HP has long relied on its water-based latex printing technology for wide format printing to flexible materials but has been forced to stick with UV technology for rigid materials. However, that may all be about to change with the company having announced a new latex printer that’s capable of printing to rigid material.
The new HP Latex R Series is said to be a hybrid machine. It can print to most standard rigid materials, such as foamboards, foam PVC, cardboard, fluted polypropylene, solid plastics, aluminum, wood and glass. HP claims that its latex Inks can preserve the look and feel of the media without the odour associated with UV prints though there are no details as to how the inks will adhere to these substrates, whether or not there’s any kind of coating or priming used or how the drying system works.
HP has also managed to develop a white latex ink, something that has previously not been possible (though I did admire the schutzpah of whoever wrote the press release, describing this issue as “one of the industry’s most pervasive limitations in printing” and cheerfully forgetting that white ink has long been available for the solvent and UV ink printers that HP competes against).
HP has developed an “innovative” system that recirculates the white ink to avoid the heavier white particles from settling – exactly the same approach that’s been used by other printers with white ink. Note that HP has not said where it’s recirculating the ink – recirculating ink around the ink supply system is relatively simple though most of the latest piezo printheads now circulate the ink through the heads.However, I suspect that HP’s problem with ink has been more to do with forcing the white ink through its thermal printheads than recirculation.
The new R-series was announced at the ISA show in Florida, USA but we’ll have to wait till the Fespa show in Berlin this May to actually see it and it won’t be available until Q3 this year.