The other day, we kicked off 2017 with a summary of the roll-to-roll latte printer landscape. This week, we’ll perform 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, less than much flatbeds. (Actually, you may print textiles over a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds are certainly 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 continues to be done using mercury vapor lamps, however the past many years have witnessed an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps. The main advantages of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run hot), and fewer energy necessary to run them, energy that’s wasted by means of everything heat. LED also enables printing on very thin plastic materials which may warp or discolor when exposed to hot curing lamps, although a good vacuum system will help avoid warpage when utilizing thin substrates regardless of heat.
The new models that have appeared on the market recently boast faster speeds-like almost 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 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 within 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, in addition to orange and green or orange and violet, to hit the gamut of brand name and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution than the 1030/1330, as the latter ups the speed to as quickly as 1,250 square meters hourly. 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 cyan, white, and a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and therefore 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 greater than 16 in the past using the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed laser printer line in Fall 2015. The subsequent fall saw the launch from the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the quickest model yet in the Onset series, believed to print approximately 9,600 sq ft (180 boards) each 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 possesses its own longstanding number of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The latest entry, introduced last year, is definitely the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, believed to print at speeds of up to 620 sq . ft . each hour. It can print on an array of substrates up to 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and lightweight magenta, plus white or clear). Last year, Fujifilm also introduced the latest within the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) phone case printer with speeds said to be approximately 2,100 square feet an hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 will be the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity combination of flatbeds
As of late, Fujifilm has been 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. Employing a broad number 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 around four colors, the 1260 around six colors, and 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 inside the mid-volume production category, CSA also introduced the Océ Arizona 2200 series, also available in GT (49-inch/1.2-meter) and XT (121-inch/3.1-meter) models. The 2260 is really a six-color machine and the 2280 is surely an eight-color machine. The key difference between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 square feet an hour as well as the 2200 XTs at 691 square feet hourly.
These new mid-volume printers fit between your 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 as much as 1,668 sq ft 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, which include gloss and white for effects and textures. It may 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 on the SGIA Expo in 2015 may have seen it printing on footballs. Roland also provides the 64-inch (1.6-meter) hybrid VersaUV LEJ640.
The VersaUV LEJ-640FT is Roland’s entrée in to the UV flatbed market
Not long ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, believed to print as much as 675 sq . ft . each hour. Just last year, it had been joined with the JFX500-2131, a smaller footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, as well as a primer for substrates that need it. A year ago, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles paper part of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is actually a dual-zone flatbed that enables for printing in just one section of the bed while 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 which gained an autoboard feeder a year ago, as 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 yet another hybrid; other Anapurnas range from the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H represents hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You may recall from last November i was greatly taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, an easy method of printing lenticular images in 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 make lenticular effects
EFI has already established plenty of irons inside the fire lately-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 will come with EFI SuperDraw UV ink for near-photographic imaging on thermoformable substrates. EFI posseses an extensive number of in their entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is 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 designed for thermoforming applications
I use in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are designed 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 a year ago the company introduced a major brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which may print directly on 3D objects as much as 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Also, it is competent at higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. A couple weeks 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 can be replaced from a new primer option, for those unusual substrates which require it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 using the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, which 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 including golf balls, smartphone cases, and lots of other considerations
Last year, 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) and up to six inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG and the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, having an 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 offers a line of tabletops, like the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, able to printing on many different 3D objects around 2.75 inches thick and geared 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 previous uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, as the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP has become fairly quiet on 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 incorporate corrugated equipment in the flatbed printer category, but do would like to at the very least mention in passing how the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are a pair 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 produce the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are probably the most exciting parts of the wide-format market since their killer app is that they can print on almost any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out of the box”; sometimes the top needs to be pre- or post-treated) rendering them ideal for all sorts of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or any other 3D effects, in addition to print Braille. You’ll want to get a sense of the ink cost and printing time before starting most of these projects, however.
As usual, the first question to inquire when shopping for a flatbed is, what do you need 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? Which will know what size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t need a specific benchtop unit if you would like print 3D objects; any flatbed will do, you’ll simply need additional accessories, which is less expensive than purchasing a whole separate unit.
Perhaps the biggest question before you even have a look at models is, have you got room for any flatbed with your current shop? Or even, are you able to justify acquiring extra space to accommodate it? Interestingly, we located in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the results of which are offered inside our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to invest in t-shirt printer, and 14% said they were planning to purchase “additional space/new location.” Correlation will not be causation, of course, so we don’t know to what extent they’re the identical 14% to 15%, but, you realize, these devices could get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to ask is the flip side of just one I suggested when examining rollfeds: do you require roll-to-roll printing at the same time? Hybrids are perfect options if you are planning to have a mix of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a feeling of precisely what the ink costs could be. UV inks may be more costly than other sorts of inks, so when you have a higher volume of things such as vinyl graphics, you could be more well off with the ecosolvent machine.
While I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, pay attention to “under the hood” kinds of issues, for example the details of the warranty, just what it covers, how long it lasts, of course, if there are stuff 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, learn what form of training could be involved.