Epson announces 12-colour LFP series (Updated)
Epson has launched two new wide-format printers, the 1.1m wide SureColor SC-P9500 and smaller 609mm SC-P7500, which both use a 12-color aqueous inkset and are primarily aimed at the photography and proofing markets.
It’s worth noting that although these are Epson’s first 12-colour large format printers, this is not the first time that Epson has used a 12-color ink set. These new models will replace the P7000 and P9000, which only have ten channels, meaning that users had to decide up front if they wanted to configure the printers for proofing with an extra violet ink or photography, with photography users also having to switch between the photo and matte blacks. So the new models are a definite step forward in that all the colors can be loaded with no further messing around.
The new inks are called Ultrachrome Pro 12 though they use the same colors as the previous inkset, and I doubt that there’s much real difference. The colours themselves are photo black, matte black, grey and light grey plus cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, and very light magenta as well as orange, green and violet. Epson claims that it can hit 99 percent of the Pantone range, which was also the case for the previous inkset, providing you took the violet option for proofing. Phil McMullin, pro graphics sales manager for Epson UK adds: “We are using the light grey as a black optimizer so the firmware picks up where it needs to give a denser black on some images, which uses less ink than spraying it across the whole image.”
The new printers are also faster than the older ones, up to four times faster according to Epson. Thus the SC-P9500 can run at 23.3 sqm/hr at 600 x 600dpi in 6 Pass mode, and at 18.2 sqm/hr, also at 600 x 600dpi but with a higher quality 8 Pass mode, and at 11.4 sqm/hr in 1200 x 1200 dpi with 12 Passes, all speeds for use with photo paper. However, it should be noted that the SC-P7500 will appear to be slower, even though it prints at the same speed because it's not as wide.
McMullin says that the faster speed and the additional color channels are down to the use of the latest generation of Epson’s PrecisionCore micro TFP printhead. These printers use a single printhead with 12 of Epson’s PrecisionCore chips. Each chip has two channels, meaning that each color here is using the full 800 nozzles of these chips. McMullin points out that this is 2.4 times the number of nozzles from the older chips used in the current P7000/ P9000 printers, as well as being a lot wider. The head itself has a squarish shape, with the chips staggered across two rows. The head has 300 dpi resolution per color, which is standard for Epson’s latest PrecisionCore heads, as I’ve covered here. Epson has also added nozzle verification technology to counter blocked nozzles.
As before, there is also an optional SpectroProofer with a photo spectrometer for proofing applications.
It’s also worth noting that Epson has another printer in its aqueous portfolio, the top of the range P20000, which was introduced back in 2016, a year after the P7000 and P9000, so there’s a good chance that we might see a new version of this next year.
These printers should be available in December. Epson has not set a price for them yet because it is still planning to continue selling the existing P7000 and P9000 printers, albeit at a reduced price, which has complicated the pricing. And, let’s face it, who wants to be working out how to convert Japanese Yens to Sterling in December when we still have no idea if we’re going to be leaving the EU or what impact this will have on currency rates, let alone our economy overall. You can find further details on Epson’s large-format range from Epson.com.
NB: This story has been updated with new information on the printhead and the productivity of the printers.