Welcome To Signs101.com: Largest Forum for Signmaking Professionals

Signs101.com: Largest Forum for Signmaking Professionals is the LARGEST online community & discussion forum for professional sign-makers and graphic designers.


  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Latex vs. eco solvent pros and cons???

Discussion in 'Digital Printing' started by JBowen747, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. jfiscus

    jfiscus Adobe Shinobi

    Apr 2, 2009
    Cincinnati, OH
    We have had both here in-house. Both latest generation machines, and even the new solvent/UV hybrids produce around the same end product in very similar time frame.
    It depends a lot on what you produce as your main product as to what I would recommend.

    Latex machines run fast, load a bit slower, have to deal with warm/cool cycles, and produce great detail (as long as the heads are in good shape, they are not what you are used to with solvent print heads), they also are good for same-day lamination. Colors are not as vibrant as solvents; especially at higher speeds, but you would just get used to your new color gamut and adjust your profiles accordingly. They DO have a smell, it bothered both of us here when we had the machine in a small room; it might have just been the material/backing "cooking" though, but it hurt your eyes/throat after a while. A lot of parts are plastic and do break easily, so is does go down every once in a while. Our experience with tech service under warranty was "ok"; took a day or so to get here and they got it taken care of, but we were still down a machine a couple days over broken plastic clips, etc. It allowed for a few "specialty materials" that we were told solvent didn't, but we are a wrap shop, so it wasn't anything really pertinent to us. Heads constantly degrade, so over time prints get more grainy until you decide it is time to replace them, but they are real cheap, so no big lump hit to worry about, just a lot of smaller dings throughout the year to get used to. No real cleaning time/cost involved with these though so it kind of balances out. These machines are VERY environmentally sensitive and the temp/humidity does change the color that the machine prints; very similar to copiers/toner printers if you have operated these. We had major issues printing repair panels that matched previous prints, even immediately; for anything that isn't paneled/tiled this wouldn't be an issue.

    Eco-Solvent machines also run fast, are fast loading, start printing right away, and produce great detail 100% of the time. They also offer same-day lamination; just not immediate. With proper out-gassing the vinyl is no different to the installers. Colors are very vibrant, but you might want to be wary of the machines with 8+ colors - many of those additional "specialty" colors DO fade quickly (oranges, greens, reds especially) and aren't covered under warranty. So, I would recommend sticking with dual-CMYK if you do go eco-sol. They do have a smell, but it is not as bad as the solvent machines of the past. My newest machine has filters built into it that help some and we keep our print room well ventilated. It is nowhere as annoying as the smell from the latex to me, personally, YMMV. Most are made with stronger parts than the latex machines, so little things don't break often. Print heads are now "all-in-one" heads so if you damage a head you're looking at a decent repair bill (possibly around $5000 if you're out of warranty), but on all 3 of our eco-solvent machines we have not had any head damage from regular high-volume operation yet. Cleaning takes about 1/2 hr per machine per week; we clean them whether we are using them or not they seem to get just as dirty sitting. Cleaning supplies are cheap, we use alternative (non OEM) vendors for most supplies. Under warranty, tech service has been phenomenal, out of warranty - not so much, extend your warranty if possible.

    These are our experiences here; I hope they help you decide.
    (the machines I discussed above were HP 360 and Epson 70670/60670 series)
    • Like Like x 5
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. asapsignsfl1

    asapsignsfl1 Member

    Aug 4, 2014
    Clearwater, Florida
    No one mentioned the replacement of heads regularly; service only from HP; and 240 watt circuit to run the equipment... all should be part of the equation.

    Bob P
  3. jfiscus

    jfiscus Adobe Shinobi

    Apr 2, 2009
    Cincinnati, OH
    The 220 versus a dedicated circuit on 110v is not that much of an issue to me. Either way requires a new circuit to be added to your box and wires/outlets ran.
    To me the head replacement very often in a high volume shop negates the savings of cleaning chemicals/parts. The constant head degradation was the real pain I had with the heads. If you print a job today and the heads are wearing out, then you put new heads in tomorrow and have to print a repair panel - your prints aren't going to match.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. dypinc

    dypinc Very Active Member

    Mar 9, 2011
    You need to keep it calibrated. It is not as demanding as a digital toner based press but it has to be done on a consistence basis. The printer needs to be baselined when making new profiles and calibrated back to that baseline when changing any hardware. That is just the nature of the printheads used by HP in these machines. And that is also why canned profiles are about worthless on these printers.
    • Disagree Disagree x 2
  5. JBowen747

    JBowen747 Member

    Mar 19, 2011
    West Virginia
    Ok thank you guys! So for the price would a hp 315 be a good investment in your opinion I’m tired of having to pay retarded prices to rebuild my mutoh again?
    • Like Like x 1
  6. robibilic

    robibilic New Member

    Apr 3, 2016
    Latex is a great solution with one major problem. Tiling could be the problem with most materials. I have Latex lx360. I would like to hear other owners about their experience with tiling.
  7. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    I've used ij35 to print about 10 8x8s with no tiling issues. Colors matches and everything lined up.

    I've used it for one 10x10 on ij 40... Same.thing. Recently printed a 4 panel 12 ft by 20ft panel on 180... Too big to lay out and check if everything lines up,but I'll be installing it tomorrow... But I'm not worried.

    Some people complain about colors matching and prints being different sizes... But I've never had that.
  8. Patentagosse

    Patentagosse Active Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    Joliette, Quebec (Canada)
    One thing I have noticed on Latex prints is the laminate to tack less than on eco-solvent prints. I use a Roland VS540 since 2011 and wrapped a lot of challenging things that required major repositioning/binding/stretching.... never experienced my laminate films to delaminate. I do install wraps for another local shop using Latex and I've seen at many occasions the top layer to delaminate when pulling back the graphics to misalignment correction (tiling) or on tricky spots were you need to pull it back before it sits at the right place. No "big" deals as I always been able to save it by meticulously replace the lifted section but still a PITA vs. my own prints. The solid colors are better on his latex and I'm surprised every time how perfect the colors print (no banding, no grain, sharp text...) but my Eco-Solvent is more versatile for my need (print n' cut machine fits in smaller office, the possibility to print on left-overs / scrap pieces vs loading a roll everytime...)

    I'm not saying eco-solvent is better, but for my needs here (one-man-shop... I'm not even printing everyday), the latex with the 2 devices needed (separated printer and plotter) isn't for me in my 15ft x 15ft design room on the mezzanine. My friend runs 2 HP Latex set back-to-back and a 64in Graphtec... he has more available sq.ft. than me (but I have 3x more room to install... reason why I'm doing his bigger projects :D)
  9. GrantX01

    GrantX01 Member

    Dec 16, 2008
    I have ran Mutoh, Epson, Roland, and Hp I will NEVER go back to latex again. Nothing but Lies and Lies cost of ownership is BS and you wont find that out until you buy one.

    • Agree Agree x 3
    • OMG / Wow! OMG / Wow! x 1
  10. VanderJ

    VanderJ Merchant Member - Printer Parts and Sevice

    Aug 2, 2011
    Denver, CO
    What ended up costing more on the latex? I have people asking me all the time about cost of ownership between the two but don't have a ton of real life experience with the latex.
  11. jfiscus

    jfiscus Adobe Shinobi

    Apr 2, 2009
    Cincinnati, OH
    The wasted material was a big issue for us as well as the warm-up and cool-down time. Constant head degradation is an issue when you never have to replace heads on a solvent printer (as long as you know what you're doing) and every part that broke on ours wasn't covered under warranty.
  12. SightLine

    SightLine Very Active Member

    ikarasuikarasu - where people are mentioning panels not matching on color is moreso when a replacement piece needs to be printed later for a repair. That can be an issue for eco-sol machines too of course depending on how long it has been since the original job was printed since any prints do fade some when outdoors. It does seem to be considerably worse on latex though. We do contract installs once in a while and have on more than one occasion been contracted to replace just a single panel on a box truck or something that was damaged just 6 months after we were contracted to install the whole job and the color match of the replacement price was way way off. Seen that more than once. It was way more off on color than what we would see with a 6 month later reprint on our own eco-sol Mimaki's. On our Mimaki's even a couple of years later a reprint of something to make a repair patch is generally very very close to the original color but of course there are exceptions like if it has a lot of red and sits in the sun every day than the red has faded some.

    Personally, I'm still not sold on Latex. We actually just replaced two printers early this year and after evaluating our options late last year I went with two new Mimaki's.... No regrets at all. 11 months later, literally a hundred plus full 50 yard rolls printed and have not had to replace anything except a couple of $5 wipers, still 100% perfect nozzle tests and print quality. Weekly cleaning and maintenance on the current generation of eco-sol machines is considerably less than ones from years ago. In our experience maybe 20 minutes every two weeks to move the head carriage out and clean the bottom of the carriage and around the head and clean around the capping station area is really all there is. Yeah a new eco-sol print head is expensive and can cost 2 to 3 grand to replace but they last several years and with the newer machines having a thing that detects obstructions in the print path head strikes are nearly impossible as anything that might cause a head strike is detected and the had carriage stops almost instantly preventing any damage. Head strikes have always been the biggest cause of needing a head replaced early on eco-sol machines. Without a head strike bad enough to cause physical damage, we have seen 5 years out of a print head no problem.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. chester215

    chester215 Just call me Chester.

    Sep 29, 2011
  14. Tiling is a problem with HP printers I use, starting from Z6100 to L26500. I think OMAS is the cause of this problem, so I disable it from the RIP, it helps a bit but doesn't solve the problem completely so we run tiled jobs on Mutoh 1624.
  15. BigfishDM

    BigfishDM Merchant Member

    Jun 22, 2009
    All Over
    I have worked with almost every single printer in this industry and I would still use a Latex machine personally if I started a print for pay operation. I can print more materials (especially high-end materials) and I can print it faster than my competition who doesn't have latex. There are going to be downsides to ANY machine out there, HP Latex is like #1, 2, and 4 machine in the whole industry for a reason. The 3 other major brands make up #3 COMBINED. That tells me alot.

    Will you have success with other print technology? Of course, but to me, simple is better and the running latex is simple.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. jpescobar

    jpescobar Member

    Jun 5, 2016
    After reading alot of statements and users experience I started thinking again about the choice of materials I'm gonna buy in the next couple weeks.
    Honestly I'm not printing massively kind 2 or 3 rolls per day so I don't need a productive printer but a good and versatile 64" printer would be suitable and gainful for my business. I have only 6 years experience and I saw several ones wether they are in printshops or in an exihbition show.

    I found everything in the Epson SureColor : a workhorse machine, dazzling colors and accurate prints. I don't care if the prints should take 6h to degass or I have to deliver them same day or tomorrow. The printhead is certainly expensive but if I maintain it correctly would last at least 7 years. The ink cartridges are also cheap and the UltraChrome GS3 inks deliver outstanding quality and dry faster than any other eco-solvent inks.

    The HP Latex Print & Cut at first glance seemed to me the perfect solution for the quality and the variety of materials it can prints. The print and cut is done in a one operation and in a single workflow. I must take in account the printheads I should replace many times added to the ink cartridges which are expensive in my country. The supported medias is also a headache : most of the resellers I know don't sell HP Latex compatible medias so I need to go through my dealer.

    For the vinyl cutting I have no choice but to buy a GCC Jaguar IV 54" cutter which cost around $3K. I already placed an order for an Easymount Sign 1600C laminator. You gonna advice me to drop the Jaguar but the you need to know we don't have a Graphtec reseller and the Summa are very expensive unless to buy a HP Latex Print & Cut which includes a Summa D140R/D160R vinyl cutter.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
  17. BigfishDM

    BigfishDM Merchant Member

    Jun 22, 2009
    All Over

    I wish you nothing but great success sir. I am sure you will be more than happy with your purchase.
    • Like Like x 2
  18. coastguy111

    coastguy111 Member

    Mar 17, 2015
    for the price the Epson SureColor is a great machine... S40600 or S60600
    • Like Like x 2

Share This Page