Star product: Ilford Omnijet Display Media Kit

By Barney Cox, Wednesday 20 February 2013

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High-grade backlit prints that are competitively priced and easy to work with may seem like a lot to ask for, but Ilford says it's now a reality

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What does the product do?
Ilford’s Omnijet Display Media Kit is a system for producing backlit transparencies using inkjet printing, which has been developed in association with Epson and has been optimised for the popular Epson Stylus Pro 11880. It includes display film, laminates and dedicated RIP profiles. It is designed to equal the highest quality RA4 silver-halide print, like Kodak Duratrans, produced using laser exposure devices, such as the Durst Lambda, but with less fuss and at lower cost. 

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?
The Kit was launched at the end of 2012. While backlit inkjet media isn’t new, Ilford and Epson claim that output comparable to the best photographic media in terms of density, resolution and subtle gradation is. Applications include close-viewed cosmetic point-of-sale displays.

How does it work?
To produce a backlit poster, the file is printed on an Epson machine onto a coated film and then enclosed between the two laminate films. This product consists of the photo-quality translucent display film and two rolls of laminates for front and back hot lamination. The rolls are available in 1,270mm and 1,520mm widths to match traditional silver halide widths and come in 40m lengths for optimal productivity. All the films are polyester – so theoretically recyclable. Two RIP developers – Caldera and Onyx – are involved as well and, as part of the Media Kit, offer optimised colour profiles to get the best quality.

How does it differ from previous products?
While backlit inkjet films themselves aren’t new, the level of quality is a different class, according to Ilford global business development manager for commercial wide-format Mark Sanderson. In side-by-side comparisons with RA4 prints, big brands, including Clarins and Aveda, have accepted the results as on a par with a Lambda, a promising sign considering Lambda jobs often fetch three times the £15/m2 other inkjet backlits sell for.

How productive is it to use?
Print speed is not the fastest, but according to Ilford, overall productivity is higher since there is no need to wait for an RA4 processor to warm up, no metres of waste getting the processor stable; and the laminates mean it is more robust than RA4, making installation simpler.

Printing is carried out at the highest resolution of the Epson machines (2,880x 1,440dpi), although Ilford expects to be able to offer a 1,440x720dpi production mode that is almost equal in quality, but much faster.

What is the USP of the product?
The key selling points are Duratrans/Lambda quality at inkjet media pricing and ease of use, according to the company. Sanderson says that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Ilford’s expertise in coating makes the most of the Epson printer and ink, he adds. 

How easy is it to use?
Compared to a photographic system, it’s a breeze, says Sanderson. There’s no need to maintain and run a processor, to keep colour accurate, and no dealing with chemicals and silver recovery.

How much does it cost?
An Epson Stylus Pro 11880 costs £10,194, while the inks cost £240 per 700ml pack. Ilford argues the cost of the printer, RIP and laminator is less than the annual support contract on a photographic printer and processor. If you have any of the kit already, the cost is reduced. Running costs comprise the coated film, the laminates and the inks. Compared to silver halide films, the substrate is 20% cheaper, according to the firm, although it was unwilling to provide precise pricing.

What is the sales target, how many are installed in the UK?
UK users include Colouration in London and Ipos Design in Manchester. With the popularity of Epson printers there is a wide base to target. 


SPECIFICATIONS

Format 1,270mm- and 1,524mm-wide by 40m-long rolls
Price On application
Contact
www.ilford.com


ALTERNATIVES

Sihl SuperDry Light Box Film 175

Sihl’s SuperDry Light Box film is a polyester base with a milky backing to diffuse the light. It can be laminated if required. The SuperDry coating is compatible with dye and pigment water-based inks, without being tied to any printer vendor or RIP.
Format
20m rolls in a range of widths (914mm, 1,067mm, 1,270mm, 1,372mm and 1,524mm)
Price On application
Contact
Sihl 0161 927 9051 www.sihl-direct.co.uk

Antalis Coala Backlit Film

Antalis’ Coala range includes a backlit polyester film compatible with water-based inks. It also has a version for other inks, including solvent, latex and UV-cured, which is one of the materials it has profiled for EFI Vutek machines.
Format
30m rolls in a range of widths (914mm, 1,270mm and 1,524mm)
Price
On application
Contact
Antalis 870 607 3114 www.antalis.co.uk

 

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