DIGITAL digest

Inkjet Innovators Offer a Heads-up
CHICAGO—As its title promised, the “Unlocking the Mystery of Inkjet: The Printer’s Perspective” panel discussion offered insights from a trio of firms that are innovators in the inkjet arena, as well industry leaders. The event, held in conjunction with Graph Expo 2010, was hosted by Cabot Corp., a maker of pigment dispersions for inkjet inks.

Sharing their insights were Mary Lee Schneider, RR Donnelley’s chief technology officer (CTO) and president of Digital Solutions; Frank Delfer, executive vice president of technology and CTO at DST Output; and Chris Carosella, vice president of product development and regulatory affairs at IWCO Direct. Marco Boer, vice president of the IT Strategies research firm, added a broader industry perspective to the discussion.

RR Donnelley currently has 20 inkjet web presses installed around the country, Schneider reported, and the plan is to install one press per month for the next 18 months. “Buy when we can, build when we have to” is the approach the printer takes with all technological advancements, she said.

With the addition of its recently announced 60˝ version, Donnelley’s ProteusJet proprietary (and not for sale) digital printing platform now spans 20˝ to 60˝ widths. All models offer a 1,200×600 dpi resolution, and print at 800 fpm (one- or two-color) or 400 fpm (four-color). Initial applications include books, transactional documents and direct mail.

The company is also deploying a modular version of the technology in-line with heatset web presses and finishing lines. Schneider said this implementation represents a significant opportunity given the industry-wide install base of more than 3,000 heatset web presses. Donnelley’s press configuration can operate in offset only, digital only or hybrid mode, with the inkjet units printing a 1,200 dpi resolution at 1,200 fpm.

DST Output has similarly opted to roll its own, so to speak. The company had eight 40˝ wide inkjet web presses built over the course of 2005 and 2006. Delfer said the presses were designed to go from a blank roll of paper to a finished mailing product in keeping with DST’s manufacturing—not printing—paradigm for its operations.

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