The Düsseldorf appeal: high-end wide-format at drupa 2012
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By Sophie Matthews-Paul
12 April 2012
Durst's Rho 1000L is representative of the high-end platforms we'll see at drupa
As drupa looms ever closer on the horizon it is increasingly apparent that many of those exhibitors typical at FESPA events are concentrating their efforts on Düsseldorf. This consensus makes it pretty clear that the sector formerly marginalised into wide-format has joined the mainstream, helped along by the growth in the commercial market's greater interest in today's machines.
Whether or not the increase in digital potential within the production print segment has encouraged offset, labelling and packaging companies to think more seriously about wider solutions isn't clear. What is evident, though, is that drupa continues to be the Mecca for all things print and this now includes the display and, to an extent, the sign-making arenas.
In this, the first of two previews for drupa, I'm looking at the heavier-duty arena of wide-format print production, and what's expected to be unwrapped in May. Industrial weight engines are now accepted in their developments but there is such a wide gap between the low and the high end with these machines, it's sometimes incredible to recall that they use the same base ink-jet technology.
Those skipping FESPA this year included some of the high-end manufacturers, including Durst and Polytype. This is indicative not only of perceived purchasing trends but, also, the massive investment which needs to be put into installing heavyweight machines at a trade event, and running them throughout a show's duration. It could be argued that if such upheaval is par for the course, then it makes more sense to carry it for a fortnight rather than for four days.
Those who have a portfolio of products covering all sectors are also likely to put their weight behind drupa. Although EFI was exhibiting at FESPA, the news on the street is that there is a high-end wide-format system being launched in Düsseldorf alongside its other platforms. We don't know much about this new engine yet, as only a broad outline has been announced, so it will be interesting to see what features the final machine encompasses.
Durst tends to play its cards close to its chest when it comes to product announcements. We're no longer amazed when the company springs a few surprises on its stand, with a series of machines launched at ISA which feature ten-picolitre droplet sizes and 1,000dpi resolution. At the upper end of the scale, Durst has its Rho 1000 continuous board solution, again targeting the heavyweights in wide-format production, and which offers roll-fed as well as sheet printing.
Polytype was another opting to miss FESPA in favour of drupa, and will use the opportunity to shout about its upper level Quantum which comes in 2.5 and 3.5m widths, with 10-picolitre print-heads and speeds of up to 300sq m/hr. It's based on the company's existing Virtu engines and is a rugged flat-bed and roll-fed engine.
For HP, drupa represents a major platform literally to bring everything to the party, heading up its industrial strength production machines with the recently revised Scitex FB7600 which now includes a white ink and greater automation. Users not wanting to stray wider than B2+ with their output can see the new Indigo 10000 in action, too.
Not to be outdone at the top end, Agfa Graphics is actually bringing an :M-Press platform to drupa for the first time, in preference to its being a video presentation. On show will be the Leopard whose strengths are a full 1.6 x 3.2m print area and extremely accurate recto/verso printing. Agfa is also featuring a pair of :Jeti Titans on its stand with features that are relevant to industrial strength requirements.
At the high end of wide-format production there are certain to be refinements and tweaks from other manufacturers with companies like Fujifilm with the Onset keen to show their wares. But it's a racing certainty that we'll get to see some of those oddities which only make an appearance at a major trade event once before vanishing off the face of the earth. Then there are those we looked at in late beta versions which should, by now, be production machines – you know who you are.
There is now a definitive selection of higher-end production printers, all intending to be tough workhorses that can challenge the analogue sectors. While the mid-range UV-curable market remains popular for many display producers, manufacturers are weighing in on the belief that the sector for fast throughput is strong, and that drupa is the right platform to exhibit their wares.
Comments in chronological order (Total 2 comments)
12 April 2012 1:24PM
I've a little more information about the new machine from EFI. It's called the HS100, has a maximum print width of 3.2m and will feature white ink. All will be revealed at drupa!
09 May 2012 6:52PM
Well i can also confirm the JFX500 (new) will have white varnish and primer options at 60sqm/h