A Xeikon 8000 digital press in operation at the world headquarters of Punch Graphics in Belgium.

Seeking a higher profile for Xeikon digital presses and its other print market technologies, Punch Graphix today opened the doors of its international headquarters in Liel, Belgium, to a contingent of more than 70 print industry journalists from around the world. The plant tour occupied the second day of a pre-IPEX media briefing that included presentations yesterday by Atlantic Zeiser, EscoArtwork/Enfocus, and Kodak.

The open house was, in the words of Punch Graphix CEO Wim Maes, part of an effort to build a “world wide presence” in the marketing sense for Xeikon, a family of toner-based presses that has been on the market since the earliest days of digital color printing. He and a team of senior managers also promoted the company’s capabilities in toner and CtP, which are be showcased along with the Xeikons at IPEX.

Maes said that despite a drop in sales that caused Punch Graphix’s net losses in 2009 to equal its net profits in 2008, orders have been stable since drupa 2008 and have seen some pickup this year. He said that despite this “atmosphere of crisis,” the company has continued to pursue the technological advancements that it will present at IPEX—including an announcement made to the journalists today but news-embargoed until a later date prior to the show.

Discussed today were the launch of two new toners; a speed upgrade for the Xeikon 8000 press; and the addition of fifth-color capability to the workflow that drives document and direct-mail printing on Xeikon presses. Also demonstrated, as it will be at IPEX, was the company’s basysPrint platesetting technology for UV-sensitive offset plates.

The principal application areas for Xeikon presses are industrial printing, including labels; documents, including transpromo; books; and point-of-purchase materials. The line of web-fed, dry-toner electrophotographic presses comprises the 8000, 6000, 4000, 5000plus and 3300 models.

At the front of the line in terms of productivity is the Xeikon 8000, a 1,200-dpi, four- or five-color duplex color press that has been given a speed increase from 230 ppm to 260 ppm. Existing Xeikon 8000 engines can be field-upgraded to the higher speed. The company says that with the speed increase, three Xeikon 8000 presses supervised by one operator can be lined up to produce one million images per day.

Through Xeikon, Punch Graphics develops its own toners in what it says is an environmentally sensitive way, using no solvents and relying on electricity that is certified to come only from renewable sources. Announced today were two “dedicated” formulations: QA-I (Industrial), for use with the Xeikon 3000 label press; and QA-P (Productivity), for document printing and books. Thanks to a new pigment, QA-I is said to be safe for direct and indirect contact with food in a dry-food environment. QA-P has been optimized for its intended uses with advances in fusing and color-gamut performance.

basysPrint platesetters once exposed UV-sensitive plates with conventional UV lamps; now they do it with laser diodes in the violet range for improvements in exposure speed and energy consumption. At IPEX, Punch Graphics will present its new 857 UV-Setter, an eight-up, flatbed CtP device that images up to 30 plates per hour and can be equipped for automated plate feeding from multiple cassettes. Punch Graphix also offers basysPrint platesetters in four-up and VLF configurations. The line is said to expose all types of UV-sensitive plates for all offset press formats.

Also to be demonstrated at IPEX are the Xeikon X-800 digital front end, which now features JDF-compliant integration with MIS; and the IPDS workflow for transactional/transpromo documents and direct mail, which has been enhanced with fifth-color capability.