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 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 with a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds usually are not designed or sold specially for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by contact with ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing continues to be done using mercury vapor lamps, but 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 sizzling hot), and fewer energy needed to run them, energy that’s wasted such as all of that heat. LED also permits printing on very thin plastic materials which may warp or discolor when exposed to hot curing lamps, although a great vacuum system will help avoid warpage when using thin substrates regardless of heat.
The latest models which may have appeared on the market lately boast faster speeds-like virtually any new equipment-along with some degree of automation. We’re also beginning to see more models appearing in the mid-volume range, and much 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, to hit the gamut of brand and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to the 1030/1330, whilst the latter ups the pace to as quickly as 1,250 square meters each hour. The 1000 series complements the industrial-level Rho P10 series, consisting of 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 light-weight cyan, white, and a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and they are targeted toward outdoor and indoor signage and POS/POP, in addition to 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 all the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed laser printer line in Fall 2015. The following fall saw the launch in the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet in the Onset series, said to print as much as 9,600 square feet (180 boards) hourly. 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 number of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The newest entry, introduced this past year, will be the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, believed to print at speeds as much as 620 square feet each hour. It could print on a variety of substrates approximately 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 most up-to-date within the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) uv printer with speeds said to be up to 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 combination of flatbeds
As of late, Fujifilm is touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a variety of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based on the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. Utilizing a broad variety of inks and color management software, the purpose 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 up to four colors, the 1260 approximately six colors, along with the 1280 approximately 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, 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 along with the 2280 is an eight-color machine. The key distinction between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 sq ft per hour and the 2200 XTs at 691 sq ft each 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 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, such as gloss and white for special effects and textures. It may 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 for the SGIA Expo in 2015 could have seen it printing on footballs. Roland now offers the 64-inch (1.6-meter) hybrid VersaUV LEJ640.
The VersaUV LEJ-640FT is Roland’s entrée in to the UV flatbed market
Some time ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, believed to print approximately 675 square feet hourly. Last year, it had been joined with the JFX500-2131, a smaller footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, along with a primer for substrates which need it. Just last year, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles paper section of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is a dual-zone flatbed that allows for printing in just one section of the bed as the other is being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds are 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, whilst the former gained a fresh roll-to-roll option. In other Agfa hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll news, the Anapurna H3200i LED UV printer can be 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 method 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 can be layered to produce lenticular effects
EFI has experienced lots of irons from the fire as of late-especially post-Reggiani-and has been paying attention to 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 quantity of within its 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 now LED-based.
EFI’s H1625-SD UV printer can print on plastic substrates intended for thermoforming applications
I use in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are designed 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 last year the organization introduced a major brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, that may print directly on 3D objects around 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. It is also effective 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 with a new primer option, for those unusual substrates that need it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 with the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that also 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 for printing on 3D objects including golf balls, smartphone cases, and several other things
A year ago, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer designed for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects around 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) or higher to six inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG along with the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, by having 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 line of tabletops, like the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, competent at printing on various 3D objects approximately 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, whilst the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP has been fairly quiet about 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 feature corrugated equipment in the flatbed printer category, but do desire to at least mention in passing that this HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are two of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while at last year’s drupa, EFI announced its 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 build up the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are among the most exciting aspects of the wide-format market since their killer app is because they can print on almost any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out of the box”; sometimes the surface has to be pre- or post-treated) which makes them suitable for all types of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or some other 3D effects, as well as print Braille. You’ll need to get a feeling of the ink cost and printing time before starting these sorts of projects, however.
As always, the initial question to question when searching for a flatbed is, what do you want to print? Large POP as well as other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mixture of as numerous different product types as you can? That will evaluate which size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t need to have a specific benchtop unit if you wish to print 3D objects; any flatbed will do, you’ll just need additional accessories, which is less costly than investing in a whole separate unit.
Perhaps the biggest question even before you examine models is, do you possess room for the flatbed within 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 results that are given in your new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to purchase t-shirt printer, and 14% said they were planning to get “additional space/new location.” Correlation is just not causation, obviously, and that we don’t know as to what extent they’re exactly the same 14% to 15%, but, you understand, these devices could possibly get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire about is definitely the flip side of one I suggested when looking at rollfeds: do you want roll-to-roll printing too? Hybrids are perfect options if you are planning to experience a blend of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of exactly what the ink costs are likely to be. UV inks may be more expensive than other kinds of inks, when you have a higher amount of such things as vinyl graphics, you might be more well off with the ecosolvent machine.
As I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, focus on “under the hood” kinds of issues, including the details of the warranty, what it really covers, the length of time 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. Particularly with flatbeds, find out what kind of training may be involved.