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Many changes behind the Virtu line of UV-cured ink jet printers Print E-mail

The Polytype Virtu RS 25 and RS 35 series of printers today in 2010 is the descendent of the heritage of the Spuhl Virtu RS 25/48 and RS 35/48, the Swiss original for the L&P Virtu combo flatbed UV-curable inkjet printer family. Unfortunately there is no book on the history of the rise and fall of the different brand names in the industry, so the FLAAR Reports works at keeping track.

The WP Digital (Polytype) Virtu RS 35/48 printer reviews
The WP Digital (Polytype) Virtu RS 35/48 was exhibited at ISA trade show 2010.
WP Digital (Polytype) Virtu RS 35/48 printer evaluations

Markus Schawalder and the various teams at the original Spuhl factory in Wittenbach, Switzerland recently dedicated an entire day about two years ago to showing me the production of this Virtu RS 25 and RS 35 UV combo printer in the factory. It was also possible to discuss features with the then R&D manager Rudolf Jauk , and do test prints for several hours with Diana Dogaru.

Spuhl Virtu RS 35, Spuehl Virtu RS25/48, L&P Virtu RS 25
Virtu RS 35 in the Spuhl demo room in Switzerland (May 2008) as it is printing FLAAR samples of Tikal, Temple I, Guatemala. The updated version of this unique printer is now the Polytype RS25, RS35.

On this first visit (the day after FESPA Digital 2008 in Geneva) FLAAR expressed interest that hopefully in the future there would be time and project funding to turn this into a FLAAR Report (there are 45 UV printer manufacturers and over 60 current models with new models appearing already at FESPA Digital and upcoming at VISCOM Italy 08). The project was subsequently realized a year later and the resulting PDF has been downloaded by several thousand people every month since then.

Prior to this initial visit to the Spuhl factory, there was not much understanding of the several distinctive features of this printer, and all the things this printer can do, which are not possible, for example, with the other combo transport printers. A factory visit, which means testing the printer in its main demo room, is an essential part of the first phase of evaluating a printer. A second phase is visiting a printshop out in the real world that is using the same printer. We requested access but getting to a printshop with a recent model Virtu RS printer unfortunately never was organized.

First look at Spuhl Virtu RS 25 and RS 35 in 2006

What more can you say when you literally walk inside a printer of this magnitude. Thomas Maahsen kindly took time out, one day before FESPA Digital 2006 started, as the Swiss technicians were still installing the printer. He courteously made the time to show feature by feature to two of us from FLAAR.

This is one advantage when you are an exhibitor: you can get inside the trade show booths two days before the crowds pour in. Once the crowds filled the booth, everyone was so busy that it was hard to see anything peacefully.

Although I have seen L&P Virtu printers since Day One (DPI show, 2001), it was not until May 2006 that anyone at L&P actually showed me the inner details.

My reaction is very simple:

“What I saw inside the Virtu RS35 is what you expect when you invest almost a million dollars.”

At ISA 2006 I got a chance to meet Chuck Kallil Sr, the then new head of the inkjet printer portion of Leggett & Platt. He seemed genuinely interested in having an independent study of the L&P line of printers.

Spuhl Virtu RS 35, UV lamps
Spuhl Virtu RS 35, UV lamps. FESPA Digital trade show 2006.

Since there are over 80 models of UV printers from more than 45 manufacturers, we can't cover them all, so we tend to dedicate our resources to those printers that most of our readers ask us about (in those years, such as ColorSpan 72UVX or Durst Rho 600) plus where we have the most access because the manufacturers open their factory, demo room, and trade show booths to us (Gandinnovations Jeti flatbed, MacDermid ColorSpan 9840, or Durst Rho 351R and Rho 800 Presto as examples). Of course today in 2010 preferences have changed (and brands have changed even more).

reviews of Spuhl Virtu RS 35, Spuhl Virtu RS25/48
Various materials printed in attractive colours: FESPA trade show 2009.

Samples of the output from the Virtu RS 35 in the Swiss demo room during evaluation of this impressive UV-curable combo-style flatbed printer.

Based on the improved access courtesy of both L&P and Spuhl, once WP Digital took over the printer departments of both companies, it was possible to visit the main factory in Wittenbach to study the printers in more detail.

The Virtu RS 25 (2.5 meters) and RS 35 (3 meters) are the same machine at two widths. But the RS series from Spuhl in Switzerland are different machines than the L&P Virtu HD8 that is manufactured in the US. The Virtu RS from Spuhl are best compared with the Durst Rho 800 Presto.

I visited the Leggett & Platt L&P Digital Technologies factory in Florida later that summer to learn more about their Virtu HD8 printer. In the meantime, the printer segments of Spuhl and L&P were sold to Wifag-Polytype Group and operated as WP Digital AG until the recent change to the corporate name Polytype.

WP Digital AG was created after WIFAG Polytype Group buys printer division of L&P and Spuhl

WP Digital AG was created after WIFAG Polytype Group bought the printer division of Spuhl A.G. and what's left of L&P Digital Technologies in the US. Now, in 2010, WP Digital has been brought back under the direct management of Polytype.

The rejuvenated Virtu line of UV-cured printers

Once WP Digital took over they learned that the Virtu models made in Switzerland were significantly better than the similar models made by L&P in Florida. Plus tech support in Switzerland was better. So they shut down L&P factory totally and kept only about three key people during the changeover period. Most of the people in the new WP Digital then brought in fresh ideas into what had become (especially in the US) a stagnant company under L&P Digital Technologies.

Since it has now been possible to create specific reports on the current year 2009 versions of the Virtu printers, we are putting our updates into the PDFs, so in the PDFs you can get more information that is practical to present on a single web page.

Our policy has been that it is more informative to have an entire PDF with full photographic coverage, since a single web page has limited space. The full PDF has been available as a download now for thousands of our readers every month.

During 2010 it was possible to inspect a large glass decorating factory in Vietnam. This was part of the long-range interest in reporting on UV printers for materials used in architecture, especially interior design. Also during 2010 an additional FLAAR Report was issued on applications of the Virtu RS series of printers; glass was included in this report as well.

Scalable process of pre-treatment to safely decorate the glass: developed by WP Digital.


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