The various virtual launches of large-format printers this year may mean some have passed you by, so here’s a reminder of the latest introductions just in case new kit is on your Christmas list!
The last several months have presented digital inkjet printer manufacturers a chance to re-evaluate their target markets and supply chains, many eying up the main chance for developing machines that will bring them new customer-bases. But that’s not to say the ‘traditional’ graphic arts sector has been ignored, as you will have noted despite the lack of hoo-ha that would, in normal times, accompany product launches at trade shows etc. The switch to virtual launches may however mean that some introductions have passed you by given the circumstances, so here we provide a low-down of the key developments of 2020, just in case there’s a possibility you want to include any of them in investment plans going into 2021.
Jeti Tauro H3300 S
One of our 2020 Angel Award winners, this is an upgradeable, entry-level, hybrid printer. The 6-colour machine - with optional white and primer - has a top speed of 302m2/hr, but can be upgraded to the higher speed of the H3300, capable of delivering prints up to 3.3m wide at speeds up to 453m2/h.
There are six possible configurations - four of these are dedicated to board printing, ranging from manual to fully automatic. The three-quarter automated version makes use of an automatic board feeder. The two remaining configurations focus on roll printing, with a master roll-to-roll and a light roll-to-roll model.
The new printer is powered by Agfa’s Asanti workflow software. The smart Asanti Production Dashboard displays ink and media consumption and printing time for each job and printer.
Agfa had intended to show this 3.3m high-end UV LED roll-to-roll printer at Fespa Global 2020 had it gone ahead. It comes in 4-colour plus white, and as a 6-colour version. In ‘express mode’ it has a top speed of 150m²/h, and in ‘production mode’ it’s said to reach a consistent 85m²/h. The dual-roll option is capable of handling two rolls each up to 1.6m wide.
The UV LED inks for the Oberon RTR3300 have obtained the highest category of Greenguard Gold certification. In addition to its air-cooled LED curing lamps, the printer has a water-cooled table that keeps the printing zone at room temperature for processing heat-sensitive media. There is a dedicated mesh printing function, smart multi-queue functionality, and a free fall option.
Arizona 2300 series
According to Canon, these LED-UV flatbed printers - another of our 2020 Angel Awards winners - are more than 20% more productive than the previous generation of Arizona machines.
The series comprises the Arizona 2340 XTF, 2360 XTF, 2380 XTF machines with flatbed area of 2.5m x 3.08m, and the Arizona 2340 GTF, 2360 GTF, 2380 GTF with a smaller 1.25m x 2.5m flatbed. Three versions are available: 4-colour, 6-colour (CMYK, double white, or white and varnish) and 8-colour (CMYK, Lc, Lm, double white or white and varnish). The 4- and 6-colour are both field upgradeable.
The new printers use Arizona ‘FLOW’ technology, an airflow suction technique that combines a zoneless, multi-origin table layout with easy-to-use pneumatic registration pins to better secure the substrates in place. The pneumatic registration pins allow users to align media to either the left or the right edge of the table - or both - and 2-up, 4-up and 6-up printing is possible. Top speed is 95m2/hr.
With the Arizona 2300 series, Canon is also introducing Arizona Xpert version 2.1, which supports ‘recipes’ for print and cut workflows via integration with Canon’s ProCut software. The software also enables easy recipe exchange between print supplier and designer, so they can see the end product with a 3D view in Adobe Creative Suite.
The printers are said to use less than 8ml/m² of ink on average - including maintenance. A roll media option is available that allows the use of thin, heat-sensitive media up to 220cm.
ColorWave and PlotWave
It’s worth noting that Canon updated its ColorWave and PlotWave large-format printers in 2020. Comprising three ColorWave models (3600, 3800 and 9000) and five monochrome PlotWave models (3000, 3500, 5000, 5500 and 7500), the series incorporates Smartshield integrated printing security, as well as built-in ClearConnect software and uniFlow technology.
US-based Direct Color Systems (DCS) introduced the UV-84DTS 120cm x 243cm UV LED printer, which uses Ricoh printheads with variable drop greyscale technology for print resolutions up to 1200dpi. It has an integrated vacuum table, uses a 1.5L bulk ink system, and incorporates Color Byte 11 software.
Colors 340 and the Power 340
The EFI Colors 340 and the EFI Power 340 are aimed at the high-end, high-volume soft signage market. They leverage EFI Reggiani technology, with the EFI Colors 340 printing at up to 850m2/hr (4-colour x 4 configuration) and its big sister up to 1,564m2/hr.
The 3.4m-wide EFI Colors 340 can handle fabrics up to 450gr/m2 and uses EFI water-based CMYK dispersed dye inks. Available with up to 24 printheads, it comes in 4-colour x 2, 4-colour x 4, or 6-colour x 4 configurations, as well as an 8-colour configuration featuring standard CMYK and light CMK colour inks, plus a penetrating agent.
The printer’s 2,400dpi resolution with four level greyscale printing and drop sizes from 4 to 18 picolitres can deliver 100% penetration on both sides of the material. There’s a sticky belt feeding mechanism and the inclusion of EFI’s continuous ink recirculation system.
The Power 340 is also capable of printing direct-to-fabric or onto transfer paper using EFI water-based CMYK dispersed dye inks. It too has a sticky belt feeding mechanism and comes in 4-colour x 4 or 4-colour x 8 configurations.
Nozomi C18000 Plus
The 71in-wide Nozomi C18000 Plus is a direct-to-board LED UV inkjet model that can operate at speeds up to 75m/min (producing up to 10,000 890x890mm boards per hour two-up). In addition to its standard CMYK inkset, the printer is available with optional orange, violet or white inks.
Job processing for the Nozomi Plus model is 5% faster thanks to the latest version of the EFI Fiery NZ-1000 DFE, which features Smart Ink Estimator, and Fiery Edge profiling technology. Other Fiery products included are: Fiery JobFlow Base, which automates repetitive job setups; Fiery Spot Pro; and Fiery FreeForm Create, a visual variable-data print creation application. The Plus model Nozomi also integrates with EFI IQ, a new suite of applications to help users extract value from their operational data.
This is Epson’s first UV LED flatbed printer. The 10-colour machine has a 2.5 x 1.25m maximum print size and can handle substrates up to 80mm thick. It has a four-zone vacuum system, ionizer and registration pins as standard. Epson Edge Print Rip software along with UV Flatbed controller software are intended aid print speed and job repeatability.
Epson also brought out its first resin ink large-format machine in 2020. The 64in SureColor SC-R5000 uses a new 6-colour UltraChrome RS water-based resin ink and has three independent heating stations to ensure colour uniformity.
The machine incorporates long-life PrecisionCore Micro TFP printheads and an Advanced Auto Tension Control (Ad-ATC) for dimensional stability.
January 2021 will see the first UK shipments of the new Epson ML-8000 entry-level digital textile printer, aimed at the fashion industry, hence the very brief mention here. With eight PrecisionCore printheads, the ML-8000 reaches typical print speed of 155m2/hr (600 x 600dpi in 2 pass).
Epson manufactures all the components for this, its first 76in dye-sublimation printer. The SC-F10000 offers speeds of up to 255m2/hr using new PrecisionCore Micro TFP printheads and Epson Precision Dot Technology (blending new Halftone, LUT and Micro Weave technologies). It has an easy media setting (media loading lever front and back), auto-adjustment technology including an integrated RGB camera, a new dryer for less ink transfer to the reverse of the media and wrinkle elimination, an advanced auto tension control (Ad-ATC), and operator-replaceable parts. Ink comes in 10-litre or 3-litre ink boxes supported by ‘hot-swap’ function.
SC-T3100M and SC-T5100M MFP
These two new large-format MFPs - the 24in-wide SC-T3100M and 36in-wide SC-T5100M - are aimed at those printing assets for the retail and hospitality sectors as well as those handling technical drawing, plotting CAD and GIS maps.
This is an entry-level Latex machine that can handle media up to 64in wide in sheet-fed configuration - a roll-fed available as accessory. It has a white ink printing capability and uses 3 litre cartridges.
The HP Latex R2000 Plus feeds materials (roll-fed or sheet-fed) up to 98in wide (2.5 meters), and uses 5 litre-cartridges.
This series comprises two entry-level roll-to-roll inkjet printers - the UJV100-160 (UV model) and the JV100-160 (solvent model). The UJV100-160 uses LUS-190 UV ink and the JV100-160 the SS21 inkset.
Both printers utilise Mimaki’s DAS (Dot Adjustment System) feature - a new function that performs drop position adjustment for bi-directional printing and media feed compensation automatically.
Core Mimaki technologies, such as NCU (Nozzle Check Unit), NRS (Nozzle Recovery System) and MAPS4 (Mimaki Advanced Pass System4), will all be available as standard, as is the new RasterLink7 Rip software that incorporates the Harlequin Rip as a core engine. With this new engine, the Rip time can be reduced by up to 25% and variable data printing and favourite settings have been added to the Rip.
Air purifier for SWJ-320EA
Worth a note that Mimaki Europe has worked BOFA International to introduce an air purifier for the 3.2m-wide SWJ-320EA solvent printer.
Launched at the end of February this is 5-colour (CMYK, white) pigment ink direct-to-garment machine with a multi-jig system. It has a bed size of 1695mm (w) x 1500mm (d).
The 1.9m-wide dye-sub ZT-1900 is Roland’s largest, most productive textile printer to date. It runs at up to 220m2/hr in draft mode and 150m2/hr in production mode - and has a mirrored CMYK configuration. There’s an integrated infrared dryer and a 5kg ink container capacity, with high levels of automation to enable 24-hour production.
The printer incorporates four double-channel Kyocera printheads and uses high-density dye-sub inks compatible with coated and uncoated paper. It handles lightweight paper (>18gr/m2) and large paper rolls up to 450kg.
The EJ-640 Deco printer first mooted by Roland DG at Fespa 2018 is now commercially available, albeit with a crucial tweak - it now runs off VersaWorks 6 rather than the ErgoSoft software originally previewed.
Developed for the interior decor market, the roll-to-roll EJ-640 Deco uses water-based resin inks for the printing of customised wallpaper, lampshades, blinds etc. It has a maximum print width 1615mm (63.6in).
Available in several ink configurations - including green or orange options - this roll-to-roll device has a max print width of 1615mm (63.6in)
This water-based inkjet system for flexible packaging can handle media up to 83cm wide and run at up to 75mpm. It is scheduled for release around March 2021.
Screen has pointed out that the system - which can print at 1,200dpi in CMYK and white - will be able to handle promotional to production applications. It also demonstrates exceptional responsiveness for small lot jobs of less than 4,000m. At present, the PacJet FL830 can handle both PET and OPP media and Screen is working to further expand compatibility.
Nyala 3, Impala 3 and Oryx 3
October 2020 saw swissQprint introduce upgraded Nyala, Impala and Oryx models. All now come with the new Tip Switch Vacuum system.
The Nyala 3 is a flatbed with roll-to-roll option and a 3.2m maximum print width. The UV-curing machine inkset includes CMYK, Lc, Lm, Lk, orange, white, varnish and primer. Read the same for the Impala 3 and Oryx 3, though these have a 2.5m maximum print width.
The company’s Karibu roll-to-roll printer has featured the patent pending Tip Switch Vacuum since its introduction last year. Now all the swissQprint flatbed printers have a vacuum table, subdivided into as many as 256 segments, which can be switched on or off via the Tip Switch. This eliminates masking and taping, and because there is no air leakage, the vacuum develops its full force to hold down even unruly media. The vacuum table also incorporates a cutting channel that provides a defined and precise trimming edge for roll materials and thin media. For tandem production, the vacuum table is divided into two zones, each independently adjustable by the Tip Switch Vacuum.
For easier media handling the user can regulate the vacuum strength and is also able to reverse the thrust. This creates an air cushion on the print bed that eases the handling of heavy boards.