Inca Columbia Turbo

Nosmot Gbadamosi
Thursday, October 29, 2009

Digital is an attractive option for screen printers aiming to diversify and this press is popular with those making the switch, finds Nosmot Gbadamosi


In these hard times, diversifying into new markets is one way to safeguard a business and the large-format sector has proved a popular outlet. Digital large-format is a particularly attractive option as the equipment is straightforward to operate. Inca Digital launched its Eagle and Columbia machines in 2001.

First out of the blocks was the Eagle 44, the first digital flatbed printer with a moving bed. Then, in 2004, it launched its Columbia Turbo to supersede the Columbia previously unveiled in 2003.

The Turbo incorporates many of Inca's early innovations, including the moving bed. Compared to the Dimatix Spectra Galaxy printheads, used in the original Columbia, the Turbo's Dimatix Spectra SE printheads are slimmer and can eject faster. This means it can print at speeds of 160m2 per hour, an increase on its predecessor's 120m2 per hour.

Joint effort
Inca's partner in the flatbed printing sector is Fujifilm Sericol. The company develops the UV inks used in Inca's machines and also distributes the flatbed printers worldwide. Heather Kendle, director of marketing for Inca Digital Printers, explains that the Turbo was designed to move with the times. "The printhead technology changed, allowing machines to be run faster and the Columbia Turbo became the fastest printer on the market at the time - a position it held until Spring 2007 when Inca launched the Onset," she says.  

Rivals include the Nur Tempo, now part of HP, while Durst also has a number of printers aimed at the market, from the original Rho through to the Pictor. Elsewhere, EFI Vutek has its PressVu series. Despite such intense competition, the Columbia Turbo became Inca's best-selling product, with a large number of installations in both Europe and North America.

The printer can handle sheet sizes up to 3.2x1.6m wide, with a thickness of up to 40mm. "The machine is excellent at handling a range of sheet materials whether printing for front-lit and back-lit applications or double-sided print," adds Kendle.

The flatbed table of the machine moves as the substrate is rested on a vacuum table that runs on a linear motor mounted on a robust tubular frame. Using 64 Spectra heads, images can be printed at three variable speeds of up to 160m2 per hour direct onto substrates without special coatings. And because of its register accuracy, images can also be printed
to bleed.

The Turbo was a four-colour machine until autumn 2007, when the Turbo Plus was introduced with the option of six- or four-colour plus white. Since its launch, there has been no fundamental changes to the machine and production on the Turbo stopped when the Turbo Plus was introduced. New features on the Plus are not retrofittable to the Turbo.

The manufacturer supplies spare parts up to five years after it stops manufacturing a machine. A range of support contracts are available, ranging from on-demand call outs, to a fully supported parts and labour offer. Inca does not sell used equipment directly, but machines can be bought via its distributor, Fujifilm Sericol. If you're looking to buy a Turbo, Inca recommends an audit be carried out on the machine.

 "The basic cost of the machine is only one element in the transfer cost," adds Kendle. "The transportation, de-installation and re-installation are all critical to the transfer. The condition of the printheads will also be significant as having to change them could double to the cost of the machine."


Specifications
Speed 160m2 per hour
Format 3.2x1.6m
Max substrate thickness 40mm
Resolution 800x1,200dpi
RIP Wasatch SoftRIP version 5.0
Footprint 3.2x9.45m
Weight 4tonnes
Price Used: £75,000-£100,000
What to look for

  • Service history
  • Machine audit
  • Printheads
  • Damaged bed

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