Sign and Digital 2013

Epson Surecolor Sc50600 being demonstrated at the Sign and Digital show 2013. Nikon D800 with 24mm f1.4G
Epson Surecolor Sc50600 being demonstrated at the Sign and Digital show 2013. Nikon D800 with 24mm f1.4G

In many respects the Sign and Digital is a small UK show but its often used to launch new wide format machines. This year’s Sign and Digital show was surprisingly busy, given that there was an obvious risk that the upcoming Fespa London would overshadow it. But the halls were full and the exhibitors seemed happy with the turnout with several machines sold by the end of the first day.
Perhaps the most obvious theme was the growing interest in textile printing, both for soft signage and for clothing, with plenty of samples of clothing and soft furnishings, and many stands featuring soft signage.
Epson demonstrated two new dye sub printers, which are just about to start shipping. The F6000 is a 44ins wide entry-level machine. The F7000 is a more heavy-duty beast with a 64ins print width. Both can print up to 1440dpi resolution and use Epson’s water-based Ultrachrome DS inks.
Mimaki also has a new textile printer, the TS500, which has a maximum print width of 1890mm and a maximum throughput of 150sqm/hr. It’s a large machine, clearly designed for production environments.
Mimaki also demonstrated a new flatbed printer, the JFX500, which is capable of 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution and up to 60sqm/hr. Hybrid, Mimaki’s UK distributor, sold one to Victory Signs on the first day of the show. Both The TS500 and JFX 500 the same basic print engine, with Ricoh Gen5 printheads. The ink for both of these printers is supplied in a non-degassed form, with the printers degassing the ink once loaded. This makes the ink cheaper than previous models.
Mimaki also showed off the UJF-6042, an A2 UV LED flatbed designed for small format printing to objects such as pens, though at the show it was demonstrating packaging proofing.
There also seemed to be quite a number of solvent machines launched at this show, indicating that there is still a lot of life in this technology. Roland showed off its latest solvent printer, the Pro4 Soljet XF-640. This is a 64ins wide roll-to-roll eco-solvent printer. It uses the same chassis as the XR-640, but where that was a print and cut machine, this is a high-speed print only device. It can produce up to 120 sqm/hr in billboard mode, or 63sqm/hr in a high quality mode.
Mutoh bought its new ValueJet 2638, a 2.6m wide eco solvent roll-to-roll printer. This has up to 1440 dpi resolution and can produce 24 sqm/hr at 720 x 1080dpi.
GPT showed its 190s, a revamped 1.9m wide Mimaki textile printer, which has been adapted to use Mimaki’s older SS21 full solvent inks. The machine has two sets of Epson printheads, making it faster than some of Mimaki’s own solvent machines for a similar price.
Interestingly, Xerox showed off a new Memjet printer, a prototype of which was previewed at last year’s Drupa. It will be launched in the Asia Pacific market this month, and Europe the month after. It uses Memjet’s standard wide format array with five heads stitched together for a 42ins print width. As with all Memjet printers, it’s very fast with up to 1600 dpi resolution and a maximum speed of 18mpm.
Overall, this gives a useful preview of the sort of things that we will see at the Fespa show to be held in London in June. Quite a few machines were launched here, and given that many vendors will have held back for Fespa, it seems likely that we’ll see even more new kit, indicating just how vibrant a sector wide format currently is.

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