A couple weeks ago, we kicked off 2017 with a summary of the roll-to-roll latte printer landscape. In the week, we’ll carry out 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 may print textiles on the flatbed UV device, but flatbeds will not be designed or sold specially for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by exposure to ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing is done using mercury vapor lamps, nevertheless the past many years have experienced an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps. Some great benefits of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run very hot), and less energy required to run them, energy that’s wasted as all of that heat. LED also permits printing on very thin plastic materials that may warp or discolor when open to hot curing lamps, although a great vacuum system can help avoid warpage when working with thin substrates regardless of heat.
The new models who have appeared out there as of late boast faster speeds-like virtually any new equipment-as well as some degree of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing in 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 light-weight cyan, and also orange and green or orange and violet, hitting the gamut of brand name and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to the 1030/1330, while the latter ups the speed to as fast as 1,250 square meters per hour. The 1000 series complements the industrial-level Rho P10 series, comprising the 200/250 and hybrid 200/250HS, the HS models being hybrids. These 154-inch (3.9-meter) machines offer ink sets that include CMYK plus light magenta and light-weight cyan, white, as well as a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and 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 more than 16 years ago with the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed computer printer line in Fall 2015. The subsequent fall saw the launch of your 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the quickest model yet from the Onset series, said to print around 9,600 square feet (180 boards) per hour. Colorwise, it supports CMYK plus white or orange.
Inca Roads-The Onset X3 will be the fastest Onset yet.
Inca flatbeds are distributed by Fujifilm, which possesses its own longstanding series of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The newest entry, introduced this past year, may be the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, said to print at speeds as much as 620 sq . ft . hourly. It can print on a wide range of substrates up to 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 most recent in the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) flatbed printer with speeds reported to be approximately 2,100 sq ft each hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 may be the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity series of flatbeds
Lately, Fujifilm continues to be touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a combination 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 goal of FIT is image optimization, speed, and flexibility.
In 2016, Canon Solutions America (CSA) launched two new Océ Arizona combination 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 as much as four colors, the 1260 approximately 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 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 and the 2280 is definitely an eight-color machine. The primary difference between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 sq ft an hour along with the 2200 XTs at 691 sq . ft . an hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit involving the entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, as well as 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 as much as 1,668 square feet 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, including gloss and white for effects and textures. It might 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 on 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 in the UV flatbed market
A few years ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, said to print up to 675 sq . ft . per hour. This past year, it absolutely was joined from the JFX500-2131, a smaller footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, plus 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 part of the bed as the other is now being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds are definitely 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 of which gained an autoboard feeder this past year, while 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 also a hybrid; other Anapurnas include the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H means hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You could possibly recall from last November which i was significantly taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a way of printing lenticular images on the Jeti Mira employing a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish could be layered to make lenticular effects
EFI has had plenty of irons inside the fire as of late-especially post-Reggiani-and has been centering 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 comes with EFI SuperDraw UV ink for near-photographic imaging on thermoformable substrates. EFI posseses an extensive number of in the entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI has been a strong proponent of LED curing and virtually its entire portfolio is already 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, including 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 organization introduced a large brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, that may print right on 3D objects up to 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 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 can be replaced by a new primer option, for all those unusual substrates which need it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 together with the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, which adds the latest primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory for that VersaUV tabletops, which supports printing on cylindrical objects.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 is made for printing on 3D objects such as golf balls, smartphone cases, and several other things
This past year, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer designed for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects approximately 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 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 even offers a collection of tabletops, like the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, able to printing on many different 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 former uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, while the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP is fairly quiet around the Scitex flatbed front as of late, but 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 feature corrugated equipment in the flatbed printer category, but do want to a minimum of mention in passing how the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are 2 of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while eventually 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 develop the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are one of the most exciting areas of the wide-format market since their killer app is they can print on just about any surface (although, it needs to be stressed, not “right out of your box”; sometimes the outer lining must be pre- or post-treated) rendering them suitable for all kinds of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or some other 3D effects, and also print Braille. You’ll need to get feelings of the ink cost and printing time before embarking on most of these projects, however.
As always, the first question to inquire when shopping for a flatbed is, what do you want to print? Large POP along with other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mix of as many different product types as possible? That will 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 simply need additional accessories, which will be more affordable than getting a whole separate unit.
Possibly the biggest question before you even have a look at models is, do you have room for the flatbed within your current shop? If not, are you able to justify acquiring extra space to accommodate it? Interestingly, we seen in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the final results which are offered 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 invest in “additional space/new location.” Correlation is just not causation, naturally, so we don’t know to what extent they’re a similar 14% to 15%, but, you understand, these products could possibly get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire about may be the flip side of one I suggested when thinking about rollfeds: do you require roll-to-roll printing also? Hybrids are perfect options if you are planning to experience a blend of flexible and rigid substrates, but get feelings of precisely what the ink costs are likely to be. UV inks might be higher priced than other sorts of inks, so when you have a higher level of things such as vinyl graphics, you may be happier having an ecosolvent machine.
As I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, pay attention to “under the hood” forms of issues, such as the specifics of the warranty, what it covers, the length of time it lasts, and if you will find things which 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, find out what type of training can be involved.