Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The New Liquid Toner Generation (reporting from drupa)

Commentary & Analysis
The New Liquid Toner Generation
By Andrew Tribute
 Published: May 8, 2012
While most of the attention at drupa has been concentrated on the subject of B2 sheet fed inkjet presses, and also on the impact of Benny Landa’s new Nanographic Printing Process, there has been another major development that has stayed somewhat under the radar. This is the arrival of a new generation of liquid toner based digital printing technology. In digital electrophotographic (toner based) printing most presses use dry toner, and of the mainstream presses only HP Indigo uses liquid toner technology. The benefits of liquid toner technology are its ability to go very fast plus its high quality of output. In the HP Indigo implementation there are however some limitations in terms of the environment and the manner in which it operates that restricts its speed of operation.
At drupa however HP Indigo is one of the stars of the show with its launch of its series three HP Indigo 10000, 20000 and 30000 presses. The HP Indigo 10000 has already established a commanding lead in terms of order commitments in the B2 sheetfed digital press market. I am sure it will maintain this lead when it comes to installations when it becomes available during the course of next year.
There have however been announcements of other liquid toner press technologies that I feel will move digital printing technology forward in a way that I do not see HP Indigo going. These new technologies are from Océ and Xeikon. Of these only Xeikon is showing at drupa. I had the privilege of being invited during drupa to Océ’s headquarters in Poing, Germany to see what they are doing, this being the InfiniStream technology. Océ decided not to show at drupa as the market for InfiniStream is the high quality folding carton market . The company believed it better to go directly to the brand owners and large packaging printers rather than showing the product to the general commercial market. 
Xeikon is still in an early stage of development of its Trillium technology and only showed a limited demonstration of it as drupa. Both Océ and Xeikon are targeting late 2013 for first product installations.


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