A week ago, we kicked off 2017 with a review of the roll-to-roll latte printer landscape. This week, we’ll carry out the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been as much action in flatbeds as with rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, less than much flatbeds. (Actually, you are able to print textiles on a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds are not designed or sold particularly for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by contact with ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing is done using mercury vapor lamps, although the past several years have witnessed 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 hot), and less energy needed to run them, energy that’s wasted by means of all that heat. LED also provides for printing on very thin plastic materials which may warp or discolor when open to hot curing lamps, although a great vacuum system might help avoid warpage when working with thin substrates regardless of heat.
The brand new models that have appeared in the marketplace recently boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-as well as some extent of automation. We’re also beginning 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 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, and also orange and green or orange and violet, to hit the gamut of brand name and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to the 1030/1330, as the latter ups the rate to as quickly as 1,250 square meters an 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 which include CMYK plus light magenta and light-weight cyan, white, and a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and are targeted toward outdoor and indoor signage and POS/POP, along with packaging and backlit applications.
The Durst Rho 1030 offers fully automated production.
Historically, Inca Digital launched the flatbed printer category more than 16 in the past together with the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed computer printer line in Fall 2015. The next fall saw the launch from the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the fastest model yet inside the Onset series, thought to print around 9,600 square feet (180 boards) per 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 number of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The newest entry, introduced a year ago, is definitely the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, said to print at speeds of up to 620 sq . ft . each hour. It can print on a variety of substrates as much as two inches thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and lightweight magenta, plus white or clear). A year ago, Fujifilm also introduced the newest within the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) phone case printer with speeds said to be around 2,100 sq . ft . per hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 is the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity group of flatbeds
Recently, Fujifilm has been touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a mix of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based on the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. Using a broad selection of inks and color management software, the objective 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 around four colors, the 1260 around six colors, as well as the 1280 as much as eight colors. The Arizona 1200 series printers are mid-volume flatbeds targeted toward sign and display shops, specialty printers, and photo labs.
Also in 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 is a six-color machine along with the 2280 is definitely an eight-color machine. The principal difference between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 sq . ft . hourly along with the 2200 XTs at 691 sq ft each hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit between 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 approximately 1,668 sq ft 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, that 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 towards 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 into the UV flatbed market
Not too long ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, said to print around 675 square feet each hour. This past year, it had been joined by the JFX500-2131, a reduced footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, and 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 part of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is actually a dual-zone flatbed that enables for printing in a single area of the bed whilst the other will be 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 which gained an autoboard feeder just last year, as the former gained a new roll-to-roll option. In other Agfa hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll news, the Anapurna H3200i LED UV printer is another hybrid; other Anapurnas are the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H represents hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You might recall from last November that we was very much taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a means of printing lenticular images on the Jeti Mira by using a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish may be layered to produce lenticular effects
EFI has received a lot of irons within the fire recently-especially post-Reggiani-and it has been centering on 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 comes with EFI SuperDraw UV ink for near-photographic imaging on thermoformable substrates. EFI has an extensive variety of in the 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 designed for thermoforming applications
I use 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 even cylindrical objects like water bottles and YETI cups.
Roland has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV printers, and just last year the corporation introduced a huge brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which may print directly on 3D objects up to 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Also, it is competent at higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. A week ago, Roland announced another-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 anyone unusual substrates that need it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 with the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that also adds the latest 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 ideal for printing on 3D objects such as golf balls, smartphone cases, and many other items
A year ago, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer intended for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects as much as 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) or higher to six inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG and the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, with the 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 collection of tabletops, like the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, competent at printing on a number of 3D objects up to 2.75 inches thick and aimed towards 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, whilst the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP has been fairly quiet about 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 incorporate corrugated equipment within the flatbed printer category, but do would like to at the very least mention in passing the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are 2 of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while at last year’s drupa, EFI announced its very 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 formulate the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are among the most exciting areas of the wide-format market since their killer app is they can print on practically any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out of your box”; sometimes the outer lining has to be pre- or post-treated) causing them to be ideal for all sorts of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or any other 3D effects, along with print Braille. You’ll need to get a sense of the ink cost and printing time before embarking on these sorts of projects, however.
Remember, the initial question to question when buying a flatbed is, what do you want to print? Large POP and also other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mix 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 wish to print 3D objects; any flatbed is going to do, you’ll just need additional accessories, which is less expensive than getting a whole separate unit.
Probably the biggest question even before you examine models is, are you experiencing room for any flatbed with your current shop? Otherwise, are you able to justify acquiring extra room to accommodate it? Interestingly, we located in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the outcome that are given within our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to purchase t-shirt printer, and 14% said they were planning to buy “additional space/new location.” Correlation will not be causation, obviously, and that we don’t know to what extent they’re the same 14% to 15%, but, you understand, these products could get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to ask may be the flip side of just one I suggested when looking at rollfeds: do you require roll-to-roll printing as well? Hybrids are perfect options if you are planning to have a mix of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of exactly what the ink costs could be. UV inks may be more costly than other sorts of inks, so when you have a much higher level of stuff like vinyl graphics, you could be more satisfied with the ecosolvent machine.
As I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, be aware of “under the hood” types of issues, such as the specifics of the warranty, just what it covers, how long it lasts, and in case there are actually things 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, find what form of training might be involved.