Gerber Jetster introduced at ISA 2003 Print
Gerber Jetster eco-solvent inks
Gerber booth at ISA 2003 tradeshow

The specs for this printer state "EcoSolvent" ink. But what does that really mean? What is Eco-Solvent ink?

There is no admission that these inks may require special media. Instead the specs only state "Fully tested media set." What does that mean? Where is the end-user told that special media for this printer may cost more than media for a true solvent ink printer? We term this stuff "pseudo-solvent ink."

Most knowledgeable people in the industry feel the ads could be considered misleading.

Gerber Jetster eco-solvent inks evaluations
Gerber Jetster printer at ISA tradeshow, 2003.
Gerber Jetster eco-solvent inks, lite solvent inks
Gerber Jetster printer, ink cartridges.

Pseudo-solvent ink printers

Roland uses the name Sol-Jet. Buyers may assume this means solvent ink. But in fact this Roland printer does not use true solvent ink. Details are hard to obtain, and until Roland itself publishes full documentation, we can only do the best we can in obtaining facts.

Some people in the industry have pointed out the ads may be misleading, and hence unfair to consumers. For example: do the ads claim that you don't need lamination? Do the ads claim that you don't need coated media? So why do these same companies sell coated media specifically for eco-solvent printers?

But one fact is clear, reportedly the early kinds of pseudo-solvent ink do not print on all economical vinyls. Instead you have to pay for special coated vinyls. In some cases you may have to buy coated media. This means higher cost. This means you may not be able to compete on cost with someone with a true solvent printer.

Mimaki made a prototype for a comparable eco-solvent ink but Mimaki USA properly judged it would not be acceptable to offer such a product. As a result Mimaki does not offer any pseudo-solvent printer. The Mimaki JV3 is actual solvent ink and very popular printer as a result.

Mutoh Rockhopper is the European name for the Mutoh Falcon II Outdoor in the USA. Mutoh USA has honorably refunded a sign shop in Florida who was unable to compete because cost of media raised price too high. Mutoh USA has now gone through two ink chemistries trying to improve the ink: the first two generations of inks for both Mutoh and Roland all had the same problems.

We do not know how Roland is handling the situation, nor how they are informing the end user of the truth relative to the contents of the inks and to what degree they require special media.

Although a new generation of inks is now available, be careful with the first generation printers and inks, since they are probably still actively being sold on eBay and everywhere else, with no advisory about the situation of what limited range of media you have to use with these unusual inks (and its cost compared with raw vinyl that requires true solvent ink).

Encad VinylJet 36 inch outdoor printer

Encad told buyers up front what vinyl the new VinylJet 36 could print on. So buyers know in advance sort of what to expect. However the Encad ink was very special, and not labeled as either eco-solventor lite-solvent.

Unfortunately the VinylJet printer system had so many quirks that evidently some users did not really like it very much. This printer, and its technology, did not last long. Nor really did the Jetster. Gerber dropped the Jetster rather quickly.

New eco-solvent and lite-solvent inks now available for 2006

At least since summer '03 all the printer manufacturers and ink companies tacitly admitted (by hastily coming up with overhauled new versions) that the first generation of lite solvent inks and printers such as SolJet were not ideal. So today by autumn there was a new third generation of lite-solvent and eco-solvent formulas. We are now updating our FLAAR Reports on Eco-solvent inks.

This model is no longer available new, but you might find it as a used printer. Regardless of what brand and model, before buying any used printer, we recommend that you realize spare parts may be an issue for printers no longer manufactured. Plus, the main reason why a model is retired is because engineers have developed new (and hopefully better) printheads, ink delivery systems, substrate transport systems, etc. So what may have been an acceptable printer when it was fresh and new, may be not as viable today.

Plus undersand that there are so many old models that it is not realistic for us to update each and every web page going back so many years. So if you need personal assistance, to decide which used printer is worth the risk, you can hire Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth for a personalized consultancy. For more information, contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Most recently updated February 16, 2006.
First posted May 12, 2003; updated Sept. 1, 2005. Jan. 5, 2006.