Technology Focus: Aqueous, Durable Aqueous, Latex, and Resin Printers
The printer also uses an optical media advance sensor (OMAS), which is essentially a camera located within the printing platen that takes pictures of the back of the media (reading the fibers of the backing paper) as it passes over the platen, and then adjusts the feed motors to adjust carriage deployment for over- or under-advancement of the media. The result is band-free printing.
And of course, if you are looking for a flatbed printer, HP has a latex printer that will fit that bill as well. This allows a PSP to grow its print offering without introducing a different ink technology into the mix, which can be a challenge when color matching. HP introduced its latex flatbed printer in 2018. A couple unique features are ink curing at a lower temperature and the introduction of the Latex Overcoat as its own channel, which can be turned off to offer maximum adhesion with lamination or post-coating. Another unique aspect of the latex flatbed is white ink that can be taken out when not in use — instantly — and replaced when needed for an “on-demand solution.”
Michael Maxwell, senior manager – Corporate Strategic Development with Mimaki USA, shared that the JV 400-160 LX is a 64" latex printer first developed in 2007. The JV 400 is the only latex printer offering orange and green expanded gamut inks, and was the first to introduce white, orange, and green inks into the latex market. The JV 400 is useful for posters, art, POP, advertising, and giclee. This is a cartridge-based printer and with the exception of white, which is a 220 ml cartridge, the other inks are available in 600 ml cartridges. The JV 400 uses two in-line piezo printheads with print resolutions of 600, 900, and 1,200 dpi.
A New Contender
A new player in the durable water-based outdoor ink arena is Epson, with its new resin ink printer. I talked with Matt McCausland, senior product manager, Epson America. The new resin is good for outdoor signage, indoor graphics, wall coverings, and vehicle wrap graphics. Ink adhesion for the resin-based printer occurs at a lower temperature, which allows for more substrates to run through the printer. The durability of the ink is comparable to solvent printers, as the pigment is very similar to what is in solvent printers. The Epson resin printer uses a pre-heater, platen heater (this heater pins the ink and starts the cure process), and then a post-cure heater.
The Epson resin printer uses the new Precision Core Micro TFP (thin film piezo) printhead. This printhead is 2.6", and can jet a 4.2 picoliter droplet for high quality prints. The printhead is 300 dpi tall for print resolutions of 600/1,200/2,400 dpi. This new printhead is meant to last for years, and is user-replaceable — a feature not found on most piezo printheads — and is relatively inexpensive at $695 when registered for the Epson Cloud Solution PORT software (especially considering that piezo printheads are not something the average user would ever replace without calling a technician.) Another new feature is the ability for this printhead to do an inkless nozzle check. The printhead checks the nozzles by sending a pulse to the piezo and then measuring the result of the pulse. If there is a blockage, the nozzle would get a different reading than a clear nozzle, and a cleaning would be recommended. The Epson resin printer comes with cyan, magenta, yellow, black, light cyan, light magenta, and an optimizer. Resin inks come in 1.5-liter ink bags. Lastly, the Epson is designed with a robust and precise feed system for print length consistency.
Knowing your specific application will help to guide you when selecting a printer. If your application would be well-served by one of the printers in the aqueous, durable aqueous, latex, and resin printer categories, then check out one of these offerings.
Ray assists association members with information on digital printing as well as digital equipment, materials, and vendor referrals. He oversees training and certification workshops at PRINTING United Alliance. Ray is project manager for both the PDAA Certification program and the PRINTING United Alliance Digital Color Professional Certification program and is an instructor for the Color Management Boot Camps as well as a G7 expert. Ray regularly contributes to the Association's Journal and won the 2016 Swormstedt Award for Best in Class writing in the Digital Printing category. Ray was inducted into the Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Technologies (ASDPT) in 2020. He also works with SkillsUSA to conduct the National Competition for Graphics Imaging Sublimation. Outside of work, Ray enjoys biking, international cuisine and spending time with his three fantastic grandkids.