Interest in Agfa's :M-Press and :Dotrix industrial inkjet printers continues to grow
While Agfa Graphic's :M-Press and :Dotrix industrial inkjet printers are still in their early stages of release to the marketplace, they are generating as much local interest as they have in Europe.
Targeting the larger industrial print market, visitors to Visual Impact Image xpo will have an opportunity to discuss both with staff on Agfa's stand. Both systems are on limited sales release in Europe, explains Garry Muratore, Agfa's Oceania marketing manager. The Expo will be a pre-launch event for this region and we hope to provide information to many of the early adopters who have expressed interest so far.
We have already had customers from Australia and New Zealand visit our inkjet competency centre in Antwerp, Belgium, to have a close look at the machines and from there go on to visit many of the pilot sites. Both these systems involve a sizeable investment from the customer so it very much requires a long, consultative approach between them and Agfa. Customers who have expressed an early interest are greatly appreciative of the global resources Agfa has at its disposal.
Muratore says both the :M-Press, which was jointly developed with screen printing equipment manufacturer Thieme, and the :Dotrix will be handled via Agfa's direct sales channel. Agfa will take the entire customer responsibility for the systems. Thieme remains a valued inkjet partner for Agfa and in the case of the :M-Press, they will continue to manufacture key components of the system.
It is Agfa's intention to formally release both the :M-Press and :Dotrix into the Australian and New Zealand markets from DRUPA in 2008.
The :M-Press is a high-speed flatbed inkjet press, co-developed by Thieme and Agfa, and offers a solution to economical, high run-length digital printing. It is fully compatible with the Thieme 5000XL series screen printing modules (which can be used for a variety of applications including whites, spot colours and varnishes) and can be configured into a fully automatic hybrid printing line. Such a configuration offers the benefit of screen printing's versatility and the productivity of an automatic digital inline solution.
Features include a 64-head shuttle, delivering high-speed prints with a page-wide array of high-performance inkjet printheads. Built-in automatic head cleaning and head calibration provides consistent print quality and simple operation. The :Universal Print Head's greyscale head technology enables smooth density transitions and high apparent resolutions because of its ability to fire up to 16 different ink droplet sizes.
Agfa's own :Anuvia UV inks are used in the M-Press, which is also equipped with a dual curing system to allow full ink curing at the lowest possible energy levels. Large, easy-fill ink reservoirs allow for continuous production and the printing unit's housing
is designed for easy viewing of the print operation.
The :M-Press is available either as a 3/4-automatic version with a belt-driven, vacuum assisted feeding table, or as a fully automatic version with automatic sheet feeder. The integrated brush cleaning of the media ensures best possible print
results. The automated feeder automatically positions the sheet into the gripper system which then aligns the sheet on the printing table.
Inline measurement of the media thickness ensures optimal quality and throughput for thin and flexible stocks as well as thick and rigid materials. The delivery system transports the printed sheet to the inline sheet stacker which enables precise
stacking and facilitates automated finishing and packaging of the printed job.
The :M-Press connects to Agfa's advanced, JDF-based :ApogeeX workflow solution or via OpenConnect to third-party RIPs with TIFF output.
The :Dotrix Inkjet Press
The :Dotrix is Agfa's digital colour inkjet press for printing packaging, labelling, and point-of-purchase materials, as well as transactional printing with the new :Dotrix TransColor. As well as offering the common benefits of digital printing (minimum
make-ready times, instant job switching, minimal waste, etc.), the single-sided, webfed press is designed for short/medium-run production, sampling, customised printing, on-press proofing, and variable-data work.
It can print on substrates from 25 to 600 microns thick (including heat-sensitive, pressure-sensitive, and in-mould labels), widths to 630mm, and at speeds up to 907m2/hr. Its modular configuration allows the addition of pre- and post-print units
such as a flexographic unit for white pre-print or a post-print of varnish or special colour, foiling units, slitters, or die-cutters.
The heart of the :Dotrix is the unique SPICE (Single Pass Inkjet Color Engine) print unit a fixed array of piezo-electric drop-on-demand colour inkjet heads. The print unit utilises multi-density inkjet imaging to produce its high resolution print quality and
different tints are created by varying drop volumes. Combined with Agfas stochastic screening software driver they provide accurate full- and spot-colour reproduction.
The inkjet heads use a 'greyscale principle' to vary the droplet sizes that create the printing dot, generating multiple levels of 'grey' for each ink colour that makes a single dot. This produces smooth colour tints and gradations. Similar head technology is used in the :M-Press.
The :Dotrix utilises Agfas :Agorix instant-dry, CMYK, UV-curable inks. They are table, fast-curing, and easy-to-handle and are specifically-designed to provide the best adhesion, light fastness, rub and scratch-resistance for the press. The UV inks
do not contain hazardous VOCs or solvents, and do not evaporate or dry out in the inkjet nozzles. During printing, inks can also be refilled using the external ink supply system to minimise downtime.
The underlying inkjet technology also gives the press its speed advantages. Print stations cover the whole web width so the substrate passes only once and the stationary printheads do not waste time moving back and forth across the media.
This maximises print speeds (5-24m/min). The SPICE engines run on a robust servo-motor-driven web transport designed for
continuous three-shift operation. The jumbo unwind and rewind system handles rolls to 1250mm diameters, and weights to 800kg for long uninterrupted print runs. A userfriendly splicing tool enables quick switching from one substrate to another.
The press handles incoming files from either :ApogeeX or third-party prepress systems. Substrate-specific settings can be saved and re-used to minimise set-up times during substrate change-overs and screening type and dot gain compensation
curves can be changed at run-time to match different printing conditions.
The :Dotrix TransColor is specifically designed for variable data printing applications. Its Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS FS45) controller uses scalable dataprocessing technology to distribute processing tasks to a 'cluster farm' enabling it to
RIP in real-time, regardless of project complexity or colour density. In the past, adding full colour to the already-complex database printing process created a bottleneck that slowed down processing. With that 'stumbling block'
removed, the :Dotrix TransColor delivers high-speed, high-quality, colour transactional, transpromotional, and direct mail printing.
The TransColor's printing engine is configured with a static array of inkjet heads spanning the full 650mm printing width. This means it can print A4 pages 3-up, on both sides (duplex) in a single pass - producing nearly 500 A4 pages per minute (or
30,000 per hour). A roll-to-roll feed provides uninterrupted printing and third-party inline finishing solutions can be added.