What is the difference between latex printing and eco solvent printing?

3rd May 2017

While the introduction of eco solvents may have overcome one of the major disadvantages of solvent printing and can now be classed as environmentally friendly, it is difficult to avoid the fact that where HP Latex printing is concerned, it is not just eco-friendly, but it is also more user-friendly. Better still, latex printing can now be used in a much wider range of applications, such as wallpaper, soft signage, etc.

Latex printers are gaining market share

More and more commercial printing companies are turning to HP Latex printers, which perhaps explains why so many printer campaigns are making direct comparisons between eco-solvent and HP Latex printing. If proof of the popularity of HP Latex printers is needed, then IDC’s Low-volume Sign Market category has HP Latex at the top of the list of printers ever since the HP Latex HP300 was released.

Entwistle Group's own experience of Latex printers

Here at Entwistle Group we are also able to speak from a position of authority and experience, as we have recently run a couple of highly successful Show Days where we demonstrated the effectiveness of our HP570 Latex printer. If one aspect left a particularly remarkable impression, it was the speed at which ‘end products’ could be produced. With HP Latex you are talking about the same number of hours to produce Latex prints as it takes days to produce eco-solvent prints. Four days can’t compete with four hours!

So why the big disparity? How can HP Latex printing be so much faster? What is so user-friendly about HP Latex machines that is making them so popular? Perhaps it would be easier to explain by means of a direct comparison between eco-friendly solvent printing and HP Latex printing.

Comparing latex technology with eco solvent printers

  • For those of you who aren’t aware, latex inks are so called as the ink pigment is contained within latex. Ink drying time is fast as the printers have a curing process. This means that the minute the printed item comes ‘off the press’ it is ready for use. With eco-solvent printing, while the printing process may take the same amount of time, the printed medium has to undergo de-gassing to get rid of toxic fumes and to allow the ink to dry. Only then can the printed medium be laminated to protect the surface. It is not uncommon to have to wait up to four days to receive eco-solvent printed products.
  • Latex inks are durable and scratch resistant. This avoids having to go through the lengthy and costly laminating process. If you are printing for a customer, rapid turnaround is one of the greatest guarantees of repeat business – ‘same day delivery’ is a huge attraction for local businesses, aside from the obvious quality.
  • No need to prime certain media. Printing direct to canvas is popular in the commercial art world. Where HP Latex is concerned, the canvas does not need to be sealed first and can be direct-printed. For eco-solvent inks, these will soak into the canvas if it is not pre-sealed, which is another time-consuming and costly process. The range of materials appropriate for HP Latex printing now includes, but is definitely not limited to, paper, plastics, textiles, vinyl, wallpaper, film and canvas.
  • HP latex is a ‘safe’ print ink. The lack of noxious odours and fumes not only means you don’t have to have a dedicated and well-ventilated space for the printer, but it can produce printed items which can be used in sensitive environments, such as hospitals, dentists, nurseries and schools. This is why wallpaper has also become such a popular option for the HP Latex printing system.
  • ‘User friendly’ also extends to maintenance of HP Latex printers. Unlike their eco-solvent counterparts, HP Latex printers have an inbuilt and automatic self-cleaning system that only requires the occasional change of the maintenance cartridge. This also limits ‘down time’. Most eco-solvent printers have a daily, weekly and monthly cleaning and maintenance schedule, which is not automatic either. Time is money where man or woman hours are concerned!
  • Some of you may be wondering if it is a good idea to change from what you know works for you – eco-solvent-printing. We’d suggest you check out the quality of the printing. Now to be strictly fair, we’d suggest you check out the quality of an eco-solvent printer with a three-moth-old printer head compared to a three-moth old HP Latex printer. Why? Because not only is HP Latex printing of the very finest quality, but it is also consistent. There is no drop-off in quality between the first and last item in any print run, month after month. The reason behind this lies with the printer heads of both systems. For an eco-solvent printer, the normal piezo printhead will have 180 nozzles per inch and they get worn out and damaged, requiring costly replacement. The HP Latex printhead has 1200 nozzles per inch and they don’t wear out the same way, they are easier to clean, and a constantly running algorithm means if any nozzle gets damaged or blocked, it can be immediately substituted.
  • Every print coming off an HP Latex printer will look as good as when the print head was brand new.
  • If you are into printing high volumes, then running costs become even more critical. Latex ink will cost around £85.00 for a 775ml ink cartridge, while a Roland Versacamm ink will cost £82.00 for a 440ml carOpen tridge. Add to this the fact that there is usually a 10-15% wastage of ink when cleaning an eco-solvent printer when compared to the HP Latex printer, and further savings will easily be made.

If you haven’t had the chance yet to check out HPs new Latex printers, then you have a treat in store. So, your next step is to come and see us here at the Entwistle Group or get in contact to arrange a demonstration. Don’t just take out word for how good HP Latex printers are compared to eco-solvent printers, come and see for yourself!

We also supply a wide range of medias, cartridges and accessories for your print and latex machines and have branches in ManchesterBradfordMiddleton and Warrington.