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GRAPH EXPO & CONVERTING EXPO 2004 DIGITAL PRINTING -- Solution

November 2004
BY MARK SMITH

Technology Editor

Scientists have challenged its veracity, but the "boiling frog" legend endures. Here's a short version: Drop a frog into a pot of boiling water and it will immediately jump up. Place a frog into a pot of temperate water, then slowly turn up the heat, and it will stay in the pot until it is overcome.

Admittedly, the dire consequences of this cautionary tale are overblown when it's applied to the current status of digital printing. Nonetheless, it does give one a visceral sense for how the slow pace of a change can mask its magnitude over time and lead to complacency.

Rather than being the next big thing, digital printing continues to make steady progress toward achieving critical mass for status on a par with offset as a production option. Advancements on display around the show floor of Graph Expo and Converting Expo 2004 reflected a further maturation of the technology, with particular focus on robustness and reliability.

The trend of digital printing system vendors introducing new monochrome solutions continued in Chicago. In several cases, these are existing devices or OEM versions being distributed by additional firms.

Just prior to the show, Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) signed an agreement with NexPress Solutions under which the former will sell NexPress color and Digimaster monochrome printing systems on a worldwide basis. KPG is starting with the NexPress 2100 color press and, in fact, reports taking its first order at the show. That machine now features the ability to use a fifth imaging unit to apply a clear coat or spot color, the latter of which has enabled the press to become a Pantone-licensed device.

Now officially a Kodak company, NexPress Solutions added the Digimaster E125 (125 ppm) print system to its monochrome product family. Like the E150 model introduced earlier this year, it features enhanced image quality (600x600 dpi), a modular design and optional MICR capabilities. In addition, both models support a greater range of substrate weights (up to 266 gsm) and sheet sizes (up to 14.33x18.5˝) than previous models.

At Graph Expo 2004, Canon U.S.A. featured the imageRUNNER Pro 125VP (125 ppm) and Pro 150VP (150 ppm) black-and-white production printer additions to its product family. The company held its own Digital Solutions Forum exhibition in Las Vegas later in October. There it made 14 product introductions, including the imageRUNNER 8070/9070 and 85+/105+ black-and-white devices based on the ImagePlatform architecture.

In the cut-sheet arena, Océ announced U.S. general availability status for its VarioPrint 2110 600 dpi, 105 ppm monochrome printer. It also reported continued development of the VarioStream 9000 webfed production platform, with the VarioStream 9220 highlight-color, two-over-two configuration entering pilot testing. Océ says it eventually intends to extend the lineup to a five-over-five color version.
 

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