Inkjet Announcements Highlight China Print 2009

Jim Hamilton
May 21, 2009

The high-speed inkjet market is expanding rapidly. One recent indication of this is the number of inkjet-related product developments that turned up at China Print 2009 (May 12th to 16th in Beijing). Held every four years, China Print’s organizers expected to have about 1,000 exhibitors and more than 200,000 visitors. It is the largest show in the region and some people believe that the next China Print (in 2013) will be larger than drupa 2012. China Print 2009 was split out over eight sizeable halls, most of which were focused on traditional printing and finishing technologies. There was, nonetheless, significant production digital print activity including many inkjet products for wide format, high-speed document, and packaging applications. The bulk of the inkjet activity was centered in Hall E2, which was also where much of the toner-based digital print technology was located.

The first indication that inkjet would be a big theme of the show was Kodak’s announcement that it would show its monochrome Stream technology there. Stream is capable of speeds of 1,000 feet-per-minute (305 meters-per-minute) at a resolution of 600 dots per inch. It supports a print width of 10.56 cm and uses pigment-based inks. The samples shown at China Print were comparable to the ones handed out at Graph Expo and show strong monochrome quality at very high speed. China Print was the official launch for the monochrome Stream product. Kodak reported that the color launch is also on schedule. Expect to see new branding for Stream in the coming weeks. Not only was the monochrome Stream technology up and running at the booth, Kodak also showed a Versamark VL2000.

Kodak monochrome Stream inkjet

Kodak monochrome Stream inkjet

A company called CTC Japan showed a monochrome cut-sheet inkjet product based on Kyocera print heads. CTC was originally a business forms printing company and has used its internal research and development capability to develop inkjet products beginning about nine years ago. Three years ago it showed a system at IGAS and then showed a monochrome system at drupa 2008. The system uses UV inkjet inks and is currently available in either cut-sheet and web versions (CTC Japan showed an A1 format cut-sheet version at China Print). The top-of-the line SJ-500W is capable of 50 meter-per-minute (mpm) speed at 600 dot-per-inch (dpi) resolution and 100 mpm at 300 dpi. The system has been available for three to four months and the company said that it has six systems installed.

CTC Japan StreamJet

CTC Japan StreamJet

Beijing Founder Electronics had two of its EagleJet inkjet offerings at China Print, including a cut-sheet monochrome H300 and a continuous feed color C4200. The H300 supports a 64 millimeter print width per print unit and runs at up to 100 mpm monochrome speed at 304 by 304 dpi. The H300 is based on Spectra heads and supports UV curable, oil-based, and solvent-based inks. The C4200 uses Xaar heads and supports a 420 millimeter print width. It runs at up to 25 mpm color speed at 1080 by 1080 dpi. Founder says that it has three installations of the C4200.

Founder EagleJet C4200

Founder EagleJet C4200

These are just a few examples. Other vendors showing inkjet products at China Print included abg International’s digicon series 2 label printer, Beijing Dugao Photo Digital Technology’s ARES Series Variable Data Digital Printer, Beijing Meikeyi Company’s Morpho X2, Golden Boye’s Automatic Digital Color Printer (for corrugated applications), and Saijet’s SJ-WL6160 and SJ-SC1040. I’ll expand on these announcements in a later analysis for InfoTrends clients and will also talk about some of the other developments from the show.

Despite the fact that there were a lot of inkjet announcements, many of the high-speed continuous feed color players were not at China Print (for example, Epson, Fuji Xerox, and InfoPrint). Others were there but were not showing their color products (Agfa and Océ). Agfa talked about Dotrix in front of a cut-out picture of the system. The products that Océ exhibited were its cut-sheet offerings. Technology providers such as Epson and Panasonic were not visibly active in inkjet at the show. We were told that Epson was at the show, but was represented by a distributor. Panasonic was also there, but did not appear to be talking about its inkjet technology.

Though many exhibitors at China Print spoke English quite well, language still presented a significant barrier for us English speakers at the show. Much of the signage was in Chinese only. In addition, China Print is a massive show and we only had a day to spend on the show floor. There is a good possibility that we missed some other inkjet activity. Even so, the number of inkjet products that we did see at China Print was astounding. This market is clearly poised for growth in a variety of application areas.

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