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Under the Hood

HP Latex R2000

Brian Sims reviews the impactful HP Latex R2000 and discusses the printer's capabilities as it celebrates its first year in action after its initial launch at FESPA Global Print Expo in 2018

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The R2000 was launched at FESPA Global Print Expo in Berlin last year and made its UK debut at The Print Show 2018

Welcome to the HP Latex R2000

At FESPA 2018, HP caused a stir with the launch of the Latex R Series, and a year on it still continues to cause ripples in the industry. The Latex R Series also celebrated its UK debut at The Print Show last year with HP returning to the event in 2019.

The R2000 can produce vibrant and highly coloured products for a vast number of signage and point-of-sale applications. This can be done on both flexible and rigid substrates making it a very versatile printer indeed.

There is a lot of industry discussion on the use of latex inks; are they durable enough and are they suitable for outdoor applications and can they really be versatile enough to make them a practical alternative to traditional solvent-based printers and inks? Well HP has put out a lot of evidence to suggest its new latex inks do tick all these boxes and the R2000 makes the very best use of them.

Can latex inks really be versatile enough to make them a practical alternative to traditional solvent-based printers and inks?

Looking firstly at the ink used for the R2000, you can see the rationale for the counter claim that latex ink is actually more durable than its counterparts. The ink is water-based and in suspension is a mixture of pigment and latex. The process of applying it is not revolutionary but once applied, the ink is dried and during this part of the process the latex actually melts and the pigments are trapped and shielded from the environment.

This latex cover stops attrition or deterioration of the vibrancy of the applied ink. This, HP claims, means the outdoor durability of the latex ink is superior to the eco-solvent counterpart. HP states the latex-based ink will provide outdoor durability of up to five years when laminated and three years without.

The inks come with Ecologo, Greenguard Gold and Epeat Bronze standards ensuring they meet the highest of ecological standards and on the R2000 come in nine colours those being cyan, magenta, yellow, black, light cyan, light magenta, HP Latex Optimizer, overcoat, and white.

HP claims that the use of the latex inks has benefits for operators by not having solvents present that need ventilation and special storage. The client has the benefit of having odourless products that do not attract unnecessary attention or comment but mainly the environmental impact is considerably lower than that of solvent-based products.

The ink is discharged via eight print heads and each has an easily interchangeable cartridge system. The white ink has an offline print head rotation device that makes sure tricky white inks are kept agitated and as such there is no waste between jobs.

The white ink has an offline print head rotation device that makes sure tricky white inks are kept agitated and as such there is no waste between jobs

With respect to the white ink, there are more bold claims from HP and they do stand up to scrutiny. The new latex inks are formulated to make “yellowing” a thing of the past so the client can be assured the bold glossy white you delivered on day one will still be as bold and white in the future.

Protect your print

Finally from the R2000’s print head department, HP can provide its Latex overcoat. This application can provide considerable scratch resistance where the application of a laminate would not be practical.

The second point is that latex ink is less versatile; again the counter claim is worth consideration. HP claims that you can print on any substrate the competition do, it provides over 2000 materials and substrates to be sure you can print on. The list is comprehensive so you can be sure you will be able to find one to suit your needs.

To get the ink in the right place in the right volume and patterns, Print OS (HP operating system) is equally as impressive as the colour output achievable on the R2000. This operating system and associated parts work tirelessly behind the scenes to collate the print activities stacked up in a queue into the most cost effective
and efficient way to be produced. This reduces waste and optimises colour, substrate and machine time.

The R2000 has been designed with flexible and rigid substrates in mind, making it an extremely versatile piece of equipment

As with anything associated with a digital driven company such as HP, the Print OS has all the whistles and bells you would expect. The system is Cloud-based, ensuring work is safe and manageable from multiple access points and comes with the obligatory app so that production can be viewed and managed from your mobile.

As you would expect from HP, the R2000 has a number of innovative concepts on the printer to make it a valuable addition to any print shop.

As I stated, the printer can print on both rigid and flexible substrates. The bed of the R2000 has 14 vacuum zones to ensure any rigid substrate is held as positively as possible. For good belt position that will ensure reliable dot placement, the R2000 has cleverly designed lateral edges to guide and control the feed belt.

For printing on flexible substrates,   the R2000 has an option called a “drop in roll” device that controls the printed materials and keeps them from being damaged.

Print head maintenance is automatic, as you would expect and this ensures all eight are kept in optimum condition for colour reproduction.

The R2000 is not small; in fact, it can handle substrates up to nearly 2.5m in width, so HP has ensured it is user-friendly as there are actually two intuitive GUI control panels, one on each end of the machine to avoid walking from one side to the other.

To keep the R2000 up and running for as many hours as possible, HP can provide a number of services via their Smart Serviceability program. To ensure you get the most out of the printer from day one, HP offers its HP Ramp Up installation procedure ensuring operators get the information and knowledge they need on site. HP Expert Now allows for interaction with HP and others to ensure the operators get to an advanced level of competence soon.

HP Print Beat can be used for the maintenance and optimisation of the RS2000 alerting you to problems or maintenance tasks and when best to deploy them. Finally should things go really wrong, HP can remotely access your R2000 and quite often or not, resolve your issue via its Service Team in quick order.

The splash the R2000 made last year was quite substantial and from looking at the printer, well deserved.

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

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