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Glass printing application now available via sol-gel UV-cured ink Print E-mail

Durst has connections with several technical universities in Europe. Indeed at their factory of Lienz, Austria they are building a university-related research center. Sol-gel UV-cured ink is one result of university research. Sol-gel UV-cured ink requires no primer but does need an in-line oven.

Since the background of the Hellmuth family is architecture (just Google Hellmuth architect), you can understand that we have a good understanding of the needs of architects. And it is all longevity for outdoor use.

Having decorated glass that is water, steam, and chemical-resistant is a good first step, but what if sunlight streams in the bathroom window, or the board room window?

FLAAR receives e-mails from clients and print shops asking when a printer will be available that can handle printing on glass. But a print that will last years. No inkjet chemistry can promise longevity. Durst is honest about this aspect.

More and more printer manufacturers have moved to providing solutions for glass decoration: Polytype (the new name for WP Digital). Even SkyAir Ship and other companies in China offer printers for glass.

Too many other UV printer manufacturers talk about printing on glass but in fact their printers are made for signage. If you need a printer for glass you need a company with experience in glass: Durst, Polytype and one or two additional manufacturers.

Durst Rho 800 Presto reviews

Durst Rho 800 UV Printer
Durst Rho 800 UV printer at FESPA 2007.

The Durst Rho 800 Presto is an impressive work of art, and technology. This is a sophisticated combo-style UV printer. Two years ago I again stood next to one. Now in 2010 Durst has added an in-line glass oven.

But if you type Durst Rho 800 into Goggle, you get page after page of official press releases. Not a single actual meaningful comment about pros and cons. The printer is professional, the design is attractive (less clunky than other brands). The output is nice.

But if you seek meaningful documentation on most UV printers, actual facts, there is either zilch, or a pseudo-review (known in PR jargon as a “Success Story”). This is not the fault of Durst; the entire printer industry advertising system is arranged like this.

Image of The Durst Rho 800 Presto printer evaluations
The Durst Rho 800 Presto printer was exhibited at ISA 2009.

Yet at FESPA '07, total strangers came up to me and asked if I could help them decide which UV printer to buy. So clearly they want more than PR releases and success stories. At trade shows this averages about a million dollars worth of inquiries a day (easy, each buyer has about a quarter of a million dollars to spend; some half a million, so it only takes two to four total strangers a day). Same at FESPA 2010: print shop owners want to know how a printer really functions. They are skeptical of PR releases.

A good example that “Success Stories” are not successful is the demise of L&P Virtu printers. The L&P spec sheets were vacant of meaningful information and most of what they offered were Success Stories. Because there was effectively no real information available, not a single complete FLAAR Report was ever written on any recent Virtu printer. We began to evaluate Virtu printers only after L&P Digital Technology went out of business and their remnants were bought by WIFAG Polytype in Switzerland. Several reports on the Polytype Virtu printers are now available.

In 2008 FLAAR has been working to increase it's coverage of UV printers so that alternatives to canned Success Stories will be available to printshop managers. So in 2008 we will visit the factories, demo rooms, and world headquarters of the leading manufacturers of UV printers in order to test the most sought after models of UV flatbed and roll-to-roll printers. Our first factory visit for 2008 is Durst, both in Lienz, Austria and in adjacent Brixen, Italy.

Image of Durst Rho 800 Presto UV-cured combo flatbed wide-format printer reviews
Durst Rho 800 Presto being tested during February 2008 on the Durst factory in Lienz by Nicholas Hellmuth.

Multiple Board System, “Continuous Board Printing Option”

The first time I noticed a continuous board printing system was at the MacDermid ColorSpan factory, May 8th, a week before this 9840uv printer was introduced to the public at FESPA Digital, May 16-28 in Amsterdam (this became the HP Scitex FB910).

There are over 200 models of UV printers, including over 100 major models, from more than 45 manufacturers. So I would have to look up in thousands of pages of notes to see where I saw a comparable feeding system next.

Durst now has a board feeding option that they call continuous board printing system. The idea is so you don’t have to wait for the first boards to be finished before you can start the second batch of boards. Plus, on the ColorSpan, and other printers you can line up several boards next to each other and run them all through at the same time (and start a second row of boards before the first batch are finished). It’s more efficient.

It’s a challenge to keep track of which printer offered what option first. Hypernics (in Korea) was one of the earlier printers that offered white ink (via Azero Creon in the US). But since Hypernics subsequently went out of business and since Durst introduced white ink about the same time, there is no historical record of which company really had it first. “First” is defined as being shown, functioning, at a trade show. The history of wide-format inkjet printing is poorly recorded; in some cases the FLAAR Reports evaluations, and especially our trade show reports, are among the few historical documents readily available.

We have seen the ColorSpan and IP&I systems in action during a day at the MacDermid factory in Minneapolis and two days in the IP&I factory in Korea. So these are easier to comment on than the Durst version (have not yet been to their demo room or factory).

Because the newer UV-cured flatbed printers have so many features, it is not realistic to inspect every aspect at a trade show. Besides, most of the features are not visible if the hood and cabinet doors are all closed.

So we tend to evaluate those UV printers where access is provided to the printer, inside and out (indeed you can see us actually inside the printers at the Teckwin factory, at the Gandinnovations factory, etc.

So far FLAAR has conducted comprehensive evaluations of the VUTEk QS3200 and 2000, the Gandinnovations Jeti flatbed, the NUR Tempo Q, the GRAPO Octopus and GRAPO Manta and we have several additional visits scheduled for updates (to Gandy in Canada, NUR in Israel, and VUTEk in New Hampshire). The two-day visit inside the Zund factory, headquarters demo room and printer showrooms in Switzerland was particularly educational.

Durst Rho 800 Presto UV-cured combo flatbed wide-format printer site visit case
Here are Nicholas Hellmuth and Paul Clark at SFC Graphics, inspecting the Durst Rho 800.

I have found several printshops that have the Durst Rho 800, so I will initiate a site-visit case study as soon as time and research funding is available. In the meantime, it was possible to test the Durst Rho Presto at the Durst factory in Lienz, Austria. The precision workmanship that goes into the construction of this printer is impressive.

You can download all sample results on these UV printers right here. The other reports you can order from www.wide-format-printers.NET

The Durst Rho 800 Presto printer evaluations
Durst Rho 800 Presto at SGIA 2008.


Picture of Durst Rho 800 Presto printer reviews
Sample printed by the Durst Rho 800 Presto at Viscom Italy trade show 2007.



Most recently updated Aug. 9, 2010, after FESPA the month before.

First posted August 13, 2007. Updated Jan. 27. 2008 and Feb. 19, 2008.



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