By Cassandra Balentine
In our June issue, we focused on enhancements in the flatbed space. These ranged from print quality to productivity and versatility. Click here to read the article. Flatbed equipment manufacturers continuously develop their solutions to appeal to new markets and broaden application opportunities. Here are the latest feature sets on select wide format flatbed devices.
Agfa Graphics, Inc. offers a variety of flatbed devices with advanced feature sets to ensure productivity. For example, the company added tandem beds to its Jeti Mira flatbed. The two-bed system allows users to load one bed while the other is printing. It also added automatic board feeding to its Jeti Tauro high-performance system and Anapurna hybrid printer lines.
Additionally, the ability to print a spot varnish on the Jeti Mira and Jeti Titan flatbed printers allows print providers to create special effects, including dimensional and 3D printing.
Canon Solutions America (CSA) recently introduced light cyan and light magenta inks for its mid-volume Océ Arizona 1200 series. The company still offers the four-color Océ Arizona 1240 GT and XT models suited for this type of application.
In addition to an added ink selection, CSA is implementing pneumatic registration pins on its new flatbed models. “This started with the Océ Arizona 6100 series since the 33 board per hour speed didn’t leave the operator with much time to load and position the boards when printing in dual origin mode. We’ve again included it with the new Océ Arizona 1200 series but more for the accuracy and repeatability it provides. Double-sided work can now be printed in perfect front-to-back registration with little effort,” says Randy Paar, marketing manager, display graphics, CSA.
In terms of printer maintenance, CSA introduced its Automated Maintenance System on the Océ Arizona 6100 series. It provides a hands-off solution for purging and vacuuming printheads. “Since the Océ Arizona 6100 series can have as many as 42 printheads, stopping production to manually purge and vacuum printheads would impact productivity—not to mention the risk of printhead damage since human operators are not always consistent in their techniques. Now, at the push of a button the operator can clean any or all ink channels and be running production again in as little as 25 seconds,” explains Paar.
Durst Image Technology US LLC focuses on a range of areas for its flatbeds and is developing printers that are more productive, capable of running 24/7 production, and provide the lowest operating cost and cost per print. Terry Amerine, director of product marketing, Durst, says sustainability is also an area the company is focused on.
EFI offers products targeting the production volume signage and graphics space, serving customers ranging from small mom-and-pop shops to large sign and graphics providers. Thomas Krumm, product marketing manager, EFI, says media handling improvements to its flatbeds make its customers more versatile in terms of replacing analog print work and growing their application capabilities. The company’s highest volume VUTEk HS series printers offer a series of semi- and fully automated material handling features that enable pallet loading so users can move high-volume jobs from offset to digital.
The company has also developed media edge guide accessories for its VUTEk hybrid printers to ensure boards stay flat when running through a printer. “That eliminates a lot of downtime and gives users the ability to run corrugated board jobs at full-rated press speeds, so it is a productivity enhancement that printing companies can use to successfully migrate into more board POP display applications or even corrugated board packaging,” says Krumm.
In terms of printhead technology, EFI devotes a lot of resources to testing and certifying printhead performance to very specific tolerances with its ink and controller systems, including the digital front end “For our customers it means there is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach and that is to their benefit,” adds Krumm.
The Acuity from Fujifilm North America Corporation, Graphic Systems Division features six to 42 picoliter drop size, designed for PSPs accustom to meeting close-view wide format printing needs. Heather Roden, associate product marketing manager, Fujifilm, comments that the newly launched Acuity Select 20 series offers the ability to configure light inks for those with a fine art printing focus.
Additionally, the Fujifilm Acuity family offers registration pins with the mid-range production powerhouse, the Acuity F. Roden says the Acuity F is developed to meet the demands of the quality minded PSP. “The inclusion of registration pins allows operators to quickly set up media in print zone A while still printing in print zone B—resulting in nonstop production.”
HP Inc. responds to customers’ needs for incremental changes that make a big difference in their operations. “It’s increasingly important that we look at developing new feature sets that enable better overall integration with the printers and presses without increasing operating costs or sacrificing application range,” shares Thomas Giglio, strategic accounts manager, HP.
For example, the introduction of the HP Scitex FB550 and FB750 Industrial printers in 2015 brought several incremental improvements, including a tabletop roll holder, which allows users to change from rigid to roll quickly; continuous sheet loading to reduce the distance between sheets from 20 to five inches; and the increased ability to multiple-up jobs with different images on various sized materials.
On its TX2512 4×8-foot flatbed, Inkjet Technology, Inc. features height capacity of up to four inches instead of the two inches common on many sign and graphics printers on the market today. ITI also offers pop-up pin registration for accurate rigid product media placement.
Ken VanHorn, director, marketing and business development and Hugo Gonzalez, application specialist, Mimaki USA, Inc., note that the most recent technology advancements for Mimaki flatbeds involve the UJF-7151 printer, which was first introduced last November. Specifically, media handling improvements include a moving table rather than gantry, ink circulation for all colors—not just white, and the ability to produce extremely fine dots.
The printer’s ability to produce small dots not only improves print quality, VanHorn and Gonzalez say it also enables greater variability in the dot sizes available for printing. This means users can maximize printing speeds according to image requirements. “For example, users can increase the dot size range and reduce resolution for printing solid color images that don’t require fine gradient dots—and do it in fewer passes. This reduces the overall time required to print the image.”
The UJF-7151—and the entire UJF Series—are popular in awards and personalization, creating applications such as plaques and customized finished goods. It can also be used as part of a system to create package prototypes or custom pieces.
Mutoh America, Inc. introduced its new hybrid UV LED printer at International Sign Association’s expo this Spring. The new ValueJet 1638UH UV LED printer incorporates staggered dual printheads with dual lamps for increased cure times, which allows for faster print speeds. The new 64-inch UV LED hybrid is capable of printing directly on clear or colored media using white ink. The hybrid device allows users to print on material up to a half-inch thick.
The Novus Imaging, Inc. Ultra includes UV LED curing; auto masking—hole by hole and not by zone; dynamic variable drop technology; white, varnish, and spot colors; and an optional integrated sheet auto loader/unloader.
The Ultra targets mid- to high-volume shops due to its scalability. “The increased demand for true flatbed inkjet production devices continues across the entire digital market driven by requirements for higher quality, faster throughput, and up-time reliability,” explains Guy Cipresso, VP sales and business development, Novus.
Screen Americas provides its TruePress Jet W3200UV, which offers automated purgeless printhead cleaning to enable longer printhead life, inkless cleaning, and no manual cleaning. Intelligent nozzle mapping provides the ability to remap bad or clogged nozzles to continue printing at the same print quality without adding passes to compensate for nozzle outages. It also provides patented level table technology to optically map and level surfaces via printed shim technology to ensure a print perfect print surface across full a 5×10-foot bed. The printer also features magnetic encoded linear motors for digital precision movement of flatbed table and print carriage.
Roland DGA Corporation recently introduced two UV flatbed printers including the VersaUV LEJ-640FT and VersaUV LEF-300, which can print directly on substrates up to six inches and 3.94 inches thick, respectively.
Jay Roberts, product manager, UV printers, Roland, says the company incorporates a range of features including a pin registration system and a laser-guided media/crash sensor on its LEJ-640FT. “In addition to protecting the printhead this feature enables the printer to more accurately sense the height of irregular, 3D surfaces.”
The company also recently introduced new EUV4 ink, which is available for all VersaUV printers and printer/cutters. The ink is formulated to ensure accurate droplet placement, strong adhesion, excellent color reproduction, and reduced odor.
Vanguard Digital Printing Systems’ machines are designed from the ground up to include features that others sell as options. “Features like LED curing, static suppression, grayscale variable drop printing, auto height detection, white ink circulation, and push button pin registration,” shares Jim Peterson, founding partner/co-COO, Vanguard. He says the company also focuses on proprietary features like its BandGuard symmetrical printhead arrangement technology designed to nearly eliminate banding.
These vendors are only a percentage of the businesses that offer flatbed printers. Continue reading digitaloutput.net and the print issues of the magazine to learn about more providers.
Jun2016, Digital Output DOFLATBED2016