Epson’s products, with proprietary printheads and ink, answer market demand for tabletop digital printers all the way to production series presses.
“Epson’s digital printing technology in color labels has benefited from the company’s strong commitment to R&D for continuous improvements in speed, image quality, reliability and productivity,” says Victor Gomez, director, Industrial Label Products, Epson America. “ColorWorks and SurePress models have evolved organically and have also been able to leverage technology from other areas of the company: robotics, ink developments, software, sensors.”
The ColorWorks printers have been developed as a color upgrade to black-only thermal transfer printers. The new models, featuring 1200 dpi resolution, deliver on-demand, 4" or 8" color labels, running at 5” per second. The printers have been designed for remote printer management and the seamless integration into existing workflows.
ColorWorks label printers are now being used in a wide variety of industries, for applications like ID badges, tradeshow badges, apparel labels, safety signs, event wristbands, and gamma ray sensitive sterilization markers for healthcare.
The production-level SurePress L-6534VW promotes high-speed label and package printing with speeds up to 164 fpm. The press comes in a Standard mode (98 fpm) or Productivity (164 fpm). This digital LED UV inkjet press also comes equipped with a corona treater, white ink, digital varnish, and an additional UV curing unit. The printheads, inks, LED pinning and curing lamp units, media feeding, and control system are all part of Epson’s own research and product development.
“Unique among manufacturers of digital inkjet printing equipment, Epson designs and produces all of its own critical components such as printheads, ink, media transport,” explains Gomez.
According to Gomez, SurePress models include a water-based resin ink that comes in CMYK, white and the extended gamut colors orange and green for a greatly expanded color gamut. “This water-based resin ink adheres to a surprisingly wide variety of media types, from paper-based porous media for demanding, high-end applications such as wine labels, to unsupported flexible packaging films for thermo sealed bags, pouches or shrink film,” he notes. “The SurePress line also includes a low-temperature LED UV curable ink model, with CMYK, white and digital varnish inks. The digital varnish is a colorless ink that gives users the ability to print highly creative spot varnish effects onto labels and packaging.”
Meanwhile, connectivity is key with ColorWorks. This line of desktop color label printers has benefited from Epson’s development of ESC Label command software, an offshoot of the Epson Standard Code for Printers. The ESC/L commands, ability to work with ZPLII and remote management tools make recent generation ColorWorks printers suitable for replacing monochrome thermal transfer printers, since there is no major disruption to existing IT infrastructures when adding color.
“It’s a printer control language developed by Epson that allows us to work seamlessly with all major ISVs in the enterprise label space,” says Gomez. “Also, important has been the development of remote fleet management tools to install, configure, maintain, and monitor a fleet of printers – whether they are installed in one location or spread around the world. This device management system is critical for large enterprises with multiple locations and hundreds, if not thousands, of printers deployed.”
Epson has also worked diligently to optimize its ink technology for a host of end use applications, including the food labels market. The company’s products adhere to strict European and US food contact and Good Manufacturing Practice standards, and both the ColorWorks and SurePress lines utilize Epson’s proprietary PrecisionCore printheads, developed to fit a whole range of printing applications like DTG, DTF, office printers, even consumer printers.
So far, Epson’s wide range of products has met with positive reviews from customers, and the company envisions even more growth in the new year. Macro trends have spurred Epson’s expansion: mass customization, the need for lower inventories and faster turnaround and personalization.
“Customers view Epson as a technology leader – a steady, proven company that acts ethically and cares about the success of its customers,” says Gomez. “What separates our technology from the rest is the sheer depth. The economies of scale involved in Epson’s business lines allow us a luxury of choosing from an array of technologies our competitors can only envy.
“Customers are using digital printing in constantly new and creative ways,” he adds.