First look at the Roland SolJet Pro III Print & Cut XC-540 Print

Roland Soljet PRO III Print and Cut XC-540I first saw theRoland SolJet Pro III Print & Cut XC-540 at FESPA Digital in mid-May 2006. If this was at ISA a few weeks earlier, I missed it (since there were more booths at ISA than a mortal could cover in three days, especially with all the Chinese solvent ink printers).

Essentially the “III” is the result of trial and error with past models. The eco-solvent ink also went through the headaches of the first two generations. The present third-generation Eco-Sol Max ink is acceptable. I have used this Eco-Sol Max ink both at a workshop in Greece and in the booth of Materia Grigia at FESPA trade show itself (to print floor plans suggesting where to go).

The reason for it taking so many years to get-it-right is because the original Roland heritage is water-based inks, in the halcyon days when Roland was the premier printer for giclee and fine art photography. Then Epson took this rich market away (along with 90% of the proofing market too). So Roland (and Mutoh and Mimaki) had to evolve to survive. Along came the rosy concept of eco-solvent. The inadequate chemistry of the first two generations of ink was an unmitigated disaster for three years. Now, in 2006, Roland has an improved ink and two promising new printers, the present Roland SolJet Pro III Print & Cut XC-540, and the Roland Advanced Jet, AJ-1000.

Roland SolJet Pro III Print & Cut XC-540 reviews
Roland SolJet Pro III Print & Cut XC-540 printer at ISA 2008.

Until we have one in-house to evaluate the Pro III, or until we undertake a site-visit case study, it would not be appropriate to issue a recommendation pro or con. But the Roland SolJet Pro III Print & Cut XC-540 definitely shows promise.

Of course the competition is also infused with energy too, all to some degree a result of HP taking over distribution of the immensely popular Seiko ColorPainter 64 S and rebadging the Seiko as the HP Designjet 9000s. The Seiko printer avoided the problems of eco-solvent ink by going straight to mild solvent ink from the start. As a result of having an excellent color gamut, and based on reactions by many people to the Seiko, their printer received enthusiastic reviews from FLAAR from the beginning, and since FLAAR comments are read world wide by half a million people a year, it is no wonder a printer that had positive features, and received a distinctly favorable review, did well.

In the past we had little access to Roland printers, but since FLAAR has undertaken several consulting and workshop projects in Greece, we have gotten to know Atlas S.A., the main distributor for Roland for Greece and the Balkan area. Through Atlas S.A. it has been possible to have first-hand experience with a Pro II Roland. As a result we have additional access to information, and with more knowledge we can issue a more meaningful conclusion (namely that generation three of the eco-solvent inks has finally reached a point where we rate it as acceptable).

If this access had been available earlier, and more conveniently in the US, we probably could have updated our comments previously. Anyway, the Roland booth at FESPA Digital was a handsome display of Roland’s European popularity.

But the competition, especially in the US, is getting tough for Japanese manufacturers, since Chinese printers are invading the US market. Graphtec (formerly “Western Graphtec”) is now offering their Graphtec SignJet JS300-18ES eco-solvent printer. But should you consider a Chinese printer? What about tech support, spare parts, image quality? However I have heard this version of an Infiniti printer is acceptable for entry level. But probably a more immediate competitor for Roland is the new CJV30 series of Mimaki: CJV30-60, CJV30-100, CJV30-130 and CJV30-160.

Roland Soljet XC 540 reviews and evaluations
Here is the Booth of Roland, DRUPA 2008.

 

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Most recently updated August 14, 2008.
First posted June 1, 2006. Updated June 5, 2006.