Small format latte printer have distinct character and range of special applications of their in a manner that you don’t see with, say, the narrowest versions of solvent roll fed printers.
The compact size of the smallest A3 bed models means they’ll go with places that you wouldn’t put a broad format printer, and also the relatively low entry prices suggest that they’re attracting the sort of user that can’t accommodate or simply can’t afford a “conventional” flatbed.
Just like moreover, these baby flatbeds are built to consider deep, often three dimensional objects which can be found on the beds by vacuum and jigs.
This materials handling ability above all else is driving the applications, including 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. For more industrial purposes, the printers can be used for backlit instrument panels, touch switch panels, component marking and so forth.
They may print on anything that’s relatively small, and solid, really. The majority of these small printers use UV-cured inks, which sticks to many surfaces, while some (including Mimaki) can optionally print a primer fluid that increases the plethora of substrates that can be handled. Copytrax offers both strong solvent and water-based gel inks in addition to UV curing.
Modest curves may be printed on, although not anything by using a significant variation in height because the accurate “throw distance” of the ink droplets is relatively small, as with any inkjet. As an example golf balls could only be printed in the fairly small circle round the highest point, and not 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 need to have a jig to hold them in predetermined positions, therefore the printed image is used to the correct areas. Jigs can be made from wood, foam, metal or Perspex.
The jig is connected to the design system or Rip through simple templates that position the artwork objects to align together 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 a a production system thus far.
The FESPA Digital event in Munich this year saw the latest arrival to the baby flatbed party. Mutoh announced its ValueJet 426UF, a keenly priced A3 flatbed printer that fills a gap in its range where it couldn’t previously contest with its fellow Japanese rivals Mimaki and Roland DG.
This new model is caused by ship in September 2014 and we’ll see it in greater detail to some extent two, with the equally interesting products available from a few of the smaller European developers: Copytrax/Azon and Bergstein.
This Mimaki UJF-3042FX includes 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 possesses since revised it with several variations plus an A2 version. Mimaki itself wasn’t the first one to build phone case printer, since there ended up being tries to get small solvent flatbeds off the ground in early 2000s.
However, Mimaki’s combination of UV inks and LED curing lamps with a deep adjustable-height bed, along with its marketing clout, made the UJF-3042 a fast sales success. Priced below €30,000, these printers sold as quickly as Mimaki can make them to the first year or two.
The initial UJF-3042 was revised and renamed UJF-3042FX this year. It takes items around 50 mm thick and now costs about €21,500 (a drop around 25% since launch)). In The Year 2011 it absolutely was joined from the €38,000 UJF-3042HG, which could accept 150 mm deep objects. An A2 format UJF-6042 was introduced in 2012, for roughly €50,000.
All models print a maximum of 1,800 dpi and provide CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta and definately will optionally print a primer coating if needed.
The very first UJF-3042 prints either white or clear ink, while the other two can run in the identical unit. There’s a selection of high durability, stretchable or wide gamut inks, and the white has recirculation.
In accordance with Mimaki, the UJF-6042 can print a whole bed in between 2 minutes thirty seconds and 7 minutes 37 seconds depending on the quality settings.
Kebab fits about the deeper beds of your Mimaki UJF-3042HG along with the UJF-6042 and includes motors to rotate cylindrical items.
In many markets Mimaki offers optional “Kebab” holders for the deep-bed UJF-3043HG and UJF-6042 that can rotate cylindrical objects for example wine bottles, candles or cardboard tubes under the heads. Cost is about €3,800 and yes it takes objects from 10 to 110mm diameter or higher to 330 mm long.
Foiled metallic effects are favored by personalised giftware, but not one of the small flatbeds have metallic inks yet. However at the conclusion of just last year I-Sub Digital, a UK based Mimaki dealer, launched Digi-Foil, a variety of metallic and decorative foils which were specially developed for use with the UJF-3042 and 6042 models.
This uses a heated applicator for the largely manual process after initial printing. A special adhesive ink is commonly used inside the printer as a separate pass, allowing prototypes, one-offs and short runs of foiled try to be produced without making use of hot foil dies and presses. I-Sub says that the foiled area might be anything “down to dexmpky56 single dot.”
Roland DG’s first small UV flatbed was very small indeed. The VersaUV LEF-12 posseses an A4 printing area. It was actually initially priced at little below the greater Mimaki UJF-3042 models, which limited its appeal despite some nice features such as 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 cost that briefly undercut the Mimaki at around €25,000, while decreasing the LEF-12’s price considerably: in britain it is actually now the equivalent of €16,400.
The LEF-20 takes objects approximately 100 mm high. It gives you CMYK plus white and clear ink, in 220ml cartridges. With the two Roland models there’s a selection of matt or gloss finish when curing the clear coating.
By using a maximum 1,440 dpi resolution about the LEF-20, Roland says it will take 7 minutes 20 seconds to print a whole SRA3 bed with CMYK only; or 12 minutes 44 seconds with CMYK plus white; and 17 minutes 20 seconds with CMYK white clear.
Partly 2 we’ll look at further options from the dtg printer, plus a take a look at where they can fit alongside existing analogue and alternative digital processes.