|Mimaki UJV-160uv hybrid LED UV-cured flatbed printer with 3M UV-curable ink|
The UJV-160 UV printer is the entry-level model from Mimaki: At SGIA '09 the list price was $59,000. Prices vary from country to country. In the UK it is £39,995 (around $65,220).
In its early stage this printer was advertised primarily only for roll-fed materials but later on (2009) the mechanism was modified to accept rigid material. So today at most trade shows they exhibit two machines: one with roller tables front and back (hybrid flatbed) and one with no roller tables (roll to roll only). It is the same identical printer, just with, or without, roller tables for thick rigid material.
Because it feeds media with a pinch+grit roller system, it is classified as a hybrid printer. This is not precisely the most successful feeding mechanism for a UV printer, for several reasons. To begin with, a hybrid printer will not accept really thick materials. The UJV 160 can print on boards up to 1 cm (0.39”). Some hybrid printers are infamous for having feeding problems such as skewing, stuttering and in general, it is not easy to handle small pieces of material like tiles with a pinch roller system. But we at FLAAR compliment Mimaki for specifically limiting thick material to 1 cm, as this helps alert end-users not to attempt to put thick heavy MDO boards (which would not feed well through most hybrid printers and which skew even on some quarter-million dollar combo printers with moving transport belts).
Of course, we are not saying a printer is automatically bad just because it is a hybrid (hybrid means a printer has grit rollers). The UJV-160 itself is an example of a UV hybrid printer that has potential to be a very successful printer. The ColorSpan 5440uv hybrid printer was unpopular because over-eager sales reps promised potential buyers that the hybrid could print any thick rigid material without limit.
We try to find something nice about every printer, so for a hybrid: a hybrid printer tends to be the bridge for sign shops who want to jump from entry-level roll-fed printing—with solvent printers—to the next level of production but with an affordable UV printer. A hybrid tends to be $20,000 to $30,000 less cost than a combo printer (with moving transport belt).
The Mimaki printer comes with feeding and take-up tables. Both tables are foldable and easily detachable.
The UJV-160 uses Toshiba Tec CA5 heads. This printheads are known in other UV printers that offer high quality printing. For example the Oce Arizona flatbeds, famous for their excellent output, use Toshiba Tec CA4 printheads. According to our statistics gathered at SGIA '09, Toshiba Tec is the third most used brand of printheads in UV printers (15%), after Spectra (25%) and Konica Minolta (27%).
However, the majority of the printers using Toshiba Tec heads use the CA4 model. The CA5 offers a drop size of 3 picoliters which means even better quality than the CA4. Of course, the downside of such a small picoliter size is the speed.
In general, the bigger the drop size, the faster the printer. Likewise, the smaller the drop size the slower the printer. On one of the online brochures the print speed listed is
• 5 m 2 /h (53.8 sq.ft/h) when printing at 1200 x 1200 dpi, 8 pass, uni-directional
• 7 m 2 /h (75.3 sq.ft/h) when printing at 600 x 900 dpi 6 pass, uni-directional
• 12 m 2 /h (53.8 sq.ft/h) when printing at 600 x 600 dpi 4 pass, bi-directional.
On the GCC StellarJET 183UV —another UV hybrid printer—the print speeds advertised are
• 7.4 m 2 /h in Quality mode
• 14.7 m 2 /h in Standard mode
• 29 m 2 /h in Fast mode.
But GCC does not specify the dpi nor passes of each mode.
History of exhibitions
At one of the German trade shows in 2007, Mimaki showed a roll-to-roll UV printer. Then it did not appear elsewhere (or if it did perhaps at SGIA ‘07, I did not recognize it). Then , at DRUPA ‘08 in Germany a new version reappeared, with LED lamps for UV curing.
We did not see it in the US during 2008—although our FLAAR Report on this printer is based on inspections at tradeshows elsewhere that same year—but in 2009 it has appeared copiously in trade shows not only in the US but also in Europe , Asia and Africa . In fact, at ISA '09 in Las Vegas, three Mimaki UJV-160 models were exhibited in the booth of Mimaki and the booth of two distributors.
LED uv-lamps for curing 3M ink in the Mimaki UJV-160uv hybrid flatbed printers
The first commercial usage of LED lights for curing UV ink was from Inca Digital; their Inca Spyder 150. It produced an attractive semi-gloss texture as well. Unfortunately it sold fewer than 20 machines (slow, expensive for its size, and size was not large enough).
The next LED machine was that of the Russian company, Sun LLC. Their current model is the Sun Neo UV-LED Evolution. They have sold about 76 machines in the past several months.
Now the third UV printer to utilize LED lamps is the Mimaki UJV-160uv. This is a hybrid printer with Toshiba Tec heads (the new versions, same as the Raster Printers H700UV). The Oce Arizona 250 and the Mimaki JF-1631 use the old Toshiba Tec heads.
This Mimaki printer has CMYK. It may offer white in the future, and possibly spot varnish. At DRUPA 2008 the printer on display is a functioning prototype only. The price is estimated to be 40,000 Euros, which is very reasonable, but this conflicts with the price stated in dollars (somewhere recently), which is $80,000 (still less cost than the Gerber ion, and that Gerber printer is iffy at best, since it was not printing much during the two weeks it was in the booth at DRUPA).
The UJV-160UV is easy to recognize as a Mimaki: it has Epson-sized ink cartridges and a miniature LCD panel. Otherwise, I like the design of the Mimaki exterior; it is a fresh and new style design, not so much like an engineering project (in other words, not dull and boring).
This is a hybrid design: pinch rollers acting on grit rollers over a non-moving platen. In other words, this is not a combo concept (a combo has a moving transport belt). Hybrid structures tend to be entry level, such as the ColorSpan printers (now HP 45500, etc). Surprisingly, more and more mid-range UV printers are opting for the hybrid design and not the combo concept. The Mutoh Zephyr is an example (but costs about twice the price of the Mimaki UJV-160uv.
Today, another competitor would be latex ink; the first printer of this new chemistry is the HP Designjet L65500.
FLAAR Reports are available on the Oce Arizona 250; two reports are available on the Sun LED system from Russia (based on spending an entire week in Novosibirsk ). As of November 2008, there is an initial report on the Mimaki UJV-160 based on inspections at several tradeshows, but we are looking forward to substantially updating this report based on a visit to a sign shop or the main factory.
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