Star product: EFI Vutek h3

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Monday 26 November 2018

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A next generation mid-range hybrid built entirely from the ground up.

star-efi-vutek-h3

What does it do?

The belt-driven 3.2m-wide h3 is built to sit above the GS and just below the HS in EFI’s Vutek printer portfolio, but is a completely new hybrid platform that is not based on either.

With three rows of Ricoh Gen 5 printheads that have a minimum drop size of 7pl and operate in greyscale mode, the 10-channel machine can print up to nine layers in a single pass and runs at up to 1,200dpi. It is one-day field upgradable to the h5 configuration, which has five rows of heads and will be available in early 2019.

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

Launched at Fespa 2018 in Berlin, Germany in May and commercialised in June, the h3 is targeted at the sign and display market, specifically high-quality graphics, OOH and POS applications.

How does it work?

The h3 can run either CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, light yellow, light black and double white, or double CMYK for faster speeds. The operator selects either eight- or four-colour mode, with the light channels then automatically filled from the CMYK containers to optimise productivity. The printer runs an established EFI inkset specially tuned for the h series and curing is by means of LEDs.

Mechanical crash detection sits on both sides of the carriage, which, if triggered, will stop the carriage and abort the print. Wrinkle detection and media height measurement offer additional printing accuracy and consistency.

Additionally, ImageEdge technology enables fast and easy printhead replacement while built in power monitoring facilitates remote and on-site diagnostic troubleshooting.

EFI product manager for mid-volume hybrid printers Thomas Krumm says software support is due in the next version of the manufacturer’s Fiery digital front-end. It will feature application-based layer generation that will allow users to select the type of application they are doing via Fiery.

What’s the USP?

The h3 features new standards from the standpoints of reliability, serviceability, ease of use, functionality, quality, productivity and expandability, according to Krumm: “We didn’t just want to make something higher quality and faster, we wanted to have a leap in the technology and capabilities of the printer.”

How does it differ from previous models?

No area of the printer was left unchanged, Krumm says: “It features an expandable architecture, new motion technology, new belt technology, new imaging technology, a new ink delivery system, a completely new electrical infrastructure on the printer, new automation, new software innovation, new cloud services and a new industrial design.”

How fast is it?

The h3 can print at a maximum speed of 288m²/hr or 74 1.2x2.4m boards/hr. The h5 will be able to reach speeds of up to 362m²/hr or 109 1.2x2.4m boards/hr.

How easy is it to use?

A raft of features are included to make life easier for the user. There are touchscreen monitors on the printer’s input and output side while an automated table and carriage alignment allows for faster setup and reduces printer alignment time.

Media handling options include three-quarter automated media loading and stacking systems, super duty winders and rewinders, and standard heavy-duty material handling tables, available both with and without rollers. Krumm says full-automation capability will follow with the release of the h5.

A new cable carrier design, meanwhile, enables easier serviceability and access to cables.

What training and support is on offer?

A standard five-day training programme can be supplemented with add-on modules ranging from colour management to advanced service training. EFI vice-president of marketing for inkjet Ken Hanulec adds training can be tailored to customers’ specific requirements: “Some customers have their own in-house engineering team, so we’ll train them to be the frontline and we will be the second line.”

How much does it cost?

From £349,000.

How many have been installed?

There have been 16 installations, to the end of October, including five in Europe. One of these has been bought by an as- yet-unnamed UK customer. Hanulec says the majority of early adopters have bought the printer with a view to having it upgraded to the h5 configuration. 


SPECIFICATIONS

Process LED inkjet

Type Hybrid

Throughput Up to 288m2/hr or 74 1.2x2.4m boards/hr

Max print width 3.2m

Max media thickness 50.8mm

Multi-roll capability Two 1.52m rolls

Max resolution 1,200dpi

Printheads Ricoh Gen5s

Colours CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, light yellow, light black and double white or double CMYK for faster speed

Automated media handling Wide heavy-duty and roller tables, material edge guides, three-quarter automated media loader and stacker, super duty winder and rewinder

Price From £349,000

Contact EFI 01246 298000 www.efi.com


ALTERNATIVES

Agfa Jeti Tauro H3300 LED

The 3.3m-wide H3300 LED is available as a roll-to-roll system or with manual loading and unloading, semi-automation or full automation. It can print at resolutions up to 635x1,200dpi.

Throughput Up to 453m2/hr

Colours CMYK, light cyan, light black plus white and primer

Price From £500,000 depending on configuration

Contact Agfa Graphics 020 8231 4983 www.agfagraphics.co.uk

Durst Rho P10 250 HS Plus

This 2.5m-wide hybrid can achieve a print quality of 1,000dpi without loss of speed. It includes an advanced application for roll-to-roll double-sided printing.

Throughput Up to 400m2/hr

Colours CMYK as standard; light cyan, light magenta, orange, violet, white optional

Price From £300,000 depending on configuration

Contact Durst UK 01372 388540 www.durst-group.com

HP Latex R2000

HP’s first hybrid to use its Latex technology, this 2.5m-wide machine is designed to print at a lower temperature in order to allow for a wider choice of media.

Throughput Up to 88m2/hr

Colours CMYK, light cyan, light magenta, white, optimiser, overcoat/anti scratch

Price £242,000

Contact HP 0800 408 43 48 www.hp.com or via Adapt/Amari Digital www.amaridigital.com 


USER REVIEW

“The advancements in technology in the EFI Vutek h3 are quite impressive. The improvements and novelties in the machine make the day-to-day use easier and more productive” 5/5

László Baran Chief executive, Béflex, Hungary

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