Oki C711WT review

An affordable entry point into the world of homegrown merchandise that comes with free training

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£1,995

Oki's C711WT takes colour laser printing in a radically new direction: instead of black toner, it uses white. Clearly it's not designed for conventional print jobs: rather, it's intended to make producing in-house promotional merchandise and garment transfers a reality for SMBs.

The C711WT can print transfers for virtually any fabric item, including T-shirts, bags, badges, signs, diaries and coffee mugs. The ability to print white on black backgrounds also makes it ideal for creating blackboard menus for coffee shops or restaurants, as the transfers can also be used on wood and metal surfaces.

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The C711WT is sold in the UK only by The Magic Touch (TMT), and there's a good reason for that. Oki's standard printer drivers are too basic for design work, so TMT provides the printer with its own SpaceControl software.

To go with it, the company has developed a wide variety of transfer papers. It offers versions for white, pastel and dark fabrics, hard surfaces, and non-porous materials such as ceramics, glass and acrylic.

While the price of the printeris reasonable, for garment transfers you'll also need to factor in the cost of a heat press. We tested the C711WT with TMT's 2kW swing-head manual press, which costs 995. Weighing a meaty 40kg, it's easy to use and maintains a steady temperature.

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For drinking vessels, you need a mug press: a single station model costs 199, but TMT is currently offering a free mug press with every printer purchase, and will extend this offer to PC Pro readers who cite this review.

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To test T-shirt transfers,we imported our design into SpaceControl, tweaked the white settings and tiled them so as to make best use of the paper. For coloured garments, the background must be transparent: we used Photoshop to remove white backgrounds and saved the files into PNG format. Selecting the right paper type in SpaceControl automatically adjusts the image as appropriate.

The C711WT is ideal for transfer printing, offering a flat paper path. To print our transfer, we simply put TMT's WoW mask sheet (msheet) in the manual feed tray and hit the SpaceControl print button. The msheet is then placed in the heat pressand transferred to the transfer sheet (tsheet) which takes 50- 60 seconds.

After peeling away and discarding the msheet, we positioned the garment and tsheet on the press and gave it another five seconds of heat.

The last job is to place a silicon-coated new release paper (NRP) sheet over the image and press for a further 20 seconds, which bonds the toner into the fabric. It's a simple process, and our test T-shirt came out looking smooth, detailed and very professional.

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SpaceControl only currently supports a direct USB connection to the printer, and worked fine with Windows 8.1. TMT advisedus that network support is currently in beta and Windows 10is also being tested. We foundusing the SpaceControl software and transfer processes very simple, and TMT also includes a one-day on-site training session in the price.

With the C711WT and heat press together costing less than 3,000, it's much more affordable than traditional direct-to-garment printers. It's an easy way of producing high-quality bespoke marketing material, and could easily be used as a second revenue stream with no minimum order runs. Perhaps more to the point, it's the most fun you'll ever have with a laser printer. 

This review first appeared in PC Pro magazine issue 253

Verdict

The C711WT 
is much more affordable than traditional direct-to-garment printers. It’s
 an easy way of producing high-quality bespoke marketing material, and could easily be used as a second revenue stream with no minimum order runs. Perhaps more to the point, it’s the most fun you’ll ever have with a laser printer.

1,200 x 600dpi colour A4 LED

533MHz CPU

256MB RAM (max 768MB)

34ppm

2 x USB2

530-sheet input tray

100-sheet MP tray

Monthly duty cycle, 3,000 pages

435 x 546 x 389mm (WDH)

28kg

3yr on-site warranty

RUNNING COSTS

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