A couple weeks ago, we kicked off 2017 with an overview of the roll-to-roll latte coffee printer landscape. This week, we’ll carry out the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been as much action in flatbeds like rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, not too much flatbeds. (Actually, you may print textiles on the flatbed UV device, but flatbeds are certainly not designed or sold specifically for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by contact with ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing continues to be done using mercury vapor lamps, although the past a few years have seen an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps. The benefits of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run very hot), and much less energy needed to run them, energy that’s wasted as all that heat. LED also allows for printing on very thin plastic materials that could warp or discolor when subjected to hot curing lamps, although an effective vacuum system might help avoid warpage when utilizing thin substrates no matter what heat.
The new models which have appeared on the market as of late boast faster speeds-like virtually any new equipment-and also some extent of automation. We’re also beginning to see more models appearing from the mid-volume range, and many more entry-level machines. There is also 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 lightweight cyan, along with orange and green or orange and violet, going to the gamut of brand name and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to 1030/1330, as the latter ups the pace to as quickly as 1,250 square meters each hour. 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 which include CMYK plus light magenta and light-weight cyan, white, and a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and they are targeted toward indoor and outdoor 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 greater than 16 in the past with the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed printing device line in Fall 2015. The following fall saw the launch of the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet within the Onset series, thought to print as much as 9,600 sq . ft . (180 boards) each hour. Colorwise, it supports CMYK plus white or orange.
Inca Roads-The Onset X3 is definitely the fastest Onset yet.
Inca flatbeds are distributed by Fujifilm, which has its own longstanding combination of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The most up-to-date entry, introduced a year ago, is definitely the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, believed to print at speeds as high as 620 sq . ft . per hour. It can print on a variety of substrates up to 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and lightweight magenta, plus white or clear). This past year, Fujifilm also introduced the latest inside the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) uv printer with speeds reported to be around 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 combination of flatbeds
Recently, Fujifilm continues to be 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 flexibility.
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 around four colors, the 1260 up to six colors, and also 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 inside 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 can be a six-color machine along with the 2280 is an eight-color machine. The main difference between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 sq ft an hour as well as the 2200 XTs at 691 sq . ft . each hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit between the entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, and also 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 per 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 could 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 on the SGIA Expo in 2015 could 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 into 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 . an hour. Just last year, it absolutely was joined with the JFX500-2131, a lesser footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, along with a primer for substrates which need it. This past year, 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 a dual-zone flatbed that permits for printing in a single section of the bed even though the other is being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds will be 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 latter which gained an autoboard feeder just last year, even though 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 is yet another hybrid; other Anapurnas are the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H represents hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You could recall from last November that I was very much taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a means 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 could be layered to generate lenticular effects
EFI has had a lot of irons in the fire lately-especially post-Reggiani-and contains been focusing on 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 has an extensive amount of in the entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is a huge strong proponent of LED curing and virtually its entire portfolio is now 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 even cylindrical objects like water bottles and YETI cups.
Roland has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV printers, and last year the corporation introduced a large brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which can print right on 3D objects approximately 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Additionally it is effective at higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. A couple weeks ago, Roland announced the following-generation of LEF-20, the VersaUV LEF-200, a 20-inch benchtop UV printer that prints CMYK plus white and gloss. The gloss channel could be replaced by way of a new primer option, for all those unusual substrates which require it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 with all the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that also adds the new primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory for the VersaUV tabletops, which supports printing on cylindrical objects.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 is for printing on 3D objects for example golf balls, smartphone cases, and many other considerations
This past year, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer designed for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects around 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, with 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 has a line of tabletops, for example the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, competent at printing on a number of 3D objects as much as 2.75 inches thick and directed 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 first kind uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, as the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP continues to be fairly quiet on the Scitex flatbed front lately, but also 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 desire to at least mention in passing the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are a pair of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while at last 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 develop the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are probably the most exciting regions of the wide-format market since their killer app is that they can print on just about any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out of your box”; sometimes the outer lining should be pre- or post-treated) rendering them well suited for all kinds of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or some other 3D effects, along with print Braille. You’ll need to get a sense of the ink cost and printing time before starting these types of projects, however.
As usual, the first question to inquire about when shopping for a flatbed is, what would you like to print? Large POP and other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mixture of several different product types as possible? That may evaluate which size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t need a specific benchtop unit if you would like print 3D objects; any flatbed will work, you’ll simply need additional accessories, which is less costly than investing in a whole separate unit.
Probably the biggest question even before you examine models is, do you have room for the flatbed within your current shop? Otherwise, are you able to justify acquiring extra space to accommodate it? Interestingly, we seen in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the results of which are provided within our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to buy textile printer, and 14% said that they were planning to buy “additional space/new location.” Correlation is not really causation, naturally, and that we don’t know from what extent they’re the identical 14% to 15%, but, you understand, these products will get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to ask will be the flip side of one I suggested when looking at rollfeds: do you really need roll-to-roll printing too? Hybrids are perfect options if you intend to possess a combination of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a feeling of precisely what the ink costs are likely to be. UV inks could be more pricey than other sorts of inks, if you have a much higher volume of such things as vinyl graphics, you could be happier having an ecosolvent machine.
When I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, focus on “under the hood” sorts of issues, such as the specifics of the warranty, what it covers, the length of time it lasts, of course, if there are 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. Particularly with flatbeds, find out what form of training might be involved.