Last week, we kicked off 2017 with a review of the roll-to-roll latte coffee printer landscape. This week, we’ll perform same for flatbed printers. There hasn’t been quite as much action in flatbeds like in rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, not much flatbeds. (Actually, it is possible to print textiles over a flatbed UV device, but flatbeds will not be designed or sold especially for fabric printing.)
Flatbed devices almost universally use ultraviolet (UV) inks, or inks that cure by contact with ultraviolet light. Traditionally, UV curing is done using mercury vapor lamps, although the past several years have experienced an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under contact with LED lamps. The advantages of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run hot), and fewer energy required to run them, energy that’s wasted as all of that heat. LED also allows for printing on very thin plastic materials that could warp or discolor when exposed to hot curing lamps, although an excellent vacuum system may help avoid warpage when you use thin substrates no matter what heat.
The latest models which may have appeared available on the market as of late boast faster speeds-like practically any new equipment-along with some extent of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing within 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 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, and also orange and green or orange and violet, hitting the gamut of brand and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution than the 1030/1330, even though the latter ups the speed to as quickly as 1,250 square meters each 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 including CMYK plus light magenta and light-weight cyan, white, as well as a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and so are targeted toward outdoor and indoor 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 a lot more than 16 in the past with the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed inkjet printer line in Fall 2015. These fall saw the launch in the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the quickest model yet in the Onset series, said to print as much as 9,600 square feet (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 has its own longstanding series of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The most up-to-date entry, introduced last year, will be the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, said to print at speeds as high as 620 sq ft per hour. It can print on a wide range of substrates approximately 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 up-to-date in the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) uv printer with speeds reported to be up to 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 series of flatbeds
As of late, Fujifilm is touting its new Fujifilm Inkjet Technology (FIT), a combination of inkjet printheads, fluids, and software based on the company’s Samba single-pass piezo printheads and Uvijet inks. Using a broad number of inks and color management software, the purpose of FIT is image optimization, speed, and suppleness.
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 around six colors, and also 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 from 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 distinction between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 square feet an hour and the 2200 XTs at 691 sq . ft . an hour.
These new mid-volume printers fit in between the entry-level 318 GL and 365 GT, and 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 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, such as 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 to the SGIA Expo in 2015 might have seen it printing on footballs. Roland even offers the 64-inch (1.6-meter) hybrid VersaUV LEJ640.
The VersaUV LEJ-640FT is Roland’s entrée in the UV flatbed market
Not too long ago, Mimaki launched the 82.7-inch (2.1-meter) JFX500-2131 flatbed LED UV unit, said to print up to 675 square feet an hour. Last year, it was joined with the JFX500-2131, a reduced footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, along with 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 section of its predecessor, the JFX200-2513.
Mimaki’s JFX200-2531 is a dual-zone flatbed that allows for printing in one part of the bed even though the other is being prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds will be 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 second in which gained an autoboard feeder just last 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 can be another hybrid; other Anapurnas are the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H means hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You could possibly recall from last November i was significantly taken with Agfa 3D Lenses, a way of printing lenticular images about the Jeti Mira employing a software suite and clear varnish.
Agfa’s Jeti Mira prints in six-color plus white or clear, and varnish can be layered to create lenticular effects
EFI has already established a great deal of irons within the fire lately-especially post-Reggiani-and has been paying attention to 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 has a extensive number of in the 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 use 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 also cylindrical objects like water bottles and YETI cups.
Roland has long offered its tabletop VersaUV LEF-12 and LEF-20 UV printers, and a year ago the corporation introduced a major brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, that may print entirely on 3D objects as much as 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Additionally it is capable of higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. A week ago, 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 with all the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, that 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 a lot of other items
A year ago, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer intended for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects as much as 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) or higher to 6 inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG and the UJF-6042 tabletop units that, having 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 also provides a brand of tabletops, such as the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, competent at printing on various 3D objects as much as 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 former uses Mutoh’s UV Alternative Bio-Based Ink, as the latter two use LED UV inks.
HP continues to be fairly quiet on the Scitex flatbed front recently, nevertheless 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 add corrugated equipment within the flatbed printer category, but do wish to at least mention in passing the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are 2 of HP’s corrugated inkjet presses, while at last year’s drupa, EFI announced their 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 some of the most exciting regions of the wide-format market since their killer app is that they can print on virtually any surface (although, it must be stressed, not “right out of your box”; sometimes the surface needs to be pre- or post-treated) making them ideal for all kinds of high-margin specialty printing on unusual substrates.
Ink layering and varnishes can impart textures or some other 3D effects, and also print Braille. You’ll have to get feelings of the ink cost and printing time before starting these kinds of projects, however.
Of course, the first question to inquire about when buying a flatbed is, what do you want to print? Large POP and other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mix of as much different product types as possible? That can determine what size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t require a specific benchtop unit if you wish to print 3D objects; any flatbed is going to do, you’ll simply need additional accessories, that will be less costly than getting a whole separate unit.
Possibly the biggest question even before you take a look at models is, are you experiencing room for a flatbed within your current shop? Or else, are you able to justify acquiring extra space to accommodate it? Interestingly, we seen in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the results that are given within our new Forecast 2017 special report) dexmpky54 15% of mid-size printers planned to purchase t-shirt printer, and 14% said they were planning to purchase “additional space/new location.” Correlation will not be causation, naturally, therefore we don’t know as to what extent they’re the identical 14% to 15%, but, you realize, these products can get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to question may be the flip side of just one I suggested when examining rollfeds: do you want roll-to-roll printing too? Hybrids are good options if you plan to have a mix of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a feeling of what the ink costs could be. UV inks may be more pricey than other sorts of inks, so when you have a higher level of stuff like vinyl graphics, you may be better off with an ecosolvent machine.
Because I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, pay attention to “under the hood” kinds of issues, such as the details of the warranty, what it covers, how long it lasts, of course, if you can 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 out what sort of training can be involved.