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UV-curable inkjet flatbed printers from China such as Teckwin, Runjiang, Flora, and Yaselan Print E-mail

We have inspected UV-curable ink flatbed printers from China at ISA, SGIA, DRUPA, and FESPA trade shows. We began taking notes on Chinese UV-curable flatbed printers in 2003, including the Flora FUV 2200, 2214-series, Flora LJII-1800UV, Yaselan Giant YSL-FB2500UV, Teckjet UV1800, TeckUV S2400, Tecksmart UV 1600, and others (the list is so long we have an entire FLAAR Reports that lists and comments on every single UV-flatbed printer from China, Taiwan, Korea, Europe, and the US).

Our first observation is that, in fairness to each individual company, each printer model should be analyzed individually, and not stuck in a pool of “beta stage Chinese UV-curable ink printers.” But once we state that each Chinese company should be judged on its own particular merits, it turns out that the conclusions based on analysis over 16 months is that, consistently, printers from Mainland China tend to be unfinished in the sense of not really being fully functioning when compared with ColorSpan, Durst Rho, Inca / Sericol, or VUTEk PressVu.

And, just because a Chinese solvent printer is acceptable, is no guarantee whatsoever that the same brand of UV printer is usable. There are dozens and dozens of Infiniti solvent printers in Guatemala. They function acceptable (the owners buy them because they are cheap; when they wear out after a year or two at the most, they are junked, but by then the owner has paid them off and made a bit of profit). In distinction a Korean solvent printer, such as some models of D.G.I., may last five years or more.

But even though owners of Infiniti solvent printers say they are acceptable (when the client does not demand sophisticated quality, in that case the printshops buy a Mimaki JV3 or Roland AJ-1000 or Mutoh), the Infiniti UV printers are so primitive that people who buy them are disappointed (the UV versions consistently break down and fall apart, quickly; in months, not years).

A few immediate problems of Chinese-made UV printers are excess splatter, banding, and limited color gamut.

Flora UV ink

But these issues are systematic to printers even from Switzerland. The Zund 215 had ink droplet splatter, banding, limited color gamut, and premature failure of its Xaar heads as recently as two years ago. Yet today the newer Zund printer is better, albeit not as polished as the Durst Rho 600 or NUR Tempo. The Zund 250 uses Spectra heads and has significantly better quality.

And in many cases the Chinese printers are not functioning during the trade shows. But the Durst Rho was not printing at its first trade show appearance either (DRUPA 2000), but that was four years ago. Today the Durst Rho 160 and then the Durst Rho 205 and now the Durst Rho 600 are all mature printers, fully functioning, and producing impressive quality output. Indeed both have been replaced with the new Durst Rho 600 and Durst Rhopac.

So the message is that European printers took several years to progress from alpha stage to beta stage to becoming a finished product. The same evolution will probably happen for some Chinese printers too.

But the market demand for UV-curable printers will unlikely support all the Chinese printers. And some companies will fade away before they can finish their printers. This too is not limited to China: the highly touted American company, Digital Jet Technologies, was trying to sell printers that did not yet exist as recently as three years ago. This company again failed to appear at DRUPA or SGIA 2004. Yet the ISA is still publishing their PR release which offers a UV-printer that never really existed.

What would happen to your sign shop or photo lab if you made a down payment on a printer that failed to appear? Or appeared but did not function to the norms established by the professional printers such as ColorSpan, Durst, Inca, or NUR? After all, even Kodak was selling a wide format inkjet printer that never appeared: the infamous Kodak 5260 (not a UV-curable printer; just a regular inkjet; but it, like the CrystalJet, was worse than an Edsel; at least the Edsel was a functioning car). But when companies such as SkyJet fail to appear at SGIA trade show, the natural question is why.

As time permits we hope to visit Chinese, Korean, and Taiwan manufacturers to sort out which companies have the most potential for producing mature printers that are worthy of serious consideration in late 2005 or 2006. But if you need to buy a printer that is mature already today, the FLAAR Reports recommend printers that were fully functioning at their first trade show appearances, such as the ColorSpan 72 UVR, the Gerber Solara, and (for Europe) the NEOLT UV printer.

The FLAAR Reports also itemize the differences between the Chinese printers and those from Taiwan (Eastech and GCC) and Korea (D.G.I.-Dilli, IP&I and now Keundo). But here too printers seem to disappear, such as the initially impressive Azero Creon from Korea.

To help understand the pros and cons of the plethora of UV-flatbed printers, be sure to download the Previews of the FLAAR Reports. The Previews are always free and indicate the wide range of material that are available in the full range of educational materials from FLAAR.

Techwin Tecksmart UV
Teckwin Teckstorm
In the first picture we looked the Teckwin Tecksmart UV at FESTA trade show 2007, in the second picture we looked the Teckwin Teckstorm at DRUPA 2008. Both are Chinese made flatbed printers.

 

Most recently updated August 6. 2007.

First posted November 2, 2004, updated June 23, 2005.

 
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