Learn how to find a flatbed that's right for your operation and what you can do to take full advantage of its capabilites.
Even better, new digital technology makes it possible for the inkjet printer to shed its characteristic random (stochastic) dot pattern, which gives the illusion of a tighter image with more diffused tones, and produce a halftone (rosette) dot pattern that looks very much like what the screen-printing customer is used to seeing (Figure 4). This makes it possible to calibrate the flatbed UV printer to the screen-printing system so that the inkjet proof closely emulates the finished screen-printing product.
Customized prototypes The same logic that makes flatbed UV inkjets so suitable for short runs and proofs also makes them ideal for creating prototypes. Flatbeds allow printers to keep their screen-printing lines dedicated to higher-volume runs and avoid the inefficiencies of frequent setups and teardowns.
Making up for short falls Many screen printers know from experience that customers often require more pieces than they initially order. As a hedge against the painful prospect of asking the customer to pay for a new setup (or eating the cost), many printers inventory additional prints. This practice, of course, has its own unwanted costs. Making up for shortfalls with inkjet prints solves this problem.
Avoid subbing To satisfy a good customer or maintain control over a multi-element project, many screen printers get involved in contracting out short-run photo-quality work. This may result in loss of control of the project timing and product quality, as well as reduced profitability. With flatbed UV inkjet technology in house, the need to contract out your work can be dramatically reduced or eliminated.
Stretch current screen-printing capacity If your screen-printing capacity is stretched to the limit, there are many tasks, such as those described above, that can be profitably offloaded to the flatbed UV inkjet system. This can make it possible to postpone the purchase of an additional screen-printing system.
Pursuing new opportunities
Once you acquire a flatbed UV inkjet system to realize core business advantages, it makes sense to explore other "out-of-home" opportunities that make it possible to expand your business into new areas, many with higher profit potential. These applications may involve fast turn-around, lower volume, high-quality printing of graphic images for P-O-P displays and signage, as well as completely new applications with packaging and decorative elements. Some of the potential applications that can be addressed with flatbed UV inkjets are listed in Figure 5.
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