EFI expands its industrial printing

EFI has teamed up with the German company Robert Bürkle, which has developed a range of finishing systems, in a move that will help EFI make its Cubik inkjet printers more atractive to the wood decorating industry. 

The new EFI Cubik S1800 is a UV LED printer designed for industrial wood decor production.

The two companies will develop product roadmaps to help with their shared goal of pushing digital printing technology into the wood and other building material industries. José Luis Ramón Moreno, vice president and general manager of EFI’s Industrial Printing division, says that this is much more than a simple cooperation between manufacturers, explaining: “The agreement with Robert Bürkle requires some level of integration as there could be multiple steps depending on the substrate and the actual configuration of the lines for each customer. Robert Bürkle is supplying the pre- and post- processes around the printer. So it’s not only one solution, as depending on the substrate you might take a different kind of varnishing or coating or priming so we are making this compatible with a multitude of cases.”

Moreno says that Bürkle is the best company to further the company’s growth in the wood industry, adding: “We value the position that Bürkle holds as a very well-known and established leader in this industry, and we are certain that together we will serve the market by helping customers transform wood decoration using leading-edge digital inkjet solutions.”

To underscore this, Bürkle featured two of EFI’s Cubik printers on its stand at last week’s Ligna industrial woodworking show in Hanover, Germany, including the existing Cubik 700 and a newer Cubik 1800, both designed for short-run throughput, as well as high-speed, mass production of decorative wood surfaces for indoor and outdoor applications. The Cubik printers are worth taking an extra look at, as EFI has built on the Cretaprinter range that was initially developed for printing to ceramics, and has now developed a number of different Cubik printers targeting specific industrial markets, such as the building trade, or as in this case, the wood decorating industry.

Moreno explains: “We started developing the Cubik idea three years ago. The idea was to take technology from within EFI and leverage that for new applications so we are taking parts from the Cretaprinter but also from Nozomi and even from Regianni depending on the substrates. The vacuum transport for the Cubik comes from the Nozomi. But also we leverage the Fiery ProServer.”

The Cubik uses the e*D5 printhead, which is a variation of the Seiko 1536 developed specifically for EFI. Thus the frequency has been increased and the construction of the head has been tweaked so that it can handle the Cubik inks.

José Luis Ramón Moreno, vice president and general manager of EFI’s Industrial Printing division

The show marked the worldwide debut for the new Cubik 1800, which has been designed specifically for printing decorative panels including heavy boards. It’ s designed to run 24/7 in industrial production environments. Moreno says that it’s a premium product compared to those technologies available from other vendors. It’s a single pass printer that uses UV LED CMYK plus orange and violet inks which should give it a wide colour gamut. It can take boards up to 1800mm wide and 120mm high, with resolution up to 360 x 720dpi and speed up to 75 linear mpm.

EFI also showed off its older Cubik 700 printer at the Ligna show. Moreno says that it’s a reasonably fast and compact printer that’s suitable for shorter runs.  This can take boards up to 700mm wide and 30mm high. It has room for up to eight print bars and can produce up to 60 linear mpm. There’s also a wider S1400 version that can handle boards up to 1400mm wide. 

It runs water-based mineral inks, available in blue, brown, yellow, black, pink, red, green and white. It can be used with standard varnishes and coatings. Moreno accepts that the colour gamut is not as wide as with UV LED inks but says that this is an acceptable compromise because of the lower energy use and compatibility with a wide range of substrates from plywood to natural hard woods.

Moreno points out that both the mineral ink and LED UV solutions can be used to print to paper that can be laminated to boards. He says that the performance isn’t as good as printing direct to board but that it doesn’t require a complete manufacturing line or heat press, adding, “so the investment is very small.” This opens up other applications such as producing wood for use in the back of furniture items.

The arrangement with Robert Bürkle will allow EFI to build on this, and given the potential size of the wood decoration market, there’s every possibility that EFI will see the sort of market growth with its Cubik printers that it once saw in the ceramic market. And that sort of potential is something that EFI and everyone else involved in the digitisation of the ceramic tile market dreams of being able to repeat. So, this is definitely a space worth watching.

You can find some more information on the Cubik printers at EFI’s website here.

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