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Under the Hood

OKI Color Painter M-64s

Brian Sims takes a closer look at the OKI Color Painter M-64s and its impressive print speeds and quality, as well as its clever technological features to help users succeed

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OKI’s Color Painter M-64s utilises SX low-odour eco-solvent ink that has Greenguard Gold certification

Supporting the pop-up retail sector

There are an increasingly vast number of ways in which we can get our message across to a broad audience. We are also seeing a massive increase in the number of ‘pop-up’ businesses in the gaps that exist in the shopping malls and retail parks that are now firmly part of our cities and towns.

The changes in the retail environment are being in part driven by opportunity, but also in the way messaging can be more easily accomplished. Still as part of a new shop or franchise opening, you have a detailed plan and traditional shop fitment, but increasingly to gain an advantage over competition, pop-up shops operate basic but very eye-catching placards, hoarding, and point-of-sale advertising.

The piece of equipment we are taking the covers off this month is instrumental in being able to support not only pop-up businesses with their branding, but assisting a vast number of enterprises with bold, and moreover, large, eye-catching messaging. We are going to look at wide-format printers, specifically the OKI Color Painter M-64s.

Leading the way

Distributed in the UK by Systems 2 Digital Graphics (S2DG), and currently supplied through Signmaster Systems with several new resellers coming on stream soon, the OKI M-64s comes from the well-established Japanese manufacturer of a range of printing and office equipment. Provided with a three-year Gold Warranty from S2DG, it is clear when you review, not only the performance, but the specification, they have drawn significantly from several areas with the design of the large-format printer.

OKI even boast that they are the first producer of a solvent-based neon ink that allows for the printing of eye-catching posters and signs

At its heart is the inkjet system that can produce sellable quality print at 66.5sq m/h and comes in six or seven colours, so the printer can produce copy in standard process colours, matching Pantone ranges. With 1.5l per colour supplied from inks sacks and backed up by a sub-tank, the printer uses SX ink in the ‘high frequency industrial greyscale print head’. Low-odour and eco-solvent, SX ink has been accepted in the list of materials which meet the chemical requirements of Greenguard Gold certification for printing companies. This means the SX inks are scientifically proven to meet some of the world’s most rigorous, third-party chemical emissions standards—helping reduce indoor air pollution and the risk of chemical exposure, while aiding in the creation of healthier indoor environments. In addition, the use of the inks sub-tank system means that you will never run out of ink on a job, and are notified to change the main sack without even having to pause the printer, as it reverts to using the sub-tanks reservoir. This also avoids the common issue of air in the lines and it also completely empties each ink sack of ink resulting in eco-friendly disposal of ink sacks.
The resolution of the printed copy goes all the way up to photographic quality. Obviously, there is a trade off in output speed, but the capability of this printer means the sharpest of colour copy can be achieved extremely quickly. Depending on the drop size (there is a choice of three), speed selected, and quality output, a pre- programmed number of passes via OKI’s Smart Pass Technology 3 ensures the OKI printer can reproduce extremely sharp and crisp images. This is achieved not only via advanced algorithms, nozzle mapping, and mask patterns, but is also a result of smaller droplets with the inks having heavier pigment loading.

Smart technology

One of the issues with large-format printers can be the issue of banding and clogging due to ink volume. This is cleverly overcome by OKI, not only with the aforementioned Smart Pass Technology, but the print heads can replace up to ten clogged nozzles on the fly without affecting production or quality. The algorithms cleverly ensure that traditional multi-pass banding issues are overcome and over spraying are all but eliminated.

The algorithms cleverly ensure that traditional multi-pass banding issues are overcome and over spraying are all but eliminated

So, on what types of media can this impressive array of ink be applied too; well, almost anything it seems. The media range quoted by OKI includes PVC, banner, textiles, blue-back, backlit, and other media used with solvent application printers. The maximum weight of any media being printed is 24kg, which is quite significant and a maximum roll width of 1.6m means the 50m maximum print length is very believable.

The OKI M-64s also has a media tension system and take-up unit that ensures that when the media is fed to the printer head itself, the control system maintains a constant tension to ensure the quality of the printed output is controlled throughout the draw-down of the roll itself.

The driving of the printer is also a vital component of the operation and in this case the OKI M-64s runs directly from a Windows based PC called CP Manager, which allows the operator to, perform automatic calibrations such as feed and bi-directional adjustments, change multiple settings and switch between up to 20 pres-sets at the push of a button, check production output, ink levels, and will also highlight key maintenance tasks. It also comes with an intuitive help function for quick and easy trouble shooting. S2DG also include industry leading Signlab Print and Cut software with the printer.

CP Manager software is key for monitoring printer status, checking ink levels, seeing suggested maintenance, performing automatic calibrations and changing between 20 pre-sets at the push of a button as well as the ability to be controlled from twitter via tweets

The large-format printer has clearly been designed with ease of use in mind. Complex adjustments are made easy with a combination of CP Manager and automatic calibration. One man media handling has been made easy with a media lifter (basically a jack). Built in blowers aid the quick drying SX ink, cutter unit and slide out dual mode take up unit are also included allowing easy removal of printed media roles.

So, we might seem to be in fluid consumer times at present and with the success of pop-up businesses helping UK PLC to survive them as best as possible, as ever the sign, graphics, and print industry has equipment that steps up to the plate to support whatever enterprises require.

Brian Sims is the founder of Metis, a specialised business, legal, and technology consultancy for the print industry.
To find out more on the issues in this article or his services go to www.metis-uk.eu or e-mail brian.sims@metis-uk.eu

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