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Charting the Wide-Format Options

Specs on more than 130 printers available for your operation.

Big Picture

For a print provider considering a printer purchase these days, the choices are overwhelming"?even to the experienced printer user. And for a novice printer or start-up company, the sheer number of printers on the market has to be truly intimidating.

There are scores of printer manufacturers in the US and abroad, and most offer several printer models. With all of these choices it makes for a difficult process when deciding which printer to buy. The manufacturers, or their distributors, certainly will provide you with information on their machines. But if you truly want to see the "universe" of printers available, you1re left to track down all the information yourself. Otherwise, the printers are just "nameless faces" with price tags.

Welcome to our solution to your problem, where we have added those faces in the form of specifications.

For this issue1s Wide-Format Charts on the pages that follow, we queried manufacturers and exclusive US distributors of rollfed and sheetfed printers intended for color graphics (we are not including primarily flatbed printers in these charts; these will come next issue) to nail down pertinent specs on currently sold printers. We1ve assembled all the specs and present them here for your perusal. Our goal is to provide you with a universal starting point, to enable you to quickly narrow down which printers may be the best solution for your print operation.

Some notes on the specifications we list:

"? Company and contact: Manufacturer1s name with contact information.

"? Printer model: We've combined models if the only difference between them is maximum media width or number of colors offered (a few exceptions were made for space purposes). An asterisk(*) following the model indicates information was garnered from a company website or other source. We did not include desktop units.

"? Maximum media width (in inches): Not image width; typically, image width will be 1 to 2 in. less than media width.

"? Maximum media thickness: Some printers can accommodate thicker media than others, so we have listed this spec when available.

"? Media: What kind of media will the printer handle"?roll, sheet, rigid?

"? Printhead technology: Inkjet piezo, inkjet thermal, thermal transfer, photo imager/LED/laser, electrostatic, or other?

"? Colors: How many colors does the printer support? We avoided monochrome units. In the case of photo printers, we1ve indicated this with an "n/a." "

"? Ink types accepted: Aqueous dye? Aqueous pigmented? Solvent? Mild-solvent? UV-curable? Oil-based? Sublimation?

"? Maximum true and apparent resolution: What is the maximum true and apparent resolution, in dots per inch?

"? Print modes supported: We asked for resolution, colors, and speed (square feet per hour) for two print modes: Production and High Quality. Some manufacturers provided spotty feedback; in these cases, we filled in the blanks as best we could. Some manufacturers used other labels; we strived to make these consistent throughout.

"? RIP: Which raster image processor comes standard with the printer? What optional RIPs are available?

"? Year Intro: What year was this model introduced?

"? Price: What is the selling price of this printer, in US dollars?

"? Warranty: How long is the printer warranted for?

"? Training: Is training standard with the price of the printer? Is it an option? If the latter, what is the cost?

"? Notes: Additional information not covered in the chart cells.

Keep in mind that we asked manufacturers to provide us with specs only on currently available printers or printers that would soon be on the market. Some manufacturers did not provide information on newly released printers. In addition, some manufacturers chose to not include some models and we honored these requests. Finally, some companies did not reply to our requests for information. We were able to track down enough specs on some printers to include them; in other cases, useful data could not be garnered, and these printers were not included.

Printer Chart

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