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Product Review – Mutoh XpertJet 1341SR Pro 54" printer by Andy McCourt

Sometimes several technologies come together at the right time to create outstanding products. The history of the printing press is written in such integrations – Gutenberg’s use of a screw wine grape press and, as a goldsmith, his knowledge of metallurgy and moulds to make moveable type for example. Today it’s about leveraging digital technologies and Mutoh has done this to great effect with the new XpertJet 1341SR Pro 54” (1370mm) roll printer.

DSCN3114
Mutoh's Stephen Crichton (L) and MD Russel Cavenagh show how easy it is to lift the 1341 print unit onto its stand

In this era of extensively-featured digital inkjet printers, with multiple colour inks that would make up a cricket eleven, white inks, varnishes and widths up to five meters, it may at first seem difficult to get excited about a new 54” (1370mm) eco-solvent roll-to-roll device with a plain CMYK inkset. Officially released today, 1st February, the Mutoh XpertJet 1341SR Pro challenges these assumptions.

Mutoh MS31 inks with GreenGuard
Mutoh MS31 inks are GreenGuard Gold certified

The fact is that ‘bread and butter’ CMYK printing up to 1370mm wide on vinyls, wrap & banner materials, mesh and top-coated synthetics, constitutes the vast majority of throughput for the average Sign & Display printer. SAV, printed four process colours might not be glamorous but its use lubricates the cogs of profit for most of our industry’s businesses. But what if a printer came along that did all of this – plus some more – faster, with higher quality, less waste, greater ease and at an ROI measured in weeks rather than months or years?

Add brilliant, vibrant eco-solvent colours that last longer indoors and out and can be successfully laminated for even more durability (such as floor graphics). The inks are Greenguard Gold certified and no special ventilation is needed as they do not emit VOCs. Claims to the contrary are simply not correct – Mutoh's eco solvent ink is safe to use in hospitals, schools, day care and other sensitive environments.

It would be the Toyota HiAce of delivery drivers, the Gibson J45 ‘working man’ of acoustic guitar troubadors, the Ryobi One of power tools – a category killer. Let’s look at the new Mutoh 1341SR Pro to see if it qualifies.

Not just ‘next Gen’ – next everything

Mutoh has not just given the 1341SR Pro a new paint job, funky XpertJet moniker with red stripe, tweaked the speeds and gone to market. There are some very real innovations that, in combination, create a workhorse sign printer that is greater than the sum of its parts. Let’s start with the RIP – Mutoh’s own VerteLith that is included with every 1341SR Pro.

VerteLith RIP

Mutoh VerteLith RIP transparency
100% accurate RIPing is a big advantage

Mutoh’s own RIP software has one outstanding advantage – it uses Harlequin’s Host Renderer. Harlequin is regarded as the king of Postscript and now PDF rendering and started life as a high-end Rip for film imagesetters and CtP. One big advantage is its soft proofing WYSIWYG ability, especially with transparency. It displays the actual RIPped image. Many RIPs have difficulty printing transparent components that appear on the screen but not on the final print – causing time and material waste. VerteLith also calculates ink usage before you print, and accurate spot colours. Its ClearTone halftone screening ensures very smooth skin tones and gradations.

Printhead and speed

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Test print shows superb colour & smoothness

The all-important piezo printhead, called ‘AccuFine’ is new, longer, wider and with more nozzles (1600 nozzles, up from 1440). This enables the 1341SR Pro to print at twice the speed of its predecessor, at up to 1200 x 1200dpi. Maximum ‘draft’ speed is 43.2 sqm/hr, with most saleable production at 15.2 sqm/hr or 10.9 sqm/hr for closer inspection signage. Dot placement is extremely precise, which contributes to the 1341SR Pro’s image quality and smoothness.

i-screen Intelligent Interweave

Banding and graininess is the curse of uncontrolled inkjet printing. This is usually because of screening issues. Because the AccuFine printhead dots can be so precisely controlled, i-screen arranges them so precisely that improved smootheness is visibly apparent and banding is eliminated.

Bi-Directional Dropmaster control

Mutoh Dropmaster.png
No more misplaced dots in Bi-D!

Think of using your garden hose, showering your plants by wafting it side-to-side. The water droplets distort as you change direction. Simplistic analogy, yes, but in multi-pass inkjet printing, the ‘angle of attack’ of ink droplets differs from left-to-right and right-to-left. As the printhead shuttles to-and-fro, the ink droplets can be slightly misplaced, requiring manual adjustment. Mutoh’s Dropmaster 2 Bi-D automatically calculates bi-direction adjustments, saving time and improving image quality by placing the droplets bang on target.

 

Media feed and thickness

Mutoh Feedmaster after
Before and after Mutoh FeedMaster

With media thickness from 0.3mm to 1.3mm, the 1341SR Pro can do what many other printers in its category can not do – thicker banner and canvas materials. Printhead height is user-adjustable via a single lever. Moreover, the eco-solvent inks do not require heat curing, meaning thinner materials can be printed without warping or cockling. Changing media feeds can often be a time consuming exercise of trial and error to avoid banding. Not with the XpertJet 1341SR Pro’s Feed Master. You simple print a single colour pattern, a sensor reads it and media feed adjustments are made automatically! This alone can save many hours in a day or week.

Compact, lightweight and a power miserDSCN3116

The 1341SR Pro printer itself is only 66kg and fits into corners other printers would struggle with. Add the stand (included) at 20kg and it’s still installable, liftable and repositionable by two people, even with the included motorised roll media take-up. This alone can save freight and site costs of up to $2,000, even where stairs and lifts are involved. It is low-maintenance, made in Japan and also draws just around 1.5 kw in operation or 21watts in sleep mode. Compare that to power-hungry heat-dependent alternatives.

Inks that last and lastMutoh vertelith input profile gamut

Mutoh’s MS31 eco-solvent inks deliver all the endurance benefits of solvent but without the VOCs. They are Greenguard Gold certified and can be used in office environments and are safe in hospitals and schools etc. This means the colours are exceptionally vibrant and dense and, although only CMYK, the colour gamut far exceeds most print standards such as Japan Colour and US Web coated offset. They are available in 220ml cartridges or 1000ml pouches and are rated at 3 years outdoor in UV light before any significant fading occurs. For high-abrasion applications such as floor graphics, commercial vehicle wrapping and marine wraps, lamination is recommended and this extends the life of the colours even further.

Media tracker

There is also a Media Tracking feature that prints a barcode on a roll prior to removal after job completion. This will show on the display, how much media is left on the roll when it is reloaded – very useful for calculating and ordering rollage.

Summary

Sometimes things just come together perfectly, at the right time. Mutoh’s XpertJet 1341SR Pro, though simple at first sight, is such a printer. In the USA, Mutoh eco-solvent printers have become known as ‘the wrapper’s choice’ because of their durability, longevity of colour and speed. When you are printing on expensive cast vinyls – you need to get it right first time. You also need to make sure the laminate sticks and does not pull off because of waxy inks rejecting it.

The print samples on vinyl seen by Wideformat Online are just superb – really rich, dense blacks with detail that needs to be seen to be appreciated. Vibrant colours that would suggest an inkset of seven or eight colours, not just four. The compact footprint and easy operation hide some very advanced automated features inside.

Mutoh 134SRPro with logos

Available now through Mutoh’s network of dealers throughout Australia and New Zealand. Best of all the Mutoh 1341SR Pro including stand and roll take up will give you plenty of change out of $20,000!

And if 54” is not wide enough for you, a 64” version will be launching in the first quarter of 2022, with the option of a double-head configuration that doubles again the already doubled speed!

Find a dealer at: www.mutoh-au.com

A Video is available HERE