Agfa :Anapurna 2500 LED, pros and cons of a unusual printer Print

After Agfa gave up on a number of models, (such as the :Anapurna 100, the :Anapurna L, and :Anapurna XL) the :Anapurna 2500 LED seems to be the company’s only enclosed mid-range option for sign applications. This model is not made by Dilli, as are the other :Anapurna models, nor comes from Agfa’s acquisition of Gandinnovations. Whether Agfa manufactures this model themselves continues to be uncertain, since most models are either made by Dilli, Mutoh or come from Gandinnovations in some cases.

This UV printer model is unique among the Agfa products in several aspects. First, it cures with LED lamps, which allows for a wider range of substrates, because LED lamps emit much less heat than traditional mercury arc lamps. Another company claims LED lamps, if properly maintained, can last the lifespan of the printer, which does not happen with mercury arc lamps: they need to be replaced every number of years. Of course, this is not the only wide-format UV printer using LED lamps. In fact, in recent years, the number of machines that adopted LED technology has increased, including models from Mimaki, Roland, EFI VUTEK to SUN Innovations models, the Russian manufacturer who started to use LED lamps again, after Luscher could not succeed with its gigantic JetPrint model that used LED technology.

The Agfa :Anapurna 2500 LED has rarely been exhibited at major trade shows. Here, however, exhibited at Reklama Moscow expo in 2011.

The other aspect is that the :Anapurna 2500 LED printer does not use any of the known printhead brands. So no Spectra, Konica Minolta nor RICOH heads in this machine. The heads are called Agfa UPH, which stands for Universal Print Head. This printhead is based on the XAAR 760, and it is logical to assume that Agfa paid XAAR for the rights to the printhead. But XAAR phased out this head model in 2010 or 2011 and this made things difficult for several manufacturers. For example, Grapo (now SigmaJet) had to change from the XAAR 760 to the XAAR 1001 model in some of their models. The Teckwin TeckStorm was another printer using the XAAR 760 heads.

In this context it is difficult to tell whether or not you can trust a printer whose printhead license situation is unclear. Since this model has not been exhibited as often as the :Anapurna M series, indeed it is almost NEVER exhibited (in the last three years we have seen it only once, at the remote Reklama Moscow 2011 expo). Thus I have no easy way to judge the print quality of this machine, but I can say I am a bit skeptical about a printer that uses a printhead model that no other machine in the real world uses. On the other hand, most Agfa models I have seen are good printers.

But since DRUPA '08 the XLS has only occasionally been exhibited. For trade shows Agfa has concentrated on showing the M-series. So there is no FLAAR Report on the Agfa :Anapurna XLS. We need to be at the main demo center to do an evaluation, and then need to visit a printshop that has one (to see how it operates in the real world). In the meantime there are simply too many other UV-cured printers with moving transport belts: GRAPO Octopus II, the newer GCC K72 uv, several EFI Rastek models (H700 and H660), plus for outside Europe and USA, the original Dilli Neo UV printers. But if an opportunity is available to inspect the Agfa :Anapurna XLS in detail we will consider doing a comprehensive FLAAR evaluation. So many companies are asking for evaluations that we have trained a second evaluator. He now has experience for three years and has visited UV printer factories around the world.

Printer Specs

The printer handles mainly flat materials but can print on roll media too. The maximum print width is 100” (2.45 m), and a maximum length (only for rigid substrates) of 118” (3 m). The media thickness is 1.8” (4.6 cm).

Considering the price range of the other Agfa :Anapurna printers, this model should be among US$200,000 and US$250,000. Until we can see this model at a trade show, we cannot provide an exact price.

The disadvantage of this model compared to other printer brands of similar print width is in the quantity of inks. Whereas other competitors come with six or eight ink colors, the :Anapurna 2500 LED comes only with 4. Again, we cannot judge the output until we see it exhibited in a trade show or at the manufacturing plant. But in the mean time, 4 colors at that price range no longer seems enough.

Sample printed on with the :Anapurna 2500 LED printer. Another aspect that makes this an unusual printer, is that ink is cured with 3 lamps. Most other UV-curable printers use two lamps. The Gandy Pred8tor is an exception because it cures with only one industrial-sized UV lamp.



First posted January 18, 2012.