Crystal gazing: the future of wide format colour printing?

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It’s not often I get animated about printing, but when I first saw Oce’s new CrystalPoint technology in action on YouTube recently I was genuinely excited – so much so I that immediately showed my girlfriend the video. She now thinks I’m genuinely ‘sad’.

This ‘sad’ individual has just got back from the official launch event at Oce’s headquarters in Venlo, Holland, so what is all the fuss about? Well, for starters, it’s the first new wide format print technology for a number of years and is designed to bridge the gap between inkjet and LED by offering full colour, faster colour print speeds, and there being no need for coated paper.

To do this CrystalPoint uses TonerPearls instead of inkjet ink or powder-based toner. Each TonerPearl is about the size of a small marble and is heated into a gel which is then jetted and crystallised onto plain or even recycled paper.

The first machine to bear this technology is the ColorWave 600, which Oce claims will beat any inkjet on the market when it comes to throughput. From what I saw today it is undoubtedly a fast technology, but image quality, while great for linework, fell a little short of my expectations for full colour – it’s good, but not photo inkjet quality.

It’s certainly a cool technology, and one that could have huge implications on engineering and architecture with the ability to produce colour prints in real volumes. However, I have to say I’ve calmed down a little since first seeing the video. This is undoubtedly a good thing for my relationship.

We’ll have a full review in the first issue of DEVELOP3D.


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