Fujifilm has developed a smaller version of its Acuity Ultra superwide printer for the photographic market but is still deciding how best to approach this market.
The standard Acuity Ultra is a rollfed printer available in a choice of 3.2m and 5m wide. But last year Fujifilm built a 2.2m wide version and installed a beta version at the British company Echo House, which offers a full service from design to production. Echo House is one of those really interesting companies that produces a wide range of work from 3D models to large format displays, having a number of high profile customers in the luxury goods market as well as being a major service provider to museums and exhibitions. It was one of the original beta sites for the 5m Acuity Ultra so it’s no surprise that it would be involved in this project as well.
Mark Cardwell, Chairman at Echo House, explained: “We never stand still, we’re always looking to the future, and in our experience Fujifilm has exactly the same attitude. The opportunity to directly feed into the development process for this new machine is hugely exciting and gives us the chance to provide even more value to our customers.”
Fujifilm also developed a new inkset for this printer that’s more suitable for the photographic market, replacing the two white channels with light black and light yellow to give the printer a full set of light colours for CMYK plus light cyan, light magenta, light yellow and light black. This gives a more rounded ability to reproduce photographic images complete with shadow and highlight detail as well as vignettes. Fujifilm is also aware that there’s an opportunity to replace the ageing Durst Lambdas that are still widely used in this market.
However, it’s not really cost-effective to sell this smaller version for much less money as the reduced width doesn’t make much difference to the cost of manufacturing the printer. So Echo House remains the only installation in Europe. But in some markets, notably Asia, size is important and there’s an argument for offering this smaller printer there.
It’s also worth noting that the standard version of this printer does produce extremely good quality images, surprisingly so for a superwide printer. It uses Kyocera printheads producing 1200 dpi resolution and has proven a hit for producing a wide range of display work from banners to backlits.
Tudor Morgan, Fujifilm Speciality Ink System’s outgoing marketing manager, suggests that it’s more likely that Fujifilm will just offer this new inkset as an option for the standard 3.2m wide printer but the company is still evaluating the best approach to take. He added: “It replaces machines like the Lambda where you have got the density of black and most of the print customers that we showed it to said that it was acceptable.”