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Green Printing and Product Life Cycle

(June 2011) posted on Tue Jun 21, 2011

Check out the latest trends in new products for and adoption of green sustainability in wide-format printing.

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By Tim Greene

At the recent ISA show there were several new printer models launched that illustrate these technological advancement perfectly. At the low-end of the market (more on this in a minute) Roland introduced a 64-in.-wide LEJ-640. This sub $75K printer uses LED curing and promises enhanced speed and print quality even while providing a low operational cost. As I understand it, the LED curing lamp is more expensive to buy, but then operates for a lot longer and consumes much less power while doing so than conventional mercury arc lamps. These are not the first LED curing products in lower-end wide-format printers, but I think they are the lowest-cost LED-curing wide-format printers to come to market so far.

At the higher end of the market, EFI introduced a new model of its VUTEk 3250 called the 3250LX, which also uses LED curing lamps. This is the first production engine that I know of to use LED curing lamps, so it is a real test to see if LED-curing works as well in a production environment. If it does, then we will see a lot of other vendors incorporate LEDs as well.

Along the same lines, also at ISA, Océ introduced new models of its Arizona series UV-curable printers that use a new high-output/low-heat UV arc lamp that the company says uses less power and provides the same expanded media range advantages that the LED-curing companies are highlighting. Power consumption is a pretty big deal because of the rising cost of energy. I recently visited a production site where the company reported that it spends over $1,000 a month in energy costs just to run its high-end UV-curable printer.

Wide-format-print-service providers’ green involvement
In one of our recent survey projects, almost 85% of wide-format print service providers reported that they either have made some kind of changes to become more of a sustainable printing company or they plan to in the future. That could mean something as simple as using a different kind of media or different kind of printer, or something much more robust such as an enterprise-wide assessment and revision of operations with the goal of higher levels of sustainability.

As we look at the global wide-format market and even the national market here in the U.S., there are hot spots where green printing is much more prominent based on the demands of local buyers and the regulatory environment. InfoTrends believes that as these pressures increase, technologies such as improved curing methods and new ink sets will enable wide-format graphics producers to not only effectively produce these graphics, but also grow their business based on green printing principles.


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