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VP700 Memjet Label Printer Review

VP700 Memjet Powered Label PrinterThe capability to be able to reliably print colour labels on demand has been a holy grail for many people for some time – check out my thoughts on the issue that I wrote here, for example.

At the moment, there are a lot of Memjet powered printers coming on the market, and I had the chance to check out one of the latest variants, the VP700 from VIPColor.

The printer is actually the same machine as the Afinia L801 printer. It is built by VIPColor’s parent company, Venture Corporation in Malaysia using the Memjet print engine – I’m told that Venture manufactures all the Memjet print engines, although I can’t verify this.

Anyway, what are my thoughts so far?

Out of the Box

The box in this case is a pallet – this is not to be confused with getting a new Zebra or Datamax printer , the package weighs about 120 pounds and needs to be delivered by the freight version of UPS. Unpacking the machine and lifting it onto a table is a two man job unless you are really rugged.

The packing job is pretty good and all the loose parts are located in cutouts in the foam packaging.

Setting Up

Getting the machine ready to use starts with removing the tape and cardboard that protects it during shipping. Once that’s done it is time to power up. The VP700 comes with 5 ink cartridges, Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and 2 Black ones. These are not the ink cartridges from your HP printer at home – each holds 250 ml and look as though they’ll last for a fair bit of use.Ink location for VP700 Printer

The ink cartridges are placed into their clearly marked slots and then the Memjet printhead itself is unpacked and put into place – a little fiddly to do, I was afraid of breaking something as it seems a little delicate. Once the printhead is located into place, it is well protected, though.

Once the ink and printhead are in place, the printer goes off into a “Printhead Servicing” routine. This takes quite a while and is a good time to go and get a coffee or check your email. The printer makes some inkjet like noises to remind you that it is still working and hasn’t forgotten about you! During this process, the little clear plastic tubes leading to the printhead get filled with the various coloured inks.

ID Man VP700

ID Man & Ben the Boston

While all this was going on, I loaded the printer driver (comes on a disc with the printer) onto my laptop and connect to the printer via the included (that’s a nice touch) USB cable. An Ethernet port is also standard on the printer if you need to add it to your network.

I also started to design my first label using BarTender, my label design software of choice. If you’re used to setting up labels in BarTender for thermal printers, the procedure is a little different because you need to first set the label size in the VIP driver, rather than in the label software.

Once set up, the label is ready to print.

Loading the Labels

Unlike the VIP 495 printer I tested a while ago, the VP700 has a proper built-in label unwind, not a separate assembly as on the older machine. Like the 495 though, the label needs to be presented to the start of the feed mechanism and it is grabbed by the rollers and dragged into the machine. I’d prefer to be able open the print area and thread the labels manually, probably because that’s what I’m used to. In any case, it sometimes took me more than one attempt to get the labels to feed properly into the machine.

Anyway, once everything is ready it’s time for some serious label printing…

Printing

Labels ready, printhead primed, BarTender ready – click on print and send labels to the printer.

Ah, wait a second – the labels are no longer loaded and the printer has a “No Media” error (I would have sworn I had loaded them!). Turns out that the VP700 has a feature which removes the labels from the machine if they have been sitting idle for too long. I spoke to the Tech Support guy and he said that the labels can crease if left under the printhead for a long time, causing a slight quality issue with the first label of the next print job. To avoid this, the labels are automatically removed. This can be overridden in the printer controls, which I think is how I’d set it.

What’s annoying with having to reload the labels is that I found sometimes they refuse to feed in and I have to reboot the machine to get things back on track.

Right, labels back in place, ready to go. I sent 5 labels and they printed nicely and were cut into individual labels by the built-in cutter. The only problem with this was that I had set the driver to not cut the labels like this. The cure was to make the change in Printer Properties in BarTender, which overrides the driver setting.

How did it print? Here’s a quick video…

The printing is great – fast (12 inches per second) and the quality (on inkjet compatible glossy labels) was very good. Just as with a home inkjet printer there are settings for different types of label material. So far I’ve only used the default settings and not had a chance to play with any of the options. I also found the print to be remarkably durable.

VP700 Memjet Printer - small parts

Small Inkjet Parts

It seems there are only 2 speed settings, 6 inches per second and 12 inches per second. I’ve mostly used 12 because it is cool to see colour labels be produced at high speed. Switching to 6 IPS does seem to give better print quality, especially when laying down large areas of ink. I believe that the when using the slower speed, the resolution changes from 1600 x 800 to 1600 x 1600 pixels which would explain the improvement.

 Conclusion

There is no question that the Memjet based printers are a huge advance over the traditional moving head type inkjet printers.

The VP700 printer is refined, quiet, very fast and gives good results. I’ve been doing a lot of test labels for interested clients and getting good quality printing is really simple. If the client sends me the label artwork as a PDF, I just open the file in Photoshop, make it the size I want and import it into a BarTender label. Really simple and the results are outstanding. I’ve been generally running the printer in the higher resolution 6 IPS mode to get the best quality.

Of course, the first question any potential purchaser of this printer has is “how much will the printed labels cost?” The VP700 has a nice utility included with the driver that monitors how much ink is used to print a particular label – enabling a good estimate of the cost to be put together.

Calculating ink Usage VP700 Memjet printer

Calculating Ink Usage

In this example, the label was 6 x 8 inches in size with almost 100% ink coverage. The cost per printed label is just under 9 cents each (Obviously, the price of the blank label needs to be added to this to get the total cost).

VP700 Printer Datasheet

Download the Datasheet

Like all Memjet printers, it has an 8-inch wide printhead and to me, that is its biggest drawback. It is rare for us to need to print labels that are more than 4 inches wide (although, I must admit that some of the test labels I’ve been producing have been 6 inches or so wide)  so the VP700 (and all the crop of current Memjet printers) is a much bigger beast than it needs to be.

Give me VP700 performance with a 4 (or 5) inches wide printhead, all mounted in a Zebra Xi4 chassis and I’d be very happy.

Having said that, the VP700 is a very good colour label printer, the best I’ve come across so far.

What I liked…

  • Industrial build quality (other than noted below)
  • Impressive speed and print quality
  • Simple controls
  • Works happily with BarTender

What I didn’t like…

  • Not made in USA
  • Lots of small, non-industrial looking, parts in the Memjet label feed area
  • The auto label feed feature which is a little painful at times

Would I buy one?

Yes I would, the VP700 isn’t perfect, but is the best I’ve seen so far!

What do you think? Have you had any experience with Memjet powered label printers? If you need to print colour labels in your organization, we’d love to help. Printers, applicators, labels – ID Technology is a leader in the labeling business.

Give me a call at 603-598-1553 x237 to get started!

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Comments

  1. April Webb says:

    My company produces binders so not only do we print labels but we also print flysheets. Can the VP700 print on paper?

  2. David Holliday says:

    Hi April, thank you for the comment.

    The VP700 was designed to work with labels, but it can be used for paper as well – assuming the paper is wound on a roll.

    We actually have a client who wanted to print labels, but also asked if he could use the same printer for printing brochures as well. Because the VP700 can print up to 8.5 inches wide, using a roll of glossy Memjet compatible paper material works quite well. The printer cuts the paper to the correct length after each print.

    Of course, if you need to print millions of the flysheets, you’d be better off using a printer specifically designed for that kind of job – there are some very fast sheet fed Memjet printers for example.

    Let me know if we can do any more to help!
    David

  3. Hello all KTEC GROUP based in the UK is a specialist distributor for VIPColor VP700 we have around 5000 installed colour label printer users many are Memjet printers (jan 2014) and lots of operating experience. We manufacture labels for ink jet printers in a choice of Matt or gloss paper as well as Matt, gloss and clear films, even one that survives under water after printing. Drop me an email if you have any need for advice.
    Robert Knox, MD KTEC GROUP UK
    Robertknox@ktecgroup.co.uk

  4. Hi David,

    To clarify your point the VP700 handles continuous media in widths ranging from 2″ wide up to 8.5″ wide. Our experience is that switching between widths is effortless.

  5. David Holliday says:

    Thanks Andrew. Yes, I agree that changing to different widths of material works well. I do still have some problems with getting the auto feed to grab the material and feeding it. I’d prefer to be able to just open the covers and feed the material through manually.

  6. Paul Willhite says:

    Hi David, I am looking at purchasing the VP700 for our company. My biggest concern is its volume capabilities. I am looking to print up to 2,000 labels per day. I know its fast enough, but in your opinion, is this printer designed to handle that sort of volume on a regular basis?

  7. David Holliday says:

    Hi Paul,

    From my experience with the VP700, 2,000 labels per day should be no problem with this machine. We’ve certainly run some much larger jobs, although we are not using our printer daily.

    Would you like us to get you in touch with our local folks in your area to help you with this?
    Cheers!
    David

  8. Reiner Honsch says:

    Hi David,
    you can desactivate the auto label feed feature by the EWS in Advanced settings . Shut off the Printer retract label idle time flag.

  9. David Holliday says:

    Thanks, I did finally discover that setting.
    We’ve had several VP700’s pass through here on the way to customers (and used ours for some nice labeling jobs) and I’m impressed with what this printer can do.

  10. I was wondering if your label printer prints on a poly bopp (polyester) label? Or just paper labels.

    Thanks,
    Bill Schroedle

  11. David Holliday says:

    Bill, there are synthetic labels available for the VP700 printer as well as paper ones.

  12. Roberta Bell says:

    Hi we import cleaning products and want to custom label the white containers they come in. We are looking at the VP700 as an option and have given custom label specs to a company to quote on. Our artwork is already designed, so would we need to upload that into the Bartender software and just print from there?

  13. David Holliday says:

    Roberta, there are a number of ways you can print your artwork on the VP700.
    If you have PDF files, you can print them right out of Adobe Acrobat or you can import into label software such as BarTender.

    On a couple of applications recently, I’ve got better results printing from Acrobat – BarTender seems to not be happy with some PDF files.

    For your labels, make sure your supplier quotes you MemJet compatible labels, not all inkjet coated label materials will work with the VP700 (or other Memjet based printers). We’d love to quote you for your labels, but the shipping costs to Australia obviously make this impractical.

  14. Stephen Craig says:

    I’m currently using single-ribbon thermal transfer on 0.75″ polypropylene labels for small bottles but I need to print two color labels for GHS compliance. I’m intrigued by the Memjet world however my small label width requirement seems a stumbling stone. Is it possible to print onto 0.75″ labels with Memjet and if so then how about polypropylene?

  15. David Holliday says:

    Stephen, I seem to recall that the minimum web width for Memjet printers is 1.5 inches. This is largely because of the location of the label sensor.

    Having said that, we have printed narrow labels by diecutting them on a wider web and printing a registration mark on the liner. Gets a little messy, but can be done.

    Another option is to use the 2-colour thermal transfer printer from CAB (use the second colour for the red border on the pictograms) or maybe the new QuickLabel printer that uses solvent inks – the inks used by Memjet are not going to be as durable as your current thermal transfer, even on synthetic labels.

  16. Stephen Craig says:

    Thanks for the response David. After doing some reading and talking to a few vendors, your proposed idea of die-cutting on a wider web does look like it may be our best bet (read: only hope) for printing 0.75″ labels on any Memjet. The Kiaro! printers allegedly handle smaller labels though. Aren’t those Memjet as well?

  17. David Holliday says:

    The Kiaro! printer uses a similar print system to Memjet but from a different manufacturer.

  18. SHEETAL MINHAS says:

    Hi!! Everybody,
    This is Sheetal Minhas, based at Vadodara , Gujarat (India). We are having screen printed specialty labels mfg. firm. We want to expand our business , hence looking for some fast label printer. It seems VP700 is the one which I should buy.
    I request you all to kindly let us know the resellers for the same from your respected countries, so that we can approach them. This product is not available here in india.
    you can msil me at focusmktg@gmail.com

    Regards,

    Sheetal Minhas

  19. David Holliday says:

    Sheetal:

    Your best bet might be to contact VIP Color in Singapore.

    VIP Color Technologies
    5006 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5
    #05-01/12 TECHplace II
    Singapore, 569873
    Tel: 65 6482 1755

  20. Stephen,
    The Kiaro! can print on labels that are .75″ wide in a single up configuration. No need for multiple across configuration. It uses similar technology but not a Memjet head. The Kiaro! prints at 8″ per second at 1,200 dpi. Memjet heads print at 6″ per second @ 1600 dpi and at 12″ per second at 800 dpi.

  21. Gian Kurmann says:

    Hi David,

    looks like I’m resurrecting an old thread, but I was just wondering if you are still using this printer and can comment on it’s lifespan and longevity? We have been using an Epson BD-500n with iTech Axxis finisher but disappointingly the Epson only lasted 3 1/2 years (of relatively light duty) and is now cactus.

    We need to replace the printer ASAP and this seems to be the best fit, out of what is available in Australia.

    Also, any comments on how often the Memjet head (and/or and other major consumable) needs replacing and the durability of the ink would be of great help in making a decision.

    Kind regards from Australia
    Gian Kurmann

  22. David Holliday says:

    Hi, Gian – thank you for posting here.

    It has been a while since we’ve done much with the Memjet system. We’ve certainly sold a number of them (VP700) and some have been successfully used for a number of years. We also used to have a Memjet printer, combined with a digital finishing system in one of our label plants, but I don’t think it is in use these days. Today, we use HP Indigo for the digital labels we produce and also have Domino inkjet system for variable info on a couple of our flexo presses.

    While we sell a lot of printer applicators and other labelers, colour printing at the point of labeling hasn’t really taken off here – we pretty much alway stick to conventional thermal printers.

    The inks used by Memjet are water based, so the print isn’t that durable. If used for wet or chemical (GHS) labeling, you’d need to laminate the labels.

    Sorry, I can’t be more helpful.

  23. We just started using the VP700 printers for productions labels and are having a problem when loading new stock, if labels are currently printing. Once the label stock is loaded, the spooled file that was printing remains in “Paused” status until someone clicks “resume” from the print server. Have you heard of this happening? If so, does anyone know of a resolution?

  24. David Holliday says:

    Hi Linda, I’ve not used a VP700 for a while, but I seem to recall starting printing again by pressing the pause button on the front of the printer. If you think yours is misbehaving, you might want to contact VIP support.

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