This last year HP released it’s 3rd generation latex printer. Since HP released their first generation latex printer, the HP L25500, they have rocked the sign and graphics industry. Fast curing, non-toxic printing with a wide range of other benefits. The latest release, the HP 300 series gave consumers more options, starting with a minimal printer, the 310, a medium duty printer the 330 and their high performance printer the 360.
This last year, we were one of those printing companies that needed a 2nd printer. We had previously purchased an L26500, now called the L260, and were deciding on wether to purchase a new 300 series printer, or buy a used L260. I’m sure many other print shops are or were in the same boat.
The obvious benefits of purchasing a used L260 are:
- Color matching would be easy
- Same inks, same parts
But then the Latex 360 had it’s greater selling points:
- Faster warmups
- Non-scratching inks
- Faster production
- 8″ Touch screen display
- LED Backlit printing enclosure
- Up to 64″ media
- Built in Spectrometer for color profiling
So we did it. We bought the best, the Latex 360. It’s a beautiful piece of printer, the nicest looking I’ve seen. Overall, we are pleased with our decision, but there are a few things that have been a disappointment. First, let’s go over what we are really pleased about.
First, the overall operation is nice. The touch screen display is nice and the manual is built into the printer so that the operator can read everything directly from the touch screen.
Second, the print width is great. We’ve already taken advantage of the new print width, printing on 62″ banner material.
Thirdly, the scratch resistant inks are really nice. The prints really are scratch resistant.
Fourthly, the built in spectrometer is cool. But there have been some cases where we should have just stuck with the stop HP profiles.
Fifthly, the printing is faster, kinda. Where you have a long job to print, such as a long nesting of banners, printing is super fast, especially since banner printing using 6-Pass printing is super fast, and the print quality is super high.
Sixthly, the maintenance upgrades are brilliant. Instead of replacing multiple ink maintenance items, the funnel, the ink maintenance cartridge and the ink container, everything is combined into the ink maintenance cartridge. That’s it. You only have 1 thing to replace (besides print heads of course).
Seventhly, The 1.5 minute warmup time is AMAZING! The L260 takes so long to warmup. The 360 really shines in this area.
Ok, so let’s talk about some of the bad things.
Firstly, for some reason it’s much harder to load. It’s not nearly as easy to feed media into the L260 for some reason. The media hangs up almost every time we try to load.
Secondly, the take-up reel is our main issue and it’s kind of a big one. The take-up reel on the L260 utilized light sensors. The new 360 uses pressure, meaning you HAVE to use the tension bar for every print. And because you have to use the tension bar to print, it makes attaching the print to the core really tricky. The expectation is that you waste the first 6-8 ft of every print. With the L260, you only needed to tack it to the core once the print got low enough. The tension bar was always optional. Now it’s mandatory.
Thirdly the take-up spindle is made to fall out whenever you try to slide off the core. In the past you could just unlatch it and pull it out just enough to slide off the core. Now it falls off.
Fourthly, the printing is faster only when you can do a long continuous print. However, in our shop, most of our printing involves dozens of 3ft jobs of decals. The L260 takes on this kind of task well since it doesn’t cool down between prints. The printing is almost continuous, one job to the next. However, the new Latex 360 has a long cool down time between jobs. So there really isn’t any speed increase for our workflow, unless we are printing banners.
Fifthly, on the L260 it was really easy to advance or retract the media at any point in the operation with a stationary button. However, with the 360, you have to go into the substrate menu in order to move the media.
Overall, we are pleased with our decision. There are a few things that we think could have been made better, but it is a nice printer. Having 2 printers has been a great move for our company, and it’s nice having the latest in HP Latex printing technology.
If you have any specific questions about the printers, ask below!