With the growing range of investment options, PrintAction is producing a series of articles, called The pulse of print heads, to better understand one of the most-critical components of any production inkjet press. In Part 1, last month, we took a look at the relatively simple discussion of drop size, primarily because print head R&D and inkjet messaging for more than a decade focused on printing ever smaller drops of ink with the goal of improving overall inkjet quality, even as some commercial settings may require larger drops for higher volume work.
This month, Part II of The pulse of print heads focuses on the manufacture of print heads and how it relates to the adoption of inkjet presses for a wider range of commercial-printing applications. When a production inkjet system requires dozens of print heads each costing a few thousands dollars, for example, the manufacture of print heads also relates to the initial purchase price of inkjet systems and subsequent print head replacement costs.
Crystals, diaphragms and heat
The past few years have seen the rise of two important technical terms in relation to the key piece of hardware – print heads – of production inkjet presses: Nanotechnology and MEMS. Print head makers and their press-building OEM partners – if not one and the same – have put both nanotechnology and MEMS into play for decades now. Short for Microelectromechanical Systems, MEMS basically describes any type of microscopic device, particularly devices with moving parts.
MEMS manufacturing, therefore, relates more directly to piezo print heads that eject ink with moving mechanical elements, walls or diaphragms. Thermal print head manufacturing is experiencing similarly important advances, albeit with different process definitions, as developers of both print head types absorb massive upfront factory costs to propel the printing industry’s adoption of inkjet.
“When we talk about MEMS, Xaar talks very holistically about our whole product portfolio – older [print heads] and new stuff. The difference being that we now use silicon MEMS, as well,” says Jason Remnant, Product Line Manager with Xaar, which has built inkjet print heads since 1990. He explains silicon is more or less used to form the base of the print head, providing it with fluidic chambers before a film is applied with PZT (piezoelectric pumping components).
Xaar’s older generation print heads were built with what the company refers to as Bulk PZT that would be cut down to make the actuator ejection device, with control signals and a source of energy. The advances in silicon PZT manufacturing provides print-head makers with scalability and accuracy, resulting in an ability to fit more nozzles onto the given size of a print-head plate, with corresponding drivers, at less cost – even if the head may not be as durable as a Bulk PZT build.
In 2007, Xaar started working toward silicon-based MEMS production and in May 2016 introduced its next-generation 5601 print, which is also built with what manufacturers describe as Thin Film technology for holding PZT components. “It has to be biggest thing to come along from Xaar in a decade,” says Remnant. Over the past decade, print head developments ensured the mass adoption of wide-format inkjet for commercial work, as well as ceramics printing and print products with lower quality requirements like the inner pages of books, statements and forms. The commercial printing industry – with its many applications and quality demands – requires a print-head evolution that is well under way.
“The 5601 is a new platform of print heads that will absolutely drive the opportunity to digitize more print in the world,” says Remnant. In addition to reaching higher manufacturing levels at smaller micro-scales (nanotechnology), the new generation of print heads for commercial work, packaging and laminates, need to jet fluids other than solvent and UV. Remnant explains the 5601 can jet low-viscosity fluids, including aqueous and latex-type inks, which also opens up inkjet to the world of textiles.
To deploy the 5601, Xaar is working closely with Ricoh, which holds significant press interests in commercial and high-speed printing markets. “Past print heads have included silicon MEMS techniques and now new designs are being developed. MEMS and thin-film technology are not changing Ricoh’s print head position, but rather, these two technologies are enhancing and expanding Ricoh’s inkjet print head capabilities,” says Joseph Ryan, Director Business Development, Ricoh Printing Systems America.
The most-advanced print head manufacturing models today integrate components to create more of a print chip than a print head. “MEMS is a bit of a misnomer for HP thermal inkjet technology,” says Ross Allen, Senior Technical Specialist, HP Inkjet Technology Platform, who first joined the company as an engineer in 1981. “There are no moving mechanical elements in an HP print head. The ink is the only moving part. So, HP thermal inkjet is a MicroElectroFluidic System, and that term is not in common use.”
HP builds its newest generation of print heads with silicon and photolithographic polymer technologies. Allen explains this allows the entire print head, including on-board electronics, to be built with technologies that were originally developed for manufacturing integrated circuits like computer chips. HP’s MicroElectroFluidic advances resulted in the launch of its Scalable Printing Technology (SPT) around a decade ago. Allen explains SPT enables fine structures, both electronic and fluidic, to be defined, precision-aligned and built on a silicon substrate.
Just as Xaar faced limitations producing Bulk PZT, HP also previously faced manufacturing challenges with its original thermal heads because they employed separately fabricated nozzle plates that had to be mechanically aligned and adhered to a silicon substrate with fluidic channels and chambers. Allen explains more complexity came from the use of different material properties, such as thermal expansion between an electroformed nickel nozzle plate and the silicon (polymer) component.
“By building fluidic – ink – chambers, passages, and nozzle plates out of the same photo-imageable polymer in layers up from the surface of a silicon wafer – with its electronic circuits – larger and more complex print heads may be produced,” says Allen. “HP thermal inkjet print heads are essentially integrated circuits that eject ink.”
Like Xaar’s 5601, Epson’s PrecisionCore and Fujifilm Dimatix’ Samba technology, HP SPT is print head platform, meaning it continues to receive R&D dollars to include what Allen describes as smaller fluidic structures: Smaller drop generator chambers, ink passages, nozzles and built-in filters that catch particles in the ink.
“This means that current generations of an HP print head chip – typically about an inch long – can have thousands of identical nozzles and deliver two or four different colours of ink. These chips are placed end-to-end, staggered – and with a small overlap – to build print heads that are 4.25- and 8.5-inches wide.”
Compact nozzles and zones
The ability to design nozzle-dense print heads – and manufacture them on a grand scale – is critical for inkjet-press adoption in commercial printing for a number of reasons from quality to cost. Technically, nozzle-dense heads allow press makers to build larger format presses with smaller print zones. Xaar’s 5601 is built in a Z-pattern to interlace the print heads and reduce the printing area of – ideally – a single-pass inkjet press built by one of its partners.
A smaller print zone reduces potential printing complications with fast moving paper. “Being able to assemble a number of print heads into large arrays allows large systems to be assembled,” says Ryan. “Aligning print heads, especially in high-resolution printing applications, has always been a challenge to system designers. Almost all print heads have alignment techniques using precision locating pins, flat control surfaces, and incorporating physical configurations, such as Z forms and trapezoidal configurations for interlocking and alignment.”
Employing traditional print heads in a single-pass production inkjet press, explains Xaar’s Jason Remnant, typically required staggering the print heads on a print bar to address issues like number of applicable colours and redundancy, particularly as press format sizes increased. Staggering heads can equate to deeper print bars, which in turn increases the print zone. “A small print zone is really critical because it has a [reduced] cost on the build of your machine and it also has a big influence on the print quality of your output,” explains Remnant. “If you are making a huge single-pass printer and it turns out that your print zone is two-metres wide, you have to control your substrates [to] get them from the first colour all the way to the nozzles of the last colour – and [the paper must] be where you expect it to be, so the drops end up where you want them.”
Challenges of running a larger print zone are exacerbated, explains Remnant, because it allows for more swelling when paper is hit with fluids, particularly if absorbing water. “Part of the design of this  head was to allow the OEM to make a very compact print zone and, in fact, the concept for a four-colour system with our print speed would actually mean you are printing quicker than the swelling of the paper.”
The application of staggered print head bars, of course, becomes efficient when building integrated print chips with super-packed nozzles. For the first generation of print heads used in the HP PageWide Web Presses, Allen explains nozzles were spaced in two offset columns of 600 nozzles per inch to print at 1,200 dpi across the web. “The newest generation of HP print heads, called High Definition Nozzle Architecture, places small drop weight nozzles between the original high drop weight nozzles for dual drop weight printing. Across each ink feed slot – a slot through the silicon chip that supplies ink to the fluidics layer – these print heads feature 2,400 nozzles per linear inch,” says Allen. “A low drop weight nozzle prints in the same dot row as a high drop weight nozzle across the ink feed slot, so the printing resolution is still 1,200 dpi across the web.”
HP’s print head build with integrated circuit technologies means many hundreds of its print head chips can be made on one silicon wafer. “This leads to large economies of scale in manufacturing,” says Allen, “where many different print head series can be built in the same HP factory.” Economies of scale provided by today’s print-head manufacturing results in lower-cost products that will ultimately affect the price of production inkjet presses and introduce a wider range of lower-cost, smaller-format systems for commercial printing. With growing use of total-cost-of-ownership investment models, printers should also consider the cost of replacing silicon-based print heads.
“I don’t see any breakthroughs coming in any inkjet technology that could be considered a dramatic reduction in replacement cost. HP SPT already delivers manufacturing economies of scale that are reflected in print head price,” says Allen. “What could happen to reduce effective print head cost-to-print is longer print head life, which drives down cost per square metre. Of course, HP and others are always working to develop longer life, more reliable print heads, but lower prices will be evolutionary and not a dramatic breakthrough.”
VariJET 106 combines offset printing and finishing technology with inkjet technologies, the latter developed by Xerox, in a highly modular system that can be tailored for customer requirements, including optimized inline processes.
The press presentation via video at drupa included post inkjet options, double coating and drying, rotary die-cutting, pre-treatment and drying, corona treatment, offset units, opaque white and cold foil application.
KBA explains the press is suitable for industrial production and can run a range of substrates. Described as “digital sheetfed for folding carton,” KBA expects the system to be complete in a few months for 2017.
On the drupa floor, EFI is displaying the 1.8-metre-wide, single-pass Nozomi C18000 press, targeting short-run, on-demand work. EFI describes the direct-to-corrugated board press as its biggest inkjet product development to date, with expected availability set for 2017.
The Nozomi C18000 can reach speeds of up to 75 linear metres (246 linear feet) per minute, producing up to 9,000 80 x 60-cm boards per hour using what EFI describes as a double-lane printing feature. EFI explains it prints up to seven colours, including white, at a 360 x 720-dpi resolution, and can handle materials of up to 1.8 x 3 metres – and thicknesses up to triple-wall board – at full rated speeds.
Its LED, continues EFI, can image on just about any board substrate, including traditional Kemi, model, bleach and kraft materials. Packaging produced with the press, according to the company, is certified for repulpability and recyclability.
“The focus EFI has placed in R&D to improve every part of the digital production chain results in a unique, breakthrough and innovative offering that we are very excited to present at the world’s largest printing tradeshow,” said Guy Gecht, EFI’s CEO. “The breakthrough new platforms we are showing for the first time could be game changers for customers as the world moves from long runs to customized, on-demand manufacturing.”
At drupa, EFI is also showcasing its new AquaEndure inkjet technology that the company explains will be used across many of its platforms and segments in the future. The water-based inkjet platform runs and cures inks which EFI describes as requiring much less heat, enabling a wider range of media. AquaEndure inks also have no odour, explains EFI, and are aimed at markets like wall coverings, wraps and flexible signage. The system is expected to launch in 2017 with expanded media types and capabilities suitable for food-contact packaging following after that.
EFI is also exhibiting its new Fiery XB digital front end (DFE) platform, a scalable, high-volume blade server technology for high-speed inkjet presses, as well as Fiery Navigator, a cloud-based print management platform for Fiery-driven production presses. The company also introduced new software in the EFI Corrugated Packaging Suite and the EFI Publication Suite.
The HP PageWide C500 Press, designed for corrugated direct-to-board printing, leverages 30 years of HP thermal inkjet technology and the company’s newer PageWide Printing Technology. HP explains the press will integrate into a standard production environment, from large integrated packaging converters with centralized or distributed printing, to small, independent sheet plants. HP plans to start testing the HP PageWide C500 Press at customer sites in 2017, and the press is expected to be commercially available in 2018.
At drupa, HP also previewed a new Indigo Digital Combination Press, for combination label production. The press concept will incorporate HP Indigo print and digital embellishments in one press, creating a single-pass solution for high-value labels and packaging production.
As part of a dedicated line with an HP Indigo WS6800 Digital Press, this new digital combination concept, developed in alliance with JetFX, will enable the production of digital spot and tactile varnishes, digital foils, as well as embellishments of virtually unlimited designs made possible using HP SmartStream Mosaic.
Xaar explains the 1003 print head family introduces an important new feature called the XaarGuard, which provides nozzle plate protection and, coupled with other design innovations, achieves what the company states to be the longest maintenance-free production runs in the industry.
The Xaar 1003 was produces with the company’s new X-ACT Micro Electric Mechanical Systems (MEMS) manufacturing process, which was recently awarded Manufacturing Site of the Year by the National Microelectronics Institute.
The Xaar 1003 family of print heads combines Xaar’s TF Technology and Hybrid Side Shooter architecture so that ink is recirculated directly past the back of the nozzle during drop ejection at high flow rates. This helps the print head operates reliably even in the harsh industrial environments. Ink is in constant circulation, preventing sedimentation and subsequent blocking of the nozzles when jetting.
The Xaar 1003 will be available in three variants. The Xaar 1003 GS12 (rich colours or higher speeds) for ceramics applications is first to be launched, closely followed by the Xaar 1003 GS6 (for fine detail) and the Xaar 1003 GS40 (for special effects). The other variants for UV applications will also be available later in the first half of this year.
Targeting a production gap between high-end toner and low-end inkjet presses, the Xerox Brenva is a cut-sheet inkjet press that Xerox initially expects to disrupt light direct mail, transactional and book markets.
The Brenva is to incorporate many of the paper-path components of the Xerox iGen press line, as well as an inline spectrophotometer to assist with calibration and profiling; object-oriented colour management to distinguish text, graphics and images; and a K-only mode to run as a cost-effective monochrome press.
The Xerox Trivor 2400 is a scalable continuous inkjet press initially targeting speeds of up to 551 feet (168 metres) per minute in colour and 656 feet (200 metres) per minute in monochrome. The small-footprint press will initially be targeted at catalogues, magazines and colour books. A new print server developed in partnership with EFI, the Xerox IJ Print Server powered by Fiery, will handle multiple data streams for various application types.
“We are focused on expanding our inkjet portfolio with more choices and greater capabilities for print providers to grow their businesses,” said Robert Stabler, Senior VP and GM, Global Graphic Communications Business Group, Xerox. “With the addition of Brenva and Trivor, we’re making inkjet more accessible and affordable to a larger number of print providers.”
Availability and list price for the Xerox Trivor 2400 with the Xerox IJ Print Server will be revealed at drupa. The Xerox Brenva HD will be available in Europe in May 2016 and in North America in September 2016. Shipments will begin in June 2016. The list price starts at US$649,000.
Fujifilm explains EUCON (Enhanced Under Coating and Nitrogen purging technology) is ideally suited for printing on the underside of flexible packaging. The proprietary EUCON technology in the new press is composed of three core components: a newly developed, high performance UV ink; a unique undercoating technology used to prevent ink bleed; and a Nitrogen purge technology, which is used to significantly reduce the characteristic odour of UV ink.
Fujifilm’s new LED-UV inkjet press is currently working with a productivity level of up to 50 metres per minute using CMYK + White ink channels. LED-UV curing reduces the heat applied to flexible substrates.
The ink used in the new LED-UV press takes advantage of technologies developed for Fujifilm’s wide format applications, with enhanced adhesive strength for film that prevents peeling or cracking of the ink even when the print surface is heated. EUCON applies a new primer as an undercoat before depositing the CMYKW ink, which reduces ink bleed and better enables colour reproduction.
The high pigment load of the Chromera inks, explains Canon, extends the application range of the press to lighter weight media with reduced ink show-through, and allows for printing higher quality documents on uncoated or inkjet treated papers.
“The new Océ ColorStream 6000 Chroma establishes a new level of colour vibrancy and underlines Canon’s leading position in continuous feed inkjet technologies for production print, with a line-up of high performance presses for business communications, publishing and commercial print applications,” said Christian Unterberger, Executive Vice President, Océ Printing Systems GmbH.
The new press builds on Canon’s ColorStream 3000 and ColorStream 3000 Z printing systems, which the company describes as holding paper waste-free print start and pause and a smart post-processing interface for the printing of short-run books with variable page lengths without rebooting. Océ HeadSafe technology allows for switching between mono and full-colour printing.
A new ‘pre-fire’ function on the ColorStream 6000 Chroma press is designed to provide consistent droplet size and positioning, ultimately leading to smooth ink coverage for large areas of dense colour. Canon explains this technology makes the press suitable for demanding commercial print applications.
The ColorStream 6000 Chroma model offers running speeds from 48 metres per minutes to 127 metres per minute in full colour mode. For monochrome work, there is an optional maximum speed of 150 metres per minute.
Shipments of the new ColorStream 6000 Chroma series are scheduled to begin in autumn 2016.
Ultrastream, built on Kodak’s continuous inkjet Stream technology, is aimed at moving production inkjet into the mainstream of commercial and packaging printing. It will be showcased for the first time at drupa 2016, in an 8-inch configuration for label production, and feature what Kodak describes as a smaller drop size and precise placement accuracy for higher resolution, clean lines and additional detailed definition.
Ultrastream technology will co-exist in the market along with Stream Technology to offer different platform options. Ultrastream’s writing system includes a modular print head that can be implemented in varying widths ranging from eight inches up to 97 inches suit different applications. Kodak explains it produces 600 x 1,800-dpi resolution at speeds of up to 150 meters per minute (500 feet per minute) on a variety of paper and plastic substrates.
Ultrastream technology, with a planned launch for early 2017, will co-exist in the market along with Stream Technology to offer different platform options.
At drupa 2015, Kodak, for the first time, will also showcase a new cloud-based software approach under the banner of Unified Workflow Solutions, which includes Kodak Prinergy, Insite Prepress Portal, Colorflow, Pandora Step-and-Repeat Software, and Preps imposition software.
“Kodak created the workflow automation software market with the launch of Prinergy Workflow in 1999,” said Allan Brown, Vice President and General Manager of Kodak’s Unified Workflow Solutions. “Today we continue to push the boundaries of our current offering and take it to the next level with our cloud-based features.”
The new NexPress ZX3900 toner-based press will also be running at drupa, with a delivery date aimed for early 2017. It supports thicker paper and the use of synthetic substrates, which can be leveraged for short-run packaging applications like labels, tags and small folding cartons, as well as differentiated commercial and publishing products.
In conjunction with the NexPress ZX3900, Kodak also plans to preview a new NexPress platform that has not yet been unveiled. There will also be a new Opaque White Dry Ink for NexPress presses for its Fifth Imaging Unit.
At drupa 2016, Kodak will also announce a new Sonora process-free plate that can be used for UV printing. “By growing the Sonora Plate family to encompass UV, we are helping a broader population of our print customers to be more profitable, productive and sustainable into the future,” said Richard Rindo, GM Worldwide Offset Print and VP Print Systems Division, Kodak.
Kodak will also showcase its new Aqua-Image Pressroom Chemicals at drupa 2016, which is to include over 20 press washes, plate cleaners, ink roller maintenance chemicals and storage gums.
The inkjet technology was built leveraging Heidelberg’s offset technology and the inkjet developments of Fujifilm. Heidelberg explains its core competencies of technologies like non-contacting paper sheet guide, feeder and delivery are incorporated into the system. Primefire 106 is aimed at short to medium production runs.
“With the world premiere of the Heidelberg Primefire 106 we have reached another milestone in our digital strategy: achieving success in working with partners to bring systems to the market within the shortest time,” Stephan Plenz, Member of the Management Board and responsible for Heidelberg Equipment. “This will help our customers to address the increased market challenges in a digitized world in the future also.
“Now we are the first provider to enable the industrial and integrated production of digital printed products in the Smart Print Shop,” continued Plenz. “At the same time, in doing so we are also opening up opportunities for the future growth of Heidelberg.”
World premiere of the “Fire” product line: Heidelberg introduces a standardized portfolio name for its entire digital printing offering
As of drupa 2016, Heidelberg will introduce its entire digital printing portfolio under a standardized product line name, called Fire. “The name Fire for our digital printing portfolio stands for performance, dynamism and growth – and also for digitally transmitting data and ink onto different surfaces,” said Jason Oliver, Head of the Digital Division at Heidelberg. “We want to send a clear message to our customers that we have one of the highest performance digital printing offerings in our industry.”
As a result, the Heidelberg digital printing portfolio will have the following structure as of drupa 2016: Primefire 106; Versafire CP/CV is the new name for the existing Linoprint CP/CV digital printing systems (launched in cooperation Ricoh in 2011); Gallus Labelfire 340 is the new product name for the former Gallus DCS 340 for digital label printing; and Omnifire 250/1000 is the new name for Heidelberg’s 4D printing systems, replacing the former name Heidelberg Jetmaster Dimension 250/1000.
This latest addition to the Xaar 1002 family of print heads jets drop volumes from 40 to 160pL and has greyscale capability (5 levels). It is well suited, according to Xaar, for printing UV spot varnish and for applications requiring a high laydown at higher print speeds. Depending on the drop size, the print head can lay down extra opaque whites with a larger drop size or a finer base of whites with a smaller drop size; which can be useful in creating fine detailed effects.
For those wishing to print solid white base coats underneath fine halftone images or text, such as companies printing labels or packaging, the Xaar 1002 GS40 can be used in combination with the Xaar 1002 GS6 printhead.
The large drop capability of the Xaar 1002 GS40 also means, according to Xaar, that it is well suited for printing high build spot varnish or tactile, textured effects, such as wood grain, edge banding or other wood laminate products manufactured by the décor industry.
As with all of the Xaar 1002 family of printheads, this new variant includes TF Technology which provides a continuous ink flow at a high rate directly past the back of the nozzle during drop ejection. Xaar explains this design provides unrivalled reliability, trouble-free printing and maximum printing and production uptime.
“We are delighted to be extending our UV printhead range to include the Xaar 1002 GS40 which enables our customers to create a wide range of effects that were typically the preserve of other techniques such as embossing. This capability is becoming more prevalent in labels and packaging for luxury products within the food and beverage sectors including high end spirits and wine labeling,” said Alan Mutch, Product Manager at Xaar.
HP continues to explain that digital printing is the fastest growing segment in packaging with a projected annual growth rate of 17 percent in a market expected to be worth $19 billion by 2019. The company states the HP PageWide Web Press T1100S, with Multi-lane Print Architecture (MLPA), creates a paradigm shift in the production of corrugated board.
“Converters and brands alike need to create more targeted, effective packaging while reducing costs,” said Eric Wiesner, General Manager of HP Inc.’s PageWide Web Press division. “HP Inc. and KBA have combined forces to bring the world’s most productive press to market, offering more value to high-end converters with the efficiencies of pre-print and digital in one press.”
HP explains its MLPA technology splits the web into multiple print lanes, so different jobs, with different box sizes and run lengths, can be printed in the individual lanes. Multiple ultra-short or short runs can be queued and printed together, with no make-ready in between jobs, continues HP, while a long run is printed in another lane. In essence MLPA technology, coupled with all the advantages of inkjet printing, allows cost-effective customization and personalization of corrugated packaging.
Packaging giant DS Smith Packaging, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, has been announced as the first company to install the HP PageWide Web Press T1100S. “We selected the new HP PageWide Web Press T1100S as the next step in our ground-breaking digital PrePrint programme,” said Stefano Rossi, CEO of DS Smith Packaging Division. “Our co-development with HP has resulted in the first digital machine able to print at the speed and width we need for high-volume corrugated production. It will provide our customers with unprecedented short-run flexibility and quality consistency.” DS Smith sold over six billion boxes in its 2014/2015 fiscal year.
The HP PageWide Web Press prints at speeds of up to 183 linear metres (600 linear feet) per minute and 30,600 square metres (330,000 square feet) per hour. The inking system of the press a combination of HP Bonding Agent, HP Priming Agent and four-colour HP A50 aqueous pigmented CMYK inks. HP explains this allows users to print on standard uncoated and coated liners from 80-400 grams per square meter (GSM).
Optional configuration features include an auto-splice/turret rewind, primer and over-print varnish coating solutions, as well as the KBA PATRAS Automated Paper Logistics System.
The new family of printheads, the first of which is to be available in late 2016, will all have a 17-mm print swathe, which the company describes as being an ideal width for high-resolution coding and marking applications like printing barcodes, best before dates and other product identification codes onto a range of packaging. The new family of printheads will be manufactured in Xaar’s factory in Huntingdon, UK.
“We have set out a development roadmap of new 17-mm printheads to support our coding and marking OEM customers over the coming years,” said Richard Barham, Chief Customer Officer at Xaar. “The first of the new products, which we will launch towards the end of next year, will sit alongside the Xaar 128 and will also have 128 nozzles. This is an important market sector for Xaar, so we are delighted to announce a new range of printheads which underline our ongoing commitment to this sector.”
Xaar, celebrating its 25th year of inkjet development this year, initially established itself through a number of printheads designed for coding and marking applications. The company explains the new print head will allow it continue to add value for the foreseeable future to manufacturers who are required to print product identification information onto their products during the production process.
Domino is introducing its first digital cold foil solution based around its K600i inkjet print module. The cold foiling technology uses the K600i to print an adhesive and create the image area prior to UV-curing and delamination.
Unlike some other inkjet systems that print metallic ink to provide a foil-like effect, Domino explains its cold foil technology is based on real conventional metallic foil to provide a higher quality finish. The company’s solution also allows for the application of security and decorative holographic images within the foil.
Domino’s cold foil technology can operate at speeds up to 75 metres per minute (246 ft/min) and can be supplied as a standalone unit or be retrofitted to an existing foiling station. It is offered in up to seven different foiling widths ranging from 108 mm (4.25 inches) up to 782 mm (30.81 inches).
“We have been facing an increasing demand for a digital coil foil solution over the last seven years, so have now combined the latest higher resolution K600i print technology with an advanced adhesive formulation and a web handling solution supplied by AB Graphic International,” said Philip Easton, Director of Domino’s Digital Printing Solutions Division.
Since the launch of the K600i monochrome ink jet printer in 2010, Domino has installed over 200 modules in a range of production lines, including label presses for hybrid printing, and finishing and sheet-to-sheet lines. The new K600i cold foiling solution is based on the same technology, but uses a new adhesive.
Inkjet-based foiling represents a unique proposition for security applications, explains Domino, by allowing the use of holographic foil with inkjet produced images. This leads to product complexity and makes counterfeiting increasingly difficult to achieve.
The K600i foiling technology leverages Domino’s i-Tech products, including the i-Tech ActiFlow ink circulating system to ensure ink is always moving around the print head. i-Tech CleanCap automated print head cleaning and capping technology reduces manual operator intervention. i-Tech StitchLink micro-motor controller technology ensures that all heads are automatically and properly calibrated to print as one.
The 2600 Mini Press makes use of a single Memjet printhead capable of printing at 60 feet per minute (18 metres) at 1,600 x 1,600 dpi. It features what Colordyne describes as a robust, dually supported frame, with the capacity to handle 24 inch (600 mm) outside diameter rolls and a servo-driven web handling system to produce longer run lengths.
The 2600 Series Mini Press also makes use of a Harlequin RIP and a 15-inch touch screen. Colordyne explains what differentiates the printing system’s single print head platform from others in the industry is its self-predicative print head maintenance.
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