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Single-Pass Inkjet and the Wide World of Décor

(June/July 2017) posted on Fri Jul 07, 2017

High-speed industrial inkjet technology is expanding into décor applications including laminate flooring, furniture, doors, and more.

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By Eileen Fritsch

Single-pass inkjet printers that use water-based inks are already used in commercial printing, corrugated package converting, and textile printing. Narrow-format single-pass systems that use water-based or UV-curable inks are also in wide use in the label industry. The technology isn’t new to the décor market – Barberán, a company we’ll discuss in just a moment, has offered such systems for a decade – but more players are entering this sector as awareness rises and single-pass technology advances. Some are familiar names to wide-format print service providers; others have a background as OEMs or systems integrators of other types of production equipment used in these industries. Building single-pass inkjet printers robust enough for industrial environments can cost millions of dollars and require years of testing. Typically, single-pass lines are designed to print the standard-size materials already used in higher-volume manufacturing processes.

Here is a quick rundown of currently available and recently announced digital décor printing technology.

Barberán Jetmaster Series
Founded in 1929, Barberán is a family-owned business that makes industrial surface finishing machinery for the furniture, construction, and decoration industries. The company had a head start in attacking the opportunity in décor printing: They have been making single-pass UV inkjet printers for 10 years, equipment that is reportedly used in 30 factories. Barberán has four main divisions, including one for digital printing, with the R&D resources needed to develop all machine components and software.

Barberán’s Jetmaster Series of single-pass printers uses four or six colors of UV-curable inks to print 360-dpi variable-drop, grayscale images at speeds up to 180.5 feet per minute. The optional six-color inksets are available with either light cyan/light magenta or orange/violet.

Jetmaster printers can be built to image panels as narrow as 1.18 inches and as wide as 74.4 inches. Standalone models come in widths such as 33 inches, 41.3 inches, 49.6 inches, and 66.1 inches. Options include a primer station and a finishing unit for gloss control.

Most Jetmaster printers are designed for MDF (medium-density fiberboard); HDF (high-density fiberboard) for flooring; wood panels; or melamine laminates for furniture, cabinets, and display counters. A roll-to-roll Jetmaster unit can print the thermoplastic foils used to wrap components with contoured edges and surfaces such as door frames and other decorative moldings. Specialized machinery can be built to print on cork, linoleum, or glass.


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