Last week, we kicked off 2017 with a review of the roll-to-roll latte coffee printer landscape. In the week, we’ll perform the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been quite as much action in flatbeds as in rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, not much flatbeds. (Actually, you can print textiles on a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds usually are not designed or sold particularly 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, however the past a long period have seen an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under being exposed to LED lamps. The main advantages of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run hot), and much less energy required to run them, energy that’s wasted by means of everything that heat. LED also permits printing on very thin plastic materials that could warp or discolor when in contact with hot curing lamps, although a great vacuum system might help avoid warpage when working with thin substrates no matter heat.
The latest models that have appeared on the market recently boast faster speeds-like practically any new equipment-in addition to some extent of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing within the mid-volume range, and a lot more entry-level machines. There is also 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 light-weight cyan, as well as 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, as 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 including CMYK plus light magenta and lightweight cyan, white, as well as a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and are targeted toward indoor and outdoor 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 over 16 years back using the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed laser printer line in Fall 2015. These 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 around 9,600 sq . ft . (180 boards) hourly. 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 recent entry, introduced a year ago, is the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, thought to print at speeds up to 620 sq ft per hour. It can print on a variety of substrates approximately 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta, plus white or clear). Last year, Fujifilm also introduced the newest within the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) uv printer with speeds said to be approximately 2,100 sq . ft . each hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 is definitely the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity series of flatbeds
As of late, Fujifilm has become touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a combination of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based around the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. Utilizing a broad assortment of inks and color management software, the objective of FIT is image optimization, speed, and suppleness.
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 as much as four colors, the 1260 as much as six colors, along with 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 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 can be a six-color machine as well as the 2280 is undoubtedly an eight-color machine. The key difference between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 sq ft each hour as well as the 2200 XTs at 691 square feet per hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit in 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 square feet 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, which include gloss and white for special effects and textures. It could print on flexible or rigid substrates up to 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 could possibly 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 in 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 as much as 675 square feet per hour. A year ago, it had been joined with the JFX500-2131, a reduced footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, plus a primer for substrates which require it. Last year, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles paper area of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 can be a dual-zone flatbed that enables for printing in one part of the bed even though the other is now being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds are 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 second which gained an autoboard feeder last year, whilst the former gained a brand 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 means hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You might recall from last November that I was significantly taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, an easy method of printing lenticular images around 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 could be layered to generate lenticular effects
EFI has already established a great deal of irons inside the fire as of late-especially post-Reggiani-and has been focusing 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 a extensive quantity 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 has become LED-based.
EFI’s H1625-SD UV printer can print on plastic substrates designed 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 in many cases 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 company introduced a huge brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which may print right on 3D objects approximately 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Additionally it is capable of higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. A couple weeks 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 may be replaced by way of a new primer option, for anyone unusual substrates which require it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 with the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that adds the newest 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 designed for printing on 3D objects for example golf balls, smartphone cases, and several other things
This past year, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer created for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects up to 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) or higher to 6 inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG as well as the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, with the accessory referred to 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 brand of tabletops, for example the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, competent at printing on many different 3D objects as much as 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 first kind uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, whilst the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP is fairly quiet about the Scitex flatbed front as of late, 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 add corrugated equipment inside the flatbed printer category, but do desire to at the very least mention in passing the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are a couple of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while eventually 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 parts of the wide-format market since their killer app is that they can print on almost any surface (although, it needs to be stressed, not “right out of the box”; sometimes the outer lining needs to be pre- or post-treated) causing them to be 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, in addition to print Braille. You’ll need to get feelings of the ink cost and printing time before starting most of these projects, however.
As usual, the initial question to question when searching for a flatbed is, what do you want to print? Large POP and other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mix of several different product types as you possibly can? That can 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 will do, you’ll simply need additional accessories, that will be less expensive than buying a whole separate unit.
Perhaps the biggest question before you even have a look at models is, have you got room for the flatbed inside your current shop? Otherwise, could you justify acquiring extra space to house it? Interestingly, we present in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the final results in which are given within our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to purchase dtg printer, and 14% said that they were planning to purchase “additional space/new location.” Correlation is not really causation, needless to say, so we don’t know to what extent they’re exactly the same 14% to 15%, but, you understand, these products could get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire about is definitely the flip side of just one I suggested when thinking about rollfeds: do you require roll-to-roll printing as well? Hybrids are excellent options if you plan to get a combination of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of precisely what the ink costs could be. UV inks can be more pricey than other kinds of inks, when you have a higher number of things such as vinyl graphics, you may well be happier with the ecosolvent machine.
When I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, pay attention to “under the hood” sorts of issues, including the specifics of the warranty, what it really covers, just how long it lasts, and in case 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, discover what type of training could be involved.