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How Product Developments Point to Market Shifts

(November 2007) posted on Wed Nov 07, 2007

Greene describes how changes in technology can affect the direction in which the printing industry moves.

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By Tim Greene

The Fujifilm Sericol U.S.A./Kammann product is a hybrid screen/UV inkjet printer called the Disc 1204D. It’s also specifically configured for printing on optical disks. The Disc 1204D uses a small screen-printing system to lay a base coat, then uses inkjet printheads to apply UV-curable ink. The printed disks are then cured under Phoseon UV-LED lamps. The Disc 1204D can print up to 2400 discs per hour. These two innovative products represent digital entries into niches of the offset and screen-printing markets, both of which are commonly used to print onto optical disks.

The FESPA show also provided an opportunity to see some of the digital influence on the specialty/pad-printing market. There were numerous examples of UV-curable inkjet printers paired with die cutters or configured as flatbeds that were capable of printing directly onto a range of specialty products like magnets, buttons, badges, plastic parts, labels, and anything else that will lay flat enough. One of the evening events I went to was held by Durst and included a demonstration of the company’s direct-to-glass printing system. It seems that the combination of the ability to print white ink and improved resolution has enabled digital printing to make much greater inroads into the specialty screen-printing market than I would have imagined prior to attending the show.

Graphics printers who yearn for fast digital output found a groundbreaking system in the Onset from Inca Digital. The Onset is huge and expensive at about $3 million, but it is super fast, with rated running speeds at more than 5300 sq ft/hr.

Another standout at FESPA was the first generation of commercially available single-pass wide-format inkjet printers for graphics. The FastJet, co-developed by Sun Chemical and Inca Digital for printing onto sheets of corrugated material, was one such product. The possibilities of single-pass inkjet, which promises to dramatically improve print speeds, are exciting. Other examples of single-pass inkjet that I am aware of include developments from Hewlett-Packard, Memjet, and Kodak.

Of course, a wide array of new textile-printing systems and supplies were also on display at FESPA. Just some of the system manufacturers included companies like Reggiani Macchine S.p.A., Konica Minolta, d.gen, and La Meccanica S.p.A., and all of these new printers are based on printhead technologies deployed in the wide-format-graphics market.


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