Star product: Jetrix KX6U-LED

By Simon Eccles, Monday 23 April 2018

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InkTec’s brand new entry-level signage and graphics flatbed.

star-kx6u-led

What does the printer do?

It is a new flatbed inkjet printer with UV-LED curing lamps. The bed format is 2.5x1.3m for hand-loaded sheet materials up to 100mm thick and there is provision for a 2.2m wide roll-to-roll feed. This is a mid-sized model in the Jetrix range, able to take standard sized 2.4x1.2m (8x4ft) boards. The largest Jetrix Xi8, launched last year, can take two of these boards at once, so one can be loaded/unloaded while another is being printed. The smallest current model is the JX3, with a 1.2x1.2m bed, but so far that has not been released with UV-LED lamps. 

InkTec Europe is based in Witney near Oxford, but the printers are made in its Korean factory. The company also makes inks for both its own printers and as alternatives to own-brand inks for popular makes such as Epson, HP and Mimaki. 

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at? 

It’s brand new. According to European sales manager Ben Woodruff: “We are targeting the entry-level market for signage and graphics providers along with any other potential first-time flatbed investors.”

How does it work?

This is a four-colour (CMYK) printer as standard, with an option to add white, clear varnish and primer ink channels. Woodruff notes that “The white channel uses dual heads to allow white to print at the same speed as the other colours which is rare.”

Konica Minolta printheads are used with 6pl drops, which are finer than many in this class of printer. The maximum media size is 2.5mx1.3m on the flatbed or 2.2m wide on the optional roll feed. Maximum media thickness is 100mm. The use of UV-LED lamps is still relatively new in flatbed inkjets. These LEDs carry the benefits of cool running (so thinner, heat-sensitive media can be handled), plus low energy consumption as well as the ability to switch on and off instantly with no warm-up period and variable output intensity. Woodruff says the lamps should last at least 20,000 hours of operation. Mercury is still available as an alternative. 

The flatbed is divided into six zones which alleviates the need to mask off unused areas.

An onboard PC and monitor run the GUI that controls the printer and communicates with the RIP. “Currently, we support Print Factory, Onyx and Caldera RIP options,” says Woodruff. 

How does it differ from previous models?

The original KX6 model had the same size and roll feed options but used mercury vapour curing lamps. “The main difference is the LED lamps and the ink, which is glossier in appearance compared to normal UV ink,” says Woodruff. 

How fast is it? 

As with any multi-pass inkjet, speed depends on the number of overlapping passes you select. More passes increase visual quality, but slow the machine down. The quality requirements are usually set by the intended viewing distance of the finished work – billboards intended for viewing from a distance can have much lower resolution than POS, for instance.

“It can print on to any flat sheet or roll media at speeds of up to 28m²/hr in production mode or 10m²/hr in fine art mode,” Woodruff says. 

What’s the USP?

The combination of price, quality and speed is unrivalled,” claims Woodruff.” It is also upgradable, so for a prefixed cost of around £15,000 (for CMYK plus white) the heads can be doubled, which doubles production speeds. This upgrade option future-proofs the printer as production output grows. At less than £0.50p/m² the ink running costs are the lowest in its class.

How easy is it to use? 

“Very. Operators can be trained in as little as half a day,” Woodruff says. 

What training and support is on offer?

“We train the operators on site for two to three days,” says Woodruff. “The service package is a three year manufacturer’s warranty with a next day on-site callout, which is included in the purchase price.”

What is the sales target, how many are installed? 

“This is a brand-new model to be launched at Sign & Digital UK 2018,” says Woodruff. “Due to the extremely competitive price, we will be looking to install at least two units per month from June onwards in the UK and likewise in the other major European Countries. We have over 60 KX series Jetrix printers installed in the UK currently.” 


SPECIFICATIONS

Max sheet size 2.5x1.3m

Max sheet thickness 100mm

Vacuum zones 6

Max roll width 2.2m (retrofit)

Ink channels CMYK plus options for dual white, clear varnish and primer

White ink speed 100%

Curing lamps UV-LED (mercury is optional)

Ink drop size 6pl

Resolution range 1,440x360dpi (production), 1,080x720dpi (quality), 1,440x720dpi (fine art)

Speed range 30m2/hr (production), 15m2/hr (quality), 10m2/hr (fine art)

Standard warranty 3 years

Ink price £96 per litre

Price £67,000

Contact InkTec Europe 01993 862770 inktec-europe.com


ALTERNATIVES

Canon Océ Arizona 318 GL

This entry level to the Océ Arizona range still uses mercury lamps. White is available as a factory-order option (higher-up Arizonas can be field-upgraded). The roll-to-roll option can be either a factory order or a field upgrade however.

Max sheet size 2.5x1.25m

Max sheet thickness 48mm

Vacuum zones 6

Colours CMYK plus optional white

Ink drop size 6-42pl

Speed range 6.3-18m2/hr

 Price £69,995

Contact Canon 01737 220000 www.canon.co.uk

Mimaki JFX200-2513

One of the first flatbeds to use UV-LEDs, the JFX200 has proved popular in the market. White ink is available, but not clear or primer. There are options for hard or soft curing inks. Last year a double-sized JFX200-2531 was introduced to allow twin 8x4foot boards to be printed continuously. 

Max sheet size 2.5x1.3m

Max sheet thickness 50mm

Vacuum zones 2

Colours CMYK plus white

Speed range Up to 25m2/hr (12.5m2/hr with white)

Price Around £60,000

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

Roland DG VersaUV LEJ-640FT

Introduced in 2016, this model features paired motors, a portable “handy panel” control panel and integral compressor as the differences over the preceding model. The bed is slightly larger than its rivals and is built for heavy duty work, supporting up to 100kg and thicknesses up to 150mm. 

Max sheet size 1.6x2.5m

Max sheet thickness 150mm

Vacuum zones 4

Colours CMYK plus white and clear gloss

Speed range (full bed) 20 mins (high speed), 40 mins (production) and 60 mins (high quality)

Price £69,999

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

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