Last week, we kicked off 2017 with a review of the roll-to-roll latte coffee printer landscape. In the week, we’ll do the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been quite as much action in flatbeds as with rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, not too much flatbeds. (Actually, you can print textiles on a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds usually are not 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 continues to be done using mercury vapor lamps, nevertheless the past a few years have observed an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under being exposed to LED lamps. Some great benefits of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run sizzling hot), and less energy needed to run them, energy that’s wasted in the form of everything that heat. LED also permits printing on very thin plastic materials which may warp or discolor when open to hot curing lamps, although an effective vacuum system may help avoid warpage when utilizing thin substrates no matter what heat.
The brand new models who have appeared available on the market as of late boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-and also some extent of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing from the mid-volume range, and a lot more entry-level machines. Additionally there is 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, going to the gamut of logo and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution in comparison to the 1030/1330, whilst the latter ups the pace to as fast as 1,250 square meters each hour. The 1000 series complements the industrial-level Rho P10 series, made up 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, as well as a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and are targeted toward indoor and outdoor signage and POS/POP, along with 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 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 quickest model yet from the Onset series, thought to print around 9,600 square feet (180 boards) each hour. Colorwise, it supports CMYK plus white or orange.
Inca Roads-The Onset X3 will be the fastest Onset yet.
Inca flatbeds are distributed by Fujifilm, which features its own longstanding group of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The most recent entry, introduced just last year, will be the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, said to print at speeds as much as 620 square feet an hour. It might print on a variety of substrates around two inches thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta, plus white or clear). A year ago, Fujifilm also introduced the newest in the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) uv printer with speeds said to be as much as 2,100 sq ft each hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 will be the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity group of flatbeds
Recently, Fujifilm is touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a variety of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based on the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. By using a broad assortment 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 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, as well as the 1280 as much as 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 is really a six-color machine and the 2280 is undoubtedly an eight-color machine. The primary difference 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 sq . ft . per hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit between your entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, as well as 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 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, including gloss and white for special effects and textures. It might 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 towards the SGIA Expo in 2015 could possibly 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 to 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 as much as 675 square feet hourly. Just last year, it had been joined from the JFX500-2131, a reduced footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, along with a primer for substrates that need it. This past year, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles paper part of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is actually a dual-zone flatbed that allows for printing in just one section of the bed even though 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 which gained an autoboard feeder this past year, whilst the former gained a fresh roll-to-roll option. In other Agfa hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll news, the Anapurna H3200i LED UV printer can be another hybrid; other Anapurnas range from the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H stands for hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You might recall from last November that we was very much taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a method of printing lenticular images about the Jeti Mira employing a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish might be layered to produce lenticular effects
EFI has had a lot of irons from the fire recently-especially post-Reggiani-and contains been focusing 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 comes with EFI SuperDraw UV ink for near-photographic imaging on thermoformable substrates. EFI comes with an extensive variety of within its entry-level EFI and mid-range and high-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is a strong proponent of LED curing and virtually its entire portfolio has become LED-based.
EFI’s H1625-SD UV printer can print on plastic substrates designed for thermoforming applications
I include in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are equipped 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 a year ago the corporation introduced a large brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, that may print directly on 3D objects as much as 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Also, it is capable of higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. A week ago, 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 anyone unusual substrates that require it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 using the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, which also adds the newest 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 made for printing on 3D objects including golf balls, smartphone cases, and a lot of other considerations
A year ago, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer designed for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects as much as 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) and up to 6 inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG along with the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, by having an accessory termed as 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, like the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, able to printing on a number of 3D objects around 2.75 inches thick and aimed 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, even though the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP has been fairly quiet about the Scitex flatbed front lately, 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 add corrugated equipment from the flatbed printer category, but do want to at the very least mention in passing the 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 produce the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are probably the most exciting aspects 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 of your box”; sometimes the surface should be pre- or post-treated) causing them to be well suited for all sorts of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or other 3D effects, in addition to print Braille. You’ll have to get feelings of the ink cost and printing time before embarking on these kinds of projects, however.
As usual, the first question to ask when looking for a flatbed is, what do you want to print? Large POP along with other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mix of as many different product types as is possible? That may evaluate which size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t require a specific benchtop unit if you want to print 3D objects; any flatbed is going to do, you’ll just need additional accessories, that is to be cheaper than purchasing a whole separate unit.
Maybe the biggest question before you even examine models is, do you possess room for the flatbed inside your current shop? If not, is it possible to justify acquiring more space to house it? Interestingly, we located in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the results of which are supplied within our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to purchase textile printer, and 14% said they were planning to purchase “additional space/new location.” Correlation is just not causation, of course, and that we don’t know to what extent they’re the same 14% to 15%, but, you understand, these units can get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to ask will be the flip side of just one I suggested when thinking about rollfeds: do you need roll-to-roll printing also? Hybrids are perfect options if you intend to get a blend of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of just what the ink costs could be. UV inks can be higher priced than other sorts of inks, if you have a higher number of such things as vinyl graphics, you may be more well off with 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 covers, the length of time it lasts, and if 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. Especially with flatbeds, find what sort of training can be involved.