Left side advert image
Right side advert image
Super banner advert image
Subscribe to Print Monthly's RSS feed

Enter your email address here to sign up for our weekly newsletter

Focus On

Digital Inkjet Presses

One of the most active areas of the industry, what are some of the latest developments with digital inkjet presses, and how can new technologies help print service providers grow?

Article picture

The Ricoh Pro VC70000 can produce output at speeds of up to 150m/minute

High-speed Growth

There is no sign of the digital print evolution slowing down, with the development of technology in this area of the market seemingly never ending. New machines are coming to market on a regular basis, complete with all manners of new features and techniques designed to help users improve and expand their output.

Here, we speak with a group of the leading manufacturers in this sector to learn more about their latest launches and the benefits these new presses offer to print service providers (PSPs) that are seeking growth and opportunities across a range of markets.

Adapt to Change

First up is Canon, which recently announced the launch of the ProStream 3000 series, the next generation of its high-speed, web-fed inkjet presses for commercial print. Available in two models – the 80m per minute ProStream 3080 and the 133m per minute ProStream 3133 – the new series prints widths up to 558mm and page lengths up to 1,524mm.

The new ProStream series can print up to 11,300 4/4 B2 sheets per hour or 1790 A4-size 4/4 impressions per minute, equating to 58 million A4 impressions per month, on a wide range of substrates and weights, including standard offset coated, uncoated, and inkjet-optimised papers up to 300gsm.

“Built on the established ProStream technology platform, the new ProStream 3000 series delivers consistent offset print quality and brings a wider selection of substrates, including heavyweight paper, up to higher rated print speeds, enabling ultra-fast digital production of a broader range of commercial print jobs,” says Stuart Rising, head of commercial print at Canon UK.

Canon also announced a new release to the varioPRINT iX-series sheetfed inkjet press, which Rising says enables the varioPRINT iX2100 and iX3200 to deliver higher performance in terms of image quality, efficiency, and productivity.

Canon recently launched the new varioPRINT iX-series sheetfed inkjet press

“The Canon varioPRINT iX-series sheetfed inkjet press has proven its value as a high-quality, highly reliable production system for its users, with 275 global orders and installations, and 30% of all varioPRINT iX users worldwide opting for a second press or more,” Rising says. 

“In addition, Canon remains the leading supplier of continuous feed technologies. This is driven by its wide portfolio, which also includes the market-leading ColorStream series with over 1,000 installations in Europe.”

Offering general advice to those PSPs in the market for a new inkjet digital press, Rising says that for a long time, printers have had to juggle between quality and flexibility on the one hand, versus productivity and cost-effectiveness on the other. However, he says inkjet allows PSPs to have all this with one solution.

“Inkjet technology has the productivity to enable the transfer of litho to digital, with the right economics; quality that matches offset; and the media flexibility across standard offset coated and uncoated media,” Rising says.

“Canon’s latest inkjet solutions allow PSPs to adapt to change with alternative business models and innovative production print solutions that boost productivity and flexibility to optimise processes, add value to applications, and allow access to new markets while contributing to improved sustainability.”

A Dominant Force

Another leading manufacturer in this segment is Fujifilm. Taro Aoki, head of digital press solutions at Fujifilm EMEA, picks out two recent machines in particular – the Fujifilm Jet Press FP790 and Jet Press 750S High Speed.

First announced back in 2021, the Fujifilm Jet Press FP790 is Fujifilm’s first digital flexible packaging press.

Following successful beta trials in Europe, the US, and Japan, it will be commercially available in late 2023.

O Factoid: Following successful beta trials in Europe, the US, and Japan, the Fufifilm Jet Press FP790 will be commercially available in late 2023 O

Key features of the printer include productivity levels of up to 50m/minute, no matter the number of colours, as well as high machine uptime and the ability to change printing jobs and design adjustments within a matter of minutes. The device also has 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution printheads and runs water-based primers and inkjet technologies, making it a more environmentally friendly choice for users.

The Fujifilm Jet Press FP790 offers productivity levels of up to 50m/minute

Meanwhile, the Fujifilm Jet Press 750S High Speed was developed more than ten years after the first iteration of Fujifilm’s flagship B2 inkjet press. Designed with market demands in mind, the manufacturer says the device is more versatile and flexible so that it can be used for a greater number of print jobs.

The new Fujifilm Jet Press 750S High Speed was developed more than ten years after the first iteration of Fujifilm’s flagship B2 inkjet press

The machine features a new High Value mode, which offers a third production option. High Value mode sits in between the existing Jet Press High Quality and High Performance modes, printing at the same resolution as High Quality mode – 1200 x 1200 dpi native resolution – but without the need for the rapid coagulation primer (RCP).

“Inkjet printing technology has become a dominant force in printing, with significant increases in speed and quality now the norm,” Aoki says, adding: “The focus has now shifted to other ways of maximising return on investment: print companies should look for a machine that suits their specific requirements rather than necessarily having every whistle and bell. They may also wish to maximise flexibility, with reliable machines that can be used in multiple applications.

Inkjet printing technology has become a dominant force in printing, with significant increases in speed and quality now the norm

“Inkjet printing enables PSPs to deliver customised, personalised prints at faster delivery times to their customers. Inkjet machines are capable of printing on a wide range of substrates, including corrugated cardboard, labels, plastics, textiles, and more – and the technology has the potential to offer increased productivity and profitability.

“Commercial inkjet can be used to print unmatched high-quality output, suitable for luxury, high-end goods. Meanwhile, wide-format inkjet is used for applications including printing banners, posters, trade show artwork, wallpaper, murals, truck livery, and window graphics.”

Versatile Printing

Elsewhere and Screen Europe has committed to developing new solutions in inkjet digital. Hiromi Kitagawa, marketing manager at Screen Europe, says inkjet digital print technology offers seamless scalability and adaptability, making it easy to expand and enter new printing markets.

“Inkjet digital printing offers versatility, allowing businesses to print on a wide range of substrates with customisable designs and variable data capabilities,” Kitagawa explains, adding: “Inkjet presses can provide high productivity levels on short-run production with a more efficient inventory management which is increasing in demand in the market.

Screen Europe has committed substantial time and resources to inkjet development. Pictured: the Screen Truepress Jet 520HD+

“The shift towards digital printing is accelerating, driven by parallel forces: order volume reduction and a decline in run length. This makes inkjet the technology of choice as it can address the critical issues that printers have to cope with. Up until now, those printers who wanted to exploit the potential of digital printing have had to invest in toner devices.

“These however are slow, and application limited. As requirements for new applications, longer runs, faster throughput, and consistent print quality continue to increase, inkjet is already proven to be a capable technology in wide-format printing and more recently in label printing. It is now poised to accelerate the digital transformation for commercial print too.”

As to what PSPs should be looking for in an inkjet digital press, Kitagawa says while this will depend on the kind of product you would like to apply, total cost of ownership can be the most important feature which is a combination of the running costs of consumables, productivity, operational hours, and other factors.

“Another important factor to consider for commercial printers wishing to explore inkjet digital printing is the choice of vendor,” Kitagawa says, continuing: “When moving to a new printing technology, carefully choosing the right partner with a proven track record and a clear R&D roadmap is essential to provide peace of mind and minimise adoption risk.

“I would always recommend seeking references, where possible, of customers who have owned and run the devices for many years. The product design, manufacturing quality, and also the support culture are key factors in maintaining a very productive and high-quality inkjet system for many years.”

Automation Developments

Casting the net further still and Ricoh also has its finger firmly on the pulse of development and advancement in the inkjet print market. Beata Ulman, marketing development manager at Ricoh Graphic Communications, says the most important trend in high-speed inkjet is automation, with the goal of being able to net more production in a shift.

“This will be achieved through software enhancements and physical changes to presses, and include monitoring the quality of the jobs being printed and the performance of the press to ensure consistent production,” Ulman says.

“Automation will also give you unattended operation with tasks such as cleaning and even scheduling print to start before a shift begins. Automation is also about better integration with pre- and post-press equipment as well as with production management tools that can ensure a constant flow of pre-flighted data to the press.”

As for the advantages of inkjet printers, Ulman says in addition to the well-known benefits of digital over litho, inkjet also has typically lower running costs. These, she says, come from paying only for the amount of ink used for a job rather than a fixed click charge, making it more competitive on longer-run projects.

“In terms of the range of commercial applications inkjet is best suited for, we have seen the technology grow from transactional mail into direct mail and book printing,” Ulman says.

While Ulman says inkjet is not yet prevalent in commercial printing, she does say that with products such as Ricoh’s Pro VC70000, Ricoh is beginning to see commercial printers taking advantage of the substrate flexibility and ‘offset’ print quality that can now be achieved to produce a wide range of brochures and catalogues as well as simple flyers and folders.

Breaking down some of the core facts and figures of this machine, the printer can produce output at speeds of up to 150m/minute at repeatable print lengths as long as 1.37m. It can produce up to 40 million impressions every month and features Ricoh TotalFlow Print Server R600A digital front-end for job and data processing, with support for multiple data streams, access to colour management and additional job tools.

“Built to accelerate the transfer of offset print volumes to digital, the Ricoh Pro VC70000 gives commercial printers the ability to produce demanding high-quality applications, such as catalogues and magazines, traditionally only suitable for offset presses,” Ricoh says.

“In addition, it combines this high level of print quality with the demands of high-speed production applications such as direct mail and critical communications, making it the most versatile high-speed, high-quality digital printer in the market.

“With the addition of our new extended gamut inks which require no precoating and our new advanced drying system, the Ricoh Pro VC70000 maximises production capacity giving users the ability to print faster on a wider variety of media, including both offset coated and uncoated papers.”

If there is one thing that is abundantly clear from speaking with numerous manufacturers in this market, it is the level of innovation in inkjet. Development and new advances with this printing technology shows no signs of slowing down as manufacturers continue to respond to the evolving needs of the market. Consider taking a look at the latest options available to you to see if new investment could drive your business towards growth.

Your text here...

Print printer-friendly version Printable version Send to a friend Contact us

No comments found!  

Sign in:


or create your very own Print Monthly account  to join in with the conversation.

Top Right advert image
Top Right advert image

Poll Vote

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?

Top Right advert image