While we’ve already honed in on the differences between Solvent, Latex and UV ink (some of our older Blogs can be found here
), but for the sake of clarity, we’ll cover some of the key differences of each technology, while also discussing the very latest printers being released by top manufacturers in the industry.
It’s worth mentioning while there are alternatives out there, our comments focus on the newest products from Roland
, all of which Granthams have full access to and have had hands-on experience with.
remains the most popular technology for the sign making and vehicle graphics industry, due to its high vibrancy, wide colour gamut and high quality. Many solvent machines are also available as integrated print and cut units
, minimising initial investment and floorspace requirements.
Solvent inks are designed to penetrate the media and bind with the print substrate. On gloss media they remain glossy, and on a matte finish they stay flat. The way the ink keys to a vinyl is how it maintains the ‘stretch’ and why it’s perfect for vehicle wraps and cast vinyls.
The negatives of solvent printing come down to the odour and the need for solvent ink to ‘gas off’.
The odour is less noticeable compared to earlier generations - specialist ventilation isn’t a requirement but a space with circulating air is recommended. ‘Gassing off’ is the release of the solvents within the ink carrier. This release usually takes 24 hours, meaning the vinyl cannot be cut, applied or laminated before this without running the risk of the vinyl curling or peeling over time. It means that if the job needs to be laminated, it can put an extra day on production.
To keep things simple, we’ll focus on the latest Print-only releases from Mimaki and Roland to help compare.
This Mimaki printer is a direct replacement for: Mimaki JV150 Printer, Mimaki JV33 Printer
The JV100 Series
has been designed with all-new printheads, which have allowed for a much faster print speed of up to 62.9 square metres per hour when configured with Dual CMYK (average speed of 15.5 square metres per hour), which is up to 1.5 times fast than the predecessor.
The JV100 Series can also be configured with an 8-Colour configuration to achieve a higher colour gamut and the new 600ml ink sacks have been designed to reduce waste as well as cut the cost per copy compared to the previous 440ml ink cartridges.
The new Roland VF2-640
printer doesn’t replace anything in the current Roland line-up, but adds a print-only solution to the already successful TrueVIS2 Series.
The TrueVIS2 Series includes a brand new ink, which has proven to be much more cost efficient than previous generations, not only through cost per copy, but also through less frequent maintenance requirements and the removal of expiration dates.
The Roland VF2 can reach speeds up to 34.8 square metres per hour when configured with Dual CMYK (average speed of 12.8 square metres per hour), but also benefits from the option of an 8-Colour configuration which can include the addition of white ink, as well as orange and green ink, highly sought after for the likes of motocross graphics.
With lower running costs than Solvent, Latex has proved itself as something of an economical workhorse within the print industry over the last 10 years.
No odour, instant dry and no need to ‘gas off’, prints from a Latex can be finished and laminated as soon as they are off the machine, and that’s if you decide lamination is required at all. The HP Latex range includes an additional ink that increases scratch resistance compared against solvent meaning some short-term graphics prone to marking can be printed on a latex without any additional protection.
In today's environmentally conscious times, the water-based latex ink has managed to achieve green credentials where the other systems have not, giving latex an extremely strong edge to those with sustainability in mind.
HP have also developed plug-and-play printheads, which are replaced much like ink cartridges. This means there are no daily maintenance tasks required by the operator (unlike with Solvent and UV), making the Latex a lot more user friendly and less prone to errors.
The negatives of Latex Printers
would surround the colour vibrancy, which isn’t quite up there with the more aggressive Solvent inks. Latex Printer
are not available as integrated print and cut units either, meaning the initial investment is usually higher to get a similar set-up to that of a Solvent printer/cutter.
This series of latex printers
are a direct replacement for: HP Latex 560 Printer, HP Latex 570 Printer
HP Latex Printers
have become a staple solution for the likes of outdoor advertising and vehicle graphics, with the existing HP Latex 300 Series continuing to hold firm as a go-to system in the market since 2014.
The new HP Latex 700 and 800 Series take the range to a whole new level with speeds up to 105-122 square metres an hour (average speed of 21-25 square metres) running a 6-colour configuration. In addition, the new series welcomes the introduction of white inks, lower curing temperatures, greater vibrancy (especially on reds and blacks) and the option for high-capacity 3-litre inks.
With prices starting from £22,900 + VAT RRP, the new range is a serious investment, but if sustainability is at the forefront of your business ethics and you have a demand for white ink and/or high volume though, there’s really no contender.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the white ink is promoted as being “The Whitest White” that resists yellowing over time. The White printheads can also be removed and parked when not in use to reduce waste from over-maintenance.
UV technology uses an LED Lamp to instantly cure the ink. It creates a strong bond, (as strong as solvent) and because of how it works it is currently the mode of choice when it comes to flatbed direct printing.
As soon as the lamp passes over, UV inks cure instantly. There is only minimal heat from the lamp meaning no potential vinyl shrink issues. UV doesn’t need to ‘gas off’ and with more cost effective white ink options, UV technology has steadily grown in popularity for roll-to-roll machines designed to produce window graphics and decals.
The only downsides are that UV inks can look slightly less vibrant when compared to solvent. They also don’t stretch quite as much as solvent inks so for vehicle wraps UV may not be the best option. UV ink sits on the surface of the substrate which means it can leave a consistent matte finish. By sitting on the top they create a slight uneven finish depending on ink levels and this can mean high-coat weight laminates are needed when finishing.
This UV printer is a direct replacement for: Mimaki UCJV150
The Mimaki UJV100
Series provides the UV market with a much-needed affordable option capable of printing white ink. The new printhead configuration allows the UJV100 to print colour and white ink simultaneously at an average speed of 6.8 square metres per hour, unrivalled by any other white ink printer in the price range.
The most notable negative to the new UJV100 Printer is that you have to decide on the print sequence at time of installation - either colour then white (ideal for window graphics) or white then colour (suited to printing on coloured substrate), not both. This can be for a difficult commitment, but if you need both, that is where the existing Mimaki UCJV300 Series
Roland’s new LEC2 Series is available in two widths - 30 & 64-inch - and aims to expand the versatility of UV even further compared to the other UV Printers in the market.
This is achieved through a wider ink set and range of optional accessories.
Starting with the latter, the LEC2 Series is available with a Tension Bar for printing packaging films as thin as 30-micron, an extension table for printing to semi-rigid paper stocks and package and a BOFA air purification unit to extract the odour and fumes generated by UV inks.
The LEC2 Series can also be configured with a Gloss Ink, designed to generate a multitude of special textured effects, as well as a printable Primer to expand media compatibility even further.
Roland have also announced a brand new 'glue-like' Primer, which allows the user to print to a release paper and transfer the ink to a 3D object or board, essentially mimicking the effects of a Flatbed Printer at a fraction of the equipment cost.
For more information and to discuss how these technologies could benefit your business specifically, Granthams would be happy to help!
Contact our Sales Team today via firstname.lastname@example.org or 01772 250207.