Product profile: This month’s topic: Digital presses


Digital press technology is becoming increasingly prevalent and valuable in today’s printing environment. Versatility, cost effective short run capabilities, decreased makeready and reduced waste are just some of the factors enabling digital press technology to out perform traditional offset processes.

Another huge benefit to digital press technology is the opportunity for reduced obsolescence and printing only what is required, when it is required. This reduces associated storage and overall waste without sacrificing quality. The opportunity for variable data, custom and on-demand printing jobs can far outweigh the higher cost per piece associated with a digitally printed, short run job. Therefore, there’s a lot to be said about the current work produced by digital presses and the innumerable opportunities digital presses hold for the future. Below is a breakdown of six digital presses.

Epson’s SurePress L-4033A Digital Label Press

Epson’s SurePress L-4033A digital label press allows for short run label production. It is a water-based, 6-colour device (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, orange and green), thereby allowing for increased colour gamut with consistent results. This digital label press employs inkjet technology and allows for web widths from 3.15 – 13 inches. Substrates used with this equipment do not require pretreatment; therefore a wide range of off-the-shelf substrates can be used. Pretreatment is not required due to the use of a two-stage drying process, which permits a wide range of substrates to be used while still ensuring maximum ink adhesion.

HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press


HP Indigo WS6600 Digital Press is a state-of-the-art digital label and packaging press that prints 98 feet per minute in 4-colour mode and up to 196 feet per minute in 1 and 2-colour modes. The press has an image resolution of 1219 dpi and 2438 × 2438 dpi addressability HDI (High Definition Imaging). Compatible substrates include pressure-sensitive label stock, paperboard and unsupported films, with a web width from 7.87 – 13.39 inches.

At the core of the HP Indigo is a liquid electrophotographic printing process. The press supports a white ink mode that allows for greater opacity and a greater range of products to be printed.

There is an optional inline priming treatment unit so that non-treated standard stock can be primed inline and does not require a separate step. This helps increase production flexibility and accommodate last minute jobs and changes.

Remote diagnostics and troubleshooting tools are designed to help assist operators in resolving problems quickly and efficiently. In addition to these service features, this press is equipped with automated calibration processes to ensure consistent quality with minimal operator intervention.

In a blind test with 226 participants in November 2010, users were asked which package they preferred. They were shown a package printed on the HP Indigo and a product printed via flexography. Participants preferred the quality of the HPIndigo package by a four-to-one margin.

Xante’s ILUMINA GS Digital Production Press


This high-production digital colour press is designed to print full-colour envelopes, sheets and cards. The press includes a high-volume feeder and delivery conveyor that can support the manufacture of 40 full-colour #10 envelopes per minute or 36 full-colour pages per minute. It can also produce variable data at full production speed. The High Capacity Feeder holds 4000 sheets of 20lb bond paper with a width of 3.875 – 12.9 inches. Text weight paper and heavy cover stocks (up to 26 pt) can all be accommodated, as well as uncoated, coated, textured stocks and transparencies. The High Capacity Feeder also accommodates unique sheets up to 47.29 inches in length for banners.

Konica Minolta bizhub Digital Press C8000


This Konica Minolta versatile digital press has fast and reliable output of 80 ppm in full colour with offset-quality colour at 1,200 dpi and is certified by IDEAlliance. It has a simple interface that allows for straightforward usability; therefore less operator training time is required.

The user has a choice of 3 powerful print control engines, including Konica Minolta, Fiery and Creo, for superior colour management of every job. Additionally, a new relay unit in this digital press provides key information directly to the print engine and makes adjustments on the fly to promote maximum press uptime. Another unique attribute of this press is the high capacity storage unit that is able to hold 10,760 sheets of paper for minimal stoppage of long run jobs. This in turn means less operator intervention and more press uptime.

MGI’s Meteor DP8700 XL


MGI’s versatile digital press prints on a wide range of substrates including paper and plastics. It can accommodate up to 40″ sheet size with a possible 3600 dpi output. A wide range of industries makes use of this technology, including commercial, book, photo and envelope printers.

The Meteor DP8700 XL can handle plastics from 4mil up to 16mil thick and accommodate the following types: PVC, polyester, polycarbonate, polyethylene, Lexan®, PET, Autotype, Vinyl, Teslin®, Yupo, Melinex®, and canvas. It has variable data capabilities and is compatible with many popular variable data management solutions including: NEWLEAF & PReS PrintSoft, Seagull Scientific Bartender, Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, PrintShop Mail, etc.

A unique quality of this press is that there are no click charges! As MGI explains: “we listened when printers worldwide told us they thought that the click charges were unfair, and we agree 100%”. MGI therefore operates with no monthly minimums or overage charges. “You pay for what you print, it’s that simple.”

There are also environmentally friendly aspects to this digital press including deinkable printed products that are therefore recyclable. This digital press has a smaller carbon footprint than other similar digital presses, including low power consumption, no exit exhaust, no additional HVAC or chiller required, as well as no VOC emission. To top it off, the consumables for this digital press are packaged in recyclable containers and do not require a special means of disposal.

Xeikon 8000 Digital Press


Xeikon’s 8000 digital press employs dry toner electrophotographic technology and provides 1200 dpi imaging capabilities. This press is ideal for direct marketing and web-to-print applications, including books, transpromo, direct mail and variable data on-demand printed pieces.

The Xeikon 8000 digital press does not require pre-treatment of substrates, thereby allowing for increased flexibility when planning and executing a job. It is a web-fed device that has a maximum web width of 20.2 inches and no maximum print length.

Massachusetts-based book printer, Bradford & Bigelow, invested in this technology in 2009 and have achieved success with educational book publishers, who often require text revisions to communicate the latest research. They have employed finishing technology that feeds directly from the Xeikon to cut, slit and collate the book so it’s ready for the bindery. Bradford & Bigelow recognizes that the Xeikon 8000 digital press has trimmed significant time and labour out of its book production, thereby increasing bottom-line profitability.

It is often difficult to see through all of the numbers, specifications and capabilities to understand what’s truly important: value. If the capabilities of a digital press are able to create value for your current and prospective customers, it may be worth the investment. With digital printing, and every other product or service sold, if the customer says, “it’s too expensive”, they are not saying, “the price is too high”, they are saying, “the value is too low”. If you can show them value, above and beyond the cost per printed piece, your digital efforts will pay off.


Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.