Full Stream Ahead for Océ in Color
OK, I’m gonna put this out there right up front. The new Océ ColorStream 3500 inkjet web press announced on Nov. 10 may well go down as a landmark machine for the company and the industry. My colleague Andy Tribute pointed out while we were there that it’s the most important machine the company has introduced in the past 10 years. I’ve been following Océ closely for over a decade, and Andy is right.
Océ—long something of a holdout in the industry with its legacy of robust, high performance continuous feed monochrome printers—has moved into color in fits and starts. While its competitors shifted relentlessly to color in toner and then inkjet technologies, Océ always seemed more committed to monochrome print on the production side of the house (wide-format printing is another story). This was no surprise, given that it has the leading market share in monochrome continuous feed printers worldwide, both in placements and print volumes. There’s something to be said for sticking to what you know really well.
Then a couple of years ago, Océ rolled out its first JetStream. I first saw this big, heavy inkjet press several months before it was introduced and was impressed with the system and the print quality. The company followed up with an entire line of smaller, larger, slower, faster and wider JetStreams using the same (Kyocera) print head technology, the results of its alliance with Miyakoshi, a Japanese offset press manufacturer that needed a global partner to co-develop, distribute and support its inkjet presses.
Still, while Océ has been able to place over 100 JetStream presses around the world, many prospective customers said the machines were too big and heavy for their print shops. Most vocal were service bureaus and data centers where raised flooring is commonplace and not up to the weight of the JetStreams. Those guys stuck with their old mono boxes, or bought color inkjet from another vendor. According to I.T. Strategies, there are still about 4,000 or so Océ monochrome continuous feed print engines on the planet, providing an excellent base for replacement with color inkjet.