Kodak’s new Versamarks address entry-level colour DOD inkjet

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Sep 15, 2011

Kodak has taken the wraps off a next generation piezo drop-on-demand (DOD) continuous feed inkjet range under the Versamark brand. The new range is designed to address transactional, direct mail, loyalty and newspaper applications for firms with volume requirements in the 2m-20m A4 AMPV range.

While much of the focus of the graphics industry this week has been in the USA at Graph Expo, where Kodak itself has also unveiled plenty of new digital technology, it chose to show the new machines for the first time to analysts, customers and journalists at an event at its European technical centre in La Hulpe, Belgium.

Kodak's new Versamark 500W in-situ at its European demo centre

The eight new machines all use a compact single engine duplex architecture. Sitting beneath the firm’s other DOD products, the Versamark VL range, which require twin-engine configurations for duplex production; it brings the total number of piezo machines in its range to 14 — which it claims is the broadest of any DOD vendor.

The new Versamark range is available in 75m/m and 125m/m speed versions, each available in monochrome or process colour and in a choice of narrow 1-up or wide 2-up web widths giving a throughput range of 252-1,008 A4 pages per minute (268-1,072 US letter pages per minute).

Field upgrades from monochrome to colour, narrow to wide and from the slower to the faster speed are available allowing users to extend production as required.

In addition to four-colour CMYK production a fifth imaging head is an option with a range of inks including MICR, UV fluorescing security or spot colour inks if required.

In launching the new DOD machines Kodak has recognised that there is a sizable part of the market that doesn’t have the budgets, volumes or applications needed to justify investment in its flagship Prosper machines based on its unique Stream technology. With this new range of machines, the firm plans to redouble its efforts to address this burgeoning sector of the market, and hopes to make up the ground it has lost in the last couple of years to rivals for new engines and to maintain its leadership position in installed base for continuous feed colour inkjet.

Pricing for the range will be from €1m-€1.6m installed with basic feed and take-up. Commercial sales will commence in October.
At the heart of the system is a new generation of piezo drop-on-demand heads from Panasonic, which is also the provider of the heads used in the earlier VL series machines. Resolution is 600x600dpi at 75m/m dropping to 600x360dpi on the faster models when running at 125m/minute. Ink is available in both dye and pigment versions.

Substrates in the weights of 60-160gsm (16 — 42 lb. bond) can be handled in inkjet optimised coated and uncoated grades.
Despite offering the monochrome machine to enable firms to take a low risk phased migration from black only toner technology to full-colour inkjet it is the firms expectations that the full colour full width 300W and 500W machines will account for the majority of sales.

With the new Versamark systems, Kodak is providing a reminder, to itself as much as the rest of the market, that there is much more in its portfolio than the Prosper, which has recently been the focus of attention. It has over a decade of  continuous feed colour experience from the pioneering Versamark Business Colour Press (BCP), through the evolution of its continuous inkjet technology with the Vantage, VX5000 and VT3000 through the switch to DOD technology with the VL series and the introduction of Stream with the Prosper 5000XL press and the S10 process colour imprinting systems culminating in this week’s new DOD Versamarks. It all adds up to a significant heritage in colour continuous feed that shouldn’t be overlooked. It also highlights a broad portfolio based on multiple technologies to address a swathe of different applications with the most appropriate tools rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

A full analysis of the new Versamark range and Kodak’s other announcements from the La Hulpe event will be available for InfoTrends service subscribers that expands on this blog will be published soon.

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