Solvent still remains a popular choice for a lot of Printers in the industry, but water-based alternatives are beginning to tick more boxes and actually contribute towards print service providers securing new clients. Both models have their place in the market (and in some cases they can complement each other too), but which one is right for you will depend entirely on your priorities and workflow.
The Roland VG3 Solvent Printer we used had been set-up in an eight colour configuration. This includes the standard CMYK, along with Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Light Black and Orange. The increased range improves the colour accuracy and helps achieve even more vibrant colours.
Having 8-colours does sacrifice print speed though, so it’s important to weigh up what’s most important to your client base. The increase colour gamut usually helps towards hitting difficult Pantone references necessary for matching corporate logos or branding. If this isn’t a dealbreaker and your main work is signage for example, you can opt for a 4-colour configuration running two sets of CMYK, which prints are approximately twice the speed.
The new Roland AP Resin Printer runs standard CMYK along with a fifth ink called the ‘Optimiser’. The Optimiser is applied first and helps the other inks form a fine dot and adhere to the surface. For now, this is the only configuration available on the Resin Series.
Both Solvent and Resin ink have the flexibility to be used for vehicle wrapping and have similar characteristics when it comes to durability and scratch resistance, making them both great options for outdoor signage, stickers and promotional banners. This versatility means there are a lot of cross-compatible products available for both models, but Resin ink does rely more on using the correct profile to match the media. These profiles are usually provided by the media manufacturer, but Roland do have a large catalogue of approved materials to make choosing the right product easier.
Moving on to the results of our print test, Solvent ink does achieve a slightly higher vibrancy and manages to retain more of the vinyl's gloss finish, which helps punch it out even more. As it stands, there is no other outdoor durable ink that can compete against the quality of Solvent ink, but Resin is making ways to bridge the gap and deliver deeper, denser results, especially on the black, red and blue colours, which have previously been a struggle.
The next question to ask yourself is what features of a Printer are most important to you.
The Roland VG3 Solvent Series is designed to cater to a wide range of customer requirements making it a go-to solution for both newcomers and industry leaders. It also includes an integrated Vinyl Cutter to keep initial investment down and reduce overall footprint for print rooms with limited space.
Finally, as we’ve seen, the VG3 offers a variety of configurations including the option of Light Colours, Orange and Green ink to achieve higher colour gamuts, as well as White ink to produce Window Graphics and clear decals / stickers (which we’ll get into later).
For general sign making and outdoor advertising, hitting specific Pantones may not be crucial to your customer base. In this instance, the Roland VG3 Solvent Series can be configured as a 4-colour machine, wielding Dual CMYK. This would essentially half the printing time compared to 8-colour.
With everything we’ve covered so far, you may be asking yourself “well, what advantages does Resin ink have?”.
While Solvent ink leads the way in vibrancy, this comes from the nature of the ink and the chemicals used to reproduce strong, vibrant pigments. Solvent ink does have a noticeable odour that needs a well-ventilated space when the air is regularly circulating. Solvent prints also need to be left to cure for 24 hours, to allow enough time for the Solvents to evaporate from the printed vinyl before it is cut laminated or applied. If Solvent prints are not allowed enough time to de-gas / cure you run the risk of the edges curling or lifting after application.
The Roland AP Resin Series requires no curing time at all and is ready to finish and apply immediately after printing. This is a huge benefit for offering clients same-day turnaround.
As we’ve covered before, Resin ink is also water-based - this means it is virtually odourless and holds a number of certifications when it comes to sustainability, recycling and environmental consideration. This type of accreditation is increasingly important for a number of customers and industries, giving Resin a huge advantage when it comes to securing environmentally conscious clients.
For clients who are conscious of their environmental footprint, Resin ink would mean PVC-free vinyls and banners can be introduced, as well as recyclable products like Poster Paper (which would otherwise be considered non-recyclable once printed with Solvent).
Resin ink would also be favoured by retail outlets, schools and hospitals for producing odourless interior decor and wall graphics.
As it stands, the Roland Resin Printer is not available with white ink.
If you do want to utilise White ink to print Window Graphics and clear stickers, this is available on the Roland Solvent Printer / Cutter.
That said, we would only recommend this configuration if you plan on using White ink regularly and need the versatility of a Solvent Printer. If White ink is a key component of your workflow, we would encourage anyone that contacts us to look at the Roland MG / LG UV Series. UV White ink is cheaper to run, produces a more opaque / solid result, requires no de-gassing time and can print much faster.
Thanks for reading and we hope it was a useful comparison of these two great machines. For more information, to arrange samples or book a private demonstration with one of our hardware team, get in touch with us today!