In 2001, the Inca Eagle 44 swooped down into the wide-format market. It was the 1st successful latte printer and its particular killer app-the opportunity to print entirely on rigid media-kick-started a new class of equipment and totally new application categories. When along with the ability of UV (ultraviolet) inks to print on just about any surface, flatbeds juiced up wide-format printing in exciting new ways.
Those nascent flatbed models were hampered by perennial first-generation issues of speed, quality, and cost, but within a decade those limitations have been largely overcome. The flatbed market has grown and now provides more variety than before, while improving upon the rate-quality-cost trinity. Today’s models offer something a lot more important: versatility.
Concurrently that the technology has improved, flatbed wide-format digital printing has become muscling in on territories once strictly the purview of analog printing technologies.
At FESPA London in 2013, an important theme among phone case printer exhibitors was “quality as good as offset,” an indication of the types of applications the most up-to-date generation of equipment was meant for: high-end retail, POP displays, and the like. However, it’s not stopping at offset.
“Flatbed printers are becoming a lot more valuable in the sign and display market,” said Xavier Garcia, V . P . and General Manager of HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Customers can fulfill various high-value applications using one device, with all the savings on finishing.” After all, you can print on rigid substrates and skip the postpress mounting process, the earliest value proposition of flatbed printing.
HP’s latest entry with this space is the HP Scitex 15000 Corrugated Press. As its name indicates, it’s made for printing on corrugated materials for packaging, displays, as well as other applications. It prints at maximum speeds as much as 6,456 sq ft per hour and incorporates HP’s High Dynamic Range (HDR) Printing Technology, a mix of new printhead design, inks, and software algorithms that improve the quality and resolution of fine details and eliminate dexmpky54 for example banding. HDR had made its debut last year from the 63 x 126-inch, 6,727 square-foot-an-hour flatbed HP Scitex FB10000 Industrial Press.
Together with the HP Scitex 15000 Corrugated Press, corrugated packaging applications are, said Garcia, “the next frontier for flatbed devices to conquer. High productivity delivered by one-pass systems, producing near offset quality in jobs which have been traditionally printed in flexo technology will disrupt the market.”
Productivity, productivity, productivity. Allowing shops to pump out more prints within a shorter time period is also continuing apace within the t-shirt printer. Eventually June’s FESPA Digital 2014, Fujifilm unveiled its new Acuity F series UV flatbeds, featuring an 8.2 x 9.8-inch bed size and production speeds said to clock in at more 1,600 sq ft an hour.