Speed, Color and Innovation in Digital Print
So I’m standing in line with all the other Boarding Zone 1 gate lice in San Diego, eager to get on a flight to Charlotte, when I get an email from Mark Michelson, editor-in-chief of Printing Impressions, asking when I’ll be delivering a blog about the recent pre-drupa event held in Lisbon, Portugal. Sigh. I hate it when I get pinged about something I’m just about to do.
So now back East and finally in my office after spending most of the past two weeks in hotels, airports/planes and meetings, I can actually throw some words on the screen and see if they stick. First up is the Lisbon trip, where I actually was on hand for the briefing. Coming next will be Israel and Germany, which I had to enjoy virtually.
The European PR agency duomedia hosted an event in Lisbon, Portugal, for a couple dozen press and analyst types so some of its clients could fill us in on what to expect at drupa. The answer is quite a bit, especially on the equipment side where I hang out—looking at big digital presses that keep going faster and faster.
Kodak and the Bugatti
Faster is the first point Kodak brought up in Lisbon, announcing the Prosper 6000XL inkjet press, which blows through a roll of 24”-wide paper at 1,000 feet per minute. This means the tail end of your basic five-mile-long roll of paper unwinds into the maw of this machine about 26 minutes after the leading edge.
OK, that is still no where near offset press speeds, but it’s still impressive considering that the press is putting down four colors while squirting ink onto the paper. This speed, according to Kodak, is critical for the high-volume publishing apps the Prosper is intended to produce.
Maybe, but I question the premise. Most printers I talk with say higher print speeds are less important than reliability, consistency, uptime and workflow. Further, shrinking run lengths and overcapacity in the industry makes me liken the added speed of the 6000XL to the Bugatti Veyron, the 1,200-horsepower supercar that can exceed 250 miles an hour. Sadly, there are not many places to enjoy such speeds.