CET X-Press F512/6 and CET X-Press F512/16 flatbed UV-cured printers Print

This UV-cured dedicated flatbed printer was first exhibited at SGIA 2009. The week before I saw another version of this printer at VISCOM Duesseldorf (but sold under a different brand name by a different distributor, no relation to CET in America).

In July I had seen this printer at the factory where it was manufactured several thousand miles away from either VISCOM Germany or SGIA in New Orleans. In some instances distributors establish specs for the manufacturers in Asia. DuPont claimed to do this, but 80% of their first generation printers had to be returned and were junked. Based on this experience they changed some features, and probably 80% of these printers survived, but many still had some issues. So DuPont finally closed down their entire UV and solvent printer division (tech support costs were too much).

Then Raster Printers began to import printers from the same factory. I would guess about 80% of the first models had issues, but by the second or third or fourth production run, there were improvements. And in some cases, certain components were removed from the printer in the US and better components were added. Gradually the quality of the RTZ printers improved, including during the year that LexJet attempted to offer the former DuPont Chromaprint 18uv under the name DEC Legend. The year 2007 version was okay and definitely better than the first version, but it would take site-visit case study analyses to know for sure.

In its beginnings, the company exhibited as Chin E Technologies, (which was later shortened to CET). Here, the Chin E. Technologies X-Press flatbed printer at ISA 2009.
In its beginnings, the company exhibited as Chin E Technologies, (which was later shortened to CET). Here, the Chin E. Technologies X-Press flatbed printer at ISA 2009.

This was the company’s first dedicated flatbed UV printer, rebranded from Yishan, a Chinese printer manufacturer.
This was the company's first dedicated flatbed UV printer, rebranded from Yishan, a Chinese printer manufacturer.

By 2009 the quality of RTZ printers continued to improve but one end-user indicated that getting spare parts was not always easy. But the improvements are notable. When I visited the RTZ factory I met an entire team of engineers and they are fully capable. They now have as much experience as factories elsewhere in the world. The crucial aspect is to be sure that each component is of durable quality. For this reason, some components are stipulated by the distributor, and CET indicates that they are replacing some components after the printers arrive, before the printers are sold.

At SGIA in Autumn 2009, this is the first time this printer has been exhibited in the USA. Since this is a new printer, there is no FLAAR evaluation. To do an evaluation is a project-based program that requires testing in a printer demo room and a site-visit case study of the printer in actual use out in the real world. I have end-user experiences of other RTZ printers, so have plenty of experiences in learning the pros and cons of any printer brand or model.

Chin. E Technologies (now CET) has new and better flatbed printer.

The CET X-Press F512/6 and CET X-Press F512/16 is manufactured by RTZ, the same company that makes Flora and EFI Rastek printers. This company (RTZ) has much more experience than Yishan, the company that made the X-Press FK512-8 flatbed that Chin. E Technologies exhibited at ISA earlier in 2009. It would appear that the Yishan prototype has no longer been continued by CET, which is a positive sign.

By SGIA 2009,  CET Color was already rebranding printers from another manufacturer: RTZ Flora. Here, the flatbed printer model exhibited at ISA Sign Expo 2010.
By SGIA 2009, CET Color was already rebranding printers from another manufacturer: RTZ Flora. Here, the flatbed printer model exhibited at ISA Sign Expo 2010.

This is a polite way of saying that the new CET X-Press F512/6 and CET X-Press F512/16 have potential to be better than the earlier X-Press FK512-8.

FLAAR is offering personalized consulting at each trade show. You can walk-the-floor with the Senior Editor of FLAAR and get his comments on any and all printers, inks, RIP software, color management, substrates, applications, etc.

So if you wish to learn about the difference between combo, hybrid, and dedicated UV printers, how latex ink compares, about textile printers, etc. contact FLAAR to obtain consulting.

You can also get consulting before ISA or FESPA anywhere in the world: Dubai, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, China, Korea, London and more.

I have seen Yishan UV-cured inkjet printers several times in Turkey and at Chinese printer trade shows. So far only two Chinese companies have been able to keep up an office or at least a distributor in Western Europe and North America: Teckwin and RTZ (Flora). Other brands have been abandoned by distributors in North America and Western Europe due to lack tech support, lack factory support, and to have weak components due to low-bid style of product design.

At present, RTZ has the most success, under the EFI Rastek brand. But Chinese manufacturers are talented and of the more than a dozen Chinese brands there will be additional brands that succeed in the future, but it is a slow process.

By the end of 2011, CET Color had already changed of printer manufacturer: Handtop, a Chinese printer company formed by ex-Flora R&D staff. The main difference however is that, while the Flora UV printers use Konica Minolta heads, the Handtop UV printers have been equipped with Spectra Polaris heads.

After the experience with Yishan and Flora printers, CET moved to rebrand printers from Handtop, which is a relatively new Chinese printer manufacturer started by former Flora engineers in 2010. Therefore, the printers from Handtop are engineered very similar to the Flora printers.
After the experience with Yishan and Flora printers, CET moved to rebrand printers from Handtop, which is a relatively new Chinese printer manufacturer started by former Flora engineers in 2010. Therefore, the printers from Handtop are engineered very similar to the Flora printers.

Other flatbeds that are advancing towards being ready for display in the USA

The Jetrix is now finished and on display around the world. This is a sophisticated printer from InkTec in Korea. They have engineers who previously worked at Hypernics and IP&I to provide experience. The next flatbed that will appear in the USA is from Sky AirShip. Two of us from FLAAR inspected the Sky AirShip flatbed printers in their factory for several days during July. Sky Air Ship is one brand that is developing improved models for the American and European markets, especially their printer for glass.

Another flatbed that is being introduced to the US market is the Manta from GRAPO, in the Czech Republic.

So far HP has no entry-level flatbed nor even a mid-range flatbed: all their printers are combo (with moving transport belt) or dedicated roll-to-roll (the former NUR Expedio models now sold through HP Scitex).

And once you have your flatbed UV-curable inkjet printer, you will wish to experiment with all the exciting rigid materials. So FLAAR has started a long range program to evaluate:

  • All honeycomb cardboard (paper) materials with white printing surfaces (we have found nine brands so far).
  • All aluminum-faced rigid materials (over a dozen brands so far; much more than just Dibond).
  • All metallic, metallicized, and also reflective materials (mirrors and non-mirrots both). Many exciting brands here.
  • Plus every kind of foam-board, more than just Foam-cor; more than Gatorboard.

Once you have a dedicated flatbed printer you will wish to learn about how to cut, trim, and rout your images. So FLAAR has been working on evaluations of digital XY cutter-routers. There is already a FLAAR Report on the Kongsberg XL cutter and glossary to introduce the jargon of CNC routers and digital flatbed cutters.

 

Edited June 7, 2012.

First posted October 13, 2009, after SGIA. Edited February 5, 2010.