A year ago, in your round-up of your latest in coffee printer, we discussed how recent introductions have, a minimum of to some extent, been intended to help move work from analog technologies like offset to digital wide-format, specifically things like posters, POP/POS displays, and stuff like that. Previously year, there’s been a smaller amount of a focus on shifting work from one technology to another one, and much more of a single on creating unique print applications which had never before been possible. Printing on atypical rigid substrates and three-dimensional objects is considered the raison d’être for today’s flatbeds, and manufacturers’ product portfolios run the gamut from small table- or benchtop units created to print on such things as golf balls and smartphone cases, up to massive behemoths in which one can run large sheets of wood, corrugated board, and other such materials, even objects like footballs.
Flatbed units can also be during this process of blurring the line between commercial and industrial printing. (Industrial printing is printing which is done included in a manufacturing process, including the control labels on the front of the appliance such as a dishwasher, a vehicle dashboard, the gradations and measurement units on syringes or another medical items, and other sorts of printing that vary from the usual “print for pay” applications.)
A lot of the flatbed units that you can buy use UV (ultraviolet) cured inks, it being the ink technology which includes made such versatility possible. (Trivia question: what is the one substrate that UV inks-to date-can’t print on? Teflon. It makes sense when you think of it….) The most recent trend in UV inks is indeed-called cold-curing UV, or UV inks that cure under exposure to LED lamps rather than traditional mercury vapor lamps. It’s not just a new technology, although the costs of it are coming down. LEDs run much cooler than mercury vapor, causing them to be considerably better for thin plastic substrates. LEDs can also be reported to be energy-efficient meaning cost benefits. EFI particularly has been a highly active proponent of LED UV and it has announced its intention to totally keep the technology in all of the its UV offerings.
We are also going to a greater proliferation of hybrid units, flatbed printers that may also work as roll-to-roll devices for printing on flexible materials. Where once hybrids were regarded as “jacks of all trades, masters of none,” they may have improved to the point where they are now respectedly viewed as means of giving shops the flexibility to use on numerous print projects. (Take into account, though, that this same UV inks may not be suited to all materials due to the respective dyne quantities of ink and surface. Some surfaces can also require pre- or post-treatment to acquire UV ink to stay.)
Earlier this season on the International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo, HP launched several new flatbeds in its Scitex line. The 64-inch HP Scitex FB550 and 120-inch FB750 hit the sign and display sweet spots
HP Scitex 11000 Industrial Press is definitely the follow-around the HP Scitex 10000 platform launched 2 yrs ago, while the HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press is for short-run corrugated packaging and so forth, a good choice for prototyping, related POP graphics, and personalized/customized/short-run corrugated applications.
HP has additionally recently announced the Scitex 17000, designed for short- and medium-run corrugated printing. In addition, it features the HP Scitex Corrugated Grip, a media handling system made to facilitate printing on warped corrugated boards.
For HP, the prevailing trend is toward more automation and improving productivity, which is not merely a subject of speed, but in addition of getting materials off and on press as fast as possible and improving automation.
“The focus is very how to make digital production more productive, and we’re seeking to push the break-even point so customers can move printing from analog to digital,” said Isaac Meged, Worldwide Marketing Manager for HP Scitex Industrial Presses. “This is among the reasons we developed the 17000 press. It’s not just the printing speed, the production workflow is a very important element. Customers are asking for automation both on the prepress side and also the finishing side.”
“We also have noticed in general a trend toward lower-cost flatbed printers, especially low-end,” added Joan Pe´rez Pericot, Marketing Director for HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Smaller customers would like to jump into rigid, and also the marketplace is polarizing between the high-end presses doing increasingly more volume and the smaller devices that happen to be doing very short runs.”
Mind Your Throat, Please
Roland DGA has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV flatbeds and also the VersaUV LEJ-640 hybrid printer. Earlier this season, Roland launched its first big flatbed, the 64-inch VersaUV LEJ-640FT flatbed UV printer. This new flatbed includes a “throat” (yes, that’s a real term) big enough that materials as much as six inches thick may be fed through the printer. With the Sign Expo, targeted traffic to the booth could witness the corporation running footballs through the printer.
“Print agencies are searching for ways to differentiate and expand their businesses-opportunities that flatbed printers certainly provide,” said Jay Roberts, Roland DGA’s Product Manager, phone case printer. “Roland’s new VersaUV LEJ-640FT expands this capability even more using its unique six-inch printing clearance. The LEJ-640FT, in addition to smaller benchtop flatbeds like Roland’s LEF series printers, start another world of printing possibilities for PSPs. Now, the question isn’t so much ‘What could you print on?’ but ‘What can’t you print on?’ We’re constantly surprised by the creativity of people using our technology to create stunning images on substrates and objects that couldn’t be printed on in the past.”
Joanie Loves Tchotchkes
Mimaki’s JFX Series UV LED flatbed printers (comprising the 51-inch JFX200 and the 82.7-inch JFX 500) are targeted for such applications as backlit displays, signs and posters, interior décor, and glass and metal decorative panels, to mention but a few. Mimaki also provides the lesser tabletop UJF Series UV LED printers for that tchotchke-printing market: smartphone covers, pens, lenticular panels, membrane switch panels, wine bottles, and a lot of other novelty and specialty print objects.
“Customers are searching for feature-rich, high-quality versatility that enables them to replace labor- and waste-intensive processes and print direct-to-substrate, while adding value with higher margin applications including personalized products and package prototyping,” said Ken VanHorn, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Mimaki USA.
Océ Are You Able To See
The latest models in Canon Solutions America’s (CSA) Océ Arizona 6100 Series-launched just last year-would be the six-color (CMYKLcLm) Océ Arizona 6160 XTS and seven-color (CMYKLcLm white) Océ Arizona 6170 XTS. Like many of its brethren, the Arizonas are designed for printing on a wide array of rigid media applications, multi-layer and double-sided prints, and huge prints tiled over multiple boards. They also support edge-to-edge printing. These new printers are purpose-designed to be board printers; they are doing not have a roll option.
The new Arizona printers take CSA in to a new space, said Randy Paar, Marketing Manager of Display Graphics for CSA. “We’ve been popular within the mid-volume area, and also this takes us for the top end of your mid-volume, or maybe the low end in the high-volume,” he said. “It’s taken us into new markets and customers. They either come with an Arizona or even a similar product now and they are growing their business and are searching for a more economical printer to include a bit of capacity but in addition not tie up their high-volume press.”
At its fastest, the latest machines can print a maximum of 33 boards 1 hour. “We had an interesting customer event where we given out stopwatches for all the visitors,” said Paar. “We printed a variety of boards, and had each one time them. Sure enough, we were directly on the cash.”
When I mentioned earlier in this particular story, EFI has been dedicating itself to LED curing technology for the UV lines, especially the company’s latest product, the EFI H1625 LED, a mid-level production printer which functions as a flatbed or a rollfed.
“One of the largest opportunities in rigid substrate/flatbed printing will come in the opportunity to transition analog work to digital with higher-volume equipment,” said Ken Hanulec, Vice President, Marketing, Inkjet Solutions, at EFI. “So, beyond developing imaging systems that approach offset quality, EFI has brought a progressive stance in the material handling required for a true analog-to-digital transition in higher-volume print with semi- and full-automation feed and delivery systems for your VUTEk HS100 Pro hybrid inkjet press. Businesses that get into high-volume digital require the most ROI from automated materials handling. They are the companies from the screen or offset print space that want to switch some of their analog capability to digital, plus they are only able to do this should they be hitting maximum throughput with a digital production line.”
Last June marked the 10-year anniversary of EFI’s acquisition of VUTEk, and although tin or aluminum will be the traditional 10th anniversary gift, for EFI it’s apparently equipment manufacturing companies. On July 1, because this story was being finalized, EFI announced it had acquired Matan Digital Printers, an Israel-based manufacturer of grand-format (aka superwide) hybrid UV printers. Offered in 3m and 5m widths, Matan’s flatbed and hybrid product portfolio is ideal for indoor and outdoor applications. The Matan Barak 8QW was picked being a Wide Format Imaging magazine 2015 Product of the season.
The Jig is Up
Mutoh has a number of options within the tabletop and wide-format proper categories. The 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED tabletop printer is made to print on a number of materials, especially 3D objects, approximately 2.75 inches thick. The 64-inch ValueJet 1626UH is a hybrid UV LED printer that comes in CMYK plus White and Varnish, even though the 64-inch ValueJet 1617H hybrid uses, rather than UV, Mutoh’s Multi-Purpose ink, a sort of eco-solvent ink derived largely from plant-based materials and designed to be an environmentally friendly ink option.
“The niche for flatbed and hybrid printing remains strong and with the amount of applications visiting the top it isn’t surprising to discover sales of those machines increase,” said David Conrad, Director of advertising, for Mutoh America, Inc. “Additional application opportunities for printing on practically any substrate up to almost three inches thick on our desktop version make the opportunity to purchase one of these brilliant machines very popular with many markets including awards and engraving, trophy shops, industrial printers and specialty shops offering various items that may be personalized with digital printing. Look for thicker print capabilities, faster speeds, plus more custom jig choices to drive demand and start much more unique applications for this technology.”
Durst offers a variety of flatbeds within its Rho group of UV machines. The latest introduction was the dtg printer, which handle media up to 8 feet wide. The Rho P10 series is aimed towards high-end applications for example backlit displays for windows or light boxes, particularly for luxury goods, outdoor and indoor signage, POP and POS displays, and small to medium-sized packaging.
“In accessory for the obvious speed and productivity, flexibility and sturdiness are what printers need,” said Christopher Guyett, sales and marketing coordinator for Durst Image Technology. “They need flexibility when it comes to having the capability to quickly switch between materials and jobs to handle lead times, plus they need robust design and manufacturing to produce on a 24/7 schedule. Customers and PSPs are looking to produce every possible application or product 03dexqpky their flatbeds, so that they need the flexibility to take care of complex client projects that come together with little notice, and require a sudden turnaround.”
It appears to be fitting to complete this roundup with all the latest model from Inca Digital, the organization whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked from the flatbed wide-format market way back in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this current year Inca introduced the Onset R40LT, a 3.14m (123.6-inch) by 1.6m (63-inch) flatbed that can be found in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It might handle substrates approximately two inches thick.
Be sure to take a look at these and other models at Graph Expo as well as at November’s SGIA Expo in Atlanta.
It appears fitting to round out this roundup using the latest model from Inca Digital, the corporation whose Inca Eagle 44 kicked off the flatbed wide-format market in the past in 2001. The Onset series debuted in 2007, and earlier this season Inca introduced the Onset R40LT, a 3.14m (123.6-inch) by 1.6m (63-inch) flatbed that is available in either four-, five, or six-color configurations. It may handle substrates as much as 2 ” thick. Inca Digital wide-format printers can be purchased through Fujifilm, its global distribution partner.
The Return of the Jeti
Also with the ISA Sign Expo last spring, Agfa Graphics introduced the flatbed Jeti Mira as well as the hybrid Jeti Tauro. The first kind is actually a true 2.7-meter (105 inches) flatbed, while the latter is really a 2.5-meter hybrid. These newest models complement Agfa’s extensive Anapurna line of flatbeds and hybrids.
“We learn that some print providers prefer dedicated flatbed printing systems although some take advantage of the flexibility of the hybrid device, so that we carry both technologies,” said Larry D’Amico, Vice-President Digital Imaging, Agfa Graphics. “We offer roll-to-roll choices on many of our true flatbed equipment so an alternative is accessible with many of our printers. Currently, I see a mix of both dedicated and hybrid devices being purchased and so i check this out trend continuing. Everyone’s application and product mix is different so it is very important determine what you primarily might like to do with this equipment and select the technology that meets this anticipated combination of work.”