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At the International Sign Association Sign Expo 2008 in March, Epson rolled out a new solvent-ink printer designed to bring new levels of print quality to sign producers, and lower production costs to high-volume producers of decorative art.
At the same time, LexJet is actively developing high-end yet economical fine art and photo media for the next generation of solvent printers, such as the EPSON Stylus Pro GS6000. These new products are apparently catching on as LexJet Sunset Fine Art Gloss SUV by Hahnemuhle was recently voted the top product in the Fine Art category of Wide-Format Imaging’s annual Readers’ Choice Top Products of 2008 awards.
The 64-in. Stylus Pro GS6000 printer uses 8 colors of Epson’s new UltraChrome GS solvent ink to print to the wide range of vinyls and other materials used in the production of outdoor signage, vehicle wraps, trade-show exhibits, wallcoverings, and retail graphics.
According to Epson, the new solvent-ink chemistry in UltraChrome GS provides virtually odorless printing, without the need for special ventilation or air-purification systems. In addition, the ink doesn’t contain Nickel (Ni) compounds, which can be harmful to employees and the environment. The primary drawback to the absence of Nickel in the ink is that outdoor graphics that might have lasted three years on certain materials may only last about two years or so. This probably won’t be an issue, since most digitally printed signage is designed for shorter-term usage and frequent updating.
In general, Epson has designed the GS6000 to be safe enough for use in any type of corporate office environment with a good air-conditioning system.
Wide Color Gamut: To help sign producers hit some frequently-used brand colors that are often difficult to reproduce, the GS6000 uses an 8-color inkset that adds orange and green inks to the standard cyan, magenta, yellow, black, light magenta, and light cyan inks. The inks are supplied in 950-ml cartridges that can be changed on the fly.
Print Specs and Speeds: The Stylus Pro GS6000 uses an eight-channel, dual-array MicroPiezo AMC printhead that can produce a maximum resolution of 1440 x 1440 dpi with droplets as small as 3.7 picoliters. The printer can output photographic-quality trade-show and retail signage at 91 sq. ft./hr., everyday signage at 180 sq. ft./hr., and banners at speeds of up to 340 sq. ft./hr.
Image Quality: Although viewers who have a trained photographic eye will always be able to detect more of the exquisitely fine details made possible by the three levels of black ink in UltraChrome K3 aqueous inks, Epson product manager Reed Hecht believes many graphic buyers will be extremely impressed with the image quality from the Stylus Pro G6000. He believes the image quality is so good that sign producers won’t need to tell buyers that defects won’t be visible if they just stand back and view the print from a distance.
The Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 lists for $28,995, which includes a one-year Epson Preferred Limited Warranty and a ColorBurst Professional Production RIP and print server.