Epson unveils 7 colour A3+ printer
By Ian Burley
A key pillar of Epson’s new pigment ink technology is its UltraChrome ink formulations used in the new Stylus 2100 Photo.
Epson says UltraChrome technology addresses a number of weaknesses traditionally associated with pigment inks.
Red reproduction has been recognised as an area due for improvement and UltraChrome has significantly increased the red gamut, according to Epson.
The overall colour gamut and black density for the 2100 is now superior to traditional silver halide colour prints, says Epson. Epson photo printers use true black ink instead of tricolour black.
Epson quotes Wilhelm Institute figures of 15-60 years for the life expectancy of silver halide prints under given conditions. This compares to “up to 27 years” for Epson dye-based prints, while UltraChrome prints are rated at 45-75 years by Epsons own tests that mirror Wilhelm methodology. Epson suggests real life longevity can be a lot longer in favourable storage conditions.
Resin coated inks
Resin coating of photographic paper has been with us for over 30 years and now Epson has reinvented the idea by resin-coating the microscopic pigment particles that make up its UltraChrome inks.
All UltraChrome colours, except for Matte Black, are resin coated. A typical ink particle is around 100nm wide and is encased in a resin covering some 30nm in thickness.
Epson says the resin coated particles form a more uniform layer of ink on the print media, avoiding the traditional problem of diffused reflection from the surface.
It also promises to deliver higher optical density and lowered metamerism effects.
UltraChrome ink colour stability is also achieved more quickly after printing than with Epson dye-based inks.
Versatile black inks
No less than three types of black ink are offered in the UltraChrome range. The 2100 can be fitted with two standard black cartridges, or a standard black and light black. The latter enables more subtle grey tone gradations.
Epson Grey Balancer software is included to enable the user to calibrate the grey output of the 2100. You can select neutral grey through to cool, sepia red, sepia yellow and warm.
The third black ink option is matte black. This is an extra high density black for use on matte or plain papers and is aimed at specialist proofing and fine arts applications as well as CAD/CAM printing.
To enable the black cartridges to be swapped in and out according to your needs, the main black ink tank slot,only, is designed to accept either standard black or matte black cartridges. The ink tanks themselves have re-sealable valves to prevent them from drying out when not in use. All 2100 ink tanks, like the 950 ink tanks, are opaque in design and are chipped, so the printer will decide when the cartridge has been exhausted.
New velvet media
Coinciding with the launch of the 2100, Epson has announced the addition of a new Velvet Fine Art media type.
We’ve still not yet seen how all this impressive sounding technology pans out in the form of actual prints off a 2100, but it does sound very promising.