As I noted in my feature story on inkjet inks in Ink World’s 2014 May/June issue, digital press manufacturers are developing new capabilities and reaching new markets. As digital presses increase speed, profitability improves.
There are new digital presses reaching the marketplace, targeting key printing segments. For ink manufacturers, being in the inkjet ink market is becoming more critical, as customers are likely adding digital printing capabilities to their conventional offerings.
It is no coincidence that leading screen ink manufacturers like Nazdar, Sericol (now FUJIFILM) and Coates (now Sun Chemical) were among the first conventional ink suppliers to make headway in the digital ink field.
For example, HP is continuously launching new digital presses. Most recently, the company announced that it is introducing its HP Indigo 7800 digital press, which can print directly on synthetic substrates and plastic cards. Meanwhile, the new roll-fed HP Indigo WS6800 digital press is designed to provide faster turnaround time as well as new ink capabilities for label and packaging printers. Both presses include an inline spectrophotometer.
According to HP, its new inks for the WS6800 will also add to the capabilities of the new presses. HP Indigo ElectroInk White is designed for single-pass production of shrink sleeves, while HP Indigo ElectroInk Silver offers a metallic look for labels, and can be used as a spot or base color.
Packaging is an area of interest for HP. The new HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press is designed for labels, sleeves and flexible packaging, while the HP Indigo 30000 Digital Press produces short-run folding cartons.
Kodak is targeting its recently released KODAK PROSPER 6000 Presses for the book, direct mail and newspapers. Digital’s benefits for printing short-run books are direct mail is fairly clear. Kodak says that newspaper runs of up to 20,000 can be produced effectively through inkjet, which makes this a market to watch.
The new Xerox Versant 2100 Press prints 100 pages-per-minute and can be used for brochures, photo publishing and specialty products.
EFI and FUJIFILM are developing a wide variety of new presses, many of which have UV LED capabilities. EFI’s 3.2-meter VUTEk GS3250lxr Pro is a roll-to-roll LED press for vehicle or fleet graphics. The Fujifilm Acuity Advance Select presses are sheetfed or roll-to-roll, and uses its Uvijet inks. The Acuity LED wide format press is designed for posters, POP materials and packaging.
For more proof of the interest in digital printing, consider that Heidelberg completed its acquisition of the remaining shares of Gallus, a label press manufacturer. Inkjet has made headway into the label market – some estimates place the market at 10% and growing – and Heidelberg and Gallus have announced they will be unveiling a new digital printing system for the label market utilizing Fujifilm technology later this year.
All in all, it is clear that digital technologies will continue to grow across the spectrum of printing, and more advances are likely on the way.