Star product: BigPrinter BigJet UV 2031i

By Nessan Cleary, Monday 10 June 2019

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A solidly built flatbed with attractive pricing from Russia.

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What does it do?

The BigJet is a wide-format flatbed printer, with a large 3.1x2.02m bed that takes substrates up to 105mm in height and 50kg in weight. The bed itself is divided into four vacuum zones. It’s been designed and built by a Russian company, BigPrinter, which started off as a reseller for well-known wide-format brands into the Russian market, before building its own range of CNC cutters followed by a range of printers.

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

The BigJet printer itself has been sold in the Russian market for around two years but is only just becoming available in the British Isles, having been taken on by a local reseller, Conversion-UK. 

It’s available in two versions, with the Standard model competing against entry-level flatbed printers while the Professional version is targeting the mid-market where in both cases it offers a solid build quality for a competitive price.

In addition, it can print directly to glass without needing a primer and can achieve some very nice tactile effects. 

How does it work?

It’s a UV flatbed, using conventional curing lamps with air cooling on the carriage to keep the media from overheating.

It takes up to eight heads for CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, white and varnish in whatever configuration is required. 

It’s fitted with Konica Minolta 1024i heads, with a choice between 6pl or 13pl native drop sizes, giving users a choice between better image quality or faster speeds. These are greyscale heads, with up to eight levels from 0 to 42pl. 

How do the models differ?

The BigJet is available in two versions. The Standard configuration uses 120W UV lamps and comes with a PhotoPrint RIP. It has a recirculation system for white ink.

The Professional variant gains a number of advantages, including much more powerful 200W lamps. It also has a linear motor for moving the print carriage on the X-axis as well as linear encoders for the X and Y axis. The white channels are fitted with a slightly different version of the 1024i heads to extend the recirculating system through the printheads. 

There is a smaller LS model available in Russia and due to arrive in the UK later this year. This has a 2.7x1.3m bed and LED curing and should be cheaper.

How fast is it? 

For the Standard version, the 6pl heads produce 20-28m²/hr with a maximum resolution of 1,016x1,440dpi, while the 13pl versions print at 21-30m²/hr with resolution up to 720x1,440dpi.

For the Professional version, Print speeds for the 6pl heads range from 28-39m²/hr at 1,270x1,440 dpi while the 13pl version runs at 30-43m²/hr with resolution up to 1,016x1,440dpi. 

What is the USP?

That they are solidly built machines at a reasonably low price. Colin Price, one of the partners in Conversion-UK, says that the build quality of the Standard machine rivals all the other mid-range belt-driven machines but at a lower price. He adds that the Professional model includes many other features normally associated with more expensive machines, including the use of a linear drive for the movement of the print carriage, with a Renishaw Gold linear encoder accurate to 1 micron for positional accuracy and two more of these encoders both sides of the machine for crossbeam positional accuracy. He states: “So for front or back printing the machine can control both ends of the crossbeam to ensure perfect accuracy.”

How easy is it to use?

The installation including training normally takes four or five days. Conversion-UK says that everything on the Bigjet is accessible for easy cleaning and maintenance. 

What training and support is on offer?

The price includes a 12-month warranty covering all parts and labour on the machine, excluding printheads.

Conversion works with Dennison Group, which provides installation and support, including 20 field engineers. Dennison can respond to calls or emails within an hour, during office hours.

How much does it cost? 

Depending on requirements, the Standard model starts at £88,000 for four colours, rising to £105,000 for eight colours. The Professional starts at £122,000 for four colours; £142,000 for eight colours.

There isn’t a roll-fed option but Price says that it’s possible to package a flatbed machine with a 3.2m roll-to-roll machine for a competitive price.

What is the sales target in the UK?

There are roughly 150 of these printers running in Russia. Price says: “I do believe there is a gap in the market for a quality machine at an affordable price point. Machines have to offer a payback and Big Printer gives a faster payback through a lower investment level, without compromising quality.” 


SPECIFICATIONS

Bed size 3.1x2.02m

Max speed Standard: 30m²/hr; Professional: 43m²/hr

Max resolution Standard: 1,016x1,440dpi; Professional: 1,270x1,440dpi

Number of colours 4-8

UV or LED UV

Vacuum zones Four

Price Standard: from £88,000; Professional: from £122,000

Contact details Conversion UK 07786 021715 www.conversion-uk.co.uk 


ALTERNATIVES

Mimaki JFX 500-2131

A larger version of the popular entry-level JFX200 series, with the option to run two sets of CMYK or CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, white and primer.

Bed size 3,1x2.1m

Max speed 60m²/hr

Max resolution 1,200dpi

Number of colours 4-8

UV or LED LED

Price From £115,995

Contact details Hybrid services 01270 501900 www.hybridservices.co.uk

Inktec Jetrix LXi7

Inktec’s Jetrix printers are proven performers, with an inkset that will adhere to most substrates including glass without priming. 

Bed size 2.5x3.06m

Max speed 78m²/hr

Max resolution 1,080x7,20dpi

Number of colours 6-8

UV or LED LED

Price From £130,000

Contact details Inktec Europe 01993 862770 www.inktec-europe.com

SwissQprint Oryx

The Oryx has a smaller bed size but can be configured with a board extension option. 

Bed size 2.5x2m

Max speed 65m²/hr

Max resolution 1,080dpi

Number of colours 4-9

UV or LED LED

Price From £130,000

Contact details Spandex UK 0800 772633 www.spandex.com 

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