Why no UV printers with Epson printheads are available? Print

Zund tried to develop a UV flatbed printer with Epson printheads: the XY-Flat. It failed and was withdrawn after being shown at DRUPA 2004.

Eastech states they have overcome difficulties but I have never seen any Eastech Octra 6440e or Eastech Octra 8740e printer at a trade show printing the entire time. And all the Eastech printers that are sold in the US were the Scutum model, with Spectra printheads. But all Eastech branded UV printers were phased out in 2007-2008, including the rebranded versions by GraphicsOne.

Eastech Octra printer reviews
Eastech Octra printer at ISA 2006.

Roland has been working for over three years to get their UV printer ready. This Roland UV printer has been shown to many distributors, dealers, and others. But it has not been displayed to the public. It is probably the attempt to get Epson printheads to work with UV-cured ink that is one reason for the delay. When Roland finally launched their UV printer, though, it did function acceptably (after a three year delay).

Moral of the story: why do manufacturers bother to even try to use Epson printheads if the original model Epson printheads were never made for jetting UV-curable ink to begin with. Of course today, in 2009, there are new generations of Epson printheads, but not many UV printer manufacturers are willing to experiment to use them.

Eastech Octra printer evaluations
Here is the Eastech booth at SGIA 2007.

Spectra, Ricoh, Xaar, and KonicaMinolta printheads for UV-cured flatbed printers

A UV printer is an industrial machine, and ought to have industrial-strength heads: this implies Spectra (more than half the existing UV printers), Ricoh (ColorSpan 9840), KonicaMinolta (IP&I and GCC 183uv) or comparable heads. Xaar 500 heads are often used but are lower in quality and don't last as long (Grapo Octopus, Zund 215). The newer Xaar printhead models are better.

But since the market for solvent ink printers is waning, and water-based printers with Epson printheads are being outsold by thermal printhead technology (Canon plus HP), Epson keeps looking to the market for UV-cured printers. So during 2009 and 2010, there may be some surprises. But Spectra, Ricoh, Xaar, and especially KonicaMinolta are moving ahead even more effectively since they already have years of experience working with UV-cured printing manufacturers.

Xaar printheads for UV-cured flatbed printers
Xaar printheads, flatbed UV-curable inkjet printers
Xaar printheads are more effectively working with UV-cured printing manufactures.
Xaar printheads are more effectively working with UV-cured printing manufactures

 

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Most recently updated January 27, 2009.

First posted May 30, 2006.