Durst has been showing off its next generation of wide format printers, the P5, which like other Durst printers are hybrid devices that can be configured for rigid or roll to roll media. The first of these printers, the P5 250 HS, is a 2.5m wide printer targeted at high volume industrial production.
Barbara Schulz, executive vice president of global sales for Durst, explains that this series has been dubbed P5 because they fulfill five key features: productivity, reliability, workflow, versatility and print quality. In many ways, the P5 is a complete reworking of Durst’s successful P10 concept, which will continue to be sold alongside the new P5.
Thus the P5 250 HS can produce 240 sqm/h or 70 boards per hour in two pass mode. The print samples that I saw in this mode were exceptionally good and more than adequate for the majority of wide format work. The print resolution has been increased to 1200 dpi and the minimum drop size is 5 picolitres, which is similar to the resolution that you would expect for applications such as label or document printing, where we expect people to look closely at the print. So Durst has clearly abandoned the old adage that wide format prints only had to be good enough to be viewed from a distance and is instead claiming that these printers can be used for ultra short run work that would otherwise require an offset press.
Durst has worked closely with Fujifilm to develop a new MEMs-based printhead, using some parts such as the nozzle plate from the newest version of the Samba printhead. But Durst’s chief technology officer, Peter Weingartner, stresses: “Our engineers were involved in the entire printhead redesign and redeveloped the entire electronic circuitry. Our R&D staff were included at a development level that was unprecedented.” Durst has created its own drive electronics and optimised the wave form that controls how the ink is fired out of the nozzles.
Durst has rethought the maintenance routines for the P5 and Weingartner says that it should be possible to get three years average life span out of the printheads. Durst has managed to reduce the maintenance to just two minutes per shift. Durst has also had to improve its internal electronics to handle the high data throughput that comes with faster print speeds.
Stefan Kappaun, Durst’s executive vice president for inks and fluids, says that Durst had to reformulate its UV-curable ink to cope with the small 5 picolitre drop sizes, adding: “The viscosity has to go down because the nozzles are smaller. So it was a challenge to find the raw materials and that took us several iterations.” This has meant that the pigment particles have had to be very finely milled and that Durst has had to improve its filtration methods.
There are currently two inksets with more in development. The main inkset is likely to be the P5 Premium WG, which can cope with a wide range of substrates such as acrylic, PVC and polypropylene. There’s also a P5 POP HS Ink, which is mainly designed for paper and PVC and offers an excellent colour gamut with a glossy finish.
The inks themselves are CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta with an optional white. There’s room in the printer for an eight channel, which could be used for a varnish if there was enough demand for this. The curing is via conventional mercury lamps.
Durst has also rethought the software it supplies with its wide format printers and developed a data analytics package but I’m going to cover this in a separate story next week as the same software is also used across Durst’s other printers.
Durst has already shown this printer to some customers, and has taken some orders for it. The machine itself should ship in April. So far there’s no word on pricing though I think it’s fair to say that Durst has never under-priced any of its machines in the past. Then again, Durst has earned a reputation for producing reliable and robust machines capable of producing very high quality work at production speeds and the P5 series shows every sign of continuing this tradition.