Technology Review: Océ’s Arizona 550 GT

No sacrifice for speed
Oce Arizona 550 GT.jpg

When we learned Océ had a new, large, Arizona UV-cure printer, the 550 GT, we were curious as to its place in the product line. Arizona UV printers have always been perceived as mid-range devices, that is, the machines are well accepted in high-quality, medium size shops. We discovered the new printer was built for the next level up. Meaning, if you’re after a fast, versatile printer that will produce large, high-quality prints, then you may have found it. And, expectedly, we found that Océ hadn’t compromised anything to attain the high speed.
Océ said, “The Océ Arizona 550 GT is the fastest yet, printing twice as fast as other Océ Arizona models and with image quality superior to all competitive systems.”
 
Specifications and features
All of Océ’s Arizona, UV-cure, flatbed-printer models are solidly built. They have a robust vacuum table and a gantry that looks like it could take down a house.
A gantry can be the weak point in flatbed printers, so a durable one indicates long and rewarding use.
The 550 GT measures 14.3 ft. wide x 6.5 ft. deep, and it stands 4.5 ft. high. Add the optional roll-media kit, and the depth increases to 7.5 ft. It weighs 1,179 lbs. without the roll-feed option and 1,598 lbs. with it. The printer requires two, 208 to 240VAC lines at 60 Hz each, single phase, and 16A circuits. It has its own vacuum pump, so there’s no shop air requirement.
You can configure the media table’s vacuum system to handle three zones. A foot pedal allows additional control.
The printer incorporates an LCD monitor and mouse. Its interface has six modes that range from print-job setup to maintenance functions. Further, via the monitor, you can track job statistics as well as ink levels and UV lamp usage.
Most instructions are entered via mouse clicks, but a virtual keyboard pops up for alphanumeric entries. The printer comes with both a USB interface and a 100 base-T Ethernet connection that will support gigabyte speeds.
Onyx ProductionHouse RIP software is an available option.
 
Inkjet head
The 550 GT is a four-color, CMYK printer with a white-ink option. Its speed comes from the VariaDot inkjet head design that uses two, double-print heads per color; each head has 636 nozzles. The printer renders 1,440-dpi resolutions; it will produce near-photographic-quality images.
The inkjet heads can vary the size and volume of the ink droplets. The drops’ volume ranges from 6 to 42 picoliters; the smaller dot choices are for lighter colors, the larger ones for dense colors. The gamut is pleasing and, by using fewer ink colors, you save on costs.
Océ estimates, on average, only 8 ml of ink are used in a one-square-meter print. Based on 300% ink coverage, 8 ml of ink per square meter equals less than 17 cents per sq. ft. In production mode, the 550 GT will crank out 433 sq. ft./hr. It’s easy to produce 100, 4 x 8 ft. sheets in an eight-hour day. At that speed, the image quality is very good.
It will produce near-photographic images at 151 sq. ft./hr., which is still quite good. On the other extreme, you’ll find a 700-sq.-ft./hr. express mode, which is for solid-color graphics, such as mass-produced real estate signs.
Obviously, this printer is clearly in the same class as many of the industrial-rated, UV-cure printers.
 
Ink and media
The white-ink option allows three use methods: an under print (for full-color on non-white media); a spot color; or, an overprint (for backlit-application images.)
Océ’s UV-cure ink offers outdoor durability for two years or more. The printer’s large, two-liter ink bags should allow plenty of time between fill-ups.
The table can accommodate rigid materials up to 49.2 x 98.4 in. The printable image area is slightly larger, so you can produce full-bleed, 4 x 8-ft. images up to 2 in. thick. The media can weigh up to 7 lbs. per sq. ft., which, when applied to a 4 x 8-ft. sheet, would be 224 lbs.
The 550 GT will print on wood, plastic, metal, card stock, foamboard and more.
Océ offers a sophisticated, optional, roll-media attachment that includes a take-up system. It installs at table’s end, so you can position rigid materials while a flexible media job is running. The kit is substantial. You’ll appreciate the forward/reverse, media, foot-pedal control.
Océ says numerous customers have allowed the 550 GT to run unattended, flexible jobs overnight.
The roll unit will handle 3mm-thick media up to of 86.6 in. wide, with a maximum print width of 86.2 in. The maximum roll weight is 110 lbs.
Print speeds aren’t as fast on flexible media as on rigid. For example, the production-mode speed on flexible is 323 sq. ft./hr., as opposed to 433 sq. ft./hr. for rigid media, which is still impressive.
 
The bottom line
Océ said its 550 GT is priced roughly 30% less than comparable printers from other manufacturers. The astute in the crowd may be thinking a low buy-in is one thing, but what about operating costs?
If your cost per print is significantly higher, then you can eat up the initial savings pretty quickly.
That’s where Océ’s decision to use the VariaDot came into play. Because it can produce quality images without the need for additional, diluted primaries, you use significantly less ink, compared to a six-color image. Océ estimates ink costs will average approximately 30% less than their competition, on an image-to-image basis.
In conclusion, we believe the Arizona 550 GT is another winner for Océ. It can handle virtually any media, and at significant speeds. The white-ink and roll-media options make it even more versatile. If you run a high-production shop and are seeking a fast, UV-cure, flatbed printer, we suggest you study the Arizona 550 GT.
KEY INFORMATION
Océ North America
5450 North Cumberland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60656
(773) 714-8500
(800) 714-4427
Company Profile: Océ Display Graphics Systems is an international provider of professional, large-format, digital-print solutions for indoor and outdoor, color-display, graphic applications. By combining hardware, software and expertise, Océ products enhance revenue and profit opportunities for print-service providers. Océ offers a total solution – high-quality, UV-cure flatbed printers to outdoor-durable, roll-based systems – including hardware, software, imaging supplies, finishing systems, service, support and financing.
At a Glance: Oce’s Arizona 550 GT is a fast, solidly built printer that will produce large, high-quality prints with less costs than expected. The printer images CMYK inks through Oce’s VariaDot™ inkjet heads at 1,440 dpi, for near-photographic images at 151 sq. ft./hr. In production mode, it produces 433 sq. ft./hr.
You may also choose from three options: a roll-feed mechanism; a three-application method, white-ink system; and the Onyx Production House RIP.
Contact: Océ sales
(800) 714-4427
www.oceusa.com/odgs

 
 

 

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