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Setting Precedents

New Wide Format Printers

Part 1 of 4

By Gretchen A. Peck

Digital wide format manufacturers unveiled exciting new technologies throughout the year—solutions to suit virtually every business model and every job that comes through the door.

Big print is still very much in demand—whether it’s building wraps and billboards, fine art reproductions and interior décor, or vehicle and trade show graphics. In the past year alone, dozens of print manufacturers introduced new print engine lines, updated existing models, and built machines that are unprecedented and support emerging applications.

In less than a year, for example, Epson debuted four new wide format printers in the 24- to 100-inch wide range—the Epson Stylus Pro 11880, Epson Stylus Pro 9880, and Epson Stylus Pro 7880. Most recently, Epson introduced the Epson Stylus Pro GS6000.

"This year, Epson entered the outdoor commercial printing industry with the introduction of the Epson Stylus Pro GS6000," explains Reed Hecht, product manager, Epson Professional Imaging. "In introducing this printer, we took our industry-leading image quality in the photography and prepress industries and became poised to dramatically impact the professional sign making market."

"The Stylus Pro GS6000, featuring Epson UltraChrome GS ink—a new solvent-based ink technology with eight individual colors—produces the industry’s widest color gamut on solvent-based media," Hecht adds. "It is also the fastest 64-inch wide roll-to-roll printer in its class, with print speeds of up to 340 square feet per hour (sf/h) for banner-quality printing, up to 180 sf/h for everyday production, and up to 91 sf/h for photographic signage output.

"We worked very closely with the industry, for guidance, to ensure that it exceeds the needs of today’s commercial outdoor printers," Hecht asserts. "The result is a printer that helps sign makers maximize profits while gaining competitive advantages with superior quality, performance, and reliability, with low impact on the environment and worker health."

Another manufacturer, Raster Printers, Inc., has two relatively new UV-curable printers, the Daytona H700UV Hybrid Flatbed printer and the Daytona T600UV Flatbed Printer.

"Our Daytona H7000UV printer is the first sub-$100,000 printer to offer photographic image quality—from grayscale heads—white ink support, and a vacuum belt media transport capable of handling up to 100 pounds in weight," notes Rak Kumar, founder/CEO, Raster Printers, Inc. This UV-curable flatbed printer creates output at 320 sf/h and handles both rigid and roll media up to 72 inches wide.

Similar to Raster’s H7000UV is the Daytona T600UV. "The first sub-$100,000, fixed-vacuum table printer to offer photographic image quality—from grayscale MEMs heads—white ink support, and excellent dot registration down to two-point text," Kumar proudly notes. With its very small footprint, the printer runs at speeds up to 480 sf/h.

Epson and Raster Printers, Inc. are just two wide format printer manufacturers stepping into unknown territory. They maneuvered their devices to success despite the challenges of adjusting to an unfamiliar market. Next week, learn how several wide format printer manufacturers are rounding out their existing product lines.

Jun2008, Digital Output

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