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Onset can handle prints up to 3.2 by 1.5m at speeds up to 500m2/hr
Stopwatch in hand, Screen Process and Digital Imaging’s editor, Jon Barrett, timed Inca’s new Onset UV flatbed printer. The result, 500m2/hr. Is this the end of screen printing? I doubt it. Is it a new technological dawn for a slice of the global PoP market? Definitely
Inca Digital Printers has launched Onset, a machine capable of handling print sizes up to 3.2 by 1.5m at production speeds up to 500m2/hr. With automated loading and unloading the Onset can process over 100 full-bed sheets an hour.
Inca Digital’s managing director, Bill Baxter, said: “The Onset represents a major advance in inkjet print production and has been engineered from the ground up to achieve new levels of performance. Its design draws on our vast experience of jetting inks and includes some of the core technologies we have developed to produce the Columbia Turbo and Spyder presses that already lead the wide format display market in speed and quality. Onset’s design also draws on our experience in developing the high-speed, single-pass FastJet press specifically developed for the corrugated market.”
Onset’s speed and quality is delivered by a massive array of 576 Spectra print heads addressing a total of 73,728 inkjet nozzles. These are assembled in plug-in print bars, supported by new alignment systems. Inkjet print quality is determined by nozzle performance and, while output from other systems can be affected by occasional nozzle failure, the Onset has been designed with a high level of fault tolerance to ensure maximum print quality.
Bill explained: “In demanding and high-volume production environments it is important to achieve sustainable quality and the Onset features the highest level of nozzle redundancy to ensure the best sustained performance.”
For all its size, Onset is designed for single person operation. The system includes fully automated load/unload as standard, yet also lets the operator move to manual mode within seconds for fast proofing or single print production. The startup period at the beginning of each day is quoted at 20-minutes.
Edge-to-edge operation allows images to be bleed printed on substrates up to 10mm thick and 10kg in weight at full speed. This provides enormous versatility and means jobs can be proofed on production substrates.
Open the door and walk in
When presented with the machine for the first time its scale catches you by surprise. For example, to view the print head assembly, you don’t lift an inspection panel, you open a door and walk in. Likewise, the fact the machine features fully automated loading and unloading is no surprise. During the speed trial, the machine was manually loaded and automatically unloaded. Even the fittest operator would struggle to keep pace for long, especially loading heavier substrates. However, the ability to automatically load/unload at the rear of the machine then, within seconds, switch to a single manually loaded sheet at the front, will appeal to many printers as it provides a viable prototyping and short run solution without the need for a second machine.
Onset is big and fast, it’s designed to be. However, size and speed also equal a large footprint, massive appetite and corresponding capital investment. This places the machine squarely in the high volume PoP market, served in the UK by about 20 print facilities. For such environments, Inca expects the Onset to slice straight through the volume range currently covered by existing digital and screen production. This stretches from one-off prints to low volume large format litho production at a batch size of 750. This I can believe.
Naturally, when new digital technology is introduced, screen gets squeezed. Onset is no exception. However, it must be remembered that screen remains unchallenged in terms of adding value through special effects, something that will be demonstrated this year with Fespa’s Sensations publication. So, before anyone announces (again) the final bell for the screen process please remember one thing: screen and digital are no ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than each other, they are simply more or less suited to the application being printed at that second. As Screen Process and Digital Imaging travels the world it sees screen and digital working in harmony to produce exceptional prints. I’m pleased to say Onset ups the stakes and will drive this marriage forward.
Fujifilm Sericol, Inca’s long-term worldwide distribution partner, sees the Onset as the next generation of digital printing for a wide range of print applications, not only within the high growth, large format display market, but also within the wider commercial print market currently served by extra large format offset presses.
Thanks to its speed and minimal set up time, the Onset has the potential to redefine cost effective print run lengths previously associated with digital printing.
Fujifilm Sericol’s international strategy and business development director, Jerry Avis, considers the Onset an important step-change for the print industry: “The market is seeking improved quality alongside faster production speeds and turnaround times and it is this need that has driven development of the Onset in partnership with Inca. The Inca Onset will transform UV digital flatbed inkjet printing speed, quality and finish. The result is a machine that is so fast that it not only delivers a highly competitive solution for screen printers but, for the first time, provides a highly competitive alternative to offset presses, offering a flexible and cost effective alternative for up to 400 finished sheets.”
Automotive grade pigments
Fujifilm Sericol states its experience in UV digital ink formulations and market understanding were central to Onset’s development. Simultaneously, Fujifilm Sericol has developed a new range of Uvijet UV digital ink for the Onset. Using patented Micro-V dispersion technology, Uvijet UV digital inks for the Onset are formulated with automotive grade pigments designed to deliver exceptional density to create vibrant, durable, light-fast colours. Also, for the first time, the system can offer satin and gloss finish. Uvijet inks are formulated to provide superior adhesion to materials including paper, board, wood, flexible/rigid plastics and metal.
The first Onset printer will be installed at a UK company within the next few weeks and commercial shipments begin late summer.