Aqueous printers were wide-format's first inkjet technology. While other technologies have come and gone, water-based printers continue to evolve and set new standards in quality. With an eye on environmental issues, print providers are looking for new ways to use aqueous printers. WFI takes a look at some of the latest technological advancements and finds out how print providers are benefiting from these breakthroughs.
Aqueous printers are still the best solution for a wide variety of wide-format applications in the technical and creative markets, according to Patrick Hester, director, Large Format Printing, Imaging and Printing Group, HP, who adds that advances and developments in high-end digital printers with increased speed and higher quality output are now the norm. He notes that output in all fields is becoming more graphics intensive, file sizes are getting larger and color is becoming increasingly important. "Deadlines and workstreams are becoming more critical," he says, "so personal and work team productivity are both key needs."
HP is responding these needs with new devices and technologies that offer features to help both individuals and workgroups maximize their efficiency and deliver critical output quickly without compromising quality.
"Our new printers have received strong acceptance and many customers with older HP and non-HP printers are moving quickly to adopt the new HP Designjet T series and Z series printers as their large-format standards," says Hester. "We have definitely seen customers replacing printers that were several years old with our new offerings."
Customers are benefiting from HP wide-format devices that provide them accurate and predictable color from the first to the 100th print. "Our customer's can hold Pantone swatch book up to the printed output and verify that it is the color they expect," claims Hester.
To allow customers to easily and accurately produce accuracy prints, time and time again, the company introduced the HP Designjet Z Series with an embedded spectrophotometer. There is also an ongoing focus on automating the workflow to drive costs out of the workflow. "The customer is offered a true end-to-end workflow with a higher quality, faster press," states Hester.
Hester says that HP's customers are finding the new printers especially helpful in these tough economic times. "Many photographers and other creative professionals are looking to sell larger and higher-quality prints and are opting for the Designjet Z3200 printer," he says. "Because of the high quality and consistency of the output, the Z Series printers eliminate waste and reduce costs, as there is no need for test prints and the output is ready to sell on the first page out."
In addition, Hester notes that print service providers are purchasing the HP Designjet Z6100 to do larger runs, meet tighter deadlines, and take on work formerly reserved for analog or higher-cost photo production. CAD and mapping customers are using the HP Designjet T series printers for project bids and superior analysis in addition to traditional schematics and drawings.
Hester says that, in general, customers will continue to expect more from their printing equipment and their vendors. They want to know that as their needs evolve, their investment in equipment will be flexible enough to meet these needs.
"As digital high-end presses are becoming more automated and are offering a more complete end-to-end solution (including also finishing/post-print solutions), the total cost of ownership is changing making these presses the trend of the next year," he says. "You can expect to see HP continue to make significant invests in technology to provide printing solutions customers value and to meet their printing needs as their requirements expand and evolve."
Michael Labella, product manager at US Sublimation, a division of PrintVillage Inc., says that from a dye-sublimation standpoint, there has been a major advance in aqueous printers in the past year. "We just recently confirmed the ability to print water-based dye-sublimation inks on a grand-format printer," he states.