Digital Printers Feature - May/June 2013

Mimaki Latex Wide Format printing delivers new business advantage to print providers

By Stuart Cole, General Manager, Graphic Printing Technologies

Stuart Cole

Print providers and sign-makers are under increasing pressure to grow their businesses while improving productivity, reducing costs and meeting customer needs for fast, high quality and cost-effective output.

They need solutions that not only provide economic benefits and support business growth initiatives, but also offer an environmentally friendly and safe method of printing.

Many print providers rely on tried and tested wide format printers using solvent inks to make printed media capable of quality displays that can withstand harsh weather and outdoor conditions. While effective in producing durable outdoor media that retains its quality finish, petroleum-based solvent inks are not as environmentally friendly as some would want, and require consideration when utilising to ensure proper ventilation and time for the drying/degassing phase.

The introduction of Latex wide format printing offers an alternative solution and the new JV400 printer from Mimaki delivers the superior image quality, speed and reliability needed to handle growing print volumes and reach untapped new markets.

Latex printing offers the significant advantage of producing prints that are ready to finish or use immediately. Removing drying/ degassing times mean print providers can deliver high quality, vivid print in a very much shorter amount of time compared with solvent ink printing.

Mimaki JV-400

Additionally, water-based latex ink is odourless and does not release solvent into the environment making it an environmentally friendly and safe printing solution. Mimaki has taken the green credentials of its JV400 latex printer range one step further by utilising recyclable ink sacks so there is minimal wastage.

The Mimaki JV400 latex printer range offers print providers a wealth of benefits. The new printer range runs significantly cooler (60 degrees) than other manufacturers' Latex printers and therefore is able to print on a wider range of materials and can be left unattended for overnight printing. In addition to the lower running temperature, the JV400 printer has low power consumption and is cost-effective to run due to its Piezo print head technology. Compared with competitive thermal ink printers which require ongoing disposal of print heads, the ongoing costs are significantly lower.

Flexibility is also a key factor with the new Mimaki range. The JV400's ink cartridge changeover can be done while the printer is still running, so there is no downtime in production.

The Mimaki range uses Piezo print heads which last considerably longer than thermal cartridges. In addition, the Piezo offers variable dot print heads with a drop size down to four picolitre, which gives better graduations and skin tones.

Mimaki's new latex printers are also the first to feature a white ink set that complements the machine's other colours. It can print three layers simultaneously to give colour/white/colour for perfectly registered double sided clear image print, typically required for window film applications.

The vast benefits of the new Mimaki latex printer range are driving new opportunities for Print providers. While wide format printers that use solvent inks still have their place in producing durable outdoor media, Mimaki latex printers offer an efficient, environmentally friendly and safe alternative.

For more information on GPT and future events, call GPT on 01189 29 44 29 or visit

Latest developments in Wide Format technology

By Rob Goleniowski, Business Manager - Sign & Graphics, Roland DG

Rob Goleniowski - Roland DG

As we head rapidly towards the summer of 2013, the industry is definitely moving through a period of evolution not revolution. It's part of the natural cycle of any industry, but evolution doesn't have to mean that forward movement is significantly curtailed or slowed. In fact, quite the opposite is often the case.

Evolutionary periods are critical as they provide focus for manufacturers and time to assess the market and consider trends and how those trends are impacting on technology and the way customers use it. Revolution on the other hand, can often create distraction and can be counter-productive if not managed well, as everyone tries to chase the next big thing, with huge resources being drained into new, 'revolutionary' products.

It is actually evolutionary periods where the big improvements in technology often come as small incremental changes join together to make a big difference to a customer's production ability and commercial success. And, it is exactly this strategy that is behind the launching of two new 64 inch Roland machines in just the last nine months.

In September last year, we launched our SOLJET PRO4 XR-640 into the UK market. The 64 inch printer/cutter has been a great commercial success so far. At the time, it was the industry's first printer/cutter to offer so much power and versatility, and had been designed to maximise profitability when producing banners, signage, POP, decals, labels, vehicle graphics, backlit displays, building wraps, package prototypes and photographic reproductions.

The XR-640 is available in both seven and eight ink configurations and compatible with Roland's latest Eco-Sol MAX 2 ink technology. It comes with a choice of nine ink colours – CMYK, light magenta, light cyan, white, metallic silver and light black, delivering an expanded colour gamut and the ultimate in print quality and colour reproduction.

These new high-density inks, when combined with the power of the XR-640, have provided sign makers and designers with the tools to unleash their creativity and develop exciting and profitable applications. And, although considered an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary product, the XR-640 was a strong step forward in terms of productivity, print head technology and substrate flexibility.

This was followed up earlier this year, when we also launched our new 64-inch SOLJET PRO4 XF-640 printer, which had its first official outing at Sign & Digital UK in April.

The New Roland SolJet Pro4 XF-640 printer

Those who missed it there will be able to see it at the FESPA exhibition in the ExCeL centre in June. The new XF-640 is Roland's fastest wide format printer to date and in our view has significantly raised the game in terms the speed and quality. The XF-640 incorporates next generation dual print heads, runs at a maximum print speed of 102m²/hr and is an ideal high production machine for a host of durable, high quality outdoor and indoor applications including signs, banners, vehicle wraps, window graphics, POP displays, exhibition show graphics and posters.

The new machine also benefits from a redesigned take-up system and pinch roller system, and like its cousin, the XF-640 is also compatible with Roland's Eco-Sol MAX 2 eco-solvent inks, has an expanded colour gamut and fast drying times to further boost production. The machine's dual mirrored CMYK ink configuration also virtually eliminates banding, assisting with clean and consistent colour imaging.

Perhaps the best example of all in the wide format sector of a product that has gone from revolution to constant evolution is our VersaCAMM family of printer/cutters. When we introduced the VersaCAMM in 2003 it was a true revolution in wide format printing and is now the world's most popular wide format printer. When launched, the VersaCAMM's print and cut functionality transformed both the way the industry thought about wide format printing and what a wide format printer could be used for. And, in the ten years since its launch, it has continued to evolve year on year to meet the needs of our customers, meaning even today, it remains on the cutting edge of wide format printing and the machine of choice for many sign makers and printers.

The VersaCAMM has always been set at a price point that provides an outstanding return on investment but without compromising on innovation. All machines in the family, from the SP-300i/540i to the VS series strike a beautiful balance between speed and quality and most importantly just keep going and going. Confidence is a critical factor that must sit behind any investment in technology, because if you trust the technology supporting your business, you'll have the confidence to drive it forward. The VersaCAMM has given thousands of sign makers exactly that for over a decade.

Roland SolJet Pro4 XR-640

With the launching of the XR-640 and XF-640, we now have one of the most extensive portfolios in the market, from the entry level BN-20 desktop printer and VersaCAMM SP-i and VS series through to the VersaArt™ RE-640 production workhorse and right up to the VersaUV LEC Series for high end proofing and package prototyping, 3D and layered effects and textures. But succeeding in today's highly competitive and ondemand world requires so much more than just great technology. It's also about everything that's wrapped around it, and key to that is the right levels of service and support and on-going education to ensure your company keeps abreast of trends so you can maximise your return on investment.

This has always been a central tenet of our philosophy at Roland and can be seen in our market-leading RolandCare service and support packages as well as our extensive Roland Creative Centre in Clevedon and our Roland Academy in Walsall College which is now into its seventh year of educating the industry.

For me, today's wide format market is an inspiring place to be, and it's the outstanding marriage of technology and people that have made it so. It's fast moving, innovative and forward thinking, with a level of creativity that is only limited by our own imaginations. And, healthy competition aside, we're all working towards the same goal - to get wide format to the top table of the printing and graphics industry. A quick glance outside at all the bold and vibrant signs, POS and banners and creative vehicle and building wraps that span any city would suggest we're already there.

For more information please call 0845 230 9060 or visit

Opening the door to digitally-printed design

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By Arzu Ilhan Babaoglu, General Manager, Large-format Printing, Sign & Display, EMEA, HP

Arzu Ilhan Babaoglu

There is a nearly limitless realm of design possibilities just waiting to be explored by forward-thinking designers and manufacturers – one you may have never even considered. This emerging opportunity lies in unique, customised design pieces you can create using the latest digital printing technologies from companies like HP.

Digital printing puts custom-printed wallcoverings, curtains, rugs, lampshades, pillow covers, ceiling tiles, ceramics, glass and wood within reach. With this wide variety of substrates and digital artwork available, you are no longer limited by what can or cannot be printed, but by your imagination.

Pushing boundaries with digital printing

In a highly competitive and commoditised world, design is becoming a key way for brands to differentiate themselves. They want to provide a unique experience, touching everything from the product itself to the shopping experience, and they want their stores to deliver this same look and feel. Restaurants and hotels are also investing to create environments that make the stay unique. And consumers are looking to add their personal touch to favourite objects or spaces, be it their gadgets, cars or rooms.

The new printing technologies help address this increasing demand for one-of-akind designs built around a brand image or reflecting individual tastes, changing the scope of design.

To demonstrate this, HP recently partnered with world-renowned designer Karim Rashid to create a lounge area in HP's exhibition booth at Heimtextil that would inspire visitors and show off the possibilities of digital printing.

Karim Rashid comments: "When I designed the HP lounge at Heimtextil, I decided I would try to exploit all the possible materials and substrates that could be printed with the HP technology. I thought about flooring, textiles, wallpaper, decorative surfaces, the ceiling and even lamps. Digital technology is a beautiful way to bring radical ideas to life and push boundaries; but at a practical level, it also lets you very quickly print an entire floor or wall to have clients experience and approve a project immediately before production."

Example of design work

Digital makes the difference

Digital printing not only fits with today's design process because of its flexibility, but it also saves time, inventory costs and reduces waste. Traditionally, printed wallcovering and textile manufacturers have relied on analogue printing equipment to produce high volumes of a single print or style at the same time.

These analogue devices require an elaborate plate-making process before printing can begin and thousands of copies must be produced to make money. With digital printing, you can create wallcoverings for a single customer or a retail chain, printing only what is needed, when it is needed. Beyond production of final design pieces, digital printing technologies like HP Latex Ink solutions are also changing the way manufacturers and high-volume design firms proof projects. HP Latex Printing Technologies can print on cotton, polyester, coated and uncoated materials, so you can proof directly to the production substrate rather than paper. By printing to the production substrate, both you and your clients can get an exact idea of how the final output will look.

In addition to reducing waste, today's digital printing technologies can help designers and manufacturers show clients that the printed output meets high environmental standards, suitable for use in restaurants, medical facilities and even schools. For instance, water-based HP Latex Inks produce odourless prints and have achieved the UL Sustainable Product Certification. Wallcoverings produced using HP Latex Inks on HP PVC-free Wall Paper are GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certified, meet AgBB criteria and can help building owners obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits.

Print what you never thought possible

If you are interested in exploring digitally printed design, getting started may be easier than you think. The first step is to begin thinking about design projects as if the option to print on the floor, walls, ceilings and everything in between is a realistic option. When you are ready to print, a local print service provider with HP flatbed devices can print to rigid materials including wood, metals, glass and much more, and those with HP Latex technology can print on a wide variety of flexible substrates. With HP media, you have a broad range of substrates available for use with HP Latex inks, including HP PVC-free Wall Paper.

For manufacturers or large design firms, bringing these printers in house may prove more cost effective, particularly as new software options become available that go beyond printing. HP Latex users can now co-design wallcoverings with clients through the cloud-based HP WallArt Solution. This tool lets those new to wallcoverings easily manipulate designs around windows or doors with great detail.

Digital printing technologies are bringing new design opportunities to life for designers willing to print what they never thought possible. By using HP technology, you can express your creativity and create customised pieces in a more efficient way to match the demanding needs of today's buyer.

For more information please visit

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