|Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 64” eco-solvent printer|
It is interesting that they showed their Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 64” no-smell-solvent printer just a week or so after Seiko (the parent of Epson) showed a new non-smell solvent ink in Japan. And a few days later HP announced a water-based latex ink.
Then at FESPA Digital in earlfy April 2008, a relatively unknown company named Sepiax ink technology showed an unusual water-based ink. So lots of new inks to select from.
Eco-solvent ink has had its ups and downs as well. So it is wise to wait and learn more about any new ink before rushing to repeat what the Epson PR release already says.
What is the difference between the Epson solvent printer and Mutoh, Mimaki, or Roland?
Epson is cleverly not calling it an eco-solvent printer. Eco-solvent has so many pros and cons, that it is wise not to get into this mess. But at both ISA and FESPA Digital, most industry analysts commented that the “new” Epson ink had the same chemicals as the ink for Mutoh, Mimaki, and Roland. Perhaps the worst poisonous heavy metals were removed, but otherwise, everyone I spoke with said it was the same ink as all the other printers.
If this is even a comparable ink, then it does require ventilation. One ink chemist told me at ISA '08 not not many chemists who knew what was in this ink would dare have one in their office, and definitely not in their home.
If you compare the features of the printer itself, you quickly see that it has the same features as a Mutoh printer (such as the heater system). You can already buy a Mutoh printer from resellers that know the signage market for years. Indeed Mutoh offers you the choice of mild-solvent (Spitfire Extreme) or eco-solvent (Rockhopper Extreme). Compare the Epson GS6000 with the Mutoh ValueJet 1618, the economy eco-solvent printer from Mutoh Japan.
FLAAR has already spent an entire week evaluating these Mutoh printers, including their Intelligent Interweaving software. The Epson GS6000 is a newer printer, so if one becomes available for study, it will be possible to see what positive features it has.
In the meantime, unfortunately, the ISA '08 booth of Epson was almost empty. About half the time at FESPA Digital Geneva 2008 the Epson booth there was almost empty too. Clearly most sign printer owners and managers feel more at home with Mimaki, Mutoh, Roland, or D.G.I., Infiniti, or other solvent printers. But the booth of Epson Europe at FESPA Digital 2009 had a few more people than at past venues. At Print 09 most booths were relatively empty the first two days irrespective of the brand. Note that this is not a comment on the pros and cons of any printer model, just that for the signage market, Epson is not yet considered a major player. Epson is strong in proofing, and was strong in fine art and giclee until both Canon and HP woke up.
And also in the meantime, two competing water-based inks have appeared that could replace eco-solvent and mild-solvent all together: HP latex inks and water-based outdoor ink from Sepiax Ink Technology.
User-comments on Epson GS6000
The experienced owner of the leading giclee atelier in the French part of Europe said he tested the Epson GS6000 and found that the color gamut was insufficient. So he bought printers of three other brands instead of Epson.
One major Epson dealer in the US said he was not yet convinced of advantages of the Epson GS6000, so does not yet offer it.
But an end-user in the Midwest said he has an Epson GS6000, two HP Z6100 printers, a UV-curable flatbed, and a mild-solvent printer. So FLAAR will be inspecting his printshop in early June 2009. His application is signage (not giclee) so the need for a fine art color gamut is not as extreme as the case in Europe. So for basic signage he finds the ink gamut is acceptable.
What would interesting is to compare the output quality of the Mutoh ValueJet 1618 and its price compared with and the Epson GS6000, and the MSDS of the inks.
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