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Best UV flatbed Printer for direct to Correx printing?

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coolinshot

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Post Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:19 am

Best UV flatbed Printer for direct to Correx printing?

Hi - We currently use the HP Scitex FB500 for direct to rigid substrate printing and we have had pretty good results (overall). The bulk of our work is producing estate agent boards / builders boards etc - Most of which are on Correx (corrugated polypropylene).
We have been offered a Vutek QS3200 at a reasonable price and wondered if anybody on the boards had experience using this particular model for printing direct to correx.

Thanks in anticipation
Col
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Robert Lambie

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Post Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:08 am

havent had any experience of the machine but have flatbed printing.
from what i have been told is they are very good printers and normally priced pretty high in comparison to the entry level ones coming on the market today.

what are your concerns? are you having issues or niggles with your current machine printing direct to correx?
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coolinshot

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Post Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:52 am

Hi Robert
In the main the HP has been a fantastic acquisition though we have had a couple of problems with adhesion to correx - one nightmare job in particular.
The only other issue would be the colours on the red side of the colour gamut - very hard to get a good strong red - but I'm used to the vivid colours from a Mimaki JV33 which we use for vinyl work.

The reason that I asked the question is that, although I've seen the Vutek in question working, I haven't actually seen it print onto correx (I have seen a sample that was pre-printed). What I saw of the machine I was very impressed.

Col
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Robert Lambie

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Post Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:08 am

its advised that you leave correx to cure 24hrs AFTER printing and it should be stored
on its end and not in large batches.

basically, when the UV printer prints the lamps instantly cure the top coat of ink. so its bone dry coming off the machine. but the curing process continues for many hours after.
so when you stack the boards flat, the weight pushes on the ink and can make it flake and come away.

not saying thats what happened with yours, but its something we found "amongst other setbacks" with uv flatbed printing. so its not all just as simple as you can print onto pretty much anything as sales folk push push push... only to find out when your down £100k and the small print is pointed out to you. :lol1:
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coolinshot

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Post Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:00 pm

To be fair, we were told about the curing time by the sales reps before hand.
Sometimes customers are so "desperate" to get their boards that they do go out and cure "en route" - we've only had one major set back and I think that was caused by the applying of liquid laminate too early (we don't laminate UV stuff any more).

One of the biggest problems is the fact that you can't get the print off when you want to - halfway through a large printed Dibond panel the print stops and it's almost impossible to get the ink off so you end up wasting a panel.

Out of interest - which flatbed printer do you use?
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Adrian Hewson

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Post Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:43 pm

Annapurna M

We have an Annapurna M but never use it for work that is going outside, we have been through various inks starting with the Agfa ones and have never found a solution that was truly UV stable ?? wehave had the printer 5 years now £63Ks worth of (oh i swore !), not bad for indoor stuff though
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:25 am

coolinshot wrote:To be fair, we were told about the curing time by the sales reps before hand.
Sometimes customers are so "desperate" to get their boards that they do go out and cure "en route" - we've only had one major set back and I think that was caused by the applying of liquid laminate too early (we don't laminate UV stuff any more).

One of the biggest problems is the fact that you can't get the print off when you want to - halfway through a large printed Dibond panel the print stops and it's almost impossible to get the ink off so you end up wasting a panel.

Out of interest - which flatbed printer do you use?


Hey Col,

I can't help you with your questions. We just installed an FB700 this last week.

I have a question. When you have problems with the ink flaking etc when does it occur? Is it something you can tell you have a problem with within a few days or is it a durability issue months down the track?

Are there any signs to look out for as an operator to determine if you need to increase your lamp power etc to increase the durability?
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David Rowland

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Post Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:43 pm

we must talk Adrian... very interesting.. I have the AGFA Anapurna M2050 using G2 ink, black scratches off.

Corex is a pain in the ( oh i swore ), static galore also. Always have to prep the surface before printing with something that melt the surface a little, so can cause problems with inages with light colour or white in them.

Sometimes we get good results, sometimes u dont.

Heat from the lights can warp it and corners of sheets could trigger the head-sensor.

Apart from that, prints Foamex really well!
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Adrian Hewson

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Post Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:07 pm

annapur a

Main problem has been black or yellow falling off outside

Changed inks uv lamps fitted anti static bar and use 7kv anti static air to clean boards


We have prkblems with all materials but only when exposed to uv been having them for over 5 years better speaking to stef our production manager
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Robert Lambie

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Post Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:44 pm

coolinshot wrote:To be fair, we were told about the curing time by the sales reps before hand.
Sometimes customers are so "desperate" to get their boards that they do go out and cure "en route" - we've only had one major set back and I think that was caused by the applying of liquid laminate too early (we don't laminate UV stuff any more).

One of the biggest problems is the fact that you can't get the print off when you want to - halfway through a large printed Dibond panel the print stops and it's almost impossible to get the ink off so you end up wasting a panel.

Out of interest - which flatbed printer do you use?


Correx is just one of many we discovered Colin, but yes the customers demands often dictate mate.

My gripe on UV Printers is "how these types of machines are promoted to us". I fully appreciate there are drawbacks, prepping procedures that must be followed before printing and more... but we are not told about this until the machine is being trained on "after installation" and our money is now out our bank!

I walked around Signuk a few years ago now and every UV flatbed stand I went onto had a pile of substrates all printed onto, many at the show printed live.
Quality was brilliant, durability tests like wiping with chemicals, scoring with keys, nails etc even flexing the board had no effect on the prints.
But let’s face it, the media on the stands are the best of the bunch and have been well tested. but out in the real world were there are at least a dozen types of composite, finishes on aluminium, vinyl’s and more... this is were it becomes a mine field for the person making the purchase.

back to correx, a board we use allot for short term signage and our intensions more so after purchasing the UV Flatbed. NEVER did a single supplier tell me I had to wait 24hrs for it to properly cure. Never mind “don’t stack” the boards while they dry! We purchased a machine like this to increase our printing, where the hell are we supposed to store all these prints while they cure?

You mention the removal of ink from the media if you get a bad print mid way….
Again, this was a concern for me. We know printing onto vinyl and you get banding, drop=out or whatever, you stop the machine… chop of the poor print, start again and away you go again! Low cost waste easily swallowed.
However, print direct to a 3m x 1.5 metre sheet of dibond, 10 inches into the print, you get dropout or whatever… what do you do? Well depending on the type of composite you have you could flip the board and start again, but not if the boards Gloss/Matt on reverse! Not of its coloured on the other side. Depending on what you pay for your composite that’s a hefty costing miss-print!
Yes there’s ways round using the sheet as it is but that’s not the point….
I raised this question with suppliers and I was told…
“Well you’re wanting the model with white ink option, just print over it with white base and continue. Not the case as you know the inks semi transparent as well as textured!

Other substrates we were NOW being told we must first prep by wiping over it with a clear priming fluid. Not expensive but still another cost, also a labour cost in prepping every sheet.
What got me was, I said, we are taking a lint free cloth and wiping over a sheet 3m x 1.5m with a clear fluid. “What if we miss a bit/swipe”? It’s easy done… I was told, well you need to make sure you don’t!

Boards we were told had zero problems printing too like composite. (and we tried several) ended up the worst!
We would take a sheet and print multiple of signs/ images onto it. We then took the sheet and put it into our guillotine. Cutting on the cross hair registration marks. Tapped our foot on the pedal, guillotine chops perfect first time… BUT… the print completely shatters!
I swear the amount of prints I could lift off completely intact was unreal. I mean lift the print off the surface like a piece of paper! Then scrunch what was actually a sheet of dry ink in my hands into nothing….

How our machine was “constructed was at fault” and ultimately what led to our decision to return it.
However, the quality and its ability print in multiple ways, as well as print white, was amazing. The Ink was also manufactured by a very reputable manufacturer… which is why I question the way the whole UV flatbed market sells to us end users. I think our machine cost £70,000 and £75,000 with our white ink option. So no, it’s not in the higher end of the UV market, but how cares! If you can slap value of £75,000 on a machine it must perform as it is sold.

Can you imagine jumping into your new pride and joy £50,000 BMW and it breaking down on the motorway. After getting out the RAC Van, you walk into the BMW showroom and the sales man says with a smile, “Oh sorry sir, if you want to drive over 60mph you must cover your car in this new BMW wax we can supply to you for only £10.99!”
No? nor can I… but we are expected to swallow this crap and more at every turn.
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Adrian Hewson

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Post Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:48 pm

Well said

Mine was an abbreviation but I agree and have had the same experience as Rob.

Our machine is not fit for purpose
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David Rowland

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Post Sat Oct 13, 2012 11:34 pm

well a lot of the comments above we have had experience of. Yes air-line with anti-stat by Fraser is installed, not that great tho. Anti-static bars each side of the head, which helps but not completely (i had Fraser in too see it!).

The UV was tested by AGFA top tech from Belgium, it was within standards and when we first had the printer the black would come off on all materials. Some fine tuning and they managed to solve it but not completely. The blame for Correx is the usual shelf life and Corona, let alone perfect conditions to keep your printer in.

Have spent a lot of time today talking with Jason as he is printing Coro too, his is tough very tough but it will come off with tape test, he showed me via video, much better then the AGFA.

We also know that if estate agent boards up for some time the ink will start to fail.

I dont print dibond, its too expensive to risk and it has to be certain brands and matt white. We vinyl them all.

Wood, prints fantastically as long as u can keep it flat and suction to move it with.
Forex Print is a dream, works perfectly.
Banner is ok, banding can happen as the machine has no decent dancer bar design, but you can just about get away with it on practically no suction.

We worked with AGFA for a while, telling them about the problems before the model we had was released for sale, it was okay but i had a list of problems, they did try and fix quite a bit but sadly the biggest design problem was the re-circulation of white ink, it is a mess and I have lost heads over it. I dont bother now with white at all as its too expensive to run.

Last week (two years in), I was waking the machine up from capping (resting on silicon pads) and somehow it went wrong, ink cured within the heads, I cant shift it. i got about 100 nozzles out in the cyan and some in the black and light cyan too! it's crazy!!

That latex I bought is still our best decision as I can replace the heads at low-cost. Fantastic deal but the large format market is indeed dodgy for a sign maker.
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Jonathan Dray

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Post Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:33 am

What machine was it?
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Robert Lambie

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Post Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:31 pm

It was the newest version of the Daytona range of UV printers and to my knowledge the machine does not exist anymore. even if it did it will have a different name as the parent company in the "USA" was aquired by another much larger printer manufacturer.
When we made the purchase the machine was the first one in Scotland and i think 4th in the UK. The UK company that brought the machines into the UK was Raster Printers UK.

My personal problems with this machine is NOT why i am stating what i have above. our machine was faulty, simple as that.

Do not get me wrong, UV printers can be big money earners and certainly do have their place in the market. my gripe is how UV machines are sold to us, the limitations hidden and so on...
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Peter Geddes

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Post Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:57 pm

Hi everyone,

I don't know a lot about printers, but we do know a bit about plastics, so if I can throw my two penny's worth into the pot...

Most plastics are polymers which originate from carbon sources - usually oil or natural gas. The polymers are made by combining Carbon atoms with Hydrogen (plus other elements, depending on the type of plastic) to create molecules which chemically link together into very long chains. The length of these chains, and the strength of the chemical bonds, combine to give the plastic many of its strength properties.

The following excerpt about Polypropylene is from the Encyclopedia Britannica website:
Propylene is a gaseous compound obtained by the thermal cracking of ethane, propane, butane, and the naphtha fraction of petroleum. .. it belongs to the “lower olefins,” a class of hydrocarbons whose molecules contain a single pair of carbon atoms linked by a double bond. The chemical structure of the propylene molecule is CH2=CHCH3. Under the action of polymerization catalysts, however, the double bond can be broken and thousands of propylene molecules linked together to form a chainlike polymer (a large, multiple-unit molecule). In such a molecule each propylene repeating unit has the following structure:


Many of the resultant polymers are 'self-lubricating", in that the outer (exposed) molecules have some of the characteristics of the original hydrocarbon source, allowing parts such as gears to work together with a natural low-friction mesh. Some of the common plastics which exhibit self-lubricating characteristics are Nylon, PTFE and Polypropylene (Pp).

Trying to paint or print onto a surface covered in a thin film of oil, would be near impossible to achieve any long-lasting result, as the paint/ink would simply slide off. This could well be the reason you may be having printing onto a Pp board.

There are ways around this problem that I am aware of:
    It is possible to make the outer surface of the board with other materials (aka "fillers")combined in the plastic. Possible materials which could result in a more easily printable surface might include powders such as talc, chalk & clay, or fibrous fillers such as various types of vegetable fibre (bamboo, cane, linen etc)

    The other way I am aware of, is the approach used on plastics by the auto industry. They have created specialist automotive primers which chemically bond to the plastics, and provide an outer surface which will then take the paint. You can buy large commercial quantities from a manufacturer (such as PPG) or a distributor. With this method, you would need to spray the primer onto the Pp, wait until it is dry (usually quite fast), then do a topcoat in a suitable acrylic or enamel. For smaller quantities, you can get spraycans from Halfords for about £7.

It might be worth asking the suppliers of the board if they use any fillers to make the board printable, and if so, tell them of the issues you have been experiencing. It is possible that some fillers may be better suited to certain types of ink more than others.

You most likely cannot blame the printer for problems experienced with printing directly to Pp board, but there are ways that may help you achieve better results. Hope this information is helpful.
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Robert Lambie

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Post Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:58 am

Hi Peter

Thank you for the informative reply mate...

The problem here isnt so much we are trying to print to a product that maybe difficult to adhere prints too. It's that we are being sold machines that are promoted as being able to print directly to almost any flat product.
Foamex, Correx Pp, Composite, Aluminium, Glass... you name it, it's all doable. but its when you part with your money you are drip fed minor details that could very well have swayed your decision in spending anything from £50,000 and upwards...

Correx pvc sheet being just one of the most popular budget sign boards.
the list goes on...

even if we move away from what boards it can print too...
doing this from memory so please dont quote me, but...

UV Bulb life...
one of our bulbs went out after a couple of months. i was told the bulbs cost about £500 each.
i then asked about bulb life expectancy and was told I should expect something like the bulb being fired 1000 times. i asked what this meant and basically it was told, every time you turn the lamps on, that is one strike used! as you can imagine, this could easily be quickly used up. yet never was i told about short lamp life never mind the costs for replacement bulbs!

i would like to think that newer machines these days have much more cost effective alternatives. but my point is, we were never told.

another was we purchased a UV flatbed with white ink option.
but regardless to whether we actually printed anything white, the machine kept dumping the white ink in the waste bottle whilst keeping the inks cycle moving. i forgot the cost but the inks were something like £100 per bottle and the white about £150 per bottle.
paying £5000 extra for the white option and dumping £150 of ink once a week becomes an expensive extra to have.
were we ever told about this until i discovered the ink being dumped, or the UV lamp needing replaced... of course not!

there was other things that came to light the longer we used the machine. but for us "the sign maker", we part with hard earned cash, we do not need all these extra hidden costs to consider, then throw in the prints not keying to various types of sheet material.

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