Inkjet Web Innovates, Too

QP’s focus in this article has been on sheetfed/cut-sheet inkjet presses, but continuous-feed inkjet web products have seen innovation, too, such as the JetStream 1900 that Océ is showing at drupa. The 1900 is part of the firm’s compact series, with the capability of single-cabinet, full-width duplex printing for monthly volumes between four and 55 million A4 impressions. A production inkjet device, it prints 1,714 full-color A4 (1,818 letter) images per minute at speeds up to 417 fpm, with variable data, making it the ideal solution for direct mail, books, transpromo, and digitally printed newspapers.

Larger scale, lower cost options include imprinting (over-printing) systems, such as those from Kodak and HP. “Imprinting modules allow for variable data printing, on the fly, on top of litho,” consultant Hal Hinderliter said. For example, Kodak’s new 3,000 fpm Prosper S30 Imprinting System, which boasts the highest speed in the industry for “hybrid” offset-digital printing applications, was shown at drupa. As described by Kodak, each of its five imprinting solutions produces laser-like quality, bringing high-quality personalization to offset print jobs and enabling print providers to leverage their capital investments in offset presses and bridge the gap to digital in a one-step, inline process.

Likewise, HP’s newest Print Module Solutions, which arrived May 1, provide an economical, module-based system for web offset printers to add color images, graphics, and variable data to preprinted pages. Available in color and monochrome, they can print up to 800 fpm and include complete workflow solutions for easy integration with existing equipment. A stitching feature now extends the printing area for additional flexibility and scalability.

These types of units also are a viable option for offset printers with full- and half-size webs standing idle, Hinderliter notes. In this scenario, “the press can be used as a roll stand for paper transport—and not do any lithography,” he explains.

drupa Showings from KBA, Fujifilm

Show-goers to Germany had been waiting with bated breath to see the high-speed, web-fed inkjet press that partners KBA and RR Donnelley final unveiled. Called the RotaJET 76, the new machine incorporates Donnelley’s Apollo inkjet technology, which KBA has licensed to use in its presses. Two arrays of 56 inkjet heads each form an arch over large central impression cylinders for four-color printing on both sides of the web, but can still be shifted aside for cleaning and maintenance purposes. The printing heads are cleaned and aligned automatically (stitching) to minimize manual intervention and ensure straightforward handling.

The press design shown at drupa featured Kyocera KJ4 piezoelectric heads (already being used by Océ) and ran with water-based pigment inks, printing at 600 dpi and 493 fpm. (North America’s largest printer’s move from HP’s T series heads to Kyocera technology has no impact on KBA, the firms said. Former HP Indigo executive Oliver Baar joined KBA as project manager three months ago.)

With this release, KBA becomes the first German litho press manufacturer to develop an inkjet web press aimed at book and commercial printing, including magazine, catalog, and brochure production. The RotaJET 76 is engineered for a web widths of up to 30.7 inches, which corresponds to approximately 3,000 A4 pages/minute or 85 million pages per month. The manufacturer has developed its own paper transport system based on a web path that wraps the paper around a solid, almost central, impression cylinder, which keeps the paper under control and .04 inches from the inkjet heads. (In other inkjet web presses, the paper path is arched beneath the web to keep it under tension.) The paper is then dried using infrared dryers of its own design, remoistened and passing to the second print unit where the movement is a mirror of the first to avoid turning the web. The RotaJET 76 includes an autopaste reel stand and webbing up device taken from newspaper designs, meaning that idle time is minimized when changing reels. 

The KBA RotaJET 76 also offers personalized production driven through the Adobe PDF Print Engine workflow. A powerful front-end is geared to the high data throughputs associated with industrial-scale print on demand applications. With even the largest data volumes, the press delivers full-color variable production at maximum speed, without stoppage and waiting times.

Still in R&D mode, the press shown at drupa is a prototype; pilot placement is expected in late 2012, about 12 months since first printed pages were produced last November. At drupa, the machine is linked to a Muller Martini Sigmaline to produce variable content saddle-stitched products. An automatic reel stand with integration into automated paper logistics will be a future option to further boost productivity, KBA said. A dispersion coater also is planned as a future option for further quality enhancement. Internal communication is compliant with the JDF standard, as is the integration with third party systems—another feature which helps to optimize processes and lower costs.

Fujifilm also launched a digital inkjet web press at drupa 2012 as a technology showcase. It enables duplex printing within a single tower design, resulting in a compact footprint, while retaining a maximum printing speed of 417 fpm.

The press uses Fujifilm’s new high performance VIVIDIA ink, developed specifically to facilitate superb image quality. This ink allows high-density images to be printed at high speed, with less ink transfer from sheet to sheet, with high-quality reproduction possible, even on thin paper. A variety of ink types, including both pigment and dye-based inks, has been developed for use with this press which, when combined with the ultra-compact footprint, maximizes the application flexibility and versatility of the machine.

With conventional web offset presses, printing sizes are limited by the size of the plate cylinder. With digital web presses that enable direct data printing, however, there is more flexibility in the cut-off size of the paper. Digital web presses can accommodate a wider variety of jobs, said Fujifilm, while remaining highly efficient for standard jobs that utilize the same paper size. They also can facilitate a reduction in paper waste, often making digital web presses a more sustainable solution.

Fujifilm’s digital inkjet web press ran live at drupa 2012 and will become commercially available in late 2012, the firm said.

Meanwhile, HP introduced no fewer than 10 digital printing systems in Germany, including a trio of higher-speed, wide-web inkjet presses. For more details on the equipment it, Kodak, INX, Océ (Canon), and Timson demonstrated, please read “Inkjet Web Innovations” at or "Ink's Jet Age" at