Screen printers were among the earliest adopters of wide-format digital printing technology because it allowed them to take on short runs they couldn’t do economically or efficiently before. But in the 15 years since the earliest digital printers hit the market, screen printers have waited for new systems that would deliver high-speed throughput, high-resolution quality, and flexibility to handle a variety of applications all from the same device—features that would mirror their traditional printing capabilities. In the past, machines that excelled in one aspect, such as output resolution, usually came up short in another, such as speed.
EFI believes its new VUTEk QS2000 hybrid roll/flatbed UV printer eliminates the tradeoffs of earlier digital-printing equipment by delivering quality, speed, and flexibility from a single machine. The system provides high definition print (HDP) capability with output resolutions up to 363 x 1080 dpi, currently the highest resolution available in this class of printer. It uses a standard six-color inkset (CMYKlclm) and can produce photorealistic images with crisp text rendering.
In situations where higher productivity is sought, the QS2000 can print up to 800 sq ft/hr at 540 dpi. For flexibility, users can switch easily between roll-fed and rigid media up to 2 in. (51 mm) thick. Maximum media width is 80 in. (2032 mm) The QS2000 also offers standard white printing capability through a seventh ink channel. Users can print white in six different variations including overprint, underprint, spot, underspot, fill, and overspot, meeting the full gamut of spot-color and flood-coat applications.
The QS2000 uses three 30-picoliter Seiko printheads per channel. According to EFI, the fine droplet size allows for text as fine as 6-point type to be rendered crisply at 540 dpi. Users can also choose between two levels of image “smoothing” depending on the needs of the job. When the machine prints at 540 dpi, throughput is 800 sq ft/hr at Lite Smoothing and 400 sq ft/hr at Heavy Smoothing. (At press time, specifications for 1080-dpi printing weren’t yet available.)
New to the QS2000 is a Linux-based operating system with a user interface located on the feed side of the printer rather than the output side, allowing the operator to spot any feeding errors more quickly. Also new is a multi-job layout function that can be controlled at the user interface to allow multiple smaller-format jobs to be printed at the same time for greater efficiency.
The QS2000 is compatible with two applications that were announced at the ISA show earlier this year, both developed through an exclusive partnership with Códice Transfer factory of Malaga, Spain. The printer’s Códice Double System Control Visual (DSCV) technologies are designed for interior and exterior retail applications. DSCV Static allows users to print one-way see-through graphics on a variety of rigid or flexible transparent media, while DSCV Dynamic allows two or three different advertising images to be printed on the same display, with the images changing after exposure times of between 2-14 sec.
The QS2000 is available either with a Colorburst RIP (as previous VUTEk models) or with the new Fiery XF, the first EFI RIP designed specifically for a VUTEk printer. In addition to allowing users to drive proofing devices and the QS2000 from the same RIP, the Fiery XF interfaces seamlessly with EFI’s family of workflow-management software. EFI’s Print MIS package allows users to automate such functions as job estimating, inventory management, job planning and scheduling, generation of production tickets, invoicing, data collection, and more. The Fiery XF is also fully compatible with EFI’s Internet module, which enables users to set up virtual storefronts and develop client interfaces that allow customers to log in and order jobs, manage their account histories, check the status of jobs in real time, and more.
The QS2000, which will make its US debut at the SGIA show in Las Vegas, NV, was in final beta testing at press time and will be launched commercially on Sept. 28, 2006. The Fiery XF RIP is available now. For more information, contact EFI, One Vutek Pl., Meredith, NH 03253, 603-279-4635, fax: 603-279-6411, www.efi-vutek.com.
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