Flatbed Digital Printing - What It Is and How it Works

Written by: Nimish Adani



Time to read min

In today's world where technology plays a major role in every industry, printing is no exception. The advent of digital printing has revolutionized the world of printing in terms of speed, accuracy, and convenience. Flatbed digital printing is one such technological advancement in the printing industry that has opened up a world of possibilities for businesses and individuals alike - especially in the name-plate and signage industry. In fact, a large proportion of orders on Housenama are printed using state-of-the-art flatbed printers.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the workings of flatbed digital printing, its various components, processes, and applications.

Epson UV Flatbed Printer

Understanding Flatbed Digital Printing

Definition and Overview

Flatbed digital printing is a printing process that involves using an inkjet printer to print images directly onto various materials, including but not limited to wood, acrylic, glass, metal, and plastic. This process is highly versatile and can be used for a wide range of applications, including signage, promotional materials, and custom products.

One of the main advantages of flatbed digital printing is its ability to print on non-flat surfaces. Traditional printing methods, such as screen printing, can only print on flat surfaces. However, flatbed digital printing can print on curved or uneven surfaces, making it a popular choice for printing on three-dimensional objects.

Key Components of Flatbed Digital Printers

The main components of a flatbed digital printer include the ink system, print bed, and printer head. The ink system is responsible for delivering the ink onto the surface of the media being printed on. The type of ink used will depend on the material being printed on, as well as the desired end result. For example, UV-curable inks are commonly used for printing on plastic and metal, while solvent inks are often used for printing on vinyl and other flexible materials.

The print bed holds the material in place as printing occurs. The bed can be made from a variety of materials, including aluminum, steel, and composite materials. Some flatbed printers also have a vacuum system that holds the material in place during printing, which can be especially useful for printing on thin or lightweight materials.

The printer head applies the ink to the surface of the media. Flatbed printers typically use either piezoelectric or thermal inkjet technology. Piezoelectric printers use a crystal that vibrates when an electric current is applied, which forces the ink out of the nozzle. Thermal inkjet printers use heat to create a small bubble in the ink, which forces the ink out of the nozzle.

Types of Flatbed Digital Printers

There are two main types of flatbed digital printers: dedicated flatbed printers and hybrid printers. Dedicated flatbed printers are specialized for printing on rigid materials and can only handle one material at a time. These printers are often used for printing on materials such as wood, metal, and glass.

Hybrid printers are more versatile and can print on both rigid and flexible materials. They can print onto sheets or easily roll-to-roll, making them a popular choice for printing on a wide range of materials, including vinyl, fabric, and foam board. Hybrid printers are often used for printing large-format graphics, such as banners and trade show displays.

When choosing a flatbed printer, it is important to consider the type of materials you will be printing on, as well as the size and volume of your printing needs. Some printers are designed for high-volume production, while others are better suited for smaller, more specialized jobs.

The Flatbed Digital Printing Process

Preparing the Image File

The first step to printing using a flatbed digital printer is preparing the image file. This involves creating a digital file containing the desired image using graphic design software. Printing companies may have specific requirements for image files, and so it is necessary to communicate these requirements with whoever will be printing your design.

Loading the Material

Before beginning the printing process, the material to be printed on must be placed securely on the printer's print bed. The print bed is then raised to the printer head's height, which ensures proper printing registration, and is ready to begin printing.

Printing the Image

Once the material is loaded, the printer head moves over it, depositing ink where needed according to the digital file's image data input. During the printing process, the ink is cured through heat or air drying to ensure that the printed image is permanent.

Post-Printing Processes

Once the image is printed, the material may undergo post-print processes such as cutting or laminating to ensure that the printed item has the required finish, is cut to the right shape and size, and the final printed material is of good quality.

Advantages of Flatbed Digital Printing

Versatility in Material Options

One of the biggest advantages of flatbed digital printing is the material options it presents. With the ability to print on materials such as canvas, glass, metal, and wood, the design possibilities are endless. For businesses or individuals with specialized printing needs, having the option to print on more than just paper is highly beneficial.

High-Quality and Detailed Prints

The precision of flatbed digital printing produces high-quality prints with intricate details, vibrant colors, and sharp lines. This high level of accuracy ensures that even small text or complex graphics remain clear and legible, making it ideal for advertising and product branding purposes.

Time and Cost Efficiency

Flatbed digital printing is a cost-effective printing solution, mainly when printing on a small scale compared to other traditional printing methods. Furthermore, it is a versatile process, and printing multiple designs of one project is possible without additional costs or setup time. The process requires no set up time, as everything is done digitally, from image submission to printing. This leads to rapid printing and delivery times, making it a fast and efficient solution.

Environmentally Friendly

Printing with digital flatbed printers is environmentally friendly compared to conventional printing. It produces no hazardous waste as ink is not discharged into the air or water supply.

Applications of Flatbed Digital Printing

Signage and Banners

Companies use flatbed digital printing for producing large-scale signage such as banners, billboards, and posters. High-quality graphics and accurate color reproduction are essential for banners that need to stand out.

Custom Furniture and Home Decor

Flatbed digital printing is great for creating custom furniture and home decor such as name-plates, wall art, customized floors, and backsplashes. The technology allows the print to be directly applied to almost any surface, maximizing design possibilities.

Packaging and Product Branding

Flatbed digital printing is an ideal solution for small to medium-sized runs or when product changes frequently, such as seasonal packaging. It is also highly customizable, making it perfect for unique product packaging or labeling designs.

Fine Art and Photography

Flatbed digital printing is perfect for artists and photographers who want to create high-quality, gallery-ready prints without significant time or cost investment. With this printing method, artists and photographers can reproduce their work with excellent accuracy, sharp contrast, and vibrant colors.


Flatbed digital printing is a powerful printing process that offers a range of applications and advantages. With its versatility in material options, high-quality and detailed prints, cost and time efficiency, and environmental friendliness, it is an excellent choice for any printing needs. Whether you are an artist, photographer or a business seeking to produce large-scale signage and product branding, flatbed digital printing is an ideal solution. As printing technology continues to evolve, flatbed digital printing will undoubtedly play a larger role in the printing industry.