After evaluating state-of-the-art hybrid and flatbed digital inkjet technologies, ScreenTech Graphics, an Austell, Georgia-based trade print business known for premium analog screen printing, recently upgraded its superwide-format digital production offering, becoming the first business in the southeastern U.S. to install the next-generation, high-end flatbed/roll-fed EFI VUTEk h3 superwide-format LED inkjet printer from Electronics For Imaging, Inc.
The 126-inch wide printer – winner of printing industry association SGIA’s 2018 Product of The Year award for UV hybrid/flatbed high-volume production class devices – offers superior imaging at resolutions up to 1,200 dots per inch (dpi). The printer, which offers throughput of up to 74 boards per hour, provides a 275% speed increase in production-quality work compared with a flatbed UV printer ScreenTech used before. Plus, with the VUTEk h3, the company can transfer many of its medium-run analog screen jobs to digital, reducing turnaround times and improving efficiency on high-end point-of-purchase and display graphics work.
ScreenTech can also be much more versatile in its customer offerings, cost effectively meeting growing customer demand for versioned jobs. “I have one customer with an 1,800-quantity job that requires us to produce different versions of graphics with cut vinyl letters that the client installs on site,” said John Ioannides, the company’s president. “With the VUTEk h3, I can send that customer all of his signs printed exactly as he needs it, and his staff no longer has to weed, cut and apply the vinyl for those signs at the installation site.
“It is a great complement to the equipment we have,” he added, explaining that the VUTEk makes high-end digital print more cost competitive. “We used to incur a lot of overtime with our former flatbed printer” – something the VUTEk h3 will reduce or eliminate altogether, according to Ioannides. “Plus,” he said, “the ink is half as much as what we paid before.”
The next generation of superwide-format innovation
ScreenTech’s new printer was designed from the ground up to offer higher productivity, print quality, reliability, and capability. The VUTEk h3’s high-velocity 7-picoliter UltraDrop Technology grayscale printheads deliver precision dot placement and consistency with eight- and optional four-color printing modes plus white, as well as an up to nine-layer print capability.
EFI’s “cool cure” LED technology on the printer cures prints using less energy than UV or latex printers. This can not only lead to lower energy costs for the company, it also opens the door to digital production on frequently requested 20 mil styrene jobs, work that, according to Ioannides, often curls or gets bubbles when printed using other digital print processes. The printer is a highly extensible solution as well: users can complete a field upgrade for the h3 model to the VUTEk h5, which prints at speeds up to 109 boards per hour.