First... HP print heads are not 1/6 the cost of solvent. Our Seiko print heads cost $5,000 installed. Our Latex printheads are $130. So I can get 38.5 print heads for the price of one... and it takes all but 30 seconds to pop it in and get back on our feet once the quality degrades.
If you're a veteran who's been printing for 8+ years, you may not care. But if you're new to printing,.. you're bound to get head strikes. Even if you do everything perfectly, Banners tend to bunch up and rub... Certain reflectives do... Etc. So even in perfect conditions, your heads aren't going to last forever. Our solvent dealer said the average was 5 years, but he's seen them go up to 8. So.. lets do the math. 8 heads at 5K... that's 35K(We were offered a discount since it was in bulk!) per 5, or 8 years.
$583 per month at 5 years, $364 per month at 8 years.
Latex is about 6 cents a sqft for head use... So you need to run 9715 SQFT (15 full rolls of 54") or 6000 SQFT best case to break even just on head cost per month. When you get to that volume, I doubt Solvent heads will last 5-8 years. A lot of shops are into that volume...So for head cost alone, maybe for them solvent makes sense. Throwing out all the other benefits, at least.
I haven't done the cost estimates. But ink/maintenance/heads are roughly equivalent, or negligibly different cost wise comparing Latex / Solvent. yes... you can saturate your prints, drop 200% ink onto it... Thats a feature to get more vibrant / bright colors, it doesn't mean everything you print will use more ink. 90% of what we run is set to 80% ink. Reflectives like EGP / DG for road signs uses 140ish%. But solvents can't even print on them, so it's comparing apples to oranges.
media jams... I've been using a Latex 110 for a few years in my house, Maybe a jam here or there when trying to save media. My shop saw the quality, loved the prints and decided to ditch the Solvent for a Latex and bought a 560. I had head so many media jams on that thing and I couldn't figure out why... Then I noticed one of the vinyls I printed on seperated from the liner and left some glue on the heater... So everytime the media got to it, it'd stick and cause a jam. I've cleaned all the glue out now... and no jams at all. I wish I could get into the heater elements better to clean it properly, but I still consider it user error / stupidity.
I use Latex, Solvent, UV, Thermal, screen printing... They all have their uses. My favorite is Latex... It seems like it's Jack of all trades. But they all have their places, and honestly you can't go wrong with any of them. You just need to find whats best for your shop, and what you do.
The onlything I hate about Latex is how it can print on so many materials... My work load has doubled because we're screen printing less and less. We've stopped using our graphtec for 90% of low quantity EGP/DG signs also... So we're saving tons on material that way. Our 560 has paid for itself 5x over in the 2 months we've had it.