Another valuable option for packaging printers is the marking of individual blanks in connection with the inline sheet inspection system KBA QualiTronic MarkPlus. Flawed blanks can then be ejected automatically during downstream processing, e.g.: in the folder gluer. With the KBA AirTronic Drum, further inline finishing processes are likely to be integrated in the future.
As Hinderliter has suggested, the commercialization of Memjet print head technology by Delphax, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Lomond, OWN-X, Xanté, and others is newsworthy in the wide-format space. Memjet received the 2011 InterTech Technology Award from the Printing Industries of America. The OWN-X WideStar 2000 was announced last fall and will be shown at the biennial Labelexpo Americas show three weeks prior to Graph Expo 2012.
With the trend toward color, Delphax made its inkjet foray at drupa with elan, a four-up, 50-ipm digital, full-color cut-sheet printer with Memjet heads. This B2 size (27.8x19.7 inches) device features 1600x1600 dpi resolution and has the option for a fifth and sixth color as well as MICR capability. Its small, 24x4-foot footprint make elan ideally suited for size-constrained digital printing environments such as copy shops, in-plants, and quick/small commercial printers. And, with a base price point of less than $500,000, it is quite affordable. Commercial shipments to customers will begin in early 2013.
“Of course, there are some compromises a prospective user has to make,” wrote Ralf Schlozer of InfoTrends in a recent blog. “elan’s imaging format is, strictly speaking, not B2 but SRA2, which is slightly smaller. It should offer enough margin for most A-format-sized end products, but in some cases it will not be enough… [Also,] Delphax has served a relatively focused market so far, but the elan was designed for, and clearly has the ability to serve a much broader set of customers. This will likely mean that new marketing and servicing channels are required.”
Xanté launched a “super-fast” inkjet category (up to 12 inches per second at 1600x800 dpi; six inches per second at 1600x1600 dpi) with a 42-inch-wide printing system powered by Memjet at Graph Expo last fall. Also shown earlier this year at FESPA (and now at drupa), its Excelagraphix 4200 sets a new speed and affordability standard for signage and packaging; printing on a range of media up to 3/8 inch thick, including foam board, folding carton, corrugated cardboard, and sheet sizes from 8.27x8.27 inches up to 3.5x100 feet, the firm said. Exclusive substrate support gives customers the ability to print indoor signage and design graphics through a simple print path height adjustment on the Excelagraphix 4200. Memjet’s Waterfall print heads deliver more than three billion drops of ink per second, yielding print speeds up to eight times faster than traditional inkjet technology.
“In the case of our [OEM] partnership with Memjet,” CEO Robert Ross says, “we are utilizing two particular Xanté technologies—iQueue Color Smart Workflow and our unique handling of diverse substrates—to create what will likely be the fastest and, in terms of lower capital and operational costs, most efficient ways to print color.”
The cool thing about the Excelagraphix, notes Hinderliter, is that “the device looks like a plate processor, but you can feed it paper, cardboard, [or] corrugated, which it inkjets and spits out on the other side.” And with a price point of about $100,000, it allows print shops to get into the point-of-purchase (POP) market without breaking the bank, he adds.
The Excelagraphix 4200 employs 2L or 10L CMYKK customized, dye-based aqueous inks for cost-effective operation and consumables cost while ensuring strikingly vibrant color reproduction, Xanté says. “It also opens up a different way to think about proofing,” Hinderliter suggests, asking hypothetically: “What if you shove a press sheet through it?”