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Inkjet for the rest of us

Jun 1, 2011 12:00 AM


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The current high-speed inkjet web presses from vendors such as HP, Océ, InfoPrint, Screen and Kodak are exciting but impractical for most general short-run commercial printers. “They're too expensive, too large, and too limiting for the range of substrates and formats commercial printers need,” says David Davis, a director at Interquest. “They're great for many specialty providers such as book printers, direct mail and transactional printers, where these products have made a big impact in short order.”

But as Drupa 2012 draws near, we can expect to see more options for the “average” printer. “Inkjet is a very scaleable process, and many of the same or similar benefits inkjet has brought to the markets it has had early success in will be applicable for general commercial printers,” Davis explains. “Those gaping holes between consumer inkjet printers, imprinting heads and inkjet web presses are already beginning to close. Fujifilm's J Press 720 and the Screen Truepress JetSX are the first B-sized sheetfed inkjet presses RISO has offered smaller format sheetfed inkjet press for some time. Drupa 2012 will almost certainly feature new sheetfed developments.”

What should general commercial printers do? “They'll clearly have to match their current capabilities and markets with the capabilities of these and forthcoming inkjet sheetfed presses, particularly in terms of price, service and consumables, substrate compatibility, format, perfecting, and other features,” says Davis. “They also must gauge where future business will be in terms of run lengths, applications, variable data, and other features that might now or soon be important for the printer's customers.”

Xerox waterless inkjet targets paper savings

Earlier this year Xerox Corp. introduced a high-speed waterless inkjet buil with its proprietary solid ink technology, Xerox has developed a patented, granulated, resin-based ink formulation to serve the high-speed production market. The key benefit is the elimination of water so that vibrant, consistent color can be printed on low-cost, offset paper that comes out flat with no ink soaking through. In addition, the formulation of the ink reportedly earned the highest document deinking rating from INGEDE.

Xerox's Production Inkjet System can produce nearly 2,200 pages or 500 fpm driving applications such as personalized direct marketing, transpromo and publishing.

The first test customer generated revenue-producing pieces within weeks of installation, and additional customer placements are slated for the second half of this year.

Donnelley, KBA enter inkjet pact

In March 2011, RR Donnelley and KBA announced an agreement to develop, manufacture and sell next-generation piezoelectric digital inkjet printing solutions to the packaging, securities, commercial and newspaper segments. Under the terms of the agreement, RR Donnelley will license its Apollo and other digital imaging technologies to KBA which will incorporate them into its press offerings. KBA's new digital press will be introduced in May 2012 at Drupa.

Fujifilm combines offset styling with inkjet technology

Fujifilm North America Corp. showed the sheetfed inkjet J Press 720 for the first time in North America at Graph Expo 2010. Offset paper handling is mated with inkjet deposition technologies to for short-run print jobs.

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.

“Our J Press 720 installations are presently underway and moving forward as planned for our customers in the United States,” says Fujifilm North America's Steve Sanker.

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.

RISO brings MICR to the masses

At On Demand 2011, RISO demonstrated a new dynamic tray-pull capability, single-pass transpromo MICRprinting, and full-color envelope printing on RISO ComColor high-speed inkjet printers.

Working with GMC Software Technology, Arcis Digital Security, Kirk-Rudy, and The Solutions Group to print secure, full-color customer communications at up to 120 ppm. RISO combined its ComColor with the Kirk-Rudy KR-324R shuttle feeder for full-color variable-data printing on standard and windowed envelopes. Users can printing full-color variable-data envelopes including postal indicias and barcodes at speeds up to 85 envelopes per minute.

Frederic adds a second InfoPrint 5000

Earlier this year, Frederic Printing (Boulder, CO), a Consolidated Graphics company, installed its second InfoPrint (www.infoprint.com) 5000 inkjet production system. Applications include print-on-demand textbooks, direct mail pieces and election ballots. The first deployment of the InfoPrint 5000 provided Frederic with a POD solution that reducing the cost of warehouse storage and obsolescence. Flexibility was a key consideration for Frederic, which services a variety of customers across many industries, including education, government and marketing organizations.

The InfoPrint 5000 features piezo-electric drop-on-demand inkjet technology with multi-bit per spot for every object on the page as well as water-based pigment and dye inks that resist fading and smearing. These Advanced Function Presentation (AFP)-enabled systems support PostScript and PDF, provide accurate, consistent, and device-independent color rendering, and provide error recovery, auditability and security benefits.

Frederic Printing is one of Consolidated Graphics' (CGX). largest operating companies. CGX acquired the 132-year-old printer from the fourth generation of the Frederic family in 1994.

Chris Greene, president, told us that Frederic is practically a textbook definition of a commercial printer: “We do everything from business cards to millions of welcome kits for cable customers every quarter [as well as] direct mail and collateral.”

See “Textbook opportunity” (October 2010) at www.americanprinter.com.

Mercury amps up digital book production with Kodak Prosper 5000XL

Mercury Print Productions (Rochester, NY) recently installed a Kodak Prosper 5000XL press. Mercury plans to increase its already significant business from McGraw Hill Education, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and other textbook publishers.

The installation includes the Lasermax Roll Systems wide unwind and rewind units. Finishing lines feature the Stack 2230 Systems that, via a Shuttleworth conveyer, feed the Muller Martini Sigma Binder system.
The Prosper 5000XL brings offset class output approaching 175 lpi to Mercury's digital capabilities, with roll-fed speeds up to 650 fpm. The press has monthly duty cycles of up to 120 million A4 impressions, with print widths up to 24.5 inches.

Mercury opened its book publishing division four years ago, when publishers began to turn to digital printing for its short turnaround times and on-demand capabilities. “We have a large fleet of digital presses now, but the introduction of the Prosper Press will far out produce our current equipment,” says Christian Schamberger, Mercury vice president of operations. “The tremendous volume it can print in a month, along with the reduced price point per page will allow us to grow our business in the U.S. This press will allow us to compete effectively with printers in China,. We can drive down the cost to keep the business here.”

A better publishing proposition

OPM (Laflin, PA), an Arvato US Bertelsmann Co., has been cranking out books on its monochrome Kodak Prosper 1000 since July 2010. On the color side, the latest addition is a Kodak Prosper 5000XL. “Publishers don't want warehouses full of books printed on speculation,” says Mitch Weiss, vice president. “They're trying to get more books to market with less risk.”

Prepare to be surprised

Mark your calendar: Drupa takes place May 3-16 in Dusseldorf. “Expect plenty of inkjet surprises at Drupa 2012,” says RIT's Frank Romano. “There'll be new stuff from almost everyone.” See www.drupa.org.

Katherine O'Brien is the editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at kob@amercianprinter.com.