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Drupa update: EFI’s VUTEk preview Digital Screen Printer

EFI is previewing the Vutek DS Series digital screen printer at drupa 2008. This high speed, flatbed UV printer provides a digital solution for the production of POP-quality graphics at breakthrough speed with the advantages of UV technology and digital economics.

The DS Series is a new category of high speed digital flatbed printers representing a tipping point in productivity, image quality and flexibility. It signifies a call to action for both analog screen printers and leading edge digital printers in terms of new economics and capabilities now available with digital print. The innovative DS Series design and architecture enables the cost-effective production of higher volume jobs than ever before possible using a digital press. The incredible speed and resolution made possible by the DS Series’ innovative high density print array sets this Vutek printer apart from all other competitive offerings available in the market today.

Breakthrough Speed
Vutek’s super high-speed digital flatbed DS Series produces sellable output at up to 557 square meters (6,000 square feet) per hour and uses a unique high productivity UV curing system, newly engineered from the ground up, to provide full curing at the fastest speeds.

The unique Vutek user controllable zoned vacuum table is optimized for European and North American standard single sheet graphic printing and also supports the simultaneous printing of multiple various sized substrates. With the addition of an optional advanced material handling system, automatic loading and unloading of substrates delivers productivity improvements of up to 100%.

“This groundbreaking product will print up to 557 square meters per hour—representing a new productivity frontier in the superwide format market,” said Chuck Dourlet, vice president of marketing, EFI Vutek. “With its eight ink channels, up to 1200 dpi quality and fast make-ready times, the DS Series is the first digital UV superwide format flatbed printer capable of cost-effectively producing high volume runs extending the digital crossover point with traditional screen print by a factor of 4 to 5 times. We expect the DS Series to be attractive to large screen printers and digital print providers everywhere who are looking for a way to step up to the next level of production and efficiency.”

Digital Economics
Digital printing not only reduces prepress time and complexity but also removes costly and time-consuming screen manufacturing, screen removal and reclamation. This quick turnaround makes it possible to go straight to high volume production for same day, order-to-delivery capability. With digital printing, jobs can easily be customized or regionalized and last-minute changes can be efficiently accommodated. Because every image off the press can be different, samples and one-offs can be produced with the same cost dynamics as high volume work. In addition, the use of digital technology greatly reduces required inventory levels associated with consumables such as ink, screens and films.

UV Advantage
The DS Series captures all of the advantages of UV technology, including superior UV quality, print resolutions up to 1200 dpi, and up to 8 colors for clear, stunning images. Additionally, an extended application range of UV ink and compatibility with key industry substrates enables printing on paper, film, rigid boards and a variety of other specialty materials.

Unlike analog screen printing, digital printing requires no chemicals for screen recovery. In addition, the fully contained ink delivery and auto printhead maintenance systems in the DS Series results in a safer working environment by eliminating the unnecessary handling of UV inks.

The DS Series accommodates a wide range of rigid and cut-sheet materials with a maximum media size of 1.6 meters by 2.4 meters (63 inches by 96 inches), up to 5.08 cm (two inches) thick. A large ink reservoir and optional automated media handling for both input and output enable near-lights-out operation for up to eight hours.

The DS Series is designed with a fixed array of printheads and a bed that moves back and forth, enabling much faster speeds than existing technology that utilizes moving printheads. The system can print in four- or eight-colour mode and initial ink sets will include CMYK, as well as Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Light Yellow and Light Black. EFI is planning to expand the range of available inks in the future to include White and Clear.

Other advantages of the DS Series, which is expected to be available in 2009, include:

• An optional advanced material handling system capable of loading and unloading a pallet of rigid media material. Rolling carts make it fast and easy to stage new input media and accommodate additional output product.
• Printer and inks that are optimized for use with a wide range of rigid and cut sheet materials including key industry substrates.
• Reduced prepress and set-up times when compared to screen printing. While conventional screen printing set-ups could take up to a day including prepress, burning screens and setting up the screen press, with the DS Series, the file is simply sent to the RIP, media is loaded, and printing can begin.
• Support for both stochastic and rosette screening.
• Accurate front-to-back registration.
• Zoned vacuum table that reduces the amount of masking required for unused vacuum areas.
• Elimination of acids and other hazardous materials used in the screen printing process during screen cleaning and other operations.
• Continuous ink supply with a secondary ink reservoir resulting in the ability to operate continuously for an entire 8-hour shift.

“With the preview of the DS Series, Vutek has defined a new category of superwide format printers that complements and extends today’s Vutek systems for the production of large rigid and flexible applications such as POP graphics, billboards and building wraps. The DS Series is ideal for the vast majority of high volume, quick turnaround screen print applications, POP or indoor and outdoor display graphics,” added Dourlet.

“This announcement further demonstrates EFI Vutek’s ongoing commitment to UV product leadership and its unmatched innovation within the superwide format market.”

For more information about Vutek products, visit