HP Designjet Z6100 Photo Printer Series

2007 has been an interesting year for water-based printers, even though all the new fancy printers (Canon iPF5000 and HP Z2100 and Z3100) already came out in 2006. The first question was, what is the 12-color version going to be like? Will this be the HP Designjet Z8100 photo series? But instead of offering a 12-color HP Designjet Z printer, what appeared was an 8-color Z6100.

Color Management and ICC color profiles on the HP Designjet Z6100

Canon has the initial advantage because their iPF9000 came out first. Plus the Canon iPF9000 offers 12 ink channels (the Z6100 only 8).

But HP is ahead in color management. HP is also advanced in web-based access to its printers. This means remote access to HP Designjet software (firmware).

Canon now has a large installed base of their 60” iPF9000; mostly companies that previously had Epson or Encad printers, and a few that already had older HP machines. The lack of speed of the HP Z6100 will be an issue in comparing this with the faster Canon iPF9000, so HP will work hard at making this up with other features, namely color management.

HP Designjet Z6100_1
HP Designjet Z6100 Photo Printer Series.

For cost and price comparisons of the HP Designjet Z6100

For cost and price comparisons we will have to wait until the Z6100 printer becomes better known. The first comments people have reported are that “the HP Designjet Z6100 takes a long time to turn it on, and also a long time for the printer to turn off” due to all the complex software and features.

Will the HP Designjet Z6100 sell as well as the HP 5000 + HP 5500?

The HP 5500 and 5000 were essentially identical, so we treat them as one model. HP sold more of this printer than any other manufacturer sold a printer of 42” or over. Most estimates are “over 100,000.” Some estimates are higher. HP naturally hopes to sell as many of the Z6100.

But times have changed: first, eco-solvent printers have taken a segment of the market. HP has no eco-solvent printer (only a mild-solvent, the HP 9000s version of the Seiko and the HP 8000s). There are no full-scale FLAAR Reports on these printers because we have been more interested in newer technologies such as Intelligent Interweaving on the Mutoh Rockhopper 3 Extreme (eco-solvent) and Mutoh Spitfire Extreme (mild-solvent). Our experience and access to these comes from one week at the Mutoh Europe factory in Belgium.

Front view of HP Designjet Z6100 printer
HP Designjet Z6100 in HP booth at FESPA 2007.

A modest competition for the HP Z6100 is the forthcoming 64” Epson printer. This is already being discretely shown and is already widely talked about. Actually there are two: one is water-based the other is eco-solvent.

A more active impact on future sales of the Z6100 is that MacDermid ColorSpan has developed an ideal UV-curable inkjet replacement for the HP 5000 and HP 5500. ColorSpan ads specifically mention those HP printers as the kind of printshop that their ColorSpan 5440uv series is appropriate for. FLAAR has been at the MacDermid factory to inspect this ColorSpan 5440 UV printer and our reports are readily available on our Wide-format-printers.NET in the link to UV printers at the right. This ColorSpan printer is easy to use and far more versatile than any water-based or any eco-solvent printer. This is why FLAAR has evolved to devote more coverage to a wider range of printers than we did in the years 2000-2005, the prime years for sales of the HP 5000+5500. In those earlier years we featured primarily the HP models because that is what we had years of experience with due to having them in-house and hence available to learn how effective these Designjet printers were in those days.

Closer view of HP Designjet Z6100 Photo Printer Series ink case
This is the HP Designjet Z6100 Photo Printer.

The HP 5000 and 5500 were real work-horses. FLAAR was able to document this because we had two of them at our facility in the US and one at our facility in Guatemala. So we could write about them first-hand. Thousands upon thousands of people read the FLAAR Reports on these printers. We have stacks of e-mails from people who said they selected their HP 5000 or 5500 after reading a FLAAR evaluation. Our comments were available during the over 4-year reign of this printer on the “best seller” charts. We still use this model daily.

But there are no FLAAR Reports on the HP Z6100 whatsoever, we don’t have one (much less one at each of our offices), and our staff has been occupied worldwide testing and evaluating the ColorSpan, Mutoh, Sepiax, latex, and all the other models of UV and solvent that are replacing old-fashioned water-based ink printers. Two of us were at the Zund printer world headquarters, demo rooms, and factory in Switzerland three weeks ago. Indeed this page is written in Meredith, NH, en route to spend another entire day in the VUTEk factory evaluating their QS2000 and QS3200 uv-printers.

After-market replacement inks for the HP Designjet Z6100

One way to save money during the current economic climate is to skip OEM ink and use a good third-party after-market replacement ink. In previous years when we had full-time projects evaluating HP printers we used only original HP inks. But these projects were phased out and in the intervening years we have noticed that more and more printshops were asking us about where they could obtain reliable after-market replacement inks.

So, as is typical of the FLAAR Reports, we made the effort to find an ink company which has enough experience with ink chemistry to have already brewed a good replacement ink. So FLAAR inspected this company in Singapore in May 2010 and then inspected several printshops that were using this ink on a daily basis. So we can now report that Sam-Ink is a reliable company and that end-users appreciate their low price and good quality after-market inks for the HP Z6100.

This is the bulk-ink system for the HP Z6100 at Sam Ink factory visit.

Where to find an HP Designjet Z6100 printer

The advantage of a place that offers both Epson, HP, and Epson is that they can provide some tips on the differences. If a store sells only one brand or the other, they will understandably push the brand they sell.


Most recently updated May 10, 2010.

Previously updated June 28, 2007.