Roland Soljet Pro4 XF and XR 640

The XF and XR 640 wide-format printers have notched five installations in India, since their worldwide launch in March 2013 and September 2012 respectively. Rushikesh Aravkar reports

17 Aug 2013 | By Rushikesh Aravkar

Roland’s stall at the recently concluded Media Expo exhibition in Delhi was abuzz with activity as the company demonstrated two key products of Soljet Pro4 family, the XF 640 printer and XR 640 print and cut wide-format machines, for the first time in India.
Roland’s technical and sales director, Brett Newman, says, “Exhibiting at the Media Expo, our expectations have been surpassed considering the commitments that we have seen.” 
Launched at International Sign Expo, Las Vegas, in April 2013, the XF 640 saw its first installation in India at Pune-based Gallant Printing solutions in July 2013. In addition, the kit displayed at Media Expo was commissioned by Ahmedabad-based Target Sign Tech. According to Apsom, which represents Roland in India, there is one XR 640 and two XF 640 installed in India. One of each of the two models will also be installed at Bengaluru and Ahmedabad soon.
Speed of 102 sq/m per hour
Targeted at the mid- to high-end print shops producing wide-format prints for signages as well as POP or POS, the 64-inch wide XF 640 is the fastest wide-format printer manufactured by Roland. 
So how fast is the XF 640? It can achieve a maximum speed of 102 sq/m per hour. In the billboard mode, it reaches 63 sq/m per hour and for high-quality work, it prints at 13 sq/m per hour. Newman, says, “The XF 640 prints at almost double the speed of its predecessor, the Pro III XJ 640. It uses Roland DG’s latest printhead technology in a staggered configuration to deliver the highest quality output.” 
At the heart of the XF 640 is a new eight-channel print head – the latest Epson Micro Piezo technology – which runs in a staggered configuration with two sets of four (CMYK) nozzles to print a two-inch swathe in each pass. The sister machine, Roland’s XR 640, is equipped with print and cut capability unattended in two passes according to vectors drawn by Versaworks. The machine features two printheads and is available as a seven- or eight-colour configuration as opposed to XF 640, which is available with a four-colour configuration.
 “The XR 640 is open to new applications because the machine is capable to print light black, metallic and white and then automatically counter cut images into any shape in one seamless workflow. The applications include POP, floor signage, short-run production of labels and stickers, vehicle decals etc,” adds Newman.
 He further states that when using white ink, one is able to produce window graphics and glow signs. He feels, these new applications help the users to sell more to the same customers, which is important. “This also enables the print service provider to add new clients.”
New inks
The XF 640 is an eco-solvent printer which has been developed to perform at its best with Roland DG’s Eco-Sol Max2 inks. These were first introduced late last year with Pro 4 XR 640 that supports eight colours for versatility rather than the XF’s four for speed.
Roland Eco-Sol Max2 inks give a nine colours boost with cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK), plus light cyan (Lc), light magenta (Lm), white (Wh), metallic silver (Mt) and new light black (Lk), producing more neutral greys and blacks and stronger colours. The benefits include higher quality, wider media compatibility and lower operating costs.

“These are ideal for use outdoors or in, this tough, scratch resistant ink can withstand outdoor environments up to three years without lamination. Safe to use and easy to handle, these inks are virtually odourless and don’t require any special ventilation equipment,” adds Newman.  He adds, “Printing on vinyl at 300 sq/ft per hour and laminating it will increase the life of the outdoor signage up to five years.”
 Ravi Agarwala, director at Apsom, says, "The different formulation of the inks improve the print’s density and opacity. This makes them suitable for printing cheaper window graphics. There’s no need to apply a second coat."
Roland DG recommends using Eco Sol Max 2, however, Apsom Infotex offers a cost-effective alternative, Premium 2. Dye-sublimation inks are also available from Apsom for use with the XF 640.
The machine can print onto a wide range of substrates, including vinyls, banners, polyesters, canvasses, backlit films, univision papers, photo papers, blue-back papers, fabrics and many more.
 It is possible to print onto a coated fabric with a backing material. Alternatively, a dye-sublimation process can be used  for printing onto a paper and then transferring the print to a fabric.

Width  1.6m
Max speed  102 sq/m per hour
Contact  Apsom Infotex
Gulshan Kumar +91 9350899503
Versaworks RIP
“Not many suppliers include a RIP package within the price at the time of purchase, but since we design and build our machines we know exactly how to get the best from them,” says Newman.  
Its technical foundations are built on the latest Adobe Postscript engine, providing tools to ensure quick, flexible and precisely colour-matched output. Versaworks features numerous print options to match the needs of each job undertaken, including: embedded ICC profile support, ink level adjustment tools, proofing capabilities, error diffusion and advanced cropping, tiling and nesting options.
According to Newman, the RIP has inbuilt ICC profiles for all the standard media available in the market such as 3M, Avery etc. This eliminates the complex tasks of colour profiling for different medias.
Newman says, “Versaworks also enables variable data printing, which can support up to four Roland devices simultaneously and automatically estimates the ink usage and print time for each graphic so you can accurately monitor time and costs.”
VersaWorks includes a Pantone spot colour matching function which converts Pantone spot colours in the design file to a CMYK value for colour accurate output.
The XR is open to new applications because the machine is being able to print black, metallic and white. Using white, you are able to produce window graphics, glow signs and these new applications help the users to sell more to the same customers and this is important and this also enables them to produce new clients.
Customer speak
The Pune-based Gallant Printing Solutions has been using XF 640 since July 2013 to cater to the surging requirements of signage and retail industry in Maharashtra. Since its installation, the firm has printed over 20,000 sq/ft area within one month period.
Gallant’s managing director Hetul Thakkar is impressed with the Versawork RIP from Roland. He says, “It has been an easy job to train the operators to use this new machine, thanks to the user-friendly RIP provided by Roland.”
He further added that the inks are very versatile enabling us to print on most medias such as translides, vinyl, canvases, banner media, many kinds of flexo films of different grammages etc.
Gallant is currently catering to the telecom industry majorly. “Nokia has been our prime client for the past three years,” says Thakkar. The signage for the Nokia in-store brandings goes from Gallant for all over Maharashtra.
Mahesh Patel of Ahmedabad-based Target Sign Tech is impressed with the reliability and robustness of Roland machines. Target, which houses a Roland XC 540, has invested in XF 640 at Media Expo. Patel says, “We have been using Roland machines since 1998 and I can say that Roland machines require zero maintenance.” Besides signage industry, Target plans to capture photography and glass decoration segment. “The advantage of XF 640 is the low production cost of about Rs 6 per sq/ft,” says Patel.
The first XR 640 was nstalled at Welpac Products and Systems in Bengaluru. According to Aggarwala, as the first printer/cutter, the XR 640 offers much power and versatility.

The Alternatives

Epson SureColor SC-S50600
Launched at Drupa last year, the S50600 is one of the three machines in Epson’s second-generation solvent (or ‘signage’ in Epson-speak) range. Like the Roland DG device it uses a dual head configuration with two sets of CMYK to get higher throughput. 
Width  1.6m
Max speed  52 sqm/hr
Contact   Epson India
Vasudevan L K
+91 80 30515000 

Mutoh ValueJet 1638
When it was launched, ValueJet was the first solvent printer to use a fast-four configuration with the dual printhead.
Width  1.6m
Max Speed  48sqm/hr
Contact  Negi Sign and System 022 26766000