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HP Stitch S300/S500/S1000

Aiming to cause a stir in the growing textile market, HP has launched the HP Stitch series of dye-sublimation printers. Brian Sims picks apart all three of the latest machines

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The HP Stitch S1000

A needle and thread

As we know with a lot of the production required by a demanding client base, there is the need to produce one of any product and all the complication that brings. Whilst this can be time consuming and troublesome, and not least costly, the issue of colour matching is not high on the agenda. That is not to be said colour needs to so far off the client’s idea it is rendered useless, but in a row of one, any colour changes are not going to be seen.

However, when the client requires two or more of a product, and they are to be collectively displayed, any changes across the production run are going to be embarrassingly obvious to the most naïve of consumers.

Adding to the complication, should you be a dye-sublimation printer, you will be painfully knowledgeable in the process of colour reproduction on fabrics can add additional challenges.

So, that is the issue, what is the solution? HP would suggest it has one, having recently released a new family of printers where the bold claim is made that colour reproduction can be controlled with an average Delta E of 1 and of 1.5 across 95% of colours.

HP has recently shown to the world three printers, the HP Stitch S300, S500 and S1000, dye-sublimation printers that will provide accurate and vibrant colour reproduction on a large number of substrates. Designed for companies that are looking to enter this market or up to dedicated fabric printers wanting super wide output, one of the three will suit your needs.

The HP Stitch S300

So, how do they feel so confident the rather demanding claim of colour variation can be assured? Well the answer lies in the fact the new printers from HP come, for the first time, with a built in Spectrophotometer.

We all know that colour can be subjective, what can be a ‘bluey yellow’ to one person can be a ‘yellowy blue’ to another. There is only one way to void the argument, which is to objectify decision and turn the problem into numbers. In doing so there is no argument; you have agreed the colour values with a customer and then reproduce that time and time again.

Whilst the ability to deliver the colour of a product a client wants is important, the second reason for the value of a USP being a built-in Spectrophotometer is the fact a batch of printers installed in a factory will be producing the same colour throughout the production run across all of the machines. Supporting the Spectrophotometer is a clever device call Optical Media Advance Sensor (OMAS) which actually deploys the information gathered from the colour inspection system.

HP has seen there is a market for a printer that can hold colour to tolerances that were previously the domain of a lithographic press

HP has seen there is a market for a printer that can hold colour to tolerances that were previously the domain of a lithographic press. In doing so, depending on your production needs, the Stitch S300, S500 or S1000 will deliver your promises.

HP has not only seen the benefit of being able to reproduce colour across both products and machines, they have also invested a significant amount of time and energy to ensure the setup of the any of the machines is as efficient as possible.

HP Smartcolor ensures you can confidently ensure any machine in your fleet is printing to the same colour, but this system can also help a printer produce colours outside the colour gamut with PANTONE emulation software. These colours can be produced and selected on screen without the need for producing a trial sample, further improving workflow.

These colours can be produced and selected on screen without the need for producing a trial sample, further improving workflow

The final aspect of the HP Smartcolor is the claim that not only is the software capable of accurate colour reproduction but the establishing of the colour profile can be done in almost 50% of the time needed for a comparable product. Profiles can be produced directly or use finished profiles downloaded from your cloud-based library. 

So, what divides these three machines? Basically, it is the volume of production you desire.

At a base level, the Stitch S300 and S500 both have the capacity to take rolls of substrate width from 580mm to 1,625mm (23 to 64?) whereas the S1000 can take a roll of quite gargantuan size, 635mm to 3,200mm (25 to 126?) wide.

The three printers make up the whole HP Stitch Series

Quite clearly the S1000 can produce a vast amount of printed material at a value of 320sq m/h in single pass Max Speed mode, basically done due to the width of the printer. The S300 and S500 are pretty much the same machine as to the architecture of the base design, but the S500 has eight HP Thermal Inkjet heads over four in the S300, it is this aspect of the specification that ups production levels.

The configuration of colour being four black/cyan and four magenta/yellow in the Stitch S500 and two black/cyan and two magenta/yellow in the Stitch S300 and S1000. The S300 and S500 both can produce images with a 1,200 x 1,200dpi resolution and the S1000 1,200 x 600dpi.

Regardless of the machine you have selected, the heart of the machine is the tried and tested HP product, the aforementioned Thermal Inkjet system. All machines have the Smart Nozzle Compensation which changes the deployment of the ink should a nozzle become blocked. By doing so, the image can be reproduced accurately and sustainability whilst the head recalibrates and compensates for the blockage.

Should there be an issue where the printhead needs to be changed, for the first time to reduce downtime and increase efficiently, the operator can change the print head itself, getting the machine back to optimum condition quickly.

To maintain the various levels of production across the range of printers, they obviously have the relevant ink reservoirs; the S300 has a cartridge size of 775ml, three litres on the S500 and a voluminous ten litres to ensure production is kept up to speed.

Obviously there is no point in having accurate colour by the bucket load, if the substrate you are printing on is not kept in optimum condition and feed rate.

The Stitch S300 and S500 can take the 64? rolls as discussed with features such as an all-in-one design for both transfer paper and fabric, all machines can accomplish both. To reduce the footprint of these machines, they come with a front loading design, reducing space requirements.

Obviously the Stitch S1000 is a totally different beast – given its size – it has the capacity for rolls up to 300kgs but has single operation tools making the loading of substrates easy and once loaded a spreader system that rolls out even the smallest of wrinkles.        

Inkjet technology is now embedded and capable of deep vibrant colour reproduction, the introduction of this new line up of printers from HP ensures the colour matching across machines or products can be equally assured.   

Brian Sims principal consultant, Metis Print Consultancy,

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