Top Printers for Direct Printing on Various Materials: Flatbed and DTG Printers
When it comes to printing directly onto a wide range of materials such as clothing, shirts, metals, PVC, and glass, two types of printers stand out: flatbed printers and DTG (Direct-to-Garment) printers. While traditional printers typically have a flat loading tray, flatbed printers have a level surface or bed where the printing material is placed. This key distinction allows flatbed printers to print on a diverse array of materials beyond the limited range supported by traditional printers, which are mainly designed for paper and photo paper.
Flatbed printers operate in a distinct manner compared to standard ink jet or laser printers. The latter typically use a process where a drum and the paper are charged, and a laser beam projects the intended image onto the drum. The uncharged areas attract toner, which is then transferred to the paper to create the printed image.
In contrast, flatbed printers utilize UV inks that offer superior durability. Rather than simply spraying the ink onto the material, which would result in temporary prints that fade quickly, flatbed printers employ a mechanism to engrave the print onto the surface. UV inks, composed of monomers, are exposed to intense UV light, causing polymerization and embedding the printed image onto the material.
To accommodate the varying thickness of different materials such as wood, fabric, and glass, the printing bed of a flatbed printer is designed to be adjustable. While the maximum thickness that flatbed printers can handle is not precisely determined, it can range from around 4 to 5 inches (0.13 m), depending on the specific model and functionality. Higher-end models may have even greater compatibility with thicker materials, while entry-level options might have more limited capabilities in this regard.
Applications and Uses
Given the ability of flatbed printers to print on unconventional materials, it is no surprise that they find extensive use in commercial and industrial applications. It is rare for individuals to have a flatbed printer at home, and domestic use is relatively uncommon.
Flatbed printers, with resolutions ranging from 72 DPI to 2400 DPI, are primarily employed for screen printing purposes. They can also be used for creating 3D effects and embossing through multiple passes. While flatbed printers can print on curved surfaces, this practice is generally avoided due to the lower resolution achievable on the curved edges, as efficient ink adhesion requires a more significant surface area.
In conclusion, flatbed printers and DTG printers excel in their ability to directly print on various materials, making them indispensable tools for commercial and industrial printing applications. With their versatility and durability, they offer endless possibilities for creating vibrant and long-lasting prints on materials beyond the scope of traditional printers.