Last week there was an interesting announcement from Fuji Xerox of two new digital presses that are being introduced into the Fuji Xerox markets. The new printers are the Color 1000 Press and Color 800 Press. These two presses are very interesting, as they appear to be moving the Fuji Xerox products up into the top end of the high-quality production color printing market. Fuji Xerox is the supplier of the Xerox DocuColor and Xerox 700 Digital Press printers as well as the Xerox 490/980 Continuous Feed Color Press.

These are the first high-end printers to move use of chemical toners, in this case similar EA toner to that used in a number of light and mid-range color printers. Up to now to my understanding chemical toners have never been available in any color press faster than 70 pages/minute. The Color 1000 Press prints at 100 pages/minute and the Color 800 Press at 80 pages/minute. Chemical toners have shown real benefits over conventional ground toners in that toner particles can be smaller in size and more uniform in shape. They can also be created to provide specific characteristics to improve image quality. Chemical toners appear to be the future for electrophotographic printers but have taken time to challenge in the high-end of the market.

In addition to the use of EA toner the Color 1000 Press also offers Clear Toner to provide applications like watermarking and extra gloss. It is not clear at this time if this clear toner is applied in a similar fashion to the clear toner on the Kodak Nexpress printers from a fifth imaging station. The two presses also have a new belt roll fuser that maintains stable temperatures at high speed on substrates from 55 to 350 gsm. The presses also have a new long-life photoreceptor that has improved wear and damage resistance and are stated to have twice the lifespan of the photoreceptors on the DocuColor 7002/8002 presses.
It would appear that these two presses are a significant improvement on the DocuColor 7002/8002 presses and should challenge the Xerox iGen3 and iGen4 presses in the high-end of the production color printing market. The products however are closer to the Xerox iGen prices than the DocuColor 7002/8002 prices. The Japanese price for the Color Press 1000 is 45m Yen ($490,000) and the Color Press 800 is 35m Yen. ($380,000).

I checked with Xerox on what their strategy was for these two new presses and received the following response.
“Fuji Xerox’s announcement of its launch plans for the Xerox Color 1000 Press and the Xerox Color 800 Press is the first phase of a global plan to bring this new product to market. Xerox often takes a phased approach in rolling out products, either by market or by sector or geography.

Launch plans for these new presses are being finalized for the rest of the world, so we do not have a specific date for order taking or availability for other parts of the world at this time. We will have more information to share with you in the first half of 2010. The pricing will be comparable to the FX list price.

Xerox’s current high-end digital color portfolio remains intact throughout North America, Europe and other geographies. Xerox has been – and continues to be – the leader in the high-end digital color market, with the broadest range of digital production printing technology. The press will fit between the Xerox DocuColor 7002/8002 and the Xerox iGen3 90/110 and the Xerox iGen4 90/110.”

These two presses look very interesting and it will be interesting to see how Xerox bring them to market. Will they allow Xerox to drop the prices of the DocuColor 7002 and 8002, or will they replace these products. Also will the Color Press 1000 sit alongside the Xerox iGen3 printers or replace them. Over the past ten years Xerox has regularly updated its product lines and these two presses are likely to continue this approach. What is interesting is Fuji Xerox printers are normally launched into the Xerox markets before the Fuji Xerox markets. Are we seeing a sign of change for the future where the Far Eastern markets will be the lead markets for product introductions?