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Epson launches wide-format printers for professionals

updated 10:20 am EDT, Tue May 10, 2005

Epson wide-format printers

Leveraging its newly announced , Epson also launched three new professional-grade photo printers, including the Stylus Pro 4800, Stylus Pro 7800, and Stylus Pro 9800. All three printers utilize UltraChrome K3 inks, which uses eight individual colors to create exhibit-quality output on a wide selection of media. The Epson Stylus Pro 4800 replaces the Stylus Pro 4000 for printing images as wide as 17 inches, while the Stylus Pro 7800 and Epson Stylus Pro 9800 replace the Stylus Pro 7600 and 9600 (respectively) for printing up to 24 inches and 44 inches in width. The printers feature both USB/FireWire connectivity and optional expansion for network connectivity.

"By combining the high-precision of a new Epson Stylus Pro print engine with the extraordinary performance of Epson UltraChrome K3 ink technology, today's most discerning creative professionals have the tools to express their true creative visions," said Mark Radogna, group product manager, professional graphics, Epson. "Whether an artist's goal is to create the best exhibit-quality color prints possible or world-class black and white photography, their only limitations will be talent and imagination."

New Epson UltraChrome K3 Ink Technology

Epson UltraChrome K3 uses higher density pigments designed to increase image quality for both professional color and black and white prints. In addition to cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta, the UltraChrome K3 inks feature a unique three-level black ink system that simultaneously uses black, light black and light-light black inks. This technology is designed to create professional neutral and toned black and white prints without color crossover or color casts. It also reduces the effects of metamerism or bronzing often associated with basic pigment chemistry, according to the company.

In addition, Epson's proprietary driver and screening technology offers users a unique method for converting color digital images into professional quality black and white prints.

Epson UltraChrome K3 also produces higher degrees of color fidelity and uses a new high-gloss Microcrystal Encapsulation resin chemistry to create prints with greater scratch resistance and reduced gloss differential. These prints are rated to resist fading up to 108 years for color prints and more than 200 years for black and white prints on specific Epson papers.

The printers utilize two unique ink modes -- Photo Black and Matte Black -- that are designed to optimize the level of black ink density on different types of media. The Photo Black ink mode can be selected to help maximize the deepness and richness of black tones on glossy/luster media, while the Matte Black mode uses a different black density to maximize the deepness and richness of black tones on fine art surfaces such as Epson's Velvet Fine Art.

New 8-Channel Print Head Technology

Epson's new high-performance, one-inch wide print head features 180 nozzles per channel and can achieve resolution levels up to 2880 x 1440 dpi with variable-sized ink droplets as small as 3.5 picoliters. The Stylus Pro 4800 produces a single 16"x 20" photo lab-quality print (using 1,440 x 720 dpi -- HS mode) as fast as 6 minutes, 41 seconds. The Stylus Pro 7800/9800 offer print speeds approximately two times faster than their predecessors, delivering lab-quality 24" x 30" prints in just over 14 minutes and 44" x 60" prints in just under 43 minutes (using 1,440 x 720 dpi -- HS mode).

Epson has enhanced its manufacturing process to include colorimetric calibration. Using Epson PreciseColor technology, the company evaluates each printer's output during the manufacturing process and automatically fine tunes each printer's settings to ensure consistent color output from one printer to the next.

The new printers also feature a built-in auto head alignment feature for reduced setup time. This technology uses a built-in white beam sensor that automatically scans printed alignment patterns created by the printer and then makes automated adjustments if necessary. The same white beam sensor is also used to detect clogged nozzles and automatically activate head cleaning cycles when/if necessary.

Versatile printing on multiple media types

The Stylus Pro 4800 can handle virtually any type of media--either in rolls up to 17 inches wide or cut sheets between 8" x 10" and 17" x 22". It supports an adjustable roll feed for 2-inch and 3-inch cores, a high-capacity cut-sheet tray for up to 50 sheets of photographic media, top manual feed, and straight-through front manual feed capable of handling up to 1.5-millimeter-thick poster board. The Epson Stylus Pro 4800 also supports printing on both sides of the media without damaging the previously printed side and has a built-in media cutter that automatically trims top and bottom edges of roll media to produce full-bleed images on all four sides.

The Stylus Pro 7800 and 9800 offer nearly all of the same advanced media handling capabilities as the Epson Stylus Pro 4800, but in sizes up to 24 and 44 inches wide (respectively). Both cut-sheet and roll media are loaded via the printers' straight-through media path. An optional automatic take-up reel system is also available exclusively on the Stylus Pro 9800 for unattended production of large print runs.

Each of these new printers' ink cartridge channels/slots can handle either 110 ml or 220 ml cartridges (or a combination of both sizes), which the company says can even be replaced in the middle of a print job. Each cartridge uses Epson's Intelligent High-Capacity Ink technology, which stores a variety of information on a memory chip and communicates the data to the printer whenever the power is turned on. In addition, the printers use built-in memory to track key print job statistics such as ink levels, ink usage, remaining media, print times, data file names, user names, print dates and more.

The Stylus Pro 4800 is now shipping for $2,000, while Stylus Pro 4800 "Pro Edition," which includes a PANTONE-licensed, SWOP-certified PostScript Level 3-compatible RIP by ColorBurst, and a 10/100 BaseT Ethernet card, is expected to begin shipping in July for $2,500. The Stylus Pro 7800 ($3,000) and Stylus Pro 9800 ($5,000) will begin shipping in Fall 2005 along with a complimentary stand.

by MacNN Staff



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