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The digitally printed textiles market is growing, but is if for you? Nessan Cleary reports on the latest technological developments for textile print.

The basic concept of using dye-sublimation to transfer digital inkjet prints to textiles has been around for ages, but we’ve seen considerable growth in this area in the last couple of years, as evidenced by the growing number of dye-sub printers and emergence of several niche trade shows.

Can the Cloud be used to centralise colour management for wide-format printers? Nessan Cleary investigates what vendors are doing to make it viable.

With an increasing number of services being offered through the Cloud, from file storage through to MIS, so it’s no surprise to find that some vendors in the print space are also offering colour management services from the Cloud.

Epson’s T-series aqueous ink printers are aimed at the crossover point between technical drawings and graphics. Nessan Cleary tests the printer to see how well it performs.

So far in this test series we've tried a number of solvent and UV-curable printers, and even a couple of latex machines, but this is the first time that we've looked at an aqueous ink printer. The T-series is Epson's latest wide-format offering and aims to bridge the crossover point between CAD and graphics. As such the emphasis is on value for money rather than image quality, though it's got some nice features.

This Roland roll-fed UV printer promises the freedom to print to a wide range of media, but does it live up to this? Nessan Cleary asked user Jason Pavlou, managing director of Giraffe Press.

It’s easy to think of UV machines as being for rigid materials and solvents for flexibles but there is a class of UV roll-fed printers that can cope with a wide range of different substrates. These printers are more expensive than their solvent counterparts but their prints cure to a tough finish without the need for lamination and the freedom to use less standard media can lead to a wider range of applications. This is the thinking that led Roland to develop its VersaUV LEC printers. And it's also the reason that Jason Pavlou, managing director of Giraffe Press, bought one back in the summer of 2013.

A growing number of UV-curable printers are using LEDs but is this trend set to continue? Nessan Cleary reports.

An enormous amount of technology goes into keeping inks wet enough to be able to lay them down onto a substrate without blocking the nozzles. But almost as much thought also goes into drying those inks without damaging the media. The way that the ink dries has a direct affect on the look of the image in terms of its colour saturation and overall glossiness so that the ability to control the drying system is a vital part of designing a printer.

Nessan Cleary takes a look at how digital signage, otherwise known as narrow casting, could become a useful tool in your arsenal.

When it comes to simply displaying information in a cost-effective manner, it’s hard to beat a printed sign. Yet digital signs are popping up ever more frequently, and you can understand why. Last year, for example, British Airways used a digital screen in London’s Piccadilly for its ‘Look Up’ campaign, with a little boy pointing up at real planes as they flew high above the screen. Software was able to track actual flight data so that the boy was always pointing directly at a plane, which was identified on the screen. Clever stuff. So where does that leave those of you printing ‘traditional’ signs when the arguments for using digital screens seem so compelling?

Roll-fed UV printers rely on image quality to justify their price tag but how well does the Acuity 1600 LED acquit itself? Nessan Cleary puts it to the test.

Elsewhere in this issue we’ve looked at UV LED curing so it seemed appropriate to test Fujifilm’s Acuity 1600 LED printer this month. This is a roll-fed UV printer that is based on a Mimaki chassis, though the print engine is all down to Fujifilm. The printheads are Fujifilm Dimatix Q class heads, which are the same industrial class heads used in the more expensive Inca Onset printers that Fujifilm also sells.

This entry-level solvent printer promises good image quality at a reasonable price. But what’s it like to live with? Nessan Cleary asked user Alan White of FastSigns Crawley.

Despite all the predictions of their demise, solvent printers remain the backbone of many wide-format print producers, particularly small bureaux. They're relatively cheap - from around £12,000 to £30,000 for most models – and there’s quite a few to choose from. They can generally produce good quality results suitable for outdoor display graphics for a wide range of different applications from banners to vehicle graphics. This month we've been looking at just one model - Epson's SureColor SC-S30600, the most affordable of its solvent printers. We spoke with user, designer Alan White of FastSigns Crawley, which installed a SureColor S30600 two years ago. His immediate comment on the machine was that “there’s not much downtime on it.”

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This is not the cheapest printer but is it good value for money? Nessan Cleary puts it to the test.

SwissQ Print has built up a good reputation for the quality of its flatbed printers so I’ve been looking forward to testing one of these. There are four printers in all, ranging from the entry-level Oryx to the top end Nyala, recently updated to the Nyala2. For the test we got our hands on the mid-range Impala.

HP has rejuvenated its entry-level wide format printers with the addition of the third generation latex inks. Nessan Cleary talks to Latex 360 user Ian Penman of IntroScan.

Nessan Cleary takes a look at those substrates that can lead to new applications and new revenueopportunities.

Nessan Cleary asked users for their take on this all-in-one textile printer aimed squarely at the graphics market.

In recent years there have been quite a number of textile printer launches, mainly due to the growth in the garments and home furnishings markets. But there has also been movement in the soft signage market with textile printers producing flags and exhibition graphics as well as outdoor banners. But printing to fabrics is not quite as straightforward as with other substrates and many textile printers are designed to print to transfer paper first, necessitating a heat press for the actual sublimation - and the prints will also require fixation so they can be washed without the inks disappearing. 

Nessan Cleary conducts a test to check whether this printer lives up to its promise to deliver good quality results at a relatively low cost.

The Japanese manufacturer Mutoh has been around since 1953, having started off making drafting machines before moving into wide-format inkjet printers. The mainstay of the Mutoh printer range currently is its solvent series, including the ValueJet 1638X that was launched earlier this year and the focus of this test. 

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