|GRAPO Octopus X4, a UV-curable flatbed printer at moderate price.|
At DRUPA 2004 in the Xaar booth we have spoken with the printer manufacturer's representative. The floor model at DRUPA was sold already to a company in Spain. While I was in the booth I could not help but see eager buyers from the US, especially sign shops that needed more than one UV-flatbed. But the Grapo Octopus X4 BIG does not yet have a distributor or tech support in the US. Besides, there is competition at this price range from the Dilli, IP&P Cube, and especially from the then popular entry-level ColorSpan 72UVR and UVX and now the ColorSpan 9840uv and 5440uv-series.
For 2008, the competition of HP ColorSpan would have been even more intense but it turns out that the hybrid ColorSpan UV printers have a problem with ink starvation and skewing of some thick materials when you try to take an essentially roll-fed system and attempt to run heavy thick flat material through a pinch-roller/grit-roller system (that was made for vinyl and thin material).
Now that we have visited the factory in the Czech Republic we can certify the quality of their production, we are updating our FLAAR Reports on the Grapo Octopus flatbed printer. Frankly what we saw of the mechanical parts of this printer, it looked more reliable than more expensive printers from mainland China. For example, the Czech-made Grapo Octopus X4 uses German engineering technology. But if this can't overcome banding defects, whether it is German is not much help. Again, if you did not have the FLAAR Reports you might not know the pros and cons of this printer.
Until 2009, so far, GRAPO did not exhibit at SGIA, ISA, or any comparable trade show in the US. But GRAPO was displayed in two booths at FESPA many years ago. The most helpful of these was the Bedigital booth, where the GRAPO was shown as the bedigital domino. But GRAPO also sells direct and has new dealers since 2008. We provide lots more information in our updated FLAAR Reports on the GRAPO Octopus. Our most recent updates to the FLAAR Reports on the GRAPO Octopus come from a trade show in Portugal in March 2006 (Dr Hellmuth was an invited lecturer at this show, on the subject of UV-curable inkjet printers). At IPEX the prototype GRAPO Manta was shown (but again, still nothing from GRAPA at US trade shows).
So before you make your final decision, be sure to get your hands on all the FLAAR Reports on UV-cured ink flatbed printers. Where else can you obtain handy reports by an inquisitive professor who has personally seen virtually every UV-cured ink flatbed printer in the world. If you see what we have learned (see lower on this web page), you can understand why the FLAAR Reports are essential BEFORE deciding which UV printer to consider.
With a few clicks of your mouse, you can obtain results of years of Prof Hellmuth's penetrating scrutiny of UV-cured ink printers, the differences between Xaar and Spectra printheads, and why Mimaki and ColorSpan each use totally different heads (ToshibaTec and Ricoh-Hitachi). Unfortunately, it turns out that ToshibaTec heads have at least one issue. Of course most printers have positive and negative features. The first version of the X4 had heating issues (like the first Zund 215). Now (since 2007) this has been corrected by adding shutters. The new version uses KonicaMinolta printheads (the early version used Xaar 500, same as Zund 215). The Octopus is really best for roll-fed material. If you need to do flat, thick, rigid material, especially heavy materials, you need a dedicated flatbed such as the GRAPO Manta.
Ahhh, all the things that a simple spec sheet does not reveal to you. All this meat is in the FLAAR Reports on UV wide format printers.
This page covers the old Grapo Octopus (2004); the newer Grapo Octopus II we discuss on a separate page.
As is true of most old printers, it is not advisable to obtain an old used model. There are scores of reasons that older models are abandoned and newer models made. If you buy a used old model you get features that are rarely as good as the new ones.
The only case of an old printer where the newer replacement model was not improved in all respects was ColorSpan: sadly the new version (ColorSpan 5440uv) had so many issues that even significant upgrading did not resolve all aspects of the problems and the new model was discretely phased out (not officially, that would be embarrassing; it was simply no longer exhibited in the HP booth during 2009).
For the Octopus, the newer GRAPO Octopus II is better in many respects than all older versions.
Wide Format Printers