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Commentary & Analysis

Drupa 2012, the Inkjet Drupa…again? My exit interview

In this article of the series, David shares some observations on drupa, a look at some of the inkjet announcements, potential implications, and offerings.

By David Zwang
Published: May 9, 2012

Ok, before I start to get panic emails… no I have not been sacked, have no plans to retire (unlike Andy Tribute), and I will continue to write much more detail on the current and future state of production inkjet (and liquid toner), so stay tuned. However, after 8 long days of pounding the messe pavement, seeing lots of products and solutions and lots of friends, it is time to leave drupa. So I wanted to share some observations.

First of all, there is a healthy level of excitement here that the industry is recovering from its deep funk, both economically and spiritually. And while I have spent most of my time looking at production inkjet and other digital print technologies, surprisingly, some of the more packed booths were the offset press manufacturers. Walking, or more like trying to walk through Heidelberg, manroland, Komori, KBA, etc., was a challenge. I don’t know if people were buying, but they sure were packed in. And unlike Xerox, they didn’t have a fabulous Cirque do Soleil show going on, so it had to be for the equipment shown.

One of the more interesting things surrounding this drupa is that the ‘digital factory’, or the extension of digital print from creation and order initiation through finishing is really starting to take shape. Of course we have already seen a semblance of that in page based print applications for years, but now we are starting to see it in areas like packaging as well. An exciting new product is the Euclid from Highcon. Targeted at short runs (up to about 10,000), and up to a B1 format, it is the first digital cutting and creasing machine. Along the lines of completing the digital factory, and answering the question of inline vs. offline finishing in page based production, Xerox introduced IntegratedPLUS finishing solution. It takes print output from multiple machines and shares it with this new inline feeder attached to a dedicated press. Of course with 17 large buildings filled with products and solutions, there is a lot to talk about, but since I have focused on production inkjet and that’s why you are reading this, let me continue.

Kodak showed their new Prosper 6000XL press that now operates at 1000 fpm, and announced their S30 imprinting system that operates at 3000 fpm, proving that it’s only the transport that is holding them back from increased Prosper press speeds, not their head technology or their nanotechnology ink. Timson showed their new T-Press designed for black and white textbooks, that utilize the Kodak heads, and Ryobi showed their 750 sheetfed press with a Prosper S5 imprinting system integrated. HP showed three new production inkjet web presses; T230, T360, and T410, featuring new printhead technology that increase the speed of their previous models, along with new nanotechnology pigment inks. If we add Landa to the discussion, there seems to be a reoccurring theme here, speed and nanotechnology. In fact, Kyocera introduced the ‘worlds fastest’ 1200 dpi printhead which will also continue the drive to increased speed.

For those of you who have been keeping up with this series, you saw my article on memjet inkjet technology. Here at drupa, the three companies I covered, Delphax, Xante, and Colordyne showed their solutions to very excited audiences. Also at drupa, three more companies have shown solutions or signed on with Memjet, including Océ, Toshiba, and Fuji Xerox, each of them to produce wide format devices.

Other interesting systems, that will be covered in much greater detail in future articles, included 3 new iPrint versions from Impika, which showed a range of flexibility in resolution, speed, and available colors; Fujifilm showed their Jet 720 B2 sheetfed device usually to a crowded audience, and showed their new compact duplexing web press; KBA showed their 500 fpm RotaJet high volume web press developed in conjunction with R.R. Donnelly; Komori showed 2 inkjet presses as technology previews, the web based Impremia IW 20 and the sheetfed Impremia IS 29. Both print at 1200 x 1200 dpi and the output was quite impressive.

At the last drupa, Epson showed a sheetfed press technology demonstration. As you would expect from Epson, the quality was photographic, although as a multi-pass operation (like their proof printers) it was slow. Since then, they have released 2 narrow web label solutions. The 6 color SureColor (new branding) L-4033 A, and the L-4033AW, a 7 color press which includes white to facilitate printing on foils, clear media or just enhance available colors. Both can print on any papers, including textured without any pre-coating. They accomplish this with a new ink that has the rich Epson pigments in a resin based vehicle that has excellent adhesion to most papers. They also showed a technology demonstration of the SurePress X, a new UV web inkjet press that prints single pass and uses LED cured UV ink through new Epson Thin Film Piezo (TFP) printheads. Being UV it will also support a wide range of media without any precoating.

With the introduction of many B2 presses in all major digital print technologies, Miyakoshi in conjunction with Ryobi demonstrated a press that prints 1200 dpi using liquid toner at up to 8,000 sheets per hour. Liquid toner is really making it’s debut at drupa 2012 beyond the HP Indigo. As you saw in yesterday’s article by Andy, Oce introduced a new press using it, and Xeikon showed a technology demonstration of their liquid toner solution, Trillium.

Over the last few drupa’s we have seen an increase in the presentation of products from China. Increasingly they come from a wide range of companies, although one that keeps coming back and getting bigger is Founder. Founder is a government owned technology company that first started to appear with some RIP software back in the days of the Seybold Conference and Expo (a long time ago!), and their product lines have increased over time. This year they showed 3 new production inkjet presses, that had very comparable specs to many of the other web fed devices currently in the market. I will be covering them in much greater detail in coming articles.

In conclusion

I’m tired, my feet hurt, and I have a huge amount of information to sort through when I get back. There is no doubt that I haven’t even mentioned all of the new products I have seen, so in advance I apologize to the vendor in advance. The good news is that the extra time will give me an opportunity to present, in detail, the devices that are shipping or those that are promised sometime in the future.

David Zwang travels around the globe helping companies increase their productivity, margins and market reach. He specializes in production optimization, strategic business planning, market analysis, and related services to companies in the vertical media communications market. Clients have included printers, manufacturers, retailers, publishers, premedia and US Government agencies. He can be reached at david@zwang.com.


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