Mimaki JFX-1631 replaces the former Mimaki JF-1631 Mimaki JFX-1631 plus replaces initial JFX-1631 Print

The first generation Mimaki JFX-1631 is a welcome addition to the Mimaki line of printers for outdoor and indoor signage.

Mimaki is the furthest advanced in UV-curing technology of all Japanese solvent printer manufacturers (Roland, Mutoh, and Seiko). For example, there was no Mutoh UV printer at ISA 2009 whatsoever (only in Europe), and Roland has a narrow-format, not a large format UV printer (and no flatbed UV-cured printer at all). Seiko has been working on a UV-curing inkjet flatbed, combo or hybrid printer for four years but has no manufacturing facility of its own. So for the last four years, and continuing in 2009, Mimaki is ahead in the field of UV-curable printers in comparison with their colleagues in Japan.

The older Mimaki JF-1610 is still in inventory and was surprisingly still exhibited at the Mimaki booth at ISA 2009. So the X-version with LED curing lamps is, so far, only for the larger size.

Mimaki then announced the JFX-1631plus, we saw this printer at Sign Africa 2010. This series is 80% faster than its existing model JFX-1631.

Mimaki JFX-1631 plus reviews
Here is the Mimaki JFX-1631 plus printer at GSW booth. Sign Africa trade show 2010.

Mimaki JFX-1631plus evaluations
Mimaki JFX-1631 plus series at Sign Africa '10.

LED curing lamps for the Mimaki JFX-1631

The primary difference between the new Mimaki JFX-1631 and the old Mimaki JF-1631 is the presence of LED curing lamps on the X-version. But surely there are additional refinements; these I will need to learn about in a demo-room visit. But since the original JF-1631 had quite a list of issues and weaknesses, it is nice that Mimaki finally phased it out.

Should you buy a Mimaki JF-1631 used? If it is practically free, and if you know fully what quirks you will have to put up with, then perhaps. But if someone is asking more than a few thousand dollars for this early model, you would need the patience of Job (and the pocket book of Midas) to have such a machine as a production model. But this is past history now that the second generation JFX-1631 plus is available.

Mimaki JFX-1631 UV-cured flatbed inkjet printer checklist:

Because the new JFX-1631 looks, on the surface, to be very similar to the old JF-1631, it is not realistic at a hectic trade show to learn its full list of improvements over the older model. The primarily weak points on the Mimaki JF-1631 were:

Stepper motors; if there are still stepper motors on the JFX-1631, that is an obsolete method of motors. Minimally a UV-curable flatbed printer needs servo motor and ideally a linear magnetic motor (as used by Durst Rho 800, WP Digital Virtu RR50, etc).

Antiquated Epson 220 or even 440 ml rectangular ink cartridges are an out-moded system that not even Epson uses any longer. 90% of the printer manufacturers avoid Epson-style cartridges and instead use a bulk ink system.

Ink price per liter: compare ink cost per liter and ink price per square foot or per square meter. If UV ink price is too high, in an economic recession printshop owners prefer a printer with lower ink costs.

Wiper blades to clean the printheads: 80% of printer manufacturers either do not use wiper blades at all or specifically realize they often do more harm than good.

Please understand that these issues are based on what end-users of the old Mimaki JF-1631 told us specifically and clearly, or were comments by industry analysts who are familiar with engineering pros and cons of various brands.

If, if the Mimaki JFX-1631 has gotten rid of the causes of the weak points of the earlier model, and if at some point in the future I can undertake test prints of the new JFX-1631, then we can issue an updated commentary and reviews. Because there are now over 45 manufacturers of UV-cured printers, and over 70 different models, it is not realistic to evaluate a printer at a busy trade show. Plus a comprehensive evaluation is a professional service and has a standard process to handle.

Mimaki JFX 1631 ISA 2009
Mimaki JFX 1631 ISA 2009
Mimaki JFX 1631 printer front view at ISA 2009.

Comparisons of the Mimaki JFX-1631 with Comparable Printers

The Gerber Solara ionX and ionZ and Oce Arizona 250 GT would be other flatbeds in the US market. For Europe you could add the GRAPO Manta.

I know the GRAPO Manta and Solara ionX best since there has been time to do full evaluations, test printing, and a project to publish (and constantly update) the evaluation reports. Plus for both these printers FLAAR has accomplished a separate site-visit case study (inspecting each of these printers in an actual printshop). Manta flatbed and Solara ionX flatbed in more detail.

Since there are many new introductions of UV printers at ISA for the US market: two new Chinese UV and one new European UV flatbed, there is a backlog waiting list for FLAAR to inspect so many models. To help with the backlog we have trained a second evaluator at FLAAR, so you can expect more evaluations as research funding becomes available later in 2009.

Final comments on the Mimaki JFX-1631 plus

I congratulate Mimaki for recognizing the curing issue of LED lamps and for adding the post-curing unit. This is an additional curing system, evidently not LED but not mercury-arc either. But since this is a retrofit, it knocks off 40 cm to the size of the boards that you can print.

Perhaps in the future there will be an additional model that has the new lamp already inside so that 40 cm are not lost


Most recently updated twice; once after we saw the plus model at SignAfrica, and a second time December 9, 2010, as part of our program to update as many of our UV-cured printer pages as time permits in the busy December month.

First posted April 20, 2009, after ISA expo where the Mimaki JFX-1631 was launched.