Star product: Roland DG VersaCamm VS-i series

By Simon Eccles Monday 11 November 2013

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Roland DG's new wide-format inkjet family is a versatile choice.

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Roland DG VS-640i

What do they do?

This family of three wide-format inkjets are the latest in Roland DG’s family of combined printer-cutters. These are the 64in (1,625mm) VS-640i, the 54in (1,371mm) VS-540i, and the 30in (762mm) VS-300i. The family use the latest Eco-Sol Max2 ink, a light solvent ink that’s durable and scratch resistant enough for outdoor applications, but doesn’t smell bad so it’s suited to indoor uses too. There are eight ink channels and a choice of five inkset configurations. The inks can be used with self-adhesive vinyls (printing and cutting complex label shapes is a major application), plus inkjet-friendly plastic foils, window films, coated or uncoated papers. The two listed extra options are an extended drying unit for white ink printing and an optional take-up unit to re-reel the media.

When were they launched and what are the target markets?

They were launched last month aimed at the sign-making, commercial print, photographic and packaging design sectors.

How do they work?

The configuration is fairly conventional, with a travelling carriage containing both the inkjet printheads and the cutting knife for the contour cutter. The printheads (made by Epson) are piezo greyscale drop-on-demand, with 1,440dpi resolution and seven droplet sizes.

Cutting lines can be set up within the main artwork file using standard vector software such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw, using a special colour name that’s detected by the VersaWorks RIP. Registration spots are printed automatically. If cutting’s required, after the main print run the media is rolled back and the cutting pass is run, with a detector on the head aligning it to the registration marks. Alternatively, the roll can be cut off after printing so the resulting sheet can be laminated then fed back into the printer for a separate contour cutting pass.

How do they differ from previous models?

There are general improvements in speed and performance to the family’s versatile general-purpose inkjet predecessors. The ink cartridges are now front loading. Cut settings can now be adjusted on the fly during long jobs. The Eco-Sol Max2 ink is new as is a choice of five colour configurations. The inks are CMYK, light cyan, light magenta, light black, white and metallic silver. The light black is new to the range and helps tonal reproduction in black and white photographs. The white and silver inks are a higher density than their predecessors, so white can be printed one-and-a-half times faster and silver twice as fast.

How fast are they?

The 64in-wide model has a top speed of 27sqm per hour at 360x720 dpi. But higher quality would slow the printers down. Cutting operates at 10-300mm per second depending on setting.

What is the USP?

According to Roland, the main USP is the versatility that makes these machines suited to a number of markets such as fine art and photographic reproduction, banners and POS, stickers, labels, decals, vehicle wraps, window graphics, heat transfers and packaging prototyping. The VersaWorks software includes a built-in Pantone spot colour library, plus Roland’s own library of more than 1,000 colours and 512 metallic shades.

How easy are they to use?

Roland says the new machines are usually producing commercial work on the same day as installation. Head and knife replacement is easy, while cleaning doesn’t need to be daily, unlike ‘strong solvent’ printers.

The Roland OnSupport monitoring sends an alert to your computer or smartphone when a job is complete or ink is low.

What training and service support is on offer?
The price includes a one-year Roland Care Silver Warranty service and support package, plus a place on the Roland Academy Introduction or Intermediate Digital Print course at Walsall College. Additional paid-for training courses are available. On-site training is available from Roland dealers.


SPECIFICATIONS

Print widths VS-640i: 64in/1,625mm; VS-540i: 54in/1,371mm; VS-300i: 30in/762mm

Max resolution 1,440dpi, 8 grey levels

Max print speed 27sqm/hr

Cutting speed 10-300mm/second

Blade force 30-300 gram-force

Ink cartridge sizes 440mm, except for metallic and white (220mm)

Price VS-300i: £10,499; VS-540i: £13,999; VS-640i: £15,499

Contact Roland DG UK 0845 230 9060 www.rolanddg.co.uk


ALTERNATIVE
 

Mimaki CJV30

The only other combined printer-cutters, this family is Mimaki’s direct rival to the VersaCamms, with similar print and contour cutting features and Epson printheads. There are four print widths: from 610mm to 1,610mm. Two ink types are offered: ES3, a light solvent with very low odours, is equivalent to the Roland ink; or SS21, which is a stronger solvent with more VOCs, but offers significantly greater vibrancy, rub resistance and light fastness. The standard colour set is CMYK, light cyan, light magenta and white, although there’s an option for metallic silver instead of white with the ES3 inks. The contour cutting is much the same as Roland’s and, as standard, will kiss-cut the vinyl self-adhesive layer but leave the backing paper intact. Mimaki has a ‘die-cut’ option it claims is unique. This cuts the labels completely out of the sheets to allow them to be supplied in stacks. Although these Mimakis have a lower quoted maximum speed than the Roland machines, it doesn’t mean much in practice – for normal production quality with similar numbers of multiple passes, they’d probably be close in performance.

Print widths CJV30-60: 600mm; CJV30-100: 1,000mm; CJV30-130: 1,300mm; CJV30-160: 1,600mm

Max print speed 17.5sqm/hr

Max resolution 1,440dpi

Price £6,000-£15,000

Contact Hybrid Services 01270 501900 www.hybridservices.co.uk

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