A look at the latest models from leading vendors
Inkjet printing is one of the fastest growing technologies in the printing industry today. Inkjet is a type of computer printing that recreates a digital image by propelling droplets of ink onto paper, plastic or other substrates. Today, inkjet is the most commonly used type of printer, and can range from small, inexpensive consumer desktop models to larger high-end presses and even advanced wide-format devices. The technology uses material deposition, typically print heads that have piezoelectric crystals, to deposit inks directly onto substrates. The two major technologies in use in contemporary inkjet are continuous inkjet (CIJ) and drop-on-demand (DOD). Inks used include aqueous, solvent, UV-curable and dye sublimation.
The benefits of inkjet
Inkjet devices can print fine, smooth details in high-dpi resolutions. Even compact tabletop inkjet printers can yield photograph-like quality. Compared to laser printing, inkjets have reduced warm-up times and may offer a lower cost per page – though some laser printers may have a lower cost per page, usually in black and white. Many industrial inkjet printers today can print at high speeds in wide formats for a variety of industrial applications including signage and displays, textiles and more. Droplets of ink jetted are about 50 microns in diameter – smaller than a human hair – yet the cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks can be sprayed together with extreme precision. Spraying thousands of dots per minute with pinpoint accuracy enables these remarkable devices to transform a page into clear text and impressive images with colour output up to 1,440 × 1,440 dpi.
In the wide-format and fabric-printing segments, huge improvements in print quality have been made via advances in ink laydown, registration accuracy, drying times, special ink sets and substrates, customized workflow software and more. Here are some of the more recent and selected inkjet printers and production presses from several leading manufacturers.
Agfa Graphics latest hybrid flagship workhorse is the Jeti Tauro H3300 UV LED. The “bigger, sturdier and faster” H3300 features smooth, detailed output and rapid UV LED curing. Fully automated multi-board loading and unloading of up to four boards is available. Its high speed becomes even more apparent in the roll-to-roll version, which is capable of handling heavy master rolls in single or dual-roll mode for a wide variety of flexible media. A new vacuum table and vacuum belt design keeps media perfectly flat for precise dot positioning and accurate media transport. Image vividness is created to last, even when subjected to harsh outdoor weather. Due to the high pigment load of Agfa-made inks and Asanti’s ink-saving algorithms, “ink consumption per square metre is the lowest on the market. The result is an ideal balance between quality, productivity and cost of ownership,” said Agfa. LED lifespans are about 10,000 hours. The H3300 can produce visually stunning prints on media up to 3.3 m wide at speeds up to 453 square metres per hour, can run 24/7, and offers several degrees of automation.
Canon’s Océ LabelStream 4000 series represents the company’s initial entry into the label-printing market and should be available by the end of this year. The series provides high-opacity white at standard press speeds. A modular toolbox concept allows conversion from a standalone digital press to a full hybrid configuration via a custom mix of seamlessly integrated digital, flexo, finishing and embellishment units. Two print speeds of 48 metres per minute and 68 metres per minute combined with two print widths of 330 mm and 410 mm correspond to a productivity range of 950 to 1,672 square metres per hour. Its seamless integration includes a single-point of operation, servo-drive technology, auto-registration and impression setting, and inspection cameras that improve usability while reducing makeready times. Users will also benefit from Canon’s and Océ’s inkjet DNA – “technologies integrated into comprehensive end-to-end solutions and supported by global service and business consultants to develop and grow a sustainable and profitable digital business.”
Durst’s next-generation technology platform is the P5 Series. The first member of this new family is its large-format flagship, the P5 250 HS, targeted towards high-volume industrial production as well as one-offs in offset quality. The term P5 refers to five core features at the heart of this technology – productivity, reliability, workflow, versatility and print quality. P5 technology consists of a series of new-generation printers along with new, in-house-developed software and workflow solutions. The family also has state-of-the-art, touch-operation-based user interfaces and remote service capabilities. Everything is streamlined to maximize printing performance and uptime, along with flexibility in media and job handling, said the company. When compared to the Durst P10 250 HS, the new P5 is 70% more productive with high speeds, ultra-precise five picolitre drop placement and industrial-level reliability. Print capability in two-pass mode is up to 240 square metres per hour with high resolution modes of 1,200 dpi. Durst’s analytics information platform includes pre-emptive maintenance and detailed machine and consumption data.
EFI’s new high-speed inkjets—the EFI Vutek HS125 F4 and Vutek HS100 F4—are CMYK x 2 configuration models that can accommodate “fast, out-of-home applications where total cost per square foot is key.” Major additions to EFI’s line of hybrid flatbed/roll super-wide-format devices, the two new printers reconfigure the eight ink channels of the Vutek HS series platform into a CMYK x 2 set-up, “efficiently addressing the need for cost-effective production of banners, billboards, building wraps and similar applications.” The new models offer a significant speed increase, printing up to 225 boards per hour on the HS125 F4, and up to 190 boards per hour on the HS100 F4. They also include standard EFI HS features and options – such as pin and cure, variable-drop grayscale imaging, plus fully automated and semi-automated materials handling. “The two new printers run more than 50% faster – and a speed boost like this gives our customers an important new opportunity to increase their margins,” said EFI.
HP’s newest PageWide inkjet web presses for ultra-high-volume digital corrugated printing are the PageWide T1190 and T1170. The T1190 delivers up to 1,000 linear feet per minute in six colours at full press speed. The addition of 6-colour printing (CMYKOV) opens new digital opportunities for brands – including short-runs, faster turnaround times and versioning. The ultra-wide 110″ thermal inkjet web presses are ideal for packaging converters seeking a digital transformation with high-volume productivity in offset quality. Both presses use HP A30 water-based inks that contain no UV-reactive chemicals and require no additional barriers for food packaging. The T1170 prints 600 linear feet per minute in six colours. The presses are suitable for coated and uncoated media from 80 to 350 gsm. HP Multilane Print Architecture (MLPA) boosts productivity by splitting the web into multiple print lanes so different jobs with different box sizes and run lengths can be printed in the individual lanes. Multiple ultra-short or short runs can be queued and printed together, while a long run can be printed in another lane.
Konica Minolta’s AccurioJet KM-1 B2 inkjet press can output up to 3,000 sheets per hour, and features ease of operator maintenance and short turnaround times. The printer gives users the flexibility to print on almost any substrate – from heavy textured stocks and folding cartons, to never-tear media. Dot freeze technology on the KM-1 can freeze the inkjet dots, enabling perfect registration of colours and image stability. Referred to by Konica Minolta as the Swiss Army knife of the printing world because it has so many uses, it offers reduced costs in prepress, makereadies and consumables to make short-run jobs more profitable. Its wide media range is capable of printing on thin substrates, textured media and heavy board stock. Fine inkjet drops create superior images with sharp text and line quality without affecting photos and graphics. The AccurioJet KM-1 “is the world’s first UV offset duplexing press that uses offset gripper-to-gripper media handling for highly accurate registration,” said Konica Minolta.
Memjet’s first flexible on-demand packaging solution, the Rigoli MVZ, is the first roll-to-roll wide-format inkjet printer powered by Memjet. It’s a low-cost solution that produces low-run to medium-run lengths of customized flexible packaging. Users are able to realize a faster return on their investment based on increased productivity, lower inventory and reduced waste costs. The MVZ offers brands and converters the ability to produce variable packaging across a wide variety of applications, sizes and substrates. Supporting widths up to 1,067 mm (42”), the new printer includes an industrial unwinder and rewinder that can accommodate jumbo rolls. The small-footprint MVZ can also be equipped with a buffering unit that allows inline installation with other finishing equipment—including cutting and laminating systems and filling equipment—thus saving time and unnecessary steps in production. Memjet’s single-pass, wide-format technology can output 1,600 x 1,600 dpi at 9 metres per minute, or 1,600 x 800 dpi at 18 metres per minute.
The Mimaki UCJV300-160 and UCJV150-160 are new 1,200-dpi UV inkjet roll-to-roll wide-format print-and-cut devices characterized by the company as “the world’s only print/cut UV devices.” They feature five-layer white ink printing, low cost of operation and ownership compared to latex printing, and a wide range of media to print on. As there are no heaters, the challenges faced related to heat are never an issue. One of the coolest features of the UCJV300-160 is a new function called the four layers of print – colour + black + white + colour. The resulting print effect is an image that can actually change appearance between day and night. The four layers of print (available on the UCJV300-160 only) represents “an amazing image change between day time and night time with eye-attractive expressiveness to increase signage recognition.” The printers are built on the Mimaki JV300 Series platform with new technologies to increase throughput and uptime. Eight ink channels and a variety of colours, including silver, can produce nearly any application. These models use fast-drying eco-solvent inks that can print on literally hundreds of media types. The series is ideal for vehicle wraps, packaging labels, decals, stickers, floor graphics, posters, signage and much more.
The new VJ-1638UR 64″ UV-LED for the commercial print and sign and display markets was specifically developed for roll-to-roll printing at an affordable price. Its staggered dual printhead design and the dual UV lamps on both sides of the printheads provide environmentally friendly features such as UV ink that’s VOC-free, low energy consumption and odourless after-curing. Mutoh UV-LED ink can accommodate a wide range of applications. Also, the Mutoh’s cool technology reduces working temperature, allowing printing on heat-sensitive media. Varnish ink provides spot varnish and multi-layer printing which isn’t possible with solvent printers. The printer also comes standard with an automatic media registration pin system and a vacuum table with a blow-back feature for easy handling and positioning of heavy media. Users can expand their product offerings to include promotional items, directional signage, awards, specialty, labels, packaging prototypes and more.
Ricoh’s Pro VC60000 press, a continuous-feed modular inkjet system, features a resolution of up to 1,200 x 1,200 dpi, with a dynamic variable-drop size within each pixel that provides “significant additional perceived print quality.” It can produce up to 40 million impressions per month. Its duplex system can produce nearly 100,000 A4 images per hour. The new press can handle a broad range of media including uncoated, coated offset, digital, treated and recycled. Faster setup times and personalized print runs utilizing variable data can be achieved. Ideal for direct mail, book printing and marketing materials, it has durable printheads and high viscosity water-based pigment inks that reduce environmental impact. Its optional protector coat unit provides a durable “scratch and scuff resistant” layer. Whether integrating into a fully digital or hybrid offset workflow, the Pro VC60000 DFE ensures native support for PDF, PDF/VT and AFP/IPDS, together with JDF and advanced colour management support. Ricoh process director and process director express modular software allows printers to automate the flow of jobs through production smoothly while retaining control of their print processes.
The Xerox Brenva HD production inkjet press features up to eight media choices and multiple drop sizes, providing flexibility for users to manage their finished output and costs. Custom profiles can be created via its inline spectrophotometer that establishes ink limits and drop sizes for all paper stocks in accordance with job printing budgets. This press is “one of the most versatile products ever launched in the Xerox production portfolio,” it added. For example, object-oriented colour management found on the FreeFlow print server identifies text, graphics and images within the data stream, and renders each differently through the use of a range of drop sizes to optimize the quality of each on the same page. Also, cloud-based ink estimation provides the ability to preflight files and determine ink consumption before a job is printed. This enables more accurate pricing and determines total run costs well before a job is processed.