Inkjet conference deemed “tremendous success”

October 15, 2014

ESMA_IJC14_ConferenceFirst ever ‘The Inkjet Conference’ event received excellent ratings from attendees and speakers.

The European Specialist Printing Manufacturer’s Association (ESMA) announced that the first ever ‘The Inkjet Conference’ event was a “tremendous success” in bringing together technical and academic experts in inkjet and digital printing, with the two-day conference in Neuss, Dusseldorf attracting more than 300 attendees earlier this month.

The conference, hosted by ESMA and sponsored by drupa, was described by Sidel SpA’s Stefano Corradini as “an excellent collection point for today’s experts in the world of digital printing”, with 41 industry experts delivering over 30 presentations on topics such as UV-LED systems, piezo inkjet for precision dispensing of functional materials, system integration from an ink point of view, improving the inkjet industry by implementing intelligent sensors, and industrial inkjet for packaging.

Industry and academic leaders in their fields spoke about the latest advances and future developments driving digital print, with the conference focusing on inkjet engineering, a review on fluid and ink components such as nano particles, conductive, aqueous and UV inks, and an academic track open to all universities and non-commercial research institutes to present their work.

Rick Hulme of ink manufacturer Sun Chemical, noted that the event was a “new and exciting conference which has brought the industry together to discuss inkjet, its capabilities and opportunities, both now and in the future”, while fellow attendee Luc Van Damme said it was “a great starting point to follow the developmental course of DOD and nanoparticles throughout the next exciting upcoming years”. The range of attendees was also welcomed by Xaar’s Jason Remnant, who said that it “help[ed] broaden customer opportunities and networking options”.

Steve Knight, Founder of Digital Direct, who runs ‘The Inkjet Conference’, said: “As well as the updates on the significant technological steps being made by suppliers and experts in this arena, the event also presented the wealth of opportunities for collaboration, inter-industry developments and cross-market adoption.”

Meanwhile, Peter Buttiens, CEO of ESMA, commented: “The energy and buzz surrounding the first edition of ‘The Inkjet Conference’is indicative of the excitement we are seeing across the industry regarding the capabilities the new technology is offering. It is so interesting to be a part of the conversation that is exploring what the next steps could and should be.”

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Asia-Pacific ink manufacturers speak on environment

October 3, 2014

images-5Companies discuss how they are looking to be more environmentally friendly.

Ink World Magazine reported how, in recent years, the Asia-Pacific region has grown to “become the largest geographic region for the printing ink industry”, and how there has also been an “increasing emphasis” on being environmentally-friendly and meeting international guidelines in the region. The news outlet notes that countries throughout the Asia-Pacific are “looking to remove ingredients that impact food packaging, as well as ingredients such as toluene that are concerns in terms of health”.

Toshihiko Fukunaga, General Manager of International Operations Division at Sakata INX, said: “We intend to acquire ISO 14001 and build plants that comply with environmental regulations and are on the same level as the developed country’s standards. We plan to emphasise deploying environmentally friendly ink. Recently, the demand for inkjet and UV inks has become stronger. We will focus on developing new products and expand sales for these inks.”

Ashwani Bhardwaj, Management for Asia and North America at hubergroup, added:“Government regulations are getting more stringent and ink companies are gradually upgrading their own manufacturing processes and standards. Awareness among the printers and end-users is growing and they are now demanding the ink manufacturers to follow the latest global product safety norms.

“The hubergroup is well placed to meet all these challenges. We have developed new UV products within our NewV product family, which have been launched worldwide. The NewV range of products meets the highest standards in terms of product safety. NewV products are highly appreciated by the customers.”

In turn, Yu Adachi, from Toyo Ink’s Corporate Communication Department, noted that an interest in toluene- and MEK-free inks has grown in the region: “Sales of our Multistar SW series line of eco-friendly toluene-free and MEK-free lamination gravure inks for packaging increased in China and Southeast Asia. Also, the Toyo Ink Group launched the high-grade LIOALPHA SW series of toluene-free and MEK-free lamination gravure inks in last year May. Multistar SW and LIOALPHA SW series are compliant with European regulations (Swiss Ordinance).”

Atsushi Egashira, General Manager for DIC Corp’s Corporate Communications Department, commented that DIC’s regional technical centre in Thailand is developing new, environmentally-friendly products: “Our regional technical centre in Thailand will facilitate our business by accelerating adjustments of products developed in other regions to needs in the region as well as enhancing our technical service to customers. This technical centre is supposed to work on challenging technical themes, including refining gravure inks for high-speed printing machines and introducing environment friendly products.”

Finally, Hideyuki Hinataya, President of Toka Ink International, said that LED UV curing is “one approach to reducing energy consumption”, and that LED UV and Hybrid presses “decrease the amount of energy used in the printing process […] raising awareness as regards to the environment, we aggressively introduced low energy curable inks for LED UV and Hybrid presses. At this moment, the number of installation of those presses in the Asia-Pacific region is lower than in the United States, Europe and Japan. However, we will keep paying attention to the market as a potential market.”

China has placed “large emphasis” on environmentally friendly and clean products, as it “tries to clean up its environment”, and Bauhinia Variegata Ink and Chemicals Ltd., a subsidiary of Yip’s Chemical and the “largest domestic ink supplier in China, emphasises environmentally friendly ink systems”, with a company spokesperson stating that R&D for every new product is “based on protecting the environment”, such as developing benzene- and ketone-free gravure ink products and soybean oil-based litho inks.

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Epson UK launches new SureColor photo printer

October 3, 2014

images-3The SureColor SC-P600 will be released in November.

Amateur Photographer reported on Epson’s announcement regarding the new photo printer – the SureColor SC-600 – with the OEM stating that “the printer has the industry’s ‘highest black density’” – “producing ‘deep, rich blacks and ultra-smooth tonal gradations’”, when it was compared with its rival printers in July 2014.

The printer will feature a new, nine-colour UltraChrome HD inkset and vivid magenta ink, and is reportedly aimed at amateur and ‘semi-professional’ photographers. The machine will also include built in Wi-Fi, a 2.7in touch panel and is designed to “deliver an 11x14in print in 153 seconds”.

The Epson SureColor SC-P600 photo printer is due to arrive in the UK market in November, priced at £570.99 ($931.34/€725.33).

 

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HP to develop high-volume inkjet solutions

October 2, 2014

HPColorInkjetWebPressThe OEM has partnered with KBA to provide inkjet solutions for the corrugated packaging market.

The partnership between HP and KBA (Koenig & Bauer Group) was announced at Graph Expo 2014, and will see the two companies work together on the “high-volume inkjet solutions” in corrugated packaging “and beyond”, with the “digital innovations” set to “open new application and market opportunities”.

The solutions consist of “roll-to-roll” inkjet solutions to be used in the corrugated packaging market, with the products to be marketed under HP’s branding, and designed to help packaging converters “increase productivity, scalability and versatility” in a market worth around $2.5 billion (€1.9 billion) that is “steadily increasing worldwide due to brand globalisation, population growth and a resurging economy”.

The high-speed roll-to-roll thermal inkjet products will aim to “provide value chain cost savings while meeting brands’ rigorous quality and volume requirements”, as other factors including “stock keeping unit (SKU) proliferation” and “micro-segmentation and shorter product lifecycles” are said to be “driving demand for the shorter run lengths enabled by digital print”.

HP stated that the agreement “demonstrates HP’s continued pursuit of corrugated packaging opportunities and intention to broaden its portfolio of inkjet products and solutions”, whilst KBA will “bring its strengths in paper handling, manufacturing scale and wide knowledge of the packaging market” to the partnership.

Aurelio Maruggi, Vice President and General Manager of HP’s Inkjet High-Speed Production Solutions, stated: “Addressing the enormous digital opportunity in the corrugated market requires best-in-class technology innovation, portfolio scale and market leadership. HP brings this unique combination as well as proven customer success and upgradability to this challenge, and together with KBA, HP can bring even greater value to high-end converters.”

Christoph Müller, Executive Vice President of KBA’s Web Press Business Unit, added: “KBA has a rich heritage of developing innovative solutions that meet or exceed customers’ quality expectations. In working with HP, we will combine our complementary technological strengths to meet the needs of packaging converters.”

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Epson to reverse OEM business model

October 2, 2014

Epson EcoTank L355

Epson EcoTank L355

New EcoTank printers with refillable tanks priced higher, but consumables will last average home printer users two years.

The Guardian reported on Epson’s decision to reverse its business model by making it cheaper for users to run home printers rather than relying on the price of consumables for profit, with the refillable ink tanks included in its new printers expected to last two years based on a monthly print volume of 200 pages.

The new EcoTank L355 and L555 inkjet printers are to be “priced to make profit on sale”, with prices starting at £249 ($403/€319) compared to the typical high street price of £70to£80 ($113/€90to$129/€102). To compensate for this, the devices use refillable tanks which, while adding “about a quarter” to the printer’s size, will mean users save 60to65 percent compared to buying replacement ink cartridges. Interestingly, Epson has also reportedly stated that users will be able to refill the tank with non-Epson branded ink once it runs out.

Consumer printing has been in decline in many regions in recent years, with Lexmark and Kodak quitting the business in 2012. This has been due to many people choosing not to print due to increased digitisation, or turning to “cheaper generic cartridges” due to the high cost of buying replacement OEM cartridges, some of which were found to only contain two millimetres of ink. The Guardian also noted that sales at Epson “fell by 25 percent between 2009 and 2013”, although they “recovered partly in 2014” after making a profit in the financial year to March 2014 “after making losses in three of the previous five years”.

Noting the “aggressive marketing tactics” some OEMs have taken “to discourage refills from cheaper generic ink makers”, along with “encrypted chip technology designed to make consumers buy branded cartridges”, the article states that there is an “intense battle between main manufacturers […] and ‘remanufacturers’”, which it notes “have grabbed a third of UK sales, at the same time as counterfeit cartridges from China are flooding the country”.

By buying a printer with a tank, Epson said that “relatively heavy users of cartridge inks would find themselves making significant savings”, although those with “high printing needs” may want to consider using a laser printer, which have lower cost-per-page.

Pocket-lint reported that the EcoTank printers come with a one-year or 30,000-page warranty.

Simon Hanley, Product Manager at Epson, said: “Complementing our line-up of existing products, these models are ideal for home and small office customers who want to print everyday documents, such as recipes, homework, emails and maps, and for whom price and convenience are key factors. With two years’ worth of ink included, users know where they stand.”

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Ink cartridges set on fire in arson attack

September 26, 2014

fireMore than a tonne of used cartridges set alight in West Bromwich, prompting firefighters to tackle the blaze.

Express & Star reported on an arson attack at a site being prepared for demolition in Sandwell, West Bromwich, UK, with “more than a tonne” of used ink cartridges set on fire.

Firefighters were called to the scene at around 5pm on 24 September, with Andy Shakespeare, Watch Commander at Smethwick fire station, stating that it took 90 minutes for the fire to be put out.

He added: “There was about a tonne of old plastic ink cartridges which had been set on fire. There were hundreds and hundreds of them, and some other rubbish was also involved. We left the scene at 8.10pm and handed it over to the on-site security team.”

It was not reported why the ink cartridges came to be at the site, which is currently being demolished in preparation for a “new super hospital” to be built.

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Inkjet printer used to diagnose diabetes

September 16, 2014

inkjetdiabetesA team of researchers created a diabetes testing system using an inkjet printer.

The Conversation reported on Tsinghua University’s Yifei Zhang and colleagues, who published results from an experiment in the Chemical Communications journal regarding their work on turning an inkjet printer “into a chemistry lab and us[ing] it to diagnose diabetes”.

The site notes that inkjet printers are “an astonishing feat of precision engineering”, due to their ability to “achieve more than a million different hues and shades” from “mere nanolitres” of ink with “pinpoint accuracy”, and Yifei and his team have “exploit[ed] that precision engineering” to “screen millions of different chemical reactions”.

The team had been “trying to understand reaction pathways in living things”, with chemical processes in living organisms “controlled by a cascade of reactions” that are “mediated by […] enzymes” in a procedure similar to “workers on a production line”, in this case creating molecules. Reconstructing the process is “difficult” outside of a living cell, with a “vast number of reactions” monitored at once using 96-well plates – small containers of a “unique combination of chemicals”.

Whilst these reactions “might be set up manually” or by an “expensive robot”, the process is often slow, and so the team used a printer for its cheaper operation, replacing the inks with “solutions of enzymes” to create a device “that has the potential to dispense more than a million different reaction mixtures”. The coloured reaction products were printed directly onto paper, with higher-intensity colours showing “which reaction mixtures worked best”.

As potential applications “extend beyond curiosity-driven research”, the team loaded the printer’s cartridges with enzymes that could “indicate the presence of glucose in a sample”, with glucose in urine “an indication of diabetes”, with the site predicting a future “where a trip to the doctors results in a printout of, quite literally, your urine and some enzymes alongside, after 30 seconds or so, a diagnosis and the prescription”.

Researchers have previously used inkjet printers to print living cells, as well as eye cells, and recently computer memory was printed onto paper through an inkjet printer.

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American Inkjet releases HP Pro X inks

September 8, 2014

americaninkjetThe manufacturer has produced pigment inks for HP’s Pro X series of printers.

The inks are 100-percent pigment-based, and are designed for refilling of the 970 and 971 inkjet cartridges used in HP’s Pro X series of business inkjet machines. The company added that it uses the “purest water and highest quality pigment dispersions” to make the inks, whilst a “proprietary sub-micron filtration and purification process” helps produce the “OEM-quality” inks.

American Inkjet also noted that the inks are designed to meet OEM standards in “colour accuracy and balance, optical density, edge acuity, inter-colour bleed and dry time”, with “extensive compatibility” established alongside “throughput and latency testing”, with all of the work done to “be sure the new inks are reliable and problem-free”.

The four inks include black, cyan, magenta and yellow inks, with the 971 cartridges also higher-yield, and the cartridges are used in HP’s Officejet Pro X451dn, X476dn, X551dw and X576dw printers. American Inkjet stated that the inks “have been developed specifically for use in these printers” and their highest print speeds of up to 70ppm.

For more information, visit www.americaninkjet.com.

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Epson adds three new machines to WorkForce range

September 5, 2014

The WF-2660, 2650 and 2630 are printing solutions aimed at small and home offices (SOHOs).Epsonnew

ITBusiness reported on the launch of Epson’s WF-2660, WF-2650 and WF-2630 AIO machines, which utilise the OEM’s PrecisionCore printhead technology to offer a “unique combination of performance and value in a compact design”.

The devices are said to be able to print “laser-sharp black and colour”, and feature “enhanced” connectivity options, with the WF-2660 supporting near-field communication (NFC) technology, whilst both have wireless connectivity allowing for mobile printing and scanning through Epson’s Connect mobile printing application for smartphones and tablets.

The machines also have 30-page automatic document feeders, 150-sheet paper capacity, automatic duplexing, DURABrite Ultra inks delivering “smudge, fade and water-resistant prints in affordable individual ink cartridges”, and print speeds of 13 ISO ppm in black and 7.3 ISO ppm in colour. The WF-2630 additionally features an “unprecedented compact design” with print speeds of nine ISO ppm in black and 4.5 ISO ppm in colour.

Nils Madden, Marketing Director for Desktop Imaging and Printing at Epson America, stated: “Epson underscores its commitment to SOHO users with our new line up of impressive, high-value WorkForce models. The WorkForce 2600-Series is a cost-effective solution for business users, without sacrificing the high-quality and ease-of-printing features our customers expect.”

The WF-2660 and WF-2630 will be available in late September in the US market for $149.99 (€115) and $99.99 (€77) each, whilst the WF-2650 will be available in late October for $129.99 (€100).

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HP to expand ink plant in Singapore

September 4, 2014

BT_20140904_CYHP4_1251502The ink manufacturing plant in Tuas will quadruple production capacity when opened in 2015.

Business Times reported on the announcement, which is said to be “a boost for [the] printing industry” in Singapore. The expansion will increase the plant in Tuas by 10,000 square metres when it opens next year, which will quadruple HP’s production capacity in Singapore.

The ink manufacturing plant produces specialised ink, which is “currently manufactured only in Singapore and Israel”, and which is used in the OEM’s Indigo series of digital printers. In turn, the news outlet noted that the expansion of the site will “help HP meet growing demand in the region” for the ink and the machines.

Business Times added that digital printing “as a relatively new technology” accounted for less than five percent of the pages printed last year across the world – a total of 47.2 trillion – but targets “high value pages” and so accounted for 41 percent of the global graphics industry last year “in terms of hardware and ink value”, with the graphics industry worth $52.5 billion (€39.9 billion) in 2013.

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