The other day, we kicked off 2017 with a review of the roll-to-roll coffee printer landscape. This week, we’ll do 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 may print textiles on a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds are certainly not 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 been done using mercury vapor lamps, however the past several 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 needed to run them, energy that’s wasted by means of all of that heat. LED also enables printing on very thin plastic materials which may warp or discolor when open to hot curing lamps, although a good vacuum system may help avoid warpage when using thin substrates irrespective of heat.
The new models which may have appeared out there as of late boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-and also some degree of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing inside the mid-volume range, and much 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 lightweight cyan, as well as orange and green or orange and violet, to hit the gamut of brand name and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution in comparison to the 1030/1330, whilst the latter ups the speed to as quickly as 1,250 square meters per 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 include CMYK plus light magenta and lightweight cyan, white, as well as a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and so are targeted toward outdoor and indoor 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 a lot more than 16 in the past with the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed printing device line in Fall 2015. These fall saw the launch of the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet within the Onset series, thought to print as much as 9,600 sq . ft . (180 boards) each hour. Colorwise, it supports CMYK plus white or orange.
Inca Roads-The Onset X3 may be 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 a year ago, is definitely the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, thought to print at speeds as high as 620 sq . ft . per hour. It can print on a wide range of substrates approximately two inches thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and lightweight magenta, plus white or clear). Last year, Fujifilm also introduced the latest in the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) phone case printer with speeds reported to be approximately 2,100 sq . ft . per hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 is the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity series of flatbeds
As of late, Fujifilm has been touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a mixture of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based upon the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. Employing a broad variety of inks and color management software, the objective 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 around four colors, the 1260 approximately six colors, as well as the 1280 up to 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 is a six-color machine and also the 2280 is an eight-color machine. The primary 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 sq ft each hour.
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 approximately 1,668 sq ft 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, including gloss and white for special effects and textures. It can 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 towards the SGIA Expo in 2015 could 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 into 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 around 675 sq ft each hour. Last year, it was actually joined from the JFX500-2131, a smaller footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, as well as a primer for substrates which require it. This past year, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles paper region of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 can be a dual-zone flatbed that allows for printing in a single portion 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 along with the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) Jeti Tauro H2500, the latter that gained an autoboard feeder this past year, as the former gained a 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 include the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H is short for hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You could recall from last November that we was quite definitely taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, an easy method of printing lenticular images in the Jeti Mira utilizing a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish might be layered to produce lenticular effects
EFI has received a lot of irons in the fire recently-especially post-Reggiani-and it has been centering 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 an extensive variety of within its entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is 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 meant for thermoforming applications
I use 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 even 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 business introduced a huge brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which may print directly on 3D objects up to 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Additionally it is competent at higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. The other day, 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 may be replaced by 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, which also adds the new primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory for the VersaUV tabletops, which supports printing on cylindrical objects.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 is made for printing on 3D objects such as golf balls, smartphone cases, and many other considerations
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 and also the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, with 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 even offers a line of tabletops, including the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, effective at printing on various 3D objects up to 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 previous uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, even though the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP is fairly quiet on 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 feature corrugated equipment in the flatbed printer category, but do wish to at least mention in passing that the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are a couple of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while finally 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 parts 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 from the box”; sometimes the top has to be pre- or post-treated) which makes them perfect for a myriad of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or other 3D effects, in addition to print Braille. You’ll have to get a sense of the ink cost and printing time before embarking on these kinds of projects, however.
As always, the first question to inquire about when searching for a flatbed is, what do you wish to print? Large POP as well as other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mixture of as many different product types as is possible? That may figure out what 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, that is to be more affordable than buying a whole separate unit.
Probably the biggest question even before you examine models is, do you have room to get a flatbed with your current shop? If not, is it possible to justify acquiring extra space to accommodate it? Interestingly, we found in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the final results of which are supplied in our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to purchase dtg printer, and 14% said they were planning to buy “additional space/new location.” Correlation is not really causation, needless to say, and that we don’t know from what extent they’re the identical 14% to 15%, but, you know, these products could possibly get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire about may be the flip side of merely one I suggested when thinking about rollfeds: do you want roll-to-roll printing as well? Hybrids are great options if you are planning to get a mix of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a feeling of just what the ink costs are likely to be. UV inks may be more costly than other kinds of inks, so if you have a higher amount of things like vinyl graphics, you may well be happier by having an ecosolvent machine.
Because I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, be aware of “under the hood” forms of issues, like the details of the warranty, just what it covers, how long it lasts, and in case there are 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 what form of training might be involved.