A couple weeks ago, we kicked off 2017 with an overview of the roll-to-roll latte printer landscape. This week, we’ll perform 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, less than much flatbeds. (Actually, you may print textiles on the flatbed UV device, but flatbeds are certainly not designed or sold specifically for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by being exposed to ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing is done using mercury vapor lamps, but the past several years have observed 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 sizzling hot), and fewer energy found it 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 an excellent vacuum system may help avoid warpage when using thin substrates regardless of heat.
The newest models that have appeared available on the market as of late boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-and also some degree of automation. We’re also beginning to see more models appearing from 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 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 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 than the 1030/1330, whilst the latter ups the speed to as fast 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 cyan, white, as well as a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and they 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 more 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 of your 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet within the Onset series, believed to print up to 9,600 square feet (180 boards) hourly. 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 most recent entry, introduced a year ago, is definitely the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, thought to print at speeds as much as 620 sq . ft . per hour. It can print on an array of substrates as much as 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and light-weight magenta, plus white or clear). Just last year, Fujifilm also introduced the most recent in the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) uv 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 is definitely the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity number of flatbeds
Recently, 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. Utilizing 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 number 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 approximately four colors, the 1260 approximately six colors, along with the 1280 around 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 as well as the 2280 is surely an eight-color machine. The main distinction between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 square feet per hour and also the 2200 XTs at 691 sq ft hourly.
These new mid-volume printers fit in between 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 square feet 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, that 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 for the SGIA Expo in 2015 could possibly have seen it printing on footballs. Roland also offers 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, believed to print as much as 675 sq ft hourly. This past year, it was actually joined with the JFX500-2131, a smaller footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, along with 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 which allows for printing in one section of the bed while 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 which gained an autoboard feeder last year, even though the former gained a whole 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 is short for 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 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 could be layered to produce lenticular effects
EFI has had plenty of irons from the fire recently-especially post-Reggiani-and it has been centering on the hybrid market. In 2015, the corporation 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 comes with an extensive amount of in its entry-level EFI and mid-range and high-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is a huge 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 suitable 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 last year the business introduced a large brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, that may print entirely on 3D objects approximately 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Also, it is effective at higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. Last week, Roland announced the following-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 by way of a new primer option, for all those unusual substrates which need it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 using the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that adds the brand 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 ideal for printing on 3D objects like golf balls, smartphone cases, and lots of other considerations
This past year, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer designed for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects approximately 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) or higher to 6 inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG along with the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, with an accessory termed 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 provides a line of tabletops, such as the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, competent at printing on various 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, while the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP continues to be fairly quiet on the Scitex flatbed front as of late, 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 in the flatbed printer category, but do wish to a minimum of mention in passing that this HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are 2 of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while at last year’s drupa, EFI announced its unique 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 develop the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution.
Flatbed printers are some of the most exciting regions 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 surface should be pre- or post-treated) rendering them perfect for a myriad of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or other 3D effects, as well as print Braille. You’ll have to get a feeling of the ink cost and printing time before embarking on most of these projects, however.
Of course, the initial question to inquire 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 mixture of as many different product types as you can? That can 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, that will be more affordable than investing in a whole separate unit.
Possibly the biggest question before you even have a look at models is, have you got room for any flatbed in your current shop? Otherwise, could you justify acquiring extra space to house it? Interestingly, we located in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the final results of which are supplied within our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to get t-shirt printer, and 14% said that they were planning to invest in “additional space/new location.” Correlation is not causation, of course, so we don’t know from what extent they’re the identical 14% to 15%, but, you know, these units could possibly get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to inquire about will be the flip side of merely one I suggested when thinking about rollfeds: do you really need roll-to-roll printing as well? Hybrids are good options if you plan to get a mixture of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a feeling of precisely what the ink costs could be. UV inks may be more expensive than other sorts of inks, so if you have a much higher number of things such as vinyl graphics, you may well be more well off having an ecosolvent machine.
As I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, be aware of “under the hood” sorts of issues, for example the specifics of the warranty, what it covers, how long it lasts, and when you will find 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. Particularly with flatbeds, find what kind of training may be involved.