The annual Image Reports Angel Awards recognises products launched throughout the last year that the editorial team consider the most innovative and likely to have make an impact in the wide-format sector. Find out who are the top of the pops for 2009...
With the launch in October of the 42in (106.6cm) and 60in (152.4cm) L25500 printer HP has really begun to spread its potentially revolutionary latex ink technology which was first introduced with the 2.5m L65500 in 2008. Aimed at the sign and display market, the L25500 printers are expected to make a significant impact on ROI, environmental credentials, production times and flexibility. They produce instant dry, sharp, durable and odourless prints on a range of coated and uncoated media. The roll-to-roll/roll-to-floor machines are six-colour (C, Y, M, K, LM, LC) printers with a 1200dpi. Print speeds vary depending on print mode but in production mode (eight-pass) it's 10.6m2/hr up to a top speed of 22.8m2/hr in four-pass mode.
SolJet Pro III XC-540 MT
With the SolJet Pro III XC-540 MT comes the arrival of a metallic ink machine, pushing wide-format printer versatility even further. Roland DG's SolJet print-and-cut solutions already have white ink. The inclusion of silver means that all colours can benefit from a metallic effect, including white, and the results broaden the range of effects and finishes which can be incorporated into many different types of output and the printer produces excellent results across a range of different surfaces and types of material.
Three UV curable wide-format printers were presented by Durst at Fespa Digital - the Rho 500R, Rho 800HS and high speed flagship Rho 1000, a continuous UV flatbed printer that boasts a maximum output of up to 600 boards (125 x 80cm) per hour with its Continuous Board Printing option. Capable of integrating with screen and offset, this unit can print on sheets, heavy boards and roll media up to 250cm wide and 40mm thick (up to 70mm with the industrial version of the loading system). CMYK are standard, with options of light cyan, light magenta, white, clear varnish, and spot colors with ten litre integrated ink tanks that are refillable on the fly. The printer comes with an external GrandRip+. ?
Adobe PDF Engine plug-in
With this product Shiraz has recognised that display producers want to work with industry-standard PDFs and developed this Adobe PDF Engine plug-in for integration within Shiraz v6.60 and Signature v7.0. It means that Shiraz Software's Rip now benefits from the same core technology used by Adobe to build Acrobat, and this ensures high-performance PDF processing which is optimised consistently on all platforms. The optional plug-in extends the Rip's functionality to full Acrobat 9 (PDF 1.7 +Ext) certification, providing greater security and reliability in distribution and exchange of electronic documents and forms across all workflow environments.
As the name suggests this MIS module has been developed specifically for the sign industry. It provides estimating, point-of-sale, account management, production management, receivables and sales analysis tools plus it supports square area print pricing, square area and linear finishing, and roll and rigid substrates. The module integrates directly with EFI Fiery XF inkjet Rip and colour management solutions for Vutek superwide and Rastek wide-format printers, along with a number of other devices.
This isn't a typical 5m-wide printer. The eight-colour GS5000r has extended the range of applications you would expect from this size of roll-to-roll printer. It is optimised to use Vutek UV inks that adhere to a wide range of flexible substrates, including Tyvek, polybanner and textiles and can accommodate a single 5m roll or three-up 60in (106.6cm) rolls for maximum productivity. The GS5000r is able to print in eight colours at true 600dpi with 24-picolitre drops, or true 1000dpi with 12-picolitre drops to produce POP-quality graphics, and can switch to Fast-4 to print at speeds up to 288m2/hr for billboard production making it a really versatile unit.
Viper XT Extreme
Among its product launches at Viscom in Germany Mutoh introduced the direct-to-fabric Viper XT Extreme printer available in 1.6m (65in) and 2.2m (88in) widths. Using VOC-free water-based direct disperse inks, Viper TX Extreme printers will print on polyester-based fabrics with open and closed structure at a typical production speed of 37m2/h making it ideal for one-offs and small volumes.
VersaCoater UV XL
The 1.6m and 2m VersaCoater UV XL liquid laminator caused a real stir at its European launch at Fespa Digital in Amsterdam. The unit can handle most graphic substrates, either roll-to-roll or flexible and rigid cut sheets up to 75mm (3in) thick, and is compatible with output from virtually any inkjet technology including UV curable, solvent or eco-solvent print. Multiple supply tanks and automated clean-up features add to its attraction.
To prove that its DFP45 self-adhesive printable film can be applied directly to outside walls for short-term advertising, Doro Tape used it to create a colourful mural on the front of its own building! Suitable for all kinds of outdoor surfaces including brick, concrete, rough plaster and tarmac, the film is quick and easy to apply, requires no laminating and sealed with heat at just the edges, is guaranteed for up to three months. It can be removed in one piece and leaves no residue.
Sign and Digital UK saw the UK launch of this UV-curable printer which has a 2.50 x 3.05m flatbed and can handle heavy substrates such as glass or materials that have an uneven surface like wood. It can even print on irregularly shaped or non-square items like garage doors. The four-colour printer, which has a white ink option, produces near photographic image quality at 1,440dpi or higher, and prints text as small as 6pt using Oc? VariaDot imaging technology. It can be used in a continuous imaging mode for rigid media up to 125 x 250cm (a standard 4ft x 8ft board). Two rigid boards of this size can be mounted on separate vacuum areas of the flatbed table. While one board is being printed, the operator can change the other. A roll media option gives the ability to print onto flexible media up to 2.2m wide. The two printing methods can be used sequentially so there is no down time reconfiguring the system from one print mode to another.