HP Scitex TJ8600, an industrial production printer Print

HP is not a wide-format printer manufacturerin essence, but has bought manufacturing companies. The Scitex range of printers is HP’s industrial family, as opposed to the Designjet family which is smaller in print width and of course more affordable. The HP Scitex TJ series is the improved Scitex TurboJet printer, after HP acquired Scitex−based in Israel− a number of years ago.

Unusual Media Feeding Mechanism

The HP Scitex TJ is an unusual wide-format inkjet printer in the sense that the media feeding mechanism is not a traditional roll-to-roll mechanism, but it is described as roll-to-sheet. Media is loaded at the back, it is pulled out of the roll, cut and wrapped around a drum which rotates as the sheet is being printed on, until an acceptable color density is reached. Since in this system the printheads are static, the revolutions of the drum are the equivalent to the passes done on a flatbed printer by the movement of the printhead carriage from left to right.

HP Scitex TJ8500 is a UV-curable version of the solvent ink Scitex Vision TURBOJet UV

Unusual Print Speed.


While a standard roll-to-roll printer prints an average of 100 to 150 m2/hr, the HP Scitex TJ printers reach up to 480 m2/hr (I refer to them in plural because HP is constantly changing model designations to this printer), which means, in the best of the cases, flatbed printers produce about 5 times as much as a standard 3-meter roll-to-roll UV printer. This is because while traditional printers have no more than 20 printheads, the HP Scitex TJ has 150 printheads. A helpful sales person at FESPA Hamburg indicated the HP version uses Hitachi printheads, so they are RICOH, since according to a press release dated October 2004, the latter company acquired Hitachi a few years ago.

HP Scitex TJ8550, but how much different is it than the HP Scitex TJ8500?

At VISCOM Italy ‘08 the Scitex Vision TurboJet was labeled TJ8500. Later on the first day the numbers were totally gone. On the second day someone had replaced the label and it now said TJ8550. But it was the same identical printer: it came in as the HP Scitex TJ8500 and left as the HP Scitex TJ8550????

So the question is, if this was sent from the factory or distributor as the HP Scitex TJ8500, what in the world makes this any different than a cosmetic number change and a few new features somewhere inside here or there?

It has not been possible to inspect the TJ8550 at the factory demo room in Israel nor in Barcelona, so it is a bit confusing as to how the TJ8500 can become the TJ8500 merely by scraping off the old label and pasting on a new label?

Hewlett Packard Scitex Vision UV-curable HP Scitex TJ8500 reviews
HP Scitex TJ8500 UV-curable printer was exhibit at VISCOM Italy 2008.
the Hewlett Packard Scitex Vision UV-curable HP Scitex TJ8500 evaluations

HP Scitex TJ8500 and HP Scitex TJ8550 are a UV-curable version of the solvent ink Scitex Vision TURBOJet UV

During summer 2006 four companies had no major UV-curable inkjet technology exhibited at trade shows: Roland, Seiko, Scitex Vision, and Mutoh.

Mutoh had to rebrand a Korean printer and use Agfa ink to have a UV printer to exhibit (and they don’t show it at most trade shows).

Roland is stuck with a host of technical issues (see FLAAR Reports on why Roland lacks a UV-curable inkjet printer, as well as photographs of what their prototype looks like).

Seiko is obviously working on a UV-curable inkjet printer, but it has not yet appeared at any trade show. SGIA 2009 is one place it may debut.

Scitex Vision had a UV- printer, the former Sias Digital uv printer that dates back to the 1990’s. The update has taken forever to finish (HP Scitex FB6500). So to get some UV-curable inkjet technology out to its followers, HP took the TURBOjet and switched it from solvent ink to UV-curable ink. So then it begame the HP Scitex TJ8500. This printer was at several trade shows during Autumn 2006 and 2007.

Still, into summer 2007, Mutoh, Roland, and Seiko still don’t have their own UV printer to exhibit. At least one will have theirs by SGIA ’0 7; at least one more will have theirs by DRUPA ’08 (otherwise they are simply too late).

HP Scitex TJ8500 is a UV-curable version of the solvent ink Scitex Vision TURBOJet UV
HP Scitex TJ8500 at Graph Expo 2006

Scitex X2 printheads, MEMS technology

Many pundits were curious why HP bought Scitex Vision rather than Gandinnovations. One suggestion is that Scitex Vision had several patents of interest, namely for printheads other than thermal technology. The Aprion printheads for the Scitex Vision CORjet produce admirable quality (the CORjet, subsequently renamed the HP Scitex FB6700 is one of my favorite printers). And few months later, another Scitex printheadappeared appears on the horizon: the Scitex X2 printhead, manufactured by MEMS technology.

FLAAR is offering personalized consulting at each trade show. You can walk-the-floor with the Senior Editor of FLAAR and get his comments on any and all printers, inks, RIP software, color management, substrates, applications, etc.

So if you wish to learn about the difference between combo, hybrid, and dedicated UV printers, how latex ink compares, about textile printers, etc. contact FLAAR to obtain consulting.

You can also get consulting before ISA or FESPA anywhere in the world: Dubai, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, China, Korea, London and more.

Since Fujifilm now owns both Sericol ink and Spectra printheads, it was clever for HP to buy some industrial strength inkjet printhead patents and associated technology. Of course as everyone else is also finding out, using LED lamps for UV curing, using cationic UV ink chemistry, and using MEMS printhead technology is fraught with challenges. So far only all UV inkjet printers that tried using MEMS printheads, the Raster Printers Daytona T600UV, L&P Virtu HD8, and InkTec Jetrix, they all had to abandone the Spectra M Class printheads because MEMS heads have issues. Both the Spectra MEMS heads and the HP Scitex X2 MEMS heads have comparable problems (which are listed in the FLAAR Reports on UV printheads).

Another roll to cut sheet system is completely different in shape and format: the Augend RF20UV. We have more information about the Augend RF20UV because the managers of Augend invited us inside their printer, literally inside (yes, they opened the door at the side of the printer and took me inside). And at some time later this year I hope to be in their demo center. It is too hectic to take notes on a complex UV printing system at a busy trade show with over 600 booths. So beginning back in 2006 FLAAR began to do most of our scrutiny of UV printers in their factory and headquarters demo room, then we go out and find a printshop that has one and learn the other side of reality. theA few years ago i was in the NUR factory in Israel theFLAAR has also visited the EFI VUTEk headquarters in New Hampshire, the most recent time, to write reports on the EFI VUTEk GS3200 and EFI VUTEk GS5000r printers.

So for Gandinnovations UV-curable printers we have plenty of documentation since we have been a guest at their factory for two days and will be back to their new expanded factory for an entire week later this year. Plus there are so many places that have Gandy Jeti printers installed that it’s easy to do site-visit case studies. And every Jeti UV owner that we have interviewed in their printshop says the same things: these printers make money.

Several new UV-curable inkjet competitors for the HP Scitex TJ8550

A production printer, the Shark, was developed specifically as an alternative to the HP Scitex TJ8500 and HP Scitex TJ8550. The person who designed the Shark is the owner of a billboard and banner printing company. So he needs a more efficient UV printer that costs less than the HP Scitex TJ8550. So he and his engineers spent several years developing and testing a new printer. This UV-curing printer was launched at VISCOM Italy 2008. There is already a FLAAR Report on it since they opened up their factory for me to inspect the printer two months before it was announced and then again a second time the week before it was announced. GRAPO is the only billboard and banner printing company in the world that makes their own UV printers.

Visiting a factory and its demo room for testing UV printers is also why FLAAR Reports on Durst Rho printers are so successful; we are provided access to Durst demo rooms and factory in both Brixen, Italy, and Lienz, Austria (three times so far this year). As a result there are four different reports on Durst Rho printers since late 2008 (two are already available, Rho 800 and Rho 351R).

Another competitor in the billboard market is the Matan Barak, and the recent version, the Barak iQ. Most printshop owners prefer a roll-to-roll rather than a drum-to-sheet cutter concept. Nonetheless, clearly the HP Scitex TJ8550 offers features that other printshop owners prefer. No one printer is perfect for everyone. This is why FLAAR editor traveled 400,000 km in 2007 and more than that in 2008, in order to visit printshops that have printers in action so we know what they are like in the real world. In addition to visiting the Durst factories and the Grapo Shark factories several times, it was also possible to visit textile printer demo rooms in Korea (Yuhan-Kimberly MC3 and Keundo, Yuhan-Kimberly VU-1800 textile printer.

While on the subject of learning by visiting the factory and its demo room

There are three practical ways to learn about which UV-curable printer to consider:

  • First, visit a trade show (FLAAR evaluates every major show around the world).

  • Second, visit the factory to see how the printers are made (FLAAR shows inside the factories)

  • Third, visit a printshop that actually has the printer you are considering, to make sure it really works (when time, funding, and opportunity exist, we visit printshops).

A good example of all three steps would be with the Gerber Solara ionX, an entry level printer. I first inspected it at five different trade shows, in the US and across Europe .

Then it was also possible to visit the Gerber Solara ion factory, since although many FLAAR readers in each country want to learn about the high-end HP Scitex, NUR, VUTEk, Gandy, GRAPO, Durst and comparable UV printers, obviously thousands of our readers prefer also to learn about the entry level UV printers. Zund was #1 seller 2001-2003; ColorSpan was #1 seller 2003-2006; Oce took over sales leads in 2006-2008 because the ColorSpan 5440uv had so many problems and there was no other entry-level machine that worked well, so printshops had to go mid-range).

Now, in 2008-2009, the cationic ink of the Gerber Solara ionX finally works. To make double-sure, I visited the factory, spoke for hours with their top ink chemist, discussed the entire structure and technology with their top managers, then undertook hours of sample test printing.

And to double-check once more, I then visited a printshop in Chicago which had the Gerber solara ionX in full operation. All this effort is what goes into a FLAAR Report when there is access readily available.

We are curious to detect, in advance, what will be the next #1 entry-level and next #1 mid-range best-seller. ColorSpan lost this lead and the top positions are all up for grabs. We now have good documentation on which printers are capable enough to take over #1, #2, and #3 spot in UV printers. I was very sad that the ColorSpan 5440uv series (HP Designjet H35500 and HP Designjet H45500) had so many issues. The only way to rescue that printer is to start from scratch and totally replace it with a completely new printer. In the meantime, we have prepared a new concept in evaluations, called TRENDS. These new market trends reports are primarily for industry managers, analysts, distributors, manufacturers (though an end-user (printshop owner) is welcome to order these too). In these FLAAR Trends we discuss which brands and models will take over the #1 position (currently held by the Oce Arizona 250 GT).

In summary, a trade show is crucial as a first step, but a trade show is not an ideal place to really test a UV printer. When we are provided access outside the trade show, then we have an opportunity to evaluate the printer and this is why some printers have comprehensive reports, and others have either no report at all (HP Scitex TJ8550) or have a report but it still needs an update from factory demo room testing (our reports on Roland printers, both UV and solvent).

 

Most recently updated January 2012

First posted June 18, 2007, Updated December 2008.