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Choosing a Wide-Format Flatbed Printer

(September 2004) posted on Fri Sep 24, 2004

Specs on more than 30 flatbed options.

click an image below to view slideshow

By adding a flatbed printer that can handle rigid
media such as foamboard, PVC, metal, and wood, print providers
can diversify their services and attract a wider range of customers.
And since many of these units now also have the ability to handle
roll media (as a standard feature or, at least, as an option), and can
work "double duty," an operation does not necessarily have to hold
onto its former printer when it makes a flatbed purchase.

Flatbeds are changing in other ways as well"?they no longer
comprise just the massive $700,000 machines you may be
most familiar with. Manufacturers are now creating smaller and
less-expensive units to better accommodate a smaller print
provider's budget as well as its floor space.

For this issue's Flatbed Printer Charts on the pages that follow,
we queried manufacturers and exclusive US distributors of
wide-format flatbed printers to provide pertinent specs on currently
sold printers. Here are some notes on the specifications
we chose and the answers you'll see for each:

"? Company and contact: We've listed the manufacturing company,
not the distributor.

"? Printer model: We've combined models if the only difference
between them is maximum media width or number of colors
offered (a few exceptions were made for space purposes). An
asterisk following the model indicates that information was garnered
from a company website or other source.

"? Maximum media width (in inches): This is media width, not
image width (image width is typically 1 to 2 in. less than media
width). This varies from 52 in. in the Skyjet 1316 to 138 in. for
both the Luscher JetPrint 3530 UV and the Leggett & Platt Virtu
RS Plus, closely followed by the Keundo Supra Q 3300S at 128
in., and the NUR Tempo and Tempo L at 126 in.

"? Maximum media thickness: These flatbeds range from 3/16
in. for the ColorSpan DisplayMaker 72 SR, to the super-thick 5.9-
in. Tampoprint DMD P 1500.

"? Media: Rigid, roll, or sheet.

"? Printhead technology: Manufacturer and technology type.

"? Colors: Number and list of colors supported.