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Appeared on: Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Seiko CDP4000 CD Printer


1. Introduction

Seiko Precision CDP-4000 CD-R Printer - Page 1

Introduction

Europe was under the name of SEIKOSHA, a well-known printer manufacturer, until 1997 when was renamed to SEIKO Precision, Hamburg. The mother company (SEIKO) is established in Japan in 1881 and since then is dedicated to the development and production of high tech products. SEIKO Precision manufactures camera components, IT products, develops network technologies. However, the company is known as a printer manufacturer. SEIKO Precision CD 4000 inkjet CD printer is SEIKO’s proposal for high quality CD labeling. The device supports high resolution 1440 x 720 printing and comes to complete the CD inkjet printer line already represented by SEIKO CD Printer 2000, its “brother” printer by SEIKO. SEIKO Precision CD 4000 entered the market in Cebit, on February 2001. We are looking forward to seeing what the printer can offer…

- Main specifications

· Parallel and USB Interface
· 256 KB memory

Printable Media: · Paper to cardboard up to 2.5 mm in thickness, Printable CDRs, Plastic cards

Single sheet feeder: Paper: A4, letter, transparencies (A4), labels (A4), B5, legal, executive and user defined formats. Inlay –and bottom cards for CD cases. Roll paper

Resolution: 1440 x 720 dpi micro piezo technology

- Unpacking

The printer was provided by AVD Computer Services Ltd. Except from the printer the supplied package contained the essential printer operation equipment and some other consumables available for the CD Printer 4000. These are the paper support, the power cord, the black and color ink cartridges, the roll paper holder, the caddy, the driver-CD with user’s Guide, printer driver and software, the CD-R attachment, the protective cover and the “Getting Started ” manual.

As for the media supplied, there are printable plastic cards, business cards, 80mm CDs (Ritek Co 180MB), and printable CDs (Vivastar AG 700MB). For the business and plastic cards printing there is a special adapter providing the proper media placement on the printer tray.

The main printing unit as shown in the picture on the right has many different parts. Let’s see some of them:

1. Paper support: supports the paper loaded in the sheet feeder.
2. Sheet feeder: Holds the blank paper and automatically feeds the paper during printing.
3. Printer cover: Covers the printing mechanism. Open only when handling the following items. Ink cartridges, CD-R attachment, Caddy
4. Output tray: Receives the eject paper.
5. Output tray extension: Supports the ejected paper.
6. Edge guide: Help load the paper straight.

7. Roll paper holder: Holds the roll paper to the printer.
8. Adjust lever: This selects the gap between the print head and the paper.
“ 0 ” position : for plain paper,
EPSON paper (excluding Matte Paper), paper 0.08 to 0.3 mm thick.
“ + ” position: envelopes, Matte paper, paper 0.4 to 1.6 mm thick
” position: released position

9. Manual feed slot edge guide: This ensures that paper or caddy loaded in the manual feed slot is inserted straight.
10. Manual feed slot: This slot is used when printing on Matte Paper or paper 0.4 to 2.5 mm thick. The CD-R caddy is also inserted here.
11. USB interface cable connector: Connects USB cable from the PC to the printer.
12. Parallel interface connector: Connects parallel cable from the computer to the printer.
13. AC inlet: Insert the power cable here.

The picture on the left shows the front buttons and led of the printer. Starting from the right there is the power button, which obviously turns the printer on and off. Also it clears the printer’s memory if pressed twice while the power is on. Next you see the maintenance button, which loads or ejects paper if pressed and released within two seconds. It resumes printing if pressed and released after a paper out error. It is also performs print head cleaning if pressed for 3 seconds when the maintenance led is off. The roll paper button loads and ejects roll paper. It feeds roll paper in reverse to a position where it can be easily removed from the sheet feeder, if pressed for more than 3 seconds.

The Power led is on when the printer is on. It flashes when the printer receives data, printing, while replacing an ink cartridge or cleaning the printing head.

The maintenance led is on when the printer is out of paper and when the paper is jammed. In the first case, load paper in the sheet feeder and press the maintenance button to resume printing. When the paper is jammed, you have to take all the paper out of the feeder and then reload the paper. If the light continues to flash, you have to turn off the printer and gently pull all the paper out of the printer. The led also flashes when the print head moves to the ink cartridge replacement position or the inks are out.

- Test Machine

WinMe/Win2k
Soyo 7VCA
Celeron II 566 over clocked to 850 MHz
128MB SDRAM PC 133
WD 18GB UDMA 66
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4GB
SCSI: DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA)
ATI AIW 128


2. Connections - Installing Ink Catridges

Seiko Precision CDP-4000 CD-R Printer - Page 2

Connections - Installing Ink Catridges

SEIKO Precision CD Printer 4000 can be connected to the computer via parallel or USB interface. We connected the printer through the USB port and powered with 220V AC. The printer accepts colored and black ink cartridges. The cartridges are equipped with IC chips. This chip accurately monitors the amount of ink used by each cartridge, so even if a cartridge is removed and inserted again, all of its ink can be used. To install the cartridges you firstly lower the output tray.

And open the printer cover. Then you turn on the printer. The print head moves to the left, which is the ink cartridge installation position. The power led flashes and the error led comes on. Notice that you should not move the print head by hand, something like that might damage the printer. Push back the release tabs and lift up the ink cartridge clamps. Open the ink cartridge packages. Next, remove only the yellow tape seals from each cartridge. These tapes should not be removed from the cartridges before installation.

Then, place the protruding of the cartridge on the hook of the opened ink cartridge clamps. Make sure that the protruding of the cartridge is not under the hook of the opened ink cartridge clamps, as this can damage the clamps. Lower the ink cartridge clamps until they lock into place, and press the ink cartridge replacement button.

The printer moves the printer head and begins charging the ink delivery system for about half a minute. Notice that the printer cannot work unless you have installed both cartridges. While the ink is charging, the power light flashes and the printer produces a variety of mechanical sounds.

These sounds are normal. When the ink delivery system has been charged, the print head returns to the far right position and the power light comes on. As for the ink cartridges price, both color and black ink cartridges are sold at 20 pounds each.


3. Installation - Printing features

Seiko Precision CDP-4000 CD-R Printer - Page 3

Installation of the Printer

We installed the under Windows ME and the printer was recognized as “CDP-4000” . Let’s have a look at the printer’s properties. In the main menu you can make Media Type, Mode, Ink, and Print Preview settings. The media type settings should match the media that are currently loaded in the printer. The mode settings on the main menu are arranged to give you three levels of control over the printer software. The mode setting can be Automatic, PhotoEnchance and Custom.

The Automatic mode provides the quickest and easiest way to start printing. The PhotoEnchange mode lets you choose from a variety of image-correction settings specially designed for photos. The Custom mode lets you choose from a list of ready-made or personalized settings suited to the kind of document that you want to print. When Custom is selected, the Advanced button is enabled, allowing you to access the Advanced dialog box.

In the advanced dialog box you can choose the media type that is loaded in the printer, choose the Color or Black as the Ink setting and specify a Print quality setting. According to your Color Management selection, (Color controls, Photo Enchance4, No color adjustment, sRGB or ICM), you can make specific settings about brightness, contrast, saturation, usage of the basic colors, tone and effect. These settings can be saved for future a possible future use.

Another interesting tab in the printer’s properties window is the Utility tab. Printer utilities allow you to check the current printer status and perform some printer maintenance from your PC. The Status Monitor provides printer status information such as the amount of ink remaining, and checks for printer errors.

The Nozzle Check utility checks the print head nozzles for clogging. You should check the nozzle if you notice that print quality has declined.

The Head Cleaning utility cleans the print head.

The Print Head alignment utility aligns the print head. You should use this utility if you notice a misalignment of vertical lines.

Lastly, the Printer and Option Information allow the printer driver to confirm printer configuration information. It also provides specific information regarding certain characteristics of the printer, such as printer ID.


4. Installation - Printing Software

Seiko Precision CDP-4000 CD-R Printer - Page 4

- Loading a CD-R

When printing on a CD-R, always fit the CD-R attachment to protect the data recorded on the disk. To do it, firstly you have to switch off the printer. Move the adjust lever to the “” position, as shown next. Then you have to open the printer cover and insert the caddy straight in with the silver label first and with the surface for loading the CD-R facing upwards.

The next step is to place the protective cover over the carriage spindle (metal bar). This is to prevent oil on the carriage spindle getting onto your hands. The CD-R attachment should be slide out to align the two arrow marks on the printer. Now the protective cover can be removed.

Move the adjust lever to the “++” position and hold down the maintenance button on the front of the printer so the caddy will automatically adjusted to the correct position. Close the front cover and you are ready for your first print.

- Printing Software

The software we had in our hands is the “Seiko Precision Designer v1.0”. We installed the program and tried to make our first prints. Unfortunately, the printed label had not a good quality and the settings we tried to apply did not give the expected results. We decided to use the Corel 10 as the main labeling software instead, and finally had the accepted print result.


5. Printing Performance

Seiko Precision CDP-4000 CD-R Printer - Page 5

Printing Performance

For our printing tests we used the Taiyo Yuden White Top and the Vivastar AG printable CDs. The printing result was impressive. The print quality was remarkable in both 720 and 1440 supported resolutions. The printed colors looked realistic and very “alive”. The main difference between the two printing resolutions was that in the 720 dpi you could see some banding on the CD surface. However the colors were clearly defined in both resolutions.

The weak point of SEIKO Precision CD Printer 4000 is complicated loading CD procedure. The printer does not have a built-in CD tray so the user has to load a blank CD in an external tray provided, and then calibrate the tray placement in order to print.

Another issue that should interest the user is the ink capacity of both black and color cartridges. During testing, we had to replace the color ink after approximately 12 full colored CD prints at 1440dpi. So the print quality offered demands important ink consumption. However, user can choose the 720 dpi print resolution among with a variety of settings to obtain a lower cost per print.

In the following chart, you can see the printing time needed for a 100% covered color CD in the supported resolutions.

* Settings for the 1440 dpi:
Media Type: CDR
Ink: Color
Mode: Custom
Custom settings: sRGB

* Settings for the 720 dpi:
Media Type: Plain paper
Ink: Color
Mode: Custom
Custom settings: sRGB, High speed, Finest details

Resolution (d.p.i)
Time (seconds)
1440
311
720
204

The print times showed above are measured just from the time that the printer starts printing till the end of the print so the loading and data transfer time is excluded. Furthermore, the 311 seconds needed for a full 1440 dpi colored CD is not a high performance since the competition can offer a lower print time.

We also used the same image and settings to print in different printable media. What we can say is that we had the best quality prints when we used CDs with white top surface. Using different media affected the total result and the printed colors seemed kind of faded.

As in the most inkjet printed CDs, the CDs we printed were not scratchproof or waterproof. The CD label looked delicate just after the printing finished and you should leave the CD in a dry place for 24 hours to before you will be able to make a secure conclusion about the overall print quality. The direct exposure to sunlight could also affect the color density on a printed CD.


6. Conclusion

Seiko Precision CDP-4000 CD-R Printer - Page 6

Conclusion

SEIKO Precision CD 4000 is an inkjet CD printer for semiprofessional and professional use. The printer has great capabilities and is here to fulfill the CD labeling needs of musicians, software companies, advertising companies.

The print results are more than sufficient even when printing a CD in 720 dpi, providing a smooth and image true labels. We should note that the printer is not the fastest in the market and also that printing a blank CD will not be a one-click procedure. There are significant steps the user should follow before printing, but the result will satisfy the most demanding user.

SEIKO engineers could also work on the high ink usage issue. Prints would be more affordable and the printer would be easily placed on the desk of the everyday non professional user. So, can the 599 pound price of SEIKO Precision CD 4000 characterize the printer? Of course not, if you are one of those who really can valuate the true print quality…



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