By Courtney Saba
Roll printers between 54 to 60 inches in width are popular among print service providers (PSPs) due to ease of use and low cost of entry. These devices offer quality, reliability, and versatility. A number of models are available for eco-solvent, latex, solvent, sublimation, and UV printing. Each provide features ideal for creating different applications. Manufacturers continue to enhance equipment to cater to PSPs operating at a variety of duty cycles.
Type of PSP
Companies handling all volumes of work adopt and utilize roll-to-roll printers. Choosing the correct width depends on the PSP, type of media, and applications created. The candidates for printers in the 54- to 60-inch range are both entry-level and more experienced PSPs. In both scenarios, the print width delivers on reliability and versatility.
“The typical buyer of this size roll to roll is the owner of a mid-size sign shop with a good amount of workflow that doesn’t necessarily require a heavy-volume, high-production printer, but still wants a reliable, durable performance that will help the business succeed and grow,” explains Eric Zimmerman, product manager, color products, Roland DGA Corporation.
In general, every PSP wants to take advantage of capabilities and upgrade its company’s service offerings. According to Ken VanHorn, director, marketing and business development, Mimaki USA, Inc., smaller shops, franchise storefronts, and in-house operations are all candidates for 54-inch printers because of the all-around versatility and compact footprint offered.
Michelle Johnson, advertising and events manager, Mutoh America, Inc., believes 54-inch wide printers are generally adopted by PSPs either entering the printing industry, expanding their shop’s printing production capabilities, or looking to cater to their allotted work space without disrupting the flow.
54- to 60-inch printers are more than just entry level. “This size printer is ideal for commercial printers looking to add wide format capabilities to their portfolios. Choosing a roll-to-roll printer of this size would allow any company to expand the types of client jobs they can service,” says John Fulena, VP, production printing business group, Ricoh America Corp.
Reasons of Range
PSPs choose printers in this range because they expand capabilities, while simultaneously increasing production efficiencies and revenue. Media type and ease of usage also drive print providers to choose a roll-to-roll printer between 54 to 60 inches.
Price and footprint are two common considerations that effect a decision. “Some PSPs entering the industry may find a 54-inch printer attractive because they are more readily available at a low cost of entry and provide a smaller footprint,” admits Kelly Gornick, marketing communications manager, wide format division, OKI Data Americas.
Oriol Gash, director, large format printing, Hewlett-Packard (HP), also believes this specific range allows smaller print shops to expand printing versatility. Another point of interest is that it also meets the criteria of a smaller print shop’s work area and environment.
Media size is a consideration, whether a print provider realizes it or not. Rolls in this range are easy to manage and install and come in a variety of options. “54- to 60-inch is a popular size because there is a variety of media available to suit a number of application types,” explains VanHorn.
A PSP may choose this size roll-to-roll printer simply because it prints enough flexible material to warrant a designated press specifically for those targeted and popular applications, according to Becky McConnell, associate product marketing manager, graphic systems division, Fujifilm North America Corporation.
The decision whether to purchase one printer over another is also based on duty cycle. A device may be required to run as a 24/7 workhorse or only in operation a few times a week. In the 54- to 60-inch range, duty cycle needs vary.
For example, Johnson points out that not only does it differ from shop to shop, but also on a daily basis for one business. “It can go in waves. Speed and quality go hand in hand. You want a machine that can produce high-quality prints at quick speeds to eliminate the time you spend on one job,” she continues.
Johnson explains that Mutoh printers are made to run all-day, every day and specific features allow operators to get away from the printer and monitor settings from their smartphones—eliminating the need to ‘babysit’ printers.
It is dependent on the environment, according to Gornick. For a business operating at mid- to high-production levels, OKI ColorPainter printers are ideal because they are made to be workhorses, she admits.
“We have many customers running two and three shifts every day—and the key to this is being diligent with the proper maintenance schedule. OKI Data ColorPainter printers want to run, and run often,” shares Gornick.
Here we include information on printers available in the 54- to 60-inch range grouped by ink type.
HP produces two 54-inch roll printers, the HP Latex 110 Printer and HP Latex 310 Printer, which are compatible with latex ink. They feature application capabilities such as banners, self-adhesive vinyl, films, papers, wallcoverings, canvas, synthetics, and fabrics. Both printers output at speeds of 517 square feet per hour (sf/h) in billboard mode, two pass or 54 sf/h in high saturation textile mode.
The Ricoh Pro L4130 is a 54-inch roll to roll that utilizes latex ink and outputs at speeds of up to 184 sf/h. Billboards, banners, outdoor and indoor signage, retail point of sale and point of purchase (POP), exhibition and event graphics, vehicle wraps, and wallcoverings are examples of applications this printer creates. A few features that set this printer apart from the competition include going beyond CMYK with vibrant white and clear ink for a wide color gamut and bold output on clear substrates. This also includes using Ricoh’s latex inks, which are highly durable and can be used on plastic, vinyl, textile, clear film, and backlit material.
Canon U.S.A., Inc. presents the imagePROGRAF iPF9400, a 60-inch roll printer that utilizes a 12-color Lucia EX pigment-based ink set. Compatible media includes coated papers, photographic and glossy paper, banner, and fine art. Canon intended for this machine to be built for artists and photographers that need advanced printing technologies to fulfill a new level of creativity. The imagePROGRAF iPF9400 is equipped with a multi-sensor that ensures improved color density detection and allows for precise calibration and color matching. The company also offers the imagePROGRAF iPF9400S, which is equipped with an eight-color Lucia EX ink set.
HP also makes two 60-inch wide roll printers, the HP DesignJet Z6800 Photo Production Printer and HP DesignJet Z6600 Production Printer. These printers are compatible with pigment-based ink and work with media types such as bond and coated paper, technical paper, film, photographic paper, proofing paper, backlit, self adhesive, banner and sign, as well as fine art printing material. Each prints at speeds of up to 1,500 sf/h. The HP DesignJet Z6800 differentiates itself from the competition with the ability to generate custom ICC profiles for color accuracy and consistency, while the HP DesignJet Z6600 guards against possible media-feed or drop-placement errors.
Mimaki has two roll-to-roll 54-inch printers, the Mimaki CJV300-130 and CJV150-130, which can be configured for dye-sublimation or eco-solvent. While running eco-solvent ink, a printing speed of 991 sf/h is achieved by the Mimaki CJV300-130 and 520 sf/h with the Mimaki CJV150-130. These printers differentiate from the competition with new printheads that have waveform technology for precise dot placement and white ink for printing on transparent media or non-white media—metallic or colored vinyl. Orange inks are available, as well as a new silver ink that is brighter than the previous formula and can be used to create 648 metallic colors. There is also an integrated contour cut capability for easy handling and finishing.
Mutoh’s ValueJet 1324X is a 54-inch eco-solvent roll-to-roll printer. It creates applications such as banners, decals, outdoor and indoor signage, stickers, and vehicle wraps. With printing speeds of up to 565 sf/h, this printer differentiates itself from the competition with Mutoh Smart Printing Technology, which offers features such as checking the printer’s status, process control, and color management from a smartphone; eliminating banding; and creating a custom ecommerce website.
OKI Data’s ColorPainter W-54s prints at 191 sf/h in high-speed print mode. The 54-inch device uses low-solvent GX ink or IX ink—equipped with no hazardous air pollutants. Unique to this printer line is the option to utilize fluorescent inks, which can be printed not only as a spot color but as part of traditional CMYK process color as well.
Roland produces the VersaCAMM VS-540i and the VersaCAMM SP-540i, both of which are 54-inch wide format printers/cutters using eco-solvent inks. The VersaCAMM VS-540i creates applications which include signs, banners, vehicle graphics and wraps, fine art posters, labels and decals, packaging prototypes, POP displays, and apparel heat transfers. It features advanced printhead technology, productivity, and integrated contour cutting. The VersaCAMM SP-540i similarly creates signs, labels and decals, banners, posters, vehicle graphics, and apparel decoration. This roll to roll offers simple applications and features, differentiating itself from the competition with affordability, versatility, automated maintenance, reliability, and integrated contour cutting.
In addition to the previously listed 54-inch Roland roll-to-roll printers, the company also offers the VersaUV LEC-540 wide format UV printer/cutter, which uses UV ink. Typical applications include package prototypes, color proofs, short-run labels, specialty graphics, window graphics, wall wraps, trade show displays, and interior décor. It offers the ability to print directly on almost any type of substrate and create realistic package prototypes. CMYK plus white and clear ECO-UV inks offer unique varnish and effects. It creases and cuts in one seamless workflow.
Roll to Roll
The 54- to 60-inch width range of printers is one of the sweet spots for PSPs because the equipment is large enough to output multiple wide format applications, and also compact enough for smaller sized shops. These devices offer efficiencies for PSPs of all sizes.
Mar2016, Digital Output