The UV FAQ
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The move to direct to substrate printing has been all the rage the last few years. Most of the printers, with the exception of Colorspan, were targeted towards the mid- to high-end market with prices ranging from $150,000 to $450,000; however in 2007 we have started to see the advent of a new breed of “entry-level” printers with higher resolution and reasonable throughput available for less than $100,000. One of the downsides with all “entry-level” UV printers until know has been the lack of a true vacuum hold down system for substrates; i.e. all the printers in this price range (less than $125,000) have relied on a “pinch roll” system with grit wheels pulling substrates through the printer. The problem with the “pinch roll” system is that it is not as user friendly when it comes to uneven substrates, nor is it as easy to setup and print edge to edge on the substrate. At the 2007 ISA show in Las Vegas a new printer was introduced, called the NeoTitan, which solves all of these issues. The NeoTitan is a “Hybrid” (roll-to-roll / flatbed) system with a true vacuum hold-down system, and will be the focus of this report.
The Basics – History / Overview
Who is the manufacturer? Dilli Precision Industries Co. Ltd is based in Dongducheon, South Korea. Dilli has been a player in the UV inkjet market for nearly six years, however their most recent success comes from their agreement with AGFA (AGFA is re-branding three of Dilli‟s UV inkjet models). What is the name / model of the printer? This printer is called the Dilli NeoTitan UVT-1606, with 1606 designating the width of the printer (1.6m / 64”). When was this printer first introduced? It was introduced in North America at the ISA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada in April 2007. It was initially introduced at the KoSIGN show in Seoul, South Korea in November of 2006.
The Basics – Printer Snapshot
What type of printer is this? The NeoTitan is a UV-curable inkjet printer. It is what we typically characterize as a “hybrid” printer, i.e. a printer that functions as a roll-to-roll as well as a flatbed printer. What type of a media feeding mechanism does it use? This printer uses a continuous conveyor belt system. In other words, the belt moves the material forward, while the print-head carriage assembly moves side-to-side. The feeding mechanism (e.g. conveyor belt system) also includes a vacuum table that holds the media in place on the table. What is the price range for this printer? Since prices of printers are falling so rapidly and due to various options, it is hard to get a true price on any printer. However, at the ISA Show 2007, the list price for the NeoTitan UVT-1606 was in the $120,000 range for their basic configuration.
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Is a Rip included with the printer? A NeoTitan edition of Wasatch SoftRip is included in the price of the printer. What is included with the printer? The basic configuration price (listed above) includes a near complete system setup. In other words, it includes the Software Rip (Wasatch); Extension tables; feed and take-up reels for roll-toroll printing; and an initial set of inks (CMYKcm). The price also includes an external vacuum motor for the vacuum hold down system. An external air compressor will be required for the printer‟s pneumatic systems. What are the power / electrical requirements of this printer? The NeoTitan requires a Single-Phase, 220V, 40 Amp at 50/60hz. Is Ventilation required? This printer requires no special ventilation. What are the connectivity requirements? The printer has a built-in Ethernet port.
Can this printer handle both rigid and flexible substrates? The NeoTitan is what they call a “hybrid” printer which can handle both rigid and flexible substrates. The flat vacuum table can handle sheets of rigid substrate and the included roll-to-roll system can handle different types of flexible material. What types of substrates can this printer use? The UVT-1606 can handle media up to 64” wide, for both rigid and flexible materials. The substrates can be up to 2” thick and have a weight of up to 110 pounds. The following material has been tested for compatibility: All flexible banner / vinyl materials Sintra Coroplast Lexan PET-G Gatorboard Fomecor
Does the substrate require an inkjet receptive coating or a pre-treatment? Some surfaces will need to be either etched or treated (either with “adhesion promoters, or by using corona treated materials). As with any UV printer, high tension surfaces such as glass or acrylic are recommended to be printed on after it has been treated with an adhesion promoter (treatment / primer). Do you need to clean substrates prior to printing? It is recommended that you wipe each sheet of substrate prior to printing to remove any dust or debris.
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Do the prints need to be laminated? This will largely depend on the application and the substrate. In addition to enhancing the UV durability of a printed image, lamination protects the print / substrate from the elements, as well as giving the image extra abrasion resistance. Can you print edge to edge on a rigid sheet? The NeoTitan allows for “true” edge-to-edge printing (on all four sides of the substrate). Does the printer have any guards against static electricity on substrates? Not that we are aware of. However, you can reduce static electricity by controlling humidity in your printing environment (with a humidifier).
What type/model/brand of printhead does this printer use? It uses a piezo-electric printhead by Konica. It is a 14-picoliter, 512 nozzle printhead. How many printheads per color? Six printhead in total, one head per color (CMYKcm). What is the resolution of the printer? The maximum resolution is currently set to 720x1440 dpi. How do you raise the printheads to accommodate various substrates? The NeoTitan has an “Auto Lift System”, which gauges the thickness of the media automatically (software controlled), and can accommodate substrates up to 2” thick. Can you print in both uni- and bi-directional modes? And is there degradation in quality when printing bi-directionally? You can set the printer to print either uni- or bi-directionally. At the ISA Show in Las Vegas, they were printing some great prints bi-directionally. However, as with all printers UV or otherwise, there may be some chromatic bands on the bi-directionally printed images. What are actual printing speeds? At the ISA Show in Las Vegas, the NeoTitan was printing at a production speed of approximately 150 square feet per hour (720dpi bi-directional mode, 4 pass). How fine of text can you print? The NeoTitan is capable of printing extremely sharp text with legible fonts as small as 3pt on a white background.
What color inks does the printer use? The base model uses six channels. The six colors are: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Light Cyan and Light Magenta. Does the NeoTitan come with white ink? We were told that such a printer is under “consideration”, but is not available at the time of this writing.
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Are other spot colors available? Not at this time.
Is varnish available? Not at this time.
Does the printer have an on-board liquid flushing system? The NeoTitan has an inline flush cleaning system for the printheads, as well as a printhead “capping station” to maintain optimum head longevity. Is there an automatic ink spitting / weeping function? There is a weeping function. The weep amount and interval can be set by the user (although we always recommend using the manufacturer‟s default settings). What is the longevity of a print? Generally images printed with UV inks have longevity of two to three years without lamination, depending on how and where it is displayed. What is the shelf life of UV ink? Most UV ink manufacturers estimate a shelf life of six months to a year. How flexible are the inks? The inks were more flexible than many of the inks currently being used by UV printer manufacturers and would be suitable for vinyl / banner printing. However, we would not recommend it for applications going over rivets or hard edges (such as vehicle / truck wraps) without some testing. Are there any overspray issues? Overspray is most noticeable when two colors meet. It was reported to us that overspray could occur when printing at fast carriage speeds, particularly when printing bi-directionally. Are the inks matte or glossy? The inks used in the NeoTitan are Semi-Gloss inks, which seem to provide better adhesion than the glossy counter parts. How are the inks sold, in cartridge form or bulk? The inks come in one liter containers. Is there an out of ink notification system? Yes, the NeoTitan has an alarm system that will notify you when you are need to refill your ink(s). Do you have to stop printing when refilling ink? The ink can be refilled “on the fly”, without stopping the printer. Is there out-gassing after printing? UV inks cures completely upon exposure to the UV lamps. At this time there is out-gassing that takes place in the form of „ozone‟.
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What types of lamps are being used? There are no technical details as to what type of lamp is being used. However, the NeoTitan uses a “continuous on” auto-lamp shuttering mechanism which reduces the heat exposure on substrates. How long does it take to warm up the lamps? Approximately 45 seconds Can you vary the intensity of the lamps depending on the substrate being printed? Yes, the NeoTitan offers two settings per lamp (low / high). How many lamps does it use? Two lamps per unit, one on each side of the printhead carriage. How long do the lamps last? Approximately 500 - 800 hours of operation (this will largely depend on how often the lamp is turned on and off). Can the lamps be replaced by the user or does it require a service call? The lamps are user replaceable, and can be done in 10 – 15 minutes.
NeoTitan is currently the most sophisticated printer under the $100,000 mark due to it‟s: Great Resolution – Near photographic quality to satisfy the most demanding clients with it‟s smooth output and the ability to print extremely fine text Good Production Speeds – Print directly on 4‟x8‟ sheets of substrate, increase productivity while decreasing production costs Hybrid Printing Platform – Ability to print on both flexible and rigid media True Vacuum Hold Down System – No longer worry about having uneven substrates or a difficult time printing double-sided signage. Open Ink System (no cartridges used) – No ink cartridges Shuttered Lamp System – No warping of media due to heat. Print on .020 Styrene without any problems.
ROI considerations of a UV flatbed printers are different than a solvent (or UV) roll-to-roll system in that you are able to offer clients a wide variety of work, which not only reduces media and labor costs, but also offer owners the ability to charge a premium for specialty applications (such as decorative and architectural applications including printing directly on doors, ceiling tiles, Venetian blinds, Glass etc.). Another benefit of a UV printer over a solvent system is that there are no known carcinogens in UV inks.
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