What does the machine do?
The SureColor F6300 is a wide-format dye sublimation printer that’s been designed to print to transfer paper, but not direct to fabric. These prints can then be put through a heat press in contact with the polyester or polyester-blend material where the image is transferred to the fabric.
The sublimation process essentially heats the ink to a gaseous state and then drives the pigment into the fibre of the material. This results in a vibrant image that can withstand multiple washing without fading while allowing the fabric to retain its original texture and feel.
When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?
The F6300 was announced earlier this summer but is only just becoming available now. It’s primarily aimed at photographic studios and promotional goods businesses. Phil McMullin, sales manager for Epson UK, says that this printer was designed to produce short runs and samples of garments as well as for dye-sublimating graphics to objects such as mouse mats and mugs. However, he adds that people do also group several of these printers together for commercial textile production. As with any dye-sublimation printer, it can also be used to produce some soft signage.
How does it work?
The F6300 is a standard roll-fed design able to take materials up to 1.1m (44in) wide. It uses four Epson PrecisionCore TFP printheads, one for each colour, which give a maximum print resolution of 720x1,440dpi. The inks are Epson’s UltraChrome DS, which like all dye-sublimation inks, are water-based. It prints in CMYK.
How does it differ from previous models?
The F6300 is an evolution of the older F6200, with improvements based on feedback. McMullin says that Epson has improved the feeding to make it more accurate and more robust, and made access to the printheads easier for maintenance.
It’s also easier to set up following on from feedback that the previous model was too complicated. McMullin says: “We have improved this so that the end-user can do the installation themselves and doesn’t need an engineer.”
Epson also offers an optional take-up roll, which is really aimed at volume users, and which should make for a neater solution than a third-party unit. Unfortunately, the new take-up roll cannot be retrofitted to the existing F6200 as the firmware is not compatible.
How fast/productive is it?
The SC-F6300 has a maximum speed of 63sqm/hr, though McMullin says that people typically run these at 15-20sqm/hr in four-pass mode with 720dpi print quality.
What is the USP of the product?
The main thing that sets the SC-F6300 aside from other dye-sublimation printers is its size, which at 1.1m wide is fairly unique. Most other dye sublimation printers are larger, usually around 1.9m wide. It’s designed to be compact enough to fit easily into retail environments. This small size also helps to keep the cost down, so that it’s cheaper than many other dye sub printers, which explains why textile producers have banked multiple units together.
How easy is it to use?
McMullin says that the average Printweek reader shouldn’t have any problems in getting to grips with this printer, which is essentially a standard roll-fed wide format machine.
What training and support is on offer?
McMullin points out that Epson has improved the preventative maintenance on these printers so that most users should be able to keep the machines running themselves. That said, Epson sells these printers through a number of specialist resellers that have experience of the textile market. Consequently, Epson leaves it to these resellers to put together a package that suits their customer base, which could include training and servicing as well as other items, such as the heat press. The printer itself comes with one year’s standard warranty.
How much does it cost?
The SureColor F6300 costs £4,795, which includes the printer, a set of inks and a maintenance kit, but not the optional take-up roll or installation.
Sales targets and installations
The SC-F6300 has only just started shipping so it’s too early to say how many are installed. However, Epson expects to sell a lot of these, given its low price and the fact there are not many other printers available at this size.
Max width 1.1m (44in)
Printheads Epson PrecisionCore TFP
Max resolution 1,440dpi
Max speed 63sqm/hr
Inks Epson UltraChrome DS
Contact Epson UK 01442 227219 www.epson.co.uk
Mutoh DrafStation RJ-900XG
Mutoh makes the DrafStation, a 42in wide dye-sublimation printer designed as a cheap compact device, although this has been around for a while now. However, there is an optional motorised take-up system available.
Max width 1.08m (42in)
Printheads Epson TFP
Max resolution 2,880dpi
Max speed 39.6sqm/hr
Inks Mutoh DS2
Contact Mutoh +32 5956 1400 www.mutoh.eu