This past year, within our round-up of the latest in latte coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at the very least partly, been designed to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically for such things as posters, POP/POS displays, and the like. Previously year, there’s been a smaller amount of an emphasis on shifting work from one technology to a different, plus more of one on creating unique print applications which had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects is among the most raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios have huge variations from small table- or benchtop units built to print on things like golf balls and smartphone cases, approximately massive behemoths in which you can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, and also other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units will also be along the way of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing which is done as an element of a manufacturing process, including the control labels about the front of any appliance such as a dishwasher, a vehicle dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or some other medical items, and other kinds of printing that differ from the typical “print for pay” applications.)
The majority of the flatbed units available today use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology that has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: just what is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you think of it….) The most up-to-date trend in UV inks is very-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps as opposed to the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not just a new technology, although the costs of it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, causing them to be more desirable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs may also be said to be energy-efficient which suggests cost benefits. EFI specifically has been a highly active proponent of LED UV and it has announced its intention to completely retain the technology in all its UV offerings.
Our company is also going to 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 most trades, masters of none,” they have got improved to the stage where they are respectedly viewed as ways of giving shops the versatility to take on numerous types of print projects. (Take into account, though, that this same UV inks will not be suited to all materials due to the respective dyne degrees of ink and surface. Some surfaces may also require pre- or post-treatment to have UV ink to keep.)
Earlier this coming 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 will be the follow-approximately the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched a couple of years ago, whilst the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is ideal for short-run corrugated packaging and the like, helpful for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has recently announced the Scitex 17000, designed for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. Additionally, 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 question of speed, but additionally of getting materials off and on press immediately and improving automation.
“The focus is actually 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 amongst the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not only the printing speed, the development workflow is definitely a important element. Clients are seeking automation both on the prepress side and also the finishing side.”
“We have also observed 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 would like to jump into rigid, along with the market is polarizing involving the high-end presses doing a lot more volume and the smaller devices that happen to be 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 season, 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 genuine term) large enough that materials up to six inches thick might be fed through the printer. On the Sign Expo, website visitors to the booth could witness the organization running footballs through the printer.
“Print companies are searching for ways to differentiate and expand their businesses-opportunities that flatbed printers certainly provide,” said Jay Roberts, Roland DGA’s Product Manager, led uv printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability even further with its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, along with smaller benchtop flatbeds like Roland’s LEF series printers, start a whole new world 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 excited by the creativity of the using our technology to make stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on in the past.”
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 call but a number of. Mimaki also provides the smaller tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers to 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 enables them to 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 up-to-date models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched a year ago-are the six-color (CMYKLcLm) Océ Arizona 6160 XTS and seven-color (CMYKLcLm white) Océ Arizona 6170 XTS. Like several of its brethren, the Arizonas are capable of printing on a variety of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and big prints tiled over multiple boards. Additionally they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-created to be board printers; they do not feature a roll option.
The latest Arizona printers are taking CSA in a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular inside the mid-volume area, and this takes us for the high end of your mid-volume, or perhaps the low end from the high-volume,” he stated. “It’s taken us into new markets and new business. They either come with an Arizona or possibly a similar product now and they are growing their business and are searching for a far more economical printer to provide a small amount of capacity and also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the newest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards an hour. “We had an intriguing customer event where we passed out stopwatches to any or all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed several boards, along with every one of them time them. Sure enough, we were directly on the funds.”
As I mentioned earlier in this story, EFI has become dedicating itself to LED curing technology for the UV lines, especially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer that also functions like a flatbed or possibly a rollfed.
“One of the most popular opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing is available in the ability to transition analog try to digital with higher-volume equipment,” said Ken Hanulec, V . P ., Marketing, Inkjet Solutions, at EFI. “So, beyond developing imaging systems that approach offset quality, EFI has brought a progressive stance in the material handling needed for a true analog-to-digital transition in higher-volume print with semi- and full-automation feed and delivery systems for our own VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Companies that enter into high-volume digital have to have the most ROI from automated materials handling. Those are the companies coming from the screen or offset print space that want to replace a selection of their analog opportunity to digital, and so they can only accomplish that should they be hitting maximum throughput on a digital production line.”
Last June marked the ten-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and even though tin or aluminum may 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 it had acquired Matan Digital Printers, an Israel-based manufacturer of grand-format (aka superwide) hybrid UV printers. For sale in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is ideal for indoor and outdoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked as a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the Year.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has a few options inside the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer was designed to print on various materials, especially 3D objects, around 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is actually 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 sort of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and built to be an eco friendly ink option.
“The niche for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and with so many applications visiting the outer lining it isn’t surprising to see sales of such machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of promoting, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on just about any substrate around almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of these machines very popular with many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that offer many different items that may be personalized with digital printing. Try to find thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, plus more custom jig choices to drive demand and unlock a lot more unique applications with this technology.”
Durst offers various flatbeds in their Rho series of UV machines. The latest introduction was the textile printer, which handle media approximately 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is directed at high-end applications including 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 durability are what printers need,” said Christopher Guyett, sales and marketing coordinator for Durst Image Technology. “They need flexibility with regards to being able to quickly switch between materials and jobs to handle lead times, and they also need robust design and manufacturing to generate over a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs want to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, therefore they want the flexibility to deal with complex client projects which come together with little notice, and require a quick turnaround.”
It seems fitting to round out this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the corporation whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off of the flatbed wide-format market way back in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this year 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 might handle substrates as much as 2 ” thick.
Make sure to look at these as well as other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems fitting to complete this roundup together with 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 can be found in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It may handle substrates approximately two inches thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers are available through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of your Jeti
Also on the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira along with the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The first kind is actually a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, as the latter is actually a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna collection of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We learn that some print agencies 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 alternatives on many of our true flatbed equipment so a substitute can be obtained with a number of our printers. Currently, I see a mix of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and I check this out trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is distinct so it is important to know what you primarily want to do with this particular equipment and choose the technology that meets this anticipated blend of work.”