At the same time, the home user practically does not care about such things as speed, cost of a print, the convenience of replacing the cartridge and paper trays: at home, people, as a rule, rarely print, which is why inaccurate choice, even in the worst case, will result in small moral and material costs. All this allows a motley consumer market to exist with a bunch of imperfect devices, each of which is simply not capable of bringing a Big Disappointment into the house.
As soon as we leave for the corporate segment, the rates rise, and even in cases where the printing technique plays the role of one of the foundations of the process, a mistake in choice threatens to turn into disaster. The larger the business and the print format, the fewer insignificant issues remain in the choice of equipment. It is impossible to make a device that meets the requirements of all customers; the market is divided into segments, and the choice in each of them is not rich. The specialist knows all the "players" by sight: quite often, if you weigh and calculate everything, you have to choose between a couple of models, or even there is no choice at all.
Statistics show that around the world the ratio between color and black and white prints is constantly increasing in favor of color, not excluding large format printing in engineering and design work. In most companies, it is no longer possible to limit themselves to black and white printing. If so, specialists now have to make a more difficult choice, which often results in a "confrontation" between two technologies: thermal inkjet and LED printing.
Ink or powder?
Both technologies have known pros and cons. LED printing is inexpensive, allows you to print fine details and fine lines, provides uniformity and good quality of fills and, importantly, printed products can be immediately put into action. On the other hand, if fills of different degrees of intensity are printed simultaneously, it is difficult for the machine to find the optimal fusing temperature, and work in color is complicated by the difficulty of applying toner particles of different colors at the same point in the project. Finally, the real headache with electrographic printing comes from the fact that toner is a harmful fine powder. Especially harmful in industrial applications of printing technology.
As for thermal inkjet printing, here the difficulties in positioning dots of different colors are minimal, and the features of the technology allow you to print drawings and color images on one document without loss of quality. There is no harm to the lungs - the ink is liquid, but the liquid form of ink also turns out to have disadvantages typical for this technology: demanding on the medium, depending on the specific project, and, on average, the cost of the medium, which is much higher than with electrographic printing. In addition, the finished prints must be dried, and their use must take into account the low moisture resistance inherent in the technology.
Neither one nor the other
However, there is an approach that allows you to combine many of the advantages of the mentioned printing methods and neutralize their disadvantages. Océ has developed an Océ ColorWave 600 for large-format printing with an average workload of 6,000 to 70,000 square meters per year. The main feature of the CrystalPoint technology used in this printer is filling cartridges with solid spherical granules (TonerPearls)  … Each such "pearl", falling into the print head , melts there to a gel-like state. In this form, the toner enters the media, where it immediately solidifies again. Connoisseurs will immediately recall Tektronix solid-state printing technology, which is now owned by Xerox. Note that, at the same time, Xerox does not have large-format printers using this technology, and in addition, Océ's technology is its own development, which has significant differences.
The ColorWave 600 uses eight printheads at once, two for each of the four base colors. Gel-like droplets of toner on the media do not splatter or be absorbed like ink, but at the same time they are not a powder that pollutes the air and the printing system. This device is practically independent of the quality of the media and can even print on recycled material, which promises significant savings in operation. There is still one limitation on the type of media - glossy paper cannot be used. However, the print itself, due to the properties of the toner, has a pleasant semi-matt sheen, which casts doubt on the very need for glossy media. In extreme cases, you can use cold lamination, but it is cold, otherwise the low-melting toner will simply "flow". By the way, the haze of the applied image copes well with glare, and this is important if a large print - for example, a drawing - is supposed to be viewed from a close distance.
As for the image quality, it is excellent in the context of the task set at the beginning of the article: without losing productivity, to combine the ability to print drawings / texts and color images in one device. Color banding is minimal with the ColorWave 600 due to the use of waveform printing in multiple passes. Due to the high accuracy of the application of drops of toner gel in any of the printing modes, the effect of line distortion is also invisible. The device "draws" lines with a minimum thickness of 0.04 mm at a print resolution of 1200 dpi. The printer has solved the problem of nozzles that are not working, which can cause a thin white or colored line on the print, especially noticeable against the background of fills. A special hardware and software mechanism called PAINt monitors each nozzle failure, immediately compensating for the failure with the operation of adjacent nozzles. It should be borne in mind, however, that PAINt does not work with color printing in economy mode.
Since the semi-liquid phase of the toner in the ColorWave 600 is very short, the finished print can be used immediately, no drying is required. Toner is not ink dissolved in water, so the image captured on the ColorWave 600 is moisture-tolerant. It is also resistant to mechanical stress. There is, however, its relatively weak point - the toner is not very friendly with daylight: it fades in four weeks. When using prints externally, this period must be taken into account, although you yourself can easily find a lot of options for using finished printed products, when a month is enough: advertising for short promotions, posters, posters for exhibitions … The declared maximum length of one print is three meters (this is due to the operation of sensors that control the position of the image), although in practice it is possible to obtain prints of greater length, albeit without guaranteed adherence to the edges. The print width can be varied from 279 to 1067 mm.
In Economy Mode, the ColorWave 600 prints in 33 seconds in A0 color and another two seconds in black and white. Of course, the quality of the economy mode is not the height of perfection, but for many projects (for example, in CAD) it is quite acceptable, and the normal print mode (in Océ's terminology - "production") will satisfy the requirements of most projects. Print speed in production mode is roughly halved. If more requirements are imposed on the final project, then the highest quality will be provided by the presentation mode, which provides an A0 color image output in three minutes. That is, two times faster than thermal inkjet printing.
Who serves whom
In the case of the Océ ColorWave 600, the ease of maintenance of the printer, which, as we said before, does not play a big role at home, has been brought to a level where all related procedures become invisible in the background of the printing process itself. The versatility of CrystalPoint is expressed in its tolerance for many types of media, but the ColorWave 600 also has another quality that is no less important for companies using several types of media in their daily work. The device allows you to simultaneously load 6 (!) Rolls of different media on two- and three-inch cores, which greatly simplifies printer maintenance. With a material density of 75 g / m2 the length of one roll is limited to two hundred meters, at 160 g / m2 - a hundred meters. Of course, the media type can be switched automatically.
The Océ ColorWave 600 printheads are aligned once when the device is set up for the first time. The control software does not need to be installed on the client computer, since the configuration of all functions is available through the web interface, while the control panel on the printer allows you to get the necessary information right on the spot. The statistics collected by the management software provide accurate information about the toner consumption of each color, which in turn can be easily linked to the most important quantity in production: the cost of a page. Control over the filling of the cartridges is possible without software: cartridges are always visible and transparent, so that the remaining amount of toner balls of each color can be literally determined by eye . Such a design of cartridges can be considered almost childish - and yet it must be admitted that it is very original and, more importantly, practical. The balls, under the influence of their own weight, simply roll into the print head, and replacing the cartridge is an elementary operation that in some cases can be done without interrupting the job on the printer.
The hassle-free service of this printer is also in the fact that it supports all common file formats and interfaces, and the manufacturer is ready to offer you, in addition to the device itself, an integrated folding system, receiving basket and / or table. These and all other advantages of the ColorWave 600 have not gone unnoticed: on the international market, the device has received professional recognition and prizes, including the Good Design Award, Editors' Choice Award and the GRAPH EXPO award.
The combination of all the characteristics of this device makes it unique, and perhaps even irreplaceable, especially for 2D and 3D design tasks. In the same CAD system, complex projects are often subject to printing, containing sheets with different types of images, including those containing both graphics and text. You will need to vary both the media type and print quality for different prints. The ColorWave 600 does not have big problems with such complex printing, since printing is accompanied by automatic selection of a roll with the desired media, and the print mode also changes without human intervention. In addition, in CAD, you often need to print in draft mode, and the speed of two A0 sheets per minute proposed in the ColorWave 600 is very useful here. The fact that CrystalPoint technology is undemanding to the medium has already been said. Let's add only one thing: if you have to demonstrate to your bosses or a client an intermediate version of the project, then even when using far from the best paper, you will not have to worry that the color will be transferred incorrectly.
Of course, one should not say that Océ ColorWave has no competitors in its middle segment of large-format printers, of course, but the fact that there are no other machines with a similar type of printing in this segment speaks in favor of Océ. In this case, the originality of the product is supported by other advantages, which does not promise competitors a sound and restful sleep.
 Probably, it would be interesting to consider several devices working on similar technology, and at the same time from different manufacturers. But it so happens that there are simply no printers using solid ink in the middle segment of large-format printing.
 Océ itself prefers a different term: the imager. I don't know if there was a real need to breed entities, but there really are serious differences: the Océ ColorWave printhead is not a consumable item, as in inkjet printers, and its malfunctions are covered by the device warranty.
 Nobody bothers, however, without leaving the workplace, to apply for the same information to the web interface.