Sounds like a so what headline right? Well this isn’t just any online, it’s Mimaki’s Virtual Print Festival online. The announcement is one of several. The Virtual Print Festival runs online for five weeks and is a way for Mimaki to interact with customers, distributors and dealers, and to showcase a slew of new products.
Mimaki is providing over a five week period weekly virtual tours of the company’s Amsterdam showroom. These will be interactive experiences showing Mimaki equipment and intended to further engagement with distributors, dealers, end users and prospective buyers. Special prices will be available to participants and Mimaki is doing joint webinars with FESPA members. And there are plans to translate some of the sessions. Various new products were due for launch at FESPA but since the show is postponed, the Virtual Print Festival is the next best thing. Danna Drion Senior Marketing Manager EMEA for Mimaki Europe said that due to the corona virus the Virtual Print Festival is “the only solution for how we can communicate with our customers.” Mimaki also promises next announcements in October at the rescheduled FESPA.
The 3DGD Printer
The most exciting new printing device is the 3DGD 1800 available from April. Mimaki reckon it prints up to three times faster compared to conventional Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printers. The 3DGD 1800 is a designed for the sign and display market, but relevant for other sectors such as interior design. The 3DGD 1800 is likely to be the first of many based on Mimaki’s Gel Dispensing (GD) technology, which uses a UV curing resin to build up the objects. Objects can be up to 1.8m high, which takes about seven hours of printing time. These structures can be hollow making them lighter and possible to illuminate from the inside. 3D objects can be created either from 2D data or scanned image data. Mimaki says this is the largest object printer on the market today, with a format of 1450mm x 1100mm x 1800mm. It can print objects up to 150 kilos in weight and has two exchangeable printheads with diameters of 1.8mm and 2.6mm. It can print two objects at once and is positioned for signmaking, particularly for Point of Purchase displays, or applications which contain 2D and 3D signs, billboards and such things as set design, even interiors. It is relevant for any surface imaging application, such as illuminated fabrics and films. Mimaki’s go to market strategy for this device in the sign and display sector leverages the companies extensive dealer network.
The range of applications for the 3DGD 1800 is enormous, not least within the graphics industry. Mimaki intends to be the leader in the 3D printing space and has a dedicated business unit for this type of product for which it has high hopes. Bert Benckhuysen, Senior Product Manager EMEA at Mimaki Europe says that “technically speaking, there are no limits to the printer’s size.” Besides the new 3D printer, Mimaki has introduced the UJV100-160 UV LED roll-to-roll device, the TX300P-MKII and the SWJ 320EA.
But the second biggest announcement is Mimaki’s partnership with OKI Data. This global agreement covers the 150 countries where Mimaki is active and allows Mimaki to sell and support the OKI Data ColorPainter H3-104s and ColorPainter M-64s devices via the Mimaki network. The arrangement also adds over 100 new dealers through which Mimaki can sell its own lines and maintain close contact with customers, a key component of the Mimaki pitch. Mimaki claims that the deal with OKI Data gives it the largest portfolio in the digital printing industry. The deal applys now and will have no impact on pricing. Ronald van den Broek, general manager of sales EMEA for Mimaki Europe said “We are taking over the OKI business … OKI is going to bring the whole wide format business to Mimaki”, including all departments. Van den Broek added that “we will treat it as part of our own”. This means adding OKI devices such as the OKI M-64S and H3-104S, 1600mm and 2600mm wide machines respectively for outdoor signage and wrapping applications.
The M-64S has six and seven colour printing modes and prints with Seiko piezo heads to print at up to 66.5m2/hour or 24m2/hour in high quality mode. It uses a new ecosolvent SX ink and has a high density print mode for backlit work. It costs under €30,000 and thanks to the high density print mode can print backlit work in a single pass, a unique feature according to Mimaki.
The H3-104S prints a 2600mm width and has similar specs to the M-64S with the addition of double sided printing and a mesh printing option. This printer has eight Seiko heads for eight colour configurations and prints up to 56m2/hour with SX inks. It costs just under €50,000 and Mimaki expects to sell it as a replacement technology for the Roland AJ1000.
The SX ink has over three years durability and up to eight years in some environments and for some media. The high density print mode means no overprinting is necessary, saving ink. Mimaki describes the M-64S as “one of the best solutions for car wrapping”.
The UJV100-160 is a cheap UV LED curing machine positioned for “non-EU countries” so a post-Brexit offering for the UK. This roll-to-roll machine is described as “a game changer” because it is affordable and intended to attract buyers who are concerned about the price of the printer and of ink. It is based on a new platform with new printheads arranged in a staggered configuration and new Dot Adjustment System. This is an automated bidirectional print adjustment system that works with a sensor to make adjustments to the feeder ensure high dot placement accuracy.
The UJV100-160’s specifications have much in common with the UCJV series in that it prints a 1610mm width at 1200 dpi. But this machine is a bit faster at 23m2/hour in draft mode and 7m2/hour in best quality mode. Mimaki is introducing new LUS120 VOC free CMYK inks, plus Clear and White. The device can be configured for various ink options.
Threads with the TX300P-188MKII
The new TX300P-1800MKII textile printer was recently previewed at ITMA in Barcelona. The MKII adds sublimation transfer printing with two new ink sets, so this machine can print direct for pigment and dye sub for textile printing. The MKII has two user interchangeable platens for paper or direct to textile. For dye sub printing using heat transfer paper, the user can use to a vacuum platen. For direct printing excess ink is drained into ink receiving channels using the other platen. The MKII model is available now and works with a one-way ink set configured with any one of five ink types (reactive, acid, pigment, dye sub, disperse dye), and combinations (textile pigment/direct sublimation, textile pigment/sublimation transfer, or direct sublimation/sublimation transfer so it is suitable for a wide range of fabrics.
The SWJ-320 EA is a 3.2 metre device that prints 1200 dpi at 137m2/hour for drafts and 24m2m/hour for high quality prints. Mimaki describes it as “the best” in class. It is now cheaper and with “very attractive ink pricing” to compete with models from “Chinese and Turkish brands” that Mimaki feels make customers hesitate despite Mimaki’s reputation. The machine has been selling well in the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Europe. Mimaki is cooperating with BOFA to add a specially designed air pumping unit to the printer. This air purifier can be installed by the user and gets rid of ink odours, ie VOCs, which are filtered away somehow. The new CS100 ink for this machine is still being tested but so far Mimaki is pleased with the results so the new ink, and the air purifier sourced direct from BOFA, should be available from May.
Mimaki is pushing hard to maintain its market position. Speaking about the OKI deal Van den Broek said that “Mimaki is a product leader over the last couple of years … we want to support customers by improving pricing and efficiency”. He also said that this collaboration is part of Mimaki’s efforts to meet customer needs, and that this partnership model is not limited to OKI Data. With over one thousand dealers globally selling Mimaki products, the company has “access to market that others don’t have … competition is not always on price and we are building our ecosystem”. Mimaki clearly has HP in its sights and is moving to protect its leadership position, in sign and display as well as in the wider 3D printing market.