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Nov 1, 2006 12:00 AM


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Show Review

Las Vegas was the charm for SGIA as attendees welcomed superfast machines and a greater emphasis on color management. Although previous SGIA confabs have been beset by bad luck and natural disasters, it was smooth sailing for SGIA 06. The record-breaking show and conference boasted 598 exhibitors (up 17 percent from 510 in 2000) and drew more than 21,000 attendees.

For commercial printers in attendance, there were myriad ideas for broadening their service offerings into digital wide-format and superwide-format printing. With production machines running at more than 1,000 fpm, UV flatbed machines and entry-level equipment, printers could find the right solution for their needs.

In addition, wide-format vendors were actively courting commercial printers with support packages and techniques to help them get started in this growing arena.

EFI, with an eye toward commercial printers, announced new configurations and expanded capabilities to the UltraVu II 3360 superwide solvent product line. The new VUTEk 3360 is being offered in entry-level configurations and is fully field upgradable, making it easier than ever for print shops to step up to the this market. In addition, the VUTEk 3360 has been optimized for VUTEk’s BioVu ink, designed for environmentally friendly environments.

Available in four-, six- or eight-color modes, the 3360 can switch from traditional solvent to dye-sublimation solvent printing on fabrics in minutes. The printer offers up to 720-dpi resolution for photographic color reproduction on roll-to-roll substrates. And, for those looking for a production model, the 3360 runs at 1,622 sq. ft. per hour on substrates up to 10 ft. wide in outdoor quality mode; 600 sq. ft. per hour in photorealistic quality mode.

BioVu ink is the first solvent-based ink made from a renewable resource (corn). BioVu ink currently is being used at The BIG Print LLC in Seattle. “We are running the optimized formulation of BioVu ink on the VUTEk 3360 printer, day and night,” says Johnathan Zinsmeyer, president. “Our clients are impressed with the versatility of the ink and the color gamut.” BioVu inks are expected to be commercially available before the end of 2006. At Graph Expo, Pitman Co. revealed it will distribute EFI’s VUTEk printers, color management, color profiling and software.

NUR’s Tempo Series flatbed UV-inkjet production press also is geared to appeal to the commercial printer. Rated at 1,300 sq. ft. per hour in four colors and 550 sq. ft. in eight colors, the Tempo II handles both rigid and roll-fed media.

Also offered is the Tempo Q, which offers 1,080-dpi resolution at print speeds up to 750 sq. ft. in four colors. Both models use UV-curable inks. Following the trend, NUR Tempo Series includes on-press automatic color management and an auto calibration module that will keep the machine calibrated across different substrates and print modes.

Industry stalwarts
DuPont, with its background in the graphic arts industry, has introduced the Cromaprint 18UV digital printing system, a fully integrated, entry level product. It features combination flatbed and roll-to-roll printing up to 72 inches, print speeds up to 680 sq. ft. per hour and a design that includes fully covered UV lamps and direct venting.

The complete Cromaprint 18UV is made up of the printer, including rigid media tables, gamut-enhanced four-color ink set, DuPont Cromanet CS color control, and digital workflow software and print server. DuPont also provides service and support.

The Cromaprint 18UV was shown at SGIA as a technology demonstration but is expected to be available in early 2007.

Another familiar brand to commercial printers is Agfa Graphic Systems, who started offering inkjet proofing systems and has expanded that base to include wide-format systems that can handle roll and rigid materials. The :Anapurna L and XL are UV-curable engines that deliver a print resolution of 363 x 725 dpi. The systems feature borderless printing and can produce pre- or spot-white printing for transparent surfaces and board.

Agfa offers support services including systems integration, workflow optimization, training and ongoing service.

Fujifilm Graphic Systems has been interested in the wide-format market for some time, first with the purchase of Sericol and now with the introduction of its own line of inkjet systems. And more is on the horizon as Fuji now owns Spectra, whose imaging heads find themselves in numerous configurations.

At Fuji Sericol, UK-based Inca Digital Printers lauched the Spyder 320+ white flatbed printer. Inca’s vacuum flatbed and accurate registration system are incorporated into the Spyder 320+, which can print white ink as an overprint, underprint or spot in single, multiple or graduated layers.

The options can be selected within the Wasatch RIP, with no special file setup. In addition, Inca can produce a white image from a four-color file to reduce studio time significantly. The system operates at more than 860 sq.ft. per hour with optimum performance at 600 sq. ft. per hour. “Fuji is providing a wide range of wide-format options designed to help printers implement new capabilities and add to their revenue stream,” says Steve Bennett, vice president of sales and marketing for Fujifilm’s wide-format group. “In addition, we’re adding our extensive service and distribution network to these solutions, ensuring that equipment and supplies are delivered reliably and that our customers can get the technical assistance and support they need.”

At SGIA 06, Fujifilm offered a number of solutions from Mutoh, including the ValueJet 1604 eco-solvent inkjet printer and the PJ1046 1.9 M six-color solvent printer.

The Value Jet 1604 is a 64-inch eco-solvent printer capable of speeds to 140 sq. ft. per hour. ValueJet systems start at $14,995, allowing printers to take on new assignments and extend their offerings to customers cost-effectively.

The PJ-1946 1.9 M six-color solvent printer runs at speeds up to 850 sq. ft. per hour. In addition, Fuji-film offers a variety of media and laminators from Seal Graphics. Fujifilm also offers CaptivAir air purifications systems from PAT Technology.

HP’s Inkjet Commercial Division launched its Designjet Z Photo Printer Series, with the industry’s first embedded spectrophotometer. The spectrophotometer greatly simplifies accurate color matching, enabling automated ICC profiling and HP Advanced Closed-Loop Color Calibration. Users can create color profiles in minutes.

The Z2100 features an eight-color HP Vivera pigment ink system, including both matte black and photo black inks. The Z3100 uses a 12-ink HP Vivera pigment ink system, including the HP 70 Gloss Enhance and HP Quad-Black inks to help achieve neutral grays under different lighting conditions.

The Z2100 in 24- and 44-inch models is available today. The Z3100 is expected to be available in the first half of 2007.

With the trend toward higher quality, faster speeds and wider product lines that offer entry-level systems for less cost, commercial printers should look carefully at the opportunities wide-format digital printing offers. With their knowledge of color, commercial printers can offer new services cost effectively. And the many that attended SGIA no doubt hit the jackpot in the Las Vegas Convention Center.



Océ wins DPI Vision award
The Océ Arizona 250 GT, a flatbed and roll-to-roll UV curable inkjet printer, was deemed the new digital imaging product development most likely to have a “profound and positive effect on the industry.” SGIA presented Océ with the DPI Vision Award at SGIA 06 in Las Vegas. Based on a new Océ-developed platform, the Arizona 250 GT combines a true flatbed design and a separate dedicated roll-to-roll capability. It uses VariaDot imaging technology to deliver near-photographic image quality. This piezo inkjet technology enables a print head to produce dots of variable size vs. heads using fixed-droplet technology. The result is image quality with a sharpness seen at 1,440 dpi or higher resolutions.



Digital flatbed printers online
To address the hype and confusion surrounding flatbed digital printers, Fujifilm Sericol USA Inc. has launched www.flatbedfacts.com. This Web site presents six criteria to consider when selecting a UV digital flatbed printer, and it offers facts and helpful tips to evaluate printer performance. The site provides end users with specific tools to measure key performance critera and also gives advice on how to effectively manage the demonstration process.



Pitman Co., Charrette unveil portfolio at SGIA
At SGIA 06, independent North American graphic arts supplier Pitman Co. (Totowa, NJ) and its recently acquired Charrette Division presented their combined portfolio of digital imaging equipment, media, inks and services for the digital and screen printing industry.

Pitman Co. president Joe Demharter said, “Together, we offer the specialty graphic imaging market the synergy of our strong experience in color management and workflow as well as access to the industry’s most extensive range of advanced wide-format solutions.”

The Pitman/Charrette booth presented live demonstrations of several wide-format output devices and front-end systems from the industry’s leading digital printer manufacturers—spanning UV, solvent and aqueous technologies.

New distribution agreement with EFI
On the last day of Graph Expo, October 18, 2006, Pitman Co. revealed its new distribution agreement with EFI (Foster City, CA).

“This is a natural fit for us,” says Demharter. “The combination of EFI’s VUTEk printers, color management, color profiling and software, coupled with our sales and technical ability, will provide a strong offering for customers moving into wide-format digital printing.” See www.pitman.com.



Correction
In our September 2006 feature, “Inkjet invaders,” by SGIA, flatbed inkjet manufacturer GCC’s product entry was incomplete. GCC’s (www.gccamerica.com) StellarJET comes with roll-to-roll standard and prints seven colors, including spot color capability, at up to 720 x 720 dpi.


Jill Roth is special projects editor for AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at jill.roth@penton.com.