Not only an inkjet drupa – Xeikon plans a leap with Quantum toner technology

Ralf Schlozer
Mar 9, 2012

It is no secret that inkjet will be BIG at drupa 2012 and the most likely label for the 2012 iteration of the world’s largest graphic arts trade show will be inkjet drupa (again). But it is far too early to count out tonerbased technology and apart from many important, but incremental improvements we expect to see, there is still potential for ground-breaking improvements in toner technology.

At the pre-drupa press conference on the 7th of March in Lisbon, Xeikon hinted at such improvements with what it calls Quantum technology. According to Xeikon it offers far lower running costs at significantly improved speeds compared to its current toner offerings, while maintaining the quality level of current Xeikon toner offerings. It is the latter which it believes will set Quantum apart from inkjet, while in speed and running cost it should be similar. The technology is described as being toner-based, waterless and without any volatile organic compounds. Given the promised improvements in speed and cost everything points towards a liquid toner technology, although Xeikon declined to comment on any details of the technology. All that was said was that the technology, and the company that had been developing it for many years, were bought by Xeikon two years ago and Xeikon now own the intellectual property rights. Digging up old Punch Graphix/Xeikon annual reports provides no further details, as the acquisition was not mentioned in those.

At drupa 2012 Quantum will be shown as a technology demonstration at the Xeikon booth. The firm is so confident in the technology that all future document printer lines will be based on it. A timeline for a commercial product has not been set however and given the nature of technology demonstrations it will be years rather than months before anything is available.

From now until opening of drupa we can only speculate on the properties of Quantum. As Xeikon is positioning itself as a quality leader compared to inkjet technology, we can expect a quality that is akin to the 1,200 dpi Xeikon presses already offer. The speed would need to be double or triple that of an existing products such as the Xeikon 8000 which runs at 19m/min, to fulfil the claim of a vastly increased speed. Given this and Xeikon’s heritage, it is likely to be web-fed. Verification of claims about improved running costs and the ability to print on any paper will need to wait until a final product. Xeikon has set itself an ambitious goal , but the company has had enough time to delve into the technology and consider what it takes to make it a product.

The Quantum was one of several announcements from Xeikon and other vendors at the Duomedia pre-drupa press event in Lisbon. More news from Xeikon and the other companies including Esko and Kodak presenting on toner and inkjet printers, software and finishing at the event will be covered in detail in a separate analysis for InfoTrends subscribers.

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