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Inca Columbia Turbo, Inca Columbia 220, Inca Columbia added to the Inca Eagle Print E-mail

Inca was among the four companies that started with UV printers very early. Sias Digital was another; their printer ended up as the Scitex Vision VEEjet+, which floundered due to being behind the times in technology. HP finally simply cancelled this printer line (with virtually no publicity; HP instead bought NUR to obtain a functioning flatbed UV printer, the NUR Tempo Q).

The Inca Eagle was the model that was most often shown in those early years, initially with Xaar printheads (if I remember correctly from over 6 years ago). The other early manufacturers were Durst with their Durst Rho 160, and the Perfecta UV printers from Mechatron (that quickly were bought by Zund and became the Zund 215). Then VUTEk offered their solvent flatbed that quickly evolved into a UV flatbed that in turn several generations later is now the QS2000 / QS3200.

At SGIA trade show several years ago the Sericol booth was showing the Inca Columbia Turbo. We had first seen the Inca Columbia Turbo during 12 days at DRUPA 2004 in May. During Photokina that autumn I saw so many printers and cameras I can’t remember which Inca printers were, or were not, present. But I definitely have not noticed the Inca Spyder 150 since its appearance at DRUPA '04 in May. It was among my favorite printers, since photography is my avocation. Indeed the Spyder 150 was rarely shown, and even less often in the US, until it reappred at FESPA '07 in the stand of Dainippon Screen (the company that owns Inca Digital).

Today there is so much competition that it must be perplexing for sign shop owners and photo studio owners to decide which wide format UV-curable ink flatbed to buy. You have the white ink and spot varnish from the Durst Rho 600, plus the more traditional Vutek PressVu UV flatbed printers, not to mention the invasion of UV flatbed printers from Korea, China, and Japan (Mimaki). On top of that ColorSpan 5440uv series and the Gerber Solara ion are breaking price barriers with their respective UV-cured ink flatbed printers.

But Inca has maintained its course with dedicated flatbed designs: no combo, no hybrid (although their parent, Dainippon Screen now offers a combo UV-curable style printer, the Screen Truepress Jet2500UV).

As a public service FLAAR is issuing a dozen new reports on essentially every UV-cured ink flatbed printer that exists. So now you can learn the features and capabilities of the Inca printers at the same time as being able to compare the pros and cons of this style of flatbed with other UV-curable technologies. Every brand has good features but a few issues if you compare it with other brands. But that other brand will also have glitches (along with its own positive features).

Sericol Inca models, flatbed capability.

Inca Columbia Turbo at Print trade show 2005.

Learning by visiting the factory and demo room

The best place to take notes on a printer is in the company headquarters and their demo room. A good place to learn how solid a printer is would be to visit their factory. Definitely the best place to learn about how a printer really functions is in a printshop (we call these a site-visit case study).

With over 100 models of UV printer today (early 2008), and of these with over 80 models that are significant, obviously doing all this research is costly (in time as well as airfare and hotels). Over 45 different manufacturers now produce UV printers, and this number increases every year.

So far it has been possible to visit the factory where the Inca Columbia, Columbia Turbo, Spyder 150, and Spyder 320 are manufactured. The day was dedicated actually to studying the Sun (Chemical) FastJet, which is manufactured in the adjacent building, so time was not allocated to allow an entire day for the Columbia, but it was definitely possible to notice they are well designed and professionally manufactured.

The Inca Eagle printer at factory visit, 2007.

For VUTEk it has been possible to make three visits to their factory and demo room; two days were available at Gandinnovations. NUR has hosted us for one visit to Israel so far and we are about to go for a longer inspection shortly. GRAPO hosted a study visit for several days. It has been possible to learn about the ColorSpan 9840uv and 5440uv first hand from visits to their factory before those printers were even launched. This way we could review the pros and cons early enough that any missing features could be designed into the hardware or software before they were shown to the public.

FLAAR is also now an honored speaker at the launch of various printers: at the launch of the Mimaki flatbed JF-1631 outside Amsterdam in 2006, and the launch of the IP&I 1606S and 1606F in Seoul in summer 2007 (last summer). These trips provide opportunities to inspect the printers for a more detailed evaluation, plus we can speak with leading distributors and dealers to understand better their "wish list" for features on these and also for the next generation of UV printers.

As soon as it is possible to return to the UK, we hope to be able to learn more about the features and benefits of the various models of Inca Columbia and Spyder 320 printers, especially since there is inceasing competition, especially from the flatbeds of Gandinnovations and Oce (Arizona 250 GT).

 

Most recently updated Jan 15, 2008.
First posted November 2, 2004. Updated Nov. 25, 2005, August 2, 2007.

 
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