View Full Version : Roland Hi-Fi jet fj-50

06-18-2005, 03:30 PM
Does anyone here have a Roland Hi-Fi jet fj-50?
Or has anyone done research on one in the past & decided not to get it for reasons that I should know about? The reason I ask is that an opportunity has come along and thrown a wrench in some plans I had in the works to invest in some very expensive ink-jet technology. I have no doubt that the 60" Mimaki JV3 I've been planning on getting is a far superior machine & it also seems to be printing at a lower cost, but the overall expense or around 30K with cutter... & then the need for venting as well as purchasing a laminator... well it adds up to over $1000/month for 5 years. I feel quite confident that my current demand for digitally printed vinyl signs, decals & banners will translate into immediate sales for the shorter outdoor life prints from an ink-jet based on larger sizes & higher resolutions for the short to midterm outdoor durability demands of my clients. But knowing I will sell inkjet prints & knowing I will sell enough extra to support $1000.00 a month are 2 different things, so there is that little bit of fear and apprehension as I move closer to signing on the bottom line.

So, yesterday I ran across a guy who I knew used to do inkjet fine art reproductions & I asked how that was going. It turns out he had recently visited a company called Bulldog & not only tapped into a new resource for cheaper inkjet supplies & excellent service... but he also got a line on some 50" machines that were just refurbished for resale. He coordinated the sale for 2 of these machines to other fine art reproduction printers here on Maui, but when a third sale was almost a done deal... the machine was shipped to Maui & now that the deal fell through I was offered the opportunity to buy the last one. At $7,000.00 for the just-refurbished machine & $500.00 for the first set of 6 ink cartridges... it is a tempting offer. Last night I went over to my friends house to look at his machine again.(I had him do some art prints for my daughter their 3 years ago when she was visiting) It is the same printer, but his is 4 years old & still running flawlessly. He did a print on vinyl of my logo from the same file I had printed on the Mimaki in Honolulu & it looked just as good... so anyway, besides the fact that several folks here have had bad luck with Rolands service (or lack therof) instead of spending around $27,000 for a 60" Mimaki I have to decide if I should spend $7,000.00 for a refurbished Hi-Fi Jet FJ-50 (http://www.signmaking.com/hifijet-fj-50.html)

Fred Weiss
06-18-2005, 03:56 PM
Beautiful output but it is designed for pigment and dye based inks. You will have to use a different series of banners and films than you would with a solvent or ecosolvent printer. The inks used can be used out of doors but I wouldn't expect the life you'll get from the Mimaki, even with lamination.

Not sure how well it would work in print and cut applications but I'd imagine it does. Not sure if it can be adapted for the new white inks coming in either or if it can be refitted for ecosolvent.

To me, I would look at a printer like this as a great second printer but I think you'll be let down with it as your primary.

06-18-2005, 04:15 PM
Thanks Fred, I thought maybe I would grab it (as a "second" printer) while I can (like now or never)... get the Mimaki 60" cutter & a laminator... then when business comes in to the degree that I feel less nervous about the higher cost... I could move up to the "primary" printer at a later date.

I didn't know as much about the ink differences though, so that is an area I will try to get more information.

06-18-2005, 04:15 PM

Not sure where you heard about the poor support from Roland, but they probably have the best support out of all the Larger printer Manufactures out there IMO...

You may want to do some research, because I believe you can convert that machine over to Eco-Sol pretty easily. It will probably cost you a few thousand dollars, but it would be well worth it to get the extra duribility for outdoor prints.

06-18-2005, 04:30 PM
I was also wondering about where you heard of bad Roland tech support. If anything the bad service comes from independant supplyers and that applies to any brand of equipment.

No complaints here .. Have an SC-500 EX AND Camm1 24"

06-18-2005, 05:45 PM
most of that came from Letterville... but some came from my own experience. I think it's fair to say a few machines they put out did not perform as well as so many other better Roland machines & maybe the support suffered in reference to machines that it was difficult to keep everyone happy with.

Fred Weiss
06-18-2005, 05:52 PM
I think a lot of the bad support reputation came out of the ColorCamm customers. That system had a lot of problems.

06-18-2005, 06:12 PM
Hi Doug: Don't know much about the Hi-Fi jet but the 5 year finance option on the Mimaki sounds pretty scary to me. You must be pretty confident that the machine will last. It seems to me that inkjets generally run into solvent related reliability issues after a couple or three years. This hasn't been a problem up until now as a lot of the guys who got into wide format printing early have done well enough to retire their early, very expensive machines & have upgraded. With the proliferation of this technology margins will undoubtedly fall & thus it will become more difficult to generate profits to make you repayments. What are your options for farming the work out? - If your options are limited because of a lack of machines locally or slow turnaround times or crappy service, then definitely you need to look at exploiting this fast growing imaging segment. If however there's plenty of machine production capacity, well maybe you need to promote your design capability and then just farm out the printing?
I know plenty of sign shops that will not touch printing with a 40 foot pole and they're doing just fine. On the otherhand, there's a few that have basically retired their vinyl cutter and are also doing well. Contrary to reports, these machines, as well as bring a raft of new opportunities also bring a raft of new problems. Yes, ventilation is one but you'll also need a fair degree of temperature stabilisation in order to maintain colour consistency. Also, the media manufacturers are pretty slow to take the blame when something goes wrong. There is too much stuff outside their control. Tread carefully Doug. A big wide format printing company here went belly up recently and it's not hard to see why. The market is getting crowded and sq metre prices are falling. Some of the big-iron company's do OK but that's because they've got mega machines that run practically around the clock. They've also got good purchasing power and can afford big cash outlay when required to keep abreast of the technology. You may find yourself 36 months into a finance contract with a machine that's starting to become expensive from a maintainance standpoint and the guy around the block's just bought a machine and is starting to beat you up on prices. On the other hand you may start making so much money that you can pay the macine off in 18 months (recommended) and get a second printer. It's a decision for you alone to make.

06-18-2005, 07:30 PM
If you think you can afford the payments now id say go for it! Buy yourself a Mimaki or anyother competing printer. You'd be surprised at how much more work would come in because of it.

I presently have 4 print jobs lying on my tables and each of them are for 4 individual sign shops. It's also great at developing friendships with other shop owners in your area.

Id say 40 percent of my prints are for my own customers and 60 percent for other shops. Its great ... all you have to do is slight adjustments to artwork and print, clear and deliver :thumb:

06-19-2005, 05:53 PM
I recieved an email & hope the sender won't mind my quoting it so I can add his information to my request for feedback to help me with my decision. The info he provided is as follows:

I have an FJ-50 and I converted it to use mild solvent inks.
I had an encad before this (waterbased pigment) and I can tell you that as a signmaker, you'll definately be better off with a solvent ink system.
The conversion is fairly simple. You don't need to change printheads or dampers or internal tubes or capping station.
You just need a long life pump and change some tubing.
There's a lot of other thing to know too though!
If you decide to go this way, I'd be happy to assist.

As far as I know, there's not many other users out there running mild solvent hexachrome inks! But I am really happy with the results I'm getting.
I can print photo's straight to gloss vinyl that look just like an enlargement.
The printer will handle full 1370mm width banner stock.
I can print bumper stickers, fridge magnets, full color banners on uncoated material, vehicle wraps - anything that the Mimaki can, albeit slower.

So overall they're a good printer, but much more useful with mild solvent inks.

I sent him a reply asking his sq. ft. costs for printing on cast vinyl & his life expectancy (or actual real-life results) for laminated prints. I look forward to his reply & thought I'd add his comments to this thread, both for the future benefit of any search bringing up this topic, as well as any further feedback I might recieve based on this new information.

06-19-2005, 05:58 PM
Baz, I forgot to say I also appreciate your comments & am still leaning in the direction of making the Mimaki purchase next week as planned. The timing was so precise to catch me practically with my wallet out & bills in hand... that I had to stuff the cash back in my pocket & take a look at my options. The new info from a sign professional who has done the conversion also has me feeling obligated to examine the FJ-50 option very carefully.

I do intend to market my banner printing to all the other signshops & expect that a good amount of work would come my way from that wholesale offering.

What printer are you using Baz?

06-19-2005, 08:56 PM
Hi Doug.

I have an SC-500 EX .. I've had it for over 3 years now. It was converted to EcoSol (with heat assist) last year. The biggest downside to the printer was the original proprietary Sol Inks wich limited me to printing on coated media.

This was fine just three years ago since the cost per square foot was averaged at 8 bucks and up (8$ being wholesale to other shops). I was starting to get negative comments early last year about others being considerably cheaper .. at 5-6$ per sq. ft. Since i installed the upgrade to EcoSol i can print on uncoated media and compete with all others in price.

When i did my puchase i took it on a 5 year payment plan (along with Flexi Sign pro) and now have less than two years to go. My printer hasnt cost me anything in repairs. Other than a weekly 2-5 minute cleaning it hasnt required any other maintenance.

Next year im thinking maybee i will sell it for what i have left to pay on it and take on a newer model. A shop i used to do work for bought themselves a Mimaki JV3 late last year. Heck of a nice printer! But seing the prints in my hands and comparing them to my own, there is nothing in it to convince me of not bying another Roland printer cutter.

When you will have your printer in the shop you wont need to do much soliciting to other shops. Word will get around and you will start getting calls for wholesale print work.

01-21-2008, 11:07 AM
Need help please

I had converted my HIFI Jet 50 to mild solvent ink, by changing the head, the dampers, the capping and the pump.
My problem, after 15 or 20 cm correctly i have only the yellow color printed. After i have had setting the capping possition several time, now the six color are OK on test print.

I wondering to know if some body can help me ? if i might use lyson ecosol inks ? Thanks

01-27-2008, 01:15 PM
seems you would have to have a heater on them.to work good?

02-09-2008, 06:33 PM
I have got the heater, but it's not connect to the machine yet, because the seller didn't give me the sheme to plug the coponants. For me the heater is just to heats the medias when it's goes out, if you think it necessary to connect the heater to solve my problem. Does the heater heat the ink ?

02-25-2008, 01:31 PM
I have plug my heater but the problem it same, i have only yellow printing after 15 cm. I think the ink it not good. When i made the conversion it was for mild solvent ink and on the bottle that the seller gave me it's write solvent ink for roland SJ 540/640 and 740 EX series.