Canon introduces Colorado M-series 

Canon has announced a new M-series version of its Colorado roll to roll wide format printers, which replaces the older models and appears to be a simple reworking of those printers but with the addition of a white ink option. 

There are two new models. The M3 can produce 29 sqm/hr in high quality mode and 111 sqm/hr in its fastest mode, which is the same as the older Colorado 1630. Then there’s the M5, which prints 40 sqm/hr in high quality mode, rising to a top speed of 159 sqm/hr, the same as the older Colorado 1650

Actually, the two machines both appear to be the M5, but with Canon simply limiting the speed of the cheaper M3 in its software. The advantage of this is that customers can easily upgrade the M3 to an M5 with a simple software license. Better still, customers can apply this upgrade on a temporary basis, for example to deal with a peak in production. 

This also helps Canon cut its production costs since the company only has to manufacture one machine, the M5, using the speed change to create the second, upgradeable printer.

However, what is new about these printers is that Canon has introduced a white ink option. This can be used as a spot colour, or for flood coating or to create a 3- or 5- layer image for day/ night backlit or double-sided window graphics. Canon says that the usual difficulties associated with white inks – namely an increased likelihood of the nozzles clogging – isn’t a problem with the UVGel inks. The standard CMYK models can easily be field-upgraded to the M3W/ M5W with one extra printhead for the white ink. 

The Colorado machines use a unique UVgel ink, which is supplied as a gel, but heated in the printheads to 65ºC until it turns to a liquid that can be jetted. once the ink hits the much cooler substrate it returns back to its gel state. Initially, the ink is pinned before a final cure from the LED lamp, which is mounted to a separate carriage so that its independent of the printheads. This approach means that it will print to a wide range of substrates, without requiring any pre-treatment, and without the risk of any dot gain. The new M-series use the same UVgel 460 ink as the older machines.

Canon also offers the existing FLXfinish+ as an optional extra for the M machines. This allows users to alter the LED curing to produce a matte finish as opposed to the usual gloss finish, as well as a mixed matte and gloss effect. It’s not really unique as other printers can also vary the matte or gloss appearance by varying the curing, but it is particularly effective on the Colorado machines because the lamps are mounted on a separate carriage. This option also allows for printing on cheaper porous substrates, such as uncoated papers and soft signage materials. However, the FLXfinish+ option does lead to a dramatic loss of speed. The M3 drops from 29 sqm/hr to 18 sqm/hr in its High Quality mode and can only reach 36 sqm/hr in its fastest Express mode. The M5 also sees its High Quality speed fall to 27 sqm/hr or 46 sqm/hr in its fastest mode, while the mixed matte/ gloss finish for both versions is just 7 sqm/hr. Also, this option only affects the CMYK inks. 

The new machines are the same size as the older Colorado printers and have the same print width of 1625mm. They also use the same Canon 425 piezo-electric printheads, with one head per colour, and have the same print resolution up to 1800 dpi. The Colorado M machines have gained a new tissue cassette for automatic cleaning of the nozzles, which uses Piezo Acoustic Integrated Nozzle Technology – essentially sound waves – to detect if nozzles are underperforming. 

There’s also a new media detection sensor for easy media handling. There’s also an optional kit for handling magnetic media. The M-series also have the same options for adding double-sided printing or for adding a second roll and the ability to switch between media rolls.

In terms of software, the Colorado M supports Onyx graphic and Caldera and there’s an option for Canon’s PrismaGuide XL for design and workflow management. There’s also Prisma Remote app for monitoring the printer status via an iOS or Android device.

Canon has found particular success for the Colorado series with wallpaper applications and has developed a Wallpaper Factory configuration. This includes an inline cutter and jumbo roll so that it can be left to run overnight. There’s also a Print Factory configuration that includes a Fotoba cutter inline. 

Jennifer Kolloczek, European planning, marketing and innovation senior director for Production Print at Canon Europe, says: “With its modularity and the addition of an easy-care white ink option, the new Colorado M-series is the growth engine that businesses can rely on to level up their capabilities and turn ideas into reality.”

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