ISA Inkjet Update
The International Sign Expo 2009 ushered in a host of new inkjet printers that raise the bar on productivity and print quality. Here you
Tough economic conditions haven’t thwarted the product-development efforts of inkjet manufacturers, and you didn’t have to look farther than the International Sign Expo 2009 for proof. A score of new printer models were unveiled during the April event in Las Vegas, including models that print with UV, solvent, and sublimation inks. The descriptions that follow highlight the key features and performance attributes of these machines.
This newcomer to the inkjet-manufacturing business (www.chinetechnolo gies.com) sprung from the gate with a bundled system it bills as a “$100,000 Print-and-Cut System.” The X-Press F512 is a 4 x 8-ft flatbed UV inkjet printer that is paired with the company’s X-Press CNC router. The X-Press printer features six or eight Konica 512M printheads that deliver a 14-pl droplet size and print resolutions up to 1440 x 720 dpi. Both the six- and eight-color systems print CMYKLcLm, and the eight-color unit also is capable of printing CMYK x 2 or CMYK + white or spot colors. The eight-color printer can output up to 450 sq ft/hr in production mode. The X-Press Router comes with either a 4 x 8-ft or 5 x 10-ft table and will cut materials up to 2 in. thick. It is driven by Chin.E’s UcanCAM routing software for designing and producing three-dimensional signage. Additionally, the company showed the X-Press RK512 roll-to-roll UV printer, which is available in a 62-in. model with six heads (CMYKLcLm) or a 120-in.-model with eight heads (CMYK x 2). It has a top production speed of 340 sq ft/hr.
The PS 3206D roll-fed solvent inkjet was introduced by DGI (www.dig-net.com). The six color (CMYKLcLm), 12-head system offers output speed in production mode of up to 860 sq ft/hr and provides print resolution up to 720 dpi. Suitable for media up to 130 in. wide, it also supports simultaneous printing of two separate, narrower rolls. Other features include triple heating zones (before, during, and after printing), automatic take-up system, and DGI’s proprietary Drop Control Technology for precise placement of ink droplets. The system comes bundled with Wasatch SoftRIP.
EFI (www.efi.com) rolled out three new machines at the ISA show. First was the VUTEk GS3200, a combination flatbed and roll-to-roll UV inkjet. The dual-resolution machine prints at 600 dpi with 24-pl drops or 1000 dpi with 12-pl drops and has a top print speed of 2400 sq ft/hr. It supports printing with eight colors (CMYKLcLmLyLk), white, and CMYK + white (VUTEk’s Fast-5 technology). Rigid or flexible media up to 126.5 in. in width and 2 in. thick can be printed on the system, and it also supports printing of dual roles simultaneously.
The VUTEk GS5000r is a dedicated roll-to-roll UV inkjet printer. It offers the same dual-resolution capabilities and droplet sizes as the GS3200 but has a top speed of 3100 sq ft/hr. It’s an eight color machine (CMYKLcLmLyLk) that can also be operated in VUTEk’s Fast-4 mode (CMYK x 2) for maximum productivity. The machine supports single rolls of media up to 198 in. wide or multiple rolls (up to three) for simultaneous printing.
Finally the company highlighted its Rastek T660 UV flatbed printer, billed as a capable, entry-level machine for shops looking to enter the digital-printing market. The T660 prints on substrates up to 60 in. wide and 2 in. thick and features CMYK + white inks. The machine features grayscale printheads that can print seven different drop sizes, ranging from 6-42 pl. Saleable graphics can be produced on the system at speeds up to 200 sq ft/hr. Maximum resolution of the device is 1200 x 900 dpi. All three new printers operate with EFI’s Fiery XF RIP.
As North American distributor for the Inca Digital product line, Fujifilm Sericol (www.fujifilmsericol.com) presented the new Inca Onset S20. The S20 is positioned as a less expensive alternative to the original Onset, Inca’s high-speed display-graphics printer. Featuring a full-bed print array, the S20 can print at 2690 sq ft/hr (50 full beds an hour) on substrates up to 123 x 63 in. and 2 in. thick. It is offered with several color options: CMYK, CMYKLcLm, CMYK + orange + violet, or CMYK + white. The system is capable of precise double-sided and edge-to-edge printing, and it can be set to provide variable gloss levels, from gloss to satin. It can be driven by RIPs from ColorGATE or Wasatch.
The Jeti 1224 UV NanoJet 2 is the latest offering from Gandinnovations (www.gandinnovations.com). Based on the original 1224 NanoJet platform, the new flatbed UV inkjet features 20 grayscale printheads from Ricoh that support variable dot sizes (6-30 pl) and provide a top image resolution of 600 dpi (1200 dpi apparent). The five-color (CMYK + white) printer has a 4 x 8-ft vacuum bed that shuttles in a linear fashion during printing. Other features include an intuitive user interface, retractable registration pins, and GandiSoft RIP software. The company also offers an FTR (flat to roll) version of the printer, which involves adding a module to give the device roll-handling capability.
GCC (www.gccworld.com) featured the StellarJet K72UV, a hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll UV inkjet. Supporting rigid and flexible substrates up to 72 in. wide and rigid materials up to 2 in. thick, the K72UV is available with four standard colors (CMYK) and four additional colors as an option (LcLm, white, and varnish). It prints at a standard resolution of 720 dpi, but can achieve 1440 dpi with the addition of Lc and Lm inks. To production speed on the device is 162 sq ft/hr. An Auto Media Calibration system uses a pin to automatically detect and gauge the distance between the printheads and the substrate, then automatically adjusts the printhead to the ideal height. The K72UV can be driven by RIPs from Onyx and Wasatch.
The Solara Ionz is the latest Addition to Gerber’s (www.gspinc.com) Solara family of inkjet printers. Positioned as the highest-resolution printer in the product line, the Ionz prints 14-pl droplets and provides output of 720 dpi. Like its siblings the Ionx and Ionv, the Ionz features GerberCAT cationic UV inks (CMYK) and Cold-Fire low-temperature curing technology and prints on both rigid and roll-fed material. Rigid media up to 64 x 120 in. and 1 in. thick are supported, as are roll media up to 63 in. wide. The device can print at a top production speed of 319 sq ft/hr. For shops that want a complete print/cut solution with the Ion printers, Gerber also introduced the M Series digital cutting and finishing systems for flexible and rigid materials. The cutters, available in variety of sizes, perform cutting, routing, and engraving functions and are equipped with MVision-Cut automatic laser registration.
Mimaki (www.mimakiusa.com) presented its new JFX-1631 flatbed UV inkjet system. It features UV LED curing technology with lamps that reportedly consume half the energy of conventional curing systems and last 5000 hr. The lamps also provide short boot times at startup and cool operation, which makes the device suitable for printing on heat-sensitive materials. The JFX-1631 supports media up to 66.7 x 125.7 in. and 1.97 in. thick. It provides three resolution levels, including 600 x 600, 600 x 1200, and 1200 x 1200 dpi. Inks for the machine are offered in CMYK (white will soon be added), and two ink systems are available: LF-200 flexible UV ink for materials that will undergo bending, embossing, etc. and LH-100 hard UV ink for prints on rigid materials that re-quire scratch and chemical resistance.
The Océ (www.oceusa.com) Arizona 350 XT is the largest model in the Océ Arizona line of combination flatbed/roll-fed inkjets. It supports substrates up to 98.4 x 120 in. and 1.89 in. thick. The extra-wide printer also can be used in a continuous imaging mode, allowing boards up to 4 x 8 ft to be mounted in separate vacuum areas of the flatbed table. The means that while one board is being printed, the other can be changed. The system, which features Océ Varia-Dot imaging technology, provides near photographic quality and variable dot sizes from 6-42 pl. The four-color (CMYK) system also can be expanded with additional white-ink capability. In addition, it comes with optional roll-to-roll printing capability and can print roll materials up to 87 in. wide. Its production speed is said to be 248 sq ft/hr in rigid printing mode and 188 sq ft /hr in roll-to-roll mode. Other features include an on-board ink degassing system and an LCD monitor and mouse on a moveable podium.
Roland’s (www.rolanddga.com) Intelligent Pass Control technology, designed to virtually eliminate banding by optimizing masking patterns and dot placement at the edge of each pass, has been added to two of the company’s printer lines, creating the VersaCAMM VP-i and AdvanceJet AJ-i printers. The VersaCAMM VP-i line includes 34- and 50-in. roll-fed printer/cutters for display graphics and P-O-P applications. They use ECO-SOL MAX inks with three-year outdoor durability. The AdvanceJet
AJ-i printers are available in 74- and 104 in. models for producing wide-format outdoor graphics, such as banners, billboards, and more. The six-color machines (CMYKLcLm) have a maximum print speed of 968 sq ft/hr (on the 104-in. machine) and use EcoXtreme i ink with three-year outdoor durability or less expensive ExoXtreme LT ink for short-term applications. All VersaCamm VP-i and AdvancedJET AJ-i printers are driven by Roland’s VersaWorks RIP software.
The ColorPainter V-64s was the main attraction at the Seiko Infotech (www.seiko-i.com) booth. It’s a new 64-in. mild-solvent inkjet printer designed for the mid-volume sign and banner printing market. The printer has a new six-color (CMYKLcLm) inkset and newly developed piezo printheads that deliver print resolutions up to 720 x 720 dpi. It uses EG-Outdoor EX ink, which Seiko says has a very low odor and provides a wide color gamut, fast dry time, glossiness, and outdoor durability. The machine’s six printheads allow the printer to achieve a production speed of 172 sq ft/ hr at 720 x 720 dpi. Features on the V-64s include Smart Pass Technology that optimizes dot placement and creates gradient overlaps between each printing pass to reduce banding; a three-way, independently controlled heater to optimize ink receptiveness on media and ink drying time; an integrated four-way take-up unit; adjustable head height (0.08 or 0.1 in.); and a manual media cutter with media clips. The system can be operated with RIPs from Caldera, Onyx, SAi, Wasatch, and others.
US Sublimation (www.ussublimation.com) focused attention on its VELOTEX Xpress and VELOTEX Mpress direct dye-sublimation printing systems. The Xpress supports disperse dye (sublimation), textile pigment, acid-dye, and reactive-dye inks. For sublimation inks, it provides an onboard heating unit to active and affix the printed sublimation dyes to the fabric. The system handles roll-fed materials up to 64 in. wide and prints with a maximum resolution of 1400 dpi. The Mpress is designed to operate with disperse-dye or textile-pigment inks. It also features an onboard heat unit to affix sublimation printers, and it offers a top speed of 226 sq ft/hr. It’s designed for roll materials up to 42 in. wide.
WP Digital (www.wp-digital.com), the former unit of Spühl AG (now a part of Wifag Polytype), has released two new Virtu printers: the Virtu RS35 and Virtu RR50. The Virtu RS35 is a hybrid UV machine that can on a variet of rigid and flexible materials up to 11.5 ft wide, and it can accommodate substrates up to 3.74 in. thick. The RS35 is available with 30- or 80-pl printing modules and in four color configurations: CMYK, CMYKLcLm, CMYK + white, or CMYKLcLm + white. The printer boasts a top resolution of 1200 dpi and top speeds of 3230 sq ft/hr (at 300 dpi with 80 pl drops) and 1400 sq ft/hr (at 423 x 500 dpi with 30 pl drops). Additional features include an integrated mesh kit to easily switch to interleaving material such as textiles, an interruption-free ink refill system, a vacuum system with individually adjustable chambers, and a substrate feeding and positioning system. Options include an oven for textiles, table in front/rear for rigid substrates, an anti-static device, and a camera/monitor.
The Virtu RR50 is a roll-fed UV printer that can accommodate flexible substrates up to 16.4 ft wide. As with the RS35, it’s available with 30- or 80-pl printing modules. The RR50 is available in three color configurations: CMYK, CMYKLcLm, or CMYKLcLm + white. It can print 1200 dpi and has top speeds of 3440 sq ft/hr (300 dpi, 80 pl) and 1610 sq ft/hr (423 x 500 dpi, 30 pl). An optional reel lift allows the RR50 to be operated in three different configurations: loading from the back and unloading at the front; loading and unloading at the front; and loading and unloading at the back. Other options include a mesh function for interleaving materials, longitudinal cutting device, anti-static device, center support for center winders, and more. Both printer models can be driven by RIPs from either Caldera or Onyx.