A couple weeks ago, we kicked off 2017 with a summary of the roll-to-roll latte printer landscape. In the week, we’ll perform 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, not too much flatbeds. (Actually, you may print textiles on 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 exposure 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 sizzling hot), and fewer energy needed to run them, energy that’s wasted by means of all that heat. LED also permits printing on very thin plastic materials that may warp or discolor when open to hot curing lamps, although a great vacuum system may help avoid warpage when using thin substrates regardless of heat.
The latest models which may have appeared out there lately boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-in addition to some extent of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing within 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 inside 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 cyan, as well as orange and green or orange and violet, to hit the gamut of brand name and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to the 1030/1330, whilst the latter ups the rate to as quickly 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 which include CMYK plus light magenta and lightweight cyan, white, and a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and therefore are targeted toward indoor and outdoor 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 over 16 in the past with all the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed laser printer line in Fall 2015. The subsequent fall saw the launch from the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the quickest model yet inside the Onset series, thought 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 has its own longstanding combination of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The newest entry, introduced last year, will be the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, said to print at speeds as high as 620 square feet each hour. It may print on an array of substrates around 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and light-weight 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) flatbed printer with speeds said to be around 2,100 sq . ft . per 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
Recently, Fujifilm continues to be touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a mixture of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based around the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. By using a broad selection of inks and color management software, the aim of FIT is image optimization, speed, and flexibility.
In 2016, Canon Solutions America (CSA) launched two new Océ Arizona combination 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 around four colors, the 1260 around six colors, and also 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, also available in GT (49-inch/1.2-meter) and XT (121-inch/3.1-meter) models. The 2260 can be a six-color machine and also the 2280 is definitely an eight-color machine. The primary distinction between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 square feet per hour and also the 2200 XTs at 691 square feet per hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit between the entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, and 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 around 1,668 square feet 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, which include gloss and white for effects and textures. It can print on flexible or rigid substrates around 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 may 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 into the UV flatbed market
Not too long ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, said to print up to 675 square feet each hour. A year ago, it had been joined with the JFX500-2131, a reduced 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 section of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 can be a dual-zone flatbed that allows for printing in just one section of the bed while 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 as well as the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) Jeti Tauro H2500, the second that gained an autoboard feeder just last year, even though the former gained a whole 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 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 I was very much taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a method of printing lenticular images around the Jeti Mira employing a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish may be layered to generate lenticular effects
EFI has already established a lot of irons within the fire lately-especially post-Reggiani-and possesses been centering on the hybrid market. In 2015, the company 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 has an extensive amount of in their entry-level EFI and mid-range and high-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is 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 meant for thermoforming applications
I include 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 even cylindrical objects like water bottles and YETI cups.
Roland has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV printers, and a year ago the corporation introduced a major brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which may print entirely on 3D objects around 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Also, it is competent 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 could be replaced from a new primer option, for those unusual substrates which require it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 using the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that adds the brand new primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory for the VersaUV tabletops, which supports printing on cylindrical objects.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 is designed for printing on 3D objects such as golf balls, smartphone cases, and many other considerations
A year ago, 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) or higher to 6 inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG along with the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, with 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 provides a collection of tabletops, including the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, competent at printing on a number of 3D objects around 2.75 inches thick and geared towards 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, whilst the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP is fairly quiet in the Scitex flatbed front as of late, nevertheless 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 feature corrugated equipment inside the flatbed printer category, but do would like to at the very least mention in passing that the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are two 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 probably the most exciting parts of the wide-format market since their killer app is simply because they can print on almost any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out from the box”; sometimes the surface has to be pre- or post-treated) rendering them ideal for all sorts 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 have to get a sense of the ink cost and printing time before embarking on these sorts of projects, however.
Remember, the first question to question when buying a flatbed is, what do you want to print? Large POP along with other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mixture of as many different product types as possible? That can determine 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 simply need additional accessories, which is more affordable than buying a whole separate unit.
Perhaps the biggest question before you even take a look at models is, do you possess room for a flatbed within your current shop? If not, can you justify acquiring extra space to accommodate it? Interestingly, we present in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the final results that are provided in our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to buy textile printer, and 14% said that they were planning to invest in “additional space/new location.” Correlation is not causation, needless to say, and we don’t know as to what extent they’re the same 14% to 15%, but, you understand, these devices could possibly get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire is the flip side of a single I suggested when examining rollfeds: do you need roll-to-roll printing too? Hybrids are excellent options if you are planning to have a combination of flexible and rigid substrates, but get feelings of what the ink costs could be. UV inks can be more expensive than other kinds of inks, so when you have a higher amount of such things as vinyl graphics, you might be more satisfied by having an ecosolvent machine.
Because I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, pay attention to “under the hood” kinds of issues, for example the specifics of the warranty, what it really covers, how long it lasts, and when you will find stuff 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 what type of training can be involved.