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Surprise, surprise

Jan 1, 2008 12:00 AM


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After 25 years in the printing industry, it isn't often that a press event surprises me. But that is just what happened when Océ recently unveiled its new JetStream line of high-speed color inkjet presses. “Innovation is why we are here,” said Joseph Skryzypczak, president and CEO, Océ North America. The rest of the day proved that he meant what he said.

The JetStream series joins Océ's VarioStream 9240 and ColorStream 10000 systems. The new line targets commercial printers doing a high volume of full-color, variable-data printing. A hefty duty cycle is said to handle well over 60 million impressions per month with a maximum monthly capacity of 18 million linear feet. “The JetStream systems focus on integration, operation and uptime,” said Mal Baboyian, president of Océ North America, Production Printing Systems.

Forty-some editors and business analysts were uniformly impressed by the quality of the JetStream as demonstrated at Océ's event in Boca Raton, FL. They saw the 1100 single-engine system delivering full-process color at 492 fpm. A two-engine version, the 2200, prints full-process color at speeds to 500 fpm. Not so fast, you say, compared to a web offset press running at full speed. You are right, but Océ's goal is to increase the speed over the next few years to compete with those web behemoths, which do great color at high speed but can't do variable data in full color.

The JetStream uses DigiDot piezoelectric drop-on-demand inkjet technology. Few at the press conference expected Océ to introduce a heavy-duty press using drop-on-demand. But, the engineers explained that this technology produces small, variable-drop sizes for high quality images, smoother halftones and good color with less ink. The variable-drop sizes let users change the densities to best suit the job and media.

Because very little heat is used in the process, the paper doesn't curl, resulting in faster and easier post-processing.

DigiDot also allows multilevel printing by varying drop sizes within the application for better grayscale, contour-free gradients and finer details.

The JetStream systems offer an integrated roll-to-roll configuration with a tight web for accurate registration and control. The system supports a wide range of papers and weights, and no special media is required. Paper processing options include a cross-perforation device for folding and a punch unit for creating pin holes. Optional roll slitter and folding units also are offered.

The inkjet press prints on 6 to 20.5-inch paper widths, with a 21.25-inch option available. By using a narrow web (9.5 inches), the JetStream 1100 system can print on one side, then turn the form and print on the back side using the same engine — all this without a loss in speed.

A very important feature for handling variable data is the addition of integrated verification cameras that let operators view photos of the output. Users can check print quality without stopping the presses. Built-in synchronization technology adds capability for printing operations that must match front and back pages.

The JetStream also is equipped with RFID sensors to control the proper ink insertion by operators. Using this technology, it is not possible to insert the wrong color into the wrong “slot.”

Powered by a new controller, JetStream printers use Océ PRISMA workflow software and connectivity to other front-end products. Printers need not change their existing workflow to incorporate the inkjet press into their operations. In addition, the JetStream 1100 is field-upgradable to the 2200 when volumes indicate more capacity is required.

Océ is accepting orders now for the new JetStream series, but the graphic arts version with PDF and PostScript availability is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2008.

Coupled with Océ's enthusiasm and dedication to research and development (7 percent of revenues are invested back into R&D), the JetStream is a surprisingly sturdy and well-crafted machine. It can open new possibilities in variable data for commercial printers. It's definitely worth a look; like the debut attendees, you might be surprised by the newest inkjet entry into the graphic arts.

Jill Roth is special projects editor for AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at jill.roth@penton.com.