Star product: Xanté X-32

By Simon Eccles, Monday 25 June 2018

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Xanté’s new X-32 is an all-new heavy-duty flatbed UV direct-to-object printer with a particularly deep bed capability, capable of printing directly onto large items as long as they have a reasonably flat target surface.

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It’s respectably fast for its class. According to Xanté, it is suitable for “any large object or irregular surface,” with a depth up to 279mm and weight up to 66kg. With a bit of ingenuity, larger objects than the 609x914mm bed can be printed, as the open front lets them hang over the front edge a bit. 

Typical applications listed include: small-format Coroplast signage, clear acrylic displays, foam board, wooden signs, painted steel signs, aluminium outdoor signs, PVC plastic, stone, magnets, formed corrugated boxes, plastic containers, counter displays, pens, balls, tags and tiles. As an example, at the Sign & Digital UK show in April, Xanté’s demonstrator was printing directly onto a folding wooden picnic table top, without dismantling it.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

The X-32 was launched in Europe at Sign & Digital UK at the end of April and shipping is due to start this month.

“We are aiming it at the sign, display and speciality industrial markets,” says European marketing director Melissa van Gelderen. “We say the X-32 hits the ‘sweet spot’ because it’s the best of both worlds. It’s the perfect printer to fill the gap between small-format speciality printers and large flatbed printers.”

How does it work?

It’s essentially a fairly conventional scanning head UV printer, with an unusually deep bed movement range. The main construction is steel, with “heavy-duty components” such as solid metal lead screws. 

A head height calibration sensor creates a height reference on irregular surfaces. The vacuum bed holds down lightweight materials, or jigs can hold multiple small objects in position. 

There are six staggered heads for CMYK plus either dual white or dual clear inks. UV-LED curing lamps at both ends of the head carriage allow bi-directional printing of white or clear gloss in the same pass as the colours. Cured inks are waterproof and outdoor-durable. Van Gelderen says primer ink or spray is not needed for any material. 

There are several ways to use the white: as an overall flood layer; white only below coloured dots; white in between coloured dots; and white ‘spot colour’ to replace a colour (this lets the designer use a pale tint to designate white in the file, otherwise it would not show on-screen or in proofs). 

The X-32 is supplied with Xanté’s standard iQueue front end workflow software. This includes controls for colour management, ‘spot colour’ conversions (including a Pantone library) to correct important colour combinations, imposition/positioning and output. It also has features for job cost estimates and reporting. 

How does it compare to previous models?

Over the years Xanté has been best known for modified third-party toner printers (such as OKIs) for light production, label printing envelope printing and polyester litho plates. It has sold a 1,066mm-wide hand-fed rigid sheet inkjet printer (Xcelagraphix 4200P and the current 4800) with Memjet heads and aqueous pigment inks since 2012, mainly intended for short runs onto corrugated board. 

The X032 is its first UV-LD flatbed model, and its first direct-to-object printer. 

How fast/productive is it?

The quoted speed is 11m²/hr assuming the full bed dimensions, at the standard resolution of 720x1,200dpi. The speed can be slowed down a little, or LED intensity reduced, for better curing on some media. 

What’s the USP?

“Again, I would say the ‘sweet spot,” says van Gelderen. “We see there are many lower priced UV printers but they are often small and not produced with industrial quality parts. The X-32 has a bed which can take heavy weights, high quality and speed and a print area that is unusually large.”

How easy is it to use?

“The X-32 is very easy to use,” van Gelderen states. “IQueue makes all our printers accessible because of its complete set of features and its intuitive nature.”

Control is entirely through the front end software. 

What training and support is on offer?

“We offer a two-and-a-half day training and installation course and of course support is available,” says van Gelderen. 

What do the printer and inks cost?

The printer and iQueue software package costs €49,995 (about £44,125). The ink costs €175 per litre container (about £155). 

How many are installed?

None so far. Shipping in Europe is due at the end of June. Xanté has an online shop but expects to ship X-32s via UK dealers still to be announced. Van Gelderan hopes that a couple will have demo machines. 


SPECIFICATIONS

Colours CMYK plus double white or double coater

Curing Dual UV-LED low-heat lamps

Max print area 914x609mm

Max print height 286mm

Max resolution 720x1,200dpi

Max speed Around 12m2/hr (720x600dpi)

Software Xanté iQueue Workflow, including features such as Adobe PostScript, CMYK density control, spot colour matching, imposition, estimating, file editing and variable printing

Price Around £44,125

Contact Xanté Europe +31 26 319 3210 xantestore.eu


ALTERNATIVES

Azon Matrix/Pro 1200

Azon is a Croatian printer maker that builds deep bed printers based on bought-in print engines (apparently Epsons). Matrix/Pro is a range of industrial-class UV flatbeds that can take items up to 200mm deep (with a 300mm option) and weighing up to 100kg. The smallest 1200 model is comparable in format with the X-32, but there are models up to 3.2m long. The base UV system has an ink that works with many media, but there are also versions with ink specialised for direct-to-substrate, leather or garments. 

Colours CMYK, dual white or CMYK, white and gloss

Curing UV-LED

Print area 590x1,200

Resolution 2,880dpi

Ink capacity 5 litre containers

Software Azon RIP

Price £39,300

Contact Atlantic Tech Services 01279 638500 www.atlantic-ts.com

Mimaki UJF 7151plus

Mimaki pioneered the first successful “baby flatbed” UV printers. This is currently its largest model, though its bed size and depth range is significantly smaller than the lower-priced X-32. It’s slower too, though we haven’t been able to do print quality comparisons. 

Colours CMYK, white, clear or primer

Curing UV-LED

Print area 710x510mm

Bed depth range 153mm

Resolution 1,200dpi

Speed “About 6 beds per hour” (approx. 2.1m2/hour)

Ink capacity 1 litre containers

Software Mimaki RasterLink 6

Price £49,995 including 2 year warranty

Contact Hybrid Services 01270 501900 www.hybridservices.co.uk

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