First solvent ink printer with color management built in is the ColorSpan DisplayMaker 72si, the Gator Print

As we enter 2006, the choices for sign franchise shops, family-run vinyl-cutting shops, and all the digital print shops are between retrofitted (jerry-rigged) eco-solvent printers and solidly designed true solvent printers.

Remember, printers using eco-solvent inks were originally designed only for handling water-based inks. To use eco-solvent inks the printers had to have new parts stuck on wherever they would fit. Only now are new generations of solvent printers being designed from the ground up to handle eco-solvent inks (Mutoh Osprey in Europe, as an example).

At SGIA '03 it was possible to see the ColorSpan DisplayMaker 72s in action. We then saw the printer perform at Graphics of the Americas trade show in early 2004. The printer is carefully designed so that maintenance can stay easy. Looks like a good printer to compete with the invasion of cheap Chinese printers. With ColorSpan at least you know they have spare parts already here in the USA.

The other difference is that the Chinese manufacturers are 10,000 miles away. Once you buy their printer, you own it, defects and all. Don’t dream that the manufacturer will replace your cheap printer when it breaks down and no spare parts are available for a month.

ColorSpan DisplayMaker 72SI
Inkjet textiles from 3P can also be used with solvent ink, here with the
ColorSpan 72S

ColorSpan 72s Solvent Ink printer has now been updated with the model Displaymaker 72SI

And who will buy your used Chinese printer? Its resale value is close to zilch.

But the only way to know for sure is to find a digital print shop that has the printer you are interested in, and ask them. So we visited a sign shop near our university. They had two ColorSpan 72S solvent ink printers. The complete list of pros and cons is now available in the FLAAR Reports. We especially grilled the owners about tech support: what about local tech support from the dealer; what about back-up tech support from the manufacturer? We were surprised by the answers. The entire report on what it is like to have a ColorSpan solvent ink printer in your shop is now readily available from FLAAR.

Then Nicholas Hellmuth did the same thing for UV printers from ColorSpan. Again, found a place that had not one but two ColorSpan UV printers. We asked pointed questions to find out the truth.

Then, we found two more places that had the ColorSpan UV printers. One is the newer model 72uvX. You don’t get this depth of coverage on user group websites; you don’t learn about the downsides of a printer in a Success Story published by the manufacturer (they never tell you what does NOT work in the printer).

FLAAR has the initiative to provide this service, as you would expect for a university institute dedicated to applied digital imaging technology.

Back to the ColorSpan 72SI solvent ink printer

This is the first solvent ink printer in its class to offer built-in linearization and color management tools for creating ICC color profiles.

We find the advertising for this printer deserves a reward for the most delightful one I have seen. To enjoy the humor you have to realize that the printer is nicknamed the "Gator." Its favorite diet is reportedly toucans and penguins. The ad suggests people should swallow up their competition with this printer. Overall the ad copy is the most humorous I have seen this new year.

With all the new solvent ink printers available today it is not easy to figure out the pros and cons. As a result Nicholas Hellmuth has put several years into researching a series of FLAAR Reports on solvent ink printers to try to assist sign shops, sign franchises such as Sign a Rama and Signs Now, even quick print shops as they embrace solvent ink printers.

The FLAAR Reports cover solvent ink printers, eco-solvent ink, lite-solvent ink, and even oil-based wide format printers. These reports are readily available from our university center for public education on digital imaging.



Most recently updated December 19, 2005.