New Options in Wide-Format Inkjet Printing
This spring saw the launch of several new inkjet printing systems that are pushing the technology into new realms of speed and versatility. This overview details key features and capabilities of new solvent and UV inkjets that are well-suited for the
The menu of high-performance wide-format inkjet printers continues to grow, and screen shops hungering for faster and more capable systems now have several new options to settle their appetites. The machines are tantalizing for a variety of reasons— throughput, media supported, functionality, affordability—and come from seven manufacturers with long track records in producing digital printing equipment. In all, these manufacturers have introduced ten new printer models, nine of which are discussed here. For information on the tenth system—the MacDermid Colorspan 5400uv—turn to the Product Update on page 10 of this issue.
Mimaki JV5 260S/320S
Mimaki entered the realm of superwide-inkjet manufacturers with the addition of two new models to its JV5 printer line: the JV5-260S with a 102-in. print width and the JV5-320S supporting print widths up to 128 in. Both are billed as machines that support high-quality, highspeed printing for extended periods.
The new printers feature a staggered array of four printheads and provide output resolutions ranging from 540 x 720 dpi to 1440 x 1440 dpi, determined by the print mode the user selects. They print in either four (CMYK) or six (CMYKLcLm) colors and can be used with ES3 lowsolvent inks or HS standard-solvent inks (one or the other, not both), which are available in double cartridges that contain 440 ml of ink.
The print speeds achievable with the machines are dependent on the number of colors being printed and the number of passes made in each print mode, which varies from four to 32 passes. In the fastest printing mode (four pass with four colors), the 260S achieves speeds of 581 sq ft/hr, while the 320S will output at 645 sq ft/hr.
To support near continuous printing, Mimaki has equipped both units with feed and take-up systems for heavy roll media that will support rolls weighing up to 220 lbs on the 260S and 285 lbs on the 320S. A special tensioning bar and winding device ensure that the media is fed to the printers under constant tension. The inkjets, which automatically detect media thickness and adjust printhead height, will print on substrates up to 0.04 in. thick. They also incorporate pre-, print-, and post-heating systems to optimize ink adhesion and durability. An available cutter will automatically sheet printed materials. Both models are driven with the Raster Link Pro II RIP. www.mimakiusa.com
Mutoh Spitfire 65/90 Extreme
The Spitfire Extreme roll-fed inkjets from Mutoh are designated as mid-range, mild-solvent printers for the production of mediumdurability indoor/outdoor graphics. The line includes the Spitfire 65 Extreme for media up to 65 in. wide and the Spitfire 90 Extreme for 90-in.-wide substrates.
The piezo printheads in the Spitfire inkjets feature 360 nozzles per color and provide four resolution levels that range from 360 x 360 to 720 x 720 dpi. The systems have eight color channels, allowing users to run CMYK x 2 or CMYKLcLm configurations. The Spitfire mild-solvent inks are said to provide outdoor durability for up to three years. The inks come in 220- or 440-ml cartridges or 1- or 5-l bulk bottles.
Mutoh reports that the systems are capable of achieving print speeds in excess of 375 sq ft/hr, but notes that for high-quality signs and graphics, typical speeds fall in the 140- to 175-sq ft/hr range. To optimize print quality, Spitfire Extreme printers provide I2 Intelligent Interweaving print technology, which lays down ink in wave forms, rather than straight lines, to reduce banding, ink mottling, and bleeding, as well as hide the effects of misfiring nozzles.
Both models have automatic media-thickness sensors and adjust printhead height automatically. Maximum media thickness supported is 1.1 mm. The devices hold rolls weighing up to 220 lbs. The Spitfire Extreme inkjets are available with an Onyx or SAi RIP. www.mutoh.com
Fujifilm Acuity HD 2504
As part of its new wide-format digital printing initiative, Fujifilm Graphic Systems has unveiled several new printer models, including the Fujifilm Acuity HD 2504. The company describes the new CMYK UV inkjet as “the first value-based UV flatbed digital printer.”
At the heart of this system is a new technology using grayscale piezoelectric printheads (two per color) to produce variable dot sizes, from 6-42 picoliters. Reportedly, the printer will provide precise, 1200-dpi color images with 25% less ink than fixed-droplet, six-color inkjets. The variable dot size is said to produce images with smoother transitions in the quartertones and more uniform solidimage areas, for image quality comparable to that of a 1440-dpi print.
The Acuity HD 2504 features a 99.2 x 49.6-in. print area and is capable of full-bleed printing. A stationary zoned-vacuum bed holds substrates during printing. The device will support materials up to 1.89 in. thick and 238 lbs, and the manufacturer says it prints not only flat graphics, but also works with substrates that have irregular or uneven surfaces. Its registration accuracy allows for double- sided printing and precise overprinting to increase ink density.
An ink sensor and the ability to skip white spaces in an image for higher productivity are other features of the printer. The Acuity HD 2504 can be purchased with the Onyx ProductionHouse RIP v.7. www.fujifilmgs.com
Roland VersaCamm VP-300/540
Expanding its line of combination inkjet printer/cutting plotters, Roland rolled out the VersaCamm VP-300 and VP-540, which respectively support media 30 and 54 in. wide. Faster print speeds, an optional take-up device, and RIP software are highlights of the new systems.
All VP-300/540 printers use Roland’s Eco-Sol Max mild-solvent inks to print on a variety of uncoated media and are reported to provide up to three years of outdoor durability. The CMYK machines both feature four printheads and offer print resolutions up to 1440 dpi. Maximum printing speeds are 166 sq ft/hr on the VP-540 and 124 sq ft/hr on the VP-300.
The new printers feature several upgrades over previous VersaCamm models, including new media flanges and additional pinch rollers to ensure accurate media position. An optional media take-up system that provides constant tension will support media rolls weighing up to 66 lbs on the VP-540 and 44 lbs on the VP-300. The take-up system allows for unattended printing.
Both models incorporate Roland’s Quadralign four-point optical registration system to ensure accurate blade position during cutting operations. The swivel-knife blade on each model will cut at linear speeds up to 11.8 in./sec with 30-200 g of force and has a repeatable cutting accuracy of ±0.1 mm.
The VP-300/540 models are bundled with Roland’s new VersaWorks 2.2 RIP software. The software incorporates Roland Color, a new spot-color fidelity system designed to simplify color matching. The RIP also supports variable-data printing. Other upgrades include new belt drives, grit rollers, ink dampers, and pumps, plus an automated cleaning system. Both units are supported by Roland’s new Two-Year Trouble-Free Warranty. www.rolanddga.com
Fujifilm Vybrant Series
In addition to its new flatbed, Fujifilm Graphic Systems also unveiled the new Vybrant series of printers, a line of roll-fed solvent inkjets comprising three models: the Vybrant 1906 with 76-in. print width, the Vybrant 2606 with 102-in. width, and the Vybrant 3306 with 130-in. width. The Vybrant printers are targeted at producers of long-term outdoor signage, fleet graphics, billboards, banners, and more.
All Vybrant models feature Spectra Novajet 256-nozzle printheads and are capable of single- or double-pass printing at three resolutions: 180 dpi, 360 dpi (true), and 720 dpi (apparent). Print speeds on the Vybrant 3306 range from 102 sq ft/hr in two-pass quality mode at 720 dpi to 860 sq ft/hr in single-pass mode at 180 dpi (print speeds are reported to be slightly slower on the smaller models). Fujifilm says all the printers support quality production speeds of more than 400 sq ft/hr.
The six-color printers use Color+ MJ-series Inks from Fujifilm Sericol, and Fujifilm says ink cost per square foot of output will be well below $0.10. Prints produced with the inks are durable outdoors for up to five years.
Features of the Vybrant line include automated head maintenance to significantly reduced purging and downtime, proprietary Ink Drop Weaving software to eliminate banding at the highest print speeds, and automated head-height adjustment from 2.5- 4.5 mm.
Additionally, the printers incorporate a capping station that allows ink to remain in the printheads overnight so that production can resume more quickly the following day. The Vybrant inkjets support media up to 1 mm thick in rolls weighing as much as 309 lbs. The machines are driven by the ONYX PosterShop RIP. www.fujifilmgs.com
Gandinnovations Jeti 1224 UV True Flatbed
The latest addition to Gandinnovations line of UV flatbed inkjets, the Jeti 1224 UV, is also the company’s most compact model. The six-color printer (CMYKLcLm) features 24 Spectra printheads and, according to the manufacturer, will print graphics in best-quality mode at a true resolution of 1200 dpi (2400 apparent) and a speed of 450 sq ft/hr. It supports substrates up to 4 x 8 ft.
The system features a linear shuttling vacuum bed designed to ensure perfect registration of both rigid and flexible materials with the printheads. Retractable register pins aid in aligning substrates accurately. The printer supports materials up to 2 in. thick, including reinforced vinyl, lenticular, pressure sensitive vinyl, canvas, fabrics, mesh and paper, rigid plastics, and metal sheet.
The inks used in the Jeti 1224 UV are said to provide outdoor durability of one to two years without lamination, depending on the location. The LcLm ink channels can be substituted with white ink and clear top-coat varnish (offered in low, medium, and high gloss). Gandinnovations says users can make the switch to white and varnish from the system’s control console without sacrificing production time or print quality. The company also offers a special primer to enhance ink adhesion on certain plastic films.
The printer comes with a 17-in. flat-panel LCD and a choice of Onyx PosterShop, Wasatch SoftRip, or Shiraz V6 RIP software. It supports common file formats, including EPS, Tiff, RGB, PostScript Level 3, etc. www.gandinnovations.com
NUR Expedio 5000 Revolution
If billboards are your business, NUR’s new Expedio 5000 Revolution may be the printer for you. The 16.5-ft, roll-fed superwide inkjet delivers high speed and high ink coverage that puts the machine in a class by itself. Using fast-curing UV inks, the four-color (CMYK) Revolution is capable of printing at speeds up to 3200 sq ft/hr.
The printer offers both high-productivity printing for billboards and high-quality printing for P-O-P applications. But Nur emphasizes that machine is designed to revolutionize the cost per square foot of billboard printing and reports that, in billboard mode, the machine is four times faster than most solventbased billboard printers and provides four times more ink coverage than solvent-based systems with the same volume of ink.
The Revolution supports 360-dpi true resolution (720 dpi apparent) and seven print modes ranging from 4-color Sample mode at 430 sq ft/hr to 4-color Billboard II mode at 3200 sq ft/hr. In Regular modes for P-O-P printing, the system provides coverage of approximately 1023 sq ft/l and in Billboard mode, 1940 sq ft/l. Media handling features include an integrated output collector (shaft), as well as an on-core media collector that allows users to switch from a full to an empty core while the machine is printing. The Revolution also has the ability to print multiple rolls (up to three) simultaneously.
Exposure from the system’s dual-lamp curing system can be controlled to optimize curing and gloss levels on prints. Additionally, the device supports printing of mesh materials and offers an optional double-sided-printing mechanism for backlit and blockout applications. Customers can choose either Caldera GrandRip+ or Wasatch SoftRIP to drive the Expedio Revolution 5000. www.nur.com
Inca Spyder 320-8
Inca’s Spyder family of flatbed UV inkjet printers has grown with the launch of the new Spyder 320-8 series machine, an eight-color version of the modular Spyder printing platform. Developed to give users a greater choice of color, the 320-8 provides eight color channels, each printing through four Spectra printheads, for a total of 32 heads. With the device, users have the option to print CMYK + LcLm + white (overprint or underprint) + spot color.
The Spyder features a 126 x 63-in. static vacuum bed with an integrated pin-registration system. It will print at a top speed of 860 sq ft/hr, but delivers optimum performance and image quality at 699 sq ft/hr.
The printer uses Fujifilm Sericol Uvijet UV-curable pigmented inks and provides prints with a matte finish and two-year outdoor durability. It is capable of achieving resolutions as high as 1000 dpi on substrates up to 1.2 in. thick. Inca currently is beta testing new green, orange, and violet inks for an expanded-gamut inkset.
Wasatch SoftRIP drives the Spyder. The machine is available in North America through Fujifilm Sericol. www.incadigital.com www.fujifilmsericol.com
While the other printers covered here were all unveiled during ISA 2007 in Las Vegas this April, Inca introduced its newest printer to key customers and members of the press during an open house this spring at its Cambridge, England headquarters. When the size of the machine, called the Onset, was revealed (it requires an 82 x 43-ft area to operate), it became clear why the printer didn’t debut at a trade show.
The Onset is a large-format flatbed UV inkjet printer that sets new benchmarks in productivity. The CMYK system will print on sheet-fed substrates up to 10.5 x 5 ft and 0.4 in. thick with a top speed of 500 sq m/hr (5382 sq ft/hr). While the machine can be manually fed, this production speed includes the additional steps of loading and unloading material with the system’s automated loading and unloading units. Inca says the device will print and stack more than 100 full-size sheets per hour.
The printer is based on the technology behind the Columbia Turbo, with a shuttling print bed and a printhead that moves perpendicular to the table motion. The printhead array consists of 24 modules (six per color), each containing 24 Spectra printheads, for a total of 576 heads. That translates to 73,728 individual nozzles. The nozzles are meant to be redundant so that any problems from misfirings or clogs are alleviated with the additional nozzles. The machine will deliver prints with either a satin or gloss finish (user selectable).
While the printheads provide a true resolution of 600 dpi, they create an apparent resolution that is substantially greater. The printer uses a new variant of Fujifilm Sericol’s Uvijet UV inks designed for rapid curing. It supports full-bleed and doublesided printing and provides a dual-lamp curing system, a full vacuum bed, and fixed dual registration points. Wasatch SoftRIP v6.0 drives the Onset. The machine reportedly will be available by the end of summer after beta testing is completed. www.incadigital.com, www.fujifilmsericol.com