|Oce Arizona 350 GT inspected by Nicholas Hellmuth, FLAAR a month before launch|
Although a trade show is the traditional way to see a UV-cured flatbed printer, since 411,000+ printshop owners and hundreds of industry managers read the FLAAR Reports on solvent and UV printers, we need to provide a higher level of information than just a trade show visit. Thus we appreciated the invitation of Oce management to visit their wide-format inkjet printer world headquarters in September.
During a single month it was possible to visit Mimaki USA demo center north of Atlanta, the Oce factory and demo center near the Vancouver airport, and the Gerber Scientific world headquarters near Hartford, Connecticut, and a day later the Durst world headquarters in northern Italy. This is how FLAAR differs from commercial web sites that award every printer BEST BUY or BEST PRINTER award. Why is it that end-users of these same printers report so many issues?
Perhaps the BEST PRINTER award company is not much more than a PR agency? How many printshops have they been in to get real facts? Who writes these BEST PRINTER AWARD things? Are they digital imaging specialists, or PR writers?
At Mimaki I tested their JF-1631 to discuss its issues and see how they were being resolved. Unfortunately even with updates and improvements this flatbed never overcome all its issues. Even Mimaki finally realized it was best to discontinue that model.
In the Gerber facilities it was possible to have three hours with their main cationic ink chemist and then an entire day at their factory and demo room testing their Gerber Solara ion. FLAAR just received comments from an end-user who said the Gerber ionX was doing great, adhered to the key substrates nicely, and he was more happy with this model than another brand in the same company. This is how FLAAR gets the accurate documentation that is crucial to printshop owners and end-users.
At Durst I tested their Rho 320R for printing white ink on backlit material. The day after that I tested UV-cured printing on thick and rigid materials in the Lienz, Austria factory of Durst on the Rho 700.
The next day it was possible to test the new LED-cured LEC-300 UV roll-fed printer of Roland, at Photokina trade show in Cologne.
Now, in 2010, we are receiving information from an end-user of the Oce 350, who does not appear to be very satisfied. We are fully aware that if 400 people have a printer, that many will love it, a few will detest it, and most people will know both the pros and cons and will have workarounds. So the one dissatisfied user does not mean a printer is "bad" but it does suggest that some advertising claims may be a bit too enthusiastic.
But more, if a printer has issues, then why does a commercial company tout this same printer with BEST award? Hmmm.
Oce Arizona 350 GT flatbed offers white ink option
The visit to the Oce factory was a familiarization visit, to see, experience, and learn about the Arizona 350 GT in particular, and about Oce manufacturing expertise in general. In order to prepare an actual complete FLAAR Reports evaluation is completely separate from simply mentioning a new printer model on our web page. Because presently, worldwide, there are 45 manufactures resulting in so many new models that it takes a systematic program to handle any one specific model in detail. Presently we are working on updating our reports on Durst Rho UV printers and evaluating the three new textile printers of Yuhan-Kimberly, so it will be a long time before we can consider evaluating other models.
But the factory visit is a good first step.
Since the Oce 250 was a best-seller, beating sales records of all ColorSpan and all HP printers in it's price category, to add white ink and a bit more speed and create the Oce Arizona 350 GT is a beneficial improvement.
FujiFilm Acuity Advance is the name for the Oce Arizona 350 GT that is resold also by Fujifilm.
Need for more study
In the last several months we have received additional comments on problems of the Arizona 250, our first comments on issues with the Arizona 350, and suggestions that the Arizona 550 may not be as problem-free as would be hoped for a newer model. None of this means these printers are bad; none of this means you should avoid this brand or model: Oce as a company is one of the more experienced in the world. But there are significant differences between entry-level into mid-range, and high-end (Jeti would be high-end).
Plus there are the new flatbed printers such as the Jetrix from Inktec, which may offer significant advances.
It is also crucial to understand what changes will be instituted by Canon (who now owns Oce).
Wide Format Printers