Last week, we kicked off 2017 with an overview of the roll-to-roll latte coffee printer landscape. In the week, we’ll perform 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 so much flatbeds. (Actually, you can print textiles on the flatbed UV device, but flatbeds will not be designed or sold especially for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by exposure to ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing has been done using mercury vapor lamps, however the past a long period have observed an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under being exposed to LED lamps. The main advantages of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run hot), and fewer energy required to run them, energy that’s wasted by means of all of that heat. LED also permits printing on very thin plastic materials which may warp or discolor when exposed to hot curing lamps, although a great vacuum system can help avoid warpage when you use thin substrates regardless of heat.
The latest models which may have appeared on the market recently boast faster speeds-like virtually any new equipment-along with some extent of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing from the mid-volume range, and much more entry-level machines. There is also 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 lightweight cyan, in addition to orange and green or orange and violet, hitting the gamut of brand and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to the 1030/1330, as the latter ups the pace to as fast as 1,250 square meters hourly. The 1000 series complements the industrial-level Rho P10 series, consisting 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, plus a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and therefore are targeted toward outdoor and indoor signage and POS/POP, as well as packaging and backlit applications.
The Durst Rho 1030 offers fully automated production.
Historically, Inca Digital launched the flatbed printer category a lot more than 16 years back using the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed computer printer line in Fall 2015. The following fall saw the launch from the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet within the Onset series, said to print around 9,600 sq ft (180 boards) an hour. 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 features its own longstanding group of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The newest entry, introduced last year, is definitely the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, thought to print at speeds as high as 620 sq . ft . each hour. It could print on a wide range of substrates approximately two inches thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and light-weight magenta, plus white or clear). A year ago, Fujifilm also introduced the newest 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 square feet per hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 will be the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity number of flatbeds
Recently, Fujifilm has become touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a mixture of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based upon the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. Utilizing a broad variety of inks and color management software, the objective of FIT is image optimization, speed, and adaptability.
In 2016, Canon Solutions America (CSA) launched two new Océ Arizona group 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 approximately four colors, the 1260 up to six colors, along with the 1280 around eight colors. The Arizona 1200 series printers are mid-volume flatbeds targeted toward sign and display shops, specialty printers, and photo labs.
Also from the mid-volume production category, CSA also introduced the Océ Arizona 2200 series, made available in GT (49-inch/1.2-meter) and XT (121-inch/3.1-meter) models. The 2260 can be a six-color machine as well as the 2280 is undoubtedly an eight-color machine. The principal difference between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 square feet an hour and also the 2200 XTs at 691 sq . ft . each hour.
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 around 1,668 sq ft hourly.
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 special effects and textures. It might 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 offers the 64-inch (1.6-meter) hybrid VersaUV LEJ640.
The VersaUV LEJ-640FT is Roland’s entrée in to the UV flatbed market
Some time 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 absolutely was joined from 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 part of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is really a dual-zone flatbed which allows for printing in a single part of the bed while the other is being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds will be the 106.3-inch (2.7-meter) Jeti Mira MG 2732 HS along with the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) Jeti Tauro H2500, the latter of which gained an autoboard feeder just last year, as 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 may recall from last November which i was very much taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a way of printing lenticular images on the Jeti Mira using a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish can be layered to generate lenticular effects
EFI has already established a great deal of irons inside the fire lately-especially post-Reggiani-and it has been paying attention to the hybrid market. In 2015, the business 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 comes with an extensive variety of within its entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is a huge 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 include in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are equipped for specialty printing applications, like 3D objects like pens, golf balls, smartphone cases, and also 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 company introduced a big brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which may 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 week ago, Roland announced the subsequent-generation of LEF-20, the VersaUV LEF-200, a 20-inch benchtop UV printer that prints CMYK plus white and gloss. The gloss channel may be replaced by a new primer option, for all those unusual substrates that need it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 with all the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, which also adds the latest primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory for your 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 lots of other items
This past year, 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 and the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, by having 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 type of tabletops, including the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, effective at printing on various 3D objects approximately 2.75 inches thick and targeted at 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, while the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP has become fairly quiet around 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 within the flatbed printer category, but do wish to no less than mention in passing that the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are 2 of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while at last year’s drupa, EFI announced its unique 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 some of the most exciting regions of the wide-format market since their killer app is because they can print on practically any surface (although, it needs to be stressed, not “right from the box”; sometimes the outer lining needs to be pre- or post-treated) making them suitable for all sorts of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or some other 3D effects, in addition to print Braille. You’ll would like to get a sense of the ink cost and printing time before starting these sorts of projects, however.
Of course, the first question to ask when looking for a flatbed is, what do you need to print? Large POP and also other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mixture of as many different product types as you can? That may evaluate which size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t want a specific benchtop unit if you would like print 3D objects; any flatbed will do, you’ll only need additional accessories, which will be cheaper than getting a whole separate unit.
Probably the biggest question even before you examine models is, do you possess room for any flatbed within your current shop? If not, is it possible to justify acquiring more space to house it? Interestingly, we found in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the final results which are supplied in your new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to purchase textile printer, and 14% said they were planning to get “additional space/new location.” Correlation will not be causation, obviously, and we don’t know from what extent they’re the same 14% to 15%, but, you realize, these units could possibly get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire is the flip side of one I suggested when thinking about rollfeds: do you need roll-to-roll printing too? Hybrids are great options if you intend to have a blend of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of what the ink costs could be. UV inks might be more costly than other sorts of inks, if you have a higher volume of things like vinyl graphics, you may be more satisfied with an ecosolvent machine.
When I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, be aware of “under the hood” kinds of issues, such as the specifics of the warranty, just what it covers, the length of time it lasts, and if there are actually 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. Especially with flatbeds, discover what form of training could be involved.