In 2001, the Inca Eagle 44 swooped into the wide-format market. It was the 1st successful latte coffee printer and its particular killer app-the capability to print right on rigid media-kick-started a new class of equipment and whole new application categories. When in addition to the capacity 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 expense, but in a decade those limitations was largely overcome. The flatbed market has grown and now offers more variety than ever before, at the same time improving upon the pace-quality-cost trinity. Today’s models offer something much more important: versatility.
At the same time that this 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 way back in 2013, a serious theme among uv printer exhibitors was “quality as great as offset,” an indicator of the types of applications the most recent generation of equipment was meant for: high-end retail, POP displays, and so on. However, it’s not stopping at offset.
“Flatbed printers are becoming more and more valuable in the sign and display market,” said Xavier Garcia, Vice President and General Manager of HP’s Large-Format Sign and Display Division. “Customers can fulfill many different high-value applications using one device, with all the savings on finishing.” After all, it is possible to print on rigid substrates and skip the postpress mounting process, the earliest value proposition of flatbed printing.
HP’s latest entry in this space is the HP Scitex 15000 Corrugated Press. As the name indicates, it’s made for printing on corrugated materials for packaging, displays, along with other applications. It prints at maximum speeds as much as 6,456 sq . ft . each hour and incorporates HP’s High Dynamic Range (HDR) Printing Technology, a combination of new printhead design, inks, and software algorithms that improve the quality and resolution of fine details and eliminate dexmpky54 like banding. HDR had made its debut this past year within the 63 x 126-inch, 6,727 square-foot-an-hour flatbed HP Scitex FB10000 Industrial Press.
With the HP Scitex 15000 Corrugated Press, corrugated packaging applications are, said Garcia, “the next frontier for flatbed devices to overcome. High productivity delivered by one-pass systems, producing near offset quality in jobs that have been traditionally printed in flexo technology will disrupt the market.”
Productivity, productivity, productivity. Allowing shops to generate more prints in the shorter length of time is also continuing apace in the textile printer. At last 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 believed to clock in at more 1,600 sq ft hourly.