The development of the flatbed inkjet printer market

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One of the most important trends in the digital wide format market is the rapid development of the flatbed inkjet printer market. These printers offer improved economics and the ability to produce a wide range of applications. One common misconception about flatbed inkjet printers is that they only print on rigid media. In a recent survey, we found that owners of flatbed printers print onto rigid substrates about 25 percent of the time.

Frequently, flatbed inkjet printers have a roll-feed option that allows them to produce a wide range of applications. So, there is a need for flexible print media that performs well on these printers. The market for substrates for digital wide format printing has changed with a new range of rigid and flexible substrates that have been developed for wide format flatbed inkjet printing systems.

Value Vinyls, a family-owned company based in Dallas, Texas, has brought a series of innovative products to market to address the changing digital printing market. “We’re seeing a surge in interest with our specialty products for signage applications, especially our PET 15 oz. Opaque Ultra-Smooth,” says Lorna D’Alessio, director of sales for advertising media. “This is a complete blockout product manufactured without any scrim, so we avoid the curling that occurs on the sides of most unfinished signage. It is single- or double-side printable and compatible with UV, solvent and screen printing inks. The specially engineered versatility to lay flat makes this product work on flatbed printers, and the memory in the film helps it to correct itself and flatten when printed roll-to-roll. The surface is smooth, so it presents a more upscale appearance than standard PVC rolled media. It is specifically engineered to meet the necessary NFPA 701 requirements for indoor signage.”

There are many options for digital printing these days as more printing companies enter the digital printing market. “We try to deliver products supporting printers to differentiate themselves from those who handle primarily what have unfortunately become commodity items for many suppliers,” D’Alessio says. “We’re acutely aware of the urgent need for printers to find more profitable ways to capture increasingly specialized projects.”

At InfoTrends, we anticipate more portfolio expansion in 2010 as substrate manufacturers develop products designed to enable the production of a wide range of applications that printers want to produce. Specifically, we expect a lot of development of more flexible substrates for the wide format UV-curable inkjet printer market.

Tim Greene is director, wide format printing and jetting technologies opportunities, InfoTrends, Weymouth, Mass.


Comments are the opinion of individual posters and do not reflect the views of Fabric Graphics or Industrial Fabrics Association International.

  • Jose Melgar

    Roll-fed option is a trend

    If you take a look at recent flatbed models, you notice roll-to-roll mechanisms' popularity is increasing. Flatbed models from Oce, Gerber, Grapo, Mimaki, SwissQprint, SkyJet, Teckwin and others are now offering roll-to-roll capability.

    I remember at SGIA 2009 the Gandinnovations Jeti 1224 was exhibited with a sturdy roll-to-roll system, but that was an upgrade of about US$80,000. The best design would be that on which you don't have to waste tons of media webbing it. A reasonable price would make you decide for a roll-fed upgrade to your flatbed instead of a dedicated roll-to-roll printer!

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