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First Machine Help - Need Real World Opinions Instead of Sales Guy

Discussion in 'Digital Printing' started by densecity, Nov 11, 2020.

  1. densecity

    densecity New Member

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    Hello,
    I am hoping someone can give me some feedback on which machine might be right for us. Prior to asking the question here, we feel like we've been getting "sold" by various companies and never feel like we're getting a non-bias answer.
    We've been getting quite a bit more large format work recently, and are looking to purchase a 64" roll fed printer, and a laminator. Up until now we've outsourced our large format work, with the exception of plotter cut decals which we produce on our Summa T160. We're really torn between the HP Latex (560 & 570) machines, and Epson Eco-Sol (S60600 & S80600). I am listing below some specs and concerns on what we'll be producing and then a list of questions and concerns. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    - Production amount - 5,000-10,000/sq ft / month
    - Materials - 75% adhesive vinyl, rest a mix of paper, occasional canvas, backlit film, banners
    - Large portion of our work is paneled interior / exterior wall murals
    - Machine would likely only run a few days a week

    Concerns
    - #1 concern - We've read horror stories about panel to panel size and color shifts on HP latex, which lead us to look at Epson. Is this a common problem?
    - The HP latex seems very low maintenance, with "snap in" print heads. For a small shop that might only run the machine a few days a week, will we have a problem with the Epson print heads clogging if it sits idle for a few days? Is the Epson that much more maintenance heavy?
    - With the fragility of eco-sol inks, would we still be able to install temporary non-laminated Wall Noodle graphics for events, without the squeegee scratching the ink?
    - If we were to get the Epson, is the S80600 worth it, we SOMETIMES use white white ink on clear vinyl graphics as a backer, but we're reading it's not really opaque. Is it worth it for the occasional order, or maybe still outsource these?
    - Can you recommend the best seller, in terms of support and price?

    Thanks!
     
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  2. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

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    I have the 560, and print very little with it. As far as maintenance and extended non print times, the HP is fantastic for a shop that is not printing non stop, though my understanding is the 365 is similar in most regards except print speeds, so we probably should have gone that route. The cost of ink and printheads exceeds most solvents over the life of the machine, but are relatively cheap to replace as you go. Color consistency has not proved an issue for me, but others have had awful experiences. Knowing what I know now, and seeing as how I never really do paneled graphics, I still would go with the HP. We got ours purely to supplement our fabrication capabilities.
    I can't speak to the Epson, but I'm sure someone else will chime in.
     
  3. WYLDGFI

    WYLDGFI Merchant Member

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    We run 3 latex machines...never really heard any complaints from clients about color shifts..etc column to column when tiling. We calibrate regularly so that helps. We're in NJ...if you looking for outsource, we're not terribly far!
     
  4. FireSprint.com

    FireSprint.com Trade Only Screen & Digital Sign Printing

    Every piece of equipment we have ever purchased has a list of pros and cons that we don't get to actually write out until we've run it for a bit. Some things outperform our expectations, while others need a workaround.

    I don't think you'll truly go wrong with either machine. Have you ordered sample prints with your own file? Send them both the same file, something with a lot of solid colors and fine reverse text. See which one you prefer then. We often send our own material in order to control the variables.

    At the end, you just need to jump in. Until then, we would love to help if we can - https://www.firesprint.com/vinyl-decals/products/
     
  5. petepaz

    petepaz Major Contributor

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    we have 3 roland eco-solv print cut machines and love them. they are relatively low maintenance (except for a huge amount of issues we had with our newest model the truvis but got that cleared up and plenty of threads on that) we also have 2 HP latex printers they seem to be pretty reliable also and like you mentioned you can change out the heads as needed you don't need a tech. for backlits we primarily use the hp's because the ink dries the best on the solvent printers the ink can come out wet and needs drying time before you can handle it but for vinyl we like the rolands better just a personal opinion also look at the rips that you will be using, how easy are they to use, what options do you have with them
     
  6. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

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    I'd also consider getting quotes from different distributors. Nothing gives a salesman incentive like a lower comparable quote...
     
  7. WYLDGFI

    WYLDGFI Merchant Member

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    Kick the tires! As Pete said above as well...look at the rip software for it as well.
     
  8. neutrinocv

    neutrinocv Member

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    I would definitely go with an Epson. Do what you're told with it and don't worry about changing printheads (a very unlikely event). The machine maintains itself on a daily basis (just leave it ON) and depending on your usage head cleaning is about 15-20 minutes once or twice a month. Epson's S40 series printheads with variable droplets sizes are currently the best in the eco-solvent world (IMO) with their GS3 inks. We find the color gamut quite impressive and precise and after proper curing it is not easily scratched from the substrate. Greys and gradients are near perfection. No issues with skewing. Don't let the plastic covers and parts fool you; they are well built machines.

    If you don't really need the extra color gamut and white / silver inks (outsourcing for those few jobs) of the 800 I'd consider a 400 instead of a 600. Both are CMYK and the 600 is faster (2 heads) and requires a supplemental drying unit (more potential of breakage / maintenance) but it don't seem like you are looking for high production speed so go for a 400 instead. Should you ever come to need higher productivity speed then you can buy a 2nd 400 giving you more speed and versability than just one 600.

    Usualy, Grimco has a special pricing on those Epsons after the X-Mas Holidays... Early this year a 400 was available for under $9000 USD.

    As for RIPs, opinions vary; we use ONYX.

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. bluehammer

    bluehammer Member

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    if you are running paneled murals stay away from HP latex. You more than likely have color shifts. We have both and we would recommend the Epson S80600
     
  10. Hero Signs

    Hero Signs If they let me make it, they will come

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    I have had 3 different Roland's which are Epson heads, over the years a d typically changed out after 7 years just because newer faster is better. On year 6 for my latest machine. Just expect $2,000 in maintenance over 6 years.
    For the print heads..you just need to run a test print every day. Also over the weekends place some solvent in the capping station and you will not have problems on a slow print week.
     
  11. neutrinocv

    neutrinocv Member

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    Here's the add for the S40600 earlier this year. The S60600 was going for 15K if I remember correctly..?

    I've re-read myself on my earlier post and looks like there is one too many zeros in my numbers, sorry about that ! ;)
     

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  12. densecity

    densecity New Member

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    Thanks for the replies!
    I am still a bit confused on a few things. Is there a known issue with panel to panel size and color shifting? We're most concerned about this as it's the lion share of our business. The other thing is maintenance. There are some days we're not even in the shop as we're out doing installations. Is it enough to have the machine "turned on" and just let it do it's thing, or do we need to actually run, say a 12" x 12" print daily to maintain the machine? I assume we could just set up a computer with remote VPN and just run a print if we weren't here. Lastly, we're concerned about being able to print non laminated wall noodle for event graphics and having the squeegee scratch the prints. Any help on the other questions we asked as well would be greatly appreciated.
     
  13. fuzzy_cam

    fuzzy_cam The Granbury Wrap & Sign Guy

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    A lot of people have chimed in already so I don't know if my response will get lost or not. We have been running Mutoh Solvent Printers for years. We had two 1624 machines, one purchased in 2012 and was retired this year, another 1624 purchase in 2015 that was retired this month. The first 1624 was a workhorse and never had any serious issues other than normal parts that need to be replaced over the years. The 2015 printer we had on and off issues with, but both of the machines worked great they just reached the end of their run.

    What others say about maintenance (capping) stations and print heads are accurate.

    We now run (2) Mutoh 1641, also eco-solvent machines, and we don't have anything negative to say about them!
     
  14. neutrinocv

    neutrinocv Member

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    I'm not concerned with panel size and color shifts at all. Epsons are maintenance free as far as not using it for a few days even a week or two; stop worrying about this. As far as unprotected prints, we've had no issues with ours; given that a decent quality of substrate is used (no experience on cheapie stuff) and a padded squeegee is used as well. Nothing like having a test made at the dealership, though.

    For really short term graphics, a cheap lamination film can be used (provided you have a laminator) and will not add too much on your cost per square foot and will give you added peace of mind if you are still concerned about scratching upon install.

    Like I said before; nothing like testing.
     
  15. densecity

    densecity New Member

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    Thanks for confirming the panel size question - it was directed at HP latex users. I am confident no one is having Epson panel size issues from the posts i've read on here.
     
  16. petepaz

    petepaz Major Contributor

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    one last important thing, saw mentioned above about getting quotes another good point and throw in with that who ever you go with find out about their tech support.
    nothing worse than having a machine down and they can't get to you or can't get parts quickly.
     
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  17. amandaveronica

    amandaveronica New Member

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    Not sure if you're still debating. I used to run (2) HP Latex 370s (we switched from Epson 6000s and also had an Epson Surecolor, I don't remember which model, but it was the worst one they had).

    We ran tons of wall murals.
    Re: HP Latex panel matching. Once we had our color calibration under control we never had color panel matching issues that were bad enough for the typical person to notice (and we had a lot of clients that liked to use solid grays, ugh). And for panel size, we had a hard time running panels on PhotoTex at one point every panel size was different. but never had an issue with adhesive vinyl. We eventually solved the panel size issue with the phototex, it came down to getting a good profile created with the feed properly adjusted..

    I'm at a new shop and looking to buy a used 360 to get us started until we see what new printers come out next year.

    We never used the white or silver ink on the Surecolor we had, not sure if they improved that at all, but yeah it was not opaque enough on the white, and the silver if you don't use it all the time got runny.. it also prints super slow when using those inks.

    Hope that helps.
     
  18. Reveal1

    Reveal1 Active Member

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    This conversation reminds me of a Ford vs Chevy discussion. I never did understand die-hard product loyalty. When something better comes along, my loyalty is to my business and I'll buy that when practical. Paneled wall murals are one of our top products. Never had an issue with color shift or registration within a job on our current 560 or previous HP latex . Just keep up on color calibration and swap the consumable heads instead of trying to eke every last inch of life from them. HP is a PIA to deal with on maintenance here locally. Also, media handling, waste and time to print are a negatives if you run a lot of small jobs. Hear good things about the Epsons, but I like the immediate drying, long-lasting flexible inks, media versatility (prints surprisingly well on textile)and immediate lamination of latex.
     
  19. balstestrat

    balstestrat Active Member

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    Between the bits
    Color consistency is heavily dependant on good PH health like you said so it's essential to keep them fresh if it's critical.
    L300 can be 2-3 times less accurate than L500 on length on some applications. Depends a lot on the material.

    I doubt solvent white will ever be as good as Latex or even UV white. The ink composition makes it difficult.
     
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