Small format coffee printer have distinct character and selection of special applications that belongs to them in a fashion that you don’t see with, say, the narrowest versions of solvent roll fed printers.
The compact size of the littlest A3 bed models means they’ll match places that you wouldn’t put a broad format printer, and also the relatively low entry prices signify they’re attracting the type of user that can’t accommodate or perhaps can’t afford a “conventional” flatbed.
Equally as more importantly, these baby flatbeds are designed for taking deep, often three dimensional objects that are on the beds by vacuum and jigs.
This materials handling ability above all else is driving the applications, that include objects including phone and tablet cases, laptop lids, leather folder, book and iPad covers, pens, USB sticks, golf balls, plaques, ceramic tiles and plates, trophies and office nameplates. To get more industrial purposes, the printers can be used for backlit instrument panels, touch switch panels, component marking and stuff like that.
They will likely print on anything that’s relatively small and solid, really. A large number of small printers use UV-cured inks, which sticks to many people surfaces, while some (for example Mimaki) can optionally print a primer fluid that increases the range of substrates which can be handled. Copytrax offers both strong solvent and water-based gel inks in addition to UV curing.
Modest curves might be printed on, but not anything having a significant variation in height since the accurate “throw distance” in the ink droplets is fairly small, just like any inkjet. As an example golf balls can only be printed inside a fairly small circle throughout the highest point, rather than the whole of just one hemisphere.
This class of small flatbeds have vacuum beds, however if you’re printing multiple small 3D objects you’ll want a jig to support them in predetermined positions, and so the printed image is used on the right areas. Jigs can be created from wood, foam, metal or Perspex.
The jig is linked to the design system or Rip through simple templates that position the artwork objects to align with the physical jigs. Mimaki demonstrated a jig-free camera based position locator and automatic registration system at drupa 2012, but hasn’t released it as being a production system so far.
The FESPA Digital event in Munich this year saw the latest arrival towards the baby flatbed party. Mutoh announced its ValueJet 426UF, a keenly priced A3 flatbed printer that fills a gap in their range where it couldn’t previously contest with its fellow Japanese rivals Mimaki and Roland DG.
This new model is due to ship in September 2014 and we’ll consider it in depth partly two, along with the equally interesting products provided by some of the smaller European developers: Copytrax/Azon and Bergstein.
This Mimaki UJF-3042FX has a jig on its bed to position small gifts – in this instance paper cutters.
Actually Mutoh came rather late on the party. Mimaki announced its first A3 flatbed, the UJF-3042, five-years ago and contains since revised it with several variations along with an A2 version. Mimaki itself wasn’t the first to build a4 uv printer, because there have been attempts to get small solvent flatbeds off the floor in early 2000s.
However, Mimaki’s mixture of UV inks and LED curing lamps having a deep adjustable-height bed, coupled with its marketing clout, made the UJF-3042 an immediate sales success. Priced below €30,000, these printers sold as soon as Mimaki might make them to the first year or two.
The very first UJF-3042 was revised and renamed UJF-3042FX in 2011. It will require items around 50 mm thick and from now on costs about €21,500 (a drop of approximately 25% since launch)). In 2011 it was actually joined through the €38,000 UJF-3042HG, that may accept 150 mm deep objects. An A2 format UJF-6042 was introduced in 2012, for around €50,000.
All models print a maximum of 1,800 dpi and provide CMYK plus light cyan and light-weight magenta and will optionally print a primer coating if needed.
The initial UJF-3042 prints either white or clear ink, whilst the other two can run in the identical unit. There’s a selection of high durability, stretchable or wide gamut inks, along with the white has recirculation.
As outlined by Mimaki, the UJF-6042 can print a whole bed in between 2 minutes 30 seconds and 7 minutes 37 seconds according to the quality settings.
Kebab fits in the deeper beds of your Mimaki UJF-3042HG as well as the UJF-6042 and includes motors to rotate cylindrical items.
In certain markets Mimaki offers optional “Kebab” holders for the deep-bed UJF-3043HG and UJF-6042 that will rotate cylindrical objects like wine bottles, candles or cardboard tubes under the heads. Cost is about €3,800 and it takes objects from 10 to 110mm diameter and up to 330 mm long.
Foiled metallic effects are favored by personalised giftware, but none of the small flatbeds have metallic inks yet. However at the end of this past year I-Sub Digital, a UK based Mimaki dealer, launched Digi-Foil, an array of metallic and decorative foils that were specially developed for use with all the UJF-3042 and 6042 models.
This works with a heated applicator to get a largely manual process after initial printing. A special adhesive ink is utilized in the printer as a separate pass, allowing prototypes, one-offs and short runs of foiled work to be produced without making use of hot foil dies and presses. I-Sub says that the foiled area could be anything “to dexmpky56 single dot.”
Roland DG’s first small UV flatbed was small indeed. The VersaUV LEF-12 comes with an A4 printing area. It had been initially priced at little less than the larger Mimaki UJF-3042 models, which limited its appeal despite some nice features for instance a sealed lid and optional carbon filter to minimize dust and ink mist.
Roland fixed that in 2013 by launching the SRA3 format LEF-20 at a price that briefly undercut the Mimaki around €25,000, while decreasing the LEF-12’s price considerably: in britain it is the same in principle as €16,400.
The LEF-20 takes objects approximately 100 mm high. It provides CMYK plus white and clear ink, in 220ml cartridges. With both Roland models there’s a selection of matt or gloss finish when curing the clear coating.
With a maximum 1,440 dpi resolution on the LEF-20, Roland says it requires 7 minutes 20 seconds to print an entire SRA3 bed with CMYK only; or 12 minutes 44 seconds with CMYK plus white; and 17 minutes 20 seconds with CMYK white clear.
To Some Extent 2 we’ll take a look at further options within the textile printer, plus a examine where they fit alongside existing analogue and alternative digital processes.