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EFI Pro 24f flatbed printer

Brian Sims takes a closer look at the EFI Pro 24f flatbed printer, checking out its green credentials and wide range of productivity speeds that give users ultimate flexibility

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At the highest level, EFI’s Pro 24f flatbed can print ‘ultra quality’, which prints close up detail at 7sq m/h

The power of the Pro 24f flatbed

Quite often a company is defined by its flagship product, but in other circumstances a company can be defined by its industry wide exposure and coverage. This month I chose to look at one product from a company that can boast to be covering a number of different market sectors.

The company in question is EFI; it can trace its foundation back to 1989 when Efraim Arazi, founder of Scitex, formed EFI and registered the same as a trademark. EFI stands for Electronics for Imaging and since 1989 has been at the forefront of printing technology and innovation.

As early as 1990 the company earned a revenue of over $2,000,000 (just under £1,500,500), which is not to be sniffed at being a start-up company and during the coming years started to earn a reputation as a pioneer of digital printing.

Within ten years, over 300,000 installations of their front-end software system Fiery have been achieved, and in the same year the reputation of EFI meant HP decided to select them to build their wide-format servers. By the middle of the next decade, over 1.3m printers had the Fiery technology installed on them, making it one of the most popular software choices available. At the same time EFI had developed a software package called Print Me, the mobile printing solution allowing you to print from virtually any mobile device with the minimum use of a print server.

So it is of little surprise that when a company like EFI turns its attention to producing any product, the outcome is a highly technically packed item. The printer I chose to look under the hood of is the EFI Pro 24f flatbed printer.

It is of little surprise that when a company like EFI turns its attention to producing any product, the outcome is a highly technically packed item

The size of the printer is the first element that you cannot miss. It has a vacuum table that is capable of being sectioned into four sectors, which is 1.2 x 2.4m in size. Floating above the vacuum table is a gantry that holds the print head itself. The gantry is of robust construction, which is needed if you are to produce the ultra-high printer quality claimed by EFI. At 2.4m in width, you need a very substantial print head superstructure to maintain 1,200 x 1,200dpi.

Effortless operation

If you give it consideration, the size of the droplet is what will ensure consistent colour reproduction and should the distance between the print head and substrate change by just 0.05mm, the dot size will change considerably. The head itself runs on antifriction linear bearings, which not only makes the movements of the head from side to side effortless, it also ensures the dot reproduction discussed.

The vacuum table itself can be sectioned to cope with common sizes and is designed to match most sizes the customer wishes without the use of masking. Equally the operator can select what areas of the table are needed to match the size of custom product. Either way the 24f can hold materials and substrates up to 50mm in size. Regardless of custom or standard, substrates are rigidly held on the 24f ensuring the finished product meets the dpi and quality programmed in by the operator.

Transitions between each job are easily achieved and there is no movement between each pass, such that the multiple passes needed for the highest of product quality is easily achieved.

Transitions between each job are easily achieved and there is no movement between each pass, such that the multiple passes needed for the highest of product quality is easily achieved

The print head itself has four colours being the process colours of black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. These standard colours the 24f can also print dual channels of white. Added to this single pass multi-layer printing is standard on this large flatbed printer. Software on board of this printer also gives an unrivalled grey-scale print capacity, regardless of what mode is selected.

The printer head itself has variable droplet technology so it can print a range of resolutions depending on the product needed. At the highest level the 24f can print ‘ultra quality’ which prints close up detail at 7sq m/h. Moving through ‘high quality’ (13sq m/h), ‘POP’ (20sq m/h), ‘Production’ (27sq m/h), ‘Distant view’ (57sq m/h) up to the most impressive output of 107sq m/h in ‘Express’ mode. You are spoilt for choice with this printer, ask your client for their needs and then just program it into the printer.

With the ink deployed, as with a number of print solutions the 24f has LED curing technology, known as ‘Cool Cure’.

Cool Cure greatly improves the output of this printer. It will allow you to extend the number and type of substrates you can print on. You can print on low cost plastics and polymers and up to the added value materials that point-of-sale clients demand to ensure their products look the best.

Further advantages of Cool Cure are immediate up time for the drying system, which means power is not needed to ‘warm up’ the drying system. This improves productivity being an ‘on-off’ system and reduces maintenance.

Added to the advantages of having a binary system condition (either on or off), the energy consumption for the 24f is amazingly low. The green credentials of the printer are also embedded at every level of this machine. Clients are kept onside with Cool Cure technology as the use of low VOC’s is standard, waste and consumables are low so the green footprint of the 24f is extremely attractive. 

Wrapping this whole machine up, not only can it produce lenticulars and photographic backlit displays, exotic materials, and irregularly-shaped or heavy objects, it can do it on a variety of different substrate thicknesses all in one go.

It goes without saying the 24f is connected to any of the devices in the print shop via the world renowned EFI Fiery Pro Server Core digital front-end along with EFI’s Fast RIP acceleration technology. There is also the standard RIP and print on demand functionality, which can give the ability to print pre-ripped files.

EFI came from the origins of producing world class software, today, the 24f flatbed printer shows its portfolio has expanded far and wide.

Brian Sims, principal consultant, Metis Print Consultancy, www.metis-uk.eu

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