Kodak Looks to Prosper
DAYTON, OH—To lay the groundwork for the announcements it planned to make at PRINT 09 in Chicago, Kodak invited a group of industry analyst and media representatives to the home of its continuous ink-jet (CIJ) printing technology.
The facility continues to be the hub of Kodak's Versamark development and manufacturing activities, including the new Versamark VL6000, but it is the company's Stream technology and newly named Prosper product line that for now are the bigger draw. Advances in toner-based printing were also addressed, specifically the NexPress SE series.
Many of the product specifications and details of the Prosper Press page production system were being held for release at PRINT 09 and, therefore, will be included in the show coverage published in the October issue of Printing Impressions.
Kodak has revealed that the ink-jet press will have a print width of 241⁄2˝ and will be available in configurations with prices ranging from $1 million to $4 million. It will output up to 3,600 A4 images per minute and supported coated and uncoated stocks (treated for printing via ink-jet) in weights from 45 to 300 gsm.
Stream uses silicon nozzles that emit a stream of ink under high pressure, which is broken into drops by applying heat to modify the surface tension. This design, combined with the distance of the heads from the substrate, is said to improve operation (reduce clogging) and achieve "offset class" print quality. The nozzles are in self-contained jetting modules that reportedly can be replaced by the operator in about a minute.
Kodak initially plans to commercialize the Prosper Press through two programs. Slated for installation between the first and third quarters of 2010, "Market Pioneers" will be the first users, but the company insists these will be more than beta sites. "Market Leaders" are expected to go online starting in the third quarter of 2010, which could be considered a controlled release prior to full commercialization.
Webcrafters Inc., a book printer headquartered in Madison, WI, has signed a letter of intent to be a Prosper Press Market Leader, which it will use to produce low- to mid-length runs of products ranging from educational and college texts to trade books, catalogs and atlases. The company posted $100 million in revenues in 2008 and currently operates two Kodak NexPress S3000 digital production color presses on the digital side of its business.
HP Debuts Its Indigo W7200
ROCHESTER, NY—What's the best way to premier a new digital press to print service providers who might be interested in acquiring one for themselves? Get 60 existing customers and prospects, representing some 40 companies, to come and see the machine in action live on the press floor at the North American beta site.
That's exactly what HP did last month in hosting a group to tour Mercury Print Productions' Book Div. located here. Mercury, which produces textbooks, teacher's editions, workbooks and other materials, is using its new HP Indigo W7200 digital color press with an in-line Hunkeler finishing system to increase productivity, speed turnarounds and reduce waste.
Designed to offer digital productivity with offset quality, the W7200 is a rollfed, liquid electrophotographic printing, dual-engine solution for high volumes (240 letter-size four-color and 960 letter-size monochrome duplex pages per minute) of variable data and short-run static printing. It can produce up to 7.5 million one-sided, letter-size four-color pages, or 30 million monochrome letter-size pages per month.
The press prints up to seven colors, including PANTONE and spot colors, and comes standard with an in-line priming unit to enable compatibility with most off-the-shelf coated and uncoated papers.
Mercury's Indigo W7200 is being driven by HP's new SmartStream Production Pro version 3.5 print server, which provides enhanced throughput, image processing and load balancing across multiple presses. The new server is also compatible with the Advanced Function Presentation (AFP) data stream format used in high-volume transactional/promotional printing.
The W7200 press is well-suited for personalized color direct mail and (with an upgrade kit available in 2010) photo specialty applications. Its larger 12.5x38.6˝ image area facilitates eight-up, full-bleed impositioning on 6x9˝ sheets for postcards and other direct mail applications, as well as for on-demand book printing. In addition, the format size enables digital production and personalization of commercial products such as folders, folding mailers, folding albums and book jackets previously manufactured using analog processes.
During a customer panel discussion, Christian Schamberger, vice president of operations, and Jeff Quartley, operations manager, reported on Mercury's success with the Indigo W7200. Schamberger noted that the facility's existing Xerox and HP digital printing equipment coexists well from a workflow standpoint.
Alon Bar-Shany, vice president and general manager of HP's Indigo Div., also addressed the group. He said the 5,000 active HP Indigo presses operating worldwide produced 10 billion pages in 2008. Bar-Shany added that the digital printing markets in the United States and Britain have been hit the hardest by the global recession, especially the demand for direct mail and transpromo applications. However, he pointed out that photo specialty applications are still growing at about a 50 percent CAGR, of which HP Indigo press users hold a major market share.