Saul Bass once said that design is thinking made visual, and a UV flatbed printer lets you achieve this objective in style.
The machine has various functions and features that deliver high quality and high-resolution images for leisure and professional use. This device comes at a high cost, which depending on the model you buy, can match the average entry-level price of luxury vehicles.
It may be unnerving when looking at the initial price tags, but you need the courage to get the best flatbed printer. As many say, “In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable,” and finding the right printer offers an excellent potential return on investment for your enterprise.
The key to successfully obtaining and managing a printing machine is getting the right partner and printer.
Below are 10 questions you should consider before investing in a UV flatbed printer to help you make the appropriate decision for your printing requirements.
Table of Contents
1. Why Do You Want to Buy the UV Flatbed Printer?
Are you looking for a UV flatbed printer because you have an outdated one? Do you want to boost performance by incorporating another device into your current machine?
It is necessary to examine the reason why you want to purchase a new printer. Typically, you look for a new purchase when dealing with three primary situations:
It Is Your First Machine
You will find a wide flatbed digital printer selection at different prices when visiting the market for your first machine.
The multiple options may make it challenging and confusing to identify the best device for starting your production business. As a result, it is best to get a trustworthy partner who can guide you in better understanding the models available.
Using this knowledge and assistance, you can confidently make the appropriate choice for your intended needs. Besides, you can obtain additional guidance from a reliable expert when your requirements change in the future.
You Want an Addition
Wanting to add a device to your current mix is another reason you may be in the UV flatbed printer market.
In this case, it is vital to survey your options while minding the brands you own since some models may not be compatible with devices from a different manufacturer.
Ensuring compatibility is critical because obtaining a machine that cannot support certain functions lowers productivity and potential earnings. You want the new equipment to have software programs that enable utility with multiple brands for efficient and error-free workflow.
You Are Looking for a Replacement
One of the things to think about when searching for a replacement is finding a new brand or remaining with the same manufacturer.
If your previous or current cheap flatbed printer has been reliable, you might want to stick with the same brand because there is no need to fix what is not broken.
Conversely, if your printer experiences lower production or poor quality images after owning it for a short time, you should consider changing to a more dependable brand.
2. What Do You Intend to Print On?
Although UV printers can print on almost any material, it is critical to look at the products you intend to handle. Will you work on acrylic? Sintra? Dibond? Leather? Fome-Cor? Wood? Glass? Paper? Fabric?
What is the purpose of the printed images? Are they promotional and marketing products? Are they point-of-purchase displays? Or are you printing for small-scale customization projects?
The substrates you utilize dictate the kind of flatbed that will deliver the best printing results. Quality outcomes also mean you can get the best overall value for your investment, enabling your business to grow steadily with excellent customer satisfaction.
As you think about what you plan to print on, it is necessary to weigh the following aspects to ensure you make the right pick:
The Materials You Will Utilize
Despite a flatbed digital printer’s capacity to print on a wide selection of materials, finding the suitable model determines your graphics’ quality.
For instance, the UV flatbed printer is more suited for working on rigid substrates like plastics. You can also utilize it to print on flexible materials such as films. However, it is unwise to buy the flatbed machine when your business primarily handles films and other flexible materials since it is not ideal for your intended utility.
The Necessity of White Ink Capability
They say that ink is the blood of the printing press, and getting premium inks ensures you achieve high-resolution effects.
A printer fitted with white ink capabilities increases your operating scope since you can print on seemingly any item.
You can use white ink to form high-quality images on rigid and flexible materials, including backlit films and acrylic sheets. Besides these, you can use it as a base coat when working on non-white substrates, ensuring you can meet different clients’ needs.
It is best to get a UV flatbed printer that supports the simultaneous utility of white and color when necessary.
Such a machine integrates advanced technology that delivers brilliant varnish, white, and color at once to give a professional-quality image. It involves initially placing a coating with stronger adhesion and fade resistance on the substrate.
Next, the printer creates a pattern or relief effect to form realistic color and touch with bump relief texture. After this, it finishes the process via a UV varnish layer that makes the surface smoother with a better overall effect.
The manufacture strategically engineers the machine to handle white ink, meaning not all the flatbed UV printing options have this capability.
It is also essential to consider this capability since white ink needs agitation to prevent separation, incurring additional costs. Some devices address this issue by purging your ink, leading you to have additional operational expenses.
Nonetheless, other printers automate the agitation process, making it easier and more pocket-friendly to operate.
Your Platform Size Requirements
Another point to look at concerning your intended use is the print bed size you need. This aspect involves two factors, which are the printing area and the print height.
I. Print Area
You need to think about the maximum single graphic that you have to print to determine the right platform size for your demands. It is also necessary to consider the image’s logical multiples to ensure you enjoy the perfect efficiency for your production needs.
For instance, you can only print one product at a time on a typical small format UV printer when the largest image is 8.5″ × 11″. On the other hand, you can produce up to thirteen images at a time when utilizing a machine with a 45.3″ × 29.5″.
The bigger the platform size, the more graphics you achieve per cycle. Hence, getting a large flatbed printing machine is suitable when your company handles higher production. Notably, you have less user interface experience with the device, leaving more printing time to deliver additional money in your wallet.
II. Print Height
Aside from the platform size, it is best to look at the depth or height of your print products.
You want to purchase a cheap flatbed printer with an integrated support mechanism to keep variously shaped objects in place during printing. Generally, print height can range between 1.8 inches to almost one foot, with most ranging from 5 to 6 inches.
This flexibility enables you to work with different shapes, such as golf balls, which need you to adjust your height between 0.5 and 1 inch.
The deep printing capability expands your application opportunities to include baseballs, basketballs, boxes, novelty bats, acrylic trophies, and ornaments. Hence, it is vital to consider getting a versatile printer since it increases your earnings potential.
You can use the platform size to estimate the amount of work you can complete per day. A representative cross-section of graphics formed on the UV flatbed printer in practical numbers offers an excellent way of determining the machine’s productivity.
These numbers give you a good sense of how many products you can print on a typical workday. Consequently, you can use this information to find the printer’s ROI.
3. What Type of UV Flatbed Device Design Do You Prefer?
The UV flatbed printer incorporates various designs to offer a wide selection, enabling you to choose an option that best suits your preferences and needs.
Whether you want the printer for small-scale or mass production use, it is essential to examine the following factors regarding the machine’s construction:
Size and Finish
You can get some compact machines made for use at home or small offices like law firms and schools. Additionally, you can find sizeable industrial-size models to address your demands when looking for a device for factory utility.
Regardless of the dimension you prefer, it is essential to determine if you have the available storage space in your home or factory. The rule of thumb is the more extensive the print area, the bigger the machine.
If you emphasize color and interior design, you can find some selections in bright shades of green or yellow. These shades let you incorporate a fun and creative look around your workstation.
Nevertheless, most manufacturers primarily offer the printer in grey steel, presenting a neutral shade to suit users not interested in color.
Performance and Capacity
You should consider the printer’s operating capacity to ensure you get an option that suits your production demands. The models have various voltages, with many ranging between 220 and 380 volts.
This power range allows you to pick a machine that matches your factory or home’s power system for safe and efficient performance.
Besides, you can buy a UV flatbed printer incorporating a Y direction double servo motor that ensures your machine runs in the correct directions. It also facilitates a collision avoidance function that keeps components from colliding during complex tasks.
The motor’s long-lasting construction can support efficient and maximum operation for years without breakdown complications. This feature makes it ideal when you seek to manage your budget in the long term while working in mass production.
Moreover, some UV flatbed printers integrate a conveyor belt, where you can feed down canned objects before it rinses, fills, and seals them. You can produce cans between 500 and 1,800 every hour, depending on the model you select.
Other automatic printers can efficiently deliver from 10 sets and 1,200 canned items, making them perfect for mass production. If you want to buy the UV flatbed printing device for small-scale utility, you can get the compact options that generate one can at a time.
System Type and Durability
You can find several UV flatbed printers constructed with different systems. Some options support manual operation, whereas other styles incorporate an automated function.
This versatility ensures you can purchase a system that matches your preference to make operation more comfortable throughout the utility. Moreover, you can buy the printer in a single or double unit, increasing convenience when handling different production demands.
Manufacturers utilize premium and sturdy materials to make these machines. For instance, you can find a wide format flatbed printer designed using stainless steel to deliver longevity.
Durability ensures you can comfortably depend on the device for many years without damages or frequent wear and tear issues. In addition, the longevity enhances stability that lets you handle different workloads without compromising printing efficiency and quality.
Aside from this, the commercial UV printer has an integrated steel frame that enhances sturdiness while improving the printing process. This design means you do not have a screw in the middle, facilitating appropriate friction between the platform and material for precise and quality images.
Different printers integrate different ergonomic features that make their utility convenient and hassle-free for experienced and new users. You can identify a large flatbed printing device made with a swallowtail design, making it easier to load materials. This design enables you to link it to the platform receiving the materials. As a result, you can quickly load materials and save time while simultaneously preventing surface friction.
Another feature you want to examine is the print head type available on the machine. It is best to find one compatible with multiple print heads to meet your needs when working in a busy industry. You can also avoid overspending on buying separate print heads since you can obtain your desired effect via one machine.
Besides these, certain printers incorporate visual features to aid you in accurately monitoring the printing process.
For example, a UV flatbed printer can have a liquid level display that shows the amount of ink remaining, helping you avoid delays from the ink running out unexpectedly. Some also feature an alarm function for the ink drum to ensure you can evade the same issue.
You can also find a printing machine integrated with an adjustable ink cartridge. This style enables you to modify it to match different indoor temperatures, meaning you can conveniently work in hot or cold conditions without damaging your printing quality.
If you are keen on economizing your ink utility, you can consider a printer designed with a negative-pressure two-stage ink box. It ascertains the last ink drop makes its way out of the box, reducing the risk of wasting your expensive inks.
Another factor to weigh is noise production. Some machines can produce considerable noise during operation to distract colleagues or neighbors when working at home. You can select a flatbed printer constructed using a silent drag chain, typically imported from Germany, to reduce the sounds.
4. What Is the Price of the Printing Machine?
The inks you use also determine the price of the printer you wish to purchase. Some devices utilize bags or cartridges, while others use bulk inks.
You can calculate the liter costs of UV inks in cartridges or bags by dividing cartridge price by the milliliter count before multiplying the outcome by 1000. Ink costs widely vary from around $250 per liter to more than $700 per liter.
If you find one ink at $750 per liter and another at $250 per liter, you will likely have approximately thrice as much cost per print on the $750 per liter printer as on the latter model.
Most UV flatbed printers’ prices range from about $25,000 to $85,000, with the wide format flatbed printer types costing between approximately $78,000 and $115,000. Generally, the prices vary depending on the printer size you want.
The models with a minimum 10-ft wide construction are in the grand format flatbed printers’ category, offering a higher price tag than the smaller versions.
Furthermore, the cost changes from brand to brand, meaning you need thorough research before your purchase since a higher price tag may not necessarily equate to a better machine.
As a result, it is advisable to begin by finding the best manufacturer for your objectives and then choose the printing model with a price that suits your budget plans.
5. Do You Wish to Buy or Lease the Printer?
Your budget circumstances may lead you to consider whether to purchase or lease the piece of equipment. It is critical to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the two options to ensure you make the appropriate decision for your needs.
Buying the UV flatbed printer offers the fastest and least expensive option in the long term. In contrast, leasing presents an efficient means of bringing in the device when the alternative involves bank financing.
Financing via a bank requires a lot of paperwork that can take weeks to approve, leaving you in limbo before you can begin printing production.
Nevertheless, a lease includes generally higher interest rates, making it quicker but more expensive. A longer process provides a lower long-term ownership cost and reduced interest rates.
However, the longer buying process has little to no flexibility on your repayment contract terms. Many companies support deferred payments at the start of a lease, allowing you to operate your machine and earn profits before you commence paying the bill monthly.
Certain enterprises offer a seasonal payment structure with lower rates during the off-season and higher ones during your busy seasons.
Whether you lease or buy the printer, you can enjoy a significant break from the taxman as long as the agency considers your machine a qualifying business purchase.
You can claim the device’s total amount for the tax year when you obtained the printer using this benefit. Additionally, you can get higher returns since the regulations for tax deductions recently increased the values for what you can claim.
6. Is the Printer Compatible With Other Equipment?
Brand names are among the first things you can consider when planning to purchase a UV flatbed printer. Certain brands are more popular, meaning they are more reliable than some new manufacturers in the market.
You want to find a make you can trust since buying a flatbed printer is an expensive endeavor. The last thing you want is to invest heavily in a seemingly great machine with unreliable background since you cannot predict the outcome in case of malfunctions and other support inquiries.
Moreover, every manufacturer has software that only functions for their brand. This factor is essential when you own a small UV flatbed machine and seek a large flatbed printing model.
In this case, you may have to get a software package that supports all your devices if your new printer is a different brand. You may also need to train all your employees on a new program, translating into additional costs.
Notably, you want to examine the printer’s connectivity with computer systems since most software programs are compatible with Windows operating systems. Therefore, it is critical to purchase a flatbed digital printer that can function via Macs if you conduct your designs on a Mac.
Aside from these, most flatbed printing devices incorporate Raster Image Processor (RIP) software to drive the machine.
Although it is a required feature on the printers, you want to verify its availability before purchase because some machines provide it as an option. In addition, you want to check the file formats it supports, including PNG, TIF, PSD, EPS, and PDF.
It is necessary to determine if the software can create or support texturing, serialization, variable data, and barcoding. You also want to inquire if RIP enables templates or if you need to prepare everything in your design software for proper alignment and spacing.
7. Will You Need a Roll to Roll Printer?
As previously mentioned, you can utilize a UV flatbed printer to print on any substrate, including hard media like ceramic tile, glass, wood board, and melamine board.
You can also use it on flexible media such as leather, paper, cloth, and plastic film. However, the flatbed has an ergonomic construction to deliver the best image results on rigid substrates. This design means you may not consistently achieve professional-quality results when handling flexible materials.
If your business primarily deals with flexible substrates, it is best to consider the roll to roll printer.
This alternative has several features suitable for working on soft and flexible substrates to produce quality and high-resolution graphics on items such as posters, soft ceiling films, banners, car stickers, and fabrics.
The machine’s adjustable roll widths ensure you can conveniently modify the size to suit your application requirements.
In addition, the roll to roll printing device integrates a wide LED light bar into its structure that lets you conveniently verify backlit material printing quality.
Its conveyor belt facilitates smooth carriage movement that prevents printing errors and unexpected stops.
Aside from these, you can rely on the machine’s drag chain construction to enhance stability, guaranteeing efficiency and quality. Most models also have ergonomic print heads with a bi-directional operation, giving you consistent and vibrant colors at high definition.
Besides these features, roll to roll machines differ from a UV flatbed printer in the ink type used.
The flatbed primarily utilizes UV inks, whereas the former can use latex, solvent, dye-sublimation, UV, or aqueous inks. These considerations enable better plans and budget management to ensure you can afford and effectively run the alternative when required.
8. How Do You Maintain the UV Flatbed Printer?
Properly servicing and caring for the flatbed printer is imperative to ensure it functions correctly with a longer lifespan throughout the utility.
So, how can you ensure that you maintain your machine fittingly? You can look at four primary types of maintenance aspects mentioned below to help you improve your upkeep:
Preparing a proper storage area for UV inks is necessary since their chemistry means stray UV rays can cure them. You want to keep the ink in a closed place because it is highly reactive to heat and light.
It is generally advisable to place it at a temperature ranging from 41°F (5°C) to 86°F (30°C). You also want to utilize the UV inks within the date provided by the manufacturer in the packaging since their viscosity can change over time.
You can also maintain your UV flatbed printer by considering the storage space you have in your workstation.
Whether you install the machine at home, small office, or in a factory, it is best to have adequate space for comfortable printer placement.
The device needs to fit in your storing area while leaving room for maneuverability by workers around the piece of equipment. A spacious storage location also facilitates excellent airflow to aid in cooling the machine’s motors for sustained quality performance without overheating issues.
You can find a UV flatbed printer designed with a cleaning function that automatically flash-sprays the machine to clean your print heads.
This function ensures you can evade ink buildup and clogs in your print heads, delivering error-free printing while simultaneously prolonging the device’s service life. Notably, you can modify the flash spraying function to clean your heads at your desired intervals.
Despite this feature, it is still essential to clean the print heads manually after specific periods for proper and precise maintenance.
You can begin cleaning the machine by wiping the print carriage’s underside with polyester swabs, wipes, and a prescribed cleaning solution. Next, you can target the print heads, with this cleaning order preventing debris from the carriage from dragging onto the heads.
It is best to use clean wipes when dealing with the print heads, where you liberally wet the cloth using your cleaning solution before you commence wiping. Moreover, you want to eliminate any cured ink on the head surface because leaving it results in buildup and clogs.
After this, you can work on your wiper and capping station. Keeping these two parts clean is essential because the former touches the heads throughout the daily cleaning process. For this reason, you want to clean and replace it as directed by the manufacturer.
Similarly, you want a clean capping station since it seals the print heads from the external environment.
It is generally advisable to obtain polyester cleanroom-certified towels and swabs to clean the UV flatbed printer.
These materials effectively eliminate lint and dust that can otherwise compromise the component performance. Furthermore, dust can swiftly fly when you print, leading to streaks or poor image clarity.
Notably, it is best to look for various cleaning solutions made to target primer for satisfactory outcomes when you buy a machine that incorporates a printable primer jetting out of one of its channels.
Most manufacturers provide maintenance and servicing assistance to clients, meaning you can enjoy professional aid during routine checkups. The recommended period for servicing is typically after 2,000 hours or once annually.
Some brands offer full engineering support and a service package, increasing your confidence and comfort since you do not have to panic about the printer’s durability.
It is necessary to check the long-term service presented by the provider to ascertain you can obtain timely and reliable after-sale services.
Aside from these maintenance services, you also need to consider additional expenses from running the machine, including media, ink, utility costs, and other consumables.
Accounting for these costs ensures you can avoid running out of cash midway through a project, helping you manage and run your printing enterprise accurately.
9. What Partnership Opportunities Do You Have?
Searching carefully among different providers is critical before settling on where you lease or purchase your printer.
The significant investment in the machine means you want to get a reliable manufacturer that can offer sustainable assistance, quality warranty options, and after-sale support.
This partner ensures you can smoothly operate your printer as an experienced or new buyer by offering installation and training services.
An excellent partnership ensures you can get help throughout the utility, from when you set up the new printer to when you seek updated models to address changes in the future.
Additionally, the partner can offer initial training after installation and enable further training to enhance your printing techniques and management style.
10. Are There Alternative Options?
Even though a printer in-house provides several advantages, you can look at alternative outlets depending on your situation.
When you have a poorly performing UV flatbed printer, you can search for replacement components or service the device to improve efficiency.
You can also consider having your client buy a specific printer and install it at your workstation to operate it for them. You can apply this consideration when you require a new machine for a specific task.
Apart from these, you can also weigh collaborating with a third party depending on your printing demands. Outsourcing means you have limited control over the outcomes and typically involves premium pricing.
Nevertheless, it presents some benefits that can help improve your business operation and management in the long term.
For instance, you can free up space in your workstation while saving the resources required in implementing a controlled setting. Other advantages include:
Minimize Your Risk
Outsourcing to a commercial printing enterprise allows you to reduce operational, utility, maintenance and servicing costs associated with running a UV flatbed printer.
It also helps you minimize your risks of in-house printing complications by avoiding potential printing errors or malfunctioning components from incorrect or irregular maintenance.
Access to Printing Experts
Hiring a print production company means you can access printing experts who deal with advanced printing devices.
These professionals can advise you on various printing ideas, such as whether your selected material or design is appropriate for the task. Using their assistance, you can make better printing decisions for your projects while simultaneously modernizing your projects.
Improve Your Business’ Efficiency
Outsourcing printing minimizes the effort and time taken to complete the projects without sacrificing your products’ quality. You can use third parties to address different printing needs such as mailing, collating, sealing, document printing, stamping, and stuffing.
The created free time enables you to have more time to produce professional marketing items with fresh content like newsletters and flyers. As a result, outsourcing helps you establish better conditions to help you run your printing company efficiently.
These questions let you know what to look for to ensure you obtain a machine that fully satisfies your needs.
The aspects covered help you evaluate the UV flatbed printer’s printing capabilities, aiding you in better managing your expectations. You can use the above considerations to make the perfect investment and avoid encountering expensive losses from purchasing an ill-fitting printing machine.
YOSUN has 10 years of experience on UV flatbed printers & rotary UV printers development, manufacturing, and service. YOSUN is dedicated to making the best UV Printer. Not just any UV Printer, but the best.