Star product: GPT 190s

Barney Cox
Friday, April 12, 2013

A high-speed solvent machine at a price designed to appeal.

What does the machine do?
With the marketing focus in mid-market roll-to-roll wide-format latterly dominated by latex, the launch of a solvent machine stands out. With the 190s, GPT has taken proven technologies from Mimaki and combined them to offer up to 96sqm/hr for less than £25,000.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?
It was announced earlier this year with the big push to come at Sign & Digital UK at the end of the month. "We developed the machine based on customer demand; people told us they wanted to go faster and they wanted a good price. The target customer is an existing solvent printer user with a Mimaki JV3 or JV33 looking for a replacement. For them it is a comfortable upgrade, they know Mimaki technology and ink," says GPT general manager Stuart Cole, who reports that those installing the first machines at the end of this month fit this bill. "It’s not an entry-level machine, someone moving into solvent for the first time is not going to get this," he adds.

How does it work?
It’s a roll-fed inkjet printer with a 1.9m-wide chassis. GPT has taken a Mimaki textile printer, although it is being coy about which one, and filled it with Mimaki’s SS21 solvent inks rather than water-based textile inks. The reason for choosing this particular chassis is because it uses a twin-head configuration, which has double the nozzle density, and therefore double the throughput of the Mimaki JV33.

What is the USP of the product?
The big differentiator is this speed at this price. It’s around £10,000 more expensive than the JV33, although performance is more akin to Mimaki’s JV5, which uses four printheads and is £40,000. While there isn’t a Mimaki at this price point it is an emerging market with rivals offering similar products. GPT has added a number of options including an ink trough to catch waste ink when printing onto un-backed mesh, bulk ink and heavy-duty feed and take-up rollers.

How fast is it?
Flat out it produces 96sqm/hr, but Cole admits that will be an exception rather than a rule. "I don’t expect people to run that fast. It’s like the top speed of a car; you don’t expect to actually drive at that speed," he says. However, for applications where close-up quality isn’t important, such as building wraps and hoardings, it will run at that speed some of the time. A two-pass mode produces 60sqm/hr when there is a need for speed and a bit more quality. The bulk of work will be in the intermediate modes producing 24-36sqm/hr. For the absolute best results it produces 15sqm/hr. To get the two highest throughputs needs a third-party RIP such as Wasatch or Shiraz, rather than the Mimaki RasterLink RIP included with the printer.

How easy is it to use?
For the intended market that already has a wide-format solvent machine it should be a cinch, especially those with a Mimaki.

What training and service support is on offer?
Included in the package are delivery, installation and training, along with a follow up visit a couple of months after installation to sort any outstanding issues.

How much does it cost?
The base machine is £23,000. The pricing for some of the options is yet to be finalised, although Cole estimates that the ink trough will cost £1,000 and the bulk reel kit £3,000. The bulk ink system is a standard Mimaki option, which costs £1,800 up front, but offers savings over the life of the machine. "If you’re investing over £20,000 in a printer bulk ink is a no brainer," says Cole. The saving is equivalent to £12 per cartridge over standard inks, which as a typical JV33 user gets through eight cartridges per month according to Cole, works out at a saving of £96 per month. At that rate the system pays for itself within 19 months. If you assume the 190s produces double the output then the payback time is halved.

How many are installed currently worldwide and in the UK?
So far, GPT has received two orders, although at the time of writing neither had been installed.

SPECIFICATIONS
Width 1.9m
Max speed 96sqm/hr
Ink Mimaki SS21 solvent. 440ml cartridges or 2l bags with bulk ink system
Resolution Up to 1,440dpi
Price Printer, including RasterLink software RIP £23,000
Options Heavy-duty reels £3,000, Mimaki bulk ink system £1,800, ink trough £1,000, RIP PC £850, external RIP from £1,500
Contact GPT 01889 294429 www.g-p-t.co.uk

ALTERNATIVES
Epson SureColor SC-S50600
Launched at Drupa, the SC-S50600 is one of three machines in Epson’s second generation of eco solvent machines, which use its Ultrachrome GS2 inks. Epson stands out from the pack with the addition of white ink to its fast four machine, with two sets
of CMYK.
Width 1.6m
Max speed 51.8sqm/hr
Price £22,950
Contact Epson 0871 423 7766 www.epson.co.uk

Mutoh ValueJet 1638
Launched early last year, the ValueJet 1638 was the first solvent machine to offer the fast-four configuration with staggered printheads. Mutoh is more conservative with its maximum speed rating but everyday production in the range of 24-36sqm/hr compares well.
Width 1.6m
Max speed 48sqm/hr
Price £20,995
Contact Colourgen 01628 588722 www.colourgen.com

Roland DG SolJet Pro4 XF-640
Having teased the market with details of ‘The Beast’, Roland finally unveiled the new machine this month. While the headline speed pips all contenders, typical production speed is 24-30sqm/hr. Like all other machines here it uses a twin staggered printhead and two sets of CMYK.
Width 1.6m
Max speed 102sqm/hr
Price £20,999
Contact Roland DG UK 0845 230 9060 www.rolanddg.co.uk

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