|Updating coverage of UV-cured printer manufacturers in Korea|
In November 2009 it was possible to spend a week in Korea. During this time I spent two days with IP&I, both at their factory and doing a site-visit case study of a recent installation (with three new IP&I printers installed).
This visit demonstrates that IP&I is not only alive and well, but that they have actually grown and expanded since my last visit in Korea two years ago.
IP&I Cube 1606uv series: Cube 1606F and Cube 1606S
At ISA trade show, April 2007, several new 1.6 meter UV printers were shown: the IP&I Cube 1606uv series: Cube 1606F and Cube 1606S and the Dilli 1606uv Titan. The Dilli was also exhibited rebranded as an Agfa : Anapurna M. What is notable about printers made in Korea is that their build quality (workmanship) is excellent.
It is ironic that precisely as ColorSpan makes their UV printers fully enclosed (the ColorSpan 5440 series) and as even Gandinnovations encloses their new 4x8' UV flatbed, Jeti 1224uv, that both the Dilli, Agfa, IP&I, Oce Arizona 250 GT and new RasterPrinters Daytona T600uv are all open (which means no hood). This is to lower the cost.
Difference among UV printers made in Korea, in Taiwan, and in China
At the Shanghai '07 trade show, some of the UV printers looked as though they were made in a garage, literally, they were that primitive. Others were nicely designed (Design DFU130-BZ240 dedicated flatbed, and Design DU250-BZ wide-format hybrid flatbed UV-curable printer. But at best these were working beta-stage printers. So far, the only Chinese UV printer that has the possibility to even come close to passing inspection by FLAAR is that of SkyAir Ship (FlatMaster and GlassMaster).
UV printers made in Taiwan are systematically and uniformly better than most brands I have seen from Mainland China. The Taiwan printers are simply made of better parts. This does not mean they are perfect, and they have not set sales records, but this is due to lack of brand recognition and lack of major distributors or reseller network in the US.
If you look inside any Korean printer, they are as well constructed as most printers from Japan, Europe, and the US. Keundo, IP&I, and Dilli have a kind of craftsmanship that shows pride in quality. They don't sell cheap low bid, they don't substitute cheap adulterated parts, and they are eliminating counterfeit parts as quickly as any are found and identified (counterfeit parts from name-brand European and Japanese companies was a problem with most printers made in Asia last year).
There are two ways to learn about a printer: one, visit the factory. Two, visit several printshops that own the printer to see if the printer holds up. So I have visited (several times) two different printshops that own an Infiniti UV printer. I have also visited the impressive Honghua factory where these Infiniti, Fina, Atex and Aprint branded Honghua printers are manufactured in China. It is typical of Chinese factories that one factory will produce many different brand names. Their solvent printers are okay but the UV still needs more robust system and better R&D.
IP&I is one of the leading manufacturers of UV printers in Korea
To learn more about the IP&I 1606uv printers I spent several days in their factory in Korea and visited two printshops which had other IP&I models (since the 1606 is new). It was possible to include a printshop with two IP&I Revo models with one IP&I Cube 260uv, and another printshop with two IP&I Cube 260uv printers. The results are in the FLAAR Reports on the IP&I Cube 260uv. The IP&I Revo was an intermediate model and was replaced by the IP&I Cube 260uv.
The 1606uv series is to provide a more entry-level machine at a price comparable to that of the competing printers from other companies.
If you spend two days in their factory, and visit printshops using their machines day and night, you learn that IP&I UV printers are well constructed with quality features.
In late November 2009 I returned to IP&I to see how they were progressing. The IP&I factory was in production (which is better than I can say for one other brand in another countries).
But what most impressed me about IP&I are their connections with other Korean companies: ink companies, XY flatbed cutter-router companies, etc. Plus, IP&I has a large enough R&D team and facilities to design their own electronics and their own software.
So as the year 2010 trade show season approaches, you can look forward to seeing more of these IP&I printers in action.
Wide Format Printers