May 10, 2012
Wide-format developments were in evidence at drupa, but weren’t the centre of interest. The biggest noise at drupa was Benny Landa’s nanography and the other big noises were B2 sheetfed digital presses and the universal interest by vendors in applying their products to packaging and label printing. However, there were some launches and technology demonstrations of wide-format printing hardware that highlight developments in the sector.
The following is a list of some of the wide-format printer and press developments listed alphabetically.
1. Agfa launched a fully-automatic version of the M-Press Leopard. The M-Press range has now got three machines, one Tiger and two Leopards. The original Tiger incorporated a feeder and delivery from a screen line, along with the ability to integrate screen printing units before or after digital imaging, which made for a versatile and automated, yet expensive option. The original Leopard addressed the need for a fast digital flatbed without expense of the integration with screen but also lacking automation. The latest version provides automated materials handling, including the ability to handle thinner, flexible stocks without the overhead of the screen units. This highlights the evolution of the high-end digital wide-format market at the expense of screen.
2. Durst launched the P10-series of high-speed wide format UV-curable printers. These printers, which come in 2-meter, 2.5 meter, and 3.2 meter widths, are equipped with new 10-picoliter print heads that enable higher image quality when needed, while still maintaining the ability to produce at higher speed.
3. EFI launched the QS2, a next-generation version of the mid-market hybrid QS platform. It also launched its first high-end industrial device, the HS100 and a new “operating system” for its wide-format line. This is software, firmware and hardware that enables improvements in quality, productivity and integration and full-support for greyscale printing.
4. Epson extended its SureColor range. It launched three high-speed, four-color aqueous printers for CAD, GIS and POS applications. The SureColor SC-T7000, SC-T5000 and SC-T3000 are 44-inch (1,118mm), 36-inch (914mm) and 24-inch (610mm) wide respectively and use a new UltraChrome XD ink. The printersare operated from the front to allow placement against a wall, controls are at the front, media is fed in at the top and finished prints are stacked at the front. Features include automatic photo and matte black ink switching, and media barcode printing recording remaining media.
The SureColor eco-solvent range was introduced earlier this year with the SC-S30600, a four-color 64” device, and was extended with two further machines at drupa. The SC-S50600, a four or five-color machine, which features 50sqm per hr throughput and an option for white ink. The SC-S70600 is available in eight- or 10-color configurations. The eight-color adds light cyan, light magenta, orange and green inks. The 10-color boosts application flexibility with simultaneous white and metallic ink.
5. Fujifilm launched the Inca S40i Digital printer. Superseding the S40, this high-end device produces at up to 470sqm per hour and uses a new Uvijet ink with improved adhesion. The S40i will be available this summer. Fujifilm also showed the recently launched Acuity 1600 UV LED, an eight-color roll-to-roll UV-cured machine with optional tables for rigid boards, which it is targeting at packaging prototyping in addition to signage and display graphics.
6. Matan Digital Printers launched the 8-color Barak 8Q superwide printers. High productivity and high print quality in 3m and 5m variants are claimed through the combination of 8-color printing with Matan’s PDS technology. PDS technology enables printing of 20pl (pico-liter) and 40pl drops in the same printing pass. The 20pl drops enable fine detail and smooth gradation while 40pl drops achieve ink coverage and density, ensuring productivity of up to 353 sqm per hour (3,800 sq ft per hour) the Barak 8Q also includes productivity features, such as automatic double-sided printing, an automatic flatbed loader and un-loader and inline slitting. The Barak is also sold by Fujifilm as the Uvistar Pro8.
7. HP upgraded existing platforms. It showed white ink kit and automatic loading for its Scitex FB7500 and FB7600 industrial presses and added a platen cover for the Designjet L26500 and L28500, improving the handling of textiles.
8. A milestone for memjet. On show were two roll-fed technology demonstrations based on its single-pass technology shown by mainstream wide-format suppliers. Océ showed the Velocity, while Fuji-Xerox showed an unnamed prototype churning out in excess of 500m2/hr. These two devices herald the creation of a new-class of high-throughput aqueous machines, and attracted strong interest due to their combination of throughput, quality and flexibility.
9. Mimaki launched the JFX500-2131. The JFX500 is a 2.1m x 3.1m LED UV-cured flatbed that prints at a speed of up to 60sqm/hr in four-color, or 50sqm/hr with white ink. Mimaki is also displaying the JV400-LX, its first latex printer, and the solvent UV ink-based JV400-SUV for durable outdoor prints, which were launched at Fespa. It claimed that due to strong demand for the JV400 family release had been staggered, with the SUV following later in the year after initial orders for the LX had been fulfilled.
10. Ricoh entered wide-format production with latex launch. Ricoh’s Pro L4000 is latex machine built by Mimaki and based on Ricoh’s piezo-electric print heads. It features latex ink in seven colors; CYMK, light cyan, light magenta and white. It will be available in North America and Europe in the first quarter of 2013.
11. Roland DG Versa Art 64 launched. A new eco-solvent printer, which promises high-speed and a wide color gamut at an affordable price. It uses an eight-channel mirrored dual CMYK ink configuration (CMYKKYMC) for color consistency, and it is claimed that image quality in high-speed mode equals that of the previous model’s standard mode.
12. Screen unveiled the Truepress Jet W1632UV. The W1632UV is a 1.6×3.2m flatbed UV-cured wide-format printer. Designed to meet demand for a machine capable of high throughput and high quality. Built in the UK by Screen’s subsidiary Inca Digital this printer provides a throughput of 94sqm (1,012 sqft) per hour while the use of 12 politer droplets produce sharp text and smooth vignettes.
Key wide-format themes to emerge from drupa 2012 were around application flexibility, quality and productivity, as shown by the developments listed. It is notable that most launches incorporated technologies that enabled a single device to produce at both high quality and high speed, albeit not necessarily at the same time.
In-depth analysis of wide-format vendor developments and the trends within the wide-format sector from drupa will be published in InfoTrends’ extensive post-drupa reports, which will be available for our service subscribers soon.
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