A couple weeks ago, we kicked off 2017 with a summary of 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 rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, not too much flatbeds. (Actually, you may print textiles with a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds usually are not designed or sold especially for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by being exposed to ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing is done using mercury vapor lamps, however the past several years have witnessed 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 less energy needed to run them, energy that’s wasted such as everything heat. LED also permits printing on very thin plastic materials which may warp or discolor when in contact with hot curing lamps, although an excellent vacuum system can help avoid warpage when working with thin substrates irrespective of heat.
The latest models who have appeared on the market recently boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-along with some degree of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing inside the mid-volume range, and even 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, to hit the gamut of brand and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution than the 1030/1330, even though the latter ups the speed to as quickly as 1,250 square meters per hour. 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, along with a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and therefore are targeted toward outdoor and indoor signage and POS/POP, and also packaging and backlit applications.
The Durst Rho 1030 offers fully automated production.
Historically, Inca Digital launched the flatbed printer category greater than 16 years back using the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed printing device line in Fall 2015. The next fall saw the launch in the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the fastest model yet from the Onset series, said to print up to 9,600 square feet (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 has its own longstanding combination of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The latest entry, introduced just last year, may be the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, said to print at speeds up to 620 sq . ft . hourly. It could print on a wide range of substrates around two inches thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta, plus white or clear). This past year, Fujifilm also introduced the most recent inside the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) uv printer with speeds said to be up to 2,100 sq . ft . an 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 has become touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a variety of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based upon the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. By using a broad variety of inks and color management software, the aim of FIT is image optimization, speed, and flexibility.
In 2016, Canon Solutions America (CSA) launched two new Océ Arizona series 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 up to four colors, the 1260 up to six colors, along with 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 a six-color machine along with the 2280 is definitely an eight-color machine. The primary distinction between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 sq ft hourly and the 2200 XTs at 691 sq . ft . an 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 square feet each 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, such as gloss and white for effects and textures. It may print on flexible or rigid substrates approximately 63.2 x 98 inches (1.6 x 2.5 meters) and 5.9 (.15 meters) inches thick. Attendees to the SGIA Expo in 2015 may 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 too long ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, believed to print around 675 sq ft hourly. Last year, it was actually joined by the JFX500-2131, a smaller footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, as well as a primer for substrates which require it. This past year, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles the print region of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is actually a dual-zone flatbed that enables for printing in just one portion of the bed even though the other will be prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds would 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 this past 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 is yet another hybrid; other Anapurnas range from the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H means hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You might recall from last November that I was quite definitely 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 generate lenticular effects
EFI has already established lots of irons within the fire as of late-especially post-Reggiani-and possesses been paying attention to 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 has an extensive amount of within its entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI has become a strong proponent of LED curing and virtually its entire portfolio is currently LED-based.
EFI’s H1625-SD UV printer can print on plastic substrates suitable for thermoforming applications
I use 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 this past year the company introduced a large brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, that may print right on 3D objects approximately 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 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 which require it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 with the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that adds the brand new 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 designed for printing on 3D objects for example golf balls, smartphone cases, and many other considerations
A year ago, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer designed 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, with the 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 line of tabletops, including the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, able to 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, as the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP has become 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 from the flatbed printer category, but do desire to a minimum of mention in passing the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are 2 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 aspects of the wide-format market since their killer app is because they can print on almost any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out from the box”; sometimes the surface has to be pre- or post-treated) rendering them ideal for all types of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or another 3D effects, along with print Braille. You’ll need to get feelings of the ink cost and printing time before starting these kinds of projects, however.
As always, the first question to inquire when searching 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 mixture of as much different product types as you possibly can? That may determine what size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t require a specific benchtop unit if you would like print 3D objects; any flatbed is going to do, you’ll only need additional accessories, that will be more affordable than buying a whole separate unit.
Possibly the biggest question even before you take a look at models is, do you have room to get a flatbed within your current shop? Or else, are you able to justify acquiring more space to house it? Interestingly, we present in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the final results in which are supplied in your new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to purchase textile printer, and 14% said that they were planning to buy “additional space/new location.” Correlation is just not causation, needless to say, and we don’t know as to what extent they’re exactly the same 14% to 15%, but, you know, these products could get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire is definitely the flip side of one I suggested when examining rollfeds: do you require roll-to-roll printing also? Hybrids are good options if you intend to experience a blend of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of precisely what the ink costs could be. UV inks can be more expensive than other sorts of inks, when you have a higher amount of such things as vinyl graphics, you may be happier having an ecosolvent machine.
While I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, pay attention to “under the hood” forms of issues, including the specifics of the warranty, just what it covers, just how long it lasts, of course, 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. Particularly with flatbeds, find out what type of training could be involved.