Digital crossroads

As an alternative to conventional commercial printing – and its underpinning principles of quality and unit-price for volume – digital printing has made a compelling case: variable impressions, short runs at premium but not prohibitive pricing, and all types of integration – all bundled together with smart die cutting and finishing options.
But digital printing itself is now at a technological crossroads.
Colin McKenzie, national manager, digital web technology, at Océ Australia, sees an upheaval currently underway in print communication. In his view, it signifies a conflict between three technologies: toner-based, inkjet, and offset lithography.
“Inkjet is driving this disturbance by bringing the values of print communication at higher levels of productivity and lower running cost. High-speed webfed colour inkjet presses started this upheaval with successes in transactional, direct mail, and book applications. The battle is now expanding to more commercial applications. Ongoing developments in toner-based systems are coming in trickles, and productivity has effectively reached its peak, with cost structures reaching the bottom.
“A breach has formed between sheetfed colour toner and rollfed colour inkjet digital presses. This breach, which many are calling the Zone of Disruption, presents an opportunity for highly productive colour inkjet presses,” McKenzie states.
Sheetfed toner presses
At Konica Minolta Australia, Grant Thomas, product marketing manager for production print, points to the new Konica Minolta AccurioPress range of sheetfed, toner-based digital print systems as representing leading design, quality, reliability, media flexibility and colour quality. The “Accurio” name was developed to identify the core assets of these presses – namely their advanced, automated, accurate and proven reliability, he explains.
“The AccurioPress systems are constructed on a heavy-gauge steel frame chassis, which not only increases engine life and performance but importantly allows the digital print process to work flawlessly to produce high-quality print output without any appearance of banding or stepping in low toner coverage areas on a wide range of media weight and types,” he says.
Konica Minolta’s high-definition toner, Simitri HDE, was developed to produce the highest colour quality while being able to print on a large range of media, from lightweight up to heavyweight papers, as well as synthetic media, states Thomas. “Thanks to the low toner fusing temperature required, less stress is placed on the media, while still offering low fade under UV light, as well as food contact grade certification for packaging use.”
Dean Edelman and Henryk Kraszewski, respectively Ricoh Australia’s segment marketing manager and senior product manager, Commercial & Industrial Print, are enthusiastic about the new digital toner presses the company has brought into the Australian market.
The Ricoh Pro C7200 sheetfed four-colour press generates speeds of up to 85ppm in colour at a quality described as “offset-like”. It has versatile paper support and duplex longsheet printing up to 700mm, says Kraszewski.
Its stablemate, the Pro C7200x series, Graphic Arts Edition, is a five-colour line that is rated at 85ppm (and 95ppm on a 7210 variation capable of 2790 SRA3 sheets per hour) and offers Invisible Red toner, which Kraszewski describes as “ideal for a range of entry-level security applications”.
And the Ricoh Pro C9200 Graphic Arts Edition, a four-colour press, produces up to 115ppm (and up to 135ppm on a C9210 variation capable of 4260 SRA3 sheets per hour), with offset-like print quality, diverse media options and up to one million pages per month.
Sheetfed inkjet
The Océ VarioPrint i300 can not only handle today’s demanding applications with ease, it also offers the industry-leading flexibility and productivity that provides a growth path to the future, says Océ Australia’s Colin McKenzie.
“Whether you are moving to short-runs, personalised documents, white paper solutions or colour enhanced monochrome documents, the VarioPrint i300 is ready to help you expand your business with new applications and new customers.”
At Currie Group, digital enhancement presses are a specialty and the Scodix brand is now a mainstay of the Australian market, says Bernie Robinson, Currie Group managing director. The Scodix Ultra range –  Scodix Ultra, Scodix Ultra Pro and Scodix Ultra Pro Foil – are making a real impact in Australian digital printing.
With a wide array of print and finish options, Robinson says these digital fulfilment solutions have the ability to do away with tooling costs and set-up time associated with litho finishing – on stocks from uncoated to synthetics, metallised, black paper or canvas.
The Scodix E106, which will become available later this year, offers the versatility of the Ultra series, but in B1 format at speeds of up to 4,000 sheets an hour and with the thickest-gauge range of media that can be digitally printed. And the Scodix S74 and S52 produce the breakthrough Scodix SENSE printing experience, making a lasting impression on the consumer for effective brand differentiation. Touching the senses with prints that stand out, the Scodix S Digital Press series are digital enhancement presses that bring a new, high-quality look with tangible dimensions to printed graphic communications.
Meanwhile, the HP Indigo 12000 Digital Press from Currie Group, is able to handle a wide selection of stocks, for applications such as canvas wall art, high-impact posters, folders, oversized books, specialty products, and more. Using the unique properties of HP Indigo liquid Electroink, the press takes the race right up to offset, says Currie Group.
Printing 75cm sheets in colour or double-sided monochrome at up to 4,600 per hour, the press can generate more than two million colour sheets per month.
Troy Neighbour, senior product manager, Graphic Systems, at Fujifilm Australia, sees Fujifilm’s Jet Press 750S as the choice for B2. The technology is based on a synergy between reliable offset sheet handling with the latest Samba Silicon-MEMS inkjet print heads, in which Fujifilm has invested a substantial amount of R&D. “These are a game changer for inkjet printing. Samba has a native resolution of 1200dpi and fires a minimum 2pl droplet. This technology makes the press comparable to offset quality.”
Making the case for inkjet over toner, Neighbour states, “Inkjet printing is far more comparable to offset quality, especially when we look at how the ink is applied to the substrate. For example, toner sits on top of the substrate, whereas inkjet is absorbed into the paper’s surface.
Heidelberg and Fujifilm have put their heads together to address the folding-carton sector. Their CMYKOVG technology of more than 12 billion droplets per sheet in seven process colours provides almost the complete Pantone colour gamut coverage, using Heidelberg Multicolor technology. And Heidelberg’s Saphira water-based consumables meet Swiss Ordinance requirements with the best available conditions for low-migration products.
The Primefire 106 press “can accelerate business growth in a world of increasing short runs, faster turnaround, versioning and personalisation through dependable, high-quality performance”, states Heidelberg.

Another member of the Konica Minolta ‘Accurio’ family, the AccurioJet KM-1 Inkjet Press, features Konica Minolta’s proven technology, leading design, image quality and colour gamut with the reliability and media flexibility customers expect.

The AccurioJet KM-1 offers the speed and flexibility of offset with the digital benefits of variable data printing and zero make ready with added advantages of a larger B2+ sheet size (585mm x 750mm), high productivity (3000 sheets/hr simplex, 1500 sheets/hr duplex) and is highly flexible with media weights and types. It offers true 1200 x 1200 dpi print resolution with Konica Minolta print heads and features UV-curable ink, so it can print on a wide range of media without having to worry about drying or abrasion.

The ink has a degree of elasticity which allows it to print to textured stocks. It can handle media up to 0.6mm thick as well as folding carton for packaging applications.

The AccurioJet KM-1 can also handle standard offset stocks without any need for pre-treatment, making it ideal for commercial printers. It also delivers outstanding front-to-back registration accuracy is guaranteed thanks to gripper-to-gripper technology for absolute consistency in paper feeding, registration, image quality and repeatability.

Web toner presses

Xeikon products, offered in Australia by Flint Group, comprise a range of dry toner-based digital web production presses for the commercial, carton printing and label printing sectors. For document production, Xeikon’s 9000 series – featuring the 9800, 9600 and 8500 presses – combines quality and productivity, speed, versatility and flexibility, at an excellent price/quality ratio, says the manufacturer.
In carton printing, Xeikon’s digital fleet moves into an opportunity window that offset technology cannot access. From the entry level 3050 to the premium-level 3500, the range offers web and sheet solutions. And for labels, Xeikon offers its CX3 with a faster running speed, lower operating costs and versatility, and its CX500 for larger-sized labels or printing requiring opaque white or extended gamut.
Web inkjet
Océ Printing Systems has developed three distinct press platforms, commercially available today to meet the various market requirements for print communication strategies, explains Océ Australia’s McKenzie. These are the Océ ColorStream 6000 Chroma, Océ ProStream PR1000 (and the cutsheet Océ VarioPrint i300).
The Océ ColorStream 6000 Chroma with all-new Chromera inks is a continuous-feed inkjet system that gives customers greater reach into the commercial printing segment, enabling them to benefit from emerging opportunities around marketing and graphic arts, premium direct mail and transactional printing, he says.
A second platform is the Océ ProStream PR1000 which prints on uncoated, inkjet-optimised, gloss and matt-coated offset papers at a premium quality and at a rate of 80 m/min or 1,076 A4/min.  “We deliberately took a greenfield approach to design, with a commitment to create a product that would open up fresh business opportunities for commercial printers, particularly in high-growth segments such as premium direct mail and marketing collateral,” notes McKenzie.
Kodak’s Prosper 6000 range of presses stands alone in both productivity and page cost, largely due to the combination of throughput capabilities, as well as Kodak’s patented range of environmentally friendly water-based inks, says Paul Haggett, sales & marketing director, Enterprise Inkjet Systems Division, A/NZ.
“The Prosper 6000 presses are genuine workhorses, with installations in the USA regularly outputting up to 90 million high quality pages per month and able to consistently deliver print quality that’s comparable to offset — approaching 200 lpi on a range of uncoated, coated, glossy and silk papers.
The appeal to commercial printers is its ability to provide full-colour 4-over-4 perfecting output with a print width of up to 62.1 cm at speeds up to 300 metres per minute.” He adds, “When integrated with other print technologies, such as flexo or offset, the Prosper 6000 hybrid web press delivers a truly unique value proposition in packaging applications, such as folding cartons.”
To complete the offering, the Uteco Sapphire EVO powered by Kodak Stream technology has a very strong business proposition for printers in the label and flexible packaging industries, says Haggett.
EFI’s Nozomi C18000 offers high-quality, high-speed digital LED printing up to 75 linear metres per minute (with one- and two-lane printing) on stocks up to 1.8m wide. It offers resolutions as high as 360x720dpi, and single-pass, LED, digital DoD piezo inkjet with four levels of greyscale.
The trend to ship/shelf-ready packaging for popular ‘big-box’ retailers has seen multiple products remain inside the outer corrugated carton from warehouse to shelf, notes EFI. That provides an opportunity for higher quality, full colour graphics rather than single-colour blocks. EFI also identifies strong growth in online shopping and in corrugated packaging used by online retailers such as Amazon to protect goods on their journey from automated warehouses to customers’ addresses.
Screen has upped the ante on productivity aboard its flagship Truepress Jet 520HD by introducing its Near Infrared (NIR) Dryer for this press. The new technology dramatically advances productivity for work that requires high image quality and expands print applications for high-speed inkjet across a broad landscape of products.
Peter Scott, managing director of Screen GP Australia, says the new Screen NIR Dryer technology, built into the existing press frame and structure of the 520HD, extends drying performance for both lightweight uncoated stocks and heavier weight, coated litho substrates. The result is an expanded range of applications and even higher productivity on difficult to dry substrates.
HP PageWide presses are available for corrugated packaging, high-volume commercial and sign and display applications. The HP corrugated range comprises the HP PageWide C500, T1100 and T400S presses. The presses offer combined onboard prepress and printing, enabling the end of the ‘brown box’, says HP, and ushering in production of high-value boxes printed with powerful marketing collateral.
Meanwhile, the HP commercial presses comprise the PageWide T200HD, T300HD and T400HD web press, minimising wastage in catalogue and brochure printing. And for industrial printing, the HP Scitex 11000 and the HP Scitex FB7600 and FB750, use HP’s HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology, which provides precision colour, tone and clarity, says HP.
Matt Ashman, sales manager for Durst ANZ, says the Durst Tau portfolio – the Durst Tau 244/330 RSC E and 330 RSC – offers clean-sheet design without compromise for optimum productivity and print quality in a labels and packaging press.
“This is achieved through the use of Durst’s patented media transport system coupled with Samba piezo inkjet head technology delivering actual 1200x1200dpi resolution with a two-picolitre drop size at unheralded speeds of 78 lineal metres per
minute,” he says.
The Durst Tau RSC portfolio provides “the most scalable, high-performance and quality proposition in its class”, says Ashman.
“Offset-like print quality is opening many more applications than ever before. Lowest TCOP allows short and medium print runs with high margins – and high opacity, single-pass white printing helps customers’ business expansion.”

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