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Taking the next step in printers...

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by FatCat, Sep 28, 2020.

  1. FatCat

    FatCat Very Active Member

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    We run three Mutoh 1624x roll printers here, and have a CWT work table, GFP 563 and Summa F1612 and a D-140 to help with laminating/mounting/cutting prints. Just over the last 2 months, I have realized the bottleneck is no longer our finishing, but with our printers. I am probably just asking too much of them at this point as they pretty much run from the time I get in here to the time I go home and sometimes on weekends.

    So, I beg the question, where do we go from here - or what is the smart thing to do? Unfortunately, it seems there is a big gap between a $15k-$20k roll-to-roll solvent or latex printer and stepping up to a flatbed or hybrid. With all the uncertainty with the economy right now, it's also worrisome to consider investing that much and then work slowing down.

    However,, I have been researching several flatbeds for the past year and pretty much had it narrowed down to a Mimaki JFX200 series, or possibly a Vanguard VR5 - but then we still have a lot of stuff to print that requires a roll-to-roll machine. (Car wraps, lots of banners - both SINGLE and DOUBLE SIDED, posters, static cling, etc..) Now I am looking at the HP R1000 plus as a hybrid that can basically "do it all". However, the price point is roughly double what the Mimaki and Vanguard machines are, so that leaves me wondering is it smarter to invest in the HP, which seems to be a great machine with great reviews, or do I go with a dedicated UV flatbed and perhaps add a faster roll-to-roll like the Oce Colorado or even a couple of dual head solvents like the Epson 60600 or Mutoh 1638?

    FWIW - I am scheduled to visit Grimco next month at their show room in Chicago to have a hands on demo of the R1000 plus. Have not seen the Colorado run in person either... I have also witnessed the Mimaki firsthand, but not the Vanguard. I have read about every review on these machines on S101 as well as videos on youtube users.

    *I know I'll be asked, so here is what we primarily print;

    1. Coro/foamboard/PVC and MDO panels (all of this is currently print and stick)
    2. Car wrap material
    3. Banners - standard 13oz, 18oz heavy duty (double sided) retractable and even indoor double sided for retail
    4. Static Cling, and poster materials
    5. Misc adhesive for decals, etc. (reflective, clear, etc.)
    6. Canvas

    Looking to hear from others who made the leap, or those looking to do the same thing and which way they are going.

    Thank you.
     
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  2. Christian @ 2CT Media

    Christian @ 2CT Media Major Contributor

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    Do you have the room? If so I would get both a flatbed and 2 roll-to-rolls, from experience a Hybrid just becomes a new bottleneck.

    Epson, HP, Mimaki, Stratojet, etc all have great machines for your wrapping capable roll needs, there are others but speed to quality sounds like a concern for you.
    I would look at the Vanguards, Stratojet, and Digi for the flatbeds.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
  3. balstestrat

    balstestrat Member

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    Try to look to the future and imagine what kinda capacity you could be needing. No point paying for speed you don't need and can't use. Roll printers are so cheap you can buy so many of them you will run out of space compared to boards.

    But other than that, the guys with R-series that I know are very happy with it. It does give flexibility with the roll option when you don't have boards lined up.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

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    As much as I’d recommend a Colorado to almost anyone, it doesn’t sound like it’d fit your needs if you needed a full wrap. The 1650 has more flexible inks bit I wouldn’t wrap with it.

    Depending on how many wraps you do, you could swap two of the mutohs out for one and keep the last mutoh for wraps but then you’re only losing one R2R. Sortve defeats the purpose!

    As far as flatbeds go, I’d go with one that lets you add additional rows of heads after install, so if/when you do grow you have that availability. I think the vanguards are pretty easy to do that with.
     
  5. FatCat

    FatCat Very Active Member

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    Will be moving to a new (to me) 5,000 square foot shop (end of year start of 2021) which will double what we have now. Room shouldn't be a problem.
     
  6. Solventinkjet

    Solventinkjet DIY Printer Fixing Guide

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    Judging by the amount of roll stock you seem to use, I'm not sure if a flat bed will help with speeding up your workflow. That is unless you just do a ton more coro and MDO than anything else. I agree with Christian above. Hybrids tend to introduce more problems than they solve.
     
  7. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

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    Do you have a rough rolls per month for poster/vinyl/banner etc and how many sheets of Coro etc? A flatbed with a roll option may also be helpful. Plus that brings up your maximum print width usually.

    hard to tell what you need without knowing how fast you need your printers to be.
     
  8. FatCat

    FatCat Very Active Member

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    I don't think I can get away from having at least 1 eco-sol printer for wraps specifically, and I am OK with that, as that machine could also be used for overflow when it's not printing wrap film or similar. The Colorado seemed like a good option for all the poster/static cling and banner material we run - which I wouldn't think would be an issue with ink type? Lastly, the amount of print and stick we are doing is getting ridiculous, even with a flatbed applicator. Spending the time to often laminate and then apply to a substrate is time consuming and if I took what I spent this month on laminate and cheap print vinyl for coro/foamboard/etc. it would easily make a payment on a big machine and then some.

    I'm the type of person that likes to really think and talk things through when making equipment purchases to make sure I am getting what we need and not necessarily what I think I want...

    I appreciate all the feedback so far - please keep it coming!
     
  9. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

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    You already have the R2R, unless these are near end of life and you think they need replaced I’d start with a flat bed. That’ll get you instant savings on vinyl, give you a few extra product offerings and save you tons of time applying the vinyl.

    If you do need a roll to roll upgrade, you won’t go wrong with the Colorado. Ours has been a beast these last few months, churned through 5-8 rolls a day no problem. All I can say is I’m glad I went for that over an extra 2-3 mimaki’s. (Space is an issue for us) but it’s definitely much more handy to have one printer that can do the work of three, than three that do the work of one.

    That and the IQ of the Colorado is great. If you have a huge job, and set up say 1 38” long sheet and need 1000 copies of that sheet (a lot more than 1 roll worth) the Colorado will count the sheets it’s done even when rolls run out. Can’t say how much time that’s saved us counting sheets. Plus it means you can just throw in rolls that you have no idea how much vinyl you have left.

    Not sure how some newer printers do it, but with the Colorado you send all the jobs to a hold queue on the printer, instead of them all sitting in onyx. Then it won’t print any jobs until you’ve loaded the specific media you chose at the certain roll size. Means you can clear your feet of all the jobs, have them ready to print on the Colorado and work through new ones with a “clear” rip.

    Definitely worth a demo, as I said I couldn’t have made it few the last few months without it!
     
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  10. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

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    What % of the vinyl you currently print gets mounted to boards? A flatbed might be the best bet for you, but they come with a large monthly payment and you need to be sure you can keep it running to pay the bill.

    I like the idea of replacing 2 of your printers with a Colorado, and add a flatbed if needed.
     
  11. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

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    In the UK I could get a mimaki JFX200 for around about the price of a Colorado. Is it the same over there? Monthly payment might be the same either way.
     
  12. Bly

    Bly Very Active Member

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    We have a flatbed to print boards, a Colorado for most of our roll stock and an Epson eco sol as backup and to print wraps.
    Also a Zund to cut everything.
    It's amazing how much work we can output with this setup.
     
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  13. Snydo

    Snydo Active Member

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    I run a 1640 and like you, we have a CWT and the thing I love about the Colorado is that you can go immediately to the table with your print and sticks and mount them with no worries, the ink is essentially unscratchable, with our Epsons you might get away with mounting same day, but you definitely don't go straight off the printer to the table and you would likely laminate it first. As for wraps, I wouldn't for any kind of complex surfaces - but for a box truck or a trailer, it would be fine.(especially the 1650)
    It is also an outstanding banner printer, again straight off the printer to the tables with zero worry of scratching or marring of any kind.
    The Colorado shines when it comes to ink savings, and not having to laminate anything that's going indoors or is meant to be a short to medium-termed product.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Zendavor Signs

    Zendavor Signs Member

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    I would recommend steering clear of Mimaki for a flatbed printer. We have one and it is great, but we are low volume (typically print 2-3 boards a day). You sound high volume, it likely will not have enough speed for you. Mimaki is also not friendly with Onyx, if that is a concern. A Vanguard seems to be a printer with a good reputation at a reasonable price point that will offer much more speed. Oce / Fuji also have very nice lower end flatbeds that would probably fit the bill, but come with high service costs (service contracts, etc).
     
  15. Notarealsignguy

    Notarealsignguy Active Member

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    Here's my 2 cents with no real first hand experience to go from. I think the best place to start is to figure all of the jobs that you currently have and could not do with a flatbed, I think that it will be more than you think. Then look at those you could and how you would handle laminating if needed. That's the part that always gets me. If it needs laminating, you seem to lose any time advantage and even go backwards. Then, will the entry level guy that can trim and mount all day be able to pick up on running a rip and printer? What's the cost to upgrade them if not? You can hit go on a roll printer and walk away, I don't think you can really do that with a flatbed so that is an added cost. It takes a lot of coro signs to recoup 100k.
     
  16. FatCat

    FatCat Very Active Member

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    To clarify, I don't consider us high volume, though at certain times of the year it can be overwhelming as multiple customers seem to overlap with their printing needs on top of our regular in and out work during spring and fall which tend to be our busiest times of year.

    Do you mind me asking which Mimaki you have? We are looking at the new 2513 EX model which is significantly faster than the older version and has 1 add'l head. From videos I have seen on youtube, it looks almost twice as fast and they state "up to 12 boards per hour". I realize that is probably at ideal conditions, but even 8-10 bph should be sufficient for the workload we have. I have no interest cranking out "coro by the pound" as one of my longtime associates refers to it.

    I do like the Vanguard machines, but not sure who in my area would service them? In contrast, Grimco would service an HP if I bought one, and I have 2 local Mimaki dealers to choose from. I think having local service for a machine like this will be paramount to keep my sanity.
     
  17. Christian @ 2CT Media

    Christian @ 2CT Media Major Contributor

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    Vanguard has a remote service model and they have been rapid for us. They are expanding their tech area and just recently added an AZ tech. Their VR5D-e (Ricoh Heads) model if you are only wanting 4x8 could be almost 2x faster than the Mimaki at similar quality and price, step up to the VKM600T-HS (Konica Heads) and you would increase that speed significantly for a small amount more all while keeping the high IQ.

    All I can say is that we bought our HP FB with one production quantity in mind, unfortunately, it didn't grow much due to the crap service we had from HP and defects in our machine. The switch to the Vanguard not only gave us 4x the production capability and higher quality, but it has also promoted the increase in our workload/sales due to the IQ and output speeds we can achieve. I would buy for where you would like to be and not where you are currently as typically an increase in quality will also increase demand.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  18. FatCat

    FatCat Very Active Member

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    I totally agree. I believe getting a flatbed will eliminate a lot of time and hassle for the coro/foamboard/PVC jobs we do day in and day out. Most of the UV and/or latex printers don't require lamination on those substrates and are typically more scratch resistant than solvent. So, many times we have to laminate simply for scratch protection only. Again, we typically don't run high volume, but the steps involved with print and stick are time consuming, even with the tools we currently have.

    After reading more last night into the Colorado, it seems like the majority of users acknowledge the lower ink cost than comparable latex options, but they also say the high maintenance costs charged by Canon often times negate any savings. We're not typically trying to slam 6-8 rolls a day out on our machines - although at times we have had to. So not sure the added cost of the Colorado would be an advantage over a dual head solvent or possibly latex option.

    So at this point, I feel I definitely need flatbed capability for several reasons;

    1. To save time vs. print and stick
    2. To save costs due to buying print and laminate for many applications that we do now that we would no longer need with a direct to substrate method.
    2. To allow my summa flatbed cutter the ability to use the router option on certain materials (PVC, poly-metal, etc.) that we can't now because adhesive and a spindle router don't play nice together. (Typically, we have been cutting the shape first, then sticking a contour cut print to fit the shape.)
     
  19. Christian @ 2CT Media

    Christian @ 2CT Media Major Contributor

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    In our case, our 1650 consumes 2.5x the ink our latex do, with a similar IQ. I have 10 months of print logs to back it up and Canon can't explain why. It is very very fast, flexible (we wrap full vehicles with it), and the Durability is awesome but the ink savings is not apparent with no solutions in sight.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  20. Superior_Adam

    Superior_Adam Member

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    Be careful on what any brand says they can do in 1 hour. Typically those are at max speeds that do not print at a quality you would want to use. We run a EFI Pro24F Flatbed and a EFI Pro16H Hybrid. I use the flatbed way more than the hybrid. We have the hybrid as a back up for boards but mainly run banner, clear vinyl/static cling on it. For posters and vinyl we use a HP latex and Mutoh 1624. Out of those 2 the latex is used more for the fact there is no outgas needed. Adding a router/cutter will also increase production. Once we got our Zund it was night and day how fast jobs were completed.
     
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