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Second-Generation Mild Solvent Inks Print on Uncoated Media

(August 2003) posted on Tue Aug 26, 2003

Shops without industrial ventilation systems can use lower-cost substrates


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There's good news for graphics-production companies that want to use affordable, environmentally friendly inkjet printers to produce outdoor-durable graphics on the same lower-cost PVC and scrim banner vinyls used with solvent-inkjet printers. A new generation of mild-solvent inks is now available to printer OEMs who have incorporated Epson printheads into outdoor-graphics printers. When used on inkjet-printer models with specific onboard media-heating capabilities, this new generation of mild-solvent ink eliminates the need to use specially treated media.

The new solvents optimally wet the media, partially soften it, and use chemical binding agents to anchor the ink pigments to the media. Pre- and post-heaters create the optimal temperatures for these processes to occur.

In other words, outdoor graphics on lower-cost materials can be printed anywhere"?even in an office environment. Uncoated vinyls cost less than half as much as the receptor-coated vinyls used with aqueous inkjets and 25% less than the treated media required with first-generation mild solvent inks. And, it's not necessary to spend $5,000 to $10,000 installing a ventilation system or air-purification equipment in order to inkjet-print to the uncoated banner materials.

The inks are odor free, safe to handle, and produce graphics that resist water damage, abrasion, and UV fading. Most graphics can last outdoors for up to 3 years without lamination. Lamination is recommended for fleet graphics, floor graphics, and other applications in which the prints might be exposed to more intensive mechanical stresses or abrasion.

Mutoh America is labeling the ink Eco-Solvent Plus? and making it available for its 64- and 87-in. wide Falcon II Outdoor and 46- and 62-in. Falcon Outdoor printers. Mutoh is selling. Eco-Solvent Plus inks in 220 ml cartridges, either in 6-color sets for photo-quality applications, or CMYK x 2 configurations for fast throughput of posters and banners. Current owners of a Falcon Outdoor printer can buy a conversion kit for switching from first-generation Eco-Solvent inks to the new Eco-Solvent Plus formulation. Mutoh plans to begin shipping the inks and conversion kits in September, and plans to post a list of substrates that have been tested with the new inks on their website. (Mutoh America: www.mutoh.com)

Roland DGA is selling the ink under the EcoSOL brand name and using it with its new SOLJET Pro II EX series of printers and printer/cutters. The printer-cutter model is available in a 54 in. width. The printers come in 54- and 74-in. widths. All three printers in the EX line can quickly output 450-dpi graphics for signs, banners, P-O-P displays, and vehicle wraps or be used in a 1440 x 1440 dpi print mode with variable-droplet printing for jobs requiring exceptional photorealism.

Roland's printer-cutter model (SC-540EX) has a Quadralign? optical registration system that automatically realigns the cutting path and compensates for any skew that may have occurred when the graphics were removed from the printer for laminating. The EX series of printers is currently shipping, and includes a Roland Color RIP that includes simultaneous RIP and print capabilities, enhanced color management, contour-cutting, and several distinctive layout options. (Roland DGA: www.rolanddga.com)


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