A couple weeks ago, we kicked off 2017 with an introduction to 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 like rollfeds; textile printing has largely been driving rollfed printers, not too much flatbeds. (Actually, you can print textiles on the 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 been done using mercury vapor lamps, nevertheless the past many years have seen an “ink migration” to cold curing, or UV inks that cure under being exposed to LED lamps. Some great benefits of LED UV curing are less heat (mercury vapor lamps can run sizzling hot), and much less energy necessary to run them, energy that’s wasted in the form of everything heat. LED also provides for printing on very thin plastic materials which could warp or discolor when open to hot curing lamps, although a good vacuum system will help avoid warpage when working with thin substrates no matter what heat.
The brand new models who have appeared on the market lately boast faster speeds-like just about any new equipment-along with some extent of automation. We’re also starting to see more models appearing inside the mid-volume range, and many 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, in addition to orange and green or orange and violet, to hit the gamut of logo and Pantone colors. The 1012/1312 boast higher resolution compared to 1030/1330, while the latter ups the rate to as fast as 1,250 square meters hourly. 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 which include CMYK plus light magenta and light cyan, white, as well as a “Process Colour Addition (PCA),” and so are targeted toward indoor and outdoor signage and POS/POP, along with 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 years ago using the Eagle, and introduced the Inca Onset X flatbed laser printer line in Fall 2015. The subsequent fall saw the launch in the 127-inch (3.2-meter) Inca Onset X3, the easiest model yet inside the Onset series, said to print as much as 9,600 sq . ft . (180 boards) per 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 has its own longstanding combination of flatbeds, namely the Acuity series. The most recent entry, introduced a year ago, may be the 49.6-inch (1.25-meter) Acuity Select HS 30, said to print at speeds of up to 620 sq . ft . each hour. It may print on an array of substrates around 2 ” thick. It print six colors (CMYK plus light cyan and lightweight magenta, plus white or clear). This past year, Fujifilm also introduced the newest from the Uvistar line, the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 127-inch (3.2-meter) phone case printer with speeds said to be up to 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
As of late, Fujifilm has become 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. By using a broad variety of inks and color management software, the objective of FIT is image optimization, speed, and suppleness.
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 up to four colors, the 1260 as much as 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 inside 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 surely an eight-color machine. The principal distinction between the 1200 and 2200 series is speed; the 1200 XT units top out at 377 square feet each hour as well as the 2200 XTs at 691 sq . ft . hourly.
These new mid-volume printers fit involving 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 as much as 1,668 sq . ft . an 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 special 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 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 into 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 up to 675 sq ft each hour. Just last year, it was joined with the JFX500-2131, a lesser footprint version. Both can print CMYK plus white, clear, and a primer for substrates that need it. A year ago, 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 just one portion of the bed even though the other will be prepped
Agfa Graphics’ latest UV flatbeds will be 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 second that gained an autoboard feeder just last year, even though 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 another hybrid; other Anapurnas include the Anapurna H2500i and H2050i (in Agfa nomenclature, H means hybrid and RTR for roll-to-roll.) You might recall from last November that I 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 may be layered to generate lenticular effects
EFI has had lots of irons from the fire recently-especially post-Reggiani-and possesses been concentrating 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 posseses an extensive number of within its entry-level EFI and mid-range and high-volume VUTEk lines. EFI is a strong proponent of LED curing and virtually its entire portfolio is already LED-based.
EFI’s H1625-SD UV printer can print on plastic substrates intended 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 business introduced a big brother: the VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop UV Flatbed Printer, which could print entirely on 3D objects as much as 3.94 inches thick and 30 x 13 inches wide. Additionally it is able to higher-capacity runs than its smaller siblings. A couple weeks 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 by way of a new primer option, for those unusual substrates that need it. Roland also upgraded the LEF-12 using the new 12-inch VersaUV LEF-12i, which adds the brand new primer option.
Roland also recently added its RotaPrint add-on accessory for your VersaUV tabletops, which supports printing on cylindrical objects.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 is for printing on 3D objects including golf balls, smartphone cases, and a lot of other considerations
This past year, Mimaki launched the UJF-7151 flatbed printer created for specialty printing onto substrates and 3D objects approximately 28 x 20 inches (.71 x .51 meters) and up to 6 inches thick. This unit joins the UJF-3042HG along with 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 also has a line of tabletops, for example the 19-inch ValueJet 426UF UV LED, capable of printing on many different 3D objects approximately 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 in the Scitex flatbed front as of late, but also 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 inside the flatbed printer category, but do wish to a minimum of mention in passing that the HP Scitex 15500 and 17000 are a pair 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 among the most exciting areas of the wide-format market since their killer app is that they can print on just about any surface (although, it needs to be stressed, not “right out from the box”; sometimes the outer lining has to be pre- or post-treated) which makes them well suited 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 would like to get feelings of the ink cost and printing time before starting these kinds of projects, however.
Remember, the initial question to inquire when shopping for a flatbed is, what do you need to print? Large POP along with other rigid display graphics? Smaller ad specialties like smartphone cases? A mixture of as many different product types as you possibly can? That may evaluate which size machine you’ll need. Remember, you don’t need a specific benchtop unit if you wish to print 3D objects; any flatbed is going to do, you’ll only need additional accessories, that will be cheaper than investing in a whole separate unit.
Perhaps the biggest question before you even take a look at models is, do you possess room for any flatbed within your current shop? Or even, could you justify acquiring extra room to accommodate it? Interestingly, we found in our WhatTheyThink Business Conditions Survey (the outcome of which are provided in your 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 buy “additional space/new location.” Correlation is not really causation, obviously, and that we don’t know as to what extent they’re the same 14% to 15%, but, you already know, these units will get pretty big. Just sayin’.
Another question to ask is the flip side of one I suggested when viewing rollfeds: do you require roll-to-roll printing as well? Hybrids are good options if you plan to experience a combination of flexible and rigid substrates, but get a feeling of exactly what the ink costs are likely to be. UV inks might be more costly than other kinds of inks, when you have a much higher amount of stuff like vinyl graphics, you might be more well off having an ecosolvent machine.
As I had advised in last week’s rollfed roundup, pay attention to “under the hood” kinds of issues, like the specifics of the warranty, exactly what it covers, how long it lasts, of course, if there are actually stuff 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 kind of training might be involved.