Océ Previews Digital Folding Carton Press

While the latest hype from the print industry is making noise in drupa and keeping the nightlife jumping in Dusseldorf’s Altstadt, Océ quietly rolled out the results of its latest R&D investments to a small group of analysts at the company’s factory and development center in Poing, Germany, about 30 minutes east of Munich. There’ll be more details to follow and some analysis in a later blog, but here’s the quick take before I blast back to drupa.

Dubbed InfiniStream, the new technology platform uses electrophotographic liquid toner technology on a B1- to B2-size press that squarely targets the folding carton market. This is terra incognita for Océ, which has long been strong in transactional print and book production.

But in my experience, the folks in Poing are rarely intimidated by the challenges of doing something entirely different, and bringing new implementations of printing technologies to market is something they do well. Also, with packaging arguably being the brightest spot for the future of the printing industry, it’s certainly a fine place to draw a line in the sand and stake out some territory.

That’s exactly what Océ is doing with this yet-to-be-named machine that can crank out 120 meters of paperboard a minute, which equates to some 7,200 B1 or 14,000 B2 sheets per hour. These numbers put it in the same class as a number of sheetfed offset presses used for folding packaging, and the offset-like liquid toner process (yes, it uses a type of a transfer blanket) delivers similar quality to the offset presses presently used tor produce folding cartons.

This machine uses a wet-in-wet, heatless image transfer process the employs what Océ terms “highly mobile, uniform colorants” that are put down in a very thin layer to minimize ink consumption. The CMYK images are built up on the sheets, which are then dried in a prodigiously sized drying system. The unit we saw had four printing towers, but the system can be configured for six or seven colors. And maybe more.

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