Finding Solvent Success
A narrowing of choices when it comes to solvent printers.
It’s getting more and more difficult to track down a printer that utilizes solvent inks. As a result of a combination of factors – the onrushing surge of UV technologies coupled with green/sustainable aspirations, to name two – solvent-machine options are much more limited today than they were a few years ago.
In looking at The Big Picture 2004 rollfed printer charts, for example, we listed specs for nearly 60 rollfed solvent printers. In last year’s charts, however, the number of rollfed solvent machines had dwindled to about 25. So if you opt to go the solvent route today, your hardware options are much more limited. Or, some would say, you can be much more focused when it comes to choosing a machine and you don’t have to “wade through” five dozen possibilities.
For this month’s sourcelist, we’ve identified 15 major manufacturers badging solvent machines in 2011, and present information on those companies and their “solvent rosters”; for most companies, we’ve spotlighted one of their printers and added information on other solvent units when available. Keep in mind that for the sake of this list, we’ve included solvents as well as mild- and eco-solvents, but we have not included any other ink technologies for this article (including aqueous, dye-sub, UV, or latex).
The 198-in. Jeti 5024 features 24 Spectra printheads, true 600 dpi (1200 apparent), and 6 colors (CMYKcm); it can reach a top speed of 1190.25 sq ft/hr. Other features include automatic head-capping (auto caps in 15 min. if machine sits) plus an automated air vacuum system that eliminates manual head wiping. The 5024 can output onto reinforced vinyl, pressure-sensitive vinyl, canvas, fabrics, mesh, paper, and more. Options include a modular backlit camera unit for registered printing on both sides of the media; a rewind (takeup) unit; and a retro heater. The printer is also available in a 300-dpi, 4-color, high-speed version (1108 – 1650 sq ft/hr).
Other Agfa solvent printers include the Jeti 3312/3324 and the Jeti 3348 HSS (high-speed solvent) units.
The DL-5400 is a 6-color (CMYKcm) printer-cutter that utilizes eco-solvent inks (Beyond Eco-Sol Bulk Inks) and runs outdoor graphics as well as large and short-run labels. It accommodates media from 12- to 54-in. wide (53-in. printing width), and can handle 12-in.-diameter rolls with 3-in. cores. The DL-5400 generates a top speed of 441 sq ft/hr at 360 dpi, and offers resolutions as high as 1440 dpi; cutting speed is 11.8 in./sec. Roland’s VersaWorks software RIP is included, as is a PC work station.
Offers the following solvent machines: PS-3206D, PS-3204D, PS-3206S, PS-3204S, PS-2504S, XP-3204T, XP-2506DX, XP-1804D. Also offers the OR-1806 light-solvent machine.
Solvent machines include the ColorXPress CX2504S, ColorXPress CX2512X, and ColorXpress CX3216X.
The 126-in. EFI Vutek 3360 is available in Entry Level and Full Production Level models. It offers: compatibility with Vutek BioVu inks; a choice between regular and Fast 4 printing; and 4-, 6-, and 8-color printing.
A fully configured Full-Production printer is capable of both 8-color and Fast 4 printing up to 1622 sq ft/hr, solvent and dye-sub applications, 2-sided backlit printing, and more. An Entry 8-channel printer produces up to 632 sq ft/hr and prints good-quality solvent applications and can also be upgraded in the field to Full Production Level printer.
All 3360 models offer 720-dpi apparent resolutions (360-dpi addressable), and 80-pl Spectra Nova printheads. Top speeds vary with the model chosen: Entry Level model, 316 sq ft/hr; Entry Level Fast 4, 632 sq ft/hr; Full Production model, 341 sq ft/hr; Full Production Fast 4, 1622 sq ft/hr. Customers can choose between the EFI Fiery XF RIP or ColorBurst RIP. Optional equipment includes an alignment system to enable front/back registration required for two-sided printing.
Also available is the 204-in. EFI Vutek 5330.
The Stylus Pro GS6000 is a 64-in. roll-to-roll printer featuring Epson UltraChrome GS inks formulated from Epson’s proprietary solvent-ink technology. The 8-color (CMYKcm+orange+green) GS6000 features a Dual-Array MicroPiezo AMC printhead, prints at 340 sq ft/hr for banner-quality printing and up to 91 sq ft/hr for photographic signage (it's also capable of printing fine-art reproductions at 71 sq ft/hr). Maximum resolution is 1440 x 1440 dpi with droplet sizes as small as 3.7 pl.
The UltraChrome GS inks offer nearly odorless printing and eliminate the need for special ventilation or air-purification systems, says Epson. The inks do not require a hazardous-materials designation for shipping or storage; in addition, the yellow inks do not contain nickel (Ni) compounds. The inks also dry fast, eliminating the necessity for drying equipment. Eight 950-ml “hot-swappable” ink cartridges comprise the printer's ink system.
Included with the Stylus Pro GS6000 is the ColorBurst Professional Production RIP; other features include: printhead ink-repelling coating technology for reduced nozzle clogging; an automatic take-up reel system for unattended production of large print runs; intelligent preventative maintenance system; a media-heating system; standard USB connectivity with a USB 2.0 and Gigabit Ethernet port.
Flora Digital Printing System
The Flora LightJet LJ320P solvent printer is available in 4- or 6-color (CMYKcm) configurations and features Spectra Polaris printheads. It offers speeds up to 1184 sq ft/hr in Draft mode and 807 sq ft/hr in Standard Quality mode, and resolutions up to 800 x 1200 dpi. The LJ320P’s top printing width is 126 in. and it can accommodate paper, advertising banner media, PVC, mesh fabrics, adhesive vinyls, and more. RIP is Photoprint 6.1 Flora edition.
Other Flora machines include: the HJII 5000SW, HJII 5000SE, HJII 5000P, LightJet LJ320X, HeavyJet HJ3200 Turbo, LightJet LJ320SW, LightJet LJ320SE, and LightJet LJ320P (all solvents); and the LightJet LJ320K (eco-solvent).
The HP Scitex TJ8350, designed for long runs and high speeds, can print up to 5166 sq ft/hr using solvent inks. The 6-color (CMYKcm) printer offers a top resolution of 600 dpi (apparent) and can accommodate media from 47 x 63 to 65 x 145 in. up to 0.5-mm thick. It can print on uncoated flexible substrates ranging from self-adhesive vinyl, paper, and backlit materials to flag, PVC banner, window graphics, and more. The TJ8350 utilizes TJ100 Supreme or TJ100 Flash inks (the former are more durable; the latter are more economical). Caldera GrandRIP+ or Onyx ProductionHouse included, as are a dedicated collecting table and dryer; a TJ Double Side Upgrade is optional.
Infiniti Digital Equipment
Available with 8 or 12 Xaar 30-pl printheads, the 98-in. Fina 250A features CMYK solvent inks, an auto media-feeding and take-up system, drying fan, and head-cleaning system. Top speed for the 8-head system is 274 sq ft/hr at 540-dpi resolution, while the 12-head printer offers 414 sq ft/hr in 540-dpi mode. Top resolution: 1440 dpi. A media-width auto detector is optional. Other Infiniti solvent printers include: Fina 160A, 320B, 320SW, 3360AS, and 3360SW.
Mimaki’s grand-format JV5-320S offers a print width of 128 in. and is designed to combine long-time/continuous printing with high speeds and image quality. It features a staggered printhead arrangement and can generate a maximum resolution of 1440 dpi. The 320S can hit a top speed of 645 sq ft/hr at 540 x 720 dpi and a speed of 279 sq ft/hr at 720 x 1440 dpi (all speeds in 4-color mode). Offering a 6- or 4-color mode (CMYKcm or CMYK), the printer can utilize Mimaki’s ES3 eco-solvent inks as well as its HS rugged solvent inks. The 320S can print on media up to 1-mm thick, and automatically detects media thickness and adjusts head-height gap to generate the best print quality. A media encoder feeds media evenly without any influence of media weight. Other features include: an automatic nozzle-out detection to reduce loss of media and wasted ink; a feeding and take-up device for heavy media (the 320S can handle a roll weight up to 286.6 lb); auto-change double ink cartridges for long, consistent printing (maximum capacity of 1.76 liters/color); large post-heater to enable high-speed printing (in addition to pre-heater and print heater); and a RasterLink Pro II RIP. An external dryer is optional.
Other Mimaki solvent printers include: the CJV-30 series of printer-cutters (four sizes), the JV5-130S/160S, and the JV33 series of printers, including the JV33-130, JV33-160, and JV33-260.
The Dual-Head ValueJet 1618 from Mutoh is a 64-in. roll-to-roll mild/eco-solvent printer that images onto coated and uncoated media with Mutoh's Intelligent Interweaving and drop-on demand piezo technology for increased print speeds and elimination of banding and ink mottle. Sporting two 180 nozzles x 8 line printheads, the 1618 offers 2x CMYK Eco-Ultra inks in 16 channels. Imaging in full color directly onto posters, banners, backlit panels, P-O-S displays, signs, and stickers, the 1618 features 12 printing modes-from 540- to 1440-dpi resolutions-and users can print as fast as 480 sq ft/hr at 720 dpi. Other features include a media preheating and drying system, as well as a take-up system for rolls up to 67 lb; an optional HD take-up system is available. The machine comes standard with an Onyx Mutoh-edition RIP.
Other solvent printers in Mutoh’s lineup include: the mild/eco-solvent ValueJet 1304, 1614, and 2606 printers, as well as the ValueJet Mubio-Hybrid 1608-64 hybrid that utilizes Mutoh Mubio bio-solvent inks (composed of 80% plant-derived substances).
The AdvancedJet AJ-1000i is a 104-in.-wide machine that can reach print speeds of 968 sq ft/hr at 360 x 180 dpi and produce 6-color graphics (CMYKcm) onto coated and uncoated media. Other speed/resolution pairings include: 323 sq ft/hr at 360 x 360 dpi, 162 sq ft/hr at 360 x 720 dpi, and 65 sq ft/hr at 720 x 720 dpi, its top resolution.
Users can choose either EcoXtreme i inks for high durability or EcoXtreme LT inks for relatively short-term applications (both 1-liter ink cartridges).
Other features on the AJ-1000i include: Roland Intelligent Pass Control to eliminate banding; integrated tri-heater system and blower; automated media-feed and takeup system; and VersaWorks RIP software. An MU Mesh Printing Unit, for unlined mesh media, is optional. The machine is also available in a 74-in. version (AdvancedJet AJ-740i).
Roland DGA’s other solvent printers include: the VersaCamm SP 300i/540i and VersaCamm VS 640/540/420; the VersaArt RS 540/640; and the SolJet Pro III XJ 540/640/740 and SolJet Pro III XC 540MT.
Seiko Infotech’s ColorPainter V-64s is a 64-in. inkjet printer specifically designed for the mid-volume sign and banner printing market. The printer produces true 720 x 720-dpi prints with its 6-color (CMYKcm) mild-solvent inksets, either EG-Outdoor EX or EG-Outdoor LX inks. The machine’s six printheads allow the printer to achieve, in production mode, a printing speed of 172 sq ft/ hr at 720 x 720 dpi; the machine can hit 322 sq ft/hr in draft mode, and 88 sq ft/hr in production mode.
Features on the V-64s include: Smart Pass Technology that automatically creates unique gradient overlaps between each printing pass to reduce/eliminate banding (the technology also optimizes dot placement to improve overall print quality); a three-way independently controlled heater to optimize ink receptiveness on media and ink drying time; standard blower to speed drying, and integrated four-way take-up unit; adjustable head height for different media thickness—0.08 or 0.1 in.; and manual media cutter with media clips.
Also available are the Seiko ColorPainter H-74 and H-104 mild-solvent printers.
Signs International Distributor
The SID XC II is a 6-color (CMYKcm) printer that offers a maximum printing width of 126 in. and can function as either a solvent or eco-solvent printer (SID offers XtremeColor Solvent and Eco-Solvent inks, both certified for the printer). The XC II offers resolutions up to 720 dpi and can hit a top speed of 807 sq ft/hr (240 x 720 dpi, 2-pass); it can reach speeds of 570 sq ft/hr at 360 x 720 dpi (2-pass). Features include a preheater, two infrared heaters, a fan system, and more. RIP software is PhotoPrint 6.1. The SC II can accommodate vinyl, perforated vinyl, polyester, banner, and canvas media.
Other solvent printers in the SID lineup include: the Xpress 320 8H and the XCS Plus 320 8H, XCS, XES 250/320, and XE 210/320 models; as with the SID SC II, all of these printers can function as either solvent or eco-solvent machines.
The 8254E and 8264E printers from Xerox utilize eco-solvent inks. Designed for a range of users, the two share these specs: eco-solvent Ultra CMYK inks; resolutions up to 1440 dpi; dynamic variable-dot imaging and intelligent interweaving; the ability to print on a variety of materials from uncoated vinyl to high-quality coated media; and a standard take-up roll that can handle rolls up to 42 lb (8254E) and 67 lb (8264E). The 54-in. Xerox 8254E offers print speeds up to 143 sq ft/hr in banner mode and 55 sq ft/hr in quality mode; the 64-in. Xerox 8264E features a top speed of 172 sq ft/hr in banner mode and 58 sq ft/hr in quality mode. Xerox also offers the 8265/8290 eco-solvent printers, which offer 6-color capabilities.