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Digital domination

Nov 1, 2010 12:00 AM


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The inkjet theme seen earlier this year at Ipex continued at Graph Expo 2010. Digital and mailing vendors occupied floor space once given over almost entirely to offset technology.

Going digital

Years ago, Indigo founder Benny Landa declared, “Everything that can go digital, will,” and that someday Palo Alto, CA-based HP (www.hp.com/go/gsb) would occupy a larger booth than Heidelberg. His prediction came true at Graph Expo 2010: HP had the largest exhibit of any vendor, digital or offset.

While overall volumes have been flat or down, HP customers have printed significantly more pages this year. Collective page volumes on the HP Indigo 7000 series grew 90% year-over-year for the first three quarters of 2010 vs. the same time period in 2009. “People are printing smarter, with targeted, high-quality output printed on demand with less waste, more streamlined supply chain processes and a reduced environmental impact,” says Christopher Morgan, senior vice president of HP's graphics solutions business.

There are now 20 HP T300 Inkjet Web Presses (40 engines) installed worldwide, 12 of them in book manufacturing. “[The T300] is delivering, as we speak, on the vision of its launch three years ago,” says Aurelio Maruggi, vice president and GM, inkjet high-speed production solutions, imaging and printing group, HP. While most book manufacturers are going roll-to-finish, all mail producers are opting for a roll-to-roll configuration on the inkjet web, he says. MICR capability is now available, as well as numerous coated papers.

“The economy is accelerating the shift to digital,” says Maruggi, noting that long-run jobs are growing longer while the mid-range is fragmenting into multiple shorter runs. And many hybrid offset/digital jobs are now going straight to digital. “We are seeing the trends we predicted in publishing and mail production — reducing waste and finding new revenue — are more important than before.”

HP is seeing the “print and pray” book business model evolve into a just-in-time process, with publishers cutting inventory and waste while bringing more titles to market. French book printer CPI's sweet spot averages 7,000-8,000 books on the T300, according to Maruggi. T300 users are able to offer multiple short runs of a title over time,allowing publishers to respond to market shifts.

Driving the transition to color

Rochester, NY-based Xerox's (www.xerox.com) iGen4 EXP made its debut at Graph Expo 2010. It offers new prepress and finishing capabilities, as well as a larger cut-sheet format. The 14.33 × 26-inch sheet size enables the production of multi-up jobs such as full-size trifold brochures, postcards and greeting cards, or extra large book covers and jackets. The larger sheet size prints at 40 ppm and accelerates the iGen4 system's print speed to 120 8.5 × 11-inch (A4) ipm. Stock can be fed from a modified paper tray or roll system, and a Multigraf stacker collects the output in removable carts for delivery to finishing equipment.

Automated Web to Finish, with finishing partner C.P. Bourg's (www.cpbourg.com) “Bourg Box,” makes touchless workflow achievable from ordering to finished product with no manual setup or intervention. The solution leverages Xerox FreeFlow Digital Workflow Collection, along with software and finishing options from Xerox business partners, to streamline the production process as orders come in, quickly changing and synchronizing production instructions as needed. Integration with Adobe PDF Print Engine drives quick and reliable printing of native Adobe PDF files.

Orders are being taken for the Xerox iGen4 EXP, with installations planned for this quarter and iGen4 upgrades beginning in 2011.

Xerox also showcased the Color 1000 press at Graph Expo 2010. The optional clear dry ink can be used to highlight parts of the image, draw attention to content, and apply digital watermarks for artistic effect or security purposes. Xerox's Standard Finisher Plus is now available. It stacks, staples and hole punches 55 to 300-gsm coated or uncoated paper, enabling users to create premium booklets and manuals with third-party finishing options. These include GBC's eBinder for layflat books and the Plockmatic Pro 30 Professional Booklet Maker for 30-sheet / 120-pg. booklets with square edges (an optional bleed trim module is available).

Xerox is taking a flexible approach to engine upgrades: The Xerox Nuvera Flex Speed Program allows temporary increases in engine speed as production needs dictate, using a software upgrade. The software license is available in 30, 60 or 90-day periods.

Pushing the quality envelope

Ramsey, NJ-based Konica Minolta (www.kmbs.konicaminolta.us) promoted its bizhub PRESS C8000 as “the digital press that goes head-to-head with offset and comes out ahead in many ways.” The C8000 combines output speeds of up to 80 ppm and a 500,000-page monthly duty cycle with a variety of advanced finishing and media handling capabilities. Highlights includes 1,200 × 1,200-dpi print resolution; Simitri HD+ color polymerized toner for offset-like image quality; an Image Density Control (IDC) sensor for real-time color adjustments; a new dual fusing system to maintain productivity even when running heavy stocks; and a vacuum belt paper feeding system for reliable substrate handling.

Konica Minolta's business development efforts (www.powerupprofit.com) include webinars, white papers and videos. The company's Clean Planet initiative provides cost-free recycling for all Konica Minolta consumables.

Conventional outside, cutting-edge inside

Fujifilm North America Corp. (www.fujifilmgs.com) (Valhalla, NY) showed the sheetfed inkjet J Press 720 for the first time in North America.

The press runs a standard 4-up offset sheet size and prints on coated offset stocks, with a paper delivery and exit like that of a traditional offset press. It produces up to 2,700 29.5 × 20.8-inch, 4-up size sheets per hour, or the equivalent of 10,800 8.5 × 11-inch pages per hour.

It uses Fujifilm Dimatix's Samba single-pass piezo drop-on-demand printhead technology to achieve true 1,200 × 1,200-dpi resolution (minimum: two picolitres). An integrated controller incorporates advanced color management and calibration capabilities to maintain consistency. A CCD sensor scans every sheet and makes any necessary alteration in real time.

The company's anti-curling and rapid coagulation ink technologies deliver vibrant images and prevent paper curl and dot gain. The J Press 720 uses water-based ink to achieve an offset-like finish and quality. Infrared drying ensures sheets are ready for finishing instantly. Capable of variable-data printing, the press promises to bridge the gap between toner-based digital and offset presses.

Additional equipment in the Fujifilm booth included the 2,400 × 2,400-dpi Xerox 700 and Xerox Color 800 presses. The Acuity Advance HS UV flatbed printer with roll media option also ran live on the show floor. Fujifilm displayed the Esko Kongsberg i-cut XL24 and two roll-fed print solutions: Epson's Stylus Pro 7900 24-inch roll printer driven by ORIS Color Tuner Pro Web technology and the Mutoh ValueJet 1618 64-inch ecosolvent solution, dual-head, 8-channel printer.

Signage to high-speed production inkjet

Agfa Graphics (www.agfa.com) (Ridgefield Park, NJ) and the Pitman Co. (www.pitman.com) showed inkjet solutions ranging from entry-level systems to high-speed industrial inkjet, plus rigid and flexible media in the Pitman booth. (See “Agfa Graphics acquires Pitman Company USA,” www.americanprinter.com/news/syndicate/agfa-graphics-pitman-company.)

Pitman showcased Agfa's UV-curable :Anapurna M 2050, designed to offer a cost-effective solution for speed and 1,440-dpi display printing. Graph Expo marked the North American debut of the new flatbed/roll-to-roll :Anapurna M 2050 (2.05m) with six colors plus white ink capability (CMYKLcLm). The new machine offers flexible media handling capability and a four-zone vacuum table for handling a wide range of substrates varying in size and thickness. Its eight 12-picolitre printheads produce up to 720 × 1,440 dpi and output in unidirectional and bidirectional modes. Typical throughput speeds in four-pass bidirectional mode are approximately 24 sq.m/hr. (optimized for poster and banner production).

Agfa's :Jeti 1224 HDC FTR (flat-to-roll) UV inkjet printer featuring High Definition Color capabilities ran in the Pitman booth. Its 96-inch-wide flatbed architecture allows for printing on “virtually anything that is reasonably flat” and up to 5 cm thick. Agfa also offered :M-Press Tiger, a high-speed UV flatbed inkjet press, the :Dotrix high-speed UV web inkjet printing press and Agfa-made inks. :Apogee Vibe, the engine behind Agfa's :M-Press Tiger and :Dotrix Modular digital presses, provides high-end industrial printers with automation and personalization tools.

Several partners were featured:

Inkjet media | 3M, Esko Kongsberg, Ultraflex Systems, Avery, 3PTextiles, Neschen and Duratex.

Inkjet hardware | Epson GS 6000 64-inch roll-to-roll printer with new ink technology; Epson Stylus Pro 9900 with the MicroPiezo TFP printhead and UltraChrome HDR ink; HP L25500 printer for outdoor signage on a wide range of media, including coated media or polyester fabric and low-cost papers without treatments.

New continuous-feed inkjet press

Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen USA (www.screenusa.com) unveiled the Truepress Jet520ZZ — the flagship of the Truepress Jet520 series of continuous-feed, single-pass inkjet printing systems. With a top speed of 721.7 fpm (about 190,000 8.5 × 11-inch color pages/hr.), the Truepress Jet520ZZ produces direct mail, books, magazines and other high-volume work. It incorporates Screen's drop-on-demand inkjet technology, color management, patented screening algorithms and paper transport system. Maximum imaging resolution is 720 × 720 dpi. The grayscale printheads produce an apparent resolution of 1,440 dpi.

The Truepress Jet520EX Color, an entry-level color inkjet web press, targets users considering a move from monochrome to color variable printing, as well as those that mainly handle short-run work. It has a maximum speed of 210 fpm at a resolution of 360 × 360 dpi.

Also new: PlateRite FX (flexographic CTP) series, enhanced capabilities for the Truepress Jet2500UV (grand-format UV inkjet printer), software solutions and services.

Inkjet for mid-volume production

Danvers, MA-based Riso Inc. (www.us.riso.com) demonstrated its full-color, cutsheet inkjet ComColor models: the 9050, 7050 and 3050. The printers ran a transpromotional MICR application with embedded digital security pantographs, variable-data envelopes, newsletters and booklets. The ComColor 9050 has a duty cycle of 500,000 prints per month. Combined with production level accessories from Kirk-Rudy and transpromo applications from GMC Software Technology, the ComColor line enables users to enter new markets.

“At speeds up to 150 ppm and full-color running costs as low as two cents per page, this range of high-speed, full-color inkjet printers is fast, affordable and dependable,” says Todd Deluca, president and COO, Riso. “Customers have found great cost savings in direct mail, transactional documents, and other commercial applications.”

Putting it all together

Cincinnati, OH-based xpedx (www.xpedx.com) showcased workflow, color management, wide-format, proofing, and digital printing and finishing solutions. One demonstration began with EFI Digital StoreFront and EFI Pace software and connected to a Kodak Prinergy digital workflow for production management and EFI Colorproof XF for proofers and wide-format devices. After printing, a Bourg sheet feeder fed the jobs directly into bookletmakers, trimmers, and other near-line finishing equipment. Morgana's DigiFold Pro and Secap's mailing solutions including a folder/inserter, tabber and addressing printer also were demonstrated. Visitors saw EFI PrintSmith, which has been integrated with the xpedx paper catalog for real-time inventory access and custom pricing.

Also on display: paper and synthetic substrates optimized for digital print production, including xpedx's Endurance Digital brand.

Wide format solutions including the Epson GS6000 and the EFI VUTEk QS220 were demonstrated in the booth.

Extended format, new finishing options

MGI USA (www.mgi-fr.com) (Melbourne, FL) presented 13 × 40-inch “Super Format” as a standard feature on the Meteor DP60 Pro multisubstrate digital press, as well as the JETvarnish digital inkjet spot UV coater. Meteor DP60 Pro runs paper (up to 350 gsm / 130-lb. cover / 14 mil), plastics/synthetics (up to 400 micron /16 mil), specialty substrates such as canvas, and envelopes. There are no click charges, and Fogra certification (ISO 12647-7) for color contract proof creation is available.

MGI also launched the new DF360 5-in-1 multifunction finishing system, which provides one-pass lamination, cutting, slitting, crease and perforation for sheets up to 14 inches wide and 29 inches long.

Also shown: MGI's JETvarnish digital inkjet spot UV coater.

Canon, Océ update

See our coverage of Canon and Océ's latest on pg. 18.

Stay tuned

Our Graph Expo 2010 coverage continues next month with an offset update and prepress highlights.

Denise Kapel is managing editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at denise.kapel@penton.com.

Faster inkjet web, new Indigo flagship, latex and more

HP unveiled the HP T350 Color Inkjet Web Press at Graph Expo, which will be available in the second half of 2011. This faster version of the T300 prints nearly 4,000 letter-size ppm (600 fpm) on standard offset or 2/8 custom coated media. The 1,200 × 600-dpi T350's speed is enabled by a combination of new printheads, new pigment-based inks and improved data processing. Its recommended duty cycle is up to 105 million letter-size ipm. The T350 is not a replacement for the T300; there will be an upgrade path. Los Angeles printer O'Neil Data Systems has the world's first HP T350 beta unit as well as the first HP T200 beta.

Other HP highlights:

  • The HP Indigo 7500 Digital Press, HP's flagship sheetfed commercial printing solution, made its North American debut.

  • The HP Indigo W7200 Digital Press was shown for the first time with an advanced color consistency option for high-end applications.

  • The HP Indigo 3550 Digital Press, a high-quality, entry-level solution, prints in up to five colors.

  • The HP Color Print Module was shown as a technology demonstration for monochrome and spot-color production at speeds up to 800 fpm.

  • HP demonstrated its full portfolio of large-format Latex Printing Technologies, including the HP Designjet L25500 Printer Series, the 104-inch HP Scitex LX600 Printer and the 126-inch HP Scitex LX800 Printer.

  • Software and workflow solutions include the latest version of HP SmartStream Designer for HP Indigo and HP Scitex.

Multichannel bundles

West Caldwell, NJ-based Ricoh's (www.ricoh-usa.com) Carl Joachim noted the company's range: “Looking up-market to include the InfoPrint 5000 for high-volume applications, and our reseller relationship with Kodak for NexPress and DigiMaster, we pretty much cover the waterfront.”

Ricoh's PPBG unveiled the Pro C901/C901s Graphic Arts Edition, with 1,200 × 1,200-dpi output, speeds to 90 ppm regardless of media or duplexing, expanded substrates, and EFI and Creo controllers. TotalFlow open architecture ensures interoperability with partner solutions. For example, users can buy Printable Technologies software, and hosted and professional services.