SGIA Expo: A Wide-format Lover’s Delight
In November, the SGIA Expo opened its doors in Atlanta to thousands of eager attendees. The specialty graphics show has been growing in popularity and size as the demand for signage, vehicle wraps, printed textiles and garments has intensified.
For those more familiar with Graph Expo, the SGIA show floor had a familiar look to it, though with a lot more equipment. Massive grand-format printers, carousel-style screen presses, rows of automated embroidery machines, garment printers and many other devices, familiar and strange, filled the Georgia World Congress Center. There were 545 exhibitors in all. (One big difference from Graph Expo: that gang of badge-scanning guards that blocks the entrance to the McCormick Place show floor was nowhere to be found in Atlanta; a woman in a chair casually glanced at badges as attendees filed past.)
All the familiar purveyors of wide-format printers were at SGIA. Most were debuting multiple products. IPG inspected many of them. Here’s a quick look at a few of the more memorable new products.
A Wide Variety of Printers
Agfa Graphics won an SGIA Product of the Year award for the Jeti Mira UV inkjet printer, with a printing speed up to 227 square meters per hour. The six-color plus white printer utilizes either one or two rows of Ricoh Gen 5 print heads for higher productivity. Its small 7 picoliter ink particle size allows for better quality images while using less ink. “Print & Prepare technology allows you to load new media while the printer is still working.
AnaJet showed off its mPower MP10i direct-to-garment printer, boasting durable stainless steel print heads, patented ink delivery and robust AnaRIP software. AnaJet printers can faithfully reproduce full color digital images up to 1,200 dpi onto t-shirts, canvas bags and other products. The mP10i can print a typical 12x10˝ light shirt graphic in about 20 seconds.
Canon Solutions America demonstrated its 42˝ Océ ColorWave 910 thermal inkjet printer, which can handle thicker media than the ColorWave 900—up to 46-lb. weights. It incorporates paper-handling features from Canon’s high-volume equipment, enabling it to print more than 8,000 square feet per hour at a speed of 12˝ per second. The ColorWave 910 uses the Océ PowerM controller to deliver repeatable results.
EFI showed its entry-level H1625 LED hybrid printer, which prints four colors plus two channels of white on a range of rigid and flexible substrates up to 65˝ wide and 2˝ thick. Named an SGIA Product of the Year winner, it boasts eight-level variable-drop grayscale printing, for near-photographic images at 1,200x600 dpi.
Epson debuted its new 44˝ SureColor S60600 roll-to-roll solvent printer at SGIA. Shipping in January or February, it can print 550 square feet per hour using the latest generation Epson print head. It offers two-pass printing, eliminating banding. It uses Epson PrecisionCore thin film piezo print head technology.
Fujifilm North America, Graphic Systems Division, along with Inca Digital, showed the Onset X Series of UV flatbed inkjet printers, built to accommodate up to 14 ink channels with a choice of print heads. With a scalable, modular design, each model in the Onset X Series can handle substrates in sizes up to 126x63˝ and thicknesses up to 50mm. X1 has maximum throughput of more than 5,900 square feet per hour; X2 can print over 7,800 square feet per hour; X3 over 9,600 square feet per hour. The full-width print head array means the print carriage spans the whole width of the print bed and doesn’t scan across the media. Images do not suffer from textural banding. Onset is fueled by Fujifilm’s Uvijet inks, which produce strong vibrant colors.
Though HP had industrial and high-volume units on display, the 54˝ HP Latex 110 is better suited to entry-level needs. Printing as fast as 517 square feet per hour with six print heads using 2112 nozzles, the 110 boasts resolutions up to 1,200x1,200 dpi. Outdoor prints last up to five years laminated, three years unlaminated.
Another SGIA Product of the Year winner was the Mimaki USA UJF-7151 plus UV-LED flatbed printer. It incorporates six 2.11˝-wide print heads and has a print area of 20x28˝. Printing at 35.5 square feet per hour, its ink circulation head minimizes clogged nozzles by reducing ink settling and removing air bubbles. A nozzle check unit performs automatic maintenance. The print table moves the substrate under the staggered print heads, using Mimaki’s ball screw technology to reduce vibration, increasing ink drop accuracy. Mimaki Advance Pass System 4 technology reduces banding and produces smoother images.
The 64˝ ValueJet 1624X from Mutoh America prints at 600 square feet per hour using Eco-Ultra ink. The four-color piezo drop-on-demand printer boasts a maximum resolution of 1,440 dpi. DropMaster ink technology assures high dot placement accuracy and eliminates the need for individual head adjustments. Mutoh’s patented Intelligent Interweave print technique eliminates banding.
OKI Data Americas highlighted its ColorPainter M-64s eco solvent printer, designed for mid- to high-volume print shops. This 64˝ printer features a production speed of 356 square feet per hour. SX eco-solvent, low-odor inks offer a wide color gamut, high vividness, high density, excellent outdoor durability and low running costs. The air flow system inside the printer brings air from the rear of the printer and blows it along the front cover out of the printer for faster ink drying. The ColorPainter M-64s comes with 1.5-liter large-capacity ink cartridges and built-in sub tanks to support continuous high-volume printing.
Ricoh Americas was at SGIA with several wide-format products, including the 63˝ Ricoh Pro L4160 latex wide-format color printer capable of producing superior seven-color print quality and color matching. Leveraging its eco-friendly, aqueous latex inks—which generate very little VOC making special ventilation equipment unnecessary—users can print on plastic, vinyl, textile, clear film, backlit materials and more, offering a much wider color gamut to customers.
Roland DGA showed its new 64˝ SOLJET EJ-640 at SGIA Expo. Roland DG EJ inks are available in high-capacity one-liter cartridges, cutting running costs by up to 35 percent over other printers. An ink reservoir lets you change ink on the fly. The printer boasts dual, staggered eight-channel piezo inkjet heads housing 180 nozzles per channel. The integrated try-heater system dries ink quickly.
Screen USA once again showed its Truepress Jet W3200UV HS series flatbed inkjet printer, with a top speed of 1,614 square feet per hour. The six-color printer incorporates pop-up register pins, auto-cleaning heads and a head-crash detection system. It accommodates premium-margin jobs, such as exhibition graphics and retail signage, as well as posters, product decoration, architectural signage and backlit displays. The 62.9x125.9˝ flatbed table is driven by magnetically encoded linear motors to achieve precision movement.
Related story: SGIA Expo a Big Draw in Atlanta
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.