Author Archive

  • FESPA Berlin – Nessan Cleary’s in-depth report

    Messe Berlin, site of Fespa 2018.

    Fespa has always been about wide format printing but this year’s show saw high volume printers mixed with industrial textile printers and even corrugated printing.

    Conventional wisdom has it that large format printing is mainly about sign making and display graphics but wide format inkjet technology is pushing beyond this, which was abundantly clear at this year’s main Fespa event in Berlin, Germany. Of course, there was still plenty of sign making in evidence, but there was a renewed focus on taking this to high volume industrial markets, including corrugated printing, and alongside noticeably more clothing and home furnishings solutions.

    There was a growing use of robotics for automated loading and unloading of substrates. Most robots are designed for industrial applications so they offer long life with little maintenance, which makes for a very flexible and cost-effective solution, even taking into account the cost of integrating the control systems to synchronise the loading with the printing. Canon, for example, demonstrated a robot next to an Arizona flatbed loading media to the printer and then unloading it direct to an Océ ProCut cutting table. The system was developed with a Dutch customer, Van Vliet Printing, but is relatively easy to interface with the Arizona.

    This robot on the Canon stand loads media to the Arizona flatbed, and then unloads it to the cutting table.

    Fespa set aside one hall for corrugated printing, with the main attraction being the Fujifilm stand with an Onset X3 complete with robot for automated unloading. Ashley Playford, national sales manager for Fujifilm Australia says that a big advantage of using robots is that they can handle different stack heights regardless of how thick the material is. There’s a choice of robots depending on what each customer is trying to achieve.

    From left: Ashley Playford, national sales manager Fujifilm Australia, and Graham Blackall, ANZ technical sales specialist, with the Fujifilm Acuity Ultra.

    Naturally, several vendors used the show to launch new printers, mainly 3.2m wide machines aimed at the production end of the market. Fujifilm showed off its brand new superwide rollfed printer, the Acuity Ultra, with a choice of 3.2m and 5m widths. It can print on up to three rolls simultaneously, with independent spindles so that the rolls can hold different amounts of media. It can produce up to 236 sqm/hr. It uses greyscale Kyocera printheads with 3, 7 and 14 picolitre drop sizes and maximum resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi, with the prints on the stand demonstrating exceptional image quality for a superwide printer. Graham Blackall, ANZ technical sales specialist for Fujifilm, says: “There’s a lot of high volume machines in the market but the market is becoming more discerning about quality now and just being ‘good enough’ is no longer good enough.”

    It uses conventional UV curing rather than LED, but has an innovative water-cooling system on the vacuum table so that it can still print to heat-sensitive materials. Blackall says that the printer can handle textiles, with soft signage becoming an emerging market, and that it can also print to mesh materials. There are eight colour channels including CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta, as well as two whites. The ink is a new, high-quality, low film weight Uvijet GS Fujifilm ink that is said to be suitable for interior graphic display work.

    EFI introduced its new 3.2m wide Vutek H-series platform. It’s a hybrid designed around a roll to roll chassis and with tables for rigid media. However, there is a new linear drive magnetic carriage that should offer a more precise transport mechanism for boards than the belt and pulley system that most hybrids use. There’s automated table and carriage alignment and fully automated printhead maintenance as well as built-in diagnostic systems for dealing to help with servicing, both remote and on-site.

    There are two versions, both using Ricoh Gen5 printheads with three different drop sizes of 7, 14 and 21 picolitres. The H3 series have three heads per colour and can produce 74 boards per hour, while the H5 have five heads per colour and print 109bph.

    Agfa announced a new hybrid 3.3m wide printer, the Jeti Tauro H3300 LED, which takes boards up to 3.3 x 2.44m or roll media up to 600mm in diameter. There’s a choice of two inksets: the general purpose Annuvia 1551, and Anuvia 1250, for absorbent media, such as paper and cardboard. Strangely, the company opted to show a tiny lego model rather than the actual printer!

    Mutoh answered customer demands by showing off its first true flatbed printer, the PerformanceJet 2508UF, which takes boards up to 1250 x 2540 mm and can handle media up to 100 mm thick and up to 50 Kg/ sqm in weight. The bed is split into different vacuum zones. This is a UV LED printer that can be configured with either two sets of CMYK or CMYK plus white and varnish. It uses four greyscale printheads but can be field-upgraded to six heads, for dual CMYK plus white and varnish.

    Mutoh also showed off a new 1.62m wide roll-to-roll device, the ValueJet 1638UR. Resolution is up to 1400 x 1400 dpi and it takes Mutoh’s new US11 UV LED ink that’s designed to work with a very wide range of substrates. It prints CMYK plus white and clear ink.

    Latex reinvented

    HP used the Fespa show to launch its first rigid latex printer, the R2000, complete with HP’s first latex white ink. The R2000 is a hybrid device, taking both roll-fed and rigid media up to 2.5m wide media and 50mm thick, and rolls up to 100kg. It has a wide platen, with 14 automatic independent vacuum chambers to hold boards in place. It uses a belt system to pull the media through the printer but has an optical sensor that watches as the media advances and can correct the movement of that media. It can print at up to 88 sqm/hr or 49 sqm/hr in six-pass mode.

    HP launched its R2000 hybrid, capable of printing to rigid materials.

    The latex ink has been completely redesigned to work with rigid materials as well as flexibles. It cures at a lower temperature which allows this printer to work with more heat sensitive materials than HP’s previous latex printers. HP has had to take out the scratch resistance built into its roll-fed inks to improve the jetting so there’s a new Latex Overcoat to help protect prints.

    HP has used the HDNA printheads from its PageWide presses, which have twice the number of nozzles with the extra row of nozzles used to recirculate the ink within the head. This is essential for printing with white ink as the heavier particles can settle in the bottom of the tanks or clog the heads.

    Ricoh is also working on a new latex printer, showing a prototype of a new roll-fed model at Fespa, which should be available towards the end of this year. Unlike Ricoh’s previous latex printer, which was built on a Mimaki chassis, this has been developed entirely by Ricoh. Angelo Mandelli, wide format product manager for Ricoh Europe, says that it can print at 40 sqm/hr in six pass mode on banner materials and at 25 sqm/hr for production quality on vinyl. It prints CMYK plus white for now but Mandelli says that Ricoh will probably add orange and green to expand the colour gamut.

    Ricoh is clearly making a much more decisive play for the wide format market, showing also a new flatbed printer, the Ricoh Pro T7210, which is mainly aimed at industrial printing markets. It takes media up to 2.1 × 3.2 metres, and up to 110mm thick. It’s capable of 50sqm/hr in Standard mode, which doubles to 100 sqm/hr in the high-speed mode. Resolution is 1200 dpi and the ink is Ricoh’s own LED UV-curable ink with a choice of four, five or six colours with the full inkset including CMYK plus white and a clear ink or varnish as well as a primer. 

    Paul Thompson, business development manager ANZ for DTG and visual display solutions at Ricoh Australia, says that much of the print industry, including large format, has become commoditised by focussing on price but that Ricoh is concentrating on adding value. He points out that Ricoh makes its own printheads and supplies heads to many other vendors, adding: “We see that inkjet is the future and that if we get it at the right quality and cost then it will make inroads in other areas.”

    An obvious example of this is the growing textiles market. Ricoh showed off a neat desktop direct to garment printer, the Ri100, which can print various items such as T-shirts, cloth bags, cushion covers and sweatshirts. It prints mainly to cotton, including blends of up to 50 percent cotton. There’s an option to include a separate heat press, the Ricoh Rh 100 Finisher, which has the same 399 x 698 mm footprint so that the printer can be stacked on top of it.

    Ricoh’s Ri100 – note the RH100 finishing unit underneath it.

    EFI Reggiani has developed a new six colour pigment ink with binder with CMYK plus red and blue for its printers, which are mainly used for home furnishing and fashion printing to materials with natural fibres such as cotton and linen. Giorgio Sala, EFI Reggiani’s ink application specialist, says: “We can eliminate the post treatment. In the drier we can fix the ink because the binder is inside the ink.” He adds: “The new ink is designed for Kyocera printheads, which all of our machines have, so we can use it with the existing machines.”

    Mimaki showed off a new version of the Tiger 1800, which was developed by its subsidiary La Meccanica and now gains a number of features typical to Mimaki printers, such as its MAPS nozzle redundancy technology as well as automated maintenance. It’s got Kyocera printheads, with the resolution raised from 600dpi to 1200 dpi.

    In conclusion, there’s a clear trend from this Fespa toward more industrialised printing for volume markets including display graphics as well as garments and home furnishings. There’s more automation, including the use of robots, as well as automatic maintenance to improve productivity, while at the same time most vendors have also improved image quality. The show itself felt extremely busy, with over 20000 visitors crammed into the halls over four days, proof that the market for wide format technology shows no sign of slowing down.

    Next year’s Fespa show takes place in Munich, Germany, from 14 – 17th May.

  • The beating heart of the machine

    Ricoh's Inkjet Test Centre lab tests inks to see how they react with Ricoh printheads.

    Printheads are a key component of any wide format printer, so it’s important to understand how they work.  Fespa consultant Nessan Cleary explains the latest printhead technology for large format printers.

    Nessan Cleary

    There are many bits of technology that go into making a large format printer, but arguably the printhead is the beating heart of the machine. It is the thing that pumps the ink directly to the media and it’s the printhead that determines the defining characteristics of the printer.

    It dictates the type of ink the printer uses and the resolution, so the heads play a pretty big part in the overall image quality and the printer’s productivity. This is why vendors will often release new versions of their printers as new printheads become available.

    Most inkjet printers use drop on demand (DOD) printheads, where each drop of ink is generated only when it’s needed. There are two main techniques used in DOD wide format printing engines: thermal and piezo-electric. In both systems the trick is to create enough pressure to force some ink through the nozzle.

    The pressure must subside almost immediately, so that some of the ink is drawn back to the nozzle causing an individual drop to form, rather than having a continuous stream of ink flowing out through the nozzle.

    Thermal printheads, as the name implies, heat the ink within the ink chamber until it vaporises and creates a bubble and forces a drop of ink through the nozzle. The main drawback of thermal is that it is mostly limited to water-based inks. It has been widely used by Canon for its ImagePrograf range and by HP for its DesignJet wide format printers.

    HP has also developed water-based resin inks, better known as latex inks, for use with its thermal printheads. Another issue with thermal heads is that they have a very short life span and are usually replaced alongside the ink cartridges and treated as a consumable item.

    However, the most commonly used DOD technology is piezo-electric as is used in the Mimaki UJF-6042. A voltage is applied to a piezo crystal to change its shape, so that it expands and pushes against the ink chamber within the printhead. Some printheads do still use a piezo crystal actuator but there are other variations now, such as using a sound wave.

    The basic principle remains the same: when a voltage is pulsed through the actuator it changes shape, forcing a drop of ink from the ink chamber and out through the nozzle. This approach works with a wide variety of different inks including solvent and UV curable inks. The printheads can have a reasonably long life – up to two years in some cases – but they are more expensive than thermal heads.

    Binary or Greyscale?

    The actual size of the ink droplet can vary considerably, with some having a tiny drop size of just three picolitres and capable of reproducing very fine details, particularly on small text and intricate patterns. Others such as the Fujifilm Acuity Advance HD2545 use a much larger drop size, typically up to 42 picolitres, which lets them put a lot of ink down quickly, useful for a high production printer.

    The simplest approach is to use a single fixed droplet size, which is usually referred to as binary. But it’s easier to optimise the printer for different applications by using multiple drop sizes, a practice known as greyscale printing. There are a number of advantages to using greyscale printing.

    Firstly, mixing bigger and smaller dots makes it easier to deal with gradients and subtle tonal shifts, such as in a skyline. It can also lead to reduced ink consumption, partly because some of the dots are quite small, but also because it’s easier to get smoother gradients with four colours without needing additional colours.

    There are several different greyscale approaches. Some printheads eject different volumes of ink to make different sized droplets. Others eject the same amount of ink, but vary the frequency at which they fire the ink so that the different drops merge in flight, or land at the same spot on the media to form larger drops.

    Greyscale printheads can be slower, and as they are more complex they can also be more expensive than their binary counterparts. However many wide format printing devices use some form of greyscaling, with anything from three to seven different drop sizes being quite common now.

    Single pass

    Traditionally inkjet printheads cover only a very small part of the printable area and must scan back and forth to print a complete line. This ensures that any gaps are filled in, thereby generating quite high-resolution images from relatively low-resolution printheads. But this also takes time so clearly the easiest way to speed up a printer is to reduce the number of passes, with the holy grail being just a single pass.

    In recent years single pass inkjet printing has become quite common for both label and document printers and many vendors privately believe that it’s only a matter of time before we see single pass wide format printers. The main issue is the cost of the printheads, with only the very expensive machines such as Fujifilm’s Onset having enough printheads to cover the full width of the bed. Even these still use several passes to achieve reasonable print quality.

    HP A53 Printheads with twice as many nozzles as its predecessor use large and small ink drops to get finer colour resolution inside the gamut of HP A50 Pigment Inks.

    Memjet has developed relatively low cost single pass printheads for wide format use, having stitched five of its heads together for a 42ins wide print engine. The actual heads are 220mm wide and capable of 1600 dpi resolution, with the latest version, codenamed Aspen, capable of running at 68mpm.

    These printers are incredibly fast but for now this technology is limited to waterbased inks, ruling it out for outdoor applications. Instead, the Memjet-based printers are mainly targeted at the CAD graphics market though Memjet is developing a version of its printhead that will take solvent inks as well as a newer design that would be suitable for other ink types such as UV-curable.

    Optimisation

    It is tempting to assume that printers that use the same printhead will have identical performance. But the heads can be tuned to satisfy different needs so that although the physical characteristics will remain the same, there will be plenty of differences. Thus each vendor could use their own electronics to drive the printheads, which being analogue need a digital signal in order to fire the ink.

    Also, individual inks will have to be optimised for each head to ensure, for example, that the inks don’t corrode or otherwise damage the heads. The inks must also have the right viscosity so that they can form droplets that eject accurately from the heads.

    Finally, it’s worth noting that most printheads only really fail when they become clogged, usually with dried ink. A rigorous approach to cleaning them can save a fair bit of money both in head replacement costs and keeping the machine in service.

     

  • Finishing & curing for labels – Nessan Cleary

    One of the more noticeable trends was towards inline finishing with just about all of the digital machines shown with some kind of finishing capability. Some of these relied on conventional finishing units with a limited number of truly digital finishing solutions.

    Nessan Cleary

    However, Xeikon is hoping to address this with a new concept called Fusion. This basically means adding modules to a standard Xeikon print engine for features such as inline cutting, varnishing or foiling, which can be slotted in as needed. But the key thing is that these are all digital rather than conventional modules. Wim Maes, CEO of Xeikon, believes that we’ll see more web to print in the label sector that will need a completely digital production line.

    Meanwhile, HP has worked with a number of finishing companies to ensure that there are solutions available to work inline with its Indigo roll-fed presses, many of which were demonstrated at the show. Thus Tresu showed off its iCoat varnishing system, which is basically a flexo system that can offer fast changeovers for short runs with both aqueous and UV varnish. It can handle substrates from 180gsm to 500gsm at a rate of around 5000 B2 sheets per hour. There’s a version specifically for the B2 Indigo 3000, called the iCoat 3000, designed for folding carton.

    Comexi also showed its new laminator, the Nexus L20000, which has been designed to work alongside the Indigo 20000 for flexible packaging. It uses water-based adhesives and can turn a package around in 24 hours, which is both faster and better for the environment than solvent alternatives. It includes an automatic cleaning system and can refill the adhesives in ten minutes.

    GraphiMecc in collaboration with Domino

    Domino showed an interesting collaboration with GraphiMecc that used two of its inkjet heads on a foiling machine. The first head printed black ink, while the second jetted adhesive, which combined with the foiling for a really effective variable data security solution.

    Prati has developed a finishing unit specifically for short run digital presses. The DigiFast One is still being developed, though Prati did manage to sell at least one at the show. It can run at up to 80 mpm and promises waste of just 18 metres for each run, with changeovers of around eight minutes.

    Neryos has developed a label finishing system capable of laminating, cutting, matrix removing and slitting. The DLF2000 is quite a compact unit that can run at 10 mpm and is designed to work with both conventional and digital label presses. It uses software that automatically detects the cutting shape and can generate it directly on the system, and can then drive the knives for a cut on demand solution.

    Then there were curing options

    Several companies showed off new hybrid UV curing systems that can handle both conventional and LED curing. The main benefit is to future-proof the press should you want to convert to LED inks, with a growing number of companies doing just that. But it also means that the curing modules can be swapped around as needed, which is useful if, for example, you have LED pining lamps on individual units together with Arc lamps for a final cure.

    GEW showed off its ArcLED hybrid UV curing system. Essentially, it allows customers to use arc technology now but with the option to upgrade later to LEDs using the same lamphead casing and the same power supply and control. The system can automatically switch from the AC required for Arc lamps to the DC power needed for LEDs.

    IST Metz also showed off a hybrid system, the MBS. There are three versions, all air-cooled: one for UV lamps that can be upgraded to LEDs; one for LEDs that can be upgraded to UV lamps; and a hybrid system that uses both UV lamps and LEDs. They use the same electronic power supply and both UV and LED lamps can be air cooled.

    IST Metz has partnered with the British company, Integration Technology Limited, which used the same stand at the show to demonstrate its Solidcure 2 N, a slim system designed to fit into tight spaces for full cure or pinning of high density colours. ITL also showed its Pincure 2 system for high speed pining for LED UV curing, which now has an improved housing to prevent contact with the media.

    In conclusion, there’s no longer any doubt that digital will play an increasingly bigger role in the label sector, despite being better suited to short runs. There’s still plenty of room for improvement; most of the hybrid presses struggle to integrate the digital and conventional halves, while some of the digital presses still need to find the right balance between cost, speed and image quality if they’re to go beyond more than a handful of installations. But it’s clear that the industry accepts that there is a need for short run labeling and this sector will continue to grow.

     

  • Labelling embraces digital print – Nessan Cleary

    Labelling may be characterized by long runs but short run digital presses are clearly starting to take hold, judging by the number on show at this year’s Labelexpo. Nessan Cleary looks at what defined this year’s show in the first of a two-part report.

    Nessan Cleary

    This year’s European Label Expo has been hailed as the most successful to date, with some 35,739 visitors from 146 countries, 12 percent up from the last show. This growth is down to the show’s continuing ability to highlight the overall trends in the market place and to answer the most pressing questions, particularly the likely impact of digital technology on this most conservative market sector.

    Here, the most interesting aspect is the degree to which the conventional flexo press manufacturers have adopted digital technology. Most of these have worked with digital suppliers to add digital printheads but we also saw several hybrid presses announced.

    Thus Gallus demonstrated its hybrid digital press, the DCS340, the first new product to be announced since Heidelberg formally took over the company. It uses Fujifilm Samba printheads with a Heidelberg-supplied UV ink. Thanks to the Samba heads, the DCS340 boasts a relatively high resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi, with a tiny two picolitre drop size. It can run at 45mpm, which is a fairly standard speed for inkjet label presses. It’s an eight colour machine, having CMYK plus orange, green and violet for an extended colour gamut, as well as white. Being a hybrid machine with flexo units, it has inline finishing to allow for varnishing and die cutting.

    Jason Oliver, Heidelberg’s senior vice president for digital solutions, also confirmed that Heidelberg is developing a B1 digital press to be shown at Drupa.

    Jason Oliver, Heidelberg Gallus

    Mark Andy also showed off its new hybrid press, claiming to have developed it entirely in-house, though without revealing which company had provided the printheads. However, it’s specifications are reasonably impressive, running at roughly 75mpm and delivering 600 x 600 dpi.

    Domino demonstrated its N610i inkjet configured as a standalone module ready to be integrated with conventional equipment. Philip Easton, Domino’s UK managing director, says: “It’s completely modular so you can add flexo stations with embossing, laminating or whatever.” It’s a seven-colour device capable of up to 75mpm with 600 dpi resolution. It was shown with an AB Graphics Digicon 3, which was itself configured with varnishing and die cutting.

    MPS showed a hybrid that also used the Domino N610i module. The EF Symjet is still being developed but will gain the new servo-driven flexo units shown on the MPS EF Neo press. However, these units will take media up to 430mm wide, whereas the digital unit can only handle media up to 330mm wide. Product manager Hans Poortinga says that MPS is still working to integrate the software from the two halves of the press.

    Naturally, a number of vendors have developed inkjet modules that can be used to add digital capability to an existing flexo press. One of the most interesting of these was a new printbar from Xaar, which has stitched a number of its 1002 printheads together to form a single unit, available in widths from 70mm to 560mm. The 1002 heads are widely used in digital label presses, with several variations so that developers can choose to prioritise image quality or productivity. The unit includes ink channels, electronics to drive the heads and even a workflow so that it can be easily added to a conventional press. It was shown on FFEI’s Graphium, a seven colour hybrid press, with the additional printbar module used to add white ink to create an eight colour printer.

    Industrial Inkjet, which uses Konica Minolta printheads, launched another in its series of printhead modules. The MP500 is a complete single colour printing system that can be added to existing presses or even to finishing kit. It can print full variable images in black, white, varnish or spot colours, as well as security inks such as IR black or UV-fluorescent. It boasts 600 dpi resolution and can run at up to 50mpm. It’s 520mm wide so suitable for small packaging systems as well as labels.

    Digital presses

    There were plenty of digital presses on show but this sector of the market is maturing quickly, with existing players consolidating their presses and a lot less room for new pretenders to have a go.

    Screen showed off its L350UV label press. This uses a greyscale Kyocera inkjet printhead with UV ink in CMYK+white. It can produce up to 50mpm with a 600 dpi resolution. Screen has added new features that allow for extended colour gamut from the existing inkset, by making it easier to achieve spot colours. There’s a new text resolution function that improves text sharpness by reducing ink spread, which also works on uncoated paper substrates.

    Screen has also added a JDF link to the CERM MIS from Screen’s Equios front end that can eliminate repetitive manual tasks and help to automate planning. Information is fed back live to a digital dash board displaying production data such as printing speeds and the amount of material printed.

    Durst is clearly an established inkjet vendor with its Tau 150 and 330 label presses. At the show, Durst announced a lower cost printer, the Tau 330E, stressing that despite being cheaper it was still aimed at industrial users. It’s based around the existing Tau 330, but modified to reduce the cost of purchase and of servicing. There’s a choice of 200mm and 330mm widths, and with an optional white as well as the standard CMYK inks. There’s a highly pigmented inkset that Durst has developed with SunJet, which should cut ink consumption by up to 30 percent. It’s also possible to add a digital laser for inline cutting.

    Durst has also developed a browser-based workflow system, Tau Prepare, so that files can be uploaded from anywhere and the machine monitored remotely.

    In addition, Durst has developed a jumbo winder and unwinder capable of holding 4000 metres for up to two hours non-stop printing. Helmut Munter, sales manager for Durst’s label products, notes that customers of the standard Tau 330, which is designed for runs of 5-6000 linear metres, sometimes use it for jobs up to 10,000 linear metres simply because of the convenience of digital and to avoid the time and cost penalty of using a flexo press.

    Konica Minolta demonstrated its label press, the Bizhub Press C71cf, though this won’t be launched until 2016. This is an electrophotographic machine printing in CMYK using Konica Minolta’s Simitri HDE toner. It can run at up to 13.5mpm with resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi. It takes media up to 330mm wide and can handle paper, both coated and uncoated, as well as synthetics and polypropylene.

    Nilpeter has rebadged the L350UV as its new DP3 label press. Nilpeter has made some minor tweaks, giving it a large monitor and repositioning the corona and web cleaning units. Nilpeter has also developed integrated finishing to produce a complete line. For now this includes varnishing, die cutting smart waste handling and multi-roll rewinding. But Nilpeter has said that it will add other features such as hot foiling and embossing. Screen won’t be taking on the Nilpeter finishing, opting to continue to sell its own Jet Converter finishing option, which is itself built by AB Graphics.

    Xeikon used the show for the commercial launch of its CX3 digital label press. This is a toner printer based on Xeikon’s Cheetah technology and can print at up to 30mpm, across a 330mm web. It’s capable of 1200 x 3600 dpi resolution, delivering extremely good image quality, easily good enough to match up to flexo quality at a reasonable speed.

    HP has improved its Indigo WS6800 roll to roll press. The new features include improved colour matching, using the built-in spectrophotometer together with a new Labels and Packaging Print Server, which uses Esko technology to match spot colours. HP has also improved the fade resistance of its ElectroInk wet toner and added a Michelman DP680 primer to work with a wider range of media.

    HP also showed off upgrade packages for both its 20000 and 30000 B2 Indigos. The 20000 gains a new slitter, reinsertion capabilities and a white ink for shrink sleeves. The 30000 can now work with metalized substrates and also has improved reinsertion.

    The British company Dantex, mainly known for distributing press room consumables, showed off a brand new inkjet label press, the PicoColour 2. This has been developed by another British company, JF Machines, which Dantex took over earlier this year. The press itself is 210mm wide and runs at up to 35mpm. It uses Xaar 1002 printheads and offers CMYK plus white inks. There’s an optional corona unit and it can be used for paper as well as filmic based media.

    Part Two of Nessan Cleary’s report in Friday’s issue of Print21 online, when he examines Finishing and Curing options on exhibition at Labelexo.

  • Finishing out wide – Print21 magazine

    Wide format finishing, as with offset and digital, is what turns a piece of print into a sellable product; it’s a vital part of the process. There are several finishing options, depending on what you want to produce and the effects you want to create. In the latest Print21 magazineNessan Cleary of Digital Dots presents an overview of technology options.

    Nessan Cleary

    Many wide format users tend to concentrate investment efforts on the printing process, which means that finishing can be something of an after-thought. Yet it’s the finishing that turns the printed sheets into sellable products, so it pays to know what options are available. This can best be summed up as laminating, cutting and welding or other forms of ‘joining.’

    Laminating covers both surface protection and bonding printed sheets/rolls to rigid boards. UV-curable flatbed printers capable of printing directly onto 50mm or thicker boards have reduced the need for bonding but it is still popular using roll applicators, particularly for lenticular traffic and safety signs.

    Protection of printed jobs is the widest use of lamination in wide format; either to give fade-resistance for aqueous dye inkjet prints, or to increase the outdoor durability of solvent or latex prints. There’s also a wide range of laminate films available with added effects ranging from anti-glare, anti-slip for floor graphics and anti-graffiti, to textures and finishes such as lustre, pearl and gloss.

    Hot or cold

    There has traditionally been a choice between thermal lamination, which relies on heat as well as pressure to activate the adhesives in the material; and cold lamination, where pressure only is used to force special adhesive to bond the layers together. Top of the range machines still have two heated rollers for encapsulation as well as laminating, but lately there’s been considerable emphasis on ease of use. These days most people opt for a laminator with a single heated top roller and use pressure-sensitive laminates with some heat to help activate the adhesives for a better bond, which is an easier set-up to work with.

    An interesting variation is the flatbed laminator, which is useful for adding laminate effects to rigid materials. The media stays still while a pressure roller moves over it. There are also liquid laminators which are suitable for applying UV- protective coatings for outdoor durability and for enhancing the finish of the print. Protection, bond and evenness using UV liquid lamination is first class and at a lower cost per square meter, but the machine itself costs considerably more than a roll film laminator. Liquid UV also has the advantage of coating and rewinding an entire roll of wide format graphics, with cutting taking place afterwards, thereby increasing productivity.

    Cutting tables

    Flatbed cutting tables, some adapted from other industries such as routing, gasket and leather-cutting, started appearing after the first flatbed printers came onto the market and they can cost almost as much. However, cutting tables are integral to getting the most out of flatbed printers and they are often sold together as a complete package. Manual cutting is a slow process and any mistakes mean the job will have to be reprinted. An automated table can be left to cut multiple identical shapes out of a complete sheet and can also add creasing or V-cuts to create folds for packaging or 3D items such as Point of Purchase (POP) display boxes. Optional camera systems mean that an automated table can pick up registration and cut marks and recognise sheets placed on the bed for cutting.

    There are two distinct classes of cutting tables. On one hand, there are several large, highly automated models capable of handling the largest sheet sizes up to five metres wide. Some of these use conveyor systems to help move the boards on and off the table quickly and can also handle roll-fed materials. At the other extreme, there’s a move towards simpler, smaller and more affordable cutting tables. Tandem modes, whereby the bed can be split, so that a board can be cut on one half while another board is loaded onto the other, can help improve productivity.

    An alternative to a cutting table is to use a CNC router (the CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control). It’s becoming harder to define the differences between routers and cutting tables, because the tables have gained increasingly powerful routing tools. They can now cut more difficult materials including thin aluminium. But equally, most routers now offer a good range of standard cutting tools and can handle materials such as cardboard and foamcore that might otherwise require a cutting table. Routers are still a better choice if you’re routinely cutting through heavier materials such as aluminium and steel. Such is the range of materials that can be cut with this technology that many companies have found that cutting tables and routers have taken them into other more industrial applications, such as cutting out switch panels.

    Another variation on the cutting theme is the cutting plotter, which is particularly handy for making labels and decals. Most are capable of different types of cutting, including through-cuts, perforations and kiss cutting, used to cut through the top layer of pressure-sensitive material, while keeping the carrier backing sheet intact. These are not particularly fast but most can be left running overnight.

    Print and cut machines, as the name implies, combine printing and cutting heads, saving the cost of having to buy a separate cutting plotter, but it does mean that the printer is tied up if you need it for cutting and vice-versa.

    Welding, sewing and grommets

    Another common requirement for wide format print is to add pockets or seams to printed graphics such as banners, so that they can be suspended using cable or cord. Banner production may also require eyelets for lacing onto a framework. There’s a choice of bench-mounted and hand held machines for this type of work and most will work with popular flexible materials from vinyl to synthetics as well as stiffer display materials such as Foamex.

    For textiles that have to be stretched and inserted into a frame, for instance backlit graphics; it’s increasingly common to use a sewing machine. A number of sewing machines are designed specifically to be easy to use for display work but one of the most popular adaptations is to use sail-making sewers as they can handle the large areas. Welders are available for use with banner materials such as PVC, PE plastic and synthetics as well as some for use with textiles. They use heat and are available in both automatic and semi-automatic variations and can weld three to six metres in one stroke.

    Finally, for textile production there’s a choice between flatbed and calendar heat presses to transfer dye sub prints to fabric under pressure. Flatbed heat presses tend to be cheaper but are slower to use. Calendar presses are better suited to faster production environments such as sporting and club apparel and a good calendar press is a wise investment as it can keep up with the output from several textile printers.

    There is no ‘one size fits all’ in wide format finishing so it is vitally important to determine what finished products are required before shopping for solutions.

  • The potential of personalised packaging –­ Nessan Cleary @ Print21 magazine

    Digital printers are increasingly targeting the label and packaging markets with quite a few available or just about to launch.

    The great strength of digital printing has been its ability to handle very short runs, not something that you’d immediately associate with labelling or packaging, which are normally characterised by very long runs. But there are many different strands to packaging and printer vendors are actively looking at all of these now, partly because digital printing is now handling longer runs than ever before, and partly because packaging runs are often split into shorter run versions, but mostly because packaging represents the biggest opportunity in printing right now.

    For now most vendors have concentrated on labelling and in the last couple of years a lot of digital label solutions have become available. Carlo Sammarco, business manager for packaging solutions at Screen Europe, says that the main issue for people is the cost of the ink which is quite expensive compared to conventional inks on a flexo press. He explains: “People focus on the amount of ink and the cost of that ink but they forget the additional cost that you have such as making plates. If you are using the same substrates then you could gang jobs together and print multiple jobs with no makereadies or set up cost and time.”

    Screen has developed its first digital label printer, the L350UV, which can produce 50mpm or roughly 1,000 labels in a minute. It prints white followed by CMYK, with LED pining between the colours, followed by a main cure from a conventional lamp.

    It uses Kyocera KJ4 printheads, which should last from one to four years. However, it’s an engineer call out to change the heads, though Sammarco says that Screen can train the operators up to engineer level for some remote sites.

    There’s a corona unit though in practice Sammarco says that its only needed with certain substrates such as tamper-proof materials. It also has a very short path that uses roughly eight metres of substrate when changing rolls, which is an important consideration given that the substrates could cost more than the ink.

    Marc Tinkler, senior manager for business development of Epson Europe’s industrial printing division, argues that there’s more to digital printing than just shorter runs. He says: “You could order jobs less frequently and try to do something more interesting. You could have events where you personalise a label, say on a wine bottle. Or a food product which might have a recipe on the back. If you could vary that recipe label by label so that there was a variety of labels then you have added value through the label. So the ability to vary labels is quite interesting.”

    Epson, EFI, Durst and Domino

    Epson launched its first label printer, the Surepress L4033AW just over three years ago and has some 120 installed worldwide. It uses water-based resin inks that will work with most conventional label stocks. But it uses several passes to print each label, limiting it to just 5mpm at 720dpi resolution.

    The customer base is mainly established label converters and commercial printers looking to diversify as well as a handful of end customers. Tinkler says that it’s really designed for very short runs of just 100 metres or so but adds: “But they are also used for runs of a few hundred metres where quality is key or they are using something special like textured label substrate or where there are really high value labels.”

    Epson has also demonstrated a second label press, the SurePress L6034VW which uses UV inks and takes a fairly standard approach with the roll fed continuously past the heads. It’s fitted with Epson’s PrecisionCore printhead, which has a native resolution of 600x600dpi and will be slightly faster at around 15mpm. This is still in beta testing with commercial launch due for early next year. Tinkler says there’s a place for both: “UV is great for durability but the water based ink has huge capability in terms of quality and how it looks on certain materials like textured paper.”

    EFI has had considerable success with its Jetrion range of inkjet lable presses. The latest of these is the 4950LX, which has LED curing for all four colours plus the optional white channel. It has a much higher resolution and speed than other models, running at 33mpm at 720x720dpi and 48mpm at 720x360dpi. It takes a 350mm wide web printing up to 330mm wide. There are several inline finishing options, including laser die cutting, varnishing and lamination.

    Durst has developed the Tau 330, a UV label printer sold in both 200mm and 330mm widths. It uses Xaar 1002 printheads with resolution up to 720 x 1260dpi. The basic model prints in CMYK but there are options to add orange, violet and white. It takes standard label stocks from 100 to 500 microns and films and foils up to 20 microns. It runs at 48mpm, though this drops to 37mpm for the highest resolution. There’s also a version that comes complete with an inline laser die cutting system from Spartanics.

    Domino has developed its N-series label printers, with both the four colour N600i and the more recent N610i that takes up to seven colours with the addition of white, orange and violet. Both use Kyocera printheads and can run at up to 75mpm. Both take a web width of 340mm and use UV inks that will work with most standard label stocks.

    HP Indigo still dominant

    HP still has the largest slice of the digital label market, having been selling narrow web versions of its Indigo liquid toner printers for some years now. The latest of these is the ws6800, which can run at up to 30mpm with four colours with 40 m/pm EPM & 60 m/pm 1 or 2 colours. As with all Indigo printers, it can take up to seven colours, but because the colours are laid down one a time, each additional colour slows the press down. However, this uses HP’s Enhanced Productivity mode to create colour images from CMY, which runs at 21mpm. It takes media up to 330mm wide and up to 350 microns and has an inline priming unit so that it can work with standard substrates though the priming will add to the cost of those substrates.

    Xeikon has been a leading player in the digital label space with its dry toner technology. This has a major advantage over the Indigo presses in that it can handle a wide range of substrates without any special coating. Recently Xeikon has been showing off a faster press, the Cheetah, which it claims is 60% faster than its other models. It’s designed for use with self-adhesive and pressure sensitive label stocks from 40 gsm to 350 gsm. It uses CMYK plus white. It can run at up to 30 mpm with a resolution of 1200 x 3600 dpi. It takes a standard web width of 330mm.

    Allen Datagraph Systems has built two complete benchtop label printing systems that both use LED toner printing and work with standard stocks. The iTech Axxis HS has a 216 mm print width and prints at up to 7.6 meters per minute with 1200 X 600 dpi resolution. There’s a larger printer, the iTech Centra HS, that takes substrates up to 330mm. It runs at speeds up to 9.1mpm. Both come with a finishing unit that can laminate and contour-cut labels of any size and shape on-demand using knives.

    A number of the smaller label printers have used Memjet printheads. These systems are very fast and relatively cheap to buy but they use water-based inks and therefore will only print to a coated label stock, which limits the materials available and pushes up their cost. The latest of these is the Colordyne CDT3600, which uses Memjet’s Aspen printhead. This can run at 69mpm at full colour resolutions with up to 1600 x 1375 dpi. It includes a laser die cutting system. It’s also possible to update the core subassemblies as new technology becomes available.

    Hybrid flexo presses

    There are quite a number of hybrid presses around, with most narrow web flexo press vendors now actively trying to incorporate some level of digital printing. There’s an obvious advantage in that you only need to buy one machine. But it could be argued that you have to run all the jobs through that machine, whereas dedicated solutions would make it easier to separate out the short run work and squeeze the most profit from each job.

    Heidelberg has demonstrated its new label press, the Gallus DCS 340, having recently acquired Gallus outright. It uses Fujifilm Dimatix printheads alongside two flexo units and a flexo varnish unit. It prints in eight colours – CMYK plus orange, violet, green and white and runs at 50 mpm with a resolution of 1200 dpi. This should be available later in 2015.

    FFEI has developed the Graphium, which is built on the chassis from a narrow web flexo press from Edale. Thus the Graphium press has a 410mm print width so that although it’s been billed as a label press it could potentially satisfy a number of applications. It can be used as a standalone digital press but can also be integrated with multiple flexo units for a hybrid solution. It uses Xaar 1001 printheads and will run at a maximum speed of 50mpm at a resolution of 180x360dpi. It’s sold through Fujifilm and uses Fuji UVijet UV curable inks.

    Mark Andy has also launched a hybrid press, the Digital Series, based on its existing P7 press. It uses UV-curable inks with in-line flexographic printing modules including metallics, various converting options and cold foil. It has a 336mm web width and runs at up to 76mpm. It uses CMYK plus orange, violet and white and has 600dpi resolution. It includes a corona unit and will handle pressure sensitive paper and films from 25 to 356 microns.

    Digital beyond

    While labels can be considered as the low hanging fruit, many vendors are now turning their attention to other areas in packaging. The biggest slice of the market is corrugated printing, which Ronen Zioni, marketing director for HP’s Graphics Solutions business in Europe, estimates to be worth $91bn globally overall, with digital able to reach $1.5bn worth of this business.

    Thus HP has developed two corrugated solutions. The first of these is the Scitex 15000, which has been adapted from its high production FB10000 wide format flatbed. The 15000 can run at up to 600 sqm/hr and is meant for very short runs of just a few hundred boxes.

    But HP has also adapted its T400 Inkjet Web Press, developing a T400 simplex that can print in CMYK direct to corrugated. This can produce around 12,000 sqm/hr. It’s a web fed device, with a web width of 107cm. It uses HP’s 1200 dpi thermal printheads, with water-based inks and a bonding agent for handling uncoated substrates. The first one has been installed at a packaging printer in the Czech republic and HP is planning on several more sites in 2015 while it learns the market but Zioni says that it will be 2016 before the company really starts to push it.

    HP has also developed two versions of its B2 Indigo platform to target different parts of the market. Thus the 20000, which is due to be launched in Australia in Q2 2015, is aimed at flexible films while the 30000 targets folding carton. Both use the standard Indigo approach of taking up to seven colours. The 20000 can produce 31mpm in four colour mode and takes films and paper from 10 to 250 microns. The 30000 can print 3450 B2 sheets per hour and takes paperboard from 200 to 600 microns

    HP has worked with a number of other vendors to develop complete lines that will work with these printers. This includes AB Graphics, with its Digicon 3000 for converting pressure-sensitive labels and flexible packaging films and Tresu, which has demonstrated its iCoat 3000 with the Indigo 30000, which is capable of using both UV and aqueous varnishes.

    Canon also has turned to liquid toner technology for its Océ InfiniStream. This is a large B1 web-fed simplex printer aimed at the folding carton market. It can handle standard offset cardboard substrates up to a thickness of 600 microns. There’s a separate print tower for each colour and each print tower includes an LED bar that writes a latent image to the imaging cylinder, plus an inking system that adds the liquid toner to that cylinder. The image is then transferred first to a blanket cylinder and then to the substrate so that all the colours come together directly on the substrate before fixing.

    It runs at around 120mpm and can produce up to 14,400 B2 or 7,200 B1 sheets per hour. Canon claims that it will be competitive against offset for runs of up to 4,000 B1 sheets.

    The first unit is currently being beta tested at a German packaging printer, Joh. Leupold GmbH. Bernd Assmann, Managing Director of Leupold, says that he looked at this to counter falling run lengths and increased versioning, adding: “Brand owners are requesting shorter turn-around times and faster campaign execution, as well as waste and cost reduction.”

    The digital packaging market has yet to take off and we are bound to see more presses announced in the next couple of years. Fujfilm, for example, has demonstrated its Jetpress F, a derivative of the Jetpress 720 that uses Dimatix print heads with a hybrid water-based UV inks, that’s designed to handle folding carton. Landa also is due to start beta testing its first nanographic presses shortly, including a B1 press configured for folding carton applications.

    Digital technology has gained a firm foothold in the label market and is likely to grow from here. Several vendors report that customers have asked about running thin films through their label presses and some vendors are clearly thinking about developing wider versions to address the flexible films market.

  • Taking the LED cure – Print 21 magazine article

    UV ink curing using low-energy LED arrays instead of metal halide lamps is gaining traction – particularly in the wide-format sector. Some offset presses have also been retro-fitted with LED-UV curing, with Ryobi pioneering the sale of new presses featuring LED-UV. Can LED eventually displace conventional UV and what are its strengths and weaknesses? Print21’s European correspondent, Nessan Cleary, dives into the short end of the spectrum and sheds even more light.

    Naturally we prefer our inks to be wet when we’re printing and to be dry right after printing, so that we can get on with finishing and ultimately selling the printed work. This is the main reason why UV inks with their instantly dry capability have proven so popular. Strictly speaking, UV inks don’t dry – they change from a liquid to a solid state through a chemical reaction: photopolymeri-sation, caused by exposure to a UV light source. That light source could be as simple as sunlight though most printers use an easily controllable mercury vapour or metal halide lamp.

    Increasingly, manufacturers are turning to LEDs as a viable UV light source. Stephen Emery, director of ink sales and marketing for EFI, says this trend will continue, adding: “I would say the majority of [wide format] printers will be replaced by LED curing models.”

    EFI GS3250LX

    LEDs typically last for 15,000 to 20,000 hours, while mercury or metal halide lamps have an average life span of just 1,000 hours. LEDs are turned on or off instantly, with no time wasted waiting for the lamps to come up to temperature. This means that the life span equates directly to hours spent printing so it’s unlikely the LEDs would have to be replaced during the life of a printer. There’s no degradation of the lamps over time, so you get their full performance up until the point they fail, unlike a conventional lamp which has to be monitored and replaced as the performance tails off.

    LED lamps use considerably less power and only need to be on when actually curing, which adds up to a lower electricity bill. Indeed, Fogra recently tested an EFI 3.2m wide GS3250LX Pro and found energy savings of up to 82 percent over printers using conventional UV lamps.

    Reduced power usage is also good for the environment and a further green benefit is that no mercury is used, eliminating the need for careful waste management. Since LEDs don’t produce ozone, or any other harmful gases, there’s no need for extractive ventilation.

    LEDs produce far less heat than conventional lamps, so they can be used with a greater range of heat-sensitive materials, such as thinner plastics.

     Growing power

    The basic concept of LED curing is fairly simple but the main issue up until the last couple of years has been the relatively low light intensity they produce. UV curable inks rely on photo initiators, which produce free radicals when exposed to UV light. The major components of these inks are monomers and oligomers, which the free radicals cause to cross-link together, turning the ink into a tough solid and simultaneously bonding it to the substrate surface.

    However, photo initiators require a certain intensity of light to kickstart this reaction, hence the development of high output LEDs coupled with inks more sensitive to a narrow band of UV. Emery says that inks have to be formulated differently for use with LED curing, explaining: “The main change is the initiator which responds to UV-B wave length to start the cross linking so we need to make sure that we have the proper photo initiator to respond to the LED wavelength.”

    One way to get around this is to use pining, where the LED partially cures the ink, prior to a more powerful LED or a mercury vapour lamp. Here the final cure doesn’t need to be as powerful, saving on energy costs, and the pining immediately after printing helps keep the dots sharp for a better image quality.

    EFI has been working with LED curing for over five years now, for both its Jetrion label presses, and Vutek wide format printers. Emery says that the inks are a little more expensive but that EFI has leveraged enough economies of scale to negate this cost.

    EFI uses LED curing for a number of its GS series of superwide format printers, including the GS5500LXr Pro, a five metre wide hybrid printer with multiple drop sizes starting at 7 picolitre, and eight colours plus an optional white.

    For the much faster HS100 Pro, EFI uses LEDs for pining with mercury vapour lamps for the final cure. This is a 3.2m printer capable of producing 100 rigid boards per hour. LED curing is also used on the Jetrion 4950LX label printer, which allows it to handle more heat sensitive materials across a 330mm web width.

    Wide and Superwide embrace LEDs

    Fujifilm Acuity LED 160

    Fujifilm has developed the Acuity LED 1600, a rollfed printer capable of 20 sqm/hr. It will also accept rigid materials up to 13mm thick. It uses Fuji Dimatix Q class heads with one head per colour, configured CMYK + Lc and Lm plus white and clear inks.

    Fujifilm’s Specialty Inks Systems has formulated its ink with a monofunctional monomer, which has high elongation and adhesion, so it is flexible enough for roll fed substrates. There are two LED units – one to pin the inks, which allows them to penetrate the media surface, and another to fully cure them, which gives greater adhesion for PVC media.

    Mimaki has used LEDs in most of its UV printers, including the recently launched JFX200, an entry level flatbed that can produce up to 25 sqm/hr. It features six colours including white and clear and a choice of hard or more flexible inksets. LED curing is also used for the roll-fed UJV500, which can print at up to 100 sqm/hr, on flexible media, with enough stretch for use in vehicle wrapping applications.

    Roland has also used LED curing for a number of its printers including the LEJ640 hybrid printer, as well as the flatbed derivative of this, the 640F. The LEJ 640 prints white and clear inks as well as CMYK using Roland’s new Eco UV inks, which print to both rigid and flexible media.

    Mutoh launched a new LED UV hybrid at the last Fespa Digital show earlier this year. The VJ-1626UH is a 1.6m wide printer that can handle a wide variety of rigid and flexible materials, including heat-sensitive substrates. It can run two sets of CMYK inks for higher speed, or CMYK plus white and a clear varnish.

    LED’s Zeppelin lifts off in Offset

    But LED curing isn’t only confined to inkjet. Ryobi claims to be the first offset press manufacturer to use LED UV curing, which can be fitted to a number of its presses from the two-up 520 series to the eight-up 920. Ryobi claims that this has cut power consumption by around 70 percent, while the LEDs last up to 15 times longer than conventional lamps.

    Some printers have been retrofitting LED curing systems to presses. Air Motion Systems, a leading developer of LED curing systems, already claims over 140 installations to various presses worldwide. The LED systems are relatively small so that they’re easier to fit than conventional lamps would be, and allow offset printers to use UV inks, for immediate finishing and no spray powder.

    Carsten Barlebo, European director of AMS, says that presses can operate at their rated maximum speeds – up to 20,000 sheets/hour in the case of a KBA Rapida 106. He notes: “A new series of 100 percent bio-renewable LED UV inks are also coming on stream this year – from more than one supplier – featuring low migration to meet Cradle-to-Cradle (Silver) certification, so it really is ‘Game Over’ in the new generation UV debate.”

    In addition, low energy or LE systems such as Komori’s H-UV are a variation on LED curing that’s proved popular with offset presses. The UV inks, and particularly their photo initiators, need to be fine tuned to work with the lamps in use, which does limit the choice of inks, but means jobs are turned around much quicker.

    The Flint Group has developed a range of UV flexo coatings that are suitable for LED curing using the EkoCure brand. Toyo, INX, Toka and Arets are also now in the offset LED-UV ink space.

    In conclusion, we can expect to see a lot more LED-UV curing over the next couple of years given the energy and cost saving advantages. It seems inevitable that most wide format printers will move to LEDs though it may take a while longer for offset printers to fully embrace the benefits of LED-UV curing.

  • Fespa Digital 2014 draws them in with lots of new kit

    The wide-format show in Munich is reinforcing the interest printers have in comparing new models from the leading providers. Nessan Cleary, Print21 European correspondent, sent this update from the show. Check out the June issue of Print21 magazine for a full report.

    This year’s Fespa Digital show is proving to be one of the most interesting of recent years with plenty of new kit on show. Canon has launched a new, larger series of Arizona printers, signalling a move into the mid-volume segment. The Arizona 6100 series has a 3.5 x 2m bed and can produce 100 sqm/hr in Production mode, or roughly 24 8×4 boards per hour, and up to 155 sqm/hr in Express mode.

    Fujifilm has also launched a rebadged version of this as the Acuity F. Fujifilm has also launched the Vybrant, a 1.6m wide roll fed printer that is a rebadged Mimaki SUV. There’s also a new Onset R40i, which is slightly faster than the Q-series launched last year.

    Screen has its Trupress Jet W3200HS at the show, a totally new model based on the plain 3200 but at up to 150m2 production speed. It is a higher-productivity version of the Truepress Jet W3200UV launched last year. A joint development between Screen and its subsidiary company Inca Digital, the Truepress Jet W3200UV HS is a six colour + white device designed to meet the demands of the POS, signage and decor markets today with the ability to print onto a wide range of rigid and flexible media up to 3.2 x 1.6m in size and up to a maximum 50mm thickness.

    Durst has launched four new models, mainly faster versions of existing models. They include the Rho P10 HS Series, the Rho 312R roll to roll printer and the latest additions to the Rho 1000 Series plus a new Rhotex HS soft signage printer.

    swissQprint presented a new large format printer the Nyala 2. This is now the largest, most productive and efficient machine in the Swiss manufacturer’s product range.What is most noticeable about the new swissQprint flatbed printer is the visual similarity to its predecessor, the Nyala. The total machine size is in fact the same. Surprisingly though, the printing table of the Nyala 2 is 25% larger than its sister model at 3.2 x 2 metres.

    EFI launched its UltraDro 7pL greyscale print head technology on its VUTEk GS series printers. It also had the European début of its H1625 LED printer, the first LED device in the entry-level wide format printer line. Highlight was the worldwide première of the Fiery proServer Version 6, a scalable and flexible digital front-end workflow

    Mimaki showed off a new eco-solvent printer, the JV300. This will be available in 1.3m and 1.6m widths. It takes both eco-solvent and dye sublimation inks.

    Agfa updated two of its Anapurna printers, including the M2050i, which gains new printheads making it much more productive. The M3200i RTR is a 3.2m wide banner printer, which was shown with dual roll capability for maximum efficiency and a new mesh option to print on mesh material without liner.

    Roland DG had its flagship SOLJET PRO4 XR-640 operating with the new ECO-SOL MAX2 ink in white, metallic silver and light black.

    The show is busy, with plenty of people milling around the halls and even more outside enjoying the warm sunshine and German beer. Neil Felton of Fespa reported 26 percent more visitors than the last Fespa Digital show after just the first two days, which is easy to believe given how hard it is to move around the show floor.