Mimaki’s Large Format Flatbeds - UV Machines That Pass The Print Test?
In our previous post we cast our eye over Mimaki’s range of solvent printers (here) and which roll fed option was right for your business. In this post its the turn of Mimaki’s UV curable machines. Will one of these flatbeds be the missing piece in your printer portfolio?
Mimaki Flatbed Ranges
Mimaki has two ranges of flatbeds- the UJF ‘direct-to-object’ machines and the JFX large format printers. We’ll cover the UJF range in another post, this one is dedicated to the JFX.
What Is UV Printing?
First lets cover the basics. UV printers still use inkjet technology and still fire ink down onto media in pretty much the same way as rollfed machines do.
Inkjet rollfed printers though, use one of three ‘carriers’ for the pigments of ink - water, latex or solvent. Depending on the technology, the pigment is either left behind on the media by evaporation, dissipation or the use of heat. For more on this, we have a post looking at the differences between solvent and latex inkjet technology (here).
With UV printing, the ink dot is left sitting on top of the media. It doesn’t need a specially coated receiver layer like waterbased inkjet or any prior media prep.
The ink drops just sit there until the head passes back over and the UV light rays hit them. When the UV light passes over, the ink immediately cures and dries and becomes very, very durable.
With the curing happening due to the UV light, it means the substrates don’t need to be specially manufactured for the purpose. It opens the door to graphics being printed directly onto glass, wood, stone, acrylics plus the more standard signage substrates such as foam PVC, Correx and aluminium.
With flatbed UV printers, the need to print to self-adhesive vinyl and then apply to the boards has effectively gone. The cost savings of cutting out these processes can be dramatic.
Another thing to be aware of when looking at UV printers is that not all UV light sources are made equally.
Many models use standard bulbs that don’t last the test of time, are expensive, and also need to get to the right operating brightness to do their stuff.
Mimaki only use LED bulbs. They last longer, are much more efficient and also instantly hit the light levels they need to without having to warm up.
It makes a big difference in a production environment to get the machine up and running instantly rather than waiting for lengthy start up times.
Do we even need to mention the difference in heat output from standard and UV lamps (LED lamps equal virtually none) or that they use up to 15 times less power…
If you need any more information on the huge benefits of LED lamps for UV flatbed printers, we’ve got a PDF we can email over with case studies and examples.
Back to the Mimaki UV flatbed range:
The JFX200-2531 is Mimaki’s entry level model but with a maximum print area of 2.5 x 3.1m it should cover most requirements comfortably. Coupled with a top speed of 25 sq m / hour for 4 colour work, it’s no slouch either.
Add in the white ink printing and it can still hit 12.5 sq m / hour.
Talking about the optional white ink for a moment, it can simultaneously print white along with the colours so the JFX range can effectively ‘back up’ a clear substrate and print the colour over the top in the same pass. Got your attention now for acrylic blocks or window graphics?
On top of the white ink, a clear vanish is available for that ‘spot UV’ look that gives a real depth and unique appearance to printed graphics.
Your print is going into a competitive environment where point of sale graphics really have to stand out. It’s differences like this embossed spot varnish look that will get a customer really noticing a retail display.
As well as standard inks, Mimaki can also offer UV inks that are suitable for printing on soft materials, have a higher weather resistance, and also an inkset that is thermoformable.
Need to know more on any of those? Give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you decide which is right for your business.
We do hear about static issues with certain media and flatbed printers. Foam PVC in particularly can be a culprit. Mimaki has added an ioniser as standard to eliminate electrostatic charges.
The JFX series also uses the same Mimaki Advanced Pass System that we discussed in the Mimaki rollfed post that reduces banding automatically.
Design changes in Mimaki’s new models include the ink bottles being situated in the front of the machine in a much more accessible spot. There are integrated layout pins which can be positioned in the bed to make the alignment of boards quicker, simple and repeatable. When you’re printing multiple boards at up to 50mm thick, these alignment pins will certainly speed up the process.
Speaking of clever ideas, the JFX series utilises a Toggle Print feature which as Mimaki states, ‘allows the loading or unloading of print material on one side of the bed whilst simultaneously printing on the other side of the bed’.
The bed size has been designed for industry standard board sizes. I’ve seen some flatbed machines that require custom sized panels in order to fit two panels across the bed. With any conversion costs, minimum order quantities or lead times for board cutting, there are no such issues here.
To hold your sheets down in place, the large 2.5 x 3.1m bed contains four separate vacuum sections for holding media in place as standard.