The Colorado is the first printer to use Canon Océ’s new UVgel ink.
What does the printer do?
It is a 1.64m-wide roll-fed inkjet printer intended for signage and related work, offering both high image quality and high throughput – normally it’s a case of either/or with this class of printer. High levels of automation and a twin-roll feed support unattended running.
It is an all new design that is the first printer to use Canon’s UVgel ink, which is cured by LED lamps. The printer, dedicated printheads and UVgel ink are made at Canon’s Océ factories in Venlo, in the Netherlands.
This is the first of a planned family of Colorado UVgel printers that will be sold alongside the established Arizona range of flatbed printers, which use conventional liquid UV inks.
When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?
It was demonstrated at a press launch in Venlo during March, although the official launch will be at Fespa in Hamburg in May.
According to Mark Lawn, director, Graphic & Communication Group, Canon Europe, the intended market is “businesses producing indoor and outdoor applications, including posters, banners, signage, POS, billboards, window graphics, decals and bespoke wall coverings”.
How does it work?
UVgel ink is a new development by Canon Océ. It is instant drying, so can be laminated, finished or delivered immediately. It’s also odourless, so suitable for indoor applications. It is suited to a wide range of signage media, including paper, vinyl, static cling plastic and coated close-weave banner materials.
So far only CMYK colours are available and there is no white or clear ink. It is supplied in bottles as a gel. This is pumped to new piezo printheads built by the Océ factory. They are binary (not greyscale) with a drop size of 10 picolitres.
The head units incorporate a heater that warms the ink and lowers its viscosity before it reaches the ink chamber and nozzles. Here the ink is jetted as drops in the normal way. A monitoring system sends acoustic signals through the ink in the head, with the ‘echo’ indicating any problems, so the system can compensate.
The printer and its bed are temperature controlled and maintained at a constant 28˚C. When the ink droplets hit the media they immediately cool and revert to a gel, which ‘pins’ them and stops them merging into each other or the media. Thus the drops stay extremely sharp.
LED lamps run on a separate carriage to the printheads. They run very cool, so thinner and cheaper heat-sensitive media can be printed without distortion. Rival Latex and solvent ink processes involve heat, as do older mercury UV lamps.
The printer construction is said to be very robust, which further aids drop placement accuracy and therefore image quality.
The twin-roll feed has automatic changeover, allowing longer unattended runs. The rolls can be different media, with the front end switching between them as needed.
How does it differ from previous models?
It’s a brand new machine with no direct predecessors. However Océ previously developed heated-head technology for its Crystalpoint solid ink ColorWave plan/GIS/map paper printers, and has a lot of experience with UV curing through its Arizona flatbed printers.
How fast/productive is it?
Canon claims it is the fastest printer in its segment, with up to 159m2/hr for applications such as billboards and outdoor banners. Even at the highest quality for close-up applications, it runs at 40m2/hr.
What is the USP of the product?
Mostly the new ink, which in combination with the high-accuracy drop delivery, allows high colour density with fewer head passes than the competitors. This gives a combination of high quality, high throughput and media versatility that’s unusual and possibly unique in this price bracket.
How easy is it to use?
The printer has a touchscreen control panel. High levels of automation and reliability (due to the self-checking heads, multiple rolls and automatic changeover) allow extended unattended running. The front end is by Onyx, a Canon-owned company.
What training and support is on offer?
Canon offers installation, training and servicing, plus marketing support such as its Essential Business Builder plans.
How much does it cost?
Lawn says that the price will be around €55,000 (about £48,000). Ink will cost €135 per litre (about £117). Canon predicts a low TCO for the class. It says UVgel technology together with reduced maintenance needs reduces ink consumption as much as 40% compared with competitive technologies.
When will installations start?
Installations will begin after Fespa in May. The first commercial user will be Comdatek in Hückeldoven, Germany, which will receive the unit shortly. It plans to use the printer mainly for wallcoverings and interior decor.
Max media width 1,640mm
Max print width 1,630mm
Max media thickness 0.8mm
Process Piezo-electric inkjet with UVgel ink
Ink drop size 10 picolitres (binary)
Curing lamps LED-UV
Speed (depends on quality setting) 40, 57, 117, 159m2/hr
Digital front-end Onyx Thrive
Price €55,000 (about £48,000)
Ink price €135 per litre (about £117)
Contact Canon 020 8588 8000 www.canon.co.uk
HP Latex 570
Half the speed of the Colorado, but half the cost too. It’s not as ‘industrial’ as the Colorado, but the heavier duty HP Latex 1500 costs about £130,000. Latex ink is popular because of its versatility - one printer can handle most indoor and outdoor flexible media and applications.
Max print width 1,220mm
Max speed 91m2/hr depending on quality setting
Resolution Full 1,200dpi
Price £25,900 ex-VAT
Contact ArtSystems 01159 380 380 www.artsystems.co.uk
Released last year this UV LED printer shook up the super-wide market with a model that may be relatively slow but is half the price of anything else that wide (Fujifilm rebadges the same printer with different options as the Acuity LED 3200R).
Max print width 3,200mm
Max speed 60m2/hr
Resolutions 300, 600, 900, 1,200dpi
Contact Hybrid Services 01270 501900 www.hybridservices.co.uk
Fujifilm Acuity LED 3200R
Announced at Drupa, this is Fujifilm’s version of the Mimaki UJV55-320. Specs broadly are the same.
Price £70,000 incl. installation, RIP and starter kit
Contact Fujifilm 01234 572000 www.fujifilm.eu/uk