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Inkjet Is Living Large (Format)

After a full year in production, Paul Moebius is pretty jacked about what he’s seeing from the Truepress Jet 2500UV. With a 98.4-inch maximum print width, the grand-format inkjet printer from Screen USA was installed in 2011 at Digital One Color, the firm that Moebius founded. The versatile San Diego print shop uses the Truepress primarily for retail display graphics—“it’s our ‘bread and butter,’” said the president—for some big-name customers, including Sony, for whom Digital One is a preferred vendor.

“We’re running backlit acrylic with the white ink [option],” he shared. “We recently produced 6,700 prints for the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. They were printed on Sintra (PVC plastic) and cut on the Zund,” one of three flatbed cutters on the production floor. (It added a Colex Sharpcut in July.)

Outputting at speeds up to 230-square-feet per minute, the Truepress 2500 “is not the fastest,” but its quality is nearly impeccable, said Moebius. It employs UV-curable inks, making it possible to print on a variety of substrates with consistent color and quality, said the manufacturer. Moebius reported screening direct to Dibond, a rigid aluminum composite, at 1,500 dpi, describing the end product as looking unbelievably accurate, featuring “fine lines and really small drops.” The press’s multi-level grayscale printhead enables smooth gradations, while a powerful linear motor drives the head for precise dot placement. “On that Sintra job [for Sony], there was 4-pt. type and no banding,” he added.

Digtal One Color also uses the Screen device to print outdoor signage, wall wraps, and perforated vinyl. “We used to have to eco-solvent print onto vinyl,” Moebius said. It is a hybrid machine that “does a good job roll-to-roll, too,” he noted. Moebius likes the Truepress so much, in fact, that he’s thinking about installing a second unit before the end of this year. “It’s great,” Moebius concluded. “It’s a workhorse.”

In the U.K., large-format POS (point-of-sale) specialist Best Digital also added a Truepress Jet 2500UV this June, along with the world’s first Truepress Jet W1632UV, which is speedier; printing up to 308 square feet per hour. Both flatbed inkjet printers were ordered at drupa. (Link: www.myprintresource.com/press_release/10730515/)

MyPRINTResource (MPR) has previously reported on Memjet printhead technology being used in the Xanté 42-inch-wideExcelagraphix 4200, which prints on a range of media up to 3/8 inch thick, including foam board, folding carton, corrugated cardboard, and sheet sizes from 8.27x8.27 inches up to 3.5x100 feet. (www.myprintresource.com/article/10682515/inkjet-web-innovations?page=4)

What’s New?

As wide-format digital print technology continues to change, improvements come in the form of faster run speeds and better output quality. MPR spoke with some early inkjet and UV adopters as well as device manufacturers about new products hitting the market—and what other new innovations we can expect to see during the upcoming fall tradeshow season.

This past spring, PE Plus Imaging, Toronto, became the first North American firm to acquire the Rho P10 Series printer from Durst Image Technology. (video: http://ht.ly/a4Rib) At Sign Expo 2012, Durst showed a fully operational Rho P10 250 Presto, which prints up to 2,100 sqft/hr. The P10 250 flatbed is one of the most versatile and productive 10-picoliter UV inkjet printers, featuring Durst’s new Quadro Array 10 print heads, which use silicon-based MEMS technology to produce “fine art” image quality with up to 1,000-dpi print resolution. The 250 is a member of Durst’s new Rho P10 Series of printers, designed specifically for producing a variety of hand-held and eye-level materials—backlit signage, POP and commercial displays, small packages, etc. —cost-effectively and at production speeds.

“We wanted a printer that not only could keep up with new customer requirements, but also would allow us to propose and produce options that the customer hadn’t thought of before, that would impress them,” said co-owner Debbie Jaue, whose company got its start with a legendary Durst Lambda digital laser photo printer. “The ability to do that sets you apart from the competition and makes you very valuable. Our new Rho printer gives us that ability.”

The P10 250 produces fine color graduations and virtually perfect color reproduction, while maintaining high levels of cost-efficiency and flexibility. The added ability to print light cyan and light magenta further enhances its image quality and range. The device can print simultaneously on two parallel panels or rolls, raising its productivity and versatility even further. And it can run unattended 24/7, said Durst.

Another Durst shop is Astek Inc., formerly a traditional screen printer of wall coverings that has evolved into one of Hollywood’s premier digital imagers for the entertainment industry, major retailers, and leading design firms. This past spring, the Van Nuys, CA, firm took delivery of North America’s first Rho P10 320R printer. The 10.5-foot, 10-picoliter UV inkjet digital , roll-to-roll device features top output speeds of 1,615 sqft/hr. Like PE Plus, Astek also has added a flatbed Rho P10 250 UV inkjet—its sixth Durst printer.

Astek offers flexible output on vinyl, Mylar, window film, canvas, self-adhesive, acetate, natural and fabric materials—and all can be printed in full roll-length runs. Flatbed printing onto almost any rigid substrate up to 1½-inches thick—acrylic, wood, metal, even bubble wrap—also is available

The Rho P10 320R establishes a new quality standard for industrial roll-to-roll printing, said Durst. Precision components include a proprietary magnetic linear drive carriage system for efficient, accurate printing. Image quality is ideally suited for high visibility backlit applications. The Rho P10 32R also prints directly onto textiles and stretch media. Productivity is enhanced by its ability to print two 1.6m rolls of material side by side, with different images on each. The single large roll option allows for uninterrupted operation.

“Our clientele spans a variety of different industries, including fashion retail, hospitality, architecture, interior design, motion picture, and television, and we work with these companies to tackle challenges from giant murals to POP displays,” said Aaron Kirsch, president of Astek, whose handiwork designing and fabricating realistic interiors was seen in summer Hollywood blockbusters “Men in Black III” and “Battleship.”

Size and Speed

Also this spring, Vinyl Xpress of Ontario, Canada, added a Mimaki UJV-160 flatbed printer and a JV34-260 super-wide-format printer to its inventory, giving it the capability of printing sizes up to 104-inches wide. Vinyl Xpress specializes in producing signage for businesses, trade shows, and retailers ranging from banner printing to vinyl graphics and beyond.

Since 2001, Vinyl Xpress has been serving Canadian and international clients ranging from small businesses to major retailers such as The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), Sears Canada, and Levi’s. From standard prints, large backlit posters, vinyl banners, and graphics for windows, floors, and vehicles to fabric prints and decals/logos/vinyl lettering, Vinyl Xpress provides its clients with high-impact, rich-looking printed materials. “The stunning quality and unprecedented turnaround times of these [Mimaki] machines are just the latest efforts to better serve a growing clientele with unlimited options,” said co-owner Tal Kasimov.

In addition to their size output and vivid color reproduction, the new machines add incalculable creativity options not possible with standard inks. The UJV-160 is designed to print on both rigid and roll-to-roll media, making it ideal for printing onto almost anything including paper, vinyl, fabric, magnets, wood, plastic, steel, carpet, leather, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), boat sails, wood, glass, and many other substrates.

Meanwhile, B-Print and Display Limited is one of two UK firms to install an HP Scitex FB7600 Industrial Press in the second quarter of 2012. The company, established more than 30 years ago, made the investment in the new press—which prints up to 95 full-size sph in production speed and up to 55 full-size sheets/hr. with POP quality—to improve the speed and flexibility of its retail POS/POP offering. It prints up to 25mm thick on a range of media, such as foam PVC, PVC sheets, polystyrene (HIPS), and both corrugated and compressed cardboard. In addition, the new six-color HP FB225 UV-curable ink set provides excellent dot gain and an impressive color gamut up to 600-dpi resolution, while a new edge-to-edge printing feature ensures improved material usage and waste reduction.

“The HP Scitex FB7600 meets a wide range of our application requirements and ensures we maintain the lead we currently have on our competitors,” said Will Skelchy, managing director of B-Print and Display. “We were very impressed by the speed of the FB7600, which will significantly up the tempo in terms of production capacity and our ability to meet client deadlines,” Skelchy added. “Also notable is the vibrancy achieved in the printed output, which is always something we strive to improve upon.”

According to Skelchy, the HP Scitex FB7600 Industrial Press' scalable and modular platform was another important influencer in the company's decision to select the device—its first HP purchase. “The ability to upgrade in the future is an added benefit and gives us the flexibility and confidence to know that it will remain in step as our production expands,” he said.

The other UK company to add an HP Scitex FB7600 is full-service marketing/fulfillment provider FastAnt of Leicester. The existing Indigo digital press customer is a 10-year-old subsidiary of offset-litho print firm Taylor Bloxham Ltd.  FastAnt said it made the large-format investment to sharpen its service offering and deliver an in-house POP/POS capability to its retail customer base after reaching a “critical mass'” in the volume of work it previously had outsourced to other suppliers.

“One media type that we use in high amounts is corrugated board,” explained managing director Matthew Wennington. “I was stunned by the FB7600 press’s ability to handle horrible corrugated material, which proved troublesome for the other devices we looked at and required the operator to intervene continually to free it and re-set the printer. Part of the sample designs we submitted to HP included those printed onto corrugated board using the highest saturation level. The FB7600 printed around 100 straight-off in about an hour and without skipping a beat, so we knew if it could handle that, it could handle any substrate we threw at it,” Wennington added. 

 

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