Technological Developments — More Changes Reshaping the Industry

PrintCom has previously forecast growth in this approach mating ink-jet with both sheetfed and webfed offset processes. This forecast has proven to be too optimistic for 2007. PrintCom has no indication of any showings of this approach being planned for commercial printing applications at Drupa. However, at a recent IFRA newspaper conference, Kodak Versamark announced the availability of mono color ink-jet as an auxiliary for newspaper presses at 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 fpm. This is a concept that may have application on high-speed web publication presses, as well as on newspaper equipment.

Mail Table Digital

At the Spring 2007 HP Graphic Arts Summit in Rome, a small three-color (CMY) print engine with six thermal ink-jet heads printing a width of 1.7˝ was demonstrated. The equipment, called the mPrint 1700c, was designed to be integrated with an existing black printer, primarily for use on equipment such as mailing tables and folders. The equipment had a rated top speed of 300 fpm at resolutions lower than its top rated 600 dpi. The interesting thing about this technology was its potential to bring process color ink-jet imaging to envelopes, postcards and solo mailers. Scheduled for U.S. showing at Graph Expo ’07, the mPrint 1700c was a no-show withdrawn at the last minute for product improvement. PrintCom suspects that this product will show up at Drupa ’08. It is worth watching for.

Another interesting product, but one that we have not seen, is the Lexmark Mustang printer, which is said to use 2˝-wide thermal printheads that can be stitched together to give an 8˝ print width. While the HP approach is designed to add process color to applications, the Lexmark approach is basically a black printer with some spot color capability.

Both of these products are interesting because they expand digital printing capability at what is generally the under-the-radar low end of applications.

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