Graphic arts is expected to be a significant growth market for wide-format digital printers. However, the most capable systems are too expensive for customers with mid-range budgets and needs, and lower-end options don’t offer the features, volume, or capabilities for many applications.
What’s needed is a mid-range printer that can economically handle most commercial applications. Canon appears to have addressed that need with the introduction this week of its Oce Colorado 1640, a 64-inch roll-to-roll graphics printer. What’s most interesting about this printer is not the market segment it targets, but the new technology and features it employs to deliver impressive performance and serviceability.
It starts with the ink, Actually, the Oce Colorado 1640 does not use traditional ink. It uses an entirely new material that Canon calls UVgel. As the name suggests, UVgel is an ultraviolet light-cured gel that Canon claims provides the best qualities of all the currently available inks: no odor, no drying time, large color gamut, low temperature, and low ink usage.
The gel is fed through a piezo-electric printhead. A separate LED UV llight passes over the just-deposited gel to cure it without slowing down the print process. This allows the Oce Colorado 1640 to print 1,710 square feet per hour. The four gel colors are held in easy-to-replace bottles.
Much of the service for the Oce Colorado 1640 is automated for unattended operation. It monitors the printheads by “listening” to them using an acoustic pulse after every carriage return. If the response is outside the normal bandwidth, an alert goe out to replace a nozzle, The system also prints tic marks to measure the rate of paper advancement, making adjustments on the fly as necessary. The Oce Colorado 1640 can also hold two media rolls. If a second job requires a different media, it can automatically switch,
The Oce Colorado 1640 is priced at $58,000. Canon claims operating costs are up to 40 percent lower depending on the application. UVgel requires about 0.125 ml per square foot, compared to latex ink which requires 1.57 ml per square foot. Canon will make the Oce Colorado 1640 available to its top 30 resellers.
Sal Sheikh, vice president of marketing for large format solutions, told ENX that Canon has shown the Oce Colorado 1640 to select Canon dealers, and he expects a number of them to carry the system, although no contracts have been signed.
New Monochrome Production Printer
Demand for monochrome may be flat, but Canon still believes that market has some legs left on the production side. This week, the company introduced the Canon varioPRINT 140, which replaces the varioPRINT 135 series.
The varioPRINT 140 is rated for 800,000 letter-size images per month with peak volumes up to 2.2 million. It comes in three models with print speeds of 140 ipm, 130 ipm, or 115 ipm. The new model has further optimizations for scanning and digitizing documents. It is bundled with Canon’s PRISMAsync production planning and monitoring software. Canon sees the varioPRINT 140 as a suitable system for verticals such as legal, healthcare, education, and government.
Canon expects the varioPRINT 140 to be available through both Canon Solutions America and its authorized dealers later this month.