Every so often a new technology arrives that may have an impact on changing a market or replacing an earlier technology. I have just attended a new product launch from Océ and Canon at which they announced a new “breakthrough” technology for digital printing. This is a technology that is the basis for their new Océ VarioPrint DP line of monochrome printers. This is an imaging technology called Océ DirectPress. This technology is a toner based printing technology that does not use light, static charge, developer or toner oils or mixtures, high temperatures or generate any ozone. There is no imaging process using laser or LED imaging and with no traditional electrophotographic approach with its inherent potential for variability in the process. The claim for the new process is to provide high consistency and quality across jobs, time and machines. Océ claim this is a true digital technology for monochrome printing where there are no variables that can affect the output of jobs.
The new VarioPrint DP line has four models with print speeds of 95, 105, 120 and 135 pages/minute. The product line is designed to fit in with the Canon sheet fed monochrome printers and the high-speed and high-quality VarioPrint 6000 product range. The product is initially only available in Europe, and the product is priced in the range of €35 -45K. Océ are targeting what they see is an increase in demand for monochrome printing as corporates look to cut their printing costs by switching away from color printing. Océ also see that corporate CRDs are upgrading older monochrome systems also wanting to link new systems into the same workflow systems as are used for high-speed transactional and other printing. The press runs using the Océ PRISMAsync workflow for printing, scanning and copying.
It is interesting however when one looks at this DirectPress technology to see that it is not new but a regeneration of the technology used in the earlier CPS range of color presses. This was a range of presses developed in the early 2000s that used seven colors for imaging and that were ideal for a range of uncoated and non-smooth substrates. The following is taken directly from a data sheet for one of these presses. “Océ Direct Imaging uses voltage and magnetism. No light is used to create an image. It is directly created on each imaging drum electronically, thereby providing highly accurate color registration and image fidelity. The image is transferred from the drum using Océ Copy Press technology that presses the image to the paper, at a low-fusing temperature. The result is highly consistent print quality without any waste of toner.” The technology is almost the same today but using only a single color. The speed of the press is roughly the same as the CPS press would run at a speed around 20 pages/min in color where there would be seven imaging passes to build up the color.
In addition to the DirectPress technology Océ is also introducing Océ HeatXchange. This is an energy saving technology that takes heat out of the fused printed sheets by cooling and transfers this to new sheets entering the printing process. It is claimed that this can reduce energy consumption by up to 30%
This technology is ideal for use in monochrome whereas it was too slow and limited for the color market. The quality is excellent for the corporate market but not as good as the quality from the latest Variostream 6000 printers. It is ideal for uninterrupted working and the press has a duty cycle that enables it to run for long periods particularly when equipped with multiple paper trays. The press is also available with a range of inline finishing configurations as well as scanning of documents for printing.
Another Offset Supplier Going Digital
“Clays in £5m digital equipment spend”
Clays is ramping up its digital book printing capability with a £5m spend on new kit, allowing the firm to offer publishers a wider range of print-on-demand options.
Clays managing director Kate McFarlan described the new system as the result of a “unique partnership” between Clays and Timsons. The high-speed integrated line will comprise a duplex monochrome press built by Timsons, feeding book blocks through to a Muller Martini binding line to provide either perfect bound paperbacks or lined book blocks, with JDF controls for full automation. The new system, which is set to be installed in spring 2012, will offer “full flexibility on reel sizes, substrates and book formats”. Details about the digital print engine technology are being kept under wraps for the time being.”
It is interesting that a Muller Martini line is being used rather than the Magnum line developed by a team that had worked for Timson in Canada.
Clays are one of the largest book printers in the UK and have recently invested in digital printing with a Kodak Versamark VL series press, in preparation for moving to a Kodak Prosper press. Recently Kodak has installed a Prosper 1000 monochrome press and it is understood that this has now gone into production. While the Timson press’s details are still under wraps one has to speculate that it is likely to be using Kodak’s Prosper print heads, however that is purely specification and we will have to wait to find out more about this. Hopefully Timson will bring their new press to drupa next year.
It is interesting to see a number of offset press suppliers moving in the digital direction, but at this time we are only seeing European offset press suppliers moving in this direction. One has to wonder what is happening in companies like Komori, Goss and Mitsubishi and whether we can expect to see announcements from them before next year’s drupa.