Canon’s ImagePrograf Pro series large format inkjet printers need consideration for any printer looking for a high quality aqueous inkjet printer for proofing, for fine art printing, for poster and indoor graphics printing.
The Pro series designation is the latest addition to Canon's ImagePrograf large format printers and the black livery speak volumes about the positioning of the machines – highly professional and they look as if they mean business Canon has invested a lot in these machines, aiming to grow its position in these sectors where high quality sits alongside a need for productivity.
“We have grown market share in these sectors from around 16-24% market share,” says Joe Courts, Canon’s UK marketing manager of its Wide Format Group. The new machines will both consolidate this position and allow Canon to push on further with the new five machines in eight- and 12-colour printing, from 43cm-152cm wide printers, adding to the completed ImagePrograf range which consists of over 20 configurations.
These are well engineered, robust and enjoy features that are appreciated by early adopters. These pick out the control panel, the consistency and the quality of the print output.
These companies range from design agencies and top end photographers to digital printers looking for a cost effective device for poster printing, indoor graphics and new applications such as bespoke wallpapers.
The thinking starts with a new robust frame with fewer sections bolted together. What Canon calls a unibody approach means a solid piece of engineering that will reduce the risk of vibrations as the print heads passes across the roll.
The robustness of construction works in collaboration with a new design of print head to improve droplet placement. Nozzles and colours are closer together and in the eight-colour machines, designed for the graphic arts segment, the heads are mirrored to offer higher speed and consistent quality when printing in both directions across the roll.
The print head design is changed to both deliver a wide swathe of print and also to keep the gap between colours shorter than before and therefore less likely to suffer misplaced droplets. Nozzles are monitored to ensure that none is blocked, in which case others are deployed to solve the problem.
The droplets are of a new Lucia Pro pigment ink developed for the new printers. The ink is available in 160ml, 330ml and 700ml ink tanks that can be swapped during the run without stopping the machine.
This is one aspect of providing better colour quality, which inevitably suffers when a print job is paused to change an ink tank. The engine can run multiple tank sizes, useful to spread the cost for a user, and to run larger tanks for inks that are used more frequently.
The ink is pigment based, micro encapsulated resulting in a more spherical particle than with previous styles of ink. This will allow the Lucia Pro droplets to pack together more closely on the substrate achieving a thinner film and more vibrant colours as a result.
There is less penetration into the fibres of the paper, so users should find they can be using less ink to achieve the same results.
Canon has used a new magenta pigment that has increased the colour gamut in the red area.
Along with the new inks, there is an inbuilt colour density sensor, a new colour calibration function and the L-COA processes faster and more precisely. There are two advantages to this.
First, there is only a ∂e2 variation output quality and this in turn opens the way to print and distribute business models. A company can operate multiple ImagePrograf Pros in one location and split a job across them confident that the result will be the same whichever machine has printed them.
Says Courts: “We have a couple of customers working in retail and fashion who are saving a fortune in ink and materials because they are not having to redo proofs down to the consistency being improved through the use of ImagePrograf technology.”
This also opens the way to control output from a more remote location, perhaps running a proofing device at a client’s premises. The consistency of output opens the way to use these machines for proofing with the ability to set calibration remotely.
The control software also includes a cost management account manager to monitor consumables usage and costs, linking to an MIS if required.
There are other applications that come with the printers. Print Studio Pro, for example, allows users to clearly visualise and easily edit their print through soft proof within Adobe apps such as Photoshop and Lightroom.
A USB port allows a printer to offer a walk up service for a customer coming in with a JPEG or PDF loaded on the portable storage device and wants an on the spot print.
The LCD touch screen control panel makes set up and monitoring of ink levels and the length of material remaining on a roll simple to check. Integration with a WiFi network is also possible to make it easier to access from those that are part of the network. A Pin is assigned to each user to control indiscriminate printing.
“And there is a lot of additional software that comes free in the box,” he says, naming Poster Artist which creates posters quickly and offers Direct Print & Share batch printing without the addition of design software or skills.
The new machines introduce the possibility of using a second roll, either to run different types or widths of media or to run the second roll handling unit as a take up roll for continuous print.
There are further options on delivery, the adjustable catch basket can be positioned for highly sensitive work or this can moved into position to hold sheeted works, posters for example, in print sequence. A barcode on each roll of media will register its length with the controller to calculate whether there is enough media on the roll to complete the job in hand.
The technology also introduces Chroma Optimiser, a coating applied to reduce the scattering effect of light. on glossy papers. Colour comes from the effect of diffused light reaching the viewer.
Reflective light can create glare and will mean that a print can appear differently when viewed from different angles and weakening the impact of colour. It will also make deep blacks appear washed out on these papers.
The Chroma Optimiser layer is therefore designed to absorb the reflective light rather than bounce this back to the viewer. It becomes a diffused light, enhancing the rendering of colours, whether bright reds and blues or deep blacks.
And importantly the print will appear the same regardless of viewing conditions, removing the risk of bronzing where different areas have different reflectance values according to the viewing angle and light source.
This is crucial for photographers and for close up display work, table top posters for cosmetics for example or wall mounted posters in a retail space. A secondary function of the Chroma Optimiser layer is a measure of scratch resistance protection.
The 12-colour machines, available as 43cm, 60cm and 112cm models, are aimed at photographers and fine art printing with two greys, two blacks, CMY, light magenta and light cyan. The eight-colour versions are intended for point of sale posters and come in as 60cm, 112cm and 152cm versions.
The eight-colour machines for graphic arts applications have an S designation; the 12-colour machines for photography lack this suffix, but have a red stripe that echoes the image quality of Canon’s EOS cameras.
Each machine is more compact than previous generation printers, the ImagePrograf Pro 6000S, the 152cm machine designed for graphic arts printing, fills the same space as the earlier 112cm machine.
To date machines have been installed at commercial printers and digital printers, at design and marketing agencies and in retail businesses and at photographers. The price levels are appealing, particularly for the level of productivity and quality that the ImagePrograf Pro machines deliver.
The ImagePrograf Pro series from Canon, which has invested a lot in these machines, aiming to grow its position in these sectors where high quality sits alongside a need for productivity.