Memjet DuraLink and MGI AlphaJet

Ralf Schlozer
Jul 9, 2019

Memjet invited recently several European analysts and journalists to a press event into their San Diego HQ – in a move to make the Memjet brand more well known in Europe. Memjet is the R&D company behind a set of highly compact inkjet heads and assemblies that are integrated by small to large size OEM partners into their printing equipment. Memjet’s approach especially enables small companies or custom integrators to bring their business ideas to life, which could never afford their own inkjet head development. Memjet markets their heads to OEMs, not to end users. Still Memjet supports marketing printers that are using their inkjet heads and has coined the tag line “Memjet inside “. This works well, if the company behind is well known enough and accordingly Memjet is stepping up their market visibility to drive further growth.

From an early days R&D lab in Australia with a bunch of patents Memjet grow into a 350+ employee company. The company started out with a model of page-wide inkjet heads, now termed VersaPass, mainly for office products. The company expanded its reach via integrators in the production print space, these in turn, helped diversify the offerings into wide format, high volume press engines and components sets.

With the next generation DuraLink the company made a big step into high volume production print. The DuraLink line of heads has been launched in 2017, which has been covered in another blog already ( Memjet quotes a head life of 50 litres of ink with 2.2pl droplets (compared to 1.5 pl of the VersaPass) and the use of pigment ink, while preserving the 1,600 dpi spatial resolution of the VersaPass head. Printing resolution in the direction of the paper transport depends on the speed and ranges from 1585 dpi at 75.5 m/min to 580 at 203.6 m/min.

As Memjet did expect, it took 18 months to two years for the first implementations to arrive on the market. So far Memjet signed up as DuraLink users:

  • Basch (with a monochrome shipping label printer)
  • Colordyne
  • MGI (used in the AlphaJet)
  • PPSI (Prototype & Production Systems Incorporated)
  • Shield
  • UP Group (DuMax label printer)

There are two more unnamed OEM partners. Another four OEM users will be signed up in summer. Memjet is confident it will have signed 20 OEM deals for its Duralink inkjet head technology by the end of this year.

While all of the DuraLink implementations are special in their own way, the MGI AlphaJet stands out, nevertheless. Previewed at drupa 2016 the AlphaJet made headlines as the most versatile digital production print system with a very modular approach to integrate all kinds of printing and embellishment options and types of substrates. In the aftermath there have been some doubts on the system coming to the market at all, but only recently the AlphaJet reappeared at the All4Pack show in Paris, end of 2018.

The AlphaJet uses a revolutionary magnetic rail system to transport the sheets. Trays loop on a magnetic rail  path with very high precision and pass several imaging or print processing stations. The design even allows for multiple loops (passes) in the press. The trays hold the substrates down via a vacuum bed, which allows for substrate thickness up to 15 cm (about 6”). It results in an extraordinarily versatile substrate support for folding carton materials, corrugated flute board and other specialty stocks and rigid materials such as wood, metal and glass.

The flexibility of the device is enabling a wide range of marking from preprint (white), embellishment, dimensional (digital embossing), primary printing and foiling. Functional inks can be integrated for applications such as RFID and possibly other printed electronics. The press supports sheet sizes up to 75 x 105 cm, which covers the B1 format. Speed is set at 1,800 B1 sheets per hour (somewhat lower than announced at drupa) for now.

For the image printing portion MGI chose Memjet DuraLink. This is the more remarkable as Konica Minolta, a major shareholder in MGI, has their own inkjet heads. MGI was convinced by the high imaging quality of the Memjet inkjet heads and usage of waterbased pigment inks – which is especially critical for food packaging. Also, the built in redundancy of the heads is important for the ongoing productivity of this printer. This machine is going into a beta test phase by the end of this year in order to be fully ready at Drupa next year.

MGI AlphaJet at All4Pack

The AlphaJet will not be the last news from Memjet in the course of this year. Memjet hinted that there will be more hardware news in due course, and we should stay tuned. There will certainly be more focus on workflow and DFE as well, heralded by Memjet by hiring key personnel in this area. This is underscored by EFI now supplying a DuraLink DFE, also in a 7 color configuration.

Memjet’s strategy of offering easy to exchange thermal printheads has been their core strength for many years. This allows for rapid integration, but moreover enables end users to self service their equipment while maintaining quick recovery and uptime. As new generations appear from Memjet we will likely see ongoing improvements in head life and ink sets that will allow their integration partners to expand industry segments and grow volume.

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