Wednesday, 24 Apr 2019 11:36 GMT

Epson SureColor SC-T5400

With the ability to fit into a number of industries, from education to architecture, the Epson SureColor SC-T5400 is a savvy machine. Brian Sims deconstructs and assesses the entry-level model

The art and science of manufacturing

Whenever you hear the words “entry-level”, naturally you tend to compartmentalise whichever product you are reviewing and previously this term tended to be a little euphemistic, implying the quality of the product was at the lower end of the scale.

However, in more recent times the term has been reformatted and now quite accurately describes the product. This first step of investment does not necessarily means the technology inside is of either lesser quality or performance.


Most manufacturers in this day and age have brought the cost of equipment down by ensuring the main elements of each model are used across the whole range

Most manufacturers in this day and age have brought the cost of equipment down by ensuring the main elements of each model are used across the whole range. This not only keeps manufacturing costs down, it has the upside of the lower cost models can benefit from the technology contained in more expensive equipment.

It is the same with the equipment being reviewed, the Epson SureColor SC-T5400 which is an entry-level inkjet printer. It has excellent print quality by the fact it has at its heart, the PrecisionCore TFP print heads.

In 2007, Epson revolutionised the inkjet market by the introduction of the Epson Thin Film Piezo (TFP) technology which is the foundation stone of the print heads used across the range of printers. Most manufacturers will machine the Piezo element of a print head to very thin levels. Epson does not follow this path and it actually uses a proprietary process to form a dense piezo crystal element that is just one micron thick on a silicon wafer.

Monozukuri

Epson claims its advantage in the manufacturing of its equipment comes from a culture of something called Monozukuri. This is a Japanese concept and translated means ‘the art and science of manufacturing’. Having started in the manufacturing of watches, Epson uses the process of Monozukuri to hone its expertise in the selection of materials and micro-scale manufacturing to produce the PrecisionCore TFP print heads.

Epson claims its advantage in the manufacturing of its equipment comes from a culture of something called Monozukuri

With the PrecisionCore TFP print heads having the print chip less than one hundredth the width of a human hair in thickness, it allows for the maximum amount of ink in the smallest print engine. The heads are produced with what Epson calls Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) which means elements of the head are placed 84.7 microns apart on silicon or glass. With ink channels and nozzles produced by the MEMS process, Epson claims the PrecisionCore TFP print heads can produce almost perfectly round dots with great precision.

Epson also argues that resolution measured in dots per inch (DPI) is now an outdated way to categorise print quality. Whilst Epson does agree that DPI is an intrinsic part of the puzzle, greyscale and accurate dot placement must also be included in the summation of quality. The PrecisionCore TFP print head can place dots extremely accurately in both size and position in the colour gamut which is why they claim the raw specification of DPI is now an “obsolete way to compare print systems”.

Who, what, where?


So we can be satisfied the SureColor SC-T5400 will be able to print to a high level of quality, but what is the intended market for this printer?

The printer is described as ‘professional, entry-level large-format printer’ which means it can fit into a large number of organisations or industry sectors. Schools, colleges, architects, engineering companies and realistically anyone who wishes to print off plans or graphics on sizes from A0 to A4 and a number of sizes in between such as B paper size formats.


One of the advantages of the SureColor SC-T5400 is the print output can be borderless on a number of paper sizes providing the substrate is on a roll


One of the advantages of the SureColor SC-T5400 is the print output can be borderless on a number of paper sizes providing the substrate is on a roll. Roll sizes can have a maximum diameter of 170mm with substrate level of up to 150 metres, and there is a 2?and 3? core bundled in the box of the printer itself.

The inks themselves are the standard four colour set called UltraChrome XD2. These inks are claimed to be smudge free and water resistant which means the printed output can remain of the highest quality regardless of what happens to the sheet post printing.

The inks themselves are the standard four colour set called UltraChrome XD2

Ink is delivered from 110 or 350ml ink capacity which will ensure the SureColor SC-T5400 can print for an extensive amount of copy prior to needing maintenance or cartridge exchange. To ensure the highest of print quality with these inks, the SureColor SC-T5400 has the ink heads maintained with what is called Nozzle Verification Technology (NVT) and the printer also has dust reduction equipment which ensures the accuracy and quality, print after print.

The SureColor SC-T5400 comes on its own stand meaning it can easily sit anywhere in an office, classroom or studio with a footprint of 1,385 x 750mm. It is easily installed and can be operated via a very clear and easy to operate touch screen.

Opening the box and you will find the main unit, AC power connection, paper stacker, ink cartridges, stand, set up guide and a driver and utilities CD. Basically, unpack it and within a few minutes you can be producing high quality deep black prints.

The printer comes with a number of connectivity options such as direct USB3 and a clever wireless connection meaning you can be away from the office and still produce off any prints you need. You can reproduce a copy from a smaller original without the use of a computer by the use of an optional scanning device.

The rebooting of the term ‘entry-level’ is long overdue as the SureColor SC-T5400 clearly shows.


Brian Sims principal consultant, Metis Print Consultancy,
www.metis-uk.eu