Color banners printing
Full color solvent printing technology and solvent printers offer long lasting, high resolution, excellent output, but are challenged by environmental concerns. Durability is top notch, suitable for outdoor usage, and modern digital printing technology brings with it photo quality results.
There are two areas to look, solvent printers and solvent ink. Another thought should go towards EPA standards and environmental impact. New technology is exciting as it broadens the possible results of printer output. At the same time, adjustments may be necessary to lessen the chemical problems that sometimes arise. For example, solvent inks are being challenged by bio-ink which could even replace them in the future for environmental benefits.
Solvent technology improvements
Thanks to improvements in full color solvent printing technology and solvent printers, today’s outdoor advertising looks better and lasts longer than ever. Quality can be good, better, or premium. Some indoor posters can last up to 100 years. True photo quality is no longer a dream for large format printing. Larger banners feature thicker vinyl and higher resolutions. With solvent inks, results are water, scratch, fade and tear resistant, and can be sun protected with UV coatings.
Solvent printers offer resolution ranges from 540 dpi to 1440 dpi large format outputs. Print directly on vinyl, one or two sided, with matte or gloss finishes. New technology in allows printing on a variety of media, including fabric, paper, self adhesive vinyl, vinyl banner, or adhesive transparent vinyl.
Piezo inkjet print heads allow use of solvent-based inks, which were created to allow direct printing onto PVC-based films. Higher dpi numbers (1440 dpi) mean that viewing distances have been shortened, so that solvent-based inject printers can create signage for close up viewing as well as long distance billboards, with photo quality. Improvements in printer heads allow more colors for better reproduction and color impact which grabs the viewers attention better. Solvent printers are smaller today, down in size by one half, and widths can be as small as 30 inches. This helps conserve floor space in smaller print shops.
Manufacturers of solvent printers
Most manufacturers of solvent printers are located in China, and a few in Taiwan, South Korea, India, UAE, and UK. Naturally, these suppliers also have solvent ink, bio-ink, UV ink, sublimation ink, printer heads, and accessories available to match the machines they sell. Some even sell the papers and fabrics needed for solvent and eco-solvent printing. One environmental concern with solvent inks is odor: there are “no odor” inks available, and light solvent inks.
Lunching eco-friendly technology
Machine technology improvements lean towards eco-friendly products. Here are two examples:
Agfa’s 8-color Grand Sherpa Universal AM digital printing system comes in 50, 64, and 87 inch sizes for small, medium to large companies. A high power engine brings faster speeds and dpi up to 1440. This machine is ideal for reproducing large size photos up to 64 inches wide.
Mutoh‘s Falcon line focus is the sign industry. Their high speed, wide format Falcon II Outdoor printer comes in 48, 64, and 87 inch models with features designed to enhance outdoor application printing. It uses either eco-solvent ink or new eco-plus ink. These inks help solve hazardous fume problems that occur with inkjet solvent inks. Environmentally friendly inks are important as new legislation requires conformation to new requirements. Solvent based inks are volatile; they release chemicals into the air, and hazardous materials can cause breathing and other health problems. New laws are prompting printer manufacturers to develop inks with reduced amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and to invent special printers to accommodate them.
Cost of the printers
Solvent printer costs run from $20,000 to $60,000, a reduction from original costs of around $500,000. This allows smaller shops to participate with higher quality indoor retail signage on new materials. Larger printers have better resolution and color rendition for outdoor and billboard signs.
Inks are designed and sold to match specific machines and printer heads. New technology found in piezoelectric printer heads make printing output more detailed, and higher resolution. The printer can adjust the size of the ink droplets instantly for precision detail and crisp colors. Improvements in full color solvent printing technology and solvent printers have required improvements in solvent inks. Solvent, UV-curable, or dye sublimation inks are for printing on uncoated vinyl, for printing items that need sun protection, or on fabrics. Solvent inks have better color performance and a two year outdoor life. New eco-solvent inks are similar. They have fewer VOC’s which require dedicated venting, thereby saving money for the shops that use them. Sublimation inks are used for printing on textiles, transfer paper, and polyesters.
Overall, on the plus side of solvent printers and inks, are speed and convenience. Inks dry quickly, printing is rapid, but the machinery is complex, requiring detailed knowledge, more frequent maintenance, and a knack for troubleshooting. A small tradeoff in quality brings lower costs.