US Printers, High-Speed Inkjet Community Gather at Hunkeler Innovationdays
Kudos must first go out to Stefan and Michel Hunkeler and the staff members of Hunkeler AG for organizing the 13th iteration of Hunkeler Innovationdays, which was held on Feb. 25-28 in Lucerne, Switzerland. The sheer fact that a 280-employee company, relying primarily on its own staff members, could organize an exhibition at the Messe Luzern featuring nearly 100 suppliers and more than 6,500 total attendees sends a strong message about Hunkeler’s commitment to the overall advancement of the high-speed production inkjet printing market.
Among the attendees were more than 100 U.S.-based printers, representing a virtual Who’s Who of leading printing companies, who were hosted at the event by Standard Finishing Systems.
The event employed the motto, “Success with Automation,” and included production inkjet printing press manufacturers; digital embellishment and postpress equipment suppliers; and software, consumables and substrate companies, who all came together to showcase automated end-to-end digital production workflows. This included several automated job changeover demonstrations — driven by industry demand for shorter runs coupled with the growing shortage of available skilled labor — as well as demonstrations of various automated finishing processes.
Visitors witnessed more than 40 live production solutions running a diverse lineup of applications that were focused on commercial printing, book manufacturing, marketing collateral and direct mail production, transactional printing and more.
Several digital printing press manufacturers participated, including Canon, HP, Ricoh, RISO, Konica Minolta, Screen, Xeikon, Xerox, Nipson and BlueCrest. On the finishing side, Hunkeler, Horizon, Hohner, Muller Martini, Kern, Meccanotecnica, Böwe Systec and GUK/Mätthias Bäuerle also demonstrated their wares, often in conjunction with a digital press line to show an end-to-end solution.
With drupa in Germany now more than a year away, new product introductions from the digital press manufacturers were fairly limited, but some were still noteworthy:
- Ricoh showcased full-color coated offset printing of a tourist guide and posters on its new Pro VC70000 continuous-feed inkjet press, which was first announced last year. The press features new dryer technology and inks designed for greater ink coverage and less cockling. A monochrome Ricoh Pro V20100 showed roll-to-stack production using a Hunkeler UW6 unwind module, with cross-cutting in a CS8-II cutter and delivery of the cut sheets on the new LS8-30 long-sheet delivery.
- Screen demonstrated its Jet520HD+ inkjet web press with SC inks. It incorporated Screen’s new NIR dryer that improves drying performance for both lightweight and heavier weight coated offset stocks.
- Canon displayed its Océ ProStream 1000 continuous-feed press with an optional in-line quality control system enabled by a high-speed camera. The ProStream can now also handle a broader range of media, supporting papers up to 300 gsm, due to an enhanced paper transport and drying station. Also shown was an Océ VarioPrint i300 sheetfed inkjet press in-line with the newly launched Hunkeler DocuTrim cutting, dynamic perforating, collating and stacking system.
- HP demonstrated a 30% increase in productivity on its HP PageWide T240 HD inkjet web press, thanks to the ability to perform non-stop, on-the-fly roll changes with the new Hunkeler RS8 roll splicer unwinder and a TR8 turret rewinder.
- Xerox debuted the Rialto 900 MP inkjet roll-to-cut-sheet inkjet printing platform with a new Speed Boost option that increases output by 33%. Also featured were the Xerox Trivor 2400 High Fusion continuous-feed inkjet press, demonstrated with an IBIS Smart-binder, which can print on offset coated media without the use of primers, pre-coatings or treatments, as well as a Brenva cut-sheet inkjet model.
- Xeikon reinforced its commitment to dry toner technology by showcasing large-format coffee table book cover and dust jacket production with a Xeikon CX500 five-color, roll-to-roll configuration. Roll-to-roll production of a full-color direct mail piece using a Xeikon 9800 featured in-line quality control via a Hunkeler WI8 web inspection system with new CIS (Compact Image Sensor) technology to monitor color, registration, images, logos, text and codes.
But, as one might expect, Hunkeler itself pulled out all of the stops to demonstrate its new offerings. Among them was a technology demonstration of the new Generation 8 series (roll-to-sheet) system showing fully automatic production changeovers between 2-up and 3-up processing during high-speed production.
Another demonstration showed book production changeovers. In the CS8 cutter, the longitudinal cutting blades and sidelays were engaged and disengaged via a motor-driven process. Variable cross-cutting and job switchover in the separation module were dynamically controlled. And the system laterally transferred individual jobs into the LS8 stacking module, where they were output automatically.
To show book block production with variable formats and numbers of pages, Hunkeler also showed book production with a PF7 double plow folder, as well as a flyfolder, integrated into a fully automatic line.
And, deploying a Gen8 combi line, Hunkeler produced a mailing product with coupons and a reply card. Using the dynamically controlled vertical and horizontal perforation function of the DP8 dynamic perforator, the perf pattern was able to be changed automatically from one copy to the next. As an option, the direct mail pieces were also being diverted to a Horizon AF series folder.
Hunkeler Innovationdays 2019, if anything, validated the continuing maturity of the high-speed production inkjet printing market. Discussions between exhibitors and printers centered around end-to-end automation, efficiencies and productivity enhancements — not as much about the quality of the digitally printed output or the ability of the presses to print on standard offset and other paper grades.
Held every two years, the next Innovationdays will be held Feb. 22-25, 2021, again, in the extremely picturesque Lucerne, Switzerland.