Teckwin TeckPro UV3200, a dedicated roll-to-roll printer, Compared to Flora, DGI and HP Latex printers Print

One of the most recent models from Teckwin is a roll-to-roll printer launched at APPPEXPO '09 in Shanghai. We then saw it exhibited at SGIA '09 in New Orleans, where the printer was offered at a price of US$115,000 (the trade show offer price was US$108,000).

Here is the Teckwin TeckUV 3200 SR printer, at APPPEXPO trade show 2009.

The advantage of a roll-to-roll UV inkjet printer compared to a solvent roll-to-roll is that UV technology produces considerably less VOCs and other fumes that damage the health of the operator. Solvent ink may require even days to be considered fully dry, whereas UV ink dries instantly (in theory at least). Ink in a solvent printer needs to be purged constantly which wears out the printheads more rapidly than in a UV printer. This also means that the ink consumption in a solvent printer is significantly higher than in a UV printer, although UV ink is more expensive than solvent ink.

That said, not many people would be willing to invest in a UV printer that only prints roll-to-roll unless the printer handles 5m wide media. A count of all UV printers by feeding mechanism made by FLAAR last year, recognized that only 14% of the UV printers in the market are dedicated roll-to-roll machines, which makes sense, considering that the main advantage of UV technology is the ability to print on rigid materials, and especially taking into account that a UV printer will tend to be more expensive than a solvent printer.

Teckwin is perhaps the most known Chinese wide-format printer manufacturer outside China and some of their printer models have gained acceptance in the US and in Europe. Although the TeckSmart hybrid printer has not been as successful due to unresolved issues of components, the TeckStorm flatbed had an initial acceptance both in Europe and in the US, though then both US dealers dropped distributorship: NuSign Supply because of issues with wiring in the flatbed. However now Teckwin has launched a completely new flatbed UV printer, so we hope it has fewer problems (but an evaluation requires site-visit case study).

In the meantime there is a new distributor in the US, albeit primarily for the Latin American market, where low-price may be more tempting. We recently met the pleasant staff of DGS, one of the distributors in the US for the TeckStorm.

Second Generation?

The name of the model exhibited in 2009 is slightly different than the name in 2010. TeckUV 3200 has been changed to TeckPro UV3200, but in general terms it looks like the same printer.

The Teckwin TeckUV 3200 SR printing some samples at Shanghai trade show 2009.

Here is the same printer exhibited at ISA trade show 2010, but the name has been changed to Teckwin TeckPro UV3200. As you can see in the two images above, the outer look has also been improved. But the most important upgrade is the roll handling system, which on the current model, can handle rolls up to 750 pounds in weight.

Appearance

The early version exhibited through 2009 had a functional industrial look. The version exhibited at ISA 2010 had a more sophisticated and sturdier appearance. The take-up system has been upgraded to a spindle that uses air to tight the roll.

Printheads

Apparently the printer exhibited in 2009 had two variations: The TeckUV 3200SR (with Spectra Polaris heads) and the TeckUV 3200XR (with XAAR 760 heads).

The TeckPro UV3200 kept the Spectra Polaris PQ-512/15 heads. I compliment Teckwin for openly listing the printhead brand and model in the official brochure, since not many companies share this information.

The TeckPro UV3200 uses two heads per color; each Spectra Polaris has 512 nozzles and produces a drop size of 15 to 30 picoliters. The advantage of this model of printhead is the quality and more affordable price compared to other Spectra models used in high-end printers such as Durst, Agfa :Jeti, WP Digital.

Ink Colors

The first generation came in basic CMYK. The 2010 version also comes in CMYK in the standard version but light cyan and light magenta are available options. However at the Dongguan Sign Expo earlier this year (2010) the colors were rather strange.

Media

The TeckPro can handle uncoated media such as Tyvek, Yupo, Polyethylene. One of the features is the ability to print simoultaneously on multiple rolls. Some 5-meter roll-to-roll UV printers handle up to three rolls. For the TeckPro it is still unclear if it can handle 2 or 3.

Comparison with Competitors
Teckwin TeckPro vs. Flora 320UV

The other Chinese company that has a comparable UV printer is Flora, who OEM's the combo printers for EFI Rastek. The TeckPro UV3200 offers light inks whereas the Flora 320UV comes with basic CMYK. As for the RIP, the Flora 320UV comes with Photoprint, an entry-level RIP very common in Chinese printers; Teckwin has a more international vision: TeckPro comes with a Teckwin edition of Caldera.

Teckwin TeckPro vs. DGI PolaJet PS 3206

Since there is not a significant difference in the performance nor in the price of both printers, this is more a situation of whether you tolerate solvent ink odor or not. UV ink does emit an odor too, although it is less perceptible than odor of solvent ink. UV ink colors are good, but nowhere near as good as solvent ink colors.

Other than the ink, it would be a decision of which company you would like to deal with. Teckwin is based in China, DGI is based in Korea. Teckwin is perhaps the most known Chinese printer manufacturer outside China and DGI is one of the most respected brands of solvent printers in the market. I visited a growing sign shop in Guatemala that started with a small DGI solvent printer and they are still very happy with it.

Teckwin TeckPro vs. HP Scitex LX800

The difference in price is more sensible here than in the previous comparisons. The Teckwin TeckPro is still the entry-level range ($125,000) whereas the HP Scitex is in the Mid-Range. But where is the HP Scitex LX800 ($200,000) compared to the average roll-to-roll UV printer? Gandinnovations' JetSpeed (now Agfa :Jeti) costs around $350,000; the Durst Rho 320R is €280,000 (around $342,300) in Italy, where the factory is located. So, besides being a more environmentally friendly ink, Latex printers are more affordable than most UV inkjet roll-to-roll printers in the 3m width range. This of course excludes the TeckPro, whose price is considerably lower.

The other difference is the print speed. In the chart below you see the print speeds of the printers discussed here (the print mode chosen for comparisons was the “Production”, since companies tend to advertise their “Draft” print speed but this mode not always produces a print quality you can sell). In Production mode, the HP Scitex LX800 is twice as fast as the TeckPro. The comparison of print speeds is not always accurate because each manufacturer defines the parameters differently (number of passes, etc) for each print mode in their machines.

Latex ink is a more environmentally friendly ink but some skeptics (competitors) say it is not as green as advertised due to latex ink's need for so much electricity to run the curing temperatures.

Teckwin TeckPro UV3200
Flora F1 320UV
DGI PolaJet PS 3206
HP Scitex LX800
Media
Feeding Mechanism

Dedicated

roll-to-roll

Dedicated

roll-to-roll

Dedicated

roll-to-roll

Dedicated

roll-to-roll

Print Width

3.30 m.

(10.83ft)

3.20 m.

(10.5ft)

3.20 m.

(10.5ft)

3.20 m.

(10.5ft)

Media Thickness

0.1 cm

(0.04”)

Standard roll thickness
0.2mm- 0.6mm
0.8mm
Printheads
Brand & Model

Spectra Polaris

PQ-512/15

Konica Minolta

512

Spectra Nova
HP Thermal Printheads
Drop Size

Variable

(15pl–30pl)

14pl
20pl
12pl
Inks
Ink type
UV-Curable
UV-Curable
Solvent
Latex
Colors

CMYK

(lc, lm optional)

CMYK

CMYK,

lc, lm

CMYK,

lc, lm

Advertised Print Speed
45 m 2 /h
36 m 2 /h
37-45 m 2 /h
88m 2 /h
Printer Price
$125,000
Not available
$139,000
$200,000

The TeckPro has some potential, especially if all the experience with previous models is applied to this new machine. Keeping the price low but quality high will be the way to go for this model to succeed against Latex and Sepiax inks. We will further the comments on this printer as feedback from end-users comes to us.

No matter what the brand, or model, it is essential to have knowledge of how a printer functions out in the real world: and in a report that is not a silly Success Story that trade magazines love to publish. These same trade magazines published Success Stories on the DuPont UV-cured printer (that was a terrible printer), and what about the Success Stories on the Swiss-made Luscher? This printer was so inadequate that even the manufacturer gave up. This is why FLAAR prefers not to recommend any printer until we have accomplished site-visit case studies.

 

 

First posted June 7, 2010.