Xerox Announces New Matte Look as an Option for the iGen4 EXP

Jim Hamilton
Apr 7, 2011

You’ll see an interesting announcement today from Xerox about a new toner set for the iGen4 EXP. They’re calling it “Matte Dry Ink” and to show its impact Xerox sent samples to industry analysts in advance of the announcement. Today’s video blog (see below) will give you a good look at the three samples but if you prefer to read the text account that follows, it covers the same ground. The samples are:

  • An unfolded sheet of the Wild Africa brochure that Xerox used at Graph Expo to highlight the 26” print length capability of the new iGen4 EXP
  • A folded iGen4 EXP brochure
  • A beautifully rendered photobook

 

Coincidentally I had picked up two of the three samples when I was at Graph Expo so I had a built-in before-and-after comparison. I set them out on the table in my office and asked some of my InfoTrends colleagues to come in and look at them and comment.

Overall, people thought both looked good, and that was certainly my impression as well. I asked them not to move the samples because the “Matte Dry Ink” ones were identified as such and I had covered the identifying marks. My colleagues noted some difference in gloss, particularly around the lion’s nose, and some minor differences in color and detail. Remarkable though, is how consistent the two samples are despite having been printed six months apart using different toner sets.

I think it was a mistake not to let them move the samples, because truly that is one way you can tell the difference in gloss unless you happen to have a Gardner gloss meter handy (which I don’t).

Xerox says that this matte output capability began, as such things often do at Xerox, as a customized engineering project for a key client. (Xerox mentions Ifolor AG in the press release so I’m assuming it was them.) They said that the same sort of initiative lead to the 26” print length option.

Some other things we learned:

  • New pigments were used for the matte look, including a lightfast magenta offering that was developed for the iGen4 packaging configuration with Stora Enso’s Gallop.
  • Xerox says that the gamut of the toners is a little smaller than the regular toners. For comparison they say that if the regular iGen4 toner set can handle about 80% of Pantone colors, then this one can handle about 75%. The trade-off is gloss differential, a distraction that Xerox feels is particularly important to customers in environments like photobooks and commercial printing.
  • Are these chemical toners? No, they are based on the same toner set as the iGen, but there’s an additive that reduces the gloss.
  • This matte capability can be ordered now with new iGen4 EXP sales. Existing customers worldwide can upgrade in the third quarter of this year. Pricing has not been finalized.
  • The upgrade process is not extensive, but it’s not something you would do regularly, as it takes several hours. Customers will need to choose one toner or the other. Xerox says that there are no hardware modifications. A service person vacuums out the toner housing, installs new color tables, and adds the new toner.

Now back to the samples. The assessment I asked my colleagues to make was not a strict one-to-one comparison. The stocks were comparable, but not identical. According to Xerox the show handouts I picked up were on a heavier paper, a 100-lb silk McCoy cover stock. The matte samples that Xerox sent were on an 80 lb. silk cover, which is a bit whiter and of course that makes a pure apples-to-apples comparison impossible. Nevertheless, I think the color consistency between the two samples is remarkable.

And now the photo book, which is a beautiful piece of work. Nice photographs, beautifully conceived and produced. Kudos to Xerox for their work on this piece. The internal pages were also printed on a McCoy stock, a 100-lb. silk book. The outside is a 92-lb. cover stock.

In the end, Xerox’s iGen4 EXP customers will have a decision to make. Do they like the current look of iGen output (which honestly, I’ve never thought of as being that glossy)? Or do they want a matte look that mimics offset gloss characteristics more closely? Xerox isn’t forcing one or the other on its clients. But it’s not clear yet whether the new matte look will come with a higher price tag. If that’s the case, then customers will have another aspect to assess, but either way the new matte look, though subtle, has already made one Xerox customer happy, and it’s likely that others will see it the same way.

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