solvents can print on coated AND uncoated media. solvent can last up to 3 years outdoor unlaminated, and up to 7 to 10 years laminated. droplet size is the same, since is the same head, so details are pretty much the same. gamut is similar, maybe a plus for aqueous (users of the new Epsons are thrilled by their print quality).
solvents are expensive because the ink lines, dampers, pumps, caps, head nipples must all resist to solvent ink.
and because they print allot.
mechanics must be more robust than fine art printers. signage don't print 30 x 40 cm prints, they can usually print 30-40 sq meters per job (there is an USA print house that print 1.000.000 sq feet in 3 months on other forum, with only 2 machines) so a solvent printer must be a really workhorse.
Epson advises there new printers as indoor/outdoor printers. I think they want to target both markets with only one device, since they manage, or claim to eliminate almost all the hard chemicals and heavy metals from the new solvent inks.
this is what a solvent printer can do:
""2011 was 705,000s/f non stop 24/7 and the machine did perform as expected. Now for 2012 this project is a little over 900,000 s/f . Machine already has 1.3million s/f on it and about to run 24/7 once again. I do have my reservations on if LX will survive the mission...
1900 hours of print time or 80 days non stop, 750 rolls of media, 2300 liters of ink, 190+ heads.
Should be interesting to say the least. Guess we will really see if this is a true production machine.""
not mine, unfortunately
LE: I have the guts to let my solvent to print unattended all night, but my epson pigment not for more than 5-6 sq meters, due to clogs during printing. and I think is a matter of dampers: too small for the aqueous printers.