Steve Lambourne's SS Signs is the first ANZ customer of the super 'flatbed on steroids' DigiTech ProFire LT/X2, supplied through Celmac. It's no ordinary flatbed UV - it's thoroughbred racehorse, made in Texas, USA and wowed October's Printing United expo in Atlanta, Celmac's Wayne McIntyre and Jonny Rumney first saw it at Printing United 2019 and commenced Covid-interrupted talks, which have now borne fruit.

Celmac DigiTech SSSignsCelmac MD Wayne McIntyre (L) with Digitech President Patric Coldewey, confirming Australian distribution

Flatbed UV printers have changed Signboard, POS and industrial object printing massively in their 22-year history, since the release of the Inca Eagle 44. Once the signage world realised the potential and UV-curable inks became more available, they really took off, especially from 2006 when Oce acquired Gretag Imaging/Raster Graphics (now all part of Canon) and released the Canadian-made Arizona 250GT.

These days there are dozens of Flatbed UV printers and more recently Latex/Resin flatbeds avaialble, with speeds between 8m2/hr and 25m2/hour for 'saleable' quality; i.e. not 'draft' speeds. For many smaller sign shops, this is plenty. The step up to big name 'super flatbeds' costing well over $1 million, containing scores and scores of printheads, but delivering 300-900 m2/hr, is beyond the sensible reach of the majority of sign shops. Celmac DigiTech Team PrintingUnitedCelmac's Wayne McIntyre (far L) and Jonny Rumney (4th from L) with the DigiTech Team at Printing United

But growing such businesses usually means installing more of the same - multiple printers producing  maybe 14 to 40 2.4 x 1.2 metre boards per hour - meaning more staff, more space. More manual handling. This is where the DigiTech ProFire LT/X2 makes a lot of sense, and is in a succulent 'sweet spot' between low volume and pricey 'super + flatbeds.'

Steve Lambourne takes up the story: "We had been looking for the last 2 years at the right flatbed technology. I attended Printing United and saw the DigiTech for the first time. Apart from the speed, it was the simplicity of the printer and the automation that caught our attention."

Celmac steveLambourneSteve Lambourne - SS Signs (photo credit Jordan Crick, Redland Bulletin)He continues describing the process: “DigiTech and Celmac said they would have the printer up and running within 24 hours of arriving and they certainly delivered on that. Celmac had invested in training their techs prior to arriving and the simplicity of the equipment made installation appear to go flawlessly. On day 3 of its arrival, we had a grand opening of our new facility in Brisbane and were able to showcase the printer in full flight. I can only say that everyone present were blown away with what it could do and couldn’t believe that it had only arrived 2 days before action!”

Lambourne sees the addition of the DigiTech ProFire LT/X2 as a boost in customer services: "Automation is the key for some of our applications and the speed will assist us even more in ensuring that we meet delivery expectation of our clients. The quality takes us to a new level over current technologies and again, the simplicity of the operation and maintenance means we can easily train more staff quickly to understand this technology."

SS Signs' DigiTech was delivered with suction Auto unload-to-stack but the plan for 2024 is to unload to a conveyor inline to an Aristo cutter, for a fully automated line similar to the USA customer shown in this video!

Automated DigiTech Print and Cut System at Vistago Print - USA (video)

 What makes DigiTech so special?

  Let's start with productivity. We're talking over 170 m2/hr saleable (not draft/proof) quality with the DigiTech LT/X2 - or sixty 2.4 x 1.2 metre boards per hour if you prefer including cutting! Double that for 'distance viewed' outdoor and politician's election Corflute output. Even at outdoor resolution, the DigiTech's eight Kyocera printheads and proprietary LED-UV inks deliever remarkable quality. In a nutshell, it's about six times faster than most flatbed UVs installed in Australia and New Zealand. Speaking of the inks and curing system, USA users of DigiTech report that the inks are 'the toughest and most scratch-resistant' they've ever used. The solid vacuum table by the way is oversize at 3.048 metres x 1.74 metres.

But Digitech's (motto: 'Only the best ideas must prevail') brilliance does not stop at sheer speed. Started up in 2009, the team headed by President Patric Coldewey has over 30 years experience in inkjet printers, having sold, improved and retrofitted other brands over the years. As Coldewey states: "We started out to make a powerful upgradable print engine that used the latest technology that was easy to run, easy to maintain, and easy to repair (the guiding force was to keep it simple). These printers are built to last, designed to provide 10+ years of service. Expensive service contracts are not required to keep this printer in full production." Celmac DigiTech Patric Jonny Wayne(L-R) Jonny Rumney, Celmac, Patric Coldewey, DigiTech, Wayne McIntyre, Celmac

Apart from the Kyocera printheads, everything on the DigiTech ProFire LT/X2 is engineered in San Antonio, Texas. "The hardware, the electronics, the software….it’s all home (USA) grown. With the movement of almost every printer supplier to manufacturing in China or in many cases just rebranding Chinese printers, DigiTech ProFire users can rest assured we did it all right here down to the last bit of code, the very last bolt, and the final chip on that electronics package." The workflow software is receiving high praise from USA customers. It features a job queing system that can save 45 minutes per 100 sheets printed. This enables the operator to queue up a day’s worth of jobs with 100% focus at the beginning of their shift, thus eliminating mistakes. The empower team members can then operate the machine from the foot pedal alone, without the use of the keyboard or mouse. Printed quantities can quickly be tracked on the monitor and quantities edited before the queue is finished.

It looks like Celmac is on a real winner with DigiTech. For a video of the actual SS Signs open house installation, click on THIS LINK

Celmac DigiTechTruFire White CADSpeed machine - DigiTech's ProFire LT/X2 at SS Signs delivers a full board a minute (with cutting) at production quality



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