In place of its customary Connect event in Las Vegas, EFI has opened its online alternative for 2021, Engage, with a slew of product announcements, including very high speed new hybrid and roll-fed wide-format printers, in addition to several software updates. 

Leading the hardware charge is the Vutek XT, a hybrid printer described by VP of worldwide marketing Ken Hanulec as ‘the fastest Vutek printer ever built’. Capable of 375 8 x 4ft boards per hour (equivalent to at around 1115sqm/hr), the new machine is said to be focused on making total cost of ownership significantly lower than existing wide-format digital print options or screen printing. The raw speed is supported by a range of automation options, from full pallet-to-pallet, to ‘lean’ with some degree of manual work, jumbo roll support for roll-fed applications, plus robotic options. A redesigned ink delivery system branded CP5G, based around 5pl drops, will make four colour (CMYK) print comparable to eight-colour alternatives and so reduce production costs, according to Mr Hanulec.

The printer is supported by the Fiery XF front-end/Rip with Intensify colour gamut expansion and Ink Optimiser for reduced ink usage, and is linked to EFI IQ Cloud-based analytics software and compatible with EFI’s Productivity Suite MIS/ERP and workflow tools. EFI did not specify the width or print resolution but it appears to be 3m machine and other recent Vutek printers support 1200dpi.

If that’s not fast enough, EFI has also introduced a single-pass printer for display graphics, based on the Nozomi corrugated press technology, which can print 1.6 (width) x up to 3m at a rate of 1000 (8 x 4ft) boards per hour, almost three times the speed of the Vutek XT. Also aimed at delivering the lowest cost per unit of output, whether that’s ‘one or thousands’, this machine also has full or part automation options and offers an extended ink set with orange, violet and white options. It’s driven by a Fiery Blade continuous feed DFE.

For more modest requirements, the Pro 32h, a 3.2m hybrid offering up to 230sqm/hr was also launched. It offers CMYK plus two white channels at resolutions of up to 1200dpi and can print up to five layers in one pass, for less than US $200,000. It will be available in May 2021. Around that time, the latest addition to the soft signage range, the FabriVu 340 Plus, will also become available; an evolution of the existing FabriVu 340 this offers the widest application range and ink yield, lowest purchase and total ownership costs, said Mr Hanulec, who also in his presentation teased significant news regarding curing technologies for later in the year.

Two new roll-to-roll printers were also launched, the Q3r and Q5r, three- and five-metre models respectively that offer similar quality to the existing 3h/5h hybrids launched in 2018, but offering significantly higher throughput for roll printing, up to 672sqm/hr according to roll-to-roll product marketing manager Tomer Ohavi.

Two types of UV-curing ink are offered with the new printers, SuperRange for vivid colours in signage and display applications, and SuperFlex for vehicle wraps and similar where deformability is critical. The basic CMYK set is complemented by optional ‘lights’ plus white and clear, the latter two permitting a variety of two sided and backlit options to be produced printing on one side only; the printers can print on ‘anything that comes on a core’, according to Mr Ohavi, who noted that the inks are Greenguard Gold certified.

As with the sheet-fed printers, there is a focus on minimising total cost of ownership, from maximising ink coverage to minimising waste and rejected production through issues such as wrinkled media, as well as inline slitting, cutting and printing on the reverse with job or client details. These printers are available immediately and two have already been installed, one in Israel, where they were developed, and one in the US.

Digital Printer will report further from EFI Engage as the event progresses.