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.

Question Wide Format Printer Recommendation

Discussion in 'Product and Supplier Referrals' started by radji, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. ikarasu

    ikarasu Active Member

    852
    246
    43
    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    Just to reiterate... solvent, and eco-solvent need ventilation. No manufacturer will tell you otherwise. The chemicals in solvents cause Cancer / not can, but do.

    Most solvent/ecosolvent (Check your MSDS sheet) allow 20 PPM exposure... A few places did a study with printing without any ventilation, measured the air and after 20 minutes... The air ranged from 20 PPM, to 200 PPM, and went up even further after the 30 minute mark.

    Hospitals/schools are starting to only allow xx feet of prints because they've found even just the prints cause defects in children.

    Now remember, not all ink is created equally. Rolands new Eco-solv2/3 ink is supposed to be friendly and safe in hospitals and schools. Them are the only 2 I know of that are green-guard certified, and only two I would trust without ventilation.

    depending on how big of a town you are, it may not benefit you to purchase a printer. You probably see you could save 75-80% buying your own materials / inks, etc... But once you factor in ink, time to print, time to laminate, time to applicate,, the machine, wear and tear, other materials, etc... It likely wont be.

    forget a hybrid... Depending on the length your coro needs to be up, you can get material as cheap as 15 cents a SQFT,(Cheap crap that'll be up for a week/month max) to good stuff that'd last longer than the coro for 50-.75 a sft. a 4x8 = 32 sqft... so you're adding $5-$25 (Depending on how long you need it to last) per 4x8 sheet. + Labor cost etc. Unless you plan on printing hundreds of sheets, buying a $80-100,000 printer doesn't make sense compared to a $12-20,000.


    As for laminating banner... No point! Banner is the cheapest material you can purchase. Inks generally last a few years in the sun without UV protection depending on sun exposure... so if theyre up for 2 weeks, then put away... they should be fine for next year. But even if you have to re-print them every year... You're looking at a couple bucks in Material. you should still buy a cold laminator for applying to coro / laminating other prints you may be doing... but now you're taking up more space.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. radji

    radji New Member

    17
    1
    3
    Jul 7, 2018
    San Diego, CA
    Here's a photo of my print/mail room. As you can see, space is at a premium (I took the photo standing on the back of my desk). To the left and right are shelves and counters that run the perimeter of the room. I am clearing out quite a few miscellaneous items so I can possibly fit this new wide format printer up against the central pillar.
    [​IMG]
    Believe me, that's what I am aiming for. Right now the HP Latex 115 and Ricoh Pro L4130 (really just a rebranded Mimaki JV400LX series) are my top 2 choices. No fumes, no banding, and no daily maintenance are big selling points for me on Latex wide format. But it will ultimately come down to what I can squeeze into my space and, more importantly, how well/long their demo test prints survive outside exposed to the elements.

    That's my goal. None of the HP Designjets are actually in my print room. Not enough space at the moment. But my pitch will be for us to trade-in or sell off our two T1200s, keep the T1300 upstairs as a backup and have the new wide format machine do the bulk of the printing. Same concept has worked great for our regular printing/copying since I got my digital production press.

    My print room is very accessible. Ground level with double doors on the back for receiving from the rear parking lot. Having to do a fume extraction system for this printer would be a deal breaker though. I wholly agree with the notion that there will be people who will complain about the smell. I already get folks who complain about it being too noisy for them when they come to pick up their daily mail. Very thankful for my boss telling them "tough s***, wear earplugs". But I know there is no chance of the City moving my operations to a different location.

    Alright, you all have convinced me. Eco-solvent needs ventilation.

    It will save us money in the long run. My proposal for this already included an analysis of what we currently spend for outside printing of signs and banners (which is WAY more than I originally thought) vs material and equipment costs. We don't factor in staff time since I'm paid to be on duty no matter what. The City is large enough to where we just purchased a digital production press for me. Doubled my output in 1 year including numerous jobs we've always outsourced.

    Agreed. An entry level HP Latex is $8k. With a cold laminator, that brings up to $9.5k. We spend almost $2k last fiscal year outsourcing signs and banners. If I can bring the print costs down to 1/3rd of that, a $9.5k machine setup would be recovered in less than 10 years.

    Yeah, so my paper vendor swears I should not even attempt a flatbed or hybrid printer, since I would only need either of those for coroplast printing. He explained corona treatment of the coroplast to me and how it affects the print quality. Knowing all that now, I feel the best option is to print on adhesive backed vinyl and mount it to coroplast.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  3. ikarasu

    ikarasu Active Member

    852
    246
    43
    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    If your only outsourcing 2k a year I think it's best to forget about the printer to be honest.

    Most printers dont last 10 years without some serious maintenance . Maintenance on these machines are expensive also... We pay $150 per hour for a tech to come in. Minimum $450 just to diagnose for 1 hour... Last part on our machine was $4000. We haven't had to repair our latex yet, so I'm not sure on the price of them.. but techs are still expensive, and as much as I love my latex, I don't think it'll last 10 years.

    Take what you think it'll cost you, then double it. If you think it's still worth it then, go ahead and buy one.

    Running a wide format printer isn't as easy as a normal printer. Your city probably has certain colors for their signage that you need to match exactly... That's a lot of trial and error, or a $3000 machine to profile properly. Learning what materials are good... You can do your own banner, but you'll need to hem, grommet... Hemming isn't hard if you're willing to use tape, but to geometry that's another machine / expense .

    But... Up to you to decide if is worth it! I'll vouch for the latex, it's great .but get the take up reel... Its not included in the base price, and if you print anything longer than 5 ft you kind of need one. I believe they're around 1k? Maybe more.

    Also, buy from bigfish! He's very knowledgable, local, and one of the most informed on media that works with latex. I'm sure he'd be glad to help you along the way.


    As for durability... I've had a printed decal out for over a year with no overlmainate on it, and it looks just as good as day one. I feel latex is just as good as solvents for durability.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  4. radji

    radji New Member

    17
    1
    3
    Jul 7, 2018
    San Diego, CA
    Tried that. I've been able to avoid this subject for years. But bosses said to roll with this and see where it leads. The 2k a year for outsourcing was in addition to the wide format printing I did. I haven't compiled that cost or what its costing us to maintain all these Designjets on a yearly basis.

    At least double the cost. :big laugh: Haven't included the cost of maintenance/service.

    We had a Xerox 7356 that lasted over 20 years. Only reason we had to replace it was the availability of parts hit 0 so we had no choice.

    Not sure how it works with the ink-based wide format printers, but our laser toner copiers including my digital press and our wide format laser printer have a guaranteed service contract for 10 years. Historically these laser copiers do last a long time provided you keep ahead on maintenance and do not abuse the machines (famous last words). It is also surprising that many of the wide format manufacturers don't offer some sort of usage based service plan like toner printers have. Its why I am heavily in favor of the HP Latex series because HP offers a multi-level enterprise service plan.

    Respectfully disagree. From what I've seen so far and been told, most of these wide format printers you can still do "File->Print" and the machine will print something. Not so much with a Ricoh C7100 and definitely not with a Xerox 800i. I'm used to quite a bit of press setup before actual printing occurs. The City does have a standard 7 color brand palette that I have to match to, which was very unpleasant to have to do for each substrate group, even with a spectrophotometer. But I only had to do the color matches once for each group (uncoated, coated, textured, etc.) and lock the values into the DFE. I would imagine even an entry model like the HP Latex 115 has the ability to do a color adjustment match for specific substrate groups then save those values so they can be applied later. The only saving grace is that most of these print manufacturers have a spot color matching option for Pantone colors. Otherwise I'd have gone blind by now.

    I've been hemming and grommeting my banners for a while now. I do use banner tape with a hand roller and a manual grommet press. Works great for me since I don't do huge length banners.

    Most certainly. I will definitely be reaching out to bigfish. The unfortunate thing is we can't buy equipment from just anyone. Lots of regulations that require us to get bids or buy on public sector contracts to make sure we aren't paying retail. Hopefully bigfish can accommodate. An HP rep from the forum has already PM'd me as well. Will definitely get a takeup reel. Better than fighting with a 6ft or 10 ft long banner to roll it up. Great to know another user has had good experience with Latex inks' light steadfastness.
     
  5. BigfishDM

    BigfishDM Major Contributor

    4,366
    220
    63
    Jun 22, 2009
    All Over
    I will wait for you to let me know when you are ready, we should be able to accommodate you no problem. We deal with many similar situations.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. ikarasu

    ikarasu Active Member

    852
    246
    43
    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    If you've already used a specto before, you should be fine. Ripping is a bit different, but if you have previous experience you should be ok .

    But the rip that comes with hp doesn't allow you to profile - you'll need to purchase the full software for $50 a month, or I believe $3500? Maybe $3000.

    Older machines like the Xerox are like older cars... Built to last. The latex's are really plasticy. I hope it lasts 10 years, but seeing the build.quality I'm not too sure unless you pump a lot into maintenance.

    I believe you can get a 1-2 year service contract, but that adds another couple grand onto the price. Sadly in the printing world, everything keeps adding up!
     
  7. radji

    radji New Member

    17
    1
    3
    Jul 7, 2018
    San Diego, CA
    Outstanding. I assume you are in the Orange County office? Could you PM me your email?

    Good to know I would have to upgrade the RIP software to have the media profiling ability. Still very bad to hear the build quality of these machines are flimsy. The HP Designjets we have seem sturdy.
     
  8. AKwrapguy

    AKwrapguy Active Member

    807
    211
    43
    Sep 6, 2014
    Anchorage, AK
    So if space is a premium, you might need to look at a front loading machine so you can place it up against a wall.
     
  9. ikarasu

    ikarasu Active Member

    852
    246
    43
    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    Don't take my word for it, check the machines yourself in a demo room. We have a machine that costs 10x the price, made out of pure metal... So it's more sturdy. The 110 I have is like 90% plastic... It may be built really well, and they're just using lighter materials because they decided they don't need to overdo it. But I see it as cars... a 70s car was built out of pure metal, you could crash it and there would be a tiny dent. a 2018 car gets into the same crash, and theres 10-20k worth of damage. Cheaper Materials usually = cheaper build quality. But I havent had one long enough to know how often they'll need repairs, and whether they're built to last 10+ years... I'd be surprised if it does though!

    But yes, you'll need to upgrade the rip. I believe the 115s still come with flexi. You don't 100% NEED to... But if you need to be color accurate, you pretty much have to. I was wrong about the price though, I was quoting on a new version - I was offered an upgrade for $1490. So much cheaper $3000. I'd double check with your vendor on upgrade costs though, It's probably different for each version.
     
  10. radji

    radji New Member

    17
    1
    3
    Jul 7, 2018
    San Diego, CA
    I PM'd you.
    Agreed. The HP Latex series loads from the front according to the user manual. Not sure about the Mimaki. Can't find a user guide or photo that shows which side it loads from.
    Oooh, not exactly a ringing endorsement for these printer's longevity. I will have to keep it in mind it may need replacing in less than 10 years. I'm OK with upgrading the RIP software. So long as I don't have to buy a dedicated digital front end machine for the wide format. That's where it starts to get expensive, or at least with Fierys it is.
     
  11. ikarasu

    ikarasu Active Member

    852
    246
    43
    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    Keep in mind I'm coming from a shop that prints 1-2 rolls of material a day on average, sometimes 5+... So our machines will be abused a lot more than yours. If you're only using them occasionally, they may very well last 10+ years with proper maintenance / care.

    But also keep in mind the 115 is a "Home office" printer... for small workloads. It's not meant to be a workhorse. I haven't seen the build quality of the higher end machines, but one of the common complaints About the hp latex is people say it feels like cheap plastic.

    And don't get me wrong! I'm one of the first people to recommend Latex as a new printer purchase. I love it compared to our solvent, and I think it just keeps getting better and better. I just think you need to lower your expectations, you may pay off the 10K in 10 years of savings after ink/material from outsourcing, but once you add in 10 years worth of repairs, you'll be looking at another 5-10 years to pay off the repairs. 2K a year isn't a whole lot of printing... I really don't think at 2K a year you'll ever break even. But you'll have more control for doing stuff in house, the opportunity to do stuff you couldn't before because it was too expensive to outsource, etc.

    If you want to get a machine for more control, and future opportunities... I say go for it. If you're trying to save 2K a year and hope you'll eventually break even... you'll be disappointed. You need to be doing 5-10x that before it'd make sense to purchase a printer instead of outsourcing, in my opinion anyways.
     
  12. radji

    radji New Member

    17
    1
    3
    Jul 7, 2018
    San Diego, CA
    Was able to meet with a HP Dealer rep today. He was very informative. Everyone's consensus seems to be the HP Latex series is great and to stay away from the Ricoh/Mimaki latex printers...except for my Ricoh production service tech. He works on the Ricoh/Mimaki latex printers. Says they are maintenance intensive but they do a decent job for the price.
     
  13. Ra33it

    Ra33it New Member

    7
    1
    3
    Jan 17, 2018
    Portland
    I've used and HP 360 and 370(which is basically the same) They are pretty decent printers and definitely space savers. A couple cons, if budget is always a concern, is that both are susceptible to head crashes unless you feed out the material about a foot. I've used 2 different 360's at different shops and both we had to feed out the material and attach clamps to keep it flat. The second con, as far as cost, is that the print heads each cost around $180 if memory serves, and they can break easily if the head crashes. So if material waste is a big concern, in my experience, you'll waste 1-2 feet of material each print job. Unless you just leave the roll attached and print the whole roll with out detaching.
     
  14. radji

    radji New Member

    17
    1
    3
    Jul 7, 2018
    San Diego, CA
    Wow. 1-2 rolls per day. I will only do 2-3 rolls per month in my busy months. That said, I will certainly be purchasing a service plan (either manufacturer or dealer) to cover maintenance, service, and parts. Its been very worthwhile for our other printers thus far.

    I should probably just accept any HP machine I get will mostly be plastic. I'm not much concerned with how it "feels" though. Just how well it performs and lasts. It isn't a car so I'm not worried about how it looks for feels.

    I thought the same thing, that I had to really lower my expectations. Then late this week I find out our departments are using multiple outside vendors to do wide format/sign/banner printing (without checking with us beforehand). :frustrated:

    So that 2k is no longer an accurate figure. Will definitely be more. But still, what you posted gives me a good insight that I need to be cautious and not bite off more than I can chew with this wide format stuff.

    Sounds about right from what the local HP rep told me as well. But since we would be getting the enterprise service plan, the print heads would be covered for replacement...up to a specific number of each per year. I'm not too concerned about material waste. I will be wasting more from bad design drafts than the material over-feeding. Nature of the business. I am confused though why you would need to feed out 1-2 feet of material and attach clamps to keep it flat. That sounds like a major machine defect.
     
  15. ikarasu

    ikarasu Active Member

    852
    246
    43
    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    Latex works by heating to dry the ink .Its a lot.more heat than solvent/aquaeos printers .Thin/cheap media tends to curl or buckle... I'm not sure how paper is, maybe that's what he's referring to. There's only.been one media out of the 50+ we use that needs us to babysit it and attach it to the roll before we can stop watching it.

    I waste maybe 2" as a lead when I print on good material, and the cheaper stuff that buckles I waste about 12". You can get away with wasting two on cheap media too,, what I usually do is hold two rulers where the heaters are to keep the media down and make sure it goes through the outfeed slot. Then I realized I was wasting only $1 with the cheap media, I just stopped caring and waste The foot.

    Id go see the machine in action, pretty much every sales shop will have a latex setup to view... The latest generations are all the same in principal.

    The difference between the 115 and the 300 are just speed. The latest latest really high end up models have some.new features... But generally you'll be able to see a 115 variant in action, make sure its got.the right quality and watch them load/print on whatever material you use.

    I was going to say $2000 a year is really cheap, even if you're a small town. You can print banners, wall graphics, signs, even street / speed signs with the latex. (I believe the 115 isnt warrantied for printing MOT signs, but it's bigger brother that uses the exact same inks/heads are, so it works).

    There are lots of ways to make your money back on the machine, you just need to look for them.


    I'm a littll surprised your heads will be covered under any service plan though. They're considered consumables on these printers, like ink. They do last a long time (few liters of ink), but they're considered normal wear and tear. HP actually warranties them for xx amount of ink or 1-2 years or something, so maybe your service plan is just using his warranty. Either way, if it's in your budget a service plan is a good idea!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. radji

    radji New Member

    17
    1
    3
    Jul 7, 2018
    San Diego, CA
    Yeah, we learned our lesson the hard way. Enterprise service plan is a must. The print heads are covered under this particular Dealer's highest level service plan. And like I posted before, they have a limit on how many heads they will cover under the plan per calendar year before charging you for them. It's prorated for the amount you are printing, as is the cost of the service plans. So if I am printing a good amount, I expect get 1-2 of sets of replacement heads per year max.

    What Ra33it said makes sense now. I didn't realize the latex printers put out that much heat for drying. But I do have the same issue with cheap/low gsm cutsheet media running high coverage thru my digital press. My boss just killed the fuser unit this week because of it. The cheapest media I would run is 20# uncoated bond. Same stuff that we run thru our laser wide format. If it does buckle from the dryer heat, I can step up the media's gsm until I get one that doesn't. That or just bite the bullet and get the takeup spool. If it wastes 20" for the cheap stuff 20# bond per job, big deal. It's cheap for a reason.

    The rep was steering me towards the 315, saying the same thing you said, that the 115 is for one-offs in a home office environment. Very cool to know the 315 is meant to print on the 3M reflective media. That was on someone's wish list that we get a printer that can print those. If speed and volume (and the RIP software) are the only difference, I just have to find a way to justify spending the extra $2700 for the 315. Might not be difficult now.
     
  17. Ra33it

    Ra33it New Member

    7
    1
    3
    Jan 17, 2018
    Portland
    Because most materials would curl or buckle and raise up from the platens and then either the heads would cause a small head strike, or a full on head crash into the material, which is what would cause the heads to get ruined. The machine definitely has a few design flaws in my opinion, but it prints really fast, in good quality, and it doesn't take up much space.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. radji

    radji New Member

    17
    1
    3
    Jul 7, 2018
    San Diego, CA
    Yeah, I didn't realize the platens put out that much heat to cause lower quality papers to ripple. I thought only toner printers did that. Tells me I definitely need to consider the take up spool since I print on the 20# bond paper enough.

    I should definitely ask the rep about the retro reflective printing. He mentioned it, but I think I have to jump up to a Latex 360 to get that capability.
     
  19. Ra33it

    Ra33it New Member

    7
    1
    3
    Jan 17, 2018
    Portland
    Yeah i'm not familiar with the other printer you're talking about, but that 360 can definitely print on reflective material as long as it's reflective that can take latex ink. And if you're going to be printing multiple feet at a time I would recommend the take up reel.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. TomNJ

    TomNJ Member

    27
    10
    3
    Apr 11, 2017
    NJ
    I love the smell of Eco-Sol in the morning.......smells like money.
     
Loading...

Share This Page

 


Loading...