The “inkjet drupa again” will not only be featuring production inkjet, as WhatTheyThink contributor David Zwang has been writing about in his pre-drupa series. Visitors to drupa 2012 will also be able to see new inkjet products in other categories, including wide format. This announcement by Epson is one of many that we are likely to see in the drupa run-up.

Epson is introducing ts next-generation 64” solvent wide format printer, and is also taking this opportunity to bring to market new branding. Known as the Epson SureColor S30670, this is the first ever solvent-based printer to use theinternally-developed Epson’s MicroPiezo Thin Film Piezo (TFP) printhead that has been engineered to work with solvent ink and deliver twice the density of Epson’s previous solvent printer, with 720 nozzles per color, versus 360 which is the current standard in solvent. The launch of the SureColor S30670 marks the first time that Thin Film Piezo (TFP) printheads have been able to be used with solvent ink.

According to Reed Hecht, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc., the equivalent line of products was previously known as Epson Stylus Pro. Epson decided to pursue new branding because the company does not own “Stylus” as a brand, just “Epson Stylus.” “In addition,” he says, “the new branding is a better reflection of our value proposition.”

According to the company, Epson currently has about 10% global share of the entire solvent market from 30” to 100”. In the 60” roll-to-roll solvent market, the company currently has about 29% market share.

Along with the printer, Epson is introducing a new family of inks. CMYK Epson UltraChrome GS2 features a third generation of chemistry, including a new high-performance yellow ink. Hecht says, “Yellow is always the first color to fade, the weakest ink in the inkset. With our patented technology, we believe this new yellow ink will have light-fastness for up to three years outdoors without lamination.” He also stated that while Epson does sell inks and printheads to other manufacturers, these new inks and printheads will only be available in Epson products.

In light of Epson’s environmental sustainability stance, I asked Hecht how solvent inks fit into the picture. He said, “First of all, we believe that solvent inks offer more versatility and are the best technology for outdoor signage, fine art and vehicle graphics. Secondly, the solvent we are talking about is a unique form of ink that has dramatically reduced harmful VOCs, has less impact on the environment and has no smell. In other words, it is a safe solvent.”

The SureColor S30670 also features other new capabilities, such as 700 ml ink cartridges whose loading and unloading has been simplified, and a new roll media loading system, Epson LiftAssist, a 90-lb. roll input system that is completely motorized. “The benefit of this function,” says Hecht, “is more consistent printing. Without such a motorized feed system, you can get varying quality at the beginning or end of a heavy roll. This motorized input system ensures that media is pulled at a consistent speed, providing constant tension and consistent quality, regardless of where you are in the roll.”