Canon Océ’s Hidden, but Not Secret, Drupa Technology Announcement

Riley McNulty
May 15, 2012

One of the more interesting drupa 2012 announcements took place not in Düsseldorf, but in Poing Germany. Canon Océ held an event with 20 or so press and analysts to introduce the new Océ InfiniStream technology. Although the prototype B2 lithographic liquid toner press looked like a finished product, Canon Océ executives stressed that theirs was a technology announcement, because they continue to refine the new platform. Nevertheless, substantial progress has been made toward productizing the technology, and Canon Océ says a full launch of the InfiniStream press can be expected within 12 to 18 months.

The Océ InfiniStream technology

The InfiniStream prototype press was tucked away in a big room within Canon Océ’s Poing R&D and new customer demonstration center. The press weighs multiple tons and is quite long, even before any inline finishing is attached. The technology development involves all Océ intellectual property; however, a manroland paper transport system is used. This new platform is targeted at the folding carton market, which of course opens up new opportunities for Canon Océ, and will be launched as a simplex product.

The key attributes the platform is designed to deliver include:

  • Productivity requirements necessary for the majority of folding carton press runs
  • Printing on all standard offset media (e.g., glossy and uncoated folding carton board)
  • Offset quality on all coated materials

The Océ InfiniStream technology utilizes liquid toner process that has highly mobile and uniform colorants. This enables the laying down of a very thin ink layer for low ink consumption and cost effectiveness. The goal is to achieve the same ink layer thickness as offset. The mobile, uniform colorants also contribute to image quality due to high positioning accuracy and fast process speeds. The technology also incorporates a heatless wet-in-wet image transfer. This process has four primary components, which include an inking system, imaging cylinder, rubber-coated blanket cylinder, and an LED bar. This design is a factor in the press’s ability to support offset-like media range due to the indirect ink transfer via the imaging cylinder.

The Océ InfiniStream technology utilizes roll-fed media and is capable of producing up to 14,000 B2 sheets or 7,200 B1 sheets per hour. It supports flexible formats of up to 70 x 100 cm (B1) with variable image lengths at 28 inch web width. The maximum thickness of the media that is supported is 600 microns. When launched, Canon Océ says the press will be optimized for press runs of 5,000 to 10,000 sheets.

Looking at the device from left to right, the modular design includes an unwinder, a tight web module, the print towers, heatset airstream fusing combined with an integrated energy retrieval system and cooling unit, and an open interface for finishing integration. At launch the press will support up to seven print stations (7/0); Canon Océ anticipates the need to have at least 6 colors for packaging. The heat fusing process is emissions free, and also recycles the hot air that is used to evaporate oil. The command station utilizes PRISMAproduction, and when the press is launched, it will incorporate Esko workflow software. Operators will also be able to control the press with a mobile unit.

What makes this announcement interesting is the technology is far along in its development–according to Canon Oce the InfiniStream technology is close to a beta implementation. The primary areas where improvements are needed include making the press more reliable and putting in place the right finishing solutions.

Also notable is that the new press will open up a new market for Canon Océ. The InfiniStream won’t ship in high numbers, because it will be a significant capital expense, and targeted at the high-end of the carton converter market. No doubt there will be challenges with stabilizing the performance of the technology, lining up essential finishing options and establishing distribution channels (manroland will help here). Nevertheless, the number of “to be determined” items involved in converting the technology to a product are being whittled down.

So while Benny Landa, the godfather of digital print, captured the attention of drupa attendees with his own technology announcement, Canon Océ in an understated way, also introduced a new technology that will likely hit a shop floor running in the not too distant future.

InfoTrends is conducting a major multi-client study on the packaging industry titled ‘What Do Converters Want?’ to better understand the opportunities and requirements for digital presses, finishing equipment, workflow software and materials.

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