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With the Pro 24f, EFI hopes to woo the flatbed faithful to its fold.

What does it do?
Although EFI is a stalwart of the superwide-format market with its Vutek range in the roll-to-roll and hybrid markets, the Pro 24f is it’s first ‘true’ flatbed, and is a key plank in the firm’s bid to address all sectors in the display graphics market.

Specifications
Max printable area: 2.54x1.32m
Colours: CMYK plus dual white
Curing: UV LED
Throughput (production mode): 27m2/hr
Contact: www.efi.com

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?
American signage and display exhibition SGIA, held last October in New Orleans, was the first outing for the Pro 24f with the first US installs soon following.
“The Pro 24f opens up some new markets and applications for us, in particular high-value ones such as lenticular, photographic displays and heavy and irregularly shaped objects,” says EFI vice-president of marketing for inkjet Ken Hanulec.
“This is EFI’s first true flatbed, which offers the next level of quality for the flatbed zealots,” he added.

How does it work?
For the most demanding jobs, a flatbed is claimed to offer more accurate dot placement and therefore higher quality, as it’s only the heads that move. At the heart of the machine are Ricoh Gen5 heads, which have a minimum drop size of 7pl and operate in greyscale mode.
The ink is a tweaked version of EFI’s UV formulation and curing is by means of LEDs.
How does it differ from previous models?
The static bed sets it apart from the firm’s existing entry-level machines, the 1625 and the Pro 16h, both of which remain in the range for users who want the versatility of a single hybrid machine to print both rigid boards and flexible rolls.

How fast/productive is it?
Print speed depends on the quality mode and whether white ink is used, which halves the throughput compared to CMYK only.
For most applications the production and POP modes that offer 27m² (13.5m² with white) and 20m² (10m² with white) per hour, which is nine or six 1.2x2.4m (8x4ft) boards per hour respectively will suffice. For outdoor/distant-view jobs throughput can be boosted to 57m²/hr, while for the utmost in quality it drops to 5m²/hr.
EFI also draws attention to the speed and processing power of the Fiery proServer Core digital front-end with Fast RIP technology, which brings the Fiery technology commonly used to drive digital printers for several decades to the wide format world. The RIP can process files on demand or provide pre-ripped files that are called off to print at the machine console.

What is the USP of the product?
“It’s a true flatbed from EFI,” says Hanulec.
“It’s not that one architecture or the other is better, they are suited to different applications. We have had potential customers say to us before ‘until you have a flatbed we won’t talk to you’.”
The firm also highlights the integration of the package from RIP through hardware to ink, all of which are developed in-house.

How easy is it to use?
LED curing ensures that even the lightest weight and most heat-sensitive substrates can be handled without fear of damaging or warping, while still having the oomph to handle materials up to 50mm thick.
The four vacuum zones match common media sizes, minimising setup times and eliminating the need to mask the bed.

What training and support is on offer?
“Our world-class network offers full training, installation and support whether clients buy direct or from a dealer,” says Hanulec.

What is the sales target, how many are installed currently?
The first few machines are in the field in the US, with sales in the UK as of now. Hanulec has got high hopes for the Pro 24f, with the potential for “several hundreds per year”. The closely related 1625 and Pro 16H have between them notched up 600 installs in the past two years.

Alternatives
Canon Océ Arizona 2200GT series
Sector-defining flatbed in six or eight channel versions with two greyscale heads per channel. Double-sized bed version (XT) allows faster throughput by enabling simultaneous printing and media loading/unloading. Max print area is 1.25x2.5m.

Fujifilm Acuity Select
The Select offers four to eight channels with clear, white, light cyan and light magenta options and three different ink options. An optional double-sized bed allows faster throughput. Max print area is 1.25x2.5m.

Mimaki JFX 200 2513
A capable, affordable LED UV-cured flatbed from Mimaki. Sister machine the 2531 with double-sized bed allows faster throughput via simultaneous printing and loading. Max print area is 2.5x1.3m.