Special Report: Digital Printing: What’s New and on the Horizon
Digital book printing overall is experiencing double-digital growth. The recession, although unwelcome in all quarters, has provided a boost to digital book manufacturing as publishers take a harder look at their processes and cut back on inventory and waste. Since digital printing market- and technology-research firm INTERQUEST's last major survey of the market, conducted in late 2007, the industry has seen widening adoption of digital book printing for short-run inventory management, and a growing interest in distribute-and-print to defray shipping costs and cut time to market—as shown in INTERQUEST's recent report, "Digital Book Printing: Market Analysis & Forecast (2010-2015)." A new generation of high-speed inkjet presses is also coming onto the market, promising lower cost, faster production speeds and higher print quality—all of which open the door a bit wider to digital book printing.
Although the major vendors of toner-based digital printing systems continue to improve and expand their monochrome and full-color cut-sheet and continuous-feed offerings, most of the buzz in the market centers on high-speed inkjet systems. The high speed and low running costs of this equipment will significantly raise the break-even point with conven–tional production and drive more books to digital printing platforms. Among the key players:
- InfoPrint announced new, high-speed versions of the InfoPrint 5000 color inkjet press in 2009. The models print up to 420 feet per minute (fpm; 128 meters per minute) at a resolution of 360 x 360 dots per inch (dpi), double the speed of their predecessors.
- Kodak expanded its VL-Series in early 2009 with four new models offered in con–figura–tions that support 1-up or 2-up simplex, or 1-up or 2-up duplex printing, and various speeds up to 492 fpm at a resolution of 600 x 600 dpi. The company pre-announced its Kodak Prosper 5000XL Press for color applications and Kodak Prosper 1000 Press for monochrome applications at Print '09. Both presses use Kodak Stream inkjet technology and feature a print speed of up to 650 fpm with image quality approaching 175 lines per inch (lpi), and a monthly duty cycle of up to 120 million A4 pages. They are able to handle both coated and uncoated papers, including glossy coated.
- Océ announced the JetStream 500 (535 images per minute [ipm]) and Océ JetStream 1000 (1,070 ipm) systems in March 2009. These systems use the same inkjet technology as their predecessors in the JetStream family, but offer full-width duplex printing in a single cabinet. The systems are upgradable from monochrome simplex to full-color duplex printing. In 2009, Océ also announced 30-inch models with the JetStream 2800 (2,792 ipm) and the JetStream 3300 (3,221 ipm).
- In 2008, RR Donnelley installed the first inkjet web press using its proprietary Integrated Printing System (IPS) 3 technology developed in-house. Since then, Donnelley has worked with Muller Martini to develop several high-speed, fully integrated digital inkjet printing and inline book-production systems. The result is a press capable of running at printing speeds of up to 800 fpm, with the fully automated Muller Martini book production system.
- At Print '09, Hewlett-Packard officially launched its 30-inch-wide T300 Color Inkjet Web Press (unveiled at Drupa 2008 as the HP Inkjet Web Press). In May, at IPEX 2010, HP unveiled the T200, a 20.5-inch-wide, full duplex four-color press in a single engine.
A number of developments have taken place over the past 18 months in the area of pre- and post-processing and finishing as vendors continue to make efforts to maximize the productivity and efficiency of their systems. Solutions are also being developed for 30-inch-wide inkjet presses. Since Drupa 2008, CPI—the largest European book manufacturer—has worked with HP, Timsons and Muller Martini to develop a finishing solution for its inkjet press that uses HP technology. In March 2010, CPI demonstrated its new Quantum system consisting of a HP T300 monochrome inkjet web press, a folding and finishing module designed by Magnum/Ultimate, and a Muller Martini binding line.