Adventures in Ipexland
Kodak did a more formal unveiling of the Prosper press, the machine the company hopes will tilt the playing field away from offset toward inkjet. The print quality off this press, in all honesty, really is a step above most of the others, assuming the available print samples are anything to go by. One printer I talked with went so far as to claim it really didn't compete with any of the inkjet systems from the major players. Nevertheless, it won't really be available until 2011. Kodak claims to be racking up orders for the device, about half of which are for black-only versions destined for book manufacturing duties.
Another machine we'll have to wait until next year for is the new HP T200, the little brother of the humongous T300. The new machine—still under development with beta versions heading out to customers in the late fall—is duplex in a box for a 20.5" paper roll. Spanning roughly 30 feet roll-to-roll, it’s said to run four-color duplex prints at 200-ppm, black-only at 400-ppm, and can be directly connected to a variety of existing finishing devices. I suspected this new machine would be a narrower version of the T-300 but was pleased to see it is not just a downsized model, but a totally different device. In some ways, it is the machine I hoped HP would come out with and I'm looking forward to seeing more as it is developed.
The most interesting machine though, is one we can't get at all (sort of like some of the nicer European cars). You want offset quality inkjet? Look no further than the iPress 2400 from French company Impika—at least if you're in Europe. The company lacks any type of distribution or service in the U.S. Too bad, too, because if the samples I saw on the floor in Birmingham are anything to go by, and assuming the machine runs reliably and at a reasonable cost, there is nothing else like it on the market. I'll be learning more about this one, even though we can't get it here.