Industrial Printer Expands with Inkjet
UV inkjet opens up new opportunities for durable-products operation.
Adding equipment has always been about creating opportunities at Becker’s Fabrication (Yorba Linda, California). Integrating UV inkjet technology into the company’s diverse printing/manufacturing operation has been no exception. With applications ranging from labels to membrane switch overlays and large parts, including many with complex color, three-dimensional graphics, and/or sub-surface printing, Becker’s UV inkjet capabilities help support its continued expansion into diverse industrial markets.
Since its mid-’80s beginnings serving the golf industry with hot-stamped shaft and club labels, Becker’s offerings have grown to include flatbed screen printing, flexography, and digital printing, as well as associated fabrication processes such as diecutting and laminating. By enabling Becker’s to produce items from industrial controller overlays to labels used on underground locating equipment, the company’s arsenal of printing options has drawn customers in the irrigation controller, OEM, spa, and many other industries.
The company considers itself an early adopter of digital technology, purchasing an HP Indigo S2000 in 2001. Like many printers in the overlay and durable-label business, inkjet came much later than it did to graphics printers in the P-O-P and outdoor-advertising fields. In 2011, the company added a Roland VersaUV inkjet printer/cutter. “With digital technology, we saw an opportunity to create complex graphics with more colors and special effects, without the extra preparation time and costs associated with an analog process like screen printing,” says General Manager David Beilfuss.
A key factor driving the addition of UV inkjet was Becker’s desire to broaden its substrate capabilities with digital printing. In addition, the inkjet’s wider (30-inch) roll format could print larger pieces than Becker’s other digital printers.
These capabilities, along with general digital advantages like being able to print graphics directly from the designer’s file, adding perceived value without extra time and effort, have made inkjet an important tool in Becker’s operation. “We have to match our abilities and processes to what the customer wants the final outcome to be,” Beilfuss explains. This means factoring in the graphic, substrate, quantity, time frame/workload, and cost to determine the best technology for the job.
Becker’s typical uses for inkjet include printing parts requiring a greater than 12 x 18-inch printing format, prototypes, and shorter production runs. Its fast setup and curing also make inkjet the go-to technology for jobs that have to be turned over quickly. Becker’s expanded its inkjet capabilities with the addition of an Afinia DLP-2000, a high-speed Memjet-based printer, in late 2015.
Inkjet applications include overlays, labels, and more. Routinely used to print flexible overlays for membrane switches, inkjet jobs have included a 24 x 24-inch polyester overlay with a full “qwerty” keyboard and shaded colors for a 3D, embossed effect.
Inkjet is also key to Becker’s creation of P-O-P coffee and tea urn wraps – large custom overlays that go around approximately 2-foot square tanks. These are typically printed on 0.004-inch vinyl for permanent application and 0.010-inch textured polycarbonate if removable. The colorful, complex backgrounds and logos featured on these wraps are a great example of the possibilities – and production flexibility – that inkjet has brought to the company.