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Roland vinyl cutters, ColoRCamm thermal transfer, and CAMMJET wide format printers Print E-mail
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Roland DGA makes wide format inkjet printers such as the Pro II, makes vinyl cutters, and makes combo plotters which do inkjet printing and cut all on the same machine. Roland cutters have a faithful following. People who own a Roland cutter tend to automatically buy a Roland inkjet printer (without checking alternatives). We suggest that you really ought to ask around and get a wider perspective before you buy any specific brand of inkjet printer for your sign shop.

Your first hurdle is piezo printhead technology (Rolands use Epson printheads, the identical one in Epson printers). So if you are thinking of expanding from vinyl cutting into inkjet printing, we recommend our Survival Guide series.

Same with Mimaki; people who are satisfied with their Mimaki vinyl cutters tend to ask for a Mimaki JV4 when they decide to print on textiles, paper-heat transfer, signs, or giclée.

Again, it is essential that you learn the difference between piezo printheads (in the Roland, Mimaki, Mutoh, and Epson) and thermal printheads (ColorSpan, Encad, HP, and Canon). Prof. Hellmuth has written an informative and actually rather entertaining treatise on piezo vs thermal. It's in his "Survival Series," (How to survive in business by purchasing the right printer).

Roland also makes an 18 inch thermal transfer printer with thin ribbons, the sColorCAMM PC-12 and ColorCAMM PRO PC-600. FLAAR discusses pros and cons of all thermal transfer printers in a special report on thermal printers. One brand has a few common bugaboos.

If you also intend to print giclee, we review Roland printers on our fine art giclée web site and also on our wide format printer web site.

Nicholas Hellmuth has a Mimaki JV4 in the FLAAR printer evaluation facility at Bowling Green State University so we know this printer quite well. We also have about seven HP Design Jet printers, three Epson printers, two ColorSpan, an Iris giclée printer… but not one single Roland printer or cutter at either of the two universities where we test, evaluate, and recommend what end users tend to suggest as a best buy make and model. That means to find out about Roland printers we conduct surveys and go out and visit sign shops who use them. Too bad, because we could probably make a Roland function better if we had one ourselves.

If you need a printer for signs, then you will learn about the true capabilities, pros, and cons of all sign printers in the FLAAR Premium Report Series on which printer to select for a sign shop. Here we analyze advertising hype: a classical example is any ad which claims "blazing production speed." That is a silly exaggeration. If a manufacturer has a printer renowned for being slow, their advertising agency tends to tout this same printer as "blazing fast." Aside from being untrue, aside from being a probable violation of federal advertising regulations which restrict misleading advertising, this claim merely draws attention to a printer's deficiencies. Most printers with Epson piezo printheads are notoriously slow if you compare them with a Canon or ColorSpan (which have thermal printheads).

It would be a challenge to convince me that many serious people accept Roland's claim of "blazing production speed." But the new generation CAMMJET Pro II CJ-540 is less slow than the CAMMJET CJ-400 and CJ-500. Besides, you can't do any cutting with a Canon or ColorSpan, so why engage in potentially misleading speed claims. We know many people who accept the slowness because where else can they get a cutter which uses pigmented ink (dye ink does not hold up outdoors). Unless you wish to look at the Graphtec JX2000, which uses thermal printheads, pigmented inks too, and can cut.

The Graphtec JX2150 and JX2100 have many advantages: you can change from dye ink to pigmented ink easily; you have more productive speed resulting from using thermal printheads.

If you seek assistance on deciding which printer for giclée: Epson, ColorSpan, HP, Roland, Mutoh, Mimaki, our staff at the university has worked many years gathering documentation, tips, and help.

Roland ColorCAMM PRO PC-600 at ISA trade show 2002.



Last updated June 21, 2003.
Previous updates: Feb. 20, 2003; First posted Jan. 22, 2003.


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