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Under the Hood

Mimaki UJF Series

Brian Sims delves under the hood of the four machines in Mimaki’s UJF Series range of inkjet printers which have been designed to be able to print onto almost any substrate

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The UJF-7151 plus11 is the largest of the models and can print at resolutions of up to 1800dpi

Colours for any object

Mimaki has long been known for being able to produce inkjet printers that are capable of printing on most substrates and media sizes. In September last year, the company launched four new printers which have the capability of printing on, well more or less, anything.

The series comprises of the UJF-7151 plusII, the UJF-6042MkII e, and UJF-3042MkII EX e and UJF-3042Mk e inkjet printers with Piezo electric on demand print heads. They have the capacity to print on a huge number of substrates and objects providing they are 153mm or 6" in depth or under.

The printers come packed with Mimaki Core Technologies we have come to expect from the manufacturer but also a range of new features, the most obvious being the increase in production speed. What separates these printers is the bed size, much as you would expect.

The UJF-7151 plusII is the biggest of the fleet and has a maximum print area of 710mm x 510mm, the UJF 6042MkII e 610mm x 420mm and the smallest of the group the UJF 3042MkII e and UJF-3042MkII EX e 420mm x 300mm. Given the nature of the substrates and media the printers can process, they come with weight capacities of 30kg, 8kg and 5kg respectively which should be able to cope with virtually anything the client wishes.

Trusted Mimaki core technologies such as NCU, NRS and MAPS4 are included in all the printers

The second less obvious but important difference is the number of print heads each model has.

The UJF-7151 plusII is available in two configurations which allows a 6 + 2 staggered layout to enable six colours plus two special inks, or two versions of a 4 + 4 staggered layout, giving you either two banks of four colours (CMYK x 2) or four colours plus four specials. The colours being the process set CMYK plus Lc, Lm and certain combinations of white, clear, primer or silver.

The UJF-6042MkII e has four heads in total, again with a staggered arrangement with the process colours in two of the heads, light colours in the third and the fourth being for spot colour. The UJF-3042MkII e has a similar layout but has one less head for the coloured ink, making three heads in total. The UJF-3042MkII EX e is the 'extra' version of the UJF-3042 MkII e and has four print heads instead of three.

The UJF-6042MkII e has four print heads in total with a staggered arrangement

Production output is realistically the last of the differentiating features of each printer.

The UJF-7151 plusII has the greatest output capacity at 8m2/hr which is a 190% increase over previous models; a feature made possible by the dual staggered print heads mentioned before. The speed of the UJF-6042MkII e and UJF-3042MkII e is slower, albeit still impressive; but this is due to the print head configuration differing from the UJF-7151 plusII so wholly understandable. The former has a maximum speed of 3.52m2/hr and the latter 2.48m2/hr.

All four printers have a new function called Mimaki Fine Diffusion2 (MFD2) to ensure high quality imaging. This technology processes the image prior to printing via the RasterLink7 RIP (raster image processor) software by supressing noise and colour unevenness. The outcome is higher definition images with deeper depth of intensity and clarity.

What is also common to all the printers is Mimaki’s LEAN manufacturing automation. Mimaki Device Language (MDL) allows you to connect manual handling devices such as robotic positioning devices directly to printer. This allows the picking and placing of raw and processed objects onto and off each printer automatically, significantly increasing both production but also allowing for operator-free production.

Well-proven technology

As to be expected, Mimaki delivers its printers with Core Technologies meaning production is of enduring high quality.    

Ink deployment is enhanced by a key Mimaki gadget – the newly upgraded Mimaki Advanced Pass System (MAPS4). MAPS4 disperses the ink pattern on the sheet in such a pattern in a very specific array to allow the printing of smooth pass boundaries.

Further to MAPS4 the LED UV curing inks used in the UJF series of printers come equipped with Mimaki’s variable droplet technology. With this system, the print heads are able to change the inkjet droplet with three different sizes which are selectively ejected, producing less grainy images. The benefit is to allow LED UV curing inks and UJF Series printers to produce high quality images with sharp letters and lines, with almost perfectly shaped dots.

Finally with regard to the inkjet heads there is a Nozzle Check Unit (NCU) which checks and cleans each nozzle automatically but if the cleaning process has not been successful, the Nozzle Recovery System (NRS) monitors and swaps nozzles when any become clogged or blocked. Both NCU and NRS allow Mimaki to keep production stable bed after bed.

In this day and age when there is an added need for traceability or compliance, these inks are underpinned by the GREENGUARD gold standard.  To satisfy the GREENGUARD gold standard, the inks supplied must meet the stringent emissions standards based on established chemical exposure criteria. Specifically the LED UV curing inks meet the UL2818 standard which is for low chemical emissions for indoor production.

When there is an added need for traceability or compliance, these inks are underpinned by the GREENGUARD gold standard

Having passed the most rigorous testing, the inks have a very low impact on the environment and contain very low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are nickel free.

Inks for all substrates

All four machines can print on a number of different substrates, and the choice of ink needs to be considered, depending on which you select. Should you wish to print on rigid substrates then the LH-100 ink provides very good adhesion and colour rendering whilst giving good scratch resistance. Should you wish to print on softer materials such as leather and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) then you have LUS-120 inks.

The new range of inkjet printers can print onto almost any substrate

These inks have extremely flexible properties and can be stretched in size up to 170% of the original size and still remain adhered.

Should adhesion be an issue, then all the UJF printers can apply a PR-200 inkjet primer which will help maintain ink adhesion on materials such as glass and metals.

To finish the product, the series of printers come with the ability to print a clear varnish via the Mimaki Clear Control system (MCC). This system minimises the curing time of the inks, giving a deep glossy effect to the product and reducing dust adhesion and air bubbles.

All round, the new UJF Series of printers from Mimaki can deliver vibrant colour and images on virtually anything you would like to suggest.

Brian Sims Principal Consultant, Metis Print Consultancy, www.metis-uk.eu

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