High-speed digital colour web press review

With the 2008 trade show season in full swing, interest in digital press equipment at the On Demand Expo held in March in Boston was very strong, and I believe that interest in digital at drupa 2008 will also prove to be high. We are on the cusp of huge digital press advancement, which will take the form of digital presses with much higher speeds and higher quality; I believe that many of these advances will happen in the next five years.

In 2009, 53 trillion documents will be printed, of which only about 9 percent will be digital. Despite their currently small numbers, digital pages are growing much faster than analog ones, according to Stephen Nigro, senior vice president of graphics and imaging at HP.

According to a study done by InfoTrends on the future of direct mail, transaction, and transpromotional documents, North American respondents said they expect the share of their transaction volume printed in full digital colour to grow from 22.9 percent in 2006 to 33 percent by 2010. The firm also predicts 91 percent growth in full digital colour transpromotional output in North America between 2006 and 2009, from 1.62 billion images to 21.72 billion images.

So with this huge transition taking place in the digital web press arena, my column this month will focus on some of the industry leaders producing digital web presses.

HP Inkjet Web Press

Hewlett-Packard Co. introduced the HP Inkjet Web Press at a drupa preview in Tel Aviv, Israel. The high-speed digital colour printing unit can handle rolls up to 30 inches wide and is compatible with a variety of uncoated media, making it suitable for applications such as book and newspaper publishing. Its large format can accommodate full broadsheet pages.

The HP Inkjet Web Press, built around HP’s Scalable Printing Technology (SPT) platform, arrays printheads across a continuous-feed 30-inch paper path and outputs either to a rewind unit or to finishing devices. It is designed to perform in high volume, 24/7 environments, and has a target duty cycle of 70 million impressions per month (letter sized, 4/0 impressions).

Target Markets: Book and
newspaper publishing

The speed and width of HP’s offering makes it flexible for many different marketplaces, including direct mail and book and newspaper publishing. Its large format can accommodate full broadsheet pages.

Key Attributes:

• Up to 30 inch (762mm) web width

• 400 feet (122 meters) per minute speed

• Duty cycle of 70 million impressions per month

• 4 colour Variable Data Printing at full speed

• Compatible with a wide range of uncoated papers

• Automated, in-line process control

Océ JetStream 2200

With its new JetStream family, Océ has joined the colour inkjet race at full throttle, providing versatility and workflow integration in addition to sheer speed. Océ has now set the speed record for a commercial-quality variable imaging digital colour web press: the JetStream 2200 prints a whopping 2180 colour 600√ó600-dpi pages per minute.

Océ JetStream systems offer an integrated roll-to-roll configuration with a tight web for precise registration and control. A high-speed paper path produces CMYK full-process colour output at approximately 500 feet per minute with 600×600 dpi resolution. Paper processing options include a cross-perforation device for folding and a punch unit for creating pin feed holes. Optional roll slitter and folding units increase finishing options. Integrated finishing allows seamless workflow automation for uninterrupted production that requires little manual intervention.

Target Markets: Direct mail
and transaction segments

Service bureaus, graphic arts operations, letter shops, offset printers, and other commercial and corporate printers can deliver full-colour, variable data output with exceptional quality at high speeds and maximum productivity.

Key Attributes:

‚Ä¢ Up to 20.3” web width

‚Ä¢ Océ DigiDot piezoelectric Drop-on-demand inkjet technology

• 600 x 600 dpi resolution

• Speeds up to 500 feet per minute

• Duty cycle of 60 million impressions per month

• CMYK full-process colour output

• Supports a wide range of papers and weights

Xeikon 6000

The Xeikon 6000 is a fully featured digital press offering speeds of 160 pages per minute, has a duty cycle that can reach up to 5 million impressions per month, and features a variable web input module as a standard option. In addition, it can print on both sides of a substrate in a single pass.

The Xeikon 6000 is uniquely positioned to produce fully personalized, full-colour books on demand. It has a web width of 20 inches and virtually no restriction on the length of the printed page. Depending upon the page size, these book blocks can be produced 1-up, 2-up, or even 3-up on the Xeikon 6000, enabling book publishers and printers to achieve higher production volumes and economies of scale while reducing production costs.

Due to its format flexibility, the Xeikon 6000 is capable of producing large format book covers and wraps. In addition, the Xeikon 6000 can easily handle substrates from 27 lb text to 122 lb cover, providing a range of substrate options to its users.

Target Markets: Book production

The Xeikon 6000 can be easily integrated with various inline and offline finishing solutions. As a result, Xeikon technology can provide a truly streamlined book production workflow, generating fully converted ready-to-read books.

Key Attributes:

• Up to 20 inch print width

• LED array-based, dry toner electrophotography

• Up to 20 cm/sec (39 ft/min)

• 600 dpi with variable dot density (4 bit)

• Duty Cycle: up to five million pages per month

• Compatible with coated and uncoated paper

Xerox’s 490/980

Xerox Corporation entered the full-colour, continuous feed printing market with the release of their 490/980 Color Continuous Feed Printing System. The system uses xerographic imaging and flash-fusing technology with dry toner, making it compatible with a wide variety of substrates and able to produce documents at 600dpi resolution. Capable of printing 226 feet per minute or 493 images per minute two-up on simplex on 8.5” x 11” paper, it also features duplex printing and easily prints 986 images per minute in duplex mode. Another benefit of flash fusing is the ability to feed unique stocks that use adhesives or are pressure sensitive, such as cards, labels, self-sealing materials, foil coatings, and even RFID inlays. The 490/980 maintains top speed when printing full colour or black and white, regardless of the number of colours used or the weight of the paper.

Target Markets: Transactional, promo, and direct mail pieces; newsletters

The Xerox 490/980 colour Continuous Feed Printing System produces high quality, brilliant documents such as transactional statements, invoices with promotional marketing messages, and direct-mail pieces containing coupons, membership cards, and newsletters.

Key Attributes:

• Up to 18 inch print width

• Xerographic imaging and flash-fusing technology with dry toner

• 226 feet per minute (69 metres per minute)

• 600dpi resolution, for both full colour and black and white

• Pressure sensitive cards, labels, self-sealing materials, foil coatings, and RFID inlays