PRINT 13: Inkjet and a Whole Lot More
In-plant managers flocked to Chicago to see the latest inkjet printing, binding, mailing, software and other technologies at the largest U.S. print show of the year.October 2013 By Bob Neubauer
Wide-format inkjet was everywhere, exciting numerous in-plant managers who had come to the show to scout out new printers for this booming business.
- EFI won Must See 'Ems awards for two of its printers: The EFI VUTEk GS-TF system and the VUTEk HS100 Pro inkjet press.
- Xanté debuted the Excelagraphix 4200 P Series, powered by Memjet Waterfall Printhead Technology, which delivers more than 3 billion drops of ink per second, for print speeds up to 12˝ per second.
- Fujifilm introduced the Inca Onset Q40i UV flatbed inkjet press, with up to 168 print heads and over 42,000 nozzles. It prints offset quality on materials as large as 63x123˝.
- Canon's Océ ColorWave 900 high-speed wide-format production printer made its debut, with print speeds of up to 12˝ per second. Canon also introduced the iPF8400S and iPF6400S models, offering enhanced print management and color-control capabilities.
- HP gave the first U.S. demonstration of its Latex 3000 industrial wide-format printer, using water-based latex inks.
- Roland showcased its fastest wide-format inkjet printer, the SOLJET Pro 4 XF-640, printing up to 1,098 square feet per hour.
Not all the cool printers were inkjet, though.
"Ricoh's new line of color and black-and-white devices was impressive," remarked Laura Sicklesteel, manager of Printing Services at California State University, San Bernardino. These included the Ricoh Pro C5100s/5110s production color printing systems (65/80 ppm), with an elastic fusing belt for more consistent transfer and toner adhesion; and the Ricoh Pro C8100s/8110s/8120s production monochrome multi-functional systems with duplex color scanning at 220 impressions per minute and 1,200x4,800-dpi resolution.
Other interesting new toner devices included:
• The Xerox iGen 150, with Object Oriented Half Toning for sharper images and text, and Automated Image-on-Paper technology to eliminate manual setups.
• The new 50-ppm OKI Data Americas C900 series, with toner yields of up to 38,000 pages and LED five-station toner configuration to support white or clear spot color printing.
• The Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C1070/C1070P/C1060 digital press series, with expanded paper-handling, inline finishing and image control capabilities. Konica Minolta also showed the bizhub PRESS C1100 color digital press, with a monthly duty cycle of 1,000,000 impressions, speeds up to 100 pages a minute and air suction paper handling.
• HP drew a lot of attention with its B2-format Indigo 10000 digital press, which uses a liquid ink to print 3,450 full-color sph (and 4,600 sph in Enhanced Productivity Mode).
In-plants were also investigating Web-to-print and MIS technologies at PRINT 13. ASU's Skoglund couldn't say enough about Avanti Slingshot, the company's new cloud-based Print MIS product, which her in-plant has been beta testing. Slingshot (which was recognized with a Must See 'Ems award) incorporates business intelligence, production planning, warehousing, shipping and billing into one system.
"I can create an estimate right in a customer's office, or access my operation from any laptop or mobile device using just a browser," she said.
Sicklesteel, of Cal State, San Bernardino, had her eye on Web-to-print technology at PRINT.
"We had been reviewing several options following ACUP and had narrowed it down to RSA's WebCRD and EDU Business Solutions Print Shop Pro," she said. She sat with each vendor to ask technical questions.
In addition to its WebCRD product, RSA gave a technology preview of QDirect 5.0 output management software, with a new job ticketing UI and expanded JDF/JMF capabilities.
EFI's MIS solutions included its Must See 'Ems award-winning EFI Complete Integrated Workflow for Inkjet and EFI Radius Business Intelligence v5, as well as its EFI IQuote estimating system.
Though not as prevalent as in years past, computer-to-plate equipment was also on display at PRINT. Glunz & Jensen showed its Raptor 85 Chemfree plate processor, compatible with plates up to 33.5˝ wide, 6-12 mil thick, and with a minimum length of 10.8˝. The PlateWriter 3000 was also on hand, for two- and four-up plate formats.
Mitsubishi Imaging held a technology demonstration of its four-up processless, chemistry-free Thermal DigiPlater, the TDP-670E. Offering 1,200-dpi resolution, high-speed production and able to image both plates and film, it requires no chemicals, toner or ink ribbons for imaging.
In the Bindery
PRINT 13 had plenty of new bindery options as well. Creasing and slitting equipment continues to be popular. Duplo (which had its best show since 2007, according to Si Nguyen, business development manager) debuted its DC-646 slitter/cutter/creaser, the successor to the popular DC-645; it performs up to six slits, 25 cuts and 20 creases in a single pass.
"The MBM Aerocut is really impressive," commented Sicklesteel. It features 83 pre-programmed cutting templates and up to 50 additional custom programs stored in memory. The MBM booth was busy during PRINT; Mike Venitelli, senior vice president of sales and marketing, revealed that a number of customers placed orders for equipment at the show.
This was a scene that played out at many booths, particularly during the show's first three days. A number of manufacturers happily reported the sale of heavy equipment, and some were literally spontaneous purchases, with no previous contact between the printer and the manufacturer. Spiel Associates, celebrating its 50th year in business, sold four of its Digibinder Plus machines off the floor.
Don Dubuque, who heads the marketing team at Standard Finishing Systems, feels preparation is the key to a successful, profitable trip to Chicago.
"We had 225 VIP companies scheduled for appointments, which was up over last year," Dubuque remarked. "I have to say, there's been a real positive feel, a positive vibe to the show. The customers that come through here, they stay for a long time. They're looking at everything."
At the show, Standard demonstrated a new lean book manufacturing process that can produce variable format books of different thickness within a continuous-feed or cut-sheet print stream, with fully automated changeovers. Called the Smart Binding System, the platform was developed with partners Horizon and Hunkeler. It takes post-press finishing requirements into account during job planning and imposition to ensure smooth production. Intelligent readers mounted throughout the system monitor and control the finishing process in real time.
Wrapping Envelope Finisher
Other innovative finishing solutions at PRINT included the RISO Wrapping Envelope Finisher, a cut-sheet in-line print-to-mail solution comprised of a RISO ComColor 9150 or 7150 printer and the new Wrapping Envelope Finisher, which automatically addresses, folds, envelopes and seals printed documents into ready-to-mail jobs. The finisher can produce up to 2,200 completed pieces of mail every hour.
MGI Digital Graphic Technology drew lots of attention—and a Must See 'Ems award—with its new digital inkjet spot UV coater, the JETvarnish 3D. Able to produce spot UV coating jobs with 3D raised effects, it boasts a throughput of up to 3,000 B2 sph. The iFOIL option allows printers to apply true hot foil digitally with or without an "embossed" look and feel.
PRINT 13 had plenty of other innovations on display—including 3D printing demonstrations—giving in-plant managers plenty of new ideas.
"Our primary action plan at PRINT 13 was to look at variable data software, a replacement for our wide-format printer and to look at a die cutting/scoring/solution for our Heidelberg Quickmaster DI press," remarked Roger Chamberlain, manager of Administrative Services—Print, Mail, Fulfillment at The Cincinnati Insurance Co. "In addition, we always scour the floor for new tools to improve productivity. Many of our most productive solutions came from finding something we weren't even looking for."