Roland's VersaUV LEC-540 can produce vivid UV-cured materials that can stand up to prolonged sunlight and harsh weather. It has a hefty price tag and limited compatibility, but it prints on an exceptionally wide variety of media.
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At $55,000, the VersaUV LEC-540 is one of the most expensive wide-format printers on the market. If it's too rich for your company's blood, you can opt for the $50,000 LEC-330, the 30-inch version. Either model can be leased over five years for $1,180 and $1,000 a month, respectively. The ink for the 540's 220- and 500-milliliter ink cartridges cost about half of what some of its competitors charge on a per-ounce basis.
Measuring 115.2 x 49.6 x 44.1 inches and weighing 500 pounds, the LEC-540 requires several people to install it. Plan on setting aside a corner of the office or a separate room to house it. It comes with a wheeled cart that includes a fabric print catcher.
The LEC-540's six printheads have a total of 1,080 nozzles that produce 1440 x 1440 dpi images. That adds up to just over 2 million dots of ink per square inch, well under the best in the business. Its piezoelectric inkjet system uses five different inks for cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and either white or clear-coat ink for specialty printing.
The LEC-540 has an unhurried pace, churning out up to 125 square feet per hour, which is one-tenth what many of its cohorts do. That translates to a D-size print (24 x 36 inches) roughly every three minutes. Its best output quality slows things down to a sluggish 42.1 square feet per hour.
The printer includes a copy of VersaWorks software, which uses PostScript 3 and Adobe's CPSI 3019 RIP engine to prep the images for printing. It includes Pantone color matching for getting the color just right, can work with ICC printing profiles and lets you check on ink levels remotely.
Roland provides software for only Windows systems, with 32-bit drivers for Windows XP Pro, Vista Business and Windows 7 Professional. In other words, there's nothing to run natively in Windows 10 or Mac computers.
Its Ethernet port is oddly out of date, with a wired Ethernet interface that runs at a top speed of 100Mbps, not the more common 1Gbps specification, and there's no USB port.
Ease of Use
Be ready for some intensive maintenance demands, including a cleaning kit that needs to be used every few months. The printer uses filters, cutting blades and wiper blades that require periodic replacement. Its waste-ink container needs to be emptied when the warning light comes on.
Able to work with media up to 54 inches wide, the LEC-540 leads the pack in the variety of materials it can print on, including rolls of real and synthetic papers, foils, plastics (like polyethylene and PET), fabrics, and vinyl and clear films. You can even use the LEC-540 with natural or synthetic leather. It can accommodate sheets or poster board stock of up to 1 mm thick.
It may be able to print everything from wine labels to snack food bags, but the LEC-540 can only accommodate a single roll of media. After the image has been laid onto the media, it passes under banks of LEDs that shine ultraviolet light on the print, curing the ink. A big bonus is that these lighting elements stay cool and will likely never need to be replaced.
Unlike many of its peers, the LEC-540 doesn't have a hard drive, meaning that it relies heavily on the computer it's connected to and every print must come from the computer. Roland doesn't offer an attachable scanner for the LEC 540, which could have transformed it into a wide-body multifunction printer.
Rather than a touchscreen, the LEC-540 gets by with a basic alphanumeric display. Its control panel is complicated and takes some getting used to, particularly if you're used to a more visual approach to controlling a wide-format printer.
Roland's two-year warranty for the LEC-540 is a step ahead of the competition's one year or less of coverage. Extending it another year costs $6,899, and you can only buy this extension within 60 days of your original purchase.
The company's online support is deep with articles for specific problems, along with firmware updates and directions on cleaning and calibrating the device. In addition to profiles for media and ink, the site has setup and installation guides, a thorough manual, and how-to videos.