The EFI VUTEk GS3250r is being replaced by the EFI VUTEk 3r Print

EFI recently launched the EFI VUTEk 3r, a dedicated roll-to-roll UV printer that replaces the GS3250r, which replaced the QS3200.


The new EFI VUTEk 3r prints flexible media up to 138 in. (350 cm), which is about 12 in. (30 cm) more than its predecessor, the GS3250r.

If you want to learn about this new model, visit the article on the EFI VUTEk 3r.

 

A brief history of EFI’s roll-to-roll printers (and its competitors)


Things have changed a lot in the UV-curing roll-to-roll printer realm since 2007, when the EFI VUTEk QS3200r was launched.


Prior to 2007, NUR, an Israeli printer manufacturer, used to hold over 70% market share for UV-curing roll-to-roll printers (with their NUR Expedio series).


But in late 2007, at SGIA, the EFI VUTEk QS3200r was shown to the public, only two years after EFI completed the acquisition of VUTEk in 2005.


A year later, a new player loomed in the horizon: at Graphics of the Americas 2008, Matan, a then unknown manufacturer, exhibited its impressive 5-meter roll-to-roll UV printer, the Barak5 model.


Still in 2008, Hewlett-Packard completed the acquisition of NUR and the competition, once scattered, began to consolidate into fewer major players.

  A curious side fact: HP incorporated the NUR printers under the Scitex brand, another company HP had acquired in 2005.


What not a lot of people know, is that both EFI and Scitex were founded by the same person: the late Efraim “Efi” Arazi.

 

In late 2009, Fujifilm and Matan completed the Original Manufacturer Equipment agreement, and the first began to rebrand the Matan Barak printers as the UVIStar roll-to-roll printers.


These new versions were first exhibited at ISA 2010 in the Fujifilm booth.


After a few years of successful installations around the world, EFI engineers saw the need to update their QS3200 roll-to-roll model.


On early 2011, the company rolled out the EFI VUTEk GS3250r, which was officially launched at FESPA Digital 2011, in Hamburg.


 

VUTEk GS3250r, FESPA, UV-curable roll-to-roll printers
EFI VUTEk GS3250r, a dedicated roll-to-roll at FESPA 2011.

 

2012 was the last year HP exhibited their HP Scitex roll-to-roll printers, previously known as NUR. I have checked our photographic records and our TRENDS Reports, and the HP roll to roll printers are nowhere to be found after 2012.


It would take a whole new article to talk about the reasons and consequences of the splitting of the HP company that happened at this point.


On July 1st, 2015, EFI acquired Matan Digital Printers, and one of the EFI Matan machines, now EFI Quantum roll-to-roll UV-curing printer, was already exhibited at SGIA 2015.


Then, on January 2017, EFI replaced the VUTEk GS3250r with the new VUTEk 3r and a 5-meter wide version of it, the VUTEk 5r, which is probably replacing the EFI VUTEk GS5000r.

 

 

We hope to test the EFI VUTEk 3r either at the demo room, or at a print shop.

FLAAR staff has visited the EFI headquarters in Meredith, New Hapshire several times.
Based of those visits, we have two reports: one report on the VUTEk GS3200 (a combo printer: with transport belt) with comments on the MediaMaster feeding mechanism, and one report on the GS5000r 5-meter roll-to-roll UV printer.


We have inspected several other factories in the US, Europe and Asia.


Before Gandinnovations (or the remains of) was acquired by Agfa, I inspected the Gandinnovations roll-to-roll UV printers in a successful printshop in Lisbon. I have also inspected the Gandinnovations Jeti 3224 RTR roll-fed UV in the Toronto factory and demo room.


On two occasions I visited the NUR factory, in the NUR R&D facilities (now property of HP) in Lod, Israel, to test their roll-fed printers:

At EFI VUTEk, I have inspected only their QS2000, QS3200, and clever dye-sub/solvent switch over system, 3360 Fusion. The QS3200r is too new and was not available for testing during my three visits to VUTEk earlier this year.


During early 2008 it was possible to spend three days testing the Durst Rho 351R, their dedicated roll-to-roll successor to the Rho 350R.

Presently (March 2008) I am finishing a fourth visit to Israel printer manufacturers, this time at HP Scitex. It had proven more effective to evaluate a printer at the factory and headquarters demo room than at trade shows.

 

VUTEk QS3200, EFI Vutek QS2000 UV-curable inkjet flatbed screen printers
VUTEk dedicated roll-to-roll QS3200r at SGIA 2007.

 

The status of the competition in the roll-to-roll segment

As described above, NUR, was acquired by HP, but apparently HP discontinued the NUR Expedio roll-to-roll printers, rebranded as HP Scitex XP series.


HP Scitex exhibited their HP Scitex XL2200 at SGIA '07, but the word on the street is that the X2 MEMS-like printheads have serious issues and are nowhere near ready for actual production.


NUR pointedly reminded visitors to SGIA that you can obtain any NUR Expedio 5000 Revolution now (as opposed to the smoke and mirrors of an HP Scitex XL2200 that was, in reality, nowhere near ready for actual production.


The X2 printheads simply didn’t last long enough; they constantly had to be replaced.


Even manufacturing them to get them into the printer is an issue). So HP began to offer four versions of the successful NUR roll-to-roll printers under the HP logo:

  • HP Scitex XP5300 = NUR Expedio Revolution 5m,
  • HP Scitex XP5100 = NUR Expedio,
  • HP Scitex XP2700 = NUR Expedio Inspiration,
  • HP Scitex XP2100 = NUR Expedio 3200

Gandinnovations had its Jeti 3224 RTR roll-fed UV printers available. A third-generation Gandy roll-to-roll production printer, the JetStream (JetSpeed), was launched at ISA '07.

But as stated above, the company no longer exists.


Before the 2008 crisis, NUR/HP Scitex UV printers held over 70% of the market of dedicated R-to-R UV printers.
The Gandy roll-to-roll held probably 25% of this market and their Jetstream was supposed to increase this share.

Durst holds leadership in roll-to-roll printers at the high-end (for those printshops that need specially high resolution, or who need white, and varnish).


Traditionally, Durst has exhibited its UV printers only in the US and Europe, but at APPPEXPO 2016, in China, they had a Rho 512, a 5-meter dedicated roll-to-roll UV printer.


If Durst sees a potential market in China, this suggests that some Chinese print shops are nervous about buying a “domestic” UV printer (a printer made in China).


All Chinese-made roll-to-roll printers together probably have less than 1% of the market.


Then Matan has shown two models of dedicated roll-fed machines in Europe and launched their Matan Barak 5000 for the US and Latin American market at Graphics of the Americas 2008.


These printers are so new they have not yet entered the statistics of market-share. I predict these Matan printers, now EFI Quantum,  will do okay because they are clearly made from the ground up for high production roll to roll.


At ISA 2016 you could also see an EFI Quantum LXr previously known as Matan Barak.


The acquisition of Matan in 2015, was a smart move by EFI, especially considering Fujifilm rebranded two Matan roll-to-roll UV printers as the UVIStar series.


But even after the acquisition, Fujifilm exhibited a UVIStar printer at SGIA 2016. All this is documented in our Fujifilm does not manufacture wide-format printers themselves. Their entire printer portfolio is made somewhere else.


Fujifilm is not in the business of printers, it is on the business of ink.

There is no 5-meter VUTEk model and the 3.2 VUTEk model is not really dedicated from the ground up: it is a roll-fed version of their earlier combo-version QS printer. This is not “bad” but all the competing printers are roll-fed from Day One.


Spuhl has finally released its long-awaited high-end 5-meter roll to roll UV-curable printer, the WP Digital Virtu RR50.


But as mentioned in another article, Wifag Polytype has discontinued its impressive UV printers.


FLAAR visited the WP Digital factory the day of its release to inspect the printer inside and out as well as testing it. Why wait until a printer shows up at a trade show: might as well check it out right away.


So the advent of the VUTEk QS3200r and its replacements is a form of documentation that grand-format solvent printer hegemony is gradually being joined by roll-to-roll UV.


Roll-to-roll UV is not totally replacing solvent printers, but shops that already have solvent are adding roll-to-roll UV-curable systems.


And shops that never wanted lethal solvent printers in their shop to begin with, are now considering roll-to-roll UV-curable systems. UV ink is obviously not benign, but it's dangers are not as in-your-face as is the carcinogenic aspect of full-solvent grand-format printers.


So for billboards, building wrap, banners, posters, and general outdoor signage, roll-fed UV is a trend that's growing. As a result FLAAR will be issuing more reports on dedicated roll-to-roll UV printers.


Indeed the market for all this signage is growing at such a rate that HP has come out with an entirely new environmentally friendly ink, HP latex ink.


EFI VUTEk has its bio-ink, but I have never been to the InkWare facility where it is made.

Until that is possible I am being trained in the new latex ink for outdoor signage, starting with three days in Israel with additional training scheduled for Barcelona and other HP facilities elsewhere in the world.

This is how it is possible to bring our readers information which is more helpful that a PR release or a slick “Success Story.”


I would also wish to learn to what degree Seiko printheads require frequent spitting and/or frequent purging, and how much ink and/or flush liquid is used by Seiko heads compared with Spectra printheads (used by Gandinnovations) or Ricoh printheads (used by Matan).

 

VUTEK QS3200r dedicated roll-to-roll UV-curable printer reviews
VUTEk dedicated roll-to-roll QS3200r printing some samples at SGIA 2008.

The VUTEK QS3200r dedicated roll-to-roll UV-curable printer evaluations
Here is Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth holding a sample printed by the VUTEk QS3200r at SGIA 2008.

 

Most recently updated May 2017.

First posted November 5, 2007. Updated March 10, 2008. Updated February 2009.