Two years after announcing the arrival of Duralink, Memjet has unveiled DuraFlex, a printhead that is intended for more rugged applications than Versapass, but is not pitched at high volume production printing. DuraFlex will feature at Labelexpo for current and prospective OEMs to look at. Deliveries to these will begin in Q2 next year, but it is important that they can formulate their own development plans around this printhead.
DuraFlex uses the same thermal inkjet technology as Memjet’s other printheads. It is what r&d head Tom Roetker calls a tick-tock development. It includes elements from the high performance Duralink head to move the Versapass users forward.
This has two colour channels per head and uses the same type of pigment ink as the Duralink. This will open up a wider set of applications – producing labels for outdoor use for example. Flat sheet packaging, mailing and some flexible packaging will come into its footprint with the new head able to address higher volumes than Versapress.
Like the production focused Duralink, the new head is rated at 50 litres before replacement, ten times that of Versapress. And it will run at three times the speed of the entry level printhead. It therefore requires larger ink systems and a much larger data pipe to feed the 1600dpi printhead. This can either be an embedded Rip built on Global Graphics technology or a third party Rip.
But there is one area where DuraFlex will be unique, at least for the foreseeable future. It will come as a page wide printhead for SRA3 printing, wider than any other page wide head currently available. This will be more economical than stitching two A4 page wide heads together let alone four standard size printheads.
The technology Memjet believes will result in a new type of product. Currently many smaller commercial printers are priced out of inkjet printing. “A lot of inkjet printers are mom and pop shops,” says Kim Beswick, general manager Memjet office and desktop solutions. “They can’t afford a $1 million press for digital printing. This will help those companies transition to digital printing.”
At a resolution of 1600 x 950dpi, the head will run at 46 metres/minute, faster than equivalent electrophotographic presses. Print width is 320mm, adequate for A3 with bleeds and marks. The wider print head will make it easier for developers to incorporate the technology for wider print widths with less need for stitching where heads join each other.
While the appeal for a class of suppliers and printers, the volume buyers will be those supplying the office market. The A4 page wide configuration of the first printhead won converts because of the simplicity of integration. DuraFlex is a little more complex in that four colour printing will need two print heads. It is taking this simplicity to a two page market where there is opportunity in the conversion from toner to inkjet.
“We can deliver offset levels of quality,” says Beswick, “and for a longer operating period than we can with Versapass. The small size of the droplet means we print without showing transitions in vignettes and being able to replicate 2pt Asian types.
“We think DuraFlex can have a big impact of the print on demand packaging segment which is driven by commerce and for market testing.”
By Gareth Ward