A week ago, we kicked off 2017 with a summary of the roll-to-roll coffee printer landscape. In the week, we’ll perform the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been as much action in flatbeds like 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 will not be designed or sold specially for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by exposure to ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing has become done using mercury vapor lamps, but the past a few years have experienced 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 less energy required to run them, energy that’s wasted in the form of everything heat. LED also provides for printing on very thin plastic materials that may warp or discolor when in contact with hot curing lamps, although a great vacuum system might help avoid warpage when you use thin substrates no matter what heat.
The newest models which may have appeared in the marketplace as of late boast faster speeds-like almost any new equipment-along with some degree of automation. We’re also starting 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 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 cyan, along with orange and green or orange and violet, going to the gamut of brand and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution in comparison to the 1030/1330, whilst the latter ups the pace to as quickly as 1,250 square meters an hour. The 1000 series complements the industrial-level Rho P10 series, composed of the 200/250 and hybrid 200/250HS, the HS models being hybrids. These 154-inch (3.9-meter) machines offer ink sets that come with CMYK plus light magenta and light-weight cyan, white, plus a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and so are targeted toward indoor and outdoor 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 over 16 yrs ago using the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed printing device line in Fall 2015. The subsequent fall saw the launch of your 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet in the Onset series, believed to print up to 9,600 square feet (180 boards) per hour. 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 features its own longstanding group of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The newest entry, introduced this past year, is definitely the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, thought to print at speeds of up to 620 square feet each hour. It might print on a wide array of substrates up to 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and lightweight magenta, plus white or clear). Just last year, Fujifilm also introduced the newest from the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) flatbed printer with speeds said to be as much as 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
Recently, Fujifilm has become touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a mixture of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based around the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. Employing a broad assortment of inks and color management software, the aim 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, and 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, also available in GT (49-inch/1.2-meter) and XT (121-inch/3.1-meter) models. The 2260 is actually a six-color machine and the 2280 is 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 . hourly and the 2200 XTs at 691 sq ft hourly.
These new mid-volume printers fit involving the 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 up to 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, such as gloss and white for effects and textures. It may print on flexible or rigid substrates as much as 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 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 the UV flatbed market
A few years ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, thought to print up to 675 sq . ft . per hour. A year ago, it was joined from the JFX500-2131, a smaller footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, along with a primer for substrates which require it. Just last 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 really a dual-zone flatbed which allows for printing in one portion of the bed even though the other is now being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds are definitely 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 in 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 range from the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H means hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You could possibly recall from last November that we was greatly taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a method of printing lenticular images around the Jeti Mira utilizing a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish may be layered to generate lenticular effects
EFI has received a great deal of irons from the fire recently-especially post-Reggiani-and possesses been focusing on the hybrid market. In 2015, the company 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 number of in their entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is a huge 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 include in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are equipped for specialty printing applications, for example 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 major brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which can print entirely on 3D objects approximately 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Additionally it is effective at higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. Last week, Roland announced the subsequent-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 all the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, which also adds the brand new 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 made for printing on 3D objects like golf balls, smartphone cases, and a lot of other things
Last year, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer intended for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects approximately 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) and up to six inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG along with the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, 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 also has a line of tabletops, including the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, effective at printing on a number of 3D objects up to 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 first kind uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, even though the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP has become fairly quiet in the Scitex flatbed front recently, but 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 from the flatbed printer category, but do would like to a minimum of mention in passing that the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are a pair 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 produce the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are among the most exciting regions of the wide-format market since their killer app is they can print on just about any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out from the box”; sometimes the outer lining needs to be pre- or post-treated) rendering them well suited for all sorts of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or 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 types of projects, however.
As always, the initial question to ask when searching for a flatbed is, what do you need to print? Large POP as well as other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mix of as numerous different product types as you possibly can? Which will figure out what size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t need to have a specific benchtop unit if you would like print 3D objects; any flatbed will do, you’ll simply need additional accessories, which is more affordable than getting a whole separate unit.
Perhaps the biggest question before you even examine models is, have you got room for the flatbed within your current shop? Or even, can you justify acquiring extra space to house it? Interestingly, we found in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the results that are supplied inside our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to get t-shirt printer, and 14% said they were planning to buy “additional space/new location.” Correlation will not be causation, of course, and we don’t know to what extent they’re the identical 14% to 15%, but, you already know, these products could get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to question will be the flip side of merely one I suggested when looking at rollfeds: do you really need roll-to-roll printing at the same time? Hybrids are good options if you intend to have a mix of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of precisely what the ink costs are likely to be. UV inks could be more expensive than other kinds of inks, if you have a much higher level of things like vinyl graphics, you may be more satisfied with the ecosolvent machine.
When I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, take note of “under the hood” sorts of issues, including the specifics of the warranty, what it really covers, 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. Especially with flatbeds, find out what kind of training may be involved.