Roland SOLJET Pro II EX-SJ-1000 EX and Roland SolJet Pro II SJ-1045 Print

You have six different 100-inch solvent printers to select from and three different ink chemistries: eco-solvent ink, mild-solvent ink, or full solvent ink. I am not familiar with any independent source that compares all six machines (or really even tells the end user that all six printers exist). And definitely no one admits in print the downsides of eco-solvent ink compared with the other solvent inks.

Roland has an intriguing system for naming their printers. But their website is the most dynamic and designed site among printer manufacturers.

Roland SOLJET Pro II EX-SJ-1000 printer reviews
Roland SOLJET Pro II EX-SJ-1000 printer at SGIA 2004.

Resolving problems with premature eco-solvent inks

Eco-solvent inks had a rocky road since premature launch in 2002-2003. It has taken three generations of new chemistry to reach an ink that by late 2005 was more or less acceptable.

The FLAAR Reports on eco-solvent inks have a few notable quotables on the problems of eco-solvent inks.

But lets pass over past blunders in eco-solvent ink chemistry and look more positively; at least the third-generation ink is passable now, albeit not what most people prefer (which is the mild-solvent inks).

The Roland SolJet Pro II SJ-1000EX offers two sets of CCMMYK; the Roland SolJet Pro II V SJ-1045 offers options of CCMMYK or the basic six colors. So you can select from a 6-ink-channel printer or a dual 6-channel printer.

The hassle is finding a regular RIP that can handle the unusual combination of colors. The disadvantage of the RIP provided by any printer manufacturer is that it locks you into using their own house-brand of media. You need an aftermarket RIP such as Wasatch or Shiraz to do your own customized ICC color profiles. This is far preferable to using canned profiles from the manufacturer.

We have been looking for a print shop near our university that has any of the Roland eco-solvent printers but the print shops in our area (Toledo, Ohio) are buying mainly UV-curable printers. We looked out in California but of the last two that had bought an eco-solvent printer both print shops disliked it so much that a site-visit was not feasible (this was in August 2005). But as soon as we can find a print shop near us that has a recent-model Roland printer we will check to see how the printer, and the print shop operator, are faring.

Other stretch models of solvent ink printers

For years grand format printers were the realm of Salsa, NUR, Scitex Vision, and Vutek. Then came the Chinese invasion of 2003-2004, and everything changed. Then Mimaki, ColorSpan, and Seiko launched stretch models that cost less than Chinese grand format printers (and the ColorSpan, Mimaki, and Seiko were significantly more reliable, plus you got real tech support in a language other than Chinese).


List of stretch-models of solvent inkjet printers

So far the new HP 8000s and the HP 9000s mild-solvent inkjet printers are not stretch models. HP will probably have Scitex Vision handle the true grand format sizes.

The new era of mild-solvent ink printers ushered in this year

The entire solvent ink market has been invigorated by several events in 2006: first is the continued design of totally new printer platforms by Mutoh Europe, such as their Mutoh Osprey and their giant Mutoh Phoenix. The Mutoh Osprey was shown for a few hours in the US as the Mutoh X-Jet. Vutek has taken on the Mutoh Europe Osprey as the Vutek UltraVu 260, so this is not sold by Mutoh USA. Mutoh Europe also developed their Spitfire, which to some degree is an replacement for the Mutoh Toucan, which has not always been popular with end-users. The Mutoh Spitfire looks like an improvement.

The second earthquake in the solvent inkjet printer industry is HP buying Scitex Vision and then HP effectively absorbing Seiko’s output of entry-level mild-solvent printers (the Seiko ColorPainter 64s becoming the HP Designjet 9000s. This also puts the seal of approval on mild-solvent. Mutoh is also moving into mild-solvent too. Mild-solvent (lite-solvent) seems to be the future.

This in turn will result in Mimaki coming out with something to replace the JV3. We assume the new printer will be called the Mimaki JV5 since JV4 is already taken by a nice water-based printer (we have one and it is a great machine; we also have a Mimaki textile printer).

So this year, 2006, will be a watershed for the world of solvent ink printers. Mild-solvent will gradually take over; full-solvent will continue to grow, and eco-solvent will be replaced by mild-solvent.


FLAAR Reports on mild & lite-solvent printers
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First posted January 30, 2006.