Tuesday, 16 Oct 2018 10:12 GMT

Fujifilm Acuity Ultra

Brian Sims takes a look at the Fujifilm Acuity Ultra, a super-wide printer that can print on materials up to five metres wide

Keeping it simple

There are often difficulties coming up with the words that can capture exactly what a machine can do, specifically when it comes down to the amount of material that passes through modern day equipment. At FESPA this year, Fujifilm’s public relations representatives must have faced this problem with the launch of the new Acuity Ultra 5000 series UV inkjet printer. The ‘5000’ in the name of the printer is the clue for the search of the correct text as this machine can print on material five metres wide.

On behalf of Fujifilm, AD Communications stuck with the well proven principle ‘keep it simple, stupid’ and described the printer as ‘super-wide’ which sums the Acuity Ultra 5000 extremely well.

This printer is very big and very capable of printing vast amounts of printed media with the sharpest of images. The Acuity Ultra can print on substrates as thin as 0.1mm and up to 2mm and on a roll 5000mm wide. This means it has a maximum output of 236 m2/h which in terms of size means it would only take you about 30 hours to print a poster capable of covering a full size international football pitch.

To get this amount of material through the printer, there is a unwind/rewind unit that is capable of holding a roll of substrate up to 600kgs in weight. That is obviously a significant amount of white space. Should you need to upscale production and do not need the full width of the Acuity Ultra 5000, it can be configured to take two or three rolls allowing the images to be repeated or to maximise production.

Front elevation: the Fujifilm Acuity Ultra is more than eight metres wide

An obvious question is what sort of applications does such a monster wide machine like this adapt itself to best? Fujifilm claim that there are many and varied reasons this printer will provide solutions for clients. Exhibition graphics, POS displays, backlit displays, outdoor signage and even full building covers are all right in the zone for the Acuity Ultra 5000.

So what sort of applications does such a monster wide machine like this adapts itself to best is an obvious question

To achieve this volume of print the inks and application of them is quite conventional. The printer uses UV cured inks that have been especially developed to allow for the vibrant colours needed with the pin point quality that Fujifilm claim can be as high as lithographic quality.

There are six colours available on the Acuity Ultra 5000 in its standard format (5006) which are the process set of cyan, magenta, yellow and black along with light cyan and light magenta. With the Acuity Ultra 5008 there are two further whites that can be applied to add to the base for stand-out graphics and ensure consistent high print quality.

Regardless of either model, both presses use Fujifilm’s Uvijet GS series UV inks and can be deployed at 3.5 to 14 pico-litre volumes via a Piezoelectric drop-on-demand inkjet head. UV inks used to be problematic, harmful and uncomfortable to use, needing air circulation systems to remove odour and Ozone from the printing environment.

Nowadays, the chemistry that underpins the inks has moved on considerably and the Uvijet GS series UV inks have the internationally renowned Greenguard standard.

Greenguard  certification is part of UL Environments ecological compliance program. UL Environment is part of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and acquired Greenguard in 2011 which provides purchasers with assurances the products being supplied will comply with the highest of ecological standards.

To satisfy the Greenguard gold standard, the inks supplied by Fujifilm must meet the stringent emissions standards based on established chemical exposure criteria. Specifically the LH and LUS inks meet the UL2818 standard which is for low chemical emissions for indoor production.

As you would expect from one of the leading inkjet printer manufacturers, the inkjet head itself comes with automatic nozzle maintenance and ink distribution that will ensure the quality of the output from the Acuity Ultra 5000 is at the highest level at all times. 

Beauty and the beast: the complex printer is capable of producing beautiful imagery

Fujifilm has designed into the Acuity Ultra 5000 with a back light on the out-going side of the printer. The purpose of this is so you can check the quality of the output ‘on the fly’ without stopping the press. Equally, with the sizes of product being printed, the first time it is likely to be seen in full scale is when it is installed. Errors therefore need picking up ‘in process’ as checking a full reel of printed material is not practical.

There is a drive to LED UV drying systems currently but Fujifilm have decided to stick to conventional UV curing for the Acuity Ultra 5000. They are able to do this as the printer has a patented bed the substrate is secured to. The bed itself is not only a vacuum system to hold down thinner materials firmly to allow the application of the inks, but it also is water cooled.

The bed has chilled water passing through it which allows for the thinner substrate to be printed and dried using UV curing as the heat that normally builds up is absorbed in the water cooled bed. This means thin substrates will not shrink and in turn the quality of print is not adversely affected.

The second advantage of conventional UV curing is the speed of production, which is higher than the LED version. If you are into printing product on this super-size printer, the speed at which you can print and cure it is vital; quite obvious why Fujifilm stuck to convention.

Different view: the high-performance machine ready for work

Driving the printer is the ubiquitous Graphical User Interface (GUI), being user friendly it can allow easy operation of the machine, along with the planning and queuing of production. The RIP the Acuity Ultra 5000 uses is Caldera or ColorGATE both of which have been designed to cope with this oversized product.

You will need a lot of space for the Acuity Ultra 5000, as it is 8.43m long and 1.73m wide and will obviously suit a niche market, but products like this will in time become mainstream as clients take for granted full building coverings or POS products at lithographic standard quality. When this happens, Fujifilm are perfectly positioned to offer a solution with the Acuity Ultra 5000.

Brian Sims principal consultant, Metis Print Consultancy,