We don’t normally pay a great deal of attention to commercial print production as it’s not really our thing but the latest printer from Roland, the Soljet Pro III XC-540MT, is worth at least a little look.
The reason it’s piqued our interest is that Roland have developed the first wide format inkjet printer in the world to use metallic and white ink. By combining the silver ink with the standard CMYK inks, it is possible to create gold, bronze, metallic red, metallic blue and so on. Until now, white ink printing has been virtually unheard of and fraught with technical difficulties, while metallic ink printing has been equally problematic.
Previously, inkjet printers which use UV cured ink were the closest thing to a white ink printer but the results are far from satisfactory. Metallic printers did make a brief appearance a few years back but were unsuccessful.
This is because the properties of white and metallic ink cause it to settle inside the cartridge, which obviously plays havoc with the ink delivery system. Roland has managed to overcome this problem by introducing an ink circulation system, which constantly stirs the white and metallic ink to prevent it from settling.
The new technology makes it possible to print white images on dark coloured media and create metallic effects that would previously have been extremely difficult, if not impossible to achieve. The Soljet Pro III XC-540MT will undoubtedly have a huge impact on industries where visual impact is key, with applications including, but not limited to, posters, packaging, clothing, signage and point of sale material. Graphic designers and other creative types will have a whale of a time creating new designs to take full advantage of the Soljet’s capabilities.
So, what relevance does the Soljet have to the average home or office user and why even mention it here (other than a little self indulgence on our part)? Well, the technology could eventually filter down to more everyday applications in the same way that technology from Formula One cars will sometimes end up in your family hatchback.
We’re not suggesting that you’ll be able to buy a home version of the Soljet any time soon, any more than you’ll be able to buy Lewis Hamilton’s F1 car in your local Mercedes dealership but, once the technology has been developed further, it could open up exciting possibilities. In-house marketing could be transformed drastically if the system ever makes its way out of the commercial printing industry and, who knows, you might even be able to create metallic prints on your home printer one day.
by Anthony Morgan