EFI has refreshed its Vutek ‘h’ line of three- and five-metre hybrid wide-format printers, bringing enhanced printing, application flexibility and media handling capabilities to the high volume platform.

The Vutek 3m h3+ and 5m h5+ feature media handling improvements that that will come as standard on new printers: an upgraded vacuum table allows for better control of thicker media and thin, light-edged materials, thanks to doubled vacuum strength on the print table. All new media hold-down rollers mount to existing Media Edge Guide (MEG) rails and the spring rollers force media into the vacuum, often eliminating the need for MEG skis entirely. When MEG skis are needed, they are now available in three thicknesses.

The h+ series offers new optional colour configurations as well, with double CMYK (including ‘lights’) plus clear and white or double white for greater opacity.

This allows two new clear ink options for Vutek h+ series users. EFI’s UltraClear Coat flexible ink that was introduced for its superwide roll-to-roll LED printers, is now available for the h3+ and h5+ printers. A second clear ink, EFI Vutek Endura Clear, which has a harder surface finish for increased protective qualities, is also now available for the h+ models.

Both UltraClear Coat and Endura Clear inks can be used for decorative applications – to enhance an entire image (full flood) or selected areas (spot) to add extra ‘pop’ to colours or special effects to graphics – as well as for a protective coating. They print inline, simultaneously with the image, with a gloss or matte finish.

In addition to the clear inks, an optional Gloss+ print mode achieved by controlling the UV curing process, as in some Inca/Agfa and Canon wide-format printers, can be used to add a flood or selective gloss effect to graphic prints. EFI describes this as a ‘perfect way to add value to short-run, speciality jobs, without the use of clear ink’.

‘We are excited to bring these new printers to market,’ said Todd Zimmerman, senior vice president/general manager Display Graphics & OEM Ink at EFI. ‘Vutek printers have been the leader in the hybrid category in signs and display graphics for more than two decades, with more than 300 installations worldwide. The Vutek h+ series answers some of the key pain points for our customers, all while improving ease of use and offering the LED environmentally friendly benefits you expect from EFI Vutek technology.’

EFI has also announced the availability of Transform-TF inks for thermoforming applications. Compatible with the h+ printers, the inks are suitable for first- and second-surface interior and exterior and non-backlit and backlit applications where common thermoforming is specified. EFI says the Transform-TF inks exhibit outstanding elongation characteristics while maintaining excellent adhesion and opacity, and provide ideal characteristics for heat bending and routing of acrylic sheets with no chipping or loss of adhesion.

Further developments for the h+ series are planned, with enhanced double-sided printing for high-value block-out applications expected ‘soon’. Existing Vutek h3 and h5 printer owners can upgrade their current unit with most of the new enhancements of the h+ series.