The new Xaar 501 GS8 printhead with PrecisionPlus architecture
Rapper L.L. Cool J has a lyric that goes “don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years” and that is kind of what Xaar would probably say about its new print head launch: that Xaar is a major supplier to the wide format digital graphics market and China is an important part of that. However, Xaar led the emergence of the large wide format graphics business in China in its early days, but as the segment became increasingly commoditized many Chinese wide format printer manufacturers expanded their wide format equipment portfolios.
As they moved on from solvent into eco-solvent inkjet, UV-curable inkjet, and water-based inkjet printers, and even beyond the wide format business many Chinese vendors moved on from Xaar as a print head technology supplier in favor of lower-priced and higher-resolution print heads. Likewise, Xaar has spent much of its development time and money designing print head technology that is used in multiple industrial applications such as ceramics where the company is having great success. Still, there remains a large and active wide format market in China with dozens of manufacturers and a huge installed base of equipment (the installed base of wide format solvent, eco-solvent, and UV-curable inkjet printers in China is about 43% of the world’s total). So it is fitting that Xaar announced last week, at the opening of the 2014 Shanghai Sign & Advertising Show, that it has launched its newest print head platform, the new Xaar 501 GS8.
The Xaar 501 GS8 uses robust design technology that brings together improved print quality, added ease-of-integration, and the durability of an industrial inkjet print system. Print quality is the key feature of the Xaar 501 GS8, so in addition to the small 8pl drop size and greyscale capability, the head uses a new, more rigid design that Xaar calls its PrecisionPlus™ architecture, which reduces variability thereby improving the accuracy of dot placements. In addition to the standard gravity-fed print modethe head also has two optional print modes – one that recirculates the ink through the head constantly, and one that only recirculates when the head is not printing. By recirculating the ink when the printer is not working the printer can run more efficiently, which is very important in the price-sensitive Chinese market. Also, based on customer feedback and its own competitive review Xaar has designed the new 501 GS8 to be easily and accurately integrated and to work with current ink delivery systems. By making some of the features of the new Xaar 501 GS8 optional, Xaar has designed its new head to meet the needs of low-end, mid-range, and high-end wide format printer manufacturers.
The company has also promised that it will be “competitive” from a pricing standpoint. InfoTrends believes Xaar has an excellent chance to recapture some of its share of the global print head market utilized in wide format based on this new print head technology which delivers a very competitive price/performance value proposition and a renewed focus on the needs of wide format systems integrators in the ever-changing AP market. Some of Xaar’s customers are already developing with the new 501 GS8 so InfoTrends would expect to see the fruits of Xaar’s efforts within a year.