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COLOR COPIERS & DIGITAL PRESSES -- Coloring Between The Lines

March 2004
BY MARK SMITH

Technology Editor

The line of demarcation between a copier and printer was the first to fall. Now it's not uncommon for devices with similar capabilities to be called printers or presses, depending on who's doing the naming. And, markedly different machines—such as all-digital and digital offset systems—may be labeled as digital presses, or the ubiquitous production systems.

The upshot is that it has become very difficult to neatly define what products should be included in an update on the state-of-the-art in digital printing. Therefore, what follows is a look at some, if not all, of the recent major developments in the marketplace.

Hewlett-Packard Co. just launched the HP Indigo press 3050 and 5000 digital presses, both of which are seven-color machines capable of producing 4,000 letter-size pages per hour. They are also compatible with the new Series 4.0 HP ElectroInk, which is said to deliver longer photo imaging plate life, offer enhanced adhesion characteristics for use on coated stocks and improve resistance to rubbing, scratching and cracking.

The HP Indigo press 3050 is based on the Series 2 engine and replaces the 3000 model. It features an improved paper path with increased feed reliability and ability to handle lower weight papers. Ease of operation is said to be enhanced through hardware and software improvements.

Designed for larger volumes, the HP Indigo press 5000 features patented paper handling technology and easy-to-maintain press systems for more efficient operation. The HP Press Production Manager front-end offers enhanced workflow tools for imposition and job control, along with a remote user interface. HP CMYK Plus technology offers automatic, consistent color management across a range of devices, including the HP Designjet and large-format ink-jet printers. HP Adaptive Halftoning analyzes text as it's being printed and intelligently adds dots to fill in gaps at the edges.

Océ Digital Document Systems division was targeting this month's On Demand show for the unveiling of a new hardware and software systems platform for production-class printing. The platform reportedly has been engineered to support monochrome and highlight color printing with the capacity to migrate to full-color production—on a single machine. It is said to offer "offset-class" quality.

According to Océ, the cornerstone of the platform is a multi-stage imaging technology that can be customized with as few as two or as many as 10 toner stations to support monochrome, highlight color and, in the future, process color and beyond. The continuous forms print engine is intended to print short runs, long runs, and transactional and production publishing jobs.
 

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