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Need To Know

Digital Print Equipment

With customer demand for faster turnaround on the rise, Rob Fletcher looks at some of the latest developments in high-speed digital printing to see how this kit can help print companies’ profits soar

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Racing to the front of the industry

The Need for Speed

In today’s fast-paced world, customer expectation in terms of turnaround time is placing increasing pressure on print-service-providers (PSPs). Services such as Amazon Prime mean consumers expect products to be with them much faster than in previous years, and PSPs are having to respond.

Digital print has played a major role in PSPs being able to offer services such as next-day delivery, as this form of print means they can produce work at a faster rate than on litho machines. However, with increasing demand comes pressure to deliver work at an even faster rate, and manufacturers are having to respond with new solutions.

With another busy year in print to look forward to, Print Monthly casts an eye over the latest developments in high-speed digital print kit and finds out how this technology can help PSPs win new work in 2020 and beyond.

Exceptional value

One of the leading names in digital print is Xerox, and UK PSPs can purchase this kit through premium partner Xeretec. Group production director Steve Andrew says digital devices offer the benefit of speed and performance over litho, making them a solid choice for short print runs due to quick turnaround times.

“With less manual touch points and fewer man hours required to complete a print job, digital devices can streamline your print operation resulting in huge financial gains,” Andrew comments.

“In terms of quality, traditionally, litho print had superior print quality, however with advancements in technology in recent years, you can achieve litho image quality from digital devices. Today’s Xerox digital devices can meet the demands and expectations of even the most demanding print professional.

“Digital print also offers exceptional value, which is key when profit margins are slim, and are more commercially viable when managing shorter runs. This is particularly true if you want to incorporate some speciality inks such as gold, silver, clear, white and fluorescent yellow into your designs.”

Andrew also pointed to the benefits of variable data capability, saying that this allows businesses to target specific offers, messages or content to individuals, as well as providing a platform to move physical conversation into the digital world, and back again with embedded NFC, QR codes or image recognition.

In terms of new developments at Xerox in this area, Andrew points to the Xerox Baltoro, which was launched in June 2019. The latest inkjet device in the Xerox portfolio, it is a high-speed, high quality cut-sheet and continuous roll fed press.

According to Xeretec, the new Xerox Baltoro can deliver litho-like quality on media such as offset coated, uncoated plain, gloss and inkjet stock

“Using Xerox High Fusion inks, the Baltoro provides litho-like quality on a variety of media such as offset coated, uncoated plain, gloss and inkjet stock,” Andrew says, adding: “The Xerox Baltoro has it all – print quality, reliability, automation, media flexibility and finishing options.”

Digital reality

Up next is fellow digital print heavyweight in the form of Konica Minolta. Olaf Lorenz, general manager for the DX branding division at Konica Minolta, says the main benefits of investing in high-speed digital systems include more targeted marketing, lean manufacturing, sustainability and variable data printing.

Lorenz expands: “Put simply, digital print is the not just the future, it is the reality now. Of crucial importance is finding the right equipment. However, what people sometimes forget is that the back-up and support of a global technology company like Konica Minolta is extremely important, especially for new entrants.

Put simply, digital print is the not just the future, it is the reality now

“We help our customers through our Digital1234 business support programmes, as well as user group Prokom. Companies that have invested in the right systems and the right skills together with expert backing will be in a stronger position to grow their business going forward in 2020.”

With this, Lorenz highlights some of the latest releases from Konica Minolta, such as the new AccurioPress C14000 series, which, at 140 pages per minute, is the manufacturer’s first foray into the high-volume printing segment. The digital toner presses, which also include the C12000 machine, benefit from advanced automation, fewer touchpoints and higher productivity with less waste.

Meanwhile, Lorenz says the AccurioJet KM-1 B2+ UV digital inkjet press is also an important digital press for high-volume production. Lorenz says that it has been dubbed the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of the printing industry because it has so many uses that can create new business opportunities and make inkjet the reality for the commercial printing and packaging sectors.

There is also the AccurioLabel 230, the latest model within the toner label press family. Key enhancements include a 73% speed increase, improved productivity, an option for overprinting, no warm-up required between jobs, less waste and more accurate print registration.

Konica Minolta’s new AccurioLabel 230 toner label press can run at speeds of up to 73% faster than the existing model

In addition, the JETvarnish 3DWeb digital enhancement press from strategic partner MGI is suitable for labels and flexible packaging produces in-line flat and 3D spot UV coating, 3D embossed varnish textures and flat and embossed foil.

O Factoid: The AccurioPress C14000 series represents Konica Minolta’s first foray into the high-volume printing segment, running at speeds of up to 140 pages per minute  O

Leaner and greener

Elsewhere, Ricoh also has plenty to bring to the table in terms of high-speed digital print kit. Danny Narey, business development manager of the commercial and industrial print division at Ricoh UK says investment in high-speed digital print kit leads to an immediate reduction in inventory, with the result being the avoidance of waste through obsolescence.

Narey expands: “There are several reasons print companies should switch to digital: if their customers are demanding shorter lead times for orders, more plate-changes for versions, or if they want a leaner and greener business are all prime examples.

“Alongside the financial benefits, the simple fact is that digital is greener. There are no plates to make so fewer metals, less chemistry and less time to get to print.

“Stocks become more standardised and so warehouse capacity increases, creating more productive room to grow into and there are no more makereadies on presses – so productivity improves; we like to use the phrase ‘growing the factory, without growing the factory’.”

In terms of new developments, Narey points to the VC70000, which features the Ricoh patented dryer technology – a benefit that Narey says positions the device uniquely in the market. The new drying technology on the high-speed full-colour inkjet press means that when a dense image is printed or a thin sheet of paper is used, the feature prevents the paper from cockling.

The Ricoh Pro VC70000 features new patented dryer technology, which, according to the manufacturer, positions the device uniquely in the market

Ricoh adds in a statement: “The new ink and drying technologies developed for the Ricoh Pro VC Series have been implemented on the VC70000. Ricoh meets all the requirements of an inkjet printer in the commercial printing market: quality image, high productivity, and low cost.”

Stimulate growth

Elsewhere, Canon says digital print provides customers with a range of benefits. Stuart Rising, head of commercial print at Canon UK, explains that these include personalisation, customisation, electronic collation, white-paper transfer, just in time manufacturing, form replacement, workflow automation, high productivity and flexible use of colour.

Rising expands: “By delivering outstanding output quality, and enabling PSPs to work with the broadest range of media, they can produce the fullest range of applications for their customers. This means they can transition higher volumes of work from inefficient legacy production devices.

“In turn, they can also take full advantage of the improved productivity that comes with each generation of digital inkjet technology – not just by virtue of faster printing speeds, but by eliminating inefficient practices and streamlining end-to-end workflows, from file receipt to finishing. Together, these advantages have powerful potential to bring running costs down, stimulate growth and accelerate return on investment.”

Rising goes on to say that Canon aims to be a guide for customers considering their future strategy, working closely with its customers to demonstrate how print can offer added value and open up new growth opportunities.

With this, he draws attention to the Océ ProStream, which has a new optional Inline Quality Control system enabled by a high-speed camera, minimising waste and operator intervention.

Rising says: “The Océ ProStream can now work with an even broader range of media, supporting papers up to 300gsm, due to an enhanced paper transport and drying station. This enables customers to produce applications such as postcards or cover material for catalogues or magazines on a much wider scale.”

Also available from Canon is the Océ JetStream Graphira continuous feed monochrome inkjet production press, designed to meet the needs of high volume book producers looking for high quality at faster speeds up to 254m/min.

In addition, the Océ VarioPrint i300 now works inline with both the Hunkeler DocuTrim cutsheet finishing solution and Tecnau cut and stack solution, enabling customers to automate cutting, perforating and sequential stacking. This, according to Rising, gives customers the flexibility to produce a wide variety of applications, including high quality direct mailers and magazines, while achieving optimal productivity for increased operational efficiency.

Rising adds: “We are seeing different degrees of automation with our customers. Whether it’s streamlining a single print-to-finish process or an entire production line; implementing an automated quality control procedure or enabling a sophisticated level of programmatic print.”

Outperform rivals

Also weighing in on the debate is RISO, and Tatsuo Murakami, general manager of its UK business, says the only real print solution that can offer the flexibility and reliability needed to fulfil today’s requirements is digital.

Murakami expands: “Digital enables workflow to be more efficient, and means automation can be implemented. And at the forefront of digital, is low-cost, high-speed, colour inkjet. It can outperform toner rivals on so many levels; from the installation and running costs, to return on investment, total cost of ownership, the environment, speed and reliability.

“RISO’s inspired cutsheet devices have consistently led the way in inkjet, from the original compact ComColor to the GD9630, and now the new 320-page-per-minute high-end VALEZUS T2100 production printer.”

Going into more detail on this technology, Murakami says that the GD9630 is designed speed, stability and high-volume production print jobs. He adds that the machine proves digital inkjet is the ideal solution to handle standalone runs and reprints alongside larger, continuous-feed systems.

Meanwhile, the T2100 takes this further with the ability to print 320 pages per minute or 19,200 pages per hour, based on full-colour, double-sided printing of A4-sized paper. In addition, as the VALEZUS T2100 is a cut-sheet printer, it can easily handle short-run jobs, according to Murakami, as well as the high-volume runs, enabling efficient processing of a diverse range of jobs.

Murakami adds: “If a company is thinking of switching to digital print, it’s time to make a move to cutsheet inkjet printers. RISO firmly believes that inkjet printers are the ideal choice when switching to digital.”

There is no doubt that digital print technology has changed the shape of the print industry forever, and by going what some of the top manufacturers are saying, we are only set for more developments and innovations as more PSPs turn to this form of printing.

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