A week ago, we kicked off 2017 with an introduction to the roll-to-roll latte 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 can print textiles with a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds will not be designed or sold particularly 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, although the past many years have observed an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under being exposed to LED lamps. The benefits of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run hot), and fewer energy necessary to run them, energy that’s wasted by means of everything that heat. LED also enables printing on very thin plastic materials that may warp or discolor when exposed to hot curing lamps, although an effective vacuum system can help avoid warpage when utilizing thin substrates no matter what heat.
The new models who have appeared available on the market lately boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-in addition to some extent of automation. We’re also beginning to see more models appearing within 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 the 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, along with orange and green or orange and violet, hitting the gamut of brand and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to 1030/1330, whilst the latter ups the pace to as fast 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 including CMYK plus light magenta and light-weight cyan, white, as well as a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and so 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 more than 16 years back using the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed inkjet printer line in Fall 2015. The following fall saw the launch in the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet in the Onset series, said to print approximately 9,600 sq . ft . (180 boards) hourly. Colorwise, it supports CMYK plus white or orange.
Inca Roads-The Onset X3 is the fastest Onset yet.
Inca flatbeds are distributed by Fujifilm, which possesses its own longstanding series of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The most up-to-date entry, introduced this past year, may be the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, said to print at speeds up to 620 sq ft an hour. It may print on a variety of substrates as much as two inches thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and lightweight magenta, plus white or clear). Last year, Fujifilm also introduced the latest inside the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) flatbed printer with speeds reported to be up to 2,100 sq . ft . an hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 is the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity series of flatbeds
Recently, Fujifilm has been touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a combination of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based on the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. By using a broad variety of inks and color management software, the goal 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 as much as four colors, the 1260 up to six colors, and the 1280 up to eight colors. The Arizona 1200 series printers are mid-volume flatbeds targeted toward sign and display shops, specialty printers, and photo labs.
Also within 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 actually a six-color machine as well as the 2280 is definitely an eight-color machine. The main distinction between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 sq ft an hour and also the 2200 XTs at 691 sq ft hourly.
These new mid-volume printers fit involving the entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, along with 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 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, that include gloss and white for 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 even offers the 64-inch (1.6-meter) hybrid VersaUV LEJ640.
The VersaUV LEJ-640FT is Roland’s entrée to the UV flatbed market
Not long ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, said to print around 675 sq . ft . per hour. Just last year, it had been joined by the JFX500-2131, a reduced footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, as well as a primer for substrates which require it. Just last year, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles the print area of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 can be a dual-zone flatbed that permits for printing in a area of the bed as the other will be prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds are definitely the 106.3-inch (2.7-meter) Jeti Mira MG 2732 HS and also the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) Jeti Tauro H2500, the second of which gained an autoboard feeder this past year, whilst 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 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 could recall from last November i was greatly 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 already established a great deal of irons within the fire as of late-especially post-Reggiani-and possesses been paying attention to the hybrid market. In 2015, the organization 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 posseses an extensive quantity 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 has become LED-based.
EFI’s H1625-SD UV printer can print on plastic substrates meant for thermoforming applications
I use 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, as well as cylindrical objects like water bottles and YETI cups.
Roland has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV printers, and this past year the corporation introduced a major brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which could print right on 3D objects as much as 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. It is additionally competent at higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. A couple weeks ago, Roland announced the next-generation of LEF-20, the VersaUV LEF-200, a 20-inch benchtop UV printer that prints CMYK plus white and gloss. The gloss channel can be replaced from 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, which also adds the latest primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory to the VersaUV tabletops, which supports printing on cylindrical objects.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 is ideal for printing on 3D objects including golf balls, smartphone cases, and several other items
A year ago, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer created for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects up to 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 referred to 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 has a type of tabletops, like the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, capable of printing on many different 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 previous uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, whilst the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP continues to be fairly quiet in the Scitex flatbed front recently, however 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 inside the flatbed printer category, but do wish to at the very least mention in passing that this HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are a couple of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while finally 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 among the most exciting parts of the wide-format market since their killer app is that they can print on practically any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out of the box”; sometimes the top should be pre- or post-treated) causing them to be perfect for all kinds of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or any other 3D effects, along with print Braille. You’ll have to get a sense of the ink cost and printing time before embarking on these kinds of projects, however.
As usual, the initial question to inquire when looking for a flatbed is, what do you need to print? Large POP as well as other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mix of as many different product types as possible? That can figure out what size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t require a specific benchtop unit if you would like print 3D objects; any flatbed will do, you’ll simply need additional accessories, which is more affordable than purchasing a whole separate unit.
Probably the biggest question before you even examine models is, do you have room for a flatbed in your current shop? If not, could you justify acquiring more space to accommodate it? Interestingly, we seen in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the outcome of which are provided within our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to get textile printer, and 14% said they were planning to invest in “additional space/new location.” Correlation will not be causation, needless to say, so we don’t know as to what extent they’re the same 14% to 15%, but, you realize, these products could possibly get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to ask will be the flip side of a single I suggested when examining rollfeds: do you want roll-to-roll printing also? Hybrids are perfect options if you intend to experience a mix of flexible and rigid substrates, but get feelings of precisely what the ink costs are likely to be. UV inks may be more pricey than other sorts of inks, so when you have a higher volume of stuff like vinyl graphics, you may well be more satisfied with an ecosolvent machine.
When I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, focus on “under the hood” types of issues, including the specifics of the warranty, what it really covers, just how long it lasts, and when you will 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, find what form of training could be involved.