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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. 

With DirectSmile now in EFI’s domain, should it become part of yours too? Sophie Matthews-Paul considers its place in the wide-format arena.

Nessan Cleary talks to Asanti user Barry Laver of Wincanton Print about his experiences with this wide-format workflow solution.  

As wide-format printing continues to grow, so too do the individual service providers with most now having multiple printers. That usually means having to manage multiple Rips, which can complicate the workflow. We've taken a closer look at some of the issues around workflow and the various software options available elsewhere in this issue, but for this story we'll concentrate on just one of these - Agfa's Asanti - which was formally announced at the London Fespa show in June 2013 and has been shipping with most Agfa wide-format printers since the start of this year. 

Mimaki launched this solvent printer at the last Fespa Digital show but it’s only recently started appearing in the UK. Here’s how Nessan Cleary found it when he put it to the test. 

Solvent technology still dominates the market for roll-fed wide- format printers, mainly because it’s a proven performer that offers good quality results at a reasonable price. So this month we’ve been testing Mimaki’s latest solvent printer, the JV300. 

The ability to link different parts of the production process together with a degree of automation is becoming increasingly important in wide-format print production, but there are several different approaches. Nessan Cleary investigates.

It’s long been argued that improving your workflow and automating as many processes as possible is the key to realising greater efficiencies and hence higher profit margins. Given that wide-format covers such a huge gamut of print producers, there's no one size fits all approach and, to complicate matters, ‘workflow’ means different things to different people - from simply ganging jobs together right through to orders that come in via a Web-to-print system being automatically fed through to printing, finishing and fulfilment. 

The Korean built Jetrix printers appear to offer good value for money, so how did this Jetrix model fare on test? Nessan Cleary reports.

Inktec, which was founded in 1992 in Korea, is best known as an ink manufacturer but has also developed its own range of Jetrix UV flatbed printers. It has a European office, based in Witney, Oxfordshire, which has installed some 35 printers in the last three years. Last year Inktec launched the first of its KX series, which now include the compact KX3, the mid-range KX5 and the much larger KX7, which we've tested this month. 

The Onset S40 promises high productivity but does it justify the cost? Nessan Cleary asks the question.

Until a few years ago people thought of digital printing as being only for short run until a couple of high production flatbeds appeared on the scene to challenge offset and screen printing. This month Image Reports looks at one of these, the Onset S40i, developed by Inca Digital but sold by Fujifilm. 

…could be the start of something big. Nessan Cleary brings you up to speed on cutting tables for finishing rigid materials.

This month Nessan Cleary tests the latex printer that marks Ricoh’s first foray into wide-format printing.

The market for latex printers has been completely dominated by HP, despite a challenge from Mimaki. Now Ricoh, which supplies the Gen5 heads used by Mimaki, has entered the fray with the L4100 printer, available in 1.3 and 1.6m widths. Ricoh has rebadged Mimaki's JV400 LX series, and there's no discernible difference between the two apart from the sales and servicing, with Ricoh targeting its existing customer base of commercial printers and corporate print rooms. 

These days everything can be personalised. So how useful is this HP solution? Nessan Cleary asks those who have bought it.

Home furnishings and interior decoration are rapidly becoming popular wide-format print applications, with wall coverings high on the list. There’s a good range of wallpaper substrates available now and HP has built a complete solution around its latex printers that also includes design software, called Wall Art. 

Epson's first foray into wide-format printing was with a series of aqueous ink printers that established a good reputation for photographic and proofing applications. But Epson was slow to get into display graphics, preferring instead to sell its printheads and inks to other vendors on an OEM basis. However, in recent years Epson has made a determined play for the display print market, with both solvent and dye-sub printers as well as a newly-launched brace of aqueous CAD/ graphics machines.

The two most common ink technologies in use in wide-format today are solvent, which continues to offer good performance at low cost, and UV-curable, which will work with a wide range of media and can print direct to board. But now we are seeing a new type of ink emerge that combines the best of both of these ink technologies. The new inks are a hybrid technology with both solvent and UV-curable components. Essentially, the solvent is used in very small quantities to soften and key the media surface so that the pigments can penetrate into the media. The UV element then immediately cures the inks so that they are ready for immediate use, with no waiting around for the prints to out-gas. These type of inks typically have a bright colour gamut and a lower film thickness than with UV-curable inks.

Nessan Cleary takes you through the key printer developments of Fespa Digital 2014.

Fespa Digital 2014 certainly delivered in terms of product launches, especially when it came to new printers, a large number of which were shown in Europe for the first time. That said, many were really incremental upgrades to existing models, developments largely to address the demand for a better cost/productivity balance.

In terms of mid-volume production printers, several new machines shown at Fespa, including Canon’s new Arizona 6100 series, and the Fujifilm Acuity F (see panel).

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