Printer Review: Epson Solvent S-Series One Year Later

Last year I wrote a review describing my initial experience with the newest Epson Solvent SureColor S-Series printer, the S60600. You may recall that I could not find anything negative to write about it.

Well, I figured one year and hundreds of prints later is a good time to give everyone an update on these solvent printers. On our tech support floor, we run more than 25 different wide format machines. We typically use them to run profiles for each printer/product combination. There are times when we print on both the Epson S60600 and the Epson S80600 continuously five days straight. But the next month, we’ll only use the once or twice a week.

As a testing facility, we are a very odd user since we will have spells of not using a machine for some time, but that makes our situation prime for a review that is ideal to satisfy both types of users.

LexJet has a wide variety of customers, so when I receive questions about a new purchase, it could come from a new owner who is starting an all new book of business or from an owner who is already established and is replacing or adding a new unit to a fleet of machines.

If you fell into either of these situations before the arrival of the Epson Solvent S-Series last year, I would have a totally different printer suggestion for each of the users mentioned above, depending on usage, experience and job/product aspirations.

But after one year of using both the S60600 and S80600 Epson S-Series printers, I can now attest that this is the best solvent printer technology available with regards to reliability, image durability, image detail/sharpness and color fidelity for either user mentioned above.

From print to print, the Epson machines are extremely consistent. We are seeing that more customers coming from a photo/art production environment moving into solvent S80600s.  If you were to tell me five years ago that a solvent print would be approved by photographic/fine art consumers concerned with gamut and image quality and durability, I would have told you that we’d have a long wait to get to that point. We have arrived. But talk is cheap, and the proof is in the print. Ask us for a sample to see it for yourself.

I’ve seen a second shift in productivity, as well. Normally, if a larger user was replacing two older printers, we’d sell them two new printers. However, with the speed of the S60600, we recommend customers buy this one printer to do the work of two older solvent printers. It’s great news that there’s now so much more speed available.

The image quality of the S80600 and the speed and quality of the S60 have delivered beyond expectations, but what has changed a year later? I found one negative thing to write:

Dear Epson, in the next generation of solvent printers, can you have a simple on/off for the light inside of the printer? The current light is on a 10-second timer, and I don’t like having to hit it to see my print. Literally, a light switch is all I’m complaining about.

We have no maintenance issues, which is an amazing feat. We do once-a-month manual cleaning, and it keeps the printer pristine and running like a top.  We even let the S60600 go for four months with no cleanings, and the printer showed no signs of slowing or spitting ink (but don’t try this at home).

At no point have I seen a loss of image quality mid-print thanks to the new maintenance and filtration system Epson added. Also, the additional pressure rollers help immensely with a multitude of materials from fabrics and canvas to films and more rigid papers, especially regarding feed accuracy and head strike issues that were inconsistent in the prior printer generations.

I’m certainly not here to fluff, even though each article I write about these printers may make it seem so. For the doubters out there who are researching, come down to Florida and spend some time with us. I’ll give you the reins so you can feel great about your decision. I’m confident you’ll see what I see.

Prints That Win: Urban Assault

For a professional photographer who has made a career of portraits featuring Santa Claus, the PPA Southwest District winner in the artist category, titled “Urban Assault,” was a huge departure for Chris Smith, M.Photog.

Smith captured the Sunset Print Award-winning image during a SWAT team training session in Midlothian, Texas, when he was requested to shoot the training. It turned out to be an ideal opportunity to get creative for print competition.

“Competition work is something that I do for myself because it is so detailed,” Smith says. “It is very therapeutic digging into that level of detail.”

For PPR Pix, ChromaLuxe Was the Answer for Customer Demand

When his customers started asking for ChromaLuxe metal photo panels, James Marks of PPR Pix in Atlanta, Ga., started researching how to add the colorful photo reproduction option to his operation. That also included the purchase of a new Epson SureColor F6200 dye-sublimation printer.

“We had been looking at getting into metal and there isn’t another local place in Atlanta to do metal printing,” Marks says. “Some of our customers had asked about it, and so we wanted to get our toes in there and jump.”

Vescom Digital Media: Wallcovering Line Now Available at LexJet

For busy print service providers, media consistency is key. And that couldn’t be truer when it comes to printable wallcovering. The print runs are large, and décor-level quality is highly scrutinized. At LexJet, we’re excited to now offer Vescom Digital Media, some of the highest-grade and most environmentally sound PVC vinyls on the market.

A restaurant wall mural printed by Limitless Walls

Early users have been impressed with the production quality and consistency. “Having a product that’s very consistent is a big key for me,” says Mike Speeney of Limitless Walls in King, N.C., which prints up to 40 wall murals a week for commercial clients, designers and architects, and the general public.

“The durability is really important so you don’t have ripping or tearing,” Speeney says. “And, we’ve be using the Vescom Matte because you don’t want a glare with light bouncing back in your face like you would with a gloss finish.”

5 Ways to Grow Your Business with an Epson S-Series

If you’re considering adding a wide-format solvent printer to your operation, you’re on the right track to increase production and add lots of new capabilities. We sat down with our printer training pro, Michael Clementi, to learn five top ways that an Epson SureColor S-Series printer (S40600S60600 and S80600) can help you grow your business.

  1. It’s two printers in one. Particularly with the S80600, you’re going to see a major uptick in production speed. So much so, that it is like having two printers instead of one. The print speed is nearly doubled in comparison to older model solvent printers. Plus, you’ll see the consistent, photo-realistic/fine-art quality that Epson printers are known for.
  2. Quick-drying solvent inks. The new ink formulation that Epson has introduced with these printers are so quick-drying that you can now use a take-up reel and save space and time on waiting for ordinary solvent inks to dry. The UltraChrome GS3  inks are low-odor and nickel-free and produce an enhanced color gamut. So, you’ll print faster and with better results.
  3. More pinch rollers = more material options. With 40 individual media rollers with five independent pinch rollers, you’ll experience better control of the media you’re printing to. The additional rollers prevent the material from bunching, causing fewer head strikes. Try it with polyester or other fabric solutions.
  4. More applications, indoors and out. With solvent, you’ll not only increase the longevity of your outdoor print jobs (aqueous may last a year, solvent lasts five times that), but you can also branch out into other growing markets, like décor. The recently launched LexJet Premium WallPro line, for instance, is solvent-compatible. Even more benefits: Solvent materials and inks are less expensive than aqueous, and typically don’t require a protective coating. So, you’re getting savings on savings!
  5. Less maintenance. Any printer knows that maintenance is a time-sink and production-killer. Epson’s eco-solvent inks will save you here, as well, because they are far less harsh than aggressive, volatile hard solvent inks. Your printheads will thank you. “You’re looking at once a month maintenance, rather than once a week,” Clementi says. “We ran the S80600 for four months, maintenance-free, with no problems.”

Take an Early Lunch and Learn About Printers with LexJet

We’re hosting two educational webinars in July to help you decide which printer is the best for you and your growing business. We’ve teamed up with the pros at HP and Canon to produce these webinars, so register today to reserve your spot. Plus, when you attend a webinar, you’ll get extra savings on your purchase that you can pair with our monthly printer rebates.

HP Latex Webinar: Join us for a webinar with HP’s John Stevens to learn the latest about HP’s Latex printer technology on Thursday, July 13, 11 a.m. When you attend this webinar, you’ll save $1,000 on an HP Latex 315 Print & Cut bundle, HP Latex 335 Print & Cut bundle or HP Latex 570; or save $3,000 on an HP Latex 560. SIGN UP NOW

Canon PRO-Series Webinar: On Thursday, July 20 at 11 a.m. EST, you’ll discover the latest advancements in Canon PRO-Series printers and how they can help improve your output while simplifying your workflow. Attendees will receive an additional 5% off their PRO-Series printer purchase. SIGN UP NOW

If you’ve got questions, our LexJet printer specialists can help. Give us a call at 800-453-9538.