On the Wide Side

Many have called drupa 2012 the "inkjet drupa" or the "integration drupa" and wide-format technology is even more obvious this year than the 2008 trade fair. There were multiple companies showing an ever-increasing portfolio of technology—some current models and some brand new. While this will not be the "end-all, be-all" overview of drupa 2012, it will highlight some of the newest technology in this market segment that was on the showfloor—and of increasing importance in the graphic arts and visual communications markets.

Product Highlights

Mimaki Engineering Co.'s JFX500-2131 is a next-generation high-speed UV-LED flatbed inkjet printer. Equipped with newly developed printheads, the JFX500-2131 offers output up to 60 sqm/hr in four-color mode, and up to 50 sqm/hr with white ink. It can also print text down to 2pt characters. The flatbed – 2,100mm x 3,100mm – enables direct printing on a wide range of materials up to a 100mm high. Meanwhile the UV-LED curing unit ensures significantly improved curing-efficiency – high-speed printing is now possible without leaving uncured ink behind. Alignment accuracy is everything with flatbed printers. However, adjusting by millimetres can prove challenging. This is where the Easy Direct Print System comes in – it uses a dedicated camera and software (a plug-in for Raster Link 6) to read and automatically adjust the misalignment. And because printing data is automatically adjusted against the set jig, accurate print results are achieved even if the setting was roughly implemented. 

At drupa 2012, Ricoh demonstrated a prototype of the future of large format inkjet technology for the graphic arts market. The Ricoh Pro L4000 series features the next-generation of Ricoh’s piezo-electric print heads with durable latex ink in seven colors; CMYK, light cyan, light magenta and white. It will be available in North America and Europe in the first quarter of 2013.

The aqueous nature of the latex ink means that is has a low environmental impact, while the introduction of a white ink means that print buyers can optimize color vividness on transparent or colored materials. Print clients will benefit from brilliant color on all substrates when ordering signage, branded materials and marketing collateral. The print service provider can fulfill client needs quickly and efficiently – avoiding time consuming steps such as foils or cut-outs — to produce highly vibrant and crisp whites. Productivity is further enhanced with an output speed of up to 18.1 sqm/hr.

Peter Williams, Executive Vice President Ricoh Europe and Head of Ricoh’s Production Printing Business Group said, “The Ricoh Group has been at the forefront of inkjet technology research and development for many years and now the time is now right to launch an extremely competitive large format inkjet printer range for the graphic arts market. As the benefits of digital printing technology continue to be realised through its ability to deliver shorter print runs, on demand, with faster turnaround times — the application demands from print buyers are also

Making its worldwide debut at drupa is EFI's VUTEk HS100 Pro, a high-speed digital UV press with productivity and image quality that will appeal to screen printers and the commercial sector wanting a cost-effective digital platform to produce longer sheet runs at a low total cost of ownership. EFI's Pin & Cure imaging technology, driven by the Orion OS platform, delivers precise ink lay-down for critical color accuracy and consistency, gloss control and a increased color gamut. With throughput speeds at rates of up to 100 boards per hour and up to 50 boards per hour in POP mode, the VUTEk HS100 Pro comes with true greyscale print head technology and up to eight colors, including white and specials, for maximum ink yield and a low cost per print over analog.

"This next generation EFI VUTEk press should win every side-by-side comparison with existing digital presses in terms of offering the best combination of speed, output quality and return on investment," said Scott Schinlever, senior vice president and general manager of Inkjet Solutions at EFI. "The printer brings greater flexibility and workflow integration, with streamlined and versatile production on longer run lengths. Combined with advanced production features, warning and detection systems, and the Fiery XF proServer, the HS100 Pro is a true 24/7 solution ideal for the most demanding production environments."

Also on display was the EFI R3225, a 3.2-meter roll-to-roll, entry-level production UV inkjet printer. The EFI R3225 provides eight-level variable drop grayscale heads for superior quality images, optimized ink usage, and UV-curing inks for access to a wide range of substrates, giving owners the lowest total cost of ownership, greatest profit opportunity, additional addressable markets, and high customer satisfaction. Other enhanced features and benefits include print speeds up to 900 square feet per hour with stunning grayscale print quality, along with automated features to maximize productivity.

Fujifilm North America launched two new machines at drupa 2012.  The Uvistar Pro8 is suited to producing super-wide format print for both display POP and outdoor advertising markets on flexible and rigid media. One of the major advancements of the Uvistar Pro8 platform is the inclusion of a complete set of light colors within the ink set which increase print quality without compromising on print speed. Together with its Parallel Drop Size (PDS) technology, this allows the Uvistar Pro8 to produce high definition Display POP graphics at speeds in excess of 300 sqm/hour.

Other improvements to the design include: an auto media handling system for rigid media; a fully automated backlit printing option; the ability to switch between 4 and 8 colour printing modes, and an intuitive new operator interface. The new platform will be commercially available from August 2012.

Additionally, Fujifilm and Inca Digital unveiled the Inca Onset S40i flatbed UV inkjet printer.

The Inca Onset S40i meets the high-volume, fast-turnaround production needs of specialist display print companies, using 168 new-generation, user-replaceable printheads (28 per color) on a full width print array delivering a 28 picolitre drop size.

Key new features include:

Reduced bed masking: A new 15-zone vacuum table reduces bed masking requirements for substrates thinner than 3mm. This reduces setup times and increases overall machine productivity.

UV sensor system: Printheads need regular maintenance but this varies depending on the type of substrates used and the volume of work produced. The Onset S40i’s auto sensor system constantly monitors the machine condition and informs the operator when automatic cleaning is required.

Substrate height detector: Sensitive mechanical substrate height detectors deliver accuracy and reliability to provide enhanced substrate and printhead protection.

In addition, a new Fujifilm Uvijet ink system has also been launched providing improved adhesion and finishing properties. The Inca Onset S40i is commercially available from Q2 2012. 

Durst Image Technology had a number of new releases at drupa 2012. Durst presents its new inkjet engine for industrial screen printing applications

The Durst Rho IP (Industrial Print) engine is a purpose built inkjet solution for industrial screen and pad printing applications. It is a high speed inkjet engine which can be integrated into automated production lines and configured according to the application. The industrial production machine will also provide screen and pad printers with the highest levels of flexibility. It is suited for the production of membrane switches, instrument panels, dashboards, cover plates (e.g. for washing machines) and small items typical of pad printing applications. The modularity of the machine will allow up to 5 ink channels (CMYK plus white) and there are six printheads per channel. The print engine can be equipped with up to 15,000 nozzles producing a printing speed of 8 seconds per table in single pass mode, or 20 seconds in per table in scanning four color mode including Variable Data Printing, if required. The standard table is 300 x 600 mm.  The vacuum table uses mechanical pin registration and the vacuum is applied through microscopic pores in an aluminum plate.

Durst also demonstrated its new continuous inkjet production system for corrugated applications. At the heart of the system is a purpose built version of the Rho 1000 continuous inkjet production system, specifically designed for printing on corrugated boards. The system features the automatic feed of sheets, integrated varnishing and automated storage. Even at maximum production speeds, this machine will achieve a standard of quality equal to that of laminated offset printing. It is capable of the high speed printing of multiple boards and there is an integral coating system for the enhancement and protection of the printed material. Finally there is an automated stacker, which can handle multiple stacks and present them ready for dispatch on pallets.

Another one of the latest purpose built solutions for the Rho 1000’s automated production processes is the roll to sheet system. It features the productivity and labor saving convenience of being able to load large rolls of paper and, without pauses in the printing cycle, receive finished sheets cut to size and ready for dispatch. The Rho prints from a 250 cm wide jumbo roll and cuts to the required poster size using an integrated cutter. The system maximizes productivity and is capable of unattended printing thus reducing labor costs. The system offers a heavy roll device as a solution for high speed long run printing. It consists of an unwinding tool and is equipped with two dancer rollers. It will handle rolls up to a diameter of 60 cm and a maximum roll weight of 600 kg. The XY cutter can handle numerous types of media with a maximum thickness of 0.8mm. Even if prints are not parallel to the web edge, or the roll is not wound straight, the cutter will follow the image or media edge. The Durst stacker will handle multiple parallel stacks at the same time and load them onto pallets ready for dispatch.

Durst has unveiled an even more productive version of its Rho 320R roll to roll UV inkjet printer. The new Rho 320R HS is a “High Speed” version of its roll to roll printer and offers the same flexibility and photorealistic quality but at a maximum speed of up to 140 m2/hr in 4 or 6 colors. It will print large rolls with a diameter of up to 600 mm and a width of 3.2 m (or 2 rolls of 160 cm each) and is capable of unattended printing for maximising productivity and cost saving. The new machine is capable of printing on the widest range of materials, including paper, films, polyester textiles and vinyl and changing media is fast and simple. With 24/7 reliability, maximised production workflow and even faster turnaround the Rho 320R HS could provide real profit opportunities.

Screen (USA) launched a new, high-speed, flatbed wide-format printer that brings new levels of productivity to the sign and display industry. The Truepress Jet W1632UV inkjet printer offers high productivity and the capability to image on a wide range of substrates.  This new printer provides a high throughput of 94 sqm (1,011.8 sqft) per hour and supports media sizes up to 1,600mm x 3,200mm (63in x 126in) and a maximum 48mm (1.9in) thickness. The use of 12 picolitre micro-droplet printheads makes the Truepress Jet W1632UV one of the most advanced inkjet systems available for POP applications, giving razor-sharp 1200 dpi text, fine definition and smooth vignettes. In addition, since the Truepress Jet W1632UV supports the use of light cyan and light magenta, the system is ideal for photographic-quality and back/front lit display applications.

Agfa Graphics' :M-Press Leopard was running live at drupa 2012. This wide-format industrial production engine now handles rigid and flexible materials up to a maximum size of 1.6 x 3.3m and now offers a choice of manual or auto-loading options. The :M-Press Leopard's bed size has now been increased to 1.6 x 3.3m so that it can accommodate the growing range of materials for which larger sizes are standard, such as Forex rigid sheets as well as a significant speed increase by the extra sheet that can be loaded when comparing to smaller table sizes. Handling longer media is catered for efficiently by an increase to 75 vacuum zones for easy positioning of the sheet, while the 29 register pins maintain the correct alignment of the substrate.

Driven by Agfa Graphics' :Apogee software which brings full automation to digital print workflows, it is easy to streamline production and job management, control color and simplify the use of variable data printing and versioning via :Apogee Vibe. CIP4 Digital Print ICS compliance simplifies integration into a full JDF environment, and the recently launched :Apogee StoreFront is ideal for PSPs and their customers who want to generate jobs in the cloud via an innovative web-to-print interface.