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FESPA Digital’s Dreams … and Reality

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Fespa Digital’s 2009 Amsterdam tradeshow has surely faded into a memory for many attendees, but, because the show featured many new, state-of-the-art digital printers, the accumulated, inkjet-technology development effects will carry on for years. Fespa Digital is where top-end, industrial-strength manufacturers launch their newest machines, and these high-tech releases also provided industry soothsayers with new insights, so they can, once again, decode digital printing’s fresh direction.

The notable releases included Fujifilm Sericol’s Inca Onset S20 and HP Scitex’s FB7500. This year, Durst surprised many by pulling its Rho 1000 out of the hat. It easily meets the industry’s high-production standards and, thereby, provides likely buyers a third, top-end choice.

All three are fast, but each has different automation and media-handling configurations, so buyers must determine the most suitable print- and media-handling system for their production styles.

Durst also pleased attendees with its Durst Rho 500R, which fits in the 16.4-ft. (5m) print-width realm. It competes with WP Digital’s (formerly Spühl) RR50 and EFI VUTEk’s GS5000R.

EFI VUTEk, apparently, decided to concentrate on its core markets by exhibiting its GS and QS UV-cure printers.

In the middle price range, Mimaki’s CJV30 challenged Roland’s long-term presence in the roll-fed, printer/cutter market, and Seiko I Infotech displayed its ColorPainter V-64s. Industry analysts say the V-64 competes with Mutoh’s ValueJet and the Roland VersaArt RS-540 and RS-640, plus for the Mimaki JV33-160 or JV33-130 solvent printers.

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Also, both Meital 302 and One Solution Vega introduced flatbed printers, which implies, so far, the credit crunch hasn’t stopped new equipment launches by lesser-known players.

The show was also awash with modestly priced, entry-level, UV-cure printers, many of which incorporate Xaar (or its licensees) printheads. The increasing quantity of such machines brings interesting and emerging UV-cure variations. For example, Screen’s Truepress Jet2500 UV demonstrated digital textile capabilities.

At the other extreme, a few narrow-gauge, web printers demonstrated how other market sectors have adopted inkjet. Such single-pass, direct applications as One Solution’s Calisto, M-Print’s SP2 100 and Atlantic Zeiser’s Gamma 70 are examples of existing printhead technologies applied to other devices.

Truth is, amidst the sea of new machines and other vast offerings – materials, inks, finishing systems and peripherals – it was difficult to discern if machine buyers were spending big money. It seems we’re heading for a greener, leaner and, unfortunately, meaner world, so buyers have become circumspect. They want assurances of quality and ROI, prior to investing. The good news, however, is that banks and investors no longer consider wide-format print operations a risky business.

U.K.-based writer, photographer, editor and consultant, Sophie Matthews-Paul is an acknowledged authority on digital printing worldwide. You may contact her at [email protected]

 

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