This past year, within our round-up of your latest in latte coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, at the very least partly, been meant to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, especially for stuff like posters, POP/POS displays, and stuff like that. In the past year, there’s been a smaller amount of an emphasis on shifting work in one technology to a different, and a lot more of merely one on creating unique print applications who had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects is among the most raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios have huge variations from small table- or benchtop units designed to print on items like golf balls and smartphone cases, as much as massive behemoths through which you can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, along with other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units will also be at the same time of blurring the fishing line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing which is done as part of a manufacturing process, including the control labels in the front of your appliance just like a dishwasher, an automobile dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or any other medical items, and other sorts of printing that vary from the typical “print for pay” applications.)
A lot of the flatbed units currently available use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology that has made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: what exactly is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It seems sensible when you think about it….) The newest trend in UV inks is really-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under exposure to LED lamps as opposed to the traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not really a new technology, but the costs than it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, causing them to be more desirable for thin plastic substrates. LEDs can also be said to be energy-efficient meaning cost savings. EFI specifically has become a highly active proponent of LED UV and contains announced its intention to completely support the technology in all of the its UV offerings.
We are also visiting a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that may also work as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were regarded as “jacks of all trades, masters of none,” they have improved to the point where they are respectedly seen as means of giving shops the versatility to consider a wide variety of print projects. (Bear in mind, though, that the same UV inks will not be ideal for all materials considering the respective dyne levels of ink and surface. Some surfaces can also require pre- or post-treatment to get UV ink to stay.)
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-approximately the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched a couple of years ago, even though the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is ideal for short-run corrugated packaging and so forth, useful 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. It also 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 a question of speed, but additionally of getting materials on / off press as soon as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is very how to make digital production more productive, and we’re seeking 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 merely the printing speed, the production workflow is definitely a important element. People are looking for automation both about the prepress side along with the finishing side.”
“We have also seen in general a trend toward lower-cost flatbed printers, especially basic level,” added Joan Pe´rez Pericot, Marketing Director for HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Smaller customers would like to jump into rigid, along with the industry is polarizing in between the high-end presses doing increasingly more volume as well as the smaller devices that happen to be doing very short runs.”
Mind Your Throat, Please
Roland DGA has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV flatbeds plus 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 genuine term) big enough that materials up to six inches thick may be fed through the printer. At the Sign Expo, visitors to the booth could witness the corporation running footballs with the printer.
“Print agencies are researching ways to differentiate and expand their businesses-opportunities that flatbed printers certainly provide,” said Jay Roberts, Roland DGA’s Product Manager, led uv printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability a little bit more having its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, in addition to smaller benchtop flatbeds for example Roland’s LEF series printers, start a new realm of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t a whole lot ‘What are you able to print on?’ but ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly surprised by the creativity of these 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 along with 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 couple of. Mimaki even offers small tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for that 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 trying to find feature-rich, high-quality versatility that lets them replace labor- and waste-intensive processes and print direct-to-substrate, while adding value with higher margin applications including personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Are You Able To See
The most up-to-date models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched a year ago-are definitely the six-color (CMYKLcLm) Océ Arizona 6160 XTS and seven-color (CMYKLcLm white) Océ Arizona 6170 XTS. Like many of its brethren, the Arizonas are capable of printing on an array of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and large prints tiled over multiple boards. Additionally they support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-built to be board printers; they generally do not come with a roll option.
The newest Arizona printers are taking CSA into a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular in the mid-volume area, and this takes us on the top end of your mid-volume, or even the low end from the high-volume,” he said. “It’s taken us into new markets and customers. They either offer an Arizona or possibly a similar product now and therefore are growing their business and are seeking a far more economical printer to add some capacity but also not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the new machines can print a maximum of 33 boards an hour. “We had an appealing customer event where we handed out stopwatches for all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed a number of boards, and had each of them time them. Sure enough, we were right on the money.”
While I mentioned earlier in this particular story, EFI has been dedicating itself to LED curing technology due to its UV lines, specially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer that also functions being a flatbed or even a rollfed.
“One of the largest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing will come 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 is taking a progressive stance from the material handling necessary for a true 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 need the most ROI from automated materials handling. These are the companies from the screen or offset print space that are looking to exchange a selection of their analog opportunity to digital, and they can only do 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 may be the traditional 10th anniversary gift, for EFI it’s apparently equipment manufacturing companies. On July 1, because this story was being finalized, EFI announced it had acquired Matan Digital Printers, an Israel-based manufacturer of grand-format (aka superwide) hybrid UV printers. Available in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is for outdoor and indoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked like a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the season.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has several options within the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer is designed to print on a variety of materials, especially 3D objects, around 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH can be a hybrid UV LED printer that comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, while the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, rather than UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a type of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and made to be an eco-friendly ink option.
“The niche for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and because of so many applications arriving at the top 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 practically any substrate as much as almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the chance to purchase one of these simple machines very attractive to many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops that supply a variety of items that can be personalized with digital printing. Seek out thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, and more custom jig choices to drive demand and open much more unique applications with this technology.”
Durst offers many different flatbeds in their Rho number of UV machines. The latest introduction was the textile printer, which handle media around 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is directed at high-end applications like backlit displays for windows or light boxes, particularly for luxury goods, indoor and outdoor signage, POP and POS displays, and small to medium-sized packaging.
“In accessory for the most obvious speed and productivity, flexibility and sturdiness are what printers need,” said Christopher Guyett, sales and marketing coordinator for Durst Image Technology. “They need flexibility in terms of being able to quickly switch between materials and jobs to take care of lead times, plus they need robust design and manufacturing to generate on a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs wish to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, hence they have to have the flexibility to manage complex client projects that could come along with little notice, and require a quick turnaround.”
It seems fitting to round out this roundup with the latest model from Inca Digital, the company whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked from the flatbed wide-format market in the past in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this coming year Inca introduced the Onset R40LT, a 3.14m (123.6-inch) by 1.6m (63-inch) flatbed that is available in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It might handle substrates around two inches thick.
Make sure you take a look at these and also other models at Graph Expo as well as November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It seems fitting to complete this roundup together with the latest model from Inca Digital, the business whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked away from the flatbed wide-format market in the past in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this coming 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 two inches thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers are available through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return from the Jeti
Also in the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira as well as the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The previous is actually a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, whilst the latter is really a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna collection of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We find that some print agencies prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems while others enjoy the flexibility of your hybrid device, so we carry both technologies,” said Larry D’Amico, Vice-President Digital Imaging, Agfa Graphics. “We offer roll-to-roll choices on a number of our true flatbed equipment so a different can be obtained with many of our printers. Currently, I see a mixture of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and so i see this trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is different so it is very important know very well what you primarily need to do using this equipment and select the technology that most closely fits this anticipated combination of work.”