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Taste For Success

Toner-based Presses

New solutions for toner printing are constantly being developed to meet changing needs. Carys Evans hears from some of the industry’s manufacturers to see what’s new in this sphere

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Set the tone

When compared to other printing methods such as inkjet, toner is said to offer advantages such as high quality, high productivity, automaton, and the ability to use mixed media in a single job. Often used for shorter runs and on a wide range of substrates, toner-based presses allow print-service-providers (PSPs) to offer quick turnarounds and have a number of environmental benefits, too.

In this feature, we speak to some of the manufacturers working non-stop to meet demands and changing trends through the development of the latest toner-based kit.

A market first

Global technology company focused on print and advanced materials and chemicals, Kodak, offers a portfolio of electrophotographic (EP) or toner presses. The portfolio features KODAK NEXFINITY digital presses and the new KODAK ASCEND digital press which is due to be commercially available in Q2 of this year. The sheetfed toner solutions feature offset levels of quality, 5-colour capability, broad substrate support, and versatile in-line print and embellishment options.

The KODAK NEXFINITY digital press is part of the company’s portfolio of electrophotographic (EP) or toner presses

According to Kodak, the latest toner press in the company’s range is the first EP press designed to print heavy weight substrates at long lengths with CMYK and flat foil embellishments in a single pass.

Able to produce retail signage up to 120cm in length at speeds of up to 572sq ft/hour, the ASCEND can be used in the retail and point-of-purchase markets. It can also be used to produce packaging jobs such as small folding carton boxes, blister cards, food boxes, and belly bands.

Giuliano Bianchet, vice president sales, for EAMER (European, African, and Middle Eastern Region) for Kodak, says: “Printers should look for a solution that enables them to produce the widest variety of print jobs efficiently, with top quality and profitability. Therefore, in addition to high productivity and short makereadies, a press should offer the greatest possible versatility in terms of substrate types as well as sheet sizes and thicknesses.

Printers should look for a solution that enables them to produce the widest variety of print jobs efficiently, with top quality and profitability

“Kodak’s toner-based presses meet these requirements and also offer a host of digital embellishment options in their fifth imaging unit for CMYK print plus embellishment in one. Printers can choose from 13 standard solutions for in-line digital print enhancements including specialty inks plus custom spot colour and matte and gloss finishes.”

Another consideration that is a hot topic for businesses looking to make investments in kit and new processes is the environment. According to Bianchet, Kodak’s toner-based EP presses offer a number of features that are beneficial to the environment.

He says: “The presses are using Kodak’s eco-friendly, VOC-free Dry Inks that create virtually no emissions. A wide range of recycled and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper stocks can be run on the presses. What’s more, printed sheets have been certified as easily deinkable and recyclable by INGEDE (International Research Association for Deinking Technology).

“Kodak’s Operator Replaceable Components (ORC) service model increases press uptime, reducing service calls and associated fuel use and carbon emissions. Furthermore, used ORC’s are recyclable, and empty Dry Ink bottles are easily recycled as well.”

Highly adaptable
Another company that offers a broad range of toner-based devices for A4 through to high-end production is Xerox. The company’s production toner devices are highly configurable and can be tailored for individual needs. Xerox also offers in-field upgrades so as PSP’s requirements evolve and change, the printer can have additional features added which Xerox notes offers a level of investment protection.

Kevin O’Donnell, head of marketing for Graphic Communications and Production Systems at Xerox, explains that there are two key components impacting the toner-based market currently: automation and CMYK+. As a result, Xerox has developed products in response to these trends.

“Firstly, automation keeps basic and advanced operations of the press monitored, controlled and reported on. We launched some years ago inline spectrophotometers to measure and control colour consistency, automated calibration technologies such as SIQA (simple image quality adjustment) across our Xerox Versant suite and developed intelligent paper libraries to characterise the press for the different stock requirements.

“These have now been enhanced further to include AI (artificial intelligence), so the press learns and adapts to different situations. Xerox Predict Print is a good example of first identifying and then setting the press up to run different medias, saving time and providing consistency and accuracy to get the job run first time, every time.”

O Factoid: The fusers in a laser printer can reach up 200°C causing the toner to melt onto the paper during the printing process  O

For CMYK+ demand, which O’Donnell says adds value, revenue, and profit to print, Xerox offers white, clear, orange, green, and blue as additional colours on the Xerox iGen5, and gold, silver, white, clear, and fluorescent print on the Xerox Iridesse.

“We added these toners to widen the colour gamut and hit brand colours more accurately, to broaden the range of jobs that can now be run digitally and provide an easy and productive method of embellishing higher value to printed work. More revenue, more profit,” O’Donnell explains.

As well as these trends, O’Donnell notes how today, there is a much wider range of applications that toner can serve. Giving an example, he says: “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, making it highly adaptable to a changing market.”

Much like Kodak’s solutions, Xerox toner devices comply with environmental standards and the company itself is a member of the Print Relief initiative. On board, the devices use Emulsion Aggregate (EA) toner which uses less energy. The company was recently awarded the HRH The Prince of Wales’ Terra Carta Seal in recognition of its commitment to a sustainable future.

Responding to demand
In 2021, provider of toner and inkjet-based digital printing solutions, Xeikon, launched its Xeikon Cheetah 2.0 QB dry toner technology. An extension of its 6th generation platform and based on new Cheetah 2.0 technology with next generation interfaces and cloud connection, Xeikon added two new entry-level digital presses: the Xeikon CX30 and Xeikon CX50.

The CX50 is one of the two new entry-level digital presses from Xeikon

Both presses use Xeikon’s QB dry toner which the company says offers colour consistency across the web and ensures high volume with reduced waste. Designed to allow PSPs to produce any colour needed, toners in CMYK, red, blue, green, orange, extra magenta, super black, and one-pass opaque white, UV and reflective clear, are all available. The QB-1 toner is designed for use on a range of standard flexo substrates, and the pigments in the QB toner are also food safe.