5 Things about Commercial Printing – Flatbed Printers
Posted on July 23, 2014
In the commercial printing world, nothing beats a flatbed printer. Sure, there is always a need for the tried-and-true roll-to-roll, offset and screen printing methods, but many of the large-scale visual projects that most clients encounter have been completed on a flatbed printer. Because this printing method is so versatile, providing the ability to print on almost anything, for any business that wants marketing and advertising materials that are sure to captivate customers, a flatbed printer is the way to go.
The days of printing directly to flexible materials such as paper or canvas, as required for roll-fed printers, is a thing of the past. We can still print on flexible materials, of course, but the quality is just that much better. The great thing about flatbed printers is that they can accommodate a variety of materials in varying thicknesses. Perhaps you would like a custom sign printed on metal for your manufacturing facility. Flatbeds can print on everything from tin to steel, and it will look great every time. Wood is another popular material that will look great when produced on a flatbed printer. While the size and thickness of the wood is determined by the specific printer being used, there are numerous possibilities. One-of-a-kind graphics can be created on sheets of plywood for interior décor, or a custom graphic can even be printed directly onto a door.
One of the primary concerns when having signage printed for any business is the quality of the images. Signage can be a significant investment and you want it to create the impression that it’s intended for. Not to mention, poorly produced signage with bad image quality can have the opposite effect—customers may see it and head somewhere else to do their business.
UV flatbed printers are capable of producing extremely high-quality images. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that flatbed printers have mechanical locks and/or vacuums that secure the substrate to the printer. This prevents materials from shifting and being out of register during the print process. Additionally, flatbed printers allow for the application of spot colors for white and varnish. This assures that images are printed to specification every time and you get nothing but crisp visuals.
An increased focus on being environmentally conscious is on many peoples’ minds these days. Businesses everywhere are also taking the opportunity to focus on greener initiatives, reducing materials and waste, altering damaging practices and very publicly decreeing their victories, to the delight of stakeholders and brand devotees. And one way that the printing industry has responded to environmental concerns is not only great for the business owners but also for the clients that patronize their businesses.
Flatbed printers, especially in recent years, have come a long way in reducing the impact that large-scale printing has on the environment. Most importantly, these printers do not use solvent-based inks in the printing process. Solvent inks are typically made using volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs, along with other hazardous air pollutants, contribute significantly to ground-level ozone. In addition to the effect that solvent based inks have on the environment during production, disposal of waste ink and cartridges requires careful planning, as they are often flammable and can be classified as hazardous waste.
Reduction of vinyl usage is another added environmental benefit when using a flatbed printer. Since flatbeds are capable of printing straight onto most substrates, there is no need to use extraneous amounts of vinyl that then must be attached to a substrate. Reducing the amount of consumable materials used in the printing process helps the environment and does wonders for client budgets.
Since the explosion of the wide-format printing market in the early 90s, many of the output devices on the market were roll fed. Using this type of technology seriously limited a print company’s capabilities, not to mention that this type of printing was often costly and inefficient. Graphics that were finished in this manner then had to be mounted onto another more rigid material prior to installation and display.
At just a cursory glance, it’s easy to see that this type of printing created serious problems with workflow, and consequently, the cost of each project. Not only does printing and then mounting create an extra step in the process, roll-fed printers use more materials, incur more consumable costs and increase waste. But there is a solution to this problem. By employing a flatbed printer, many of these hindrances can be seriously mitigated or eliminated altogether.
One issue that many customers encounter when employing cheaply made or homemade signage at their business is that the signs don’t last as long as they had originally hoped. Due to inefficient printing methods and the nature of certain supplies, many substrates absorb the ink that is used and the image appears inconsistent. Ineffective curing methods create additional problems.
The majority of flatbed printers cure the printed images with UV light. As the image is applied to the substrate, the printer’s UV lights cure and set the images on the chosen material. And because the timeworn method of curing with heat is not an issue, images will be clear and crisp and materials will not warp. The best part about using signage that has been printed on a flatbed and cured with UV light is that you will not have to worry about damaging the sign when cleaning. Although selecting cleaning materials does require some attention, as you would not want to abrade the sign with a rough cloth or harsh solvent, wetting and cleaning the image will not adversely affect it.