The Journey to Inkjet Printing Hits Another Milestone

Posted on by Dave Erlandson | No Comments »

Both in North America and in W. Europe in 2017 over half of the production digital color pages were printed on inkjet presses. The majority of what was printed can be characterized as applications that require low color coverage on uncoated stock which translates to transactional documents, direct mail and books.

inkjet percentage

When it comes to transactional printing and a good portion of direct mail the combination of offset preprinted shells with monochrome laser overprinting has been supplanted with white paper-in color inkjet printing. This transition started in earnest about 7 or 8 years ago and has been going strong since.  This effort has been led by continuous feed inkjet products from Ricoh and Canon.

Another big inkjet application has been short run color books.  The speed and productivity of inkjet combined with low running costs has helped publisher rethink their business moving from a focus on the print cost per book to the total cost per book sold. The industry shifted from print to inventory model to a print on demand model. In this market HP is the clear leader with its PageWide web lineup.

So what’s next for inkjet?

Next up for inkjet is the ability to handle jobs that call for offset-like image quality on standard offset coated stocks. And there is lots of activity underway.

With regards to continuous feed color inkjet, the products aiming at this market include the Ricoh VC60000, Screen 520HD, HP PageWide presses with HDNA technology, Xerox Trivor, and the new Canon ProStream.  All of these presses produce high quality output on coated media.

VC6000ProStreamTrivor 2400-2

The newest continuous feed press in the market is the Canon ProStream.  It was launched in Europe last year at Hunkeler Innovation Days and now the first two North American installations are wrapping up in Chicago this month. The first is at Darwill and the second is at a large web offset shop. The Ricoh VC6000 already has over 50 installations in North America and W. Europe.  HP is of course selling new presses with their new HDNA imaging technology but existing customer can also upgrade to HDNA technology.

On the cutsheet side the Canon i300 continues to make inroads for printing direct mail, transactional and books and owner have already printed over 1 billion pages on these presses. Their new color grip technology is opening up a wide array of media and has improved image quality.

For applications that demand the highest quality the Fujifilm J Press and Konica Minolta Accurio KM-1 (also sold by Komori as the Impremia IS29) are the leading inkjet contenders. Both of these presses offer offset-like quality on a B2 sheet.  Canon has also announced a B2 inkjet press called Voyager with betas starting later this year and they are touting it to have extremely high image quality

Adoption of the technology continues to be linked to inkjet press manufacturers’ progress on the key issues of image quality, media flexibility, and ink and media costs. The latest generation of presses will solve or are very close to solving image quality and media flexibility issues. Costs, particularly inkjet ink costs remain a key issue for full adoption.

Categories: Digital Printing
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