26 February 2017 Digital Printing Technologies

Canon places bet on litho replacement with ProStream

The Océ ProStream is an inkjet press that Canon believes can match litho quality, overcoming the hurdles that have held back the offset to digital transition.

Canon last week revealed the Océ ProStream, the inkjet press it believes is capable of converting large slices of litho print to digital production.

It was shown at the Hunkeler Innovation Days in Lucerne where the vast machine attracted constant attention, although visitors where not free to remove samples and those seeking a closer look at the rewind end of the press were dissuaded by it being roped off.

This was partly because the machine is still a prototype, although the four European printers that will install the beta versions of the press have been identified. Canon expects to ship these machines this year. A further machine will go to a printer in Asia.

The dimensions and design of the press are set by the no contact floatation dryer which drives off water and creates the protective polymer layer which locks the pigment ink against the paper. The dryer runs the length each half of the press with a turner bar arrangement between units taking the web outside the machine before printing the reverse side. Inside the dryers deliver warmed air at 130ºC.

The press builds on experience Océ has built up with the ColorStream and more recent ImageStream web presses and the i300 sheetfed inkjet press. This acquired ColorGrip, a fluid which optimises colour on standard offset papers, at Drupa last year and the new web press is also using the technology. This will provide the media versatility that customers need to take on offset work with confidence.

The ProStream runs at 80m/min using the latest version of the Kyocera KJ4 peizo print head to deliver 1200dpi resolution with with 2pl or 5.6pl droplets. The combination of small droplets for fine details and the larger for higher ink coverage. Printing in a YMCK sequence helps increase the colour gamut Océ has found. The press prints across 540mm on a 565mm web to deliver 35 million A4 pages a month.

To deliver the stable conditions needed to print consistently, the inkjet heads are water cooled to a constant 35ºC. The inks are water based with a polymer surrounding the pigment. This melts during the drying section to create a protective layer above the ink. Océ says that the gamut of the inks exceeds Fogra 51 on coated papers and Fogra 52 on uncoated papers. It will print with 100% coverage of all inks to a maximum of 350% TAC.

In a further step to increase the appeal for commercial litho printers, the inkjet machine has a new graphically driven interface for the Prisma workflow. It will accept PDF/VT or native PDF files.

The initial customers are Direct Mail House AG from Switzerland, Ipskamp Drukkers from Holland and Daten Printers in Germany. The fourth press is to be installed at an unnamed printer in Poland. The plan is to expand sales to wider range of territories in 2018 and 2019. Ultimately says Wolff, “we are definitely targeting the next level of print volumes to convert from offset”.

Unlike the ColorStream range, the ProStream does not print during the ramp up or deceleration phase of operation. Printing can only begin when the press is running at 80m/minute. As much as possible has been automated, including the head cleaning necessary when a reel of paper needs to be changed. Operator cleaning and maintenance is needed once a day.

“With the quality level and media versatility we have we go much further into short run length offset than ever before at competitive pricing,” says Wolff.

The effort will be led by a dedicated team “to help our customers going forwards, refining their processes, mastering colour management and achieving new applications.”

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ProSttream at Hunkeler

ProSttream at Hunkeler

Canon's ProStream proved a big draw for visitors to Hunkeler Innovation Days. If it has the impact of the earlier ColorStrea (and canon expects it to), there will be multiple members of the ProStream family before long.

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