|SwissQprint Oryx flatbed UV-curable inkjet printer|
More than 46 manufacturers try to stay in the UV printer market.
• Two years ago DuPont failed, and went out of the UV printer business.
• Two years ago Luscher failed completely and withdrew their massive UV printer with no admission of anything.
• In previous years the Oce Arizona 60uv failed.
• Hypernics failed about three or four years ago.
75% of the Chinese solvent printer manufacturers who have tried to make a UV printer have failed to design one that holds up to Western standards. Not even Infiniti has a UV printer that works acceptably. Teckwin is the only Chinese printer that has a good chance. Flora survives only because of funding in the past by DuPont and continued funding by Raster Printers ( now EFI Rastek).
Even ColorSpan has had issues with its third generation entry - level printer, now sold by HP.
Into this market steps a company that has not previously made any UV inkjet printer themselves (though they did at Zund): SwissQprint. Even Dainippon Screen (owner of Inca Digital) is having a challenge selling its expensive Screen Truepress Jet2500UV outside of Japan.
Neolt is struggling and their UV printer program is kept alive primarily via Triangle INX ink company, as the Milano.
More and more people leave one company to start their own: someone left IP&I and started DigiCube or something-or-other-Cube. But how bright is their future in the real world?
What I do admire is the moxie of business people to start their own company and to work hard to prosper in the face of competition from all sides.
Competing dedicated flatbed UV-cured inkjet printers
In addition to the best-selling Oce Arizona 250GT, there are five other flatbed printers that compete with the SwissQprint Oryx: some are more entry-level, a few are at comparable price point. I do not list the Mimaki JF-1631 because that had so many minor but nagging issues that it was finally discontinued.
All except the Oce and the Oryx have a hood for relative protection against UV-curing lamp light damage to your retinas.
The GRAPO Manta flatbed is reappearing, and will have reached the US for their first exhibit (SGIA 2009).
Meital is now showing a prototype UV flatbed; Meital seems to be created by people who developed the NUR Expedio. At least they have access to significant capital both financial and knowledge in Israel.
There is now a second spin-off from former NUR employees, the Vega, being distributed in Europe by One Solution. One Solution exhibited the Meital at DRUPA 2008, but for whatever reasons switched to the Vega for FESPA 2009 (and is no longer associated with Meital).
Another entry is the Jetrix 3015FQ from InkTec. I rated their US model as the most sophisticated and attractive UV printer at SGIA 2009. The new larger European sized 3015FQ dedicated flatbed will be on exhibit at FESPA 2009.
In the US and parts of Europe the three models of Gerber Solara ion (x, v, and z) are now selling well after an embarrassing performance at DRUPA 2008. After that, they realized how much needed to be improved; they made the necessary improvements, and now sales of the Solara are almost 300 units worldwide.
But either way, it is very brave of any company to venture into this market. Chinese flatbed printers are a whole additional bunch of printers, but few of them have set any sales records, primarily due to lack of consistent distributors as well as iffy quality in the beginning. But these Chinese flatbeds do get better (once they find out their brand reputation suffers if they have unsatisfied end-users in the US or Europe). So in the US, at ISA 2009, two more Chinese brands of dedicated flatbeds are trying to achieve what Teckwin TeckStorm had been working at for over three years now, namely to sell more than a few.
FLAAR wishes all UV printer manufacturers success (for the simple reason that the more competition that exists, the better range of models is available for our readers). And the more competing brands and models, the more interest grows in receiving assistance from FLAAR, either via consulting or via the FLAAR Reports.
Since FLAAR does much of it's initial data gathering at trade shows, not having a SwissQprint UV printer available at DRUPA made it impractical to inspect it (especially since there will be a dozen other manufacturers with probably more than a score of models of UV printers to keep me occupied).
I was informed that the Oryx printer was in Dueren, at a Sihl paper mill, and that shuttle could be arranged from the “Sihl booth.” So at DRUPA, I hiked to remote Hall 11, to see if it would be possible to bring my students to visit the Sihl facility and see the printer the next day. I also wanted to show the printer to one of the other professors and a color management friend from a printer distributor (solvent printers, not UV).
So after I found the "Sihl" booth no one knew who or what Sihl was until I pointed to the small panel on the wall that said Sihl. They said the "Sihl person" had left already for the day.
There was not much activity in the booth; no sign, no poster, no nothing about UV printing, and not really much about Sihl either (no inkjet media that I noticed).
It would be a challenge for anyone to recommend this kind of a distributer.
A few days later I was in that distant area of DRUPA fairground out of curiosity stopped at the booth again. This time there was a pleasant lady from Sihl, but there was no easy way to get to their paper mill because I was staying in another town in the other direction.
At VISCOM Germany (October 2008), the Sihl booth was more functional and the SwissQprint Oryx was on display. Unfortunately, trade shows are too busy, hectic, and there is no way to actually test a printer in a booth. Plus an evaluation is a professional service (we have a staff of 10 people who handle the entire process, testing through publication of the results). So all printer evaluations are now done in the factory, the factory demo room, and at customer sites (site-visit case studies in printshops). So for as many UV printers as possible we prefer to visit a printshop somewhere in the world that has the pertinent printer busy producing signage or architectural décor or special applications. So in the past year I have visited printshops with the GRAPO Manta and the GCC StellarJET 183uv (hybrid flatbed). Both were in screen printing companies in various parts of Germany.
Now, in 2009, there are so many new and improved UV-curable flatbed printers it is a challenge to fit them all into time and budget. But we have additional staff trained to undertake evaluations because our readership rose over 42% this year over the same month last year. But it takes several days to do an evaluation, and has an appropriate cost, so is not something we can do just by popping in and popping out. In the meantime I was just at the GRAPO factory a third time (usually several days each time), and three FLAAR Reports have already been issued. I was at the WP Digital factory a second time and three FLAAR Reports are out already with a fourth in preparation.
Wide Format Printers