Inkjet Print Head Showdown: Finding the Perfect Match in the UV Printer Jungle

For many years, Epson inkjet printheads have held a significant share of the small and medium format UV printer market, particularly models like the TX800, XP600, DX5, DX7, and the increasingly recognized i3200 (formerly 4720) and its newer iteration, the i1600. As a leading brand in the field of industrial-grade inkjet printheads, Ricoh has also turned its attention to this substantial market, introducing the non-industrial grade G5i and GH2220 printheads, which have won a portion of the market due to their excellent cost performance. So, in 2023, how do you choose the right printhead in the current UV printer market? This article will give you some insights.

Let's start with Epson printheads.

The TX800 is a classic printhead model that has been on the market for many years. Many UV printers still default to the TX800 printhead, due to its high cost-effectiveness. This printhead is inexpensive, typically around $150, with a general lifespan of 8-13 months. However, the current quality of the TX800 printheads on the market varies considerably. Lifespan can range from just half a year to over a year. It is advisable to purchase from a reliable supplier to avoid defective units (For example, we know Rainbow Inkjet provides high-quality TX800 printheads with a replacement guarantee for defective units). Another advantage of the TX800 is its decent printing quality and speed. It has 1080 nozzles and six color channels, meaning one printhead can accommodate white, color, and varnish. The print resolution is good, even small details are clear. But multi-printhead machines are generally preferred. However, with the current market trend of increasingly popular original printheads and the availability of more models, the market share of this printhead is decreasing, and some UV printer manufacturers are leaning towards entirely new original printheads.

The XP600 has performance and parameters very similar to the TX800 and is widely used in UV printers. However, its price is about double that of the TX800, and its performance and parameters are not superior to the TX800. Therefore, unless there is a preference for the XP600, the TX800 printhead is recommended: lower price, same performance. Of course, if the budget is not a concern, the XP600 is older in production terms (Epson has already discontinued this printhead, but there are still new printhead inventories on the market).

tx800-printhead-for-uv-flatbed-printer 31

The defining features of the DX5 and DX7 are their high precision, which can reach a print resolution of 5760*2880dpi. The print details are extremely clear, so these two printheads have traditionally dominated in some special printing fields. However, due to their superior performance and being discontinued, their price has already exceeded one thousand dollars, which is about ten times that of the TX800. Moreover, because Epson printheads require meticulous maintenance and these printheads have very precise nozzles, if the printhead is damaged or clogged, the replacement cost is very high. The impact of discontinuation also affects lifespan, as the practice of refurbishing and selling old printheads as new is quite common in the industry. Generally speaking, the lifespan of a brand-new DX5 printhead is between one and one and a half years, but its reliability is not as good as before (since the two printheads circulating on the market have been repaired multiple times). With changes in the printhead market, the price, performance, and lifespan of the DX5/DX7 printheads do not match, and their user base has gradually decreased, and they are not highly recommended.

The i3200 printhead is a popular model on the market today. It has four color channels, each with 800 nozzles, almost catching up to the entire TX800 printhead. Therefore, the printing speed of the i3200 is very fast, several times that of the TX800, and its print quality is also quite good. Moreover, as it's an original product, there is a large supply of brand-new i3200 printheads on the market, and its lifespan has greatly improved compared to its predecessors, and it can be used for at least one year under normal use. However, it comes with a higher price, between one thousand and twelve hundred dollars. This printhead is suitable for customers with a budget, and those who require a high volume and speed of printing. It's worth noting the need for careful and thorough maintenance.

The i1600 is the latest printhead produced by Epson. It was created by Epson to compete with Ricoh's G5i printhead, as the i1600 printhead supports high drop printing. It's part of the same series as the i3200, its speed performance is excellent, also having four color channels, and the price is about $300 cheaper than the i3200. For some customers who have requirements for the lifespan of the printhead, need to print irregularly shaped products, and have a medium-to-high budget, this printhead is a good choice. Currently, this printhead is not very well-known.

epson i3200 print head i1600 print head

Now let's talk about Ricoh printheads.

The G5 and G6 are well-known printheads in the field of industrial-grade large format UV printers, known for their unbeatable printing speed, lifespan, and ease of maintenance. Specifically, the G6 is the new generation of printhead, with superior performance. Of course, it also comes with a higher price. Both are industrial-grade printheads, and their performance and prices are within the needs of professional users. Small and medium format UV printers generally do not have these two options.

The G5i is a good attempt by Ricoh to enter the small and medium format UV printer market. It has four color channels, so it can cover CMYKW with just two printheads, which is much cheaper than its predecessor G5, which needs at least three printheads to cover CMYKW. Besides, its print resolution is also quite good, although not as good as the DX5, it's still slightly better than the i3200. In terms of printing capability, the G5i has the ability to print high-drops, it can print irregularly shaped products without the ink droplets drifting due to high height. In terms of speed, the G5i has not inherited the advantages of its predecessor G5 and performs decently, being inferior to the i3200. In terms of price, the initial price of the G5i was very competitive, but currently, shortages have driven up its price, putting it in an awkward market position. The original price has now reached a high of $1,300, which is seriously disproportionate to its performance and not highly recommended. However, we look forward to the price returning to normal soon, at which time the G5i will still be a good choice.

In summary, the current printhead market is on the eve of renewal. The old model TX800 is still performing well in the market, and the new models i3200 and G5i have indeed shown impressive speed and lifespan. If you pursue cost-effectiveness, the TX800 is still a good choice and will remain the mainstay of the small and medium-sized UV printer printhead market for the next three to five years. If you are chasing cutting-edge technology, need faster print speed and have an ample budget, i3200 and i1600 are worth considering.

Post time: Jul-10-2023