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Versatile Flatbeds

Creative Revolutionary Output

Part 1 of 3

By Kim Crowley

Flatbed printing devices bring versatility to a print shop, broadening substrate options to creative imaginations. With flatbed equipment, printing on everything from ceiling tiles to doors is possible.

Agfa Graphics customers are doing some really interesting applications, says Michael White, wide format manager, Agfa. "This includes printing directly onto glass or customized promotional printing. We have seen on demand, theme-based promotional printing that includes cut out appliqué and three-dimensional decorative party décor."

The flatbed table on the Océ North America Arizona 350 XT printer is large enough for users to print on oversized items such as garage doors. "It can also print on irregularly shaped or non-square items, heavy substrates such as glass, or materials that have an uneven surface such as wood," explains says Randy Paar, display graphics marketing manager, Océ.

The Rho 800 flatbed printer from Durst Image Technology US, LLC is utilized primarily for large format graphics, the environmental graphics segment, and for industrial manufacturing use. "Our industrial segment utilizes a number of unique applications, from printing on metals for license plates, to companies printing on PE materials and a number of applications for printing designs on glass for integration in various products," says Christopher Howard, VP of marketing and sales, Durst.

"More people are looking to UV flatbed printers for industrial applications, not just the graphic arena," says Sabratinna Pan, marketing manager, Teckwin. "Industrial printing requires automatization to shorten the process and improve the quality rate."

GCC runs a StellarJET Application Lab where a variety of substrates and applications are tested—from printing on mobile phone covers to bamboo dining mats. The StellarJET Application Lab serves, "to dig out customers’ needs, expand more applications, and find out solutions for customers to increase profit," explain Michelle Chang, product manager, GCC and Lisa Hsu, senior specialist, GCC.

Technology Advances
Flatbed printers are more accessible than ever, with higher quality and lower price tags.

Ken Van Horn, product marketing manager, EFI VUTEk, notices a definite migration from solvent to UV, "We’ve been leading that in a number of ways, especially with the number of placements that we’ve had with the QS. We’re also seeing an analog to digital transition going on. The DS and the GS are both positioned to be on the forefront of that transition."

"We have seen a definite increase in the UV market. This market continues to expand with more flexible ink and better adhesion and is proving to be a more environmentally friendly solution," says Jason Kammes, product marketing manager, Fujifilm Graphic Systems U.S.A., Inc.

"We also cannot forget the tremendous efforts being placed on new inks and curing technologies," notes Lou Laurent, hardware business development, Triangle Digital INX Co. "We are developing new ink formulations integrated with printhead and curing technologies to improve quality and printing speeds, reduce maintenance issues, and provide lower cost printing subsystems. We are still in the test tube stage, but viable, hardened systems will begin to appear in the near future."

Don Knox, U.S. director of sales, large format printing, Hewlett-Packard, notices an increased adoption of flatbed technologies and maturation of end users. "In recent years, there has been increased adoption of entry-level flatbed products as more customers become interested in eliminating the mounting and laminating processes by installing flatbed technologies that can print directly onto uncoated rigid substrates, making them more affordable."

Next week’s queue includes part one of a roundup on available flatbed printers. Learn about new advancements and recent additions to existing line ups in this Web-exclusive piece.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Apr2009, Digital Output

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