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Epson Enters Dye-Sublimation Transfer Market, Special Commentary by Cary Sherburne

Monday, January 21, 2013

Press release from the issuing company

Special commentary by WhatTheyThink's Cary Sherburne after the full release below

LONG BEACH - Today, Epson America enters the dye-sublimation printing market for the first time with the announcement of two roll-fed dye-sublimation transfer printers – the 44-inch SureColor® F6070 and the 64-inch SureColor F7070.

The new SureColor F-Series printers are not only the first dye sublimation models from Epson, but also the first in the market in which every component – from ink and print-head to printer chassis and bulk ink delivery system – is designed and manufactured by a single company.  The result is a high-performance dye-sublimation transfer printing technology designed for exceptional reliability and industrial-level production with high quality output up to 1,440 x 720 dpi on all leading transfer papers.

Epson SureColor F7070
SureColor F7070

The all-new SureColor F-Series models support an extensive range of applications, including efficient production of high-quality soft signage, sportswear, apparel, accessories, and customized promotional items such as mouse pads and ceramic mugs. Depending upon the application, both models can output at speeds up to 618 square feet per hour, and both feature an integral and easily refillable, high-capacity 1.5 liter bulk ink system.

Developed over a three-year period, Epson UltraChrome® DS is a specially-formulated dye-sublimation ink, producing outstanding images with vibrant colors, intense blacks, sharp contours, and smooth gradations. This all-new ink technology exhibits excellent light- and wash-fastness, as well as resistance to alkaline and acid perspiration. Designed specifically for Epson UltraChrome DS ink technology, the newly optimized Epson MicroPiezo® TFP® print head ensures precise and repeatable performance as well as excellent longevity. The printers are designed to be used exclusively with the Epson UltraChrome DS inks1.  

Epson is also introducing a new line of dye-sublimation transfer papers designed specifically for the SureColor F-Series. Epson low-tack adhesive is dedicated for high-end cut-and-sew fabric and apparel production, while the Epson standard multipurpose paper is ideal for a variety of transfer applications that use either soft or rigid surfaces, including t-shirts, mouse pads and ceramics. Both papers utilize a unique chemical coating that allows for heavier ink loads to provide superior color, and will be available in 328-foot rolls in both 44-inch and 64-inch widths.

“We are excited to provide the garment printing industry with industrial-level printers engineered from the ground up for true dye-sublimation production,” said Catalina Frank, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc. “Developed using our latest performance imaging technology, the SureColor F-Series allows our customers to take on more jobs and generate more profits, while reducing the number of printers needed for full production capacity.”

More about the SureColor F6070 (44-Inch) and F7070 (64-Inch) Printers

Engineered from the ground up for industrial-level production designed to run all day, every day, the Epson SureColor F-Series offer a range of features, including:

- Epson MicroPiezo TFP Print Head: One-inch wide, high performance print head with 720 nozzles per color ensures efficient, precise and repeatable performance and excellent image quality; low vibration meniscus control for highly accurate dot shape and placement; ink repelling coating technology for reduced nozzle clogging; and optimized specifically for dye-sublimation inks improving the print head life

- Epson UltraChrome DS Ink: Epson exclusive dye-sublimation CMYK ink technology produces extreme color gamut with vibrant colors, intense blacks, sharp contours, and smooth gradations; provides extremely fast drying times, and with the new ink refill packs, offers a low total cost of ownership

- Auto Take-Up Reel: Standard on the SureColor F7070, this robust take-up reel allows for maximum uninterrupted production runs with minimal maintenance downtime

- Wasatch SoftRIP: Both F-Series models include Wasatch SoftRIP to enable users to start printing sellable output out of the box; the F6070 includes a full version of SoftRIP with simple setup, intuitive workflow, and powerful print controls; the F7070 includes SoftRIP TX with specialty features for textile printing

Support and Availability

The Epson SureColor F6070 and F7070 will be available in the summer of 2013 through authorized Epson Professional Imaging resellers. The SureColor F-Series printers offer a standard Epson PreferredSM Limited Warranty, a one-year program that includes toll-free advanced telephone access Monday through Friday and usually next business-day on-site service in the unlikely event of any hardware failure.

For additional information, visit www.proimaging.epson.com.


Special Commentary from Cary Sherburne

I had an Epson briefing on these two printers prior to their announcement from Product Manager Catalina Frank, and was able to see some samples of the output on micropolyester fabric, and the quality is outstanding. Frank explained that one of the issues with wide format (not grand or superwide format) printers that have been being used for fabric printing is the fact that many of them were designed to be photo or CAD printers.  Because they use piezo heads, they can also work with dye-sub inks, but the ink is very aggressive and the heads are not specifically designed to work with the inks.  This can cause clogging failures, and the organic ink can result in mold growing in the printer and hoses.

This is what Epson worked to avoid by designing an integrated system where all of the components—heads, inks, substrates—are designed to work together. Frank said, “This is the first time that a manufacturer that owns the printhead technology has built a solution in this class and for this purpose with an integrated printer/ink/head solution, with full warranty and support.”

Frank indicates that this results in increased productivity which ultimately means that producers need fewer printers to generate the same or greater volumes than they are producing on “hacked” printers. Epson indicates that these printers are two times faster than competitors in their class. Frank also points out that because this is CMYK process, as opposed, for example, to the process used by screen printing, there is virtually no limit to the color gamut that can be achieved. Epson believes these printers will meet the requirements of at least 20% of the soft signage market and is very excited about the opportunities in Brazil with the Olympics and World Soccer Cup coming up.

Another nice feature is the bulk ink, which is a cleaner and more efficient and more cost-effective way to add ink to the system than other systems in its class may offer.

Epson is, of course, looking ahead to other possibilities for these printers and the markets they serve, including other types of inks that might be required. Frank adds, “These printers offer an easy way for service providers, including screen printers, to start experimenting with digital and to make the switch.”


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