Graphics specialists who purchase wide-format hybrid UV inkjet printers tend to be attracted to the flexibility and responsiveness the technology can bring to the production floor. The appeal of hybrid UV inkjets stems from their ability to support both rigid and flexible substrates and print without aromatic solvent inks, which typically allows them to operate without exhaust and ventilation systems.
Still, for all the benefits UV inkjet printers offer, most systems require a warm-up period for curing lamps to reach peak output. Additionally, heat buildup caused by the curing lamps can damage temperature-sensitive materials and hinder ink adhesion to those substrates.
Gerber Scientific Products, Inc. designed its Solara ion wide-format UV inkjet printer with a new curing-system technology and ink formulation to ease the process of printing onto delicate media and improve material compatibility. Gerber says its Cold Fire Cure technology uses low energy and low temperatures to cure the proprietary GerberCAT inks (CMYK). Cold Fire Cure employs specialized UV lamps that run the full length of the gantry (approximately 65 in./1651 mm) to provide a specific wavelength of UV light to cure the company’s cationic UV inks. Gerber notes that the inks offer unmatched adhesion to the widest variety of materials and do not produce unpleasant odors, so special ventilation is not required.
According to Gerber, Cold Fire Cure’s UV lamps do not require a burn-in period, which eliminates striking delays, and its low operating temperature results in short warm-up cycles. Furthermore, curing at approximately room temperature allows the Solara ion to print onto a variety of media, including heat-sensitive plastic, vinyl, fabric, and paper-based materials. Additionally, the printer is compatible with polystyrene, MDO/MDF, glass, polycarbonate, chipboard/cardboard, acrylic, corrugated plastic, cabinet-grade plywood, styrene, painted aluminum, lined mesh, textiles (canvas, flag), and more.
The Solara ion has two different, dedicated platforms for printing rigid and rolled substrates; therefore, operators do not have to reconfigure the printer to accommodate a different material. Rolled material may remain loaded on the printer's winding unit while printing a rigid substrate.
The machine can print onto rigid media up to 1 in. thick and 64 in. wide (25.4 x 1626 mm) and roll-fed substrates up to 64 in. wide with rolls weighing up to 100 lb (45.4 kg). It supports print speeds as high as 639 sq ft/hr (59.4 sq m/hr) and imaging resolutions up to 1440 dpi. Solara ion’s flatbed vacuum table holds rigid substrates in place while the printhead gantry moves over the media during printing. The table is designed for easy loading and unloading of rigid material, and the gantry moves completely out of the way for unobstructed access to the table. The printer is also equipped with an automated material-thickness sensor designed to simplify job setup. It measures the loaded substrate and locates the printheads and UV lamps at the optimum height for precise printing and curing without operator intervention.
Gerber reports that the Solara ion requires very little daily maintenance. At the start and end of each day, and after every four hours of printing, operators must prime and wipe the printheads to prevent ink build up. A timer automatically resets after priming and will remind the operator when the next head cleaning is scheduled.
Solara ion is compatible with Onyx ProductionHouse Gerber Edition, Onyx PosterShop Gerber Edition, Onyx ImageRIP Plus, Gerber Solara ion Onyx Driver (for existing Onyx owners), and ErgoSoft Mistral. The printer weighs approximately 1000 lb and stands at 104 x 147 x 54 in. Gerber says users need not have a concrete floor to support the printer. For more information, contact Gerber Scientific Products, Inc., 83 Gerber Rd., South Windsor, CT 06074, 860-643-1515, 800-222-7446, fax: 860-648-8595, Web: www.gspinc.com.
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