|Comparative product review of the MacDermid ColorSpan 9840 UV flatbed inkjet printer|
May 16-18, 2006, the world had the opportunity to see the new MacDermid ColorSpan 9840 UV flatbed inkjet printer. During the subsequent two weeks we heard back comments from colleagues in industry: their consensus was that this printer showed the most potential of any of the entire summer trade show in Europe. For example, if you compare prices you see its performance compares well with the Vutek 200/600.
On May 8th, the week before the ColorSpan 9840 was shown to the public, it was possible to visit the factory and inspect the ColorSpan 9840 inside and out. Literally, we took the printer apart to look at it. Then we printed for hour after hour. All the results are available in full color in the FLAAR Reports on the ColorSpan 9840 printer (available on www.wide-format-printers.NET, in the link to UV printers at the right).
The opportunity to see the factory reminds us this is not a Chinese printer.
The chance to witness the ColorSpan 9840 printing hour after hour documented that this printer works even at its launch, something that could seemingly not be said about the Zund 250 even six months after it was launched, and two years after it was first shown to the public. That Swiss printer looked great at trade shows, but did not function well for the people who purchased it (ink chemistry did not work well, and had some issues feeding the materials). (Eventually we got to the Zund factory, and learned that the Zund 250 has been retrofitted to function; it was working quite well during two days that we tested it in Switzerland). Naturally a Swiss manufacturer certainly has the capability to resolve the issues. But the point is, that the ColorSpan never had issues to resolve to begin with: the 9840 worked acceptably before it was even revealed at a trade show.
At FESPA Digital, in the booth next toMacDermid ColorSpan, a competing printer was not functioning well. All the mechanics were hovering around it. They had to call in the two main tech support people from the Chinese manufacturer, to come from the Chinese booth to the distributor’s booth, to try to make the printer to work. This was the DuPont Cromaprint 22uv; it was so iffy that even DuPont did not have the patience to keep trying to keep them repaired; DuPont dropped this Chinese-made printer during 2007.
When you are deciding which printer to buy, these are things you need to know. What if there is no Chinese technician available to fix your printer on the day it decides not to function?
We discuss all these issues in the FLAAR Reports. You need to know this sort of thing when you are deciding what printer to purchase. We also update these reports, as we learn about occasional issues. If you visit 10 different printshops that have the same printer, some will report nothing but problems; others will be content and making lots of money using their printer. These are the statistics we see after seven years of keeping our eyes and ears open about UV-cured printers. Out of every manufacturing run, a few don't work; many work just fine; and the majority are normal: they need occasional tech support to keep them running.
I have visited a printshop outside Chicago who was printing successfully on Coroplast with the ColorSpan 9840uv. There is a complete FLAAR Report on this site-visit case study of the ColorSpan 9840uv. He had no serious issues; no constant repairs, and was making money. There are other end-users who have end-less repair issues and are not satisfied. FLAAR has over a quarter of a million readers of this web site world wide, and during 2007 alone I lectured to audiences of printshop owners in Dubai, Istanbul, Novosibirsk, Cincinnati, Slovenia, etc. I have lectured last year more often in Korea than at my own university in Ohio. At trade shows I meet scores of printshop owners and printer operators, so I am fully aware of the statistics of wide-format printers; brand by brand, model by model.
Seven years of studying UV-cured inkjet printers also demonstrates that the printers with the most problems are occasionally those that are used seldom: this cases them to gum up (so to speak). All UV-cured and all solvent printers need to be used frequently; and this means used: not just a test print once a week. Ink can gel; can solidify; and generally gum up if the system is not taken care of.
And merely printing a few test prints is not enough; if you are not going to use your printer for several days, it helps to fill with flush solution and cap the heads (keep in mind that every printer is different, so be sure to check with a knowledgable and experienced tech support person; not all printers have capping stations!). But the point we are trying to make, is that it takes two partners to keep things running smoothly: an operator that is fully trained and has experience understanding the chemistry of UV inks and curing; and naturally the main partner: the tech support staff of the printer manufacturer.
We have documentation on the ColorSpan since it has been possible to visit the factory
where it is manufactured (in Minneapolis , so this printer does not require bringing spare parts, or mechanics, from China ). Most pre-production alpha machines take years before they can be tweaked to function adequately. ColorSpan has enough experience that their pre-production machine (printer #3 off the assembly line), worked just fine: we fed it concrete slabs, floor tiles, wooden siding, and all kinds of architectural materials.
Once this printer was launched, and feedback was available, a variety of initial aspects of the printer were improved. Some other manufacturers don't make such improvements until the next model: two years later. But ColorSpan makes the improvements when they are necessary.
As the MacDermid ColorSpan portion of MacDermid company transitions to being part of HP, we will report news during 2008. We are keeping track of the major brands and models from around the world: just returned from a week inspecting the GCC StellarJet 250 in Taiwan and several days inspecting the Dilli Neo Plus, Dilli Neo Venus, Dilli Titan, and Dilli Neo DeLuxe dedicated flatbed printer in it's world headquarters in Korea.
During 2008 we will be doing additional site-visit case studies of the ColorSpan 9840uv printer as well.
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