Last year, in your round-up from the latest in latte printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at the very least partly, been created to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, particularly for things like posters, POP/POS displays, and so forth. Before year, there’s been less of an emphasis on shifting work from one technology to a different one, plus more of just one on creating unique print applications which had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects has become the raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios run the gamut from small table- or benchtop units built to print on items like golf balls and smartphone cases, up to massive behemoths by which anybody can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, along with other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units are also in the process of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing which is done within a manufacturing process, like the control labels in the front of your appliance such as a dishwasher, an automobile dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or some other medical items, and other sorts of printing that are different from the normal “print for pay” applications.)
The majority of the flatbed units currently available use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology that has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: exactly what is the one substrate that UV inks-thus far-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you consider it….) The latest 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 this are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, leading them to be more desirable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs are also said to be energy-efficient meaning cost savings. EFI particularly has become a highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to fully support the technology in every its UV offerings.
We are also visiting a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that can also serve as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were perceived as “jacks of trades, masters of none,” they have improved to the level where they are respectedly considered as means of giving shops the versatility to use on a multitude of print projects. (Take into account, though, the same UV inks is probably not suited to all materials considering the respective dyne quantities of ink and surface. Some surfaces may also require pre- or post-treatment to get UV ink to adhere.)
Earlier this season at 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 may be the follow-around the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched two years ago, even though the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is designed for short-run corrugated packaging and so on, helpful for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has additionally recently announced the Scitex 17000, designed for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. Furthermore, it features the HP Scitex Corrugated Grip, a media handling system created to facilitate printing on warped corrugated boards.
For HP, the prevailing trend is toward more automation and improving productivity, which is not only an issue of speed, but in addition to getting materials on and off press immediately and improving automation.
“The focus is absolutely 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. People are looking for automation both in the prepress side and also the finishing side.”
“We also have found 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 want to jump into rigid, and also the market is polarizing between your high-end presses doing a growing number of volume as well as the smaller devices which are doing very short runs.”
Mind Your Throat, Please
Roland DGA has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV flatbeds as well as the VersaUV LEJ-640 hybrid printer. Earlier this coming year, 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 true term) large enough that materials approximately six inches thick could be fed throughout the printer. On the Sign Expo, visitors to the booth could witness the organization running footballs throughout the printer.
“Print service providers are searching for ways to differentiate and expand their businesses-opportunities that flatbed printers certainly provide,” said Jay Roberts, Roland DGA’s Product Manager, uv printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability a little bit more featuring its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, along with smaller benchtop flatbeds for example Roland’s LEF series printers, open a completely new arena of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a lot ‘What are you able to print on?’ but alternatively ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly surprised by the creativity of those using our technology to generate stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on before.”
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 name but a number of. Mimaki also has small tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers to the tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and a lot of other novelty and specialty print objects.
“Customers are seeking feature-rich, high-quality versatility that allows them to replace labor- and waste-intensive processes and print direct-to-substrate, while adding value with higher margin applications like personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Is It Possible To See
The latest models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched a year ago-would be 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 designed for printing on a variety of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and big prints tiled over multiple boards. They also support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-manufactured to be board printers; they are doing not have a roll option.
The newest Arizona printers are taking CSA right into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular in the mid-volume area, and that takes us to the top end in the mid-volume, or maybe the low end from the high-volume,” he was quoted saying. “It’s taken us into new markets and customers. They either provide an Arizona or possibly a similar product now and so are growing their business and are trying to find an even more economical printer to incorporate a bit of capacity but in addition not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the brand new machines can print a maximum of 33 boards an hour or so. “We had an intriguing customer event where we handed out stopwatches to all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed numerous boards, along with all of them time them. Sure enough, we were on the funds.”
While I mentioned earlier with this story, EFI continues to be dedicating itself to LED curing technology for its UV lines, specially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer which functions being a flatbed or even a rollfed.
“One of the largest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing can be purchased in the ability to transition analog work 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 from the material handling needed for a genuine analog-to-digital transition in higher-volume print with semi- and full-automation feed and delivery systems for our VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Businesses that go deep into high-volume digital require the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are companies from the screen or offset print space that are looking to exchange a selection of their analog ability to digital, and they is only able to achieve that if they are hitting maximum throughput with a digital production line.”
Last June marked the ten-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and even though tin or aluminum is 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 that this had acquired Matan Digital Printers, an Israel-based manufacturer of grand-format (aka superwide) hybrid UV printers. Offered in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is made for indoor and outdoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked as being a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the Year.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has a number of options in the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer was created to print on a number of materials, especially 3D objects, as much as 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH can be a hybrid UV LED printer that comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, whilst the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, rather than UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a form of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and made to be an eco friendly ink option.
“The marketplace for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and with so many applications arriving at the outer lining it isn’t surprising to find out sales of those machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of advertising, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on almost any substrate as much as almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the ability to purchase one of those machines very appealing to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops offering many different items that can be personalized with digital printing. Look for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, plus more custom jig choices to drive demand and open up much more unique applications for this particular technology.”
Durst offers various flatbeds in their Rho series of UV machines. The newest introduction was the textile printer, which handle media up to 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is geared towards high-end applications including backlit displays for windows or light boxes, particularly for luxury goods, outdoor and indoor 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 in terms of having the capability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to handle lead times, plus they need robust design and manufacturing to produce on a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs wish to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, therefore they want the flexibility to take care of complex client projects that come along with little notice, and require an immediate turnaround.”
It seems fitting to round out this roundup with the latest model from Inca Digital, the organization whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked from the flatbed wide-format market way 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 comes in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It might handle substrates as much as two inches thick.
Be sure you check out these along with other models at Graph Expo as well as November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems fitting to round out this roundup using the latest model from Inca Digital, the business whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off the flatbed wide-format market in the past in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this current 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 could handle substrates approximately 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be found through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of the Jeti
Also with the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira and also the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The former is a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, while the latter is really a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna collection of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We realize that some print companies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems while others benefit from the flexibility of any hybrid device, therefore we carry both technologies,” said Larry D’Amico, Vice-President Digital Imaging, Agfa Graphics. “We offer roll-to-roll options on a number of our true flatbed equipment so a different is offered with a number of our printers. Currently, I see a mixture 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 wish to accomplish using this equipment and choose the technology that best suits this anticipated mixture of work.”