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Canon iPF6450 SU-21 spectrophotometer setup

  |   Article, Articles and reviews, Canon printer, Colour management, Printer review, Printer reviews, Printing, X-Rite   |   No comment

Canon iPF6450 SU-21 spectrophotometer setup

Setting up the SU-21

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The iPF6450 is the higher end model of Canon’s latest 24″ large format printers, with an internal disk drive. It also supports the SU-21 spectrophotometer unit. The SU-21 does not work with the iPF6400 – there is no connector for the spectro on the printer.

We’ve recently (May/June 2013) had an iPF6450 here for Keith to write a review, and it included the spectrophotometer when shipped.

Normally our big printers turn up ready to go, but this one was delivered in its shipping crates.

Keith has written an article describing setting up the printer, and indeed we did much of the printer testing without the SU-21 unit attached.

If you get both at the same time, the installation is a mix of what’s done in the two articles – fortunately, the supplied instructions are clear…

iPF6450 SU21 spectrophotometer

We have a detailed review of the iPF6450 and shorter one covering the SU-21 spectrophotometer attachment, but this article covers the assembly of the SU-21.

The Canon SU-21 spectrophotometer

The SU21 unit contains a scanning unit with an X-Rite spectrophotometer. This reads coloured patches from prints, which may be used for printer/media calibration, and profiling. The device also contains a blower unit that speeds up drying time before measurements can be taken.

Key features are listed by Canon as:

  • The sensor’s fully automated mobile carriage provides the ability to use media of different thicknesses
  • Includes a user switchable single-piece backing plate
  • The user-switchable UV blocking filter can be switched on and off according to the paper type
  • Scan speed of 10.0″ per second
  • Generate colour calibration charts for 3rd party media
  • ISO 13655 compliant
  • Complies with 2010 XRGA measurement standards

Here’s the box of additional fittings you get for attaching the spectro on to the front of the printer/stand.

assorted parts kit for SU21 spectrophotometer

If you already have the printer set up, then you’ll need to start off with changing the print catcher unit.

If you are setting up from scratch, wait until the printer/spectro is in place, before setting up the basket.

First of all – make sure that the printer is turned off…

Print Catcher

The existing print catcher needs removing. A bolt runs through the leg securing it.

The new attachment fits in those two slotted holes you can see.

It’s also worth making sure that the castors are locked, to stop the printer wandering off as you try and fit things…

castor and attachment point for brackets

Remove the cloth sheet and its cross bars (mouse over image to see).

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The replacement support rod units slot in place. You should then bolt them in place, with the supplied bolts and Allen key.

fitting modified catcher support rods

After removing the plastic mount brackets for the cloth from the stand cross bar, you need to fit new ones from the SU-21 kit (mouse over image to see).

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The old plastic mount brackets for the cloth are now re-attached (mouse over image to see).

They are in the same place as before, but now moved forward by the additional fittings.

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Now reassemble the catcher basket, attaching the lower transverse rod to the relocated brackets, and clipping the cloth into place (mouse over image to see).

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Fitting the spectrophotometer

The printer stand needs additional brackets fitting, to carry the weight of the spectrophotometer and provide an electrical connection to a socket underneath the printer (on the LH side at the back).

rear connector SU-21

[note: it’s this connector missing on the iPF6400]

If your printer is bolted to the stand (as it should be), then you’ll have to loosen the screws, lift the printer a few inches and fit the plate in place.

Fortunately, it is designed to solidly slot into place. This job ideally requires a second person to lift the printer up, so as to fit the plate.

additional mounting brackets

You also need to remove the front paper guide plate (mouse over image to see).

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Make sure to (re)fit all the retaining screws underneath the printer.

The spectrophotometer unit has a lot of packing tape and brackets to remove.

su21 packing materials

The spectrophotometer unit is easily lifted into place – two people would be ideal, but I was easily able to do this myself. The fit is very solid – you’ll know when it’s located in place.

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Don’t forget the securing bolts underneath…

The device has a front cover that lifts up for access – the entire scanning unit moves up and down too (mouse over image to see).

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You can also see some of the air vent holes for the blower/drier unit (inside – LH side).

The replacement paper guide slots into place (mouse over image to see).

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The spectro has a reversible white/black measuring plate for measurements – this slots into the new paper guide (mouse over image to see).

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An access panel is raised to access the spectrophotometer device (which needs fitting).

Lift using the small plastic catch/tab to the right (mouse over image to see).

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The white calibration tile for the spectrophotometer needs fitting in its holder – avoid touching the white surface.

This unit is removable for cleaning, but do appreciate that each individual tile is matched to a spectrophotometer unit, and your devices accuracy depends on this tile being the right one for the spectro, and clean. Mouse over image to see the fitting of the tile.

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The tile unit slots into place inside the spectro unit (mouse over image to see).

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Open the holder and identify the two leads (one USB and one power) – move your mouse over the image to see.

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Plug in the spectrophotometer and slot it into place (once again a clear solid fit) – mouse over the image to see.

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Close the lid and you’re ready to go… (mouse over the image to see)

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I’ll leave a discussion of using the spectro until the main review, but it’s most basic use is to improve the paper calibration and setup of the printer.

Here it is carrying out a calibration check for a custom paper type I’d set up.

making a media calibration print

Article history: First published May 2013


Very easy to set up and install – everything that needs for fit into something else is a solid clean fit.

I was stopping to take the photos, but it took a good hour or so to get everything assembled.

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