MasterWork and Taichuan Collaborate on Digital Color Inkjet Printer at China Print 2013

Jim Hamilton
May 21, 2013

One of the big news stories from China Print 2013 is a technology demonstration by MasterWork and Taichuan of a sheet fed UV inkjet-based digital color printer with a print width of 420 millimeters. This is the first color inkjet model of its type from a Chinese vendor.

Located in the MasterWork stand adjacent to Heidelberg’s massive exhibition, the MasterWork/Taichuan technology demonstration resembles an offset press with offset-like feed and delivery. For this partnership, MasterWork provides the paper handling and Taichuan provides the imaging component is (supported by Konica Minolta inkjet heads). The print samples were okay. MasterWork and Taichuan representatives admitted that work needed to be done to improve the quality, which was streaked and showed the glossy reflectiveness characteristic of UV inks. Each sample had the date and time printed on it, making the point that variable data was possible for text, images, or barcodes.

MasterWork-Taichuan UV inkjet technology demonstration

The device is capable of speeds of up to 150 meters per minute and 8,500 sheets per hour when printing at 360 by 360 dot-per-inch resolution in process color. It runs at 75 meters per minute at the 360 by 720 resolution setting. The configuration shown was simplex though representatives said that they plan on having duplex in the future. Taichuan said that it makes its own ink and can’t guarantee that other UV inks will work in the device. With a print width of 420 millimeters, this device is smaller than standard B2 format (500 x 707 mm; 19.7 x 27.8 inches), yet a Taichuan brochure shows a product line called ‘TCjet420’ that is part of a series of products with print widths of 70, 140, 280, 420, and 780 millimeters.

The use of UV inks is an indicator of the company’s intention to support a wide range of substrates, with packaging as a possible target market. UV inks have long been the choice for many digital printers used for ticket, tag, and label applications, but it has had less success in commercial print to date. However with head technology improvements, such as increased resolution and ink management, UV inkjet could turn out to be more broadly applicable across packaging and commercial print applications.

As this was a technology demonstration, MasterWork and Taichuan representatives were not prepared to speak about timing for beta testing, release dates, or any distribution strategy outside of China. This is clearly early on in the life of this product.

Specifications and print sample

Other China Print exhibitors had news about their larger format (B2 and higher) digital print offerings:

  • Fujifilm handed out print samples for the Jet Press 720.
  • HP had two Indigo 10000 units on the show floor and is offering them through multiple Chinese distribution channels including Founder, InfoTech, and Syntax.
  • Jadason, a Chinese company which had shown a B2-format color electrophotographic printer at drupa 2008 and 2012, did not exhibit at China Print 2013.
  • Konica Minolta and Komori had table-top displays promoting the KM-1 and ES-29 respectively. Konica Minolta said that the KM-1 would be demonstrated at Print 2013 this fall in Chicago.
  • Benny Landa was on hand to provide an update at two sessions. Landa did not exhibit but showed samples demonstrating ongoing print quality improvements. Landa is heading for beta testing of the B1-format model (the S10C for commercial printing and the S10FC for folding carton) in the first quarter of 2014.

InfoTrends will be compiling a China Print show review to be published soon. For an example of a similar report, see the InfoTrends analysis of PrintPack India 2013.

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