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GandyDigital Pred8tor dedicated flatbed with roll-to-roll reviews Print E-mail

The Gandy Digital Pred8tor has improved since its first launch. At SGIA 2010 the Gandy Digital Pred8tor was, sadly, not functional. Evidently this is one of two prototype machines. But the name, Pred8tor, says it all. Obviously the goal is to gobble up market share with a fast flatbed that can also do roll-to-roll.

But, unless I can see it at the factory or demo room functioning, I can't say anything more about it until SGIA 2013 (since there was no more Gandy booth at APPPEXPO 2013 in Shanghai, and did not notice any Gandy distributor booth in Sign Africa, sad because there was a good distributor all past years here in southern Africa).

Gandy Digital had one UV-cured flatbed printer at FESPA 2013
Gandy Digital had one UV-cured flatbed printer at FESPA 2013 in London.

The competition for fast flatbeds is for speed: Inca Onset S20 (at work during SGIA 2010), HP Scitex FB7500 (which was in full performance at SGIA 2010). Vega from OneSolution is a further option. Each has its pros and cons, which is why these are appropriate printers to evaluate.

Now in 2013 of course the Vega disappeared long ago, the HP Scitex is FB7600 (I saw one at work in a print shop recently). And there are several new models of Inca Onset, especially at FESPA 2013 in London.

Then there is competition for speed and quality via the other concept for fast throughput (moving transport belt) in the Durst Rho 1000 (at several trade shows earlier this year). You can argue for the pros and cons of dedicated flatbed compared with moving transport belt. No one concept is flawless; but equally, each concept has benefits compared with the other. It is a matter of weighing the pros and cons to reach a decision.

In the competition for print quality, it would also be smaller flatbeds, obviously not as fast as a half-million dollar machine: Jetrix and SwissQprint would come to mind (Jetrix is half the price of the SwissQprint).

And gradually Agfa itself is revitalizing the former Gandinnovations flatbed printers, especially in cooperation with the revitalized Pitman distribution network for the USA.

So there are many options for printshop owners and managers to consider.

Gandy Digital Pred8tor
Gandy Digital Pred8tor at SGIA 2010

Which is the best structure for a UV printer?

Hybrid? Combo? Or dedicated flatbed?

The world's most popular UV-cured printer in 2000-2002 was a combo printer with moving transport belt: the Zund 215.

The world's most popular UV-cured printer from 2004 onward was a hybrid: grit-rollers against pinch rollers: the ColorSpan 72uvX and its related models.

Presently the world's record-setter for total UV printer sales is the Oce Arizona 250, 350, 550 GT series: well over one thousand machines even before the 550 GT was launched. This is a dedicated flatbed with attached roll-fed mechanism. Already by Autumn 2010 more than 2000 of the Oce Arizona series UV-cured printers have been sold. So you can see why Jetrix and other brands are interested in this market.

Today hybrid printers are recognized to be unreliable for thick material. Too much skip and skew. Even HP stopped trying to sell the ColorSpan 5440uv series (HP Designjet H45500 series; however its issues were with ink supply system and entry-level Ricoh printheads; so more than just being a hybrid with grit rollers).

Today most entry-level and some mid-range combo UV printers with moving transport belts have issues with skew. You have to move up to a Durst Rho or WP Digital (Polytype) Virtu to escape most skew from a conveyor belt system.

So it is worth noting that James Gandy and his team have never wished to design a printer with moving transport belt. Yet VUTEk, HP, Screen, Dilli, and Agfa have been successful at mid-range and entry into high-end with conveyor belt systems.

Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the new James Gandy printer appears to be a dedicated flatbed with potential for associated roll-to-roll.

Hybrid, however, has long been used to describe cheap, low-end entry-level solvent printers with grit-rollers and pinch rollers. Hybrid is thus a derogative word.

EFI uses hybrid to describe a printer with moving transport belt (what FLAAR classifies as a combo).

We suggest the designation dual structure or dual purpose for a dedicated flatbed with a usable roll-to-roll alongside. Oce Arizona 250 GT was one of the early successful implementations of this kind of printer (but that Oce had issues with its Toshiba Tec printheads). "hybrid" sounds too half-half and has the unfortunate affiliation with too many unreliable entry-level printers such as the HP-ColorSpan.

The branding, Pred8tor, is very clever

Whoever designed the name of the model, Pred8tor, is very clever. Pred8tor is exactly the kind of stealth product concept that will create nervousness with Agfa's attempts to resurrect the former Gandinnovations.

There was once a printer code named the Alligator. The joke was that this Alligator ate Toucans. What it meant was that the ColorSpan solvent printer was gaining market share against the Mutoh Toucan. ColorSpan even handed out alligator mascots at their trade show booth.

The new corporate logo is professionally designed as well.

Ridiculous nonsense on the Internet

It will be interesting to see how this new printer is handled by the press.

There are so many forms of PR release. The most infamous is the "Success Story."

If you seek Success Story, this is a great genre of PR release. My favorites are Success Story telling how great the Luscher JetPrint was. The really entertaining Success Story gushed praise on the DuPont Cromaprint 22uv (this Chinese printer was so problematical in real life that over 80% of the original manufacturing run was probably dumped within the first two years; and even by the third generation the repair costs were so high that even DuPont dropped this model and went out of business in wide-format printers forever).

The Luscher JetPrint was a half-million dollar Swiss turkey. This was the most problematical wide-format UV printer ever produced in Switzerland (or in Europe for that matter).

The other form of popular pseudo-review is simply describing any feature that sounds good, and blissfully ignoring anything that is bad, incomplete, or inadequate with the printer.

So one web site claims "the image quality on Oce Arizona 250 GT is by far the best of all flatbed units available today". This is perhaps okay six years ago! But why don't they warn you that this printer had some issues so serious that three print shops had catastrophic business losses caused by the disintegration of the Toshiba Tec printheads?

So be wary of press releases about success of any printer, especially about a printer that physically was not even visible at FESPA Germany! If a newspaper published praise of a printer, that is simply because someone paid them to write some silly claim.

Moving forward in understanding the Gandy Digital Pred8tor UV flatbed

What counts is whether a printer actually exists, whether there is only one or two prototypes or a fully functional assembly line. One thing is clear from SGIA, many key people from former Gandinnovations have left Agfa to return to work with James Gandy and Hary Gandy.

Printshop owners will also wish to learn what aspects are new? And what aspects are continued from Gandinnovations?

For example, what is the underlying structure of the Pred8tor: the chassis? Is this the same design Gandinnovations chassis produced in the Toronto factory? Are the Ricoh printheads the same model as once destined for the Gandinnovations Nano II ? What is new and different that are not available in the updated iterations of the Gandinnovations printers now available from Agfa?

Who will be the distributors, in the US? In other countries? The absence of the printer from the July 2013 Shanghai expo and no more printer at Sign Africa in 2013 was a surprise. Even Durst and SwissQprint moved to exhibit at APPPEXPO specifically in 2013

Thus SGIA 2013 will be interesting to see what was exhibited, and learn where it was or will be manufactured.

Either way, competition is good for everyone. If the Gandy Digital Pred8tor goes beyond Gandinnovations in technology, this will be good for the overall industry. Gandinnovations produced good printers but that was now several years ago. It is time for something new and different. Otherwise the SwissQPrint Impala and Inktec Jetrix will win the prize for successful flatbed printer sophistication this year.

It will also be interesting to compare the Agfa upgrades to the former Gandinnovations flatbeds; when equipped with 48 printheads, can their speed match that of the Pred8tor?


Most recently updated August 20, 2013.
Previously updated October 18, 2010, after SGIA Las Vegas.
First posted June 18 2010, before FESPA.
Updated after FESPA since no actual printer was displayed there in Germany.

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