Product Profile: Large-format Digital

As businesses become progressively more advertising-reliant (including signage for every imaginable product and service on the market) and companies drive to customize this advertising to an increasingly focused audience, large-format digital printers will be at the forefront of production for short-run needs. Digital flatbed and roll-to-roll systems allow printing houses to provide efficient schedules and produce as few as one copy to satisfy increasing customer expectations. Increasing use of vibrant colours and detailed graphics demand high-quality equipment that will please even the toughest client’s critical eye. Below are seven large-format digital devices that will print everything from signage, to vehicle wraps, to fabrics.


Epson offers a commercial solvent-based large-format digital printer, the Epson Stylus Pro GS6000, which measures 64 inches wide. This equipment uses Epson’s UltraChrome GS Ink system (eight colours for increased gamut including CMYK, light cyan, light magenta, orange and green) that eliminates the need for air purification systems because of the reduced VOC emissions and additional toxins removed, making the system nearly odourless. Decreased VOCs makes this system safer for employees and the environment, alike. The ink system is also “hot-swappable” and there is a media take-up reel for increased productivity.


In 2010, Agfa Graphics introduced the newest member to its :Jeti family of products, the :Jeti 3020 Titan. Agfa Graphics’ Director of Marketing, Deborah Hutcheson, believes that “new high margin printed and high demand applications like retail signage, tradeshow graphics [and] fleet graphics are the future.” The :Jeti 3020 Titan offers a range of capabilities based on production needs, including 10 different levels of speed and capability, from a 16-head unit printing at 113m2 per hour to a 48-head unit capable of printing at 226m2 per hour.


Fujifilm’s most advanced wide-format UV digital imaging printer, the Acuity Advance HS, is one option in the line of Acuity UV devices. The Acuity Advance HS has the highest productivity (up to 657 ft2 per hour in new “express” mode for billboard quality prints) and lowest ink consumption (8 ml per m2 on average) in its class. The flatbed allows for full-bleed printing on rigid substrates, and independent roll media option allows for independent loading and production of flatbed and roll systems. Additionally, the Acuity Advance HS inking system permits white ink to be printed in-line and allows for up to three distinct layers to be applied on any job with opaque Uvijet white ink.


Roland’s line of VersaCAMM wide-format inkjet printers are available in 42 inch, 54 inch or 64 inch model widths. The VersaCAMM has integrated print/cut capabilities, as well as Roland’s “Intelligent Pass Control” technology that eliminates banding. Automated maintenance, Ethernet connectivity and take-up roll system add to this technology’s capabilities. The VersaCAMM is up to 50 percent faster in “standard” print mode than past models and can be purchased in four, six or eight unit ink configurations for enhanced colour fidelity (including metallic options).


Mimaki introduced its Tx400-1800B printer approximately one year ago, which is a direct-to-textile dye sublimation inkjet device, revolutionizing the way fabric can be printed. Mimaki’s Adhesive Belt Carrier System ensures the fabric is fed properly into the printer and does not stretch or contract during production. Textile printing that would traditionally be achieved through a screen process can now be achieved on-demand via inkjet technology. Other unique features of this textile printer include Mimaki’s UISS (Uninterrupted Ink Supply System) that automatically switches empty ink cartridges to full ones for long, unattended runs. The Tx400-1800B can print 25 square metres per hour in 8-colour mode (600 × 600 dpi).


The HP Scitex FB700 printer delivers a robust combination of efficiency, quality and flexibility, with added innovative features that make HP famous. This device uses UV-curable, pigment-based ink to print on flexible or rigid media up to 2.5 inches deep. Interruptions and downtime are reduced because there is no daily print head maintenance required and HP’s Embedded Web Server allows for remote monitoring of the system. Functionality, such as white ink application, double-sided printing capabilities, matte and gloss options, as well as full bleed allowance are incorporated. Lastly, operators can load up to six sheets of media, print and collect the finished product simultaneously, allowing for increased productivity.


Mutoh’s ValueJet 1618-64″ Dual Headed, 8 Channel printer uses the Drop-on-Demand Piezo drive method to produce exceptional print quality. Mutoh has created an Intelligent Interweaving print technique called i2 that lays down the ink in optimized wave patterns, versus straight lines for increased speed and quality. i2 virtually eliminates banding and mottle and allows for up to 480 square feet of printing per hour in production mode. This device is capable of printing on coated and uncoated media up to 63.97 inches wide.


Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.