By Olivia Cahoon
Digital flatbeds enable printing directly onto rigid substrates. With the ability to handle output on a variety of materials, these devices are used in new and creative ways, which allow print service providers (PSPs) and even those in industrial markets to create unique products and enjoy high profit margins.
Relying on a jig, when using a flatbed printer, personalization of smaller accessories like speakers, USB drives, and power packs are possible. In addition, the footprint of a wide format flatbed enables the production of large batches of these products in a short amount of time. Businesses utilizing flatbed printers are uniquely positioned to meet customer demand for quick turnarounds and high levels of customization.
Promotional Product Supplier
Established in 2001, iClick is a promotional products supplier to the advertising industry, specializing in mobile and computer technology, USB flash drives, and high-quality pens. The company reaches customers worldwide from its two offices in Boulder, CO and Seattle, WA, with a work area of 23,000 square feet and 60 employees.
“The highest quality and superb products for our customers make us the leading choice of over 35,000 distributors worldwide for their customer marketing and advertising needs,” says Daniel Kaufman, warehouse engineer, iClick. In the wake of rising success, the company is constantly looking for new and efficient printing solutions that cater to its market.
In the mobile and computer technology industry, product suppliers generally silkscreen, pad print, or digitally print. Kaufman explains that digital tends to be the quickest, easiest, and most efficient method—which led the company to purchasing digital flatbed printers four years ago. The ability to print on different shapes, sizes, and materials was a driving factor.
“Precise product placement for high-accuracy imprinting is key to our production environment. We utilize both large and small flatbed areas to create many forms of fixture jigs that enable us to achieve those results,” shares Kaufman. iClick prints to mobile phone accessories, USB swivels and drives, speakers, mobile power packs, and other items that are manufactured in factories overseas and sent to its U.S. facilities.
The company was even more inclined to pursue flatbed printing after learning that UV LED ink dries faster, uses less material, and is more efficient. It first purchased three UJF-3042FX printers from Mimaki USA, Inc. Most recently, the company obtained a Mimaki JFX200-2513 flatbed.
“The price point of these printers combined with the versatility and speed matched perfectly with what we needed out of a flatbed printer,” admits Kaufman.
The Mimaki UJF-3042FX was chosen for its ability to output in a variety of resolutions and pass counts in a small format. “These are the workhorses of our business,” shares Kaufman. Printing onto substrates up to two inches thick, the Mimaki UJF-3042FX uses three types of UV-curable ink. The UV LED system relies on small amounts of energy, which allows for printing onto media that otherwise could be damaged by high heat.
The Mimaki JFX200-2513 features a printing area of 98.4×51.1 inches. The printer uses LED curing and images are printed directly onto rigid media or promotional products. iClick was impressed by its size and ability to imprint mass quantities of mobile accessories and various styles of USB drives. “We imprint quantities anywhere from a single promotional sample to hundreds of thousands of pieces,” says Kaufman. The printer outputs up to 269 square feet per hour, which allows the promotional products supplier to take on more printing jobs and increase sales.
Imprinting USB Drives
Customers rely on iClick for fast production and quality prints. Among those is Ed Lazaruk, founder, BestFlashDrives.com, a six year client. BestFlashDrives.com specializes in providing custom shapes, custom printed USB flash drives, and offers personalized custom designs. Outsourcing some of its print work to iClick, it expects high-quality imprints on USB drives in quick turnarounds, with repeatability from order to order.
iClick uses its Laguna USB drive for BestFlashDrives.com’s jobs because of the credit card style and it can be printed on with the Mimaki JFX200-2513. It takes two hours to complete the job from the time it is submitted. Utilizing the flatbed’s large print area, 520 of these USBs are printed in one run—held in a custom made jig, which furthers the efficiency of the process.
Jigs differ per product. For example, the jig constructed for PopSockets—small discs that stick to mobile phones for handling—holds up to 1,300 pieces for printing. In the course of 18 months, iClick runs over several thousand pieces. Kaufman cautions that jigs can create difficulties because they require precise calibration and alignment.
Thanks to iClick’s continued ability to correctly match printed USB drives order to order, BestFlashDrives.com is a loyal customer. Kaufman says that Lazaruk is happy with the print quality of the Mimaki JFX200-2513 and believes the photographic images offer a lot of detail.
Equally important is that the USB drives are printed in less than half the time as before. “This enables us to take rush orders, so if a client needs some full-color printed drives in just a couple of days, we can do that,” says Lazaruk.
Digital flatbed printers handle a range of substrates while offering customization. Personalization is important as more clients look to print providers from all backgrounds for unique products that help them stand out from the competition. As demonstrated by iClick, with the correct combination of hardware, ink, and jigs—anything can be printed on. DO
Nov2016, Digital Output