Star product: Epson SureColor SC-P20000

Simon Eccles
Monday, March 7, 2016

Epson’s latest addition to its SureColor wide-format range is its biggest and fastest to date.

What does the printer do?

This is the largest and fastest Epson wide-format aqueous inkjet printer to date. It is being publicly shown for the first time at Fespa this week, with availability shortly after. It is destined to replace the Epson Stylus Pro 11880, one of the last of the old but hugely successful Stylus Pro models. 

The new printer has the same 64in (1,625mm) media width and 2,440x1,200dpi maximum resolution as the 11880. However, everything else has changed – there is a new, high-quality wider-swathe inkjet printhead that means it is more than three times as fast as the 11880, the paper feed consistency is improved and there is a new Ultrachrome Pro K4 ink set with extra greys. 

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

Shipping date is 3 March, although it was announced in January. Epson is also taking the opportunity to announce the SC-P10000 this week, with the same new hardware and ink but in a 44in width. This will ship in May. 

This is the latest of Epson’s SC-P series production printers – others are available in 24in and 44in widths. Target markets include commercial printers, copy shops, photo labs and high-street photo outlets. It can be used to produce high-quality large-format POS, short-term outdoor and interior signage, exhibition and display graphics, promotional graphics and photographs. The aqueous ink means that the primary media will be paper-based, though photo canvases and other media with aqueous-accepting coatings will run. 

How does it work? 

The SC-P20000 marks the first use of a new wide-swathe PrecisionCore MicroTFP grayscale printhead. Earlier PrecisionCore heads are 25mm wide, where the new one is 267mm with two staggered rows of nozzles. The 11880 has 3,600 nozzles per colour; the new model has 8,000. The much wider swathe-per-head pass contributes to the speed increase. 

Improved processing power means time between large prints is just 20 seconds. 

Also new is the high-precision media roll feed technology, including a new camera-based paper feed stabiliser and media inductive roller system. The camera reads the media surface and detects speed variations as the roll unwinds. These are compensated for in the “real-time tension control” to give a consistent and smooth feed, even when running unattended.

Sheet feeding is also possible and there is a straight through slot to take single sheets of thin card or foam board. 

The new Ultrachrome Pro K4 ink set is similar to the smaller SC-P6000, 7000 and 8000 models, except there are 10 inks, not nine. There is the usual CMY, photo black and matt black, light cyan, light vivid magenta, and now three greys instead of two, called dark grey, grey and light grey. It’s the extra grey that’s new. Unlike the smaller SC-P7000 and 9000 models announced last year, there is no violet ink option for gamut-extension.

During printing, a transparent printer cover window and roll cover window gives users a quick visual check for obvious problems and remaining media. The printhead parking position lets the user access it for cleaning, along with the ink cap. 

How productive is it?

Epson hasn’t revealed speed across the full range of settings, but it’s saying that at 600dpi and six passes it produces “sellable product” at 17.5m2/hr, according to Phil McMullin, Epson’s UK sales manager for pro graphics. An 11880 with the same settings prints just 5.8m2/hr, he says.

Are there any options or accessories?

An internal 320GB hard drive is optional for storing repeat jobs. There’s also an Adobe PDF/PostScript support option. Third-party RIPs can be bought separately. 

What is the USP?

“It’s the highest possible quality at the highest possible speed in a 64in aqueous printer,” says McMullin.

How easy is it to use?

Epson supports most of the common wide-format RIP vendors. It no longer supplies its own RIP, but a standard printer driver offers decent control if needed. 

What training and service support offered?

Epson will train users at its Hemel Hempstead UK site if they want, but normally this is carried out by “partner” dealers as a value-added service. 

How much does it cost and what are the sales targets?

The price is to be revealed this week at Fespa, and while McMullin won’t reveal sales targets, he says: “We expect this printer to be very successful and to wow people at Fespa, and build up from there.” So far there are no commercial installations, and no beta sites in the UK. There is an SC-P20000 in the Epson UK showroom in Hemel Hempstead, and more demo units are being delivered to the UK distributors Colourgen and CU. 


SPECIFICATIONS

Max media width 64in (1,626mm)

Max resolution 2,400x1,200dpi

Min cut sheet A4

Max rigid media thickness 1.5mm

Speed 17.5m2/hr at 600x600dpi

Feed Roll-to-sheet, roll-to-roll, sheet, card slot

Printheads Wide-swathe Epson piezo greyscale PrecisionCore microTFP

Ink type Aqueous Epson Ultrachrome Pro K4

Colours 10: CMY, light cyan, light vivid magenta, photo black, matt black, dark grey, grey, light grey

Connectivity Ethernet

Options Auto take up reel, 320GB hard drive, Adobe PostScript module

Price To be announced at Fespa

Contact Epson UK 01442 261144 www.epson.co.uk


ALTERNATIVES

Canon imagePrograf iPF9400

The widest Canon photo-quality inkjet offers 12 colours for a wide gamut and smooth greys. There is borderless edge-to-edge printing on rolls. Front loading of rolls and sheets is possible. 

Media width 60in (1,524mm)

Ink Aqueous Canon Lucia EX 12

Colours 12: CMY, photo black, matt black, light magenta, light cyan, light grey, grey, RGB

Printheads Canon thermal, 4pl drops non-greyscale

Resolutions Up to 2,400x1,200dpi

Speed A0 sheet in 6 mins in standard quality or 9.2 mins in high quality with photo paper

Footprint 2,299x766mm

Connectivity Ethernet, USB

Price Around £7,000

Contact Canon 01737 220000 www.canon.co.uk

HP DesignJet Z6800

Widest of the DesignJet Z-series photo quality printers, this roll-fed model is narrower but slightly faster than the Epson in high-quality mode. Like the Epson it has wide-swathe heads and an optical media advance system. A full width scanner is optional, as is a PDF/PostScript upgrade. 

Media width 60in (1,524mm)

Ink HP aqueous pigment, eight colours

Ink tanks 775ml

Printheads HP thermal inkjet, 4pl and 6pl

Resolutions Up to 1,200x2,400dpi

Colours MY, matt black, photo black, light grey, light cyan, light magenta, chromatic red

Speed 19.7m2/hr on gloss media

Footprint 2,430x690mm

Connectivity Ethernet, HP JetDirect

Price £13,300

Contact HP 0800 408 0784 www.hp.com

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