Gilson Graphics to Get First Fujifilm J Press 720 in the United States

Jim Hamilton
Aug 12, 2011

At a press event for a dozen trade journalists and industry analysts in Chicago this week, Fujifilm showed off the J Press 720 and announced that Gilson Graphics in Grand Rapids, Michigan would be receiving the first one in the United States this fall.

About the J Press 720

The J Press 720 is a B2 format production color inkjet printer that was first unveiled at drupa 2008. The J Press 720’s road to market included stops last year at IPEX and Graph Expo, with one arriving at Fujifilm’s U.S. demo center in mid-May. Gilson Graphics will receive its J Press 720 this fall, probably in October. By that point there will be three beta sites in Japan.

Fujifilm J Press 720

Fujifilm J Press 720

The J Press 720 is built on an offset sheet-fed conventional press frame that is married with a Fuji Dimatix inkjet marking engine. Each of the seventeen Dimatix Samba piezo electric drop-on-demand print heads in the J Press 720 has 2,048 nozzles which fire at up to a 100 kilohertz frequency. Fujifilm says that the J Press 720’s quality is equal to offset in all respects and better than it in some respects.

The J Press 720’s conventional feeder accepts stocks from 70 lb. text up to 14 point board. An anilox roll system with a doctor blade applies the aqueous (water-based) pre-coat solution. It flood coats the sheet, which with the help of some fans is dry by the time it reaches the next station. The pre-coating serves two functions: (1) to provide a stable foundation for the inks and (2) to prevent inkjet ink from penetrating too deeply into the fibers of the paper. The CMYK inks for the J Press are water-based. All four colors are applied simultaneously while the sheet is held by a gripper and vacuum pressure as it revolves around the imaging cylinder. The sheet is dried by a bank of six halogen lamps and some heating elements. Light pressure is applied to the paper in a calendaring station and then a CCD camera system reads a test bar and checks for inkjet nozzle effectiveness. If a nozzle is not firing, the system automatically adjusts to maintain a high level of image quality. The device itself is sizable (about 24 feet long, 10 feet high, and 9 feet wide) but somewhat smaller than a typical four color offset press. The J Press 720 has three main consumables: the CMYK inks, a pigmentless ink/cleaner, and the pre-coating.

Fujifilm J Press 720 (feed end view)

Fujifilm J Press 720 (feed end view)

The J Press 720 ships with Fujifilm’s XMF workflow and an Adobe PDF Print Engine raster image processor. Fujifilm notes that the device is workflow agnostic and could connect to any workflow including Heidelberg Prinect, Kodak Prinergy, and Rampage. The system uses Fujifilm proprietary stochastic-like imaging.

Though it did not provide running cost figures, Fujifilm said that the J Press 720 would be 20-35% more cost effective than offset at lower run lengths. It notes that the device will be most cost effective for runs from 1 to 3000 sheets.

Fujifilm J Press 720 Product Overview

Product name J Press 720
Resolution 1,200 by 1,200 dots per inch, four gray levels
Speed 2,700 sheets per hour (180 A4/letter ppm equivalent)
Front end Fujifilm Workflow XMF
Printable area 28.3” x 20.5”
Substrate 70 lb. text to 14 point (approximately 105 to 315 gsm)
Coated and uncoated stocks
Maximum sheet size: 29.5” x 20.8”
Minimum sheet size: 23.1” x 15”
Feeder capacity Up to 7,000 sheets (depending on paper thickness)
Approximate price $1.8 million
Availability Order taking now; first U.S. placement this fall

About Gilson Graphics

Gilson Graphics is a offset and digital printer with approximately 160 employees and $23 million in sales. The company provides brand support to its customers through a range of offerings including fulfillment, kit packing, mailing, large format, offset, and digital printing. Their print technology is sheet-fed and includes a mix of digital and conventional offset technologies. Taking advantage of acquisition opportunities over the past decade, it has bought out some of its competitors, which has allowed the company to expand its capabilities beyond offset print. Gilson Graphics’ digital print offering includes Xerox Nuvera monochrome, HP Indigo color, and wide format from Fujifilm, HP, and Mimaki. Gilson Graphics has three 40” manroland cut-sheet presses and a Heidelberg Speedmaster 52. They purchase their plates from Fujifilm. About two-thirds of their print work is static offset. The remaining component is digital, which is growing at a double digit rate while traditional offset is flat.

As was the case with the Kodak Prosper 5000 XL at Fenske Media (see my recent blog on this topic), the ability to print coated paper plays an important role. The J Press 720’s pre-coating feature will allow Gilson Graphics to use conventional coated and uncoated stocks. They also see the cut-sheet B2 format as a big advantage.

InfoTrends’ Opinion

The feature that the J Press 720 lacks, automatic duplexing, will limit the product’s ability to handle variable data jobs. It will also make it more difficult to take advantage of digital print’s ability to electronically collate. Nevertheless, the format and quality level will open up application opportunities in areas such as packaging, folders, book covers, and multi-up impositions. Users will also be able to leverage the product’s short-run, quick turnaround capabilities.

Fujifilm’s J Press 720 is one of the first examples of a cut-sheet inkjet printer exclusively designed for graphics environments. Fujifilm’s focus on quality and format is admirable and will certainly catch the eye of general commercial printers because of its offset press-like design. Unfortunately Fujifilm will not have the J Press 720 at Graph Expo. They will bring prospects to their Hanover Park (suburban Chicago) demo facility instead. So if you want to see it, you’ll have to seek out an invitation from them.

Fujifilm J Press 720 (delivery end view)

Fujifilm J Press 720 (delivery end view)

I have been giving a lot of thought recently to just what features the next-generation digital print product should include and I’ve compiled these into a presentation entitled “Integrating the Value of Digital Printing into New Cut-Sheet Product Designs.” This presentation is available to InfoTrends On Demand Printing & Publishing consulting service clients on our password-protected web site. If you are not an InfoTrends client and would like to see the presentation, please send me an e-mail at jim_hamilton@infotrends.com.

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