|Mimaki JF-1631 and JF-1610, flatbed UV-cured printers|
The Mimaki JF-1631 and Mimaki JF-1610 are good examples of how a printer is improved through re-design as feedback comes in. The first model (the prototype, IPF 1326)
had no cover (no hood) when first shown in spring 2006. Then when it was introduced to all European distributors and dealers during a two day gala event in The Netherlands, it had a hood, but there was still excessive light leak (from the UV lamps). Based on suggestions both from FLAAR (Nicholas Hellmuth was the featured speaker at this introduction), and from others attending this festive event, the hood and a few other aspects were redesigned. So since 2007 you see a more finished printer.
Our evaluation of the Mimaki JF-1631 and JF-1610 is based on all this experience with these printers, as well as comparisons with other flatbeds: it's an increasingly crowded market out there: Gandinnovations had two new flatbeds back then (but nothing new since their corporate issues became public). Oce has its Arizona 250 GT and newer 350GT and XT, but these Oce and Fujifilm Acuity models have some potential serious health and safety issues, as you will see in the FLAAR Reports on this Oce printer). So the Mimaki flatbed printers are better (more protection for your retinas). Then there is also the GRAPO Manta as well as all the Inca flatbeds: Spyder 150, Spyder 320, and Columbia Turbo.
And now all the Chinese flatbeds are coming, especially from Teckwin. The TeckStorm is now a mature printer. I spent two days inspecting and testing this TeckStorm dedicated UV flatbed printer during July, after the Shanghai trade show in early July (see sidebar). Unfortunately it has one or two quirks, which we mention in the FLAAR Report on the TeckStorm. Next Chinese flatbed competitor is the SkyAir Ship FlatMaster and GlassMaster. So competition pops up every several months.
Should you risk buying a Mimaki JF-1631 or JF-1610 used?
No matter how low the price is new for these printers; no matter how tempting a lower price is used for this printer, be absolutely sure you obtain and read the 2009 update of the FLAAR Reports on this printer. It is even more essential to visit and speak with at least two or three printshops that have this JF-1631 or JF-1610 printer at work.. Even if the price is temptingly low. This observation is as valid for any and all brands once a newer model has come out. In most cases the newer model is better (though there are unfortunate exceptions to this situation, such as the second ColorSpan model; its printhead caused hundreds of people endless headaches).
More end-users have complaints on the Mimaki JF-1631 flatbed UV-cured printer than any other model (outside Chinese models).
Mimaki JF-1631 and Mimaki JF-1610 flatbed printer continue to have minor issues
Most of the people in the industry that speak about the Mimaki JF-1631 are surprised about the number of issues that affect the Mimaki JF-1631 platform. I continue to be disappointed as each year there are still a few problems (still into 2009). We are in the process of updating the FLAAR Reports to comment on the aspects (ink consumption, banding, etc).
To have concerns over 18 months after a printer was launched is not usual. Now I am also receiving a list of issues with an early model Mimaki 605C flatbed (one installed in Australia). If the Screen TruePress Jet650UV or Lotte InnoJet UV900 or RasterPrinters dedicated flatbed Daytona T600 turn out to have zero problems, then these flatbeds will be worth considering if their smaller size is what you need for your applications.
At the larger size, the Gandinnovations Jeti 1224 flatbed UV-curable printer was selling well until their corporate disjunction spiraled into protection from creditors court situation; the Oce Arizona 250 GT has sold over 600 units (before ISA 2008, by summer 2008 Oce will have sold over 700 units and by after DRUPA substantially over 800 units).
Since Mimaki is a respected Japanese inkjet printer engineering company with many years experience, since their managers both in US and European offices are fully capable, the issues and low sales of their flatbed are a surprise. FLAAR hoped the JF-1631 could have been re-designed, but even the occasional improvements never were successful. Too many features of the JF-1631 were outmoded; these I discuss in the FLAAR Report on the JF-1631 printer). Just realize that the newer Mimaki flatbed with LED curing has many improved features. So the newer Mimaki flatbed should be judged separately and not influenced by its predecessor.
I have been to what was once the Gandy factory twice. I have inspected Oce Arizona printers in their factory too, and will be inspecting the Jetrix and DYSS in their factories in Korea in November. But so far nary a visit to any UV printer factory in Japan. You can download the FLAAR Reports on our UV printer factory visits; it's a free download.
Mimaki also makes XY cutter tables
After you have printed on thick rigid material, you then have to figure out how to cut it. So sales of XY flatbed cutters have been rising steadily, especially for Kongsberg and Zund. I have inspected the Zund cutter factory in Switzerland (two days), so there is already a FLAAR Report on the Zund cutters. These have been updated with two FLAAR Reports on Kongsberg cutters which will be released the last week of October.
Mimaki, and Gerber also make XY flatbed cutters, but it has not yet been possible to visit these company's headquarters for comprehensive flatbed testing and evaluation. But the report on the Kongsberg cutter should get you started. As soon as we can reach the other company's demo rooms, we will consider evaluating the other brands as well.
Current status of the Mimaki JF-1631 and JF-1610
FLAAR already has a Report ready, and is already in the process of updating it with additional notes from FESPA, such as the brand of printheads used to obtain such high quality output. Unfortunately, now in 2008 and again in 2009, and 2010, and again in 2011, we have heard so many comments, from so many different sources, on glitches and issues, that we are updating our evaluation for about the fourth time.
The Mimaki JF-1631 was not on exhibit at DRUPA '08 (only the smaller model was), and neither was on exhibit at the Shanghai sign trade show in July. The only UV printer from Mimaki at the Chinese trade show was the UJV-160 hybrid UV printer.
The Mimaki JF-1631 was not on exhibit at any trade show in 2009 (except at SignAfrica). Indeed the entire Mimaki company was totally missing from the first major international trade show of the year (Dubai '09). However Mimaki had larger booth than Mutoh at several other trade shows later in 2009. And officially the JF-series is still available.
What really surprised me was to see the Mimaki JF-1631 still featured on the web site of Mimaki USA as recently as June 2011.
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