Viewing On Demand
BOSTON—Changing locations continues to be part of the story from the On Demand Conference & Expo, which last month completed its 2007 run at the (nearly) new Boston Convention & Exposition Center (opened in 2004). The event first moved from its long-standing home in New York City to Philadelphia for a two-year stint and now on to Boston through 2008.
Close to 200 exhibitors had booths in the On Demand portion of the show floor, which the event continues to share with the AIIM Expo. New, or at least now commercialized, color printing systems added up to the largest category of product announcements, but new Web-to-print solutions and coating and finishing options were also prevalent.
Canon again showed its imagePRESS C7000VP digital color printing system, which is scheduled to ship later this year. Kodak introduced a variation of the same print engine as a new mid-level solution in its product line, the NexPress M700, which is slated to ship this June. The company says its version has been built to Kodak specs, including incorporation of Operator Replaceable Components (OCRs). Both products have a rated speed of 70 ppm (singled sided) and print in four-color at maximum 1,200 dpi resolution.
Presses Built for Speed
Separately, Kodak upped its ante at the high end with the new NexPress S3000, a 100 ppm version of the product line. This higher-speed model is not scheduled to be available until October, but any company purchasing a new NexPress 2500 in the interim will be offered a speed upgrade option at that time.
For the past couple of shows, Océ has made it a tradition to add another color to its webfed VarioStream 9000 product line at On Demand. This year it showcased the VarioStream 9240 model that delivers four-color printing at 172 ppm and features single-pass duplexing. The machine is also positioned as a solution for “Job Appropriate” highlight color (353 ppm or 231 ppm) and black-and-white (852 ppm) printing.
Océ also featured its recently introduced CS 620 and CS 650 Pro (65 ppm) four-color, cut sheet systems that print at 65 ppm.
Bidding for the title of “exhibitor making the most product announcements,” Xerox Corp. said it was introducing 15 new or enhanced products. On the color side, the company extended its “light production” line with the DocuColor 260 copier/printer that outputs 60 ppm at 2,400 dpi, offers new server options, and can be configured with finishing options for signature booklets and complex folds. It also introduced the enhanced DocuColor 242 and 252 models that feature an improved user interface and expanded finishing options.
Among its other announcements, Xerox noted it has extended the EA (Emulsion Aggregation) Toner technology across its Nuvera monochrome printing line, including the now shipping Nuvera 288 tandem engine model.
Xerox printing solutions were also on display in the Fujifilm Graphic Systems U.S.A. booth through a marketing agreement between the two companies.
Konica Minolta brought its just launched bizhub C550 multi- function, network-enabled color system to Boston for its first major showing. The device is rated for 45 ppm and prints with Simitri HD polymerized toner at 1,800x600 dpi.
Making its debut at the expo was the company’s new Printgroove workflow designed for small- to mid-size print shops and CRDs. Modules are offered for Web-based digital job submission with automated job ticketing, print queue management with device status monitoring and shop floor management.
Saying it has redefined the MFP (multifunction peripheral) as a heavy production solution, Sharp Electronics is now shipping the MX-M850 (85 ppm), MX-M950 (95 ppm) and MX-M110 (110 ppm) monochrome devices.
Closing the Deal
Ricoh and IBM each had booths at On Demand, but that was to be expected given the timeline originally announced for the establishment of the new InfoPrint Solutions joint venture company. The new business will incorporate IBM’s Printing Systems Div.
Scheduled to ship in June, Ricoh previewed its new Priport DX 4640PD digital duplicator that is optimized for producing two-sided documents at 240 ipm with a specially designed feeding mechanism.
Having shown a version of the Screen (USA) ink-jet print engine as a “statement of direction” at Graph Expo 06, IBM brought the technology to On Demand as a product—the InfoPrint 5000 color printing system. (This and other ongoing developments in ink-jet technology for page production are covered in the “Ink-jet in Line for Takeoff” article on page 44.)
Screen (USA) had its version of the press, the Truepress Jet520, running alongside the Truepress 344 digital offset press, which prints a maximum 13.4x18.5˝ sheet size. DI (Digital Imaging) versions of on-press imaging were on display in the xpedx Printing Technologies and Presstek Inc. booths.
In conjunction with the press manufacturer, xpedx demonstrated the Ryobi 3404E-DI press that prints a 13.39x18.11˝ maximum sheet size at up to 7,000 sph. The distributor reportedly is making a bigger push into the in-plant market sector.
Presstek displayed its version of the press, the Presstek 34DI, as well as the larger format Presstek 52 DI, which prints a maximum 20.47x14.76˝ sheet size at up to 10,000 ipm. It also had customers in the booth sharing real-world views of the technology and highlighted results from InfoTrends’ “U.S. Print On Demand Market Forecast: 2005-2010” study. The research firm reportedly found that jobs produced on direct-to-press devices cost about half as much per page, on average, as comparable work run on toner-based devices.
Just prior to the show, HP introduced its new DreamColor Technologies that are being offered as an option for the HP Indigo press 5000 and ws4500, in addition to some of its ink-jet printers. The software applications are said to ensure consistent color appearance and enable the devices to simulate offset press standards.
Punch Graphix Americas highlighted the Xeikon 6000 digital color press in Boston, but earlier this year the company extended its webfed product line with the introduction of the Xeikon 4000 and enhanced 5000plus models. Both feature One-Pass-Duplex technology and use new Xeikon FA toner for enhanced print quality.
More Than Just Presses
A couple announcements potentially will cut across print engines.
EFI unveiled a “next generation” Fiery platform offering faster processing power and tools to improve operator effectiveness, including a visual workflow for job composition and imposition, spot color system, JDF integration and enhanced VDP capabilities.
Mohawk Fine Papers has expanded its digital papers portfolio with heavier weights in its Color Copy line and new i-Tone products, including Via Digital and Beckett Expression Digital (just relaunched as a carbon neutral paper brand).
Also on the paper front, Stora Enso introduced Productolith Pts. Digital, a coated digital paper line, and expanded its Futura Laser grade to include a matte finish.
“Square” saddlestitching or stapling seems to have become a “must offer” finishing option for digital press vendors, with Océ and Ricoh among the exhibitors highlighting the capability in Boston.
Now commonplace, too, are coating or laminating solutions to enhance and/or protect the appearance of digitally printed pieces. There were several developments of note at the show.
GBC announced it has started shipping its previously introduced GBC 620os single-side laminator designed for on-demand applications. PAT Technology Systems demonstrated its ink-jet-based Varstar digital UV coater, which is now offered in three configurations for coating of sheets up to 24x30˝. Kompac Technologies has entered the market segment with the introduction of its Kwik Finish system for off-line UV and aqueous coating.
Standard Finishing Systems demonstrated roll-to-self-mailer production capabilities by combining the new Standard Hunkeler UW6 unwinder and high-performance CS6-II cutter with the Standard Horizon AFC-744 signature folder. The CS6-II features chip-out capabilities and operates at speeds up to 600 fpm.
Lasermax Roll Systems introduced the RSF5 folder and DocuSheeter VP 6000 roll feed system. The folder is a component of the new RS Fanfold HS system, an in-line fanfolding solution for high-speed continuous printers.
Sheet finishing solutions were on display in the Duplo USA booth, including its new DC-615 slitter/cutter/creaser that had its official U.S. debut at the show.
Web-to-print and variable data are distinct capabilities, but they are becoming increasingly more integrated at the product level. One of the trends at On Demand was solutions designed for small- to mid-size operations, including ASP offerings from NowDocs (NowPrint ASAP with free 30-day trial) and Press-Sense (which formed a partnership with distributor Bay Digital, called OrderSense LLC, to incorporate the capabilities of iWay software into an Internet-based, automated workflow).
Greater ability for users to customize their implementations and improved VDP capabilities were common themes in several product introductions, including the latest version of Bitstream’s Pageflex Storefront, Version 3.0 of EFI Digital StoreFront and Saepio Technolgoies’ PrintStore 2.0 release.
XMPie continues its worldwide roll-out of uStore v2.2, which features enhanced job aggregation capabilities, direct connectivity to any SQL database and an expanded plug-in architecture.
Two exhibitors also introduced more specialized solutions. For large enterprise applications, Exstream Software launched Dialogue 6.0, which includes more than 250 enhancements, and Dialogue Live, a platform for editing and managing interactive documents across an organization. PrintSoft introduced a scalable solution for transpromotional applications.
Regardless of how they come in, customer files may still need editing so Enfocus was demonstrating the Neo 1.1 standalone, native PDF editing application that it is now marketing. It is offered in two versions—with or without trapping.
DALLAS—In 2006, digital printer WMSG Inc. reports delivering 30 million impressions to customers, a 67 percent year-over-year volume increase. The company uses one Kodak NexPress 2500 and five NexPress 2100 plus digital production color presses.
FOSTER CITY, CA—EFI recently conducted a second round of meetings of its Web Products User Advisory Council, which was formed last year to facilitate a two-way dialog with users of the EFI Digital StoreFront, PrinterSite suite of products and PrintSmith Site. To enable year-round interaction, EFI has created a set of online forums that members of the council can use to share information, tips and tricks amongst themselves and with EFI staffers.
MORTSEL, BELGIUM—Agfa Graphics and Epson have strengthened their relationship in the color proofing sector. The companies have agreed to co-market and co-brand the Epson Stylus Pro range of large-format printers and UltraChrome K3 proofing inks with the Agfa SherpaProof label.
PHILADELPHIA—ICS Corp., which specializes in direct response programs, says Océ digital printing solutions contributed to its 30 percent revenue growth in 2006. Last year the company set up a new 10,000-square-foot printing facility, which houses six Océ continuous feed systems and two VarioPrint 2110 printers driven by an Océ PRISMA server.
LAS VEGAS—The Monte Carlo Resort and Casino this spring hosted the Printable Technologies 2007 User Conference. Printable and six co-sponsors—AccuData Integrated Marketing, Adobe, Canon, EFI, HP and Pace Systems Group—put on a seminar program and mini trade show for 170 participants.
ROCKVILLE, MD—FORMost Graphic Communications reports that Ford Motor Co. has enlisted it to develop customized Web-to-print services for Ford dealerships in the Mid-Atlantic region. The solution will be based on VisionPrint, the company’s patented suite of Web-based print management tools.
- Agfa Graphics
- Bitstream Inc.
- Canon U.S.A.
- Duplo USA
- Eastman Kodak
- Enfocus Software
- Epson America
- Exstream Software
- FUJIFILM Graphic Systems Div.
- ICS Corp.
- InfoPrint Solutions
- Kompac Technologies
- Lasermax Roll Systems
- Mohawk Fine Papers
- NewPage Corp.
- Presstek Inc.
- PTI Marketing Technologies
- Punch Graphix Americas
- Ricoh Corp.
- Sharp Electronics
- Standard Finishing Systems
- Xerox Corp.
- XMPie, a Xerox Company
- Xpedx Printing Technologies/Ryobi