Fuji-Xerox shows Memjet-powered wide format inkjet printer @ drupa

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May 4, 2012

One of the most interesting things that we saw at drupa yesterday was a preview of a wide format printing system seen at the Caldera booth A14 in Hall 4. This 42-inch wide technology printer represents a collaboration between Xerox partner Fuji Xerox and Caldera. We are hearing that this product should launch in the Asia-Pacific region by the end of the year. It is a 4-color aqueous inkjet printer using dye-based inks.

A short video of the printer in action here: http://youtu.be/r5tDUceDkko

To any observer the outstanding feature of the prototype was the print speed, and the fact this is a single pass device — it’s a fixed array, so just the paper moves, which is what enables blistering speed. Caldera’s RIP platform is what enables data
processing to handle that speed and resolution combination. The maximum continuous length of print is some 30m. In the booth the Xerox representatives reported that print speeds were 6 inches per second, which equals 6,300 square feet per hour or 585 m2/hour at a native print resolution of 1600 x 1600 dpi.

This technology preview is noteworthy for several reasons. The partnership between Fuji-Xerox and Memjet is big news because Fuji-Xerox is Memjet’s biggest partner to date (see end of article). Fuji Xerox is notably strong in some of the world’s emerging markets, where wide format printer shipments are expected to grow at a faster pace than in more mature markets. Also, it is important to note that the image quality that we saw at high speed was good, especially on lightweight media. Samples were being run on very lightweight (85gsm) coated stock with no bleed or show through and on uncoated paper showing impressively fine linework. This makes the machine a possible for both graphics and CAD applications. The range of stock samples was broad too, including backlit film, polyester, canvas, mesh and lightstop. This opens up high speed production for roll-ups, soft signage and lightboxes. On the booth the ability to run lightweight stocks was highlighted as an important way users could control production cost.

However, there was no set pricing available at this time for either the printer or the supplies since this was a technology demonstration. So while media cost savings through the use of lighter weight stocks sound very attractive, it will be total cost of ownership (TCO) that matters and for that upfront and consumable costs need to be defined.

From a big picture standpoint these kinds of speeds make aqueous inkjet a much more viable option in production markets. Today, wide format UV-curable inkjet has the advantages when it comes to raw speed and operating cost, but the printers themselves are very expensive at the most productive levels, which means that really only large production shops can buy them.

The other big announcement related to Memjet and wide format on the opening day at drupa was that the company is working with Oce on a high-speed wide format color printer. Fuji-Xerox and Oce are two of the biggest suppliers to the wide format technical market so the introduction of Memjet technology to these products lines, when they comes to market, represent important endorsements of the Memjet technology.

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