The Inkjet Ipex : Inkjet Takes Center StageJune 2010 By Gareth Ward
THERE WAS a huge collective sigh of relief when visitors from all corners of the world began pouring into Ipex in Birmingham, England, last month. Packed demonstrations and earnest conversations contributed to a tentative feeling of optimism at the show that, at last, the economic crisis is passing. Visitors were talking about plans to upgrade equipment and to invest provided, of course, that they can attract the financing.
There's no question that inkjet was the hot ticket at Ipex, and thus is the primary technology focus of this article (look for continued Ipex new product coverage in future issues of Printing Impressions). Kodak's Prosper 5000XL color inkjet web press, featuring its Stream technology, performed flawlessly to packed audiences. It was announced that King Printing, Lowell, MA, will install a new Kodak Prosper 1000 monochrome press in August, with plans to upgrade to a Prosper 5000XL in early 2011.
For HP, the new T200 color inkjet web machine drew most of the attention at its booth. This is a new design of the press platform offering a range of options, from single to full color, across a 520mm (201⁄2˝) web. The web path is designed to move the paper without turning it through the two print modules on the press, then a dryer and into the finishing section. HP has achieved this in the footprint that might have been taken up by a mono digital press, making replacement of older systems a literal shoo-in.
That the user can specify a black-only version, and then later choose to add color, is also intended to make the investment decision easy.
HP announced during the show that Los Angeles-based O'Neil Data Systems, the first print service provider in the world to install a 30˝ T300 press in 2008, will beta test the new T200 this summer. The T200 will begin shipping early next year, and will also be available through the Pitney Bowes channel.
By that time, Xerox may have customer placements of its solid inkjet press that, like the T200, was an almost unexpected announcement for the show. It was described as a technology demonstration, but Xerox has been consulting closely with customers, and testing the impact of the solid ink technology on inserting and mailing lines. The initial press will likely be positioned as a direct mail or transactional machine printing on lightweight and poorer grade uncoated papers, where Xerox believes the ink technologies used by HP and Kodak create too much show-through.