Look around new construction sites and you will spot plenty of Tyvek material. It is the plastic “wrap” that builders use to provide a moisture barrier on newly constructed homes and buildings. But, Tyvek has other uses besides wrapping new construction projects. It is also used for shipping envelopes (Think FedEx), luggage tags and even as an extremely durable print media. Canon Solutions America provides a version branded as Océ Tyvek Paper, but some users have complained about problems with printing on Océ Tyvek Banner Material. Once this is investigated, however, it usually turns out to be user error.
People tend to forget that Tyvek is a made of flash spun, high-density, polyethylene fibers. That means that Tyvek is basically a plastic sheet of print material. Standard LED/toner plotters simply run too hot for it. If you put Tyvek into one of these systems (i.e. Kip, Xerox, or Seiko), the Tyvek will melt all over the fuser rollers and you will have a big problem on your hands. At the very least, you will require a service call to have a technician clean the system if not change some parts. Either way, it will be a quite expensive service ticket.
Océ Radiant Fusion Machines are not quite the answer either
Océ LED/toner machines (PlotWave) use a different fusion process called radiant fusion. This method doesn’t rely on the traditional heat and pressure rollers of the pressure fusion process. Radiant fusion uses heating elements that energize exactly when needed. Unfortunately, this is still too hot and it will damage the Tyvek material and potentially damage the printer itself.
How Can I Print Wide-Format CAD or Map files on Tyvek?
Simply put, your options for printing on Tyvek are either an ink jet plotter or an Océ ColorWave Toner Pearl Printer. Ink jet is accessible enough and there are several different sizes available—24, 36 and 42 inch widths. If you pair the Tyvek with a pigment or UV ink, the resulting print will be extremely durable and able to tolerate even the harshest weather conditions.
If you want to step it up a notch, the Océ ColorWave systems are certainly more than capable of printing on Tyvek banner material. These machines use a completely unique process called CrystalPoint technology. Instead of an ink or powdered toner, the ColorWave 500 and 700 systems use solid TonerPearls that are liquefied by the machine and sprayed on the Tyvek paper. So, you get toner results from and inkjet similar process.
Tyvek prints from the Océ ColorWave 500 or 700 are some of the most durable prints you can get. They are impervious to water and wind. Many construction companies will print a “master set” of Tyvek plans to keep on a jobsite for safekeeping. There have even been some underwater salvage companies who have used ColorWave printed Tyvek sheets as schematics that divers can carry underwater for reference. That’s pretty impressive.
Tyvek is an incredible material that serves many purposes, one of which is being used as a strong and resilient print media. Just be sure and use the right type of printer.
- Traditional LED toner plotters are too hot for Tyvek
- Océ Radiant Fusion machines are also too hot to use Tyvek
- There are several sizes of Tyvek material available for both dye-based and pigment inkjet plotter printers.
- The Océ ColorWave Systems with CrystalPoint technology are the ultimate system for printing on Tyvek
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