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Epson moves up to take on 60” wide format market

Monday, 27 August 2007
By Print 21 Online Article

Epson’s long-awaited entry into the large format sector is certain to trigger a fierce battle for market share as rivals seek to prevent it from gaining a similar dominance to that it already enjoys in the photo and proofing market. The new printer will use Epson’s new UltraChrome K3 ink with Vivid Magenta, which the company claims delivers a colour gamut equivalent to conventional 12-colour ink sets.

At a media briefing in Sydney on Tuesday, samples of the high-quality output from the 11880 were freely available and lacked none of the photo quality punch and true to life gamut achieved with other inks sets in the format. The engine is also the first to use Epson’s new MicroPiezo TFP (thin film piezo) print head with 360 nozzles per inch for each of the nine ink cartridges.

According to Craig Heckenberg, Epson business unit manager, the October release of the Stylus Pro 11880 has already caused a rush of orders from print-for-pay customers. He is confidant Epson will prove to be as equally successful in the larger format as it is already in its traditional photographic, fine art and proofing markets.

The 11880 is part of a wider release of Epson products including four new Stylus Pro 880 series large format printers with UltraChrome K3 ink with Vivid Magenta for colour critical printing applications – Stylus Pro 4880, Stylus Pro 7880, Stylus Pro 9880 and Stylus Pro 11880. In addition there are three new Stylus Pro 450 series four-colour printers for the architectural, engineering and print-for-pay markets with increased print speeds up to 60 per cent faster than Epson’s Stylus Pro 400 series using a new production mode setting that dramatically improves throughput in production intensive environments.

New eight colour ink technology

As the name suggests eight-colour UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta expands the already large Epson colour gamut. A breakthrough new pigment ink chemistry developed by Seiko Epson allowed the creation of a higher density form of magenta pigments. Epson then worked with professional photographers and print companies to fine tune the printer driver, ink and print head to produce prints with expanded gamut in blues and reds without losing any brilliance and colour depth in other colours of the spectrum.

A real production machine

Epson’s new Ink Repelling Coating for the print head and automatic nozzle check combine to eliminate down time by minimising and detecting nozzle clogging before it becomes serious, and to eliminate paper waste used during the cleaning process. It uses a sensor near the print head that counts the electrical charges on the ink droplets as they are fired. A lower than expected electrical charge means insufficient ink was fired, so the print head cleaning process automatically starts.

Because both photo and matte black inks are mounted and active on the Stylus Pro 11880 users save time and money as the printer immediately and automatically switches between the two black ink modes as required. Each of the eight UltraChrome K3 colours (including photo and matte black) has its own individual 360 dpi nozzle set on the print head so the Stylus Pro 11880 does not need time to switch between photo and matte black. High capacity 700 ml ink cartridges ensure the printer can run unattended to complete long print jobs.

To increase productivity the Stylus Pro 11880 has professional media handling capabilities accepting roll or cut-sheet paper from A4 up to 64 inches wide and up to 1.5mm thick poster board. It has a built in automatic media cutting system and an automatic take-up reel system as standard.

It can print a barcode and text on partially used paper rolls to record how much paper is left and what type of media it is, allowing users to confidently switch between paper types and rolls for different jobs.

To minimise paper use the Stylus Pro 11880 can also print many Borderfree sizes on media from 8 x 10 inch through to 54 inch.

New image processing technology

To complement the enhancements introduced by UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta, the Stylus Pro 11880 uses Epson’s new Image Processing Technology, a new image half toning algorithm that improves print speed and produces more stable half tones and an even better print quality in both high and low resolution print modes. Clearer half tones are readily visible in the details of higher colour saturation patches.

Epson’s new Image Processing Technology further improves Epson’s grey scale stability – the core requirement for accurate colour printing – by reducing colour twist, which brings out greater detail in shadows and supports stable shadow gradation across all tones.

The Stylus Pro 11880 is up to 2.6 times faster than previous printers. For many production environments where time is a valuable commodity, this reduction delivers substantial time savings and greater revenue opportunities.

The Stylus Pro 880 series printers will be available in October with recommended prices of: Stylus Pro 4880 – $2995, Stylus Pro 7880 – $5395, Stylus Pro 9880 – $10895, Stylus Pro 11880 – $22995 Ex GST.




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