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Noel Ward

Real World Digital

By Noel Ward

About Noel

Noel Ward is Managing Director of Brimstone Hill Associates, which specializes in marketing communications in the printing industry, including video production. He can be reached at 603-672-3635 or via email at His website is, and he has a YouTube channel.

Océ Lightens Up with New ColorStream 3500 Inkjet Press

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When a company sells both toner and inkjet production systems it affords an understanding of how products fit on a changing landscape. Such is the case with Océ's new ColorStream 3500. While the speeds and feeds specs are the same or similar to those of the company's JetStream 1000 system, the new box fills an important space in the market and an important gap in Océ's otherwise robust line of high-speed inkjet systems. Two big differences stand out between the two systems.

The first is weight. The JS1000 is duplex inkjet in a box, meant for heavy-duty use, and weighs in at an astonishing 23,309 pounds—more than 11 tons. While this works fine if the floor of your print shop is a foot or so of re-barred concrete, it's a non-starter for data centers and many service bureaus where raised floors are the norm. The new ColorStream 3500 uses two separate engines weighing about 5,500 pounds each, well within the support capabilities of typical raised floor operations.

Then there's size. Most of the production-class inkjet systems available today require a lot of space. While hardly a show stopper, this can limit where machines can be sold and who can buy them without substantial (and costly) investments to physical plants. The new CS 3500 is about 40 feet long, roll-to-roll, approximately the same size as Océ's existing VarioStream 7000 or 8000 monochrome toner-based systems. This is not accidental, because a key target for these machines are companies with those very machines—as well as those from competitors such as InfoPrint Solutions and Xerox.

The way Océ sees it, the shift from monochrome toner to color inkjet in transactional print and parts of direct mail will happen faster if some of the machines being offered more closely match the size and shape of toner systems already in the market. And since Océ is by several measures the industry leader in continuous-feed systems, it knows many of these operations have raised floors and can't readily reconfigure their shops to accommodate some of the big inkjet systems being offered. So, size matters just as much as weight.

There's more to this story and I'm just getting this information on the fly here in Japan, so will come back with more in a few days. Other vital statistics are the speeds and feeds. Here's a quick rundown:

• 505 A4 pages per minute or 1,010 duplex

• 4 to 24 million pages per month duty cycle

• 600x 600 dpi with 2-bit multi-level as an option

• Variable drop sizes from 7-12 picoliters

• 6.5" to 21.5" print widths

• Can use pre-printed stocks, inkjet and laser papers, and recycled newsprint

• Water-based dye and pigment inks

• Additional colors, including MICR are expected next year, with the new system coming available in the first few months of 2011.

There's quite a bit more to this story and some interesting thinking in this machine, so I'll be back with more thoughts. Stay tuned.

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