There was delicious German beer and fare, including wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten, and ham hocks, at Screen USA’s Media Day earlier this month. More important than the food, however, was the UV inkjet menu featuring three Truepress products that PRINT 13 show-goers saw in September in Chicago:
- Truepress Jet L350UV web-fed device provides greater speed, flexibility, and productivity for converters and printers producing labels, packaging, and specialty-print applications;
- Truepress JetSX, a B2 sheetfed device that delivers added value through on-demand, variable-data printing;
- The flatbed Truepress Jet W3200UV Wide-Format Inkjet Printer.
The new TruePress Jet L350UV high-speed, ultraviolet inkjet web label printer fills the need between electrophotographic and flexo print, said Jeff Corley, Screen’s digital label and flexible packaging specialist, who cited a Smithers Pira research projection that the global market for food-service packaging will grow to $40 billion by 2016. A transformation within the label printing industry has created challenges and opportunities for digital technology manufacturers and print service providers. Converters and label specialists continue to see run lengths decline, along with increased calls for customization and renewed pressure to control costs. At the same time, improvements in speed, precision and workflow are making digital label printing systems an attractive choice to generate a steady flow of sales and profits.
Screen introduced the prototype of its inaugural UV inkjet label press at drupa 2012 and proceeded to stage technology demonstrations at various international showcases. Guided by its own market research and insightful comments from label industry professionals, the manufacturer brought the advanced Truepress Jet L350UV to market with quality- and production-enhancing improvements.
The Truepress Jet L350UV sits comfortably alongside huge, traditional presses and complements production for short to medium runs. The press affords label printers who already use flexographic, screen, or gravure machines a reliable entry into variable data digital label printing. “These printers no longer need to turn away [any] business,” noted Corley. It is an excellent press for trial marketing, versioning, and personalization of labels, said Screen. It also fulfills the imperative of security printing to aid in the fight against counterfeit foods, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.
The Truepress Jet L350UV boasts printing speeds up to 164 feet per minute (fpm) on a 13.7-inch web; actual imaging width is 12.7 inches. Digital files are printed directly onto the moving web of self-adhesive or other standard label stock without plates or blankets. The roll label material passes through a UV-curing system, making the printed surface durable and resistant to light.
Jobs that involve high print coverage exhibit finer detail, more true color, and smoother transitions, Screen said. Each Kyocera printhead features four levels of grayscale. The 600x600 dpi resolution and minimum droplet size of 3 picoliters give sharp, well-defined images and text. Combined with advanced color management technology based on the Screen EQUIOS universal workflow, the Truepress Jet L350UV creates smooth, vivid gradients. To deliver a wider color gamut than is typical with the four-color process, the Truepress Jet L350UV uses Screen’s proprietary high-definition UV inks. Coming in 2014, optional opaque white ink will allow printing on transparent film and metallic foil for greater application flexibility and color vibrancy.
The optimized workflow maintains the high throughput required for label printing. Controlled by the EQUIOS workflow and RIP, the Truepress Jet L350UV allows for accurate variable data label printing at full speed. Users have the choice of configuring the Truepress Jet L350UV as a roll-to-roll press for near-line finishing or automating label production from beginning to end by connecting the press to inline lamination, diecutting, foiling, coating, and embossing systems. Even more inline finishing options are coming next year, according to Screen, as it partners with AB Graphic and its Digicon Series machine.
Innovations in print automation and workflow are driving the move from mass production to mass customization, said Ron Gilboa, director of InfoTrends’ Functional Printing & Packaging research group. Sheetfed-offset print runs are around 1,500 sheets, which is what makes the TruePress Jet SX so attractive, added Screen sales support specialist Aron Allenson. The sheetfed inkjet press is a B2-format digital duplex machine featuring full-color variable data printing. It gives print firms exceptional tools to produce personalized and customized text and images in 1,440 x 1,440 dpi resolution that rivals offset for quality.
The Truepress JetSX prints on 11 x 8.3-inch to 20.8 x 29.1-inch duplex sheets and media from 3.2 mil to 15.7 mil in thickness. Printers can fulfill a huge range of projects by delivering 1,620 simplex sheets or 810 duplex sheets per hour. This is the equivalent of 108 U.S. letter-size pages or 13 eight-page sections per minute. The JetSX’s duplex printing capability ensures automatic paper reversing and avoids any mismatch of front-to-back sequencing. Economy of scale can be achieved for smaller items by stepping multiple items onto the larger sheet.
The press is ideally suited for photobook and other publication work, posters, calendars, folders, and book covers, said Screen. Print buyers in various business segments can communicate with their customers via highly personalized and sophisticated marketing materials, direct mail, customized gifts, and promotional packaging.
Among its many impressive features is the variety of media the Truepress JetSX accommodates, including offset paper, inkjet paper and packaging board. It prints on coated and uncoated cut sheets, including any gloss or matte standard stock, with no need for a pre-coating stage. After printing, a post-coat unit applies a thin spot coat to seal and protect image areas. An infrared (IR) drying unit dries the sheets before delivery. Since Truepress water-based pigment inks dry almost instantly, sheets go from the press straight to finishing. B2 sheet support and offset-level registration accuracy help the press fit seamlessly into conventional finishing lines.
The Truepress JetSX is versatile enough for thicker substrates, thanks to the evolution of noncontact printing technology using multi-level grayscale printheads and Screen’s precision vacuum flatbed paper transport mechanism, which is the same technology found on offset lithographic presses. The inkjet head — minimum droplet size of just 2 picoliters —yields fine detail and very smooth gradations. Ink is jetted directly onto paper package materials, coated board, and cardboard. The upper thickness range is 24-point in the simplex mode and 16-point in duplex mode.
The ability to print on pre-scored and creased packaging board means commercial print houses can branch out into folded cartons, print-on-demand packaging and personalized wrapping paper. A traceability function utilizing serial numbers or control barcodes offers a variety of added-value applications. This is particularly advantageous in the short-run commercial packaging field for machine parts, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment or other products.
Print shops can change paper types and sizes easily with the Truepress JetSX. Unlike most toner-based POD devices that have their foundations in office equipment, the Truepress JetSX incorporates a linear motor drive rotary table and high-precision sheet-reversing unit. It offers registration accuracy that is the equivalent to traditional offset presses. A touch-panel interface allows the press operator to control all functions from one location.
The Truepress JetSX also meets printers’ strict environmental standards with its reduced ink consumption, low energy usage and minimal waste features. It eliminates intermediate tasks and cuts production consumables, such as plates, platesetters and chemicals. Automatic registration and reliable color management result in virtually zero makereadies when changing from one paper stock to another.
When it comes to measuring inkjet print quality in the large-format space, accurate drop placement is more important than dots per inch (dpi), explained Heather Kindle, sales/marketing director at Inca Digital Printers, which Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Co., Screen USA’s parent firm, acquired in 2005. Assessing the present wide-format marketplace, Kindle added that print speeds have increased while the cost per nozzle has gone down over the past 10 years. “There’s a gap in the mid-range market,” Kindle noted. “The flatbed market is becoming a production machine.”
The latest addition to Screen’s robust portfolio of UV inkjet printing systems received its global premiere at FESPA 2013, held in the United Kingdom earlier this year. Developed by Screen and its Inca subsidiary, the Truepress Jet W3200UV incorporates best-in-class UV inkjet imaging technologies for the ultimate in performance and reliability, the manufacturers said.
The Truepress Jet W3200UV is a cost-effective solution for print service providers looking for high quality and high productivity. Media Day visitors had an opportunity to evaluate the Truepress Jet W3200UV printing a variety of display graphics using six colors plus white ink. Print jobs showcased the crisp text, precise images, and smooth vignettes produced at different speeds and output resolutions.
This system is equipped with a 62.9 x 125.9-inch-wide flatbed table, which improves efficiency. It also features lay pins for accurate and repeatable substrate registration and a zoned vacuum bed to reduce masking. The print table carrying media up to 1.9 inches is driven by a linear motor, improving the accuracy of drop placement. The newly developed print carriage enables high-quality output up to 904 square feet per hour. Dimatix micro-droplet printheads with a 14 picoliter drop size deliver 600 dpi resolution with an apparent resolution of 1,000 dpi. The automated cleaning station helps maintain the printheads in the best condition for uninterrupted production, without operator intervention. Nozzle mapping allows the system to continue production even when nozzles become blocked or deviated.
Like the Truepress Jet W1632UV and Jet 2500UV, the W3200UV uses Screen’s vibrant Truepress inks to produce high-definition, wide-color-gamut print quality with excellent resistance to the bending and cutting of media. In addition to standard process colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), users can specify light cyan, light magenta, and opaque white inks to create even more attention-grabbing, high-impact materials, including short-run packaging work.
Beyond wide-format output, Screen USA president Mike Fox said to expect more “disruptive” inkjet print technology in 2014. Some industry forecasters have predicted that inkjet technology will displace toner-based electrophotographic print by 2016. Fox thinks that two years is a bit too soon, but it may happen by 2020. “One inkjet device can replace four or five toner devices,” he pointed out.