Flatbed vs rollfed UV printers

January 07, 2019 3 min read

In previous posts we’ve discussed such hot topics as solvent vs latex printers, and all in one print and cut against two separate machines.

This post looks at flatbed and rollfed UV printers and which one is the right choice for your business ( and your wallet ). 

Firstly, take a look at your company.

What do you print now?

Do you mainly work with self adhesive vinyl or print lightstop films for exhibitions?

Except for a few foam PVC sheets and ACM, do most of your supplies turn up on a roll?

Do you laminate everything for durability and not just necessity?

Ask yourselves these questions to determine what sector of the industry you sell your print into.

Be honest, if you’re a sticker producer then a flatbed machine isn’t really going to pay its way.

If you’re always mounting vinyl to boards, however, a flatbed could be the logical choice.

Why UV? 

Have you explored the options in solvent and latex machines?

What is it about UV curable that has caught your attention?

Is it the instant dry capabilities or the wide range of potential media? 

If you’re looking at it for the versatility of white ink, what do you intend to use it for?

Is it for window graphics where you will be backing them up with an overprint of white or for clear acrylic photo blocks?

Different usage cases call for different print technology. If you’re unsure, talk to us.

Although UV is thought of as being super durable when it comes to scratching and scuffing, some applications still require an overlaminate.

For dry wipe or anti graffiti purposes or even to add a flat matte or ultra glossy finish, laminates still have to be used.

Its worth bearing in mind that many manufacturers recommend UV curable specific laminates for protecting UV prints.

The way the ink sits on top of the substrates’ surface creates a 3D feel. A thicker glue layer or heavier adhesive coat weight can be needed to cover both the ‘peaks and troughs’.

If you have a niche requirement or ongoing contract, let us make sure there is UV compatible media to cover your needs.

Space considerations 

Have you the room for a flatbed?

With the media tables required at both front and rear of the machine, an 8’ x 4’ printer needs at least the same again at either end.

A roll-fed printer has a much smaller footprint and has the added benefit of usually being manoeuvrable if it needs to be shifted.

Equipment cost

Due to the required add-ons such as media tables, there will be a difference in price between flatbed and roll-fed printers.

This is just one of the primary reasons why it’s important to buy the kit you need today (with an eye on tomorrow), rather than purchase a machine that has more bells and whistles than you’ll ever need.

Know your essentials along with your nice-to-haves but don’t be sold something that doesn’t fit your business.

There are differences in operation speed with some machines capable of a much higher production throughput, unique inksets for different applications, even bed size or roll width variations.

This post is to get you to start thinking about your requirements and after all these questions, you should be closer to knowing whether its a flatbed or a rolled that needs o be on your shopping list.

Before you commit though, there is one more option which I’ll review in our next post - the UV Hybrid printer. 


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