Small format latte art printer have distinct character and selection of special applications of their very own in a manner that you don’t see with, say, the narrowest versions of solvent roll fed printers.
The compact dimensions of the littlest A3 bed models means they’ll fit into places that you wouldn’t put a large format printer, and the relatively low entry prices suggest that they’re attracting the sort of user that can’t accommodate or possibly can’t afford a “conventional” flatbed.
Just like moreover, these baby flatbeds are constructed to take deep, often three dimensional objects that happen to be located on the beds by vacuum and jigs.
This materials handling ability above all else is driving the applications, including objects such as 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 as 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 surfaces, even though some (like Mimaki) can optionally print a primer fluid that increases the range of substrates that can be handled. Copytrax offers both strong solvent and water-based gel inks along with UV curing.
Modest curves may be printed on, however, not anything using a significant variation in height since the accurate “throw distance” of your ink droplets is comparatively small, as with every inkjet. As an example golf balls are only able to be printed in a fairly small circle around the highest point, and not the whole of a single hemisphere.
This all class of small flatbeds have vacuum beds, however, if you’re printing multiple small 3D objects you’ll want a jig to carry them in predetermined positions, and so the printed image is used to the right areas. Jigs can be produced 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 using 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 up to now.
The FESPA Digital event in Munich this year saw the most up-to-date arrival for 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 due to ship in September 2014 and we’ll see it in more detail partly two, alongside the equally interesting products available from a few of the smaller European developers: Copytrax/Azon and Bergstein.
This Mimaki UJF-3042FX has a jig on its bed to position small gift items – in cases like this paper cutters.
Actually Mutoh has arrived rather late to the party. Mimaki announced its first A3 flatbed, the UJF-3042, 5yrs ago and contains since revised it with a couple of variations plus an A2 version. Mimaki itself wasn’t the first to build phone case printer, because there ended up being attempts to get small solvent flatbeds above the ground in the early 2000s.
However, Mimaki’s blend of UV inks and LED curing lamps by using a deep adjustable-height bed, in conjunction 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 for that first couple of years.
The original UJF-3042 was revised and renamed UJF-3042FX in the year 2011. It will require items as much as 50 mm thick and today costs about €21,500 (a drop of approximately 25% since launch)). This Year 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 approximately €50,000.
All models print a maximum of 1,800 dpi and give CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta and definately will optionally print a primer coating if required.
The original UJF-3042 prints either white or clear ink, even though the other two can run within the identical unit. There’s a selection of high durability, stretchable or wide gamut inks, along with the white has recirculation.
According to Mimaki, the UJF-6042 can print a complete bed between 2 minutes 30 seconds and 7 minutes 37 seconds according to the quality settings.
Kebab fits around the deeper beds from the Mimaki UJF-3042HG as well as the UJF-6042 and includes motors to rotate cylindrical items.
In many markets Mimaki offers optional “Kebab” holders for that deep-bed UJF-3043HG and UJF-6042 that may rotate cylindrical objects including wine bottles, candles or cardboard tubes beneath the heads. Pricing is about €3,800 and yes it takes objects from 10 to 110mm diameter and up to 330 mm long.
Foiled metallic effects are loved by personalised giftware, but no small flatbeds have metallic inks yet. However after a year ago I-Sub Digital, a UK based Mimaki dealer, launched Digi-Foil, an array of metallic and decorative foils which have been specially produced for use with the UJF-3042 and 6042 models.
This relies on a heated applicator for the largely manual process after initial printing. A particular adhesive ink can be used within the printer as being a separate pass, allowing prototypes, one-offs and short runs of foiled try to be manufactured without resorting to hot foil dies and presses. I-Sub states that the foiled area might be anything “right down to dexmpky56 single dot.”
Roland DG’s first small UV flatbed was really small indeed. The VersaUV LEF-12 has an A4 printing area. It was actually initially priced at little under the greater Mimaki UJF-3042 models, which limited its appeal despite some nice features like a sealed lid and optional carbon filter to lower 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 the same as €16,400.
The LEF-20 takes objects around 100 mm high. It provides CMYK plus white and clear ink, in 220ml cartridges. With the two Roland models there’s a choice of matt or gloss finish when curing the clear coating.
Having a maximum 1,440 dpi resolution about 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 examine further options from the textile printer, as well as a take a look at where they can fit alongside existing analogue and alternative digital processes.