Production inkjet is getting bigger – Timsons and Kodak push the width of inkjet

Ralf Schlozer
Mar 7, 2012

This week Timsons, in collaboration with Kodak, announced the T-Press, the largest format inkjet document printer so far in an end-to-end production line targeted at mid-volume book runs.And the width is impressive, with a 53” or 1.35 metre web width, allowing for an 8-up production across the width of the web for a typical A5 book format. Linear speed of the printer is 600 ft/min (200 m/min) and resolution will be 600 by 900 dpi. This roughly translates into 7,500 A4 or letter size impressions. The T-Press is a monochrome web-fed printer, but future full colour versions were not ruled out.

Timsons and Kodak are partnering on this dedicated short-run book printing solution according to their areas of expertise. Timsons developed a dedicated press design, including the finishing line. Kodak is supplying the Stream heads (the basis of the Prosper presses and imprinting heads), workflow, and front-end. Timsons is a dedicated manufacturer of analogue book printing and finishing equipment and draws from a lot of experience in materials handling. In designing the T-Press Timsons did not simply put the inkjet heads onto an existing offset press design, but redesigned the paper path for an optimal location of the inkjet heads and driers and a minimal web length to reduce start-up waste. The front and backside printing units are in a stacked configuration so the unit is relatively compact, despite the wide web.

Book printer Clays in the U.K. is the first customer to receive a T-Press. The system is scheduled to be up and running by April 2012, just before drupa opens its doors. A second line will be on the show-floor at drupa with a Kolbus binding system, although other binders can be integrated as well.

There is some overlap between the T-Press and Kodak’s own offerings suitable for the monochrome book printing market, such as the Prosper 1000 or monochrome versions of the VL and SED engines. However the T-Press is targeted at higher volumes than Kodak’s own solutions, with Timsons quoting target volumes of 5 to 14 million books a year, and the T-Press does include a dedicated book finishing line as well. An auto-paster, allowing pasting a new roll of paper at full speed onto the current, finished roll, is an automation feature that facilitates roll changes and adds to the high volume, high productivity design of the product. Accordingly the T-Press is target at runs of a few thousand book blocks, rather than true print on demand though additional automated features could lower that sweet spot.

In December Kodak announced that it was creating a program called Inkjet Technology Partnerships (ITP) to facilitate the use of its Stream inkjet head technology through third parties for products that would not carry the Prosper brand. A hint of what ITP was doing came from an announcement made in Japan early in 2011. Ryobi revealed that it had created a hybrid press configuration using Kodak Stream heads on a B2 format Ryobi 750 offset press. The configuration allows monochrome personalization to be added in-line using Kodak Prosper S Series heads, specifically the 500 feet-per-minute, 600 dot-per-inch S5 heads. With the announcement of the Timson T-Press, we see another instance of Kodak’s ITP group at work. There will likely be more announcements to come before long.

Kodak had more interesting announcements at the Duomedia pre-drupa press event in Lisbon, e.g. a faster Prosper XL press, faster Prosper imprinting heads and unique toner options for the NexPress. These launches and more news from other companies presenting at the event will be covered in detail in a separate analysis for InfoTrends subscribers.

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