Another important differentiator is excellent registration and accuracy. “The media is stationary and the gantry moves back and forth over the media,” Luck said. “That’s where you get the true flatbed performance. The registration and accuracy is outstanding because the media is not moving.”
Another manufacturer with an innovative curing system is Atlanta-based Mimaki USA. Its JFX-1615, introduced last year, uses a cold curing, or UV-LED curing system, said spokesman Steve Urmano. “You don’t have the heat byproduct,” he reported. “Without the heat byproduct you can print on thinner materials, and clear materials such as glass and mirrors.”
Additional benefits of the JFX-1615 include being able to use both white ink and clear urethane inks, the latter providing spot varnish effects often found on high-end imagery such as annual report materials. It’s also useful in printing a gloss on an image that’s already been printed. “We have a large manufacturer client that uses this to protect an area that’s been printed,” Urmano said. “There will be two layers printed, one the color, the second an overprint in clear.”
The biggest advantage the Mimaki JFX-1615 provides is allowing users to print on more types of materials, opening them to wider markets, he added.
EFI’s VUTEk GS3200 hybrid flatbed and roll-to-roll printer complements higher volume commercial production printers, EFI reports. The company calls it “the perfect replacement for multiple wide- and grand-format printers in a single shop. Its versatility expands the reach of super wide printing into new industries and applications with breakthrough speed up to 2400 square feet per hour and incredible photorealistic image quality up to true 1000 dpi in the same printer.”
Nicola Cracco, owner of commercial printer Segnobit in Creazzo Vicanza, Italy, recently purchased a GS3200, enabling the shop to perform shorter runs, more regionalization and to print on a wide array of rigid and flexible materials. “As these printers are becoming faster, more versatile and more economical, the gap between high-volume and digital printing continues to close,” Cracco said.
“Our new ability to economically produce shorter runs with expanded regionalization to a range of non-standard materials -- all the while carrying lower inventory—makes the GS3200 a sound investment with a brilliant ROI.”
Making Shops More Profitable
A true flatbed printer combined with a digital cutting system is a versatile, powerful tool to produce custom and short-run items that are typically too expensive or impossible to produce using other technologies, Paar said. For that reason, he encourages shops to apply imagination and creativity to produce something that is entirely new, or to tap into new market segments.
“Consider personalization of already manufactured goods, custom packaging, interior design elements, furniture, novelties and promotional items,” he urged. “Invite some creative people from different market segments to your shop, and show them the capabilities of your equipment. Ask them what they could do with it. You’re likely to get some different ideas from fresh creative minds.”