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Durst, Mutoh Machines Debut at Fespa Digital

Ecological products abound at the Geneva-based show.

Whether "green" manufacturing will be a flavor-of-the-month or a prerequisite-to-be for print service providers remains to be seen, and may ultimately depend on whether vendors can find a way to cost-effectively deliver solutions with meaningful environmental advantages. They are certainly going to give it a spirited try, based on the ubiquity of third-party consumables touting various ecological benefits at April’s Fespa Digital Europe 2008 exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland.

We counted nearly 50 exhibitors from Asia and Europe showing consumables we haven’t previously reported on in The Big Picture, most pitching some type of environmental spin-PVC free, recyclable, "pure and safe," natural, "eco-friendly," "friendly free radicals" and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of similar claims. Fespa saluted the movement with its first "Green Trail," a guide for attendees pointing them to booths with products touting environmental advantages.

Clearly, as these and many similarly minded products make their way into the US market over the next year or so, sustainability is going to dominate the conversation (and the marketing copy) in this industry. Look for more information about these new products in the Update section in this issue and in July.

Fespa Digital Europe 2008 was quite well-attended, with a reported 8000 visitors. It also boasted an increase in exhibition space of about 40 percent over the inaugural Fespa Digital show held in Amsterdam (where the show returns next May) in 2006. But it wasn’t targeted by many printer OEMs as the show to debut new machines, most likely because it was sandwiched between the ISA show in Orlando in March and Drupa, the German event that concludes in mid June and is by far the world’s largest printing exhibition. Still, we noticed a handful of printers that were not shown at ISA or private OEM events earlier this year, including a few from well-established brands.

Durst (www.durstus.com) added the Rho 700 to its line of UV flatbed printers. Designed to bridge the gap between the entry-level Rho 600 Pictor and the high-performance Rho 800, the 700 is a modular machine that can be upgraded and configured in a variety of ways for different applications. All permeations of the machine feature Durst’s 600-dpi Quadro Array print heads, a maximum print width of 80 in., and a new magnetic linear drive system for the print carriage. The Basic model prints in CMYK at speeds up to 540 sq ft/hr, while the Presto doubles the number of Quadro arrays from four to eight and enables maximum throughput of 1075 sq ft/hr. A roll-to-roll option allows the machine to function as a hybrid printer, while a heavy-duty roll option is also offered. Other options include expanded color scheme (adding light cyan and light magenta), white printing, clear varnishes, spot colors, corrugated board printing, and an industrial version designed for heavier and/or thicker media (up to 2.75-in. thick).

Also new from Durst was the Rho 161 TS printer, a specialty machine for the highway and traffic signage market. The printer was developed specifically for printing onto 3M High Intensity Prismatic Sheeting HIP 3930 and 3M Diamond Grade Cubed Sheeting DG3 4090, with the unusual color scheme of CRYK to match European traffic signage. The 161 TS can print at speeds up to 700 sq ft/hr and has a maximum print width of 62 in. The printer uses 3M’s Series 8800 UV inks, and signs printed on the 161TS can be warranted for up to 12 years under 3M’s MCS system while meeting the unusual requirements in this niche for retro-reflectivity. (Durst also debuted an entry-level version of its Rhopac corrugated-board printer, which we'll detail next month.)

Mutoh Europe (www.mutoh.de) gave a surprise preview of the Zephyr, a 64-in. roll-fed UV printer that is the company’s first to use the new Xaar 760 grayscale heads. The variable-droplet, 764-nozzle printheads allow for six levels of gray to be printed with drop volumes as low as 8 pl. Maximum resolution on the Zephyr is said to be 720 dpi (though Xaar indicates the heads are capable of resolutions as fine as 1440 dpi), with print speeds ranging from 160-645 sq ft/hr. According to Mutoh representatives at the show, production is slated to begin in September with commercial shipments in Europe beginning in the fourth quarter. It was not clear at press time whether the machine will be distributed in North America.

We’ll detail a handful of other new printers and other developments we saw at Fespa Digital Europe 2008 over the next few months.


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