From Offset to Inkjet
Most of us know the major players in production inkjet: Canon, HP, Ricoh, Screen and Xerox. But other lesser-known entities are starting to appear on the radar and are making their mark. Some with quite different approaches to building a production inkjet press.
One of these is Super Web Digital of New York. Founded as a builder of narrow-web offset presses in 1971 (in the Didde Glaser mold), Super Web enjoyed a long and successful period of building customized presses for an offset market niche that seemed to have no end of demand.
That all changed in 2008-2009, when the narrow web offset segment basically collapsed. Suddenly without a market (and with the future of the company on the line), Super Web found Memjet. Memjet is an inkjet technology company that supplies multiple OEM's in different markets with high-speed, single-pass color inkjet technology, including Canon Solutions America. Thus began the adaptation of a commercial offset press into a new system with both offset and inkjet characteristics, and the transformation of Super Web into Super Web Digital.
Almost all available production inkjet presses were designed for inkjet from the get-go. Each vendor has its own ideas regarding paper path, tensioning, web guiding and drying technologies. The challenge in Super Web's case was to adapt a very capable tight web offset transport platform for production inkjet. The Memjet print heads feature a very high resolution capability, which was a definite plus. The press was re-christened as the WEBJet 200D, and new web guides, web cleaning systems and infrared dryers were added.
There was a fair amount of integration required to meld the RIP, the inkjet controllers, and the press controls into one operator-friendly system. But the end result was a production inkjet press that anyone with an offset background could love at first sight. It's fast (up to 500 ft./min.), able to print high-quality variable four-color and easily accessible, with every component within easy reach of the operator or technician. And unique in that Super Web Digital can build a variety of finishing options into the press itself.
The press is an example of how an "old-line" offset manufacturer can re-invent itself for the markets of today.
Don has worked in technical support, sales, engineering, and management during a career in both the commercial offset and digital finishing sectors. He is the North American representative for IBIS Bindery Systems, Ltd. of The United Kingdom.