The other day, we kicked off 2017 with a review of the roll-to-roll latte coffee printer landscape. This week, we’ll perform the same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been quite as much action in flatbeds as with rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, not too much flatbeds. (Actually, you are able to print textiles over 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 being exposed to ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing has been done using mercury vapor lamps, but the past several years have observed an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under being exposed to LED lamps. The advantages of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run hot), and much less energy necessary to run them, energy that’s wasted as all of that heat. LED also permits printing on very thin plastic materials which could warp or discolor when in contact with hot curing lamps, although an effective vacuum system might help avoid warpage when using thin substrates no matter heat.
The new models which may have appeared available on the market recently boast faster speeds-like almost any new equipment-along with some extent of automation. We’re also beginning to see more models appearing in 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, along with orange and green or orange and violet, going to the gamut of brand name and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to the 1030/1330, even though the latter ups the rate to as fast 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 come with CMYK plus light magenta and lightweight cyan, white, and a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and therefore are targeted toward indoor and outdoor 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 more than 16 years back with all the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed inkjet printer line in Fall 2015. These fall saw the launch of your 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet inside the Onset series, thought to print approximately 9,600 square feet (180 boards) each hour. Colorwise, it supports CMYK plus white or orange.
Inca Roads-The Onset X3 is the fastest Onset yet.
Inca flatbeds are distributed by Fujifilm, which features its own longstanding combination of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The newest entry, introduced last year, is definitely the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, said to print at speeds as much as 620 square feet an hour. It can print on a variety of substrates up to 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta, plus white or clear). This past year, Fujifilm also introduced the most recent within the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) phone case printer with speeds said to be as much as 2,100 sq . ft . an hour, and supports CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, and orange.
The Select HS 30 will be the latest in Fujifilm’s Acuity series of flatbeds
Lately, Fujifilm continues to be 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. By using a broad number 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 series 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 around six colors, as well as the 1280 as much as eight colors. The Arizona 1200 series printers are mid-volume flatbeds targeted toward sign and display shops, specialty printers, and photo labs.
Also in 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 actually a six-color machine along with the 2280 is an eight-color machine. The primary distinction 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 square feet each hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit involving the entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, and also 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 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, including gloss and white for special effects and textures. It could print on flexible or rigid substrates approximately 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 into the UV flatbed market
Not long ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, thought to print around 675 sq . ft . per hour. This past year, it absolutely was joined by the JFX500-2131, a smaller footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, as well as a primer for substrates that require it. This past year, Mimaki announced the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) JFX200-2531, which doubles the print area of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is actually a dual-zone flatbed which allows for printing in one part of the bed while 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 as well as the 98.4-inch (2.5-meter) Jeti Tauro H2500, the latter of which gained an autoboard feeder this past year, even though the former gained a fresh roll-to-roll option. In other Agfa hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll news, the Anapurna H3200i LED UV printer is also a 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 may recall from last November i was significantly taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a way 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 may be layered to make lenticular effects
EFI has received plenty of irons within the fire lately-especially post-Reggiani-and possesses 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 posseses an extensive number of in their entry-level EFI and mid-range and-volume VUTEk lines. EFI has been 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 suitable for thermoforming applications
I include in the flatbed printer category “benchtop” or “tabletop” UV printing units, which are designed for specialty printing applications, such as 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 major brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which may print right on 3D objects as much as 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 can be replaced with a new primer option, for anyone unusual substrates which need it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 together with the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, which adds the latest 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 ideal for printing on 3D objects such as golf balls, smartphone cases, and several other considerations
Just last year, 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) and up to 6 inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG and 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 offers a type of tabletops, like the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, capable of printing on a variety 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 previous uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, whilst the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP is fairly quiet around the Scitex flatbed front lately, 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 include corrugated equipment from the flatbed printer category, but do wish to no less than mention in passing that this HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are a couple of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while finally 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 formulate 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 simply because they can print on virtually any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out of your box”; sometimes the surface should be pre- or post-treated) rendering them suitable for all sorts of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or any other 3D effects, and also print Braille. You’ll need to get a feeling of the ink cost and printing time before embarking on these kinds of projects, however.
As always, the first question to inquire about when shopping for a flatbed is, what do you wish to print? Large POP along with other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mixture of several different product types as you can? Which will figure out what size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t want a specific benchtop unit if you want to print 3D objects; any flatbed will do, you’ll just need additional accessories, that is to be less costly than purchasing a whole separate unit.
Possibly the biggest question even before you have a look at models is, have you got room to get a flatbed within your current shop? Or else, can you justify acquiring extra space to accommodate it? Interestingly, we seen in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the outcomes in which are given inside our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to invest in textile printer, and 14% said they were planning to purchase “additional space/new location.” Correlation is just not causation, needless to say, and we don’t know to what extent they’re the same 14% to 15%, but, you understand, these devices could get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to question will be the flip side of one I suggested when examining rollfeds: do you want roll-to-roll printing also? Hybrids are good options if you intend to have a blend of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a sense of what the ink costs could be. UV inks could be higher priced than other sorts of inks, when you have a much higher amount of such things as vinyl graphics, you might be better off by having an ecosolvent machine.
As I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, be aware of “under the hood” kinds of issues, like the details of the warranty, exactly what it covers, how much time it lasts, and when there are 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, learn what kind of training might be involved.