Most of us are familiar with printers where the print medium or substrate is fed into the printer with the use of rollers. This roll-feeding system is how desktop printers and many wide-format printers work. However, there is a different type of printer where the substrate is fed into the printer with the use of flat panels. The substrate is laid out on a flat panel and the panel is then placed on a solid platform inside the printer. Printers of this type are called flatbed printers.
Flatbed printers are growing in popularity among print service providers. That is because the flatbed printer has opened for these business owners an opportunity to expand their business. While roller-fed printers are limited to substrates such as paper and textiles, the flatbed printer can print on non-traditional substrates like wood, ceramics, glass, metal, leather and mohair. More importantly, flatbed printers can print on 3D objects. This type of printer opens thousands of ways by which anyone can create printouts.
Flatbed Printer Technologies
Flatbed printers can work using different kinds of technologies. Many of these printers rely on inkjet technology, just like the regular desktop or wide-format printer. Some flatbed printers make use of solvent inks, although the environmental issues created by solvent inks are now forcing print shop providers to look at possible alternatives. The alternative to solvent ink printers that is growing in popularity these days is the type of printers that use UV-curable inks.
While wide-format printers using UV-curable inks have yet to displace printers that use solvent inks, the demand for them is growing nonetheless. That is because UV-curable inks have a number of advantages over solvent inks. There are more substrates that can be used safely with UV-curable inks. These inks are also more resistant to fading. In addition, UV-curable inks help increase productivity by eliminating labor and materials used for pre- and post-processing. Printers using this type of inks are also easier to maintain because the ink dries easily and does not clog printer heads.
Flatbed Printer Applications
Flatbed printers have changed the way many people look at printing because this printer has made possible printing on substrates that cannot be accommodated by roll-fed printers. With flatbed printers, people can customize everyday objects such as coffee mugs and laptop lids. They can also personalize their interior decorating projects at a different level by designing their own bathroom tiles, by printing their doors instead of painting them by hand, among other things.
Perhaps the most important application that a lot of people found with flatbed printers is in the production of fine art. Aside from the fact that you can print on various printing mediums with a flatbed printer, you can also print one layer after another. This allows artists to create fine art that have a lot of texture. What is even more beautiful about it is that the end result would look as if it was painted by hand instead of printed with a flatbed printer.
This Article is written by John C Arkin.
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