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Focus On

Toner-Based Presses

The speed and flexibility of toner-based presses mean this type of kit remains the technology of choice. Rob Fletcher takes a look at some of the latest developments in this market

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Flexibility and agility

When it comes to choosing press technology in the print industry, on the one hand, print-service-providers (PSPs) are blessed with the choice available to them. However, with so much on offer, picking out the most suitable piece of kit for your business can be a tricky process.

From inkjet and offset presses, through to toner-based systems, where should you start? For many, the latter continues to prove a popular option, due in part to the level of flexibility the technology offers and the speed at which they can produce their print.

With this in mind, we speak to some of the leading manufacturers and suppliers in the sector to find out more about the latest toner-based presses available to the market and how this kit differs to other, existing technologies.

Productivity and scalability

One of the stand-out names in toner-based technology is Xerox. Kevin O’Donnell, head of marketing for graphic communications and production systems at Xerox in the UK, Ireland and Nordics, says toner continues to outpace other methods in terms of agility and flexibility.

“Toner-based kit serves a wide range of applications,” he says, adding: “In fact, the Xerox iGen5 can run books, direct mail, photobooks, catalogues, and packaging all on the same device with only change in substrate, workflow and finishing.”

While the Xerox iGen5 has proved a major hit in the market over the past few years, Xerox has opted not to rest on its laurels and rolled out a number of new solutions. These include the Xerox Iridesse, which made its UK debut at The Print Show last year and will return to the NEC-based event via Xerox partner Xeretec this September.

The Xerox Iridesse boasts enhanced digital specialty capabilities that O’Donnell says help to deliver a ‘wow’ impact per printed page. Metallic toners such as gold and silver are produced either as an underlay for a very iridescent CMYK colour or as an overlay to grab attention in applications like high-end product brochures.

The Xerox Iridesse made its UK exhibition debut at The Print Show 2018 and will return to the event this year on Xerox partner Xeretec’s stand

Also new from Xerox are inline spectrophotometers, produced in response to a growing demand for automation in the toner-based market. These can be used to measure and control colour consistency, automated calibration technologies such as Simple Image Quality Adjustment across the Xerox Versant suite, as well as developed intelligent paper libraries to characterise the press for the different stock requirements.

O’Donnell adds: “From ease of use and quality print production to automation, high productivity and scalability across the portfolio, the advantages of toners make them ideal for shorter runs, dynamic content, creative substrates and fast turnaround.”

Forward thinking

Another leading name in this sector is Intec Printing Solutions. Terri Winstanley, product and marketing manager, says while toner-based presses are a mature product, they are on a “continuous evolutionary journey” with new features being developed all the time to expand their capabilities.

Terri Winstanley, product and marketing manager at Intec, says one of the key benefits of toner-based presses is that they can print on to a variety of substrates

Winstanley expands: “These presses have always been steadfast in their ability to offer high quality and on demand, short run lengths, for a fast turnaround. With this in mind they benefit the growing personalisation and bespoke market where one-off, personalised prints are growing in demand.

Intec Printing Solutions offers a range of toner-based presses, including several models in the ColorSplash collection. Pictured: the ColorSplash CS5600 Envelope System

“They also offer a vast array of possibilities for printing on to a variety of substrates, not available on other press technologies or technologies that are so specific that they are beyond the price tag of some print providers.

“PSPs should be forward-thinking and ensure they invest in new toner-based kit so that they are prepared for the future position of their business.”

PSPs should be forward-thinking and ensure they invest in new toner-based kit so that they are prepared for the future position of their business

Intec’s toner-based press offerings range from sheetfed solutions through to roll-to-roll systems for the label printing market. Winstanley teases that toner-based product development is a continuous process and its next generation products are on the way, urging the industry to watch this space.

With Intec set to exhibit at The Print Show, where visitors can learn more about its new developments, Winstanley adds: “Intec has always been about adding value to print and is known for its niche product offering, expanding on what is the industry ‘norm’ for the sheet fed print market.”

Innovate and invest

Elsewhere and another of the leading names in toner-based printing technology, Konica Minolta, is committed to ongoing development in this area, bringing to market new presses on a regular basis and updating established kit to offer customers quicker speeds and higher output quality.

Michael Molbaek, senior manager for production printing at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe, acknowledges that the print market is constantly evolving and, therefore, this focus on continuous research and development is key to helping users stay ahead of the game.

Michael Molbaek, senior manager for production printing at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe, says ongoing technology development is key in the toner-based print market

Molbaek expands: “Konica Minolta will continue to innovate and invest in toner and other press technology. All will continue to complement each other because they all have their unique purposes, depending on the type of applications.

“’Simply’ and ‘efficient’ are two words that sum up our technologies in the toner market that is predicted to continue to grow, and we will be announcing some further developments soon. All our market-leading systems and software come under the Accurio branding that reflects the advanced, automated and accurate nature of all our digital press and digital workflow solutions.

“Key strengths and attributes include eliminating routine technology burdens and saving time, as well having less human touch that cuts down errors and production costs. Also a fundamental cornerstone is the high level automation incorporated into our systems that ensures they are easy to run and promotes operator flexibility.”

Molbaek goes on to say the manufacturer is aware that in what is fast-growing, digital high-volume print market, in-house printers and graphic communications providers have to focus on building up their business by producing a wider range of varied print jobs more efficiently.

For this, they need the best performance available in the market – an Industry 4.0 solution. According to Molbaek, this will also include enhanced scanning performance, outstanding media processing and productivity, professional finishing options and integrated software options.

With this, he draws attention to Konica Minolta’s AccurioPress C6100, which boasts a resolution of 1,200 x 1,200dpi – or 1,200 x 3,600 – and an Intelligent Quality Care Unit that delivers colour consistency and accuracy for a wide range of Pantone colours.

The AccurioPress C1600 from Konica Minolta

Molbaek says: “The AccurioPress C6100 has impressive colour print speeds of 100 pages a minute and is suitable for a wide range of print applications on thin paper, thick stock – 52 to 400gsm – embossed paper and envelopes. It also has sophisticated finishing versatility, including booklet making, perfect binding and auto ring binding.”

O Factoid: The AccurioPress C6100 from Konica Minolta offers colour print speeds of up to 100 pages a minute and can process papers in sizes ranging from 52 to 400 gsm. O

Also available from Konica Minolta is the AccurioPress C83hc, which includes a unique HC toner. Developed by Konica Minolta, the High Chroma toner produces vivid and natural colours, which makes it perfect for photo printing, according to Molbaek.

He adds: “True to the WYSIWYG principle, colours are printed virtually as shown on the monitor. The matches clarity and precision includes 1,200 x 1,200dpi x 8 bit full colour resolution.”

In a further show of support to the market, Konica Minolta also offers customers Digital1234, a business development programme that allows users to identify, assess, justify and implement the necessary steps to enable their business for print, web and mobile applications. In addition, the manufacturer’s Prokom user group provides opportunities for members to connect, learn and grow through networking events.

Molbaek concludes: “With a market that demands a lot, our focus is, and always will be, leading change through innovation. It is clear that no longer can you support the print industry through technology alone. Customers also expect manufacturers such as Konica Minolta to support them with practical support and good insight into what the future holds to help capture new markets to enable them to maximise their business growth.”

These closing comments bring the feature to a somewhat apt conclusion; print technology in this sector is going to continue to evolve, but in order for print companies to use the kit to its fullest, they require the support of manufacturers. By working together, PSPs can use new kit to help them win valuable new work and push their business ahead of the competition.

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