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A tale of ‘like for like’ third party inks.

Paul Kearney back on track with Eco-Sol Max inks in his Roland VersaCAMMPaul Kearney back on track with Eco-Sol Max inks in his Roland VersaCAMMUK based WOWgrafix has seen a dramatic improvement in the performance of its wide format machine since going back to using Roland Eco-Sol Max inks in its VersaCAMM VP-540i. The company, which specialises in van sign writing, signboards, vinyl banners locally and nationally via its website, was approached a couple of years’ ago by a salesman offering a ‘like for like’ third party ink solution for the Roland machine at a very competitive price.

Says Paul Kearney, proprietor of WOWgrafix: “While we had never experienced any problems with Roland inks we were using, the price of the ‘like for like’ solution seemed too good to turn down. At the time, we had been looking across the business at where we could create savings, so the cost of consumables was an obvious area for these savings to be made.”

A sign of things to come

At first, Mr Kearney says, the inks seemed to work well, although, they did notice that one of the side effects were that the inks emitted a very strong odour. And, while the inks were branded as bio inks, which made them sound safer and gentler, they were, in reality, strong solvent-based and very corrosive on the machine’s parts.

Soon afterwards, WOWgrafix got its first signs of the problems to come: the heads started needing cleaning more often, followed by blocked nozzles and deflections. Then the cleaning cycles on the machine became so frequent it started impacting on production schedules. After this, the banding on the prints started.

“At this point,” continues Mr Kearney, “we weren’t aware it was the inks causing all the problems, so we called in a local engineer and we replaced cap tops and dampers (more than once), as well as the wipers. All this failed to solve the problem so the conclusion was that it had to be the inks.  When we spoke to our ink supplier, it turned out some of the inks had already been removed from the market, which immediately set off alarm bells.

“However, they assured us they could solve the problem and supplied us with new inks and sent out another engineer to change the dampers once again but the damage was now done to the heads. The supplier claimed it was down to wear and tear, but I knew it couldn’t be as the volume of work the machine does didn’t tally with the extent of the problems.”

Eco-Sol Max ink Eco-Sol Max ink Mr Kearney says every step of the way was a battle, and exasperated, he posted the problem on a sign maker’s forum. And, while this made the third party ink supplier take more action to assist, the banding problem continued and the recommended solution was that WOWgrafix should always print on high quality setting, which was just not practical from either a cost or production perspective. Soaking the heads every weekend for six weeks was also proposed and tried, but just led to the use of a lot of cleaning fluid with no improvement to the heads. The supplier finally agreed to replace two heads, but this still left two damaged heads in the machine.

When good service and support really counts

“Finally, we’d had enough” says Mr Kearney. “We invited Roland back in to see us. They replaced the other two heads, cap tops, dampers, and wipers – and made the machine factory new again. They flushed the system fully and correctly calibrated the machine, and put us back on to Eco-Sol Max inks. After the constant frustrations of the last nine months we were now back on track and it took Roland DG just a single day to fix all the problems. We now have a 12 month RolandCare warranty too for extra peace of mind. But the peace of mind really comes from knowing that when I turn up each day, the machine is going to work and I can service my customers.”

Mr Kearney says the whole experience of going to a third party ink supplier was a nightmare. So much time and money was wasted on cleaning, engineers, banding problems and inks. And when customers who have always been happy are then not happy with the quality of the work and start sending it back, the business begins to really suffer.  “It’s a salient lesson that saving money at the point of purchase might actually cost you down the line. You get what you pay for, that’s for sure.  The wide format machine is the sign makers’ life line to success, and it’s just not worth the risk of damaging this essential business equipment and customer relationships to ‘save’ a few pence per litre.

“Since we’ve moved back to Roland inks, business, and the machine, has been great. No banding, no break downs, happy customers and a productive business. I’m glad to be back with Roland,” Mr Kearney concludes.

For more information on Roland DG’s Eco-Sol Max inks, visit

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Case study on behalf of Roland DG

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