Shark, a new concept in roll-to-roll production UV flatbed printer Print

Most 3-meter and 5-meter roll-to-roll production printers offer speed but are not intended for POP or other close viewing. This is why Durst, Spuhl, and L&P are aiming for this market: fast production but not ignoring really high print quality.

NUR, Gandy, and Matan were after speed (which makes sense) plus quality at normal viewing distance (not intended for eyeball to eyeball viewing).

But Oce offered unprecidented print quality on a flatbed printer and broke all sales records for a dedicated flatbed printer. In other words, there are some printshops that prefer print precision over speed.

GRAPO Shark roll-to-roll production UV flatbed printer reviews
Nicholas Hellmuth visited recently the GRAPO factory, to inspect the GRAPO Shark printer.

The Shark is aimed at this market and applications: speed but also with crisp small fonts if you wish that also.

The GRAPO Shark roll-to-roll production UV flatbed printer evaluations
The new Shark combo flatbed, photographed at the factory demo room, November 2008.

Most 5-meter and 3-meter production printers are pretty much the same. If you changed the color most people at a trade show would not know which was which.

The Shark does not emulate, and definitely does not copy other UV production printers. I spent three days at the Grapo factory in summer 2008 and an additional three days in November 2008 to take further notes on the Shark.

At trade shows, you can always see each manufacturer taking mental notes on the competing printers. But the Shark was not designed in this style: the concept was born in a printshop: what do printshop owners and managers need?

Here is the advantage. Grapo is actually a digital sign printing company. But this printshop is owned and run by engineers. With their own experience, plus feed back from several hundred owners of earlier Grapo UV printers, they can understand what is missing in the market. Grapo realizes it will not prosper if it just makes “another UV printer.”

Discussion of this printer is in the new FLAAR Report evaluation which has been issued. This is an inspection report, evauating what we have seen so far.

The PDF is not a recommendation for or against this printer for the simple reason that we first need to inspect the printer in-situ in a customer site.

We will be updating the PDF this year when and if access is realistic to a printing company that is using one.

Image of the GRAPO Shark roll-to-roll production UV flatbed printer
Here the GRAPO Shark printing a photography taken by Nicholas Hellmuth at Viscom Italy trade show 2008.
GRAPO Shark roll-to-roll production UV flatbed printer samples
Sample printed by the GRAPO Shark roll-to-roll production UV flatbed printer.
The GRAPO Shark roll-to-roll production UV flatbed printer, inks
GRAPO Shark roll-to-roll production UV flatbed printer, inks.

reviews of the GRAPO Shark roll-to-roll production UV flatbed printer
This is the GRAPO Shark roll-to-roll production UV flatbed printer with some samples at FESPA Amsterdam trade show 2009.

Xaar OmniDot 760 greyscale printhead selected over Toshiba Tec

Toshiba Tec printheads offer high quality but are finicky, and slow. If there is any dust, or a hair, these heads clog. Mimaki JF-1631 had endless minor issues with clogging and purging (wasting huge amounts of expensive UV ink).

So for several reasons, the Xaar OmniDot 760 greyscale printhead was a good selection for the Shark: speed plus high quality. Unfortunately Xaar was not able to continue production of this printhead, leaving several printer manufacturers in the lurch. In hindsight this printhead was good technology but not all good technology can be manufactured consistently by the manufacturer.

The Shark was first mentioned to the public at VISCOM Germany and was first be shown at VISCOM Italy 2008. So now in 2009 the printer is mature and ready to be inspected to meet your printing needs.

You can see the GRAPO Shark at SGIA 2009

The GRAPO shark is for printshops that might be looking at a Durst or other premium brand UV printer, but would prefer a lower price. Although the Shark is not a drum-style like the TurboJet, the engineers designed it to compete on speed and definitely to be better quality (because it has newer printheads; the HP Scitex TurboJet still uses the same printheads year after year). The Shark is also faster than many of the VUTEk QS printers and can achieve better quality at its speeds than many other brands.


Updated with cautionary notes in April 2011.

Updated August 15, 2009.

First posted November 5, 2008.