Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Digital presses stream into Drupa 2008

By Mary L. Van Meter

DUSSELDORF, Germany — One of the hottest trends emerging at last month’s Drupa 2008 was the explosion of short-run digital presses aimed at newspapers.

No fewer than a half-dozen vendors launched web-fed digital presses specifically engineered to serve newspapers’ print-on-demand needs.

The goal: to allow papers to meet the demand placed by business travelers and other consumers that want to pick up a newspaper at remote locations like airports and hotels. That segment, in conjunction with the increase of niche publications, short-run materials and other periodicals with less than 15,000 circulation, dovetails perfectly with the advent of these digital presses, observers say.

The web-fed presses showcased at drupa have throughputs, finishing systems and printing features that transcend the machines now aimed at transactional promotional printing.

To that end, they offer full color, increased speeds — in some cases up to 3,000 40-page newspapers per hour, about triple the output currently available — the ability to produce shorter press runs economically, and capabilities that permit the production of such products as micro-zoned materials and personalized inserts.

Most of the web-fed digital presses at Drupa were configured as continuous-feed, single-pass for double-side printing. They were also available with turner bars similar to those found within newspaper offset printing operations.

While some vendors, such as Oce, Nipson, Agfa, Hewlett Packard and Screen touted their grayscale drop-on-demand systems. Kodak offered three platforms, continuous inkjet, drop-on-demand and continuous stream.

All the companies said they are working with newspapers to test the machines. One vendor, Screen, showcased its Truepress Jet 520 in conjunction with finishing systems vendor Hunkeler and software vendor Newsworld to print live editions of several newspapers, including USA Today, during the show.

Then there was Xerox, which displayed its 980 Color Continuous Feed machine, which will be introduced later this year. The press uses hot flash-fusing LED technology common throughout Xerox’ product lines. With a resolution of 600 dots per inch, the press can produce up to 980 pages per minute and will be available later this year, according to Wendy K. Apton, Xerox’ assistant technology program manager.

A rundown of what was offered at the show (in alphabetical order):


Agfa, which entered the digital press market in 2004 when it acquired Barco’s Dotrix technology, hasn’t aggressively marketed Dotrix to newspapers. But that is all about to change, said Kurt Smits, who heads Agfa’s strategic business development of global accounts. It begins with the Dotrix DGNews, which the company unveiled at drupa.

Photos: Newspapers & Technology Agfa press, and Kurt Smits, Agfa’s strategic business development global accounts.

The machine, available now, employs a grayscale drop-on-demand technology and uses a single-pass inkjet color engine.

“The press can print not only standard newspaper sizes on standard newsprint but also offers numerous financial applications that could incorporate personalized and customized content,” Smits said. The machine has an output capacity of 78 feet per minute and can print products up to 24.8 inches wide. (For more information about the DGNews.

Hewlett Packard

HP introduced its HP Inkjet Web Press, available with a scalable web width of up to 30 inches for production of full-broadsheet newspaper formats or multiple-up documents. The drop-on-demand press, using HP’s Edgeline thermal inkjet technology, can print up to 200 2-sided broadsheets per minute (Nordic format, 29.92 inches wide by 22.75 inches tall) with a resolution of 600 dpi.

Aurelio Maruggi, vice president and general manager of HP’s inkjet high-speed production solutions, said a U.S. newspaper plans to test the 30-inch version of the machine later this year, producing 14 zoned versions every day. The press will be commercially available during the second half of 2009, Maruggi said.

Hewlett Packard unveiled its Inkjet Web Press, which will be tested by an undisclosed U.S. newspaper.


Kodak showcased is Versamark VT 3000, a continuous-feed, single-pass press with continuous 4-color inkjet print technology. The VT 3000 is a scalable press that can handle web widths ranging from 8 inches to 20 inches and is offered in either 300-by-300 or 300-by-600 dpi resolution. Printing speeds vary per model but the VT 3000 can reach a maximum speed of 500 feet, or 2,040 pages, per minute. The press can support monochrome, spot and process color printing on the same platform, Kodak said.

Antonio M. Perez, chairman and chief executive officer, Kodak.

Nipson Printing Systems unveiled its new generation of print heads for the VaryPress 200 and VaryPress 500 web-fed digital presses. Both presses use Nipson’s magnetographic imaging and flash fusing processes. The technology uses a magnetic print drum combined with flash toner fusing. The cold flash fusing system fuses the toner without heating the substrate, so the web does not shrink, warp, distort, or dry out, according to Martine Berger, marketing communications manager for Nipson.

The VaryPress 200 runs up to 295 feet per minute on a printable width of 18.45 inches (web width of 20.5 inches) with 600 dpi print quality. The VaryPress 500 has production speeds of up to 492 feet-per-minute.


Oce, whose black-and-white digital presses are used by several newspapers, introduced three new models of its full process-color JetStream machines.

The JetStream 750, 1500 and 3000 systems join the 2200 and 1100 machines Oce formally introduced last December. All employ Oce’s DigiDot piezo-based drop-on-demand printing platform.

The 750, with a 328-foot-per-minute capacity, is an entry-level machine, said Michael R. Polin, product manager.

The JetStream 1500 produces 1,300 full-color A4-size images per minute in two-up duplex format while the 3000 has an output capacity of 656 feet-per-minute with a resolution of 480-by-600 dpi.

Michael R. Polin, product manager, Oce.

Wendy K. Apton, assistant technology program manager at Xerox.


The Screen TruePress Jet 520 variable printing system blends grayscale drop-on-demand technology with Epson’s latest multitone piezo drop-on-demand inkjet print head. The press uses water-based dye inks, water-based pigment inks and four process colors (CMYK). The machine can print up to 210 feet per minute with a resolution of 720-by-360 dpi. Page widths run from 6.5 inches to 20.47 inches, with a cutoff of 40 inches.

“Print-on-demand will bring new business opportunities to newspapers,” said Seiichi Nakao, Screen’s manager of sales and marketing. “It will eliminate the financial cost and environmental impact of air-freighting newspapers while ensuring same-day availability no matter where their readers might be,” he said.

Seiichi Nakao, manager of sales and marketing, Screen.

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