re the same 14% to 15%, but, you already know, these products will get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire about will be the flip side of merely one I suggested when viewing rollfeds: do you want roll-to-roll printing too? Hybrids are excellent options if you intend to possess a mix of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of precisely what the ink costs are likely to be. UV inks could be more costly than other sorts of inks, so when you have a much higher volume of such things as vinyl graphics, you may be better off having an ecosolvent machine.
As I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, pay attention to “under the hood” forms of issues, like the specifics of the warranty, what it really covers, just how long it lasts, of course, if you can find items 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, learn what form of training may be involved.