The SGIA (Specialty Printing & Imaging Expo) was held in Orlando, Florida this October, and took us up-close and personal with the specialty imaging community in all its high-tech glory. Inkjet printers were again the highlight of the show. In conjunction with SGIA, DPI holds its Product of the Year competition, which compares digital imaging products that are increasing the speed and accuracy of specialty imaging in wide-format digital graphics.
Each product is judged based on its perceived value to the digital imaging community. The test image used for judging was designed to make output devices run through their paces by printing a number of challenging images and test patterns. Here are the top winners, in alphabetical order, for 2007 in the “Output Device” category.
The iPF5100 aqueous printer is Canon’s next generation printer, and ranges in output size from 17” to 60” wide. The 12-colour printer is a pigmented ink archival printing system, which delivers excellent photographic prints. All new iPF models include an easy-to-use colour calibrator to help ensure output colour consistency and accuracy. They also support “Kyuanos” colour management technology for Windows, which delivers output colour suitable for different viewing conditions such as fluorescent lights, incandescent lights, or sunlight. The iPF5100 printers range from $1995 to $14,995 (US).
Durst Lambda 131
The Lambda 131 is a laser-based, large-format output device for high-resolution printing of images on photosensitive roll materials up to 50 inches wide. It is primarily designed for use in Commercial Pro Labs, but can also be used for portrait enlargements and in-plant industrial printing. The Lambda 131 LF Digital Photo Printer images up to 500 sq ft per hour. Features include a full continuous tone 36-bit colour space and exceptional image quality at 4000 dpi apparent resolution with no visible dots. The Lambda 131 sells for around $200,000 (US).
OC√â 250 GT
The Océ Arizona 250 GT is a 4-colour UV-curable flatbed and roll-to-roll inkjet printer offering modular roll-to-roll capability that can also print onto rigid material up to 49” wide x 98” long, and take materials up to 1.89-in. thick. The optional roll-to-roll module can print onto flexible material up to 87” wide. The 250 GT can put down dots of seven different sizes, ranging from 6 to 42 picoliters; Océ claims the dot-size range results in “near-photographic image quality with sharpness only before seen at resolutions of 1440 dpi or higher. Text as small as 6 pt is legible.” The machine can hit a speed of 172 sq ft/hr, and sells for around $140,000 (US).
Roland Soljet Pro III XJ-640
The SOLJET PRO III XJ series of eco-solvent inkjet printers combine exceptional print speeds with photorealistic 1440 x 1440 dpi image quality using a six colour printing system. With print speeds up to 458 sq ft per hour, the XJ series excels at high-volume production of many wide-format products. To support high speed unattended printing, the XJ series comes equipped with an integrated tri-heating system and optional dryer/blower unit that accelerates the ink drying process. 74”, 64”, and 54” models range in price from $25,000 to $30,000 (US).
VUTEk 3360-Bio Vu
Famous for high productivity and exceptional colour quality, the VUTEk 3360 prints with solvent and dye-sublimation solvent inks at the flip of a switch using the VUTEk BioVu inks in four, six, or eight-colour modes in entry level and full production versions. The printer is also easily upgradeable for increased productivity of up to 1,600 square feet/hour. This 10’ super-wide printer achieves exceptional colour quality every time, printing up to 720 dpi apparent resolution for brilliant photographic colour reproduction on roll-to-roll and textile substrates. The VUTEk 3360 BioVu with fuser kit sells for around $310,000 (US).
The VUTEk QS3200r is the newest printer in the QS Family. This roll-to-roll UV-curing printer combines High-Definition Print (HDP) capability with high production speeds and extended media capabilities to create a new breed of printer. The QS3200r caters to sign shops, screen printers, and print providers looking to complement or replace existing solvent or UV output with high image quality and roll-to-roll capability. With speeds over 1850 sq ft/hr, the QS3200r increases the amount of work produced, while still generating high-quality signs, displays, and banners. The printer also prints on a variety of substrates up to .125 inches thick and 126.5” wide. The VUTEk QS3200r sells for around $399,000 (US).