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New Dimensions in Digital Printing

(March 2014) posted on Mon Mar 03, 2014

An emerging class of digital, direct-to-substrate inkjet printers is allowing screen shops to expand into ad-specialty products, promotional items, and more.

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By Ben P. Rosenfield

Three models are offered. The UJF-6042 supports a maximum print area of 24 x 16.5 in. and a maximum substrate height of 5.9 in. The UJF-6042FX (2 in. maximum substrate height) and UJF-3042HG (5.9 in. maximum substrate height) can both support print sizes up to 11.8 x 16.5 in.
All three printers have eight ink cartridge slots and offer a choice of three ink systems. LH-100 (CMYK+W+clear) and LF-140 (CMYKcm+W+clear) also include a channel for a primer that can be applied automatically to improve adhesion to substrates such as PET, acrylic, glass, aluminum, brass, copper, and nylon. LH-100 inks provide better scratch and chemical resistance according to Mimaki, while LF-140 inks offer a more flexible ink film and enhanced imaging properties. LF-200 inks (CMYK+2xW) can be stretched up to 200% during post-print processing without causing delamination, according to the firm. The inks are supplied in 220-ml cartridges that can be refilled via 600-ml bulk ink packs.

All models feature the ability to over- or under-print white ink as well as Mimaki Circulation Technology, designed to circulate the white ink to improve its stability and standardize pigment dispersion. A nozzle-recovery function allows users to continue printing when a clogged nozzle can’t be resolved through the standard cleaning regimen.

Pad Print Machinery of Vermont

Pad Print Machinery of Vermont's fJET-24 UV LED printer is designed for personalized souvenirs, customized gifts, promotional items, and more. The printer supports single- or bi-directional printing in CMYK or CMYK+2xW. (An optional clear ink is also available.) Featuring a maximum print area of 20 x 24 in. and a top substrate height of 2.95 in., the fJET-24 can print at speeds up to 89 sq ft/hr at 1200 x 900 dpi in bi-directional, six-pass mode.

Standard features include 1-l ink tanks for each color, automatic print head maintenance, and platen height adjustment. The system includes a dedicated PC installed with ColorPrint RIP software and an LCD control panel to manage job-setup and print-queue functions. Options include a mobile computer workstation and a caddy for staging and storage. The fJET-24 occupies a footprint of 66 x 61 x 54 in.

The company also offers a variety of stock and custom inkjet print lines designed for higher-volume manufacturing environments, including monochrome and multicolor models with options such as corona pretreatment systems, custom fixtures, and pick-and-place unloading devices.

Roland DGA

Roland DGA's VersaUV LEF Series of flatbed UV inkjet printers are, according to the company, the only benchtop UV printers that are fully enclosed to cut the risk of UV light exposure to the skin and eyes, reduce dust and debris, and minimize ink odor. Available in two models, the printers can image directly onto a range of substrate types, including PVC, PET, ABS, wood, boards, acrylic, and more. They also facilitate direct printing of metallic electronic devices, heat-sensitive plastics, and a variety of three-dimensional objects.

The LEF-12 has a print area of 12 x 11 in., while the LEF-20 offers a print area up to 20 x 13 in. Maximum substrate height on both machines is 3.94 in. Both employ UV LED curing and use Roland’s ECO-UV inks (CMYK+W+ clear). The clear ink allows embossing and varnishing effects to be created, while the white can be printed as a spot color or a flood. Job presets allow specific settings for the user's most popular jobs to be recalled automatically. Eight presets are offered on the LEF-12, while the PEF-20 supports 20. Roland VersaWorks RIP software drives both systems.

Features distinct to the LEF-20 include a more advanced, faster curing system; a Distance Print mode designed to improve print quality on curved objects; idling technology to create a quiet production environment; substrate height-sensor bar made of non-magnetic material to facilitate printing magnetic media; and an ink-recirculation system intended to reduce waste.

Freelance writer Ben P. Rosenfield is the former managng editor of Screen Printing magazine.


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