Up to this point we have primarily looked at production inkjet print technology and products that are available for sale today. However, one of the things that we saw at Drupa 2012 was a view of ‘potential’ future offerings in this same space. Whether or when any of them will make it to the marketplace as they were displayed is yet to be seen. Although many of them did offer a glimpse into the future direction of this exciting technology and the benefits it can bring to the production print market. Starting with this article, the next round of articles will look at these companies and futures.

Many would say that in the ‘futures’ space the most interesting story was in the Landa booth, although I think that there was a more interesting back story in a company not normally known for being in the inkjet space; Komori.

Komori is no stranger to the print community, and it has a long history in print machine manufacturing. It was founded in 1923, with their first continuous feed (roll) press developed in 1925, followed shortly in 1928 by their first 32 in. offset press.  Currently they have two primary factories in Japan. The Tsukuba Plant, which concentrates on medium-format and web offset presses; and Komori Machinery, which concentrates on small–format sheetfed presses. Recently they established the Komori-Chambon S.A.S plant in France to concentrate on their packaging press manufacturing. They have a strong global footprint with numerous offices and facilities throughout Japan, US, Europe, and China, with distributors that cover the other areas of the globe.

They have always been an innovative company, creating their first four color offset press in 1957, and introducing its first dry offset press in 1961. They introduced their Lithrone family of presses in 1997, and have been developing new features, product lines and models ever since. While they currently don’t offer any production inkjet products, at Drupa 2012 they showed 2 concept production inkjet presses; The Impremia IW 20, a 20 in. continuous feed and the Impremia IS 29, a 29 in. sheetfed press. Both of these are expected to be ready for launch sometime in 2013. But more importantly, Komori seems to have concluded that partnering with other companies including Konica Minolta, Landa, and others makes a lot of sense. For example the IS 29 development has been in partnership with Konica Minolta who showed their version the KM-1 at Drupa as well. Additionally they have entered into a manufacturing agreement with Landa to produce their presses as well. More on that in a future article on Landa.

A primer on Komori Production Inkjet technology

The Impremia presses shown at Drupa 2012 each use different printheads. The sheet fed Impremia IS 29 uses Konica Minolta piezo printheads. Konica Minolta has been developing high resolution UV printheads that can print at up to 1200 x 1200 dpi native resolution. Initially the Impremia IS 29 is slated to support four colors, but they have an option for two additional colors planned. While a bit more expensive than aqueous based inks, the advantage of UV inks, especially in a sheetfed press is the wide variety of media options, something that really addresses the wider range of commercial offset printing.

The Impremia IW20 prints aqueous pigment based inks at a resolution of up to 1200 x 1200 dpi using Panasonic inkjet head technology. The goal for this product is to print on a variety of substrates that do not require pre-treatment. Although this was not demonstrated at drupa it will be available when the product is launched at Print 2013.

Komori Press Transport(s)

As a result of their long history of offset print machine manufacturing, Komori knows how to manufacture a solid press transport system. While inkjet print production does bring some other challenges to the press beyond the inking systems, they have been able to address these as evidenced by the interest of Konica Minolta and Landa in using the Komori transports in their respective machines.

The Impremia IS 29 can print up to 3,300 sheets per hour, in comparison to the Fujifilm and Screen devices making it one of the fastest of the currently available sheetfed production inkjet machines. The prerelease specifications allude to a double-sided printing at 1,650 sheets per hour, and based on that I would assume there is a duplex option going to be available. It is a B2 press with a minimum sheet size of  11 x 15.75 in. and a maximum of 20.87 x 29.52 in. It currently supports a range of media thickness from 0.06-0.45 mm with a plan to support up to 0.6 mm.

The Impremia IW 20 is also a B2 press that can print four colors at up to 1200 dpi at 246 ft/min. and 492 ft/min at 600 dpi with an inline cutting speed of 500 sheets per minute. It supports a minimum paper width of 6 in. to a maximum of 20.87in.

Komori Front End

While not specifically announced, Komori has developed their DoNet systems which include extensive control of their offset machines. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that they will use some of that know how to develop a similar solution for their new inkjet line.

At Drupa 2012 Komori also announced a new color matching software solution that ties together their offset presses with their inkjet web and sheetfed systems to ensure matching across devices.

Putting it to use

With the impending release of the Komori Impremia IS 29, it really adds an additional level of credibility to sheetfed production inkjet as a viable solution for commercial offset printers. I look forward to the final specifications and the release.

In the next article, I will continue this production inkjet educational series by looking at KBA production inkjet technology and futures. In each subsequent article we will look at a different vendor’s offerings, and how they are being used in production.