Big formats don't have to mean spending big bucks

Darryl Danielli
Monday, June 10, 2013

In the past commercial and wide format print businesses were very different animals. One happily dealt with those leaflets, brochures, flyers and smaller posters that would fit comfortably on their kit, while their large format counterparts down the road took care of the bigger stuff.

But now time poor customers, keen to maintain integrity of branding right across their print, are increasingly looking for printing one-stop shops.

Commercial printers may well, then, be starting to think big. But they may be feeling overwhelmed by the array of wide format kit available. So PrintWeek asked wide format manufacturers for advice on where might be a good place, investment-wise, to start…

HP Scitex FB500 Industrial Printer
Launched 2010
Applications Rigid or flexible media (with optional roll-to-roll upgrade kit)
Technologies Piezoelectric, UV curable inks; CMYK, light cyan, light magenta and white (optional)
USPs Rigid and flexible substrates and thick materials; optional white ink capability; double-sided prints; matte/gloss and full bleeds; the ability to print and load simultaneously.
Ease of use Intuitive workflow for efficient operation and ease of use.

User review
"We purchased our first FB500 from Robert Horne at the beginning of 2012 for use printing health and safety signs. We were so pleased with the speed, quality and versatility of the machine that we went back to Robert Horne and now, only one year later, have three identical machines. We purchased the optional roll-to-roll vinyl system with all three of our machines meaning that in addition to our standard rigid signs, we use our FB500s to print very cost-effective banners and vinyl graphics too."
Chris Lake, operations director, Glendining Signs

Price RRP: £72,000
Max speed Express: 37sqm/hr; Outdoor: 6sqm/hr; Indoor 16.4sqm/hr; Photo Quality: 8.6sqm/hr
Width 1,630mm (64in) edge-to-edge printing
Dimensions 3.3x1.4x1.5m
Weight 719kg
Contact HP 01344 363368

Seiko ColorPainter W-Series
Launched 2011
Applications Outdoor signage, banners, indoor signage, neon signage
Technologies Incorporates ‘Smart Nozzle Mapping’ to re-map clogged nozzles and so enable continuous printing with no loss of image quality or speed. Compatabile with Seiko II low-solvent IX (also haps-free) ink, GX and neon inksets (neon for six-colour configurations only).
USP The Smart Nozzle Mapping detailed above and the fact that is ideal for production environments, says supplier Colourgen.
Ease of use Boasting a clear, simple operator interface and requiring less than five minutes daily maintenance, the ColorPainter boasts the kind of straightforward ease of use required of an entry-level machine.

User review
"When we saw the new ColorPainter W-64S, we were confident that it would deliver even higher levels of quality and reliability in a new, faster and more powerful printer. The printer also has an advanced front drying system, which helps ensure print workflows are faster, which allows us to increase production. The introduction of solvent-based inkjet printing revolutionised our business and I would say around 60%-70% of our work is now digital."
Paul Cater, sales director, Display Signs

Price From £13,950
Max speed Production: 18sqm/hr
Width 1,370mm (54in) or 1,630mm (64in)
Dimensions 2.8x0.8x1.3m and 2.6x0.8x13m
Weight 205kg, 185kg
Contact Colourgen 01628 588722

EFI H652 UV hybrid
Launched 2010
Applications Banners, display graphics, exhibition graphics, flags, indoor and outdoor signage, Industrial–Membrane switch, packaging, posters, POS advertising materials.
Technologies Five Toshiba Tec piezoelectric greyscale printheads, up to eight levels of greyscale; Fiery XF front-end; EFI UV CMYK plus white printing.
USPs The printer delivers near photographic image quality, says EFI. The vendor adds that its low operating costs, CMYK plus standard white ink and true variable drop greyscale print capability mean you can pay for the printer by printing just a few hours a day.
Ease of use Handles a wide range of flexible and rigid media quickly and easily with versatile vacuum belt media transport system.

User review
"What convinced us was multi-format printing, white and the ability to print on translucent media- basically, the things you don’t find on the other machines. We had a high-performance design studio and we needed to back that up with technical resources that were equally as efficient."
Stéphane Désandré, managing partner, QUIN, France

Price £71,770
Max speed 42sqm/hr
Width 1,650mm (65in)
Dimensions 1.3x3.1x1m without tables
Weight 635kg
Contact EFI UK 01246 298000

Roland DG VersaCamm SP-300i/540i print & cut series
Launched 2009
Applications The VersaCamm SP-i series is suited to a busy mixed production environment and is suitable for a range of sign, display and graphic applications including POS, banners, stickers, decals, vehicle wraps, heat transfers, apparel decoration and floor graphics, says the manufacturer.
Technologies Available in two sizes: 1,370mm (54in) and 762mm (30in); Four colour with four printheads; Integrated Heating System; VersaWork RIP workflow system included; Automated Maintenance System; Compatible with Roland Eco-Sol Max inks, which are virtually odourless inks specifically designed to dry rapidly and be highly scratch-resistant.
USP Combined with Roland’s Eco-Sol Max ink technology, the VersaCAMM delivers high-density three-year durability on both coated and uncoated materials.
Ease of use Roland reports that its VersaWorks RIP software means all machines in the Roland SP-i series are very easy to use. All those who purchase a new Roland machine are also given a free place on the Roland Academy’s Intermediate Digital Print Course.

User review
"I’ve been a graphic designer for nearly 10 years and the improvements in print quality are certainly some of the biggest developments I’ve seen. The vibrancy of the print finish from the Roland printer is astonishing and the quality of the Eco-Sol Max inks is brilliant. What’s very impressive is there is really no compromise to bringing a machine in-house. With the Roland we have a print and cut device on-site that is of the highest production quality and flexible enough to handle whatever is required of it."
Lynsey Shepard, graphic designer, Coronation Street

Price SP-540i: £10,499; SP-300i: £8,499
Max speed 7.8sqm/hr
Width 1,371 mm (54in) and 762mm (30in)
Dimensions 2.3x0.7x1.1m and 1.7x0.7x1.1m
Weight 112kg and 89kg
Contact Roland DG UK 0845 230 9060

Mimaki CJV30
Launched 2008
Applications Self-adhesive vinyl decals, canvas prints, backlit
displays, garment marking film, poster paper, banner, coloured vinyl, metallic prints, clear window film, wallpaper, vehicle liveries, shop fronts, POS, packaging, proofing, labels.
Technologies The Mimaki CJV30 is available in a range of sizes and ships with a choice of eco-solvent inks (which include white and metallic options) or SS21 outdoor durable low-solvent inks. The printer incorporates an integrated cutter-plotter to enable the production of die-cut decals and the piezo printhead uses variable dot technology to print up to 1,440dpi at photographic quality.
USPs The CJV30 delivers a wide range of creative applications, high productivity and proven technology, says supplier Hybrid Services.
Ease of use Mimaki’s outdoor durable printers require minimal maintenance thanks to an automated cleaning function, says Hybrid. Also aiding ease-of-use is the fact that inks are contained in large sealed cartridges, and the cutting software plugs in to industry standard design applications (Illustrator and CorelDraw) so existing workflows can typically be maintained.

User review
"This side of the business is growing very fast. The Mimaki is the best piece of equipment I’ve ever invested in. It’s brought in so much new business and allowed us to do so much more for our customers – and that’s what it’s all about."
Steve Pilson, Colourprint, Maghull

Price From £5,995
Max speed CJV30-160: 17.5sqm/hr
Width 600mm (24in), 1,000m (40in), 1,300mm (51in) and 1,600mm (63in)
Dimensions From 1.5x0.7x1.4m to 2.5x0.7x1.4m
Weight From 110kg to 160kg
Contact Hybrid Services 01270 501900

Fujifilm Acuity LED 1600
Launched 2012
Applications High-quality large-format applications such as posters, in-store POS and retail displays, as well as packaging proofing. Its white ink enables window graphics, and a clear ink spot varnish or special effect prints.
Technologies Patented full LED UV lamp system to enable a two stage curing process (small LED pinning lamps in line with the printhead pin the dot, while main LED UV curing lamps fully cure the print); eight Q-class printheads enable the production of quality prints at fast print speeds; an eight-colour LED UV ink set includes white and clear ink, which can be applied in a single pass without the need to rewind the media.
USPs According to Fuji, The Acuity LED 1600 is an environmentally friendly hybrid printer that can tackle a wide range of roll and rigid applications, including heat-sensitive film and non-PVC media.
Ease of use Designed to be user-friendly, the use of UV inks adds to the low intervention requirements in everyday use, says Fuji.

User review
"Thanks to the Acuity LED 1600 we can now print, and subsequently cut out, a diverse range of substrates quickly and efficiently, and also create packaging solutions distinguished by special varnishing effects. The use of this technology improves our turnaround time and removes the traditional costs of litho print and die-cutting, both of which are costly for short proof print runs."
Jacky Sidebottom, director, Glossop Cartons

Price £60,000
Max speed 20sqm/h
Width 1,610mm (64in)
Dimensions 3.2x0.8x1.5m
Weight Printer: 280kg; tables: 50kg  
Contact Fujifilm 01234 245245

Epson SureColor SC-S30600
Launched 2012
Applications Posters, signs, banners, backlit panels and POS to vehicle wraps, interior decorations and exhibition displays.
Technologies UltraChrome GS2 ink with new yellow formulation and lightfastness of three years outdoors without lamination. Epson’s precision engineering and micro-piezo printhead technology ensure continuous and trouble-free operation, minimising maintenance and lost production time, says Epson.
USPs UltraChrome GS2 is odourless, nickel-free and requires no special ventilation, allowing the SC-S30600 to be used in an office environment.
Ease of use Loading heavy media rolls, usually a two-person job, can be handled by one operator with ease, according to the manufacturer, thanks to a unique jack. Media tensioning, traditionally only accessible from the front of the printer, is controllable from front and rear, so operators don’t waste time going back and forth. This reduces set-up time and maximises productivity, says Epson.

User review
"Spandex introduced the Epson SureColor SC-S30600 to us and it looked perfect on paper. It had the print speed we wanted, three times faster than our fastest existing printer, plus larger-capacity ink cartridges and a heavy-duty take-up roll system. Once installed it quickly became our ‘go-to’ printer. Now when we get a job, our first thought is, ‘Can we run it on the SureColor?’ It handles around 50% of our workload."
Lee Crew, director, Ottimo

Price £14,394
Max speed 29sqm/hr
Width 1,626mm (64in)
Dimensions 2.6x1.3x1.3m
Weight 219kg
Contact Epson 0871 423 7766

Mutoh ValueJet 1324 and Mutoh ValueJet 1624
Launched 2011
Applications Full-colour posters, banners, backlit signage, POS displays, external signage, adhesive strips and stickers, photo-realistic print.
Technologies Drop-on-demand piezo printhead up to 1,440dpi four-colour; Intelligent Interweaving Technology to eliminate defects such as horizontal banding, ink mottle, bleed and the visible effects of missing or misfiring nozzles.
USPs High resolution and small dot sizes are the top selling points, according to Mutoh, for small text
as well as large banners. This is a good alternative, says the manufacturer, to water-based printers for indoor applications as no lamination is required.
Ease of use The fact that this is the next step up from a water-based printer, makes this printer very easy to use, says Mutoh.

User review
"We had one customer who kept asking us if we could produce their roll-ups, which at the time we couldn’t. Realising we were missing out on work, we starting evaluating suitable printers. We looked at several different models. The ValueJet 1324 won-out because the cost, productivity and print quality were good. Also, it is nice and compact – some of the printers we looked at were simply too big for our premises even though there was little difference in their actual print width."
Steve Loasby, owner, Repro Press Solutions, Luton

Price 1324: £9,950; 1624: £13,950
Max speed Production: 12sqm/hr
Width 1324: 1,324mm (54in); 1624: 1,624mm (64in)
Dimensions 1324: 1.9x0.7x1.2m; 1624: 2.7x0.9x1.3m
Weight 1324: 82kg; 1624: 353kg
Contact Colourgen 01628 588722

Ricoh Pro L4000 series
Launched 2012
Applications The Ricoh Pro L4000 series is ideal for the environmentally conscious buyer of printed signage, POS and indoor and outdoor display, says Ricoh. It prints a wide range of substrates such as PVC, tarpaulin, synthetic paper, coated-paper, non-coated paper and textiles.
Technologies Next-generation piezo-electric printhead; minimum five-colour printing with CMYK and white; durable printing for outdoor and indoor applications; aqueous latex ink means a low environmental impact; wide range of media support from PVC to paper to textiles; choice of two print widths (1,371mm or 1,620mm); multiple jetting print head technology as small as four picolitres.
USPs The Ricoh Pro L4000 series features multiple jetting printhead technology and is able to produce three different drop sizes at once and as small as four picolitres in size. The result is consistent, smooth, vivid lifelike images, according to Ricoh. It supports an extensive range of media including PVC, tarpaulin, synthetic paper, coated-paper, non-coated paper and textiles.
Ease of use Both the L4130 and L4160 are easy and straightforward to operate, says the vendor, and training is provided with installation.

User review
The Ricoh Pro L4130 and Ricoh Pro L4160 wide-format machines will not be commercially available until September 2013.

Price From £19,999
Speed Draft mode: 18sqm/hr (1,200x900dpi, six-pass, Bi, four-colour)
Width Ricoh Pro L4130: 1,361mm (53in); Ricoh Pro L4160: 1,610mm (64in)
Dimensions L4130: 2.6x0.9x1.4m; L4160: 2.9x0.9x1.4m
Weight L4130: 216kg; L4160: 509kg
Contact Ricoh UK 0800 904090

Canon Océ ColorWave 650 poster printer
Launched 2011
Applications Posters, POS, display, presentation, drawing, proof, advertising.
Technologies Patented Canon Océ CrystalPoint technology combines toner and inkjet technology to give the best of both worlds, says the vendor. This is designed to ensure a balance between quality, productivity and sustainability.
USPs Up to six-roll media capacity; instant-dry, water-resistant prints on uncoated plain and recycled paper; consistent high-quality prints on wide range of special media; no odour; minimal waste disposal; toner waste is completely non-toxic and solid and can be disposed of as part of regular office waste; no system contamination by ‘powder’ or ink.
Ease of use The Océ ColorWave 650 requires no daily maintenance. High reliability enables unattended production during the night.

User review
"This wasn’t our first foray into wide-format; we already had two Landas, one latex machine and are purchasing an Arizona 460XT next week. But I’d still say it’s perfect for people wanting to get into wide-format print, because for a relatively low cost you get a high-quality print and it is fast- you can print an A1 job in just two minutes, not including artworking and ripping. It’s ideal for poster runs of between 25 and 50."
Albert Peninkhof, branch manager, C3 Imaging

Price From £28,000
Speed 225 A1 sph
Width 1,524mm (60in) and is also available in 610mm (24in) and 1,120mm (44in) variants)
Dimensions Main engine 1.6x0.9x2.1m
Weight 195-275kg (Dependent on number of rolls)
Contact Canon Océ, 01737 220000


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