HP thinking about inkjet sheetfed

With its rivals gearing up for inkjet sheetfed drupa launches, HP is weighing up its own venture into the market using PageWide tech.

HP senior technical specialist Ross Allen said at a media briefing the digital manufacturer ‘could be persuaded’ to produce inkjet sheetfed in the near future.

”It is an area we see as an opportunity. Logically that would make sense,” he says.

“We are always looking five-to-ten years out. We work on a lot of projects and have technology that might have been in the lab for ten years. Then when an industry is ready we can commercialise it.”

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HP has already developed two printhead arrays big enough to use in B1 size, currently used for its T400 PageWide web press and 2.8m wide for the T1100S web press.

“PageWide has built-in flexibility from five inches to almost any width. It’s completely scalable,” Allen says.

The T1100S was developed as a joint venture with KBA for the corrugated pre-print market, which has led to speculation the two could team up for an inkjet sheetfed printer using the offset manufacturer’s sheet transport expertise.

With this component a key challenge for sheetfed inkjet and KBA one of the few offset companies without a digital dance partner as the fledgling market heats up ahead of drupa, the pairing could make sense.

“Precision paper handling, keeping the paper flat in the print zone and controlling the leading and trailing edge is a technical issue we have to address,” Allen says.

“Although you could argue that our PageWide XL printer is half sheetfed – it’s dynamically variable sheetfed inkjet web, so we have it already, in a way, in our toolkit.”

Printers going to drupa will see a host of inkjet B1 and B2 sheetfed at the show, in what is bound to be one of the biggest talking points.

Heidelberg will with Fujifilm launch its B1 sheetfed inkjet printer, as will Konica Minolta and Komori’s B2 joint venture. Landa will also launch a much-updated B1 version of Nano at the show next May.

Screen and Fujifilm already have B2 sheetfed inkjet printers on the market.

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