Star product: Ricoh Pro VC40000

By Simon Eccles, Monday 08 May 2017

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Ricoh’s brand new high-speed full-colour inkjet press.

ricoh-vc40000-hr

What does the press do?

It’s a high-speed roll-fed full-colour inkjet printer designed to meet the needs of transactional, direct mail and publishing applications. It fits in the Ricoh range between the existing Pro VC60000 flagship and the long-established IP5000. 

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

It was announced at the Hunkeler Innovations Days in Switzerland 2017 and will be available for shipping in Q1 2018. 

According to Tim Taylor, head of Continuous Feed Market at Ricoh Europe’s Production Systems Printing Group: “The Pro VC40000 is positioned between the InfoPrint 5000 and Pro VC60000 in terms of price, print quality and application range. Each system is positioned for target markets suitable for each. In construction, the Pro VC40000 has more in common with the IP5000.”

How does it work?

It’s a single-pass inkjet printer with a 520mm web width (the same as all the others in the family). It runs at up to 120m/min, enough for more than 100,000 letter-sized images per hour, says Ricoh. It takes paper weights from 40 to 250gsm, for applications from lightweight books to high coverage postcards. 

Compared to the InfoPrint 5000, the VP40000 has improved speed, resolution and ease of use, according to Ricoh. On paper it’s currently slightly slower, but the new model runs faster in higher quality modes. “The print quality at 120m/min is significantly higher than the current IP5000 at 128m/min,” Taylor says. 

As with Ricoh’s other roll-fed inkjets the hardware is made by Dainippon Screen in Japan. The Pro VC40000 is based on Screen’s Truepress Jet 520NX. 

“The hardware is identical to the 520NX, but as with the IP5000 the controller is Ricoh’s own development,” Taylor explains. “This makes it more suitable for traditional applications where security, traceability, data integrity, etc are vital. It is not just the controller itself, but the software, service and engineering infrastructure that goes around the solution that comes from years of experience of dealing with these types of applications.”

Screen has incorporated a newly developed 5in printhead module with a maximum resolution of 600x1,200dpi. The front-to-back spacing of the overlapping greyscale heads is much reduced, helping quality at full speed. Improved web path controls stop “meandering.”

Ricoh says the Pro VC40000 gives “a significantly enhanced colour experience, delivering clear and crisp text and imagery.” There are separate black and colour print head arrays, presumably allowing separate click costs. An optional fifth head array gives additional fluid choices, such as MICR or security inks. 

A camera is fitted for register control when overprinting and there is a scanner to aid closed-loop colour consistency.

Ricoh’s own additions include revised software and service offerings. Ricoh’s ProcessDirector is a workflow automation system with transactional and direct mail support, handling imposition, data conversion, colour management, production tracking. It can accept almost any type of input data and then output AFP or PDF.

The TotalFlow Print Server R600A provides native support for PDF, PDF/VT and AFP together with JDF and advanced colour management support.

Inline finishing is optional, or the printer can be fitted with a rewinder. The platform is designed for future enhancements with field installations. 

How fast/productive is it?

120m/min amounts to around 1,600 A4 impressions. “The option to print at 150m/min will be available in a subsequent release but the timing of this is not yet fixed,” Taylor says. “The speeds are the same for mono and colour.”

What’s the USP?

“Ease of use and production uptime,” says Taylor. “Any purchase of a high-speed inkjet printer has to be about more than the machine. It is also about software and providing the option of a workflow that can deal with all types of input, automatically manage the flow of data, integration of third party devices and track every page of every document.”

How easy is it to use?

“All setup and operational systems have been greatly simplified,” says Taylor. 

What training and support is offered?

Operator training will be given onsite. Servicing will be by Ricoh’s engineering team. “A client needs a support infrastructure that can help them get the most out of the machine in terms of engineering, training and business development support to enable a relatively rapid return on their investment,” Taylor says.

What’s the sales target and when will installations start?

“We are confident that this will be a popular device due to its combination of capabilities and ease of use,” says Taylor. Installations will start early next year. “We are engaged with early adopters,” he adds. 


SPECIFICATIONS

Process Single-pass inkjet with roll-to-roll feeding as standard

Duplexing Uses two inline print units

Colours CMYK plus optional fifth colour/fluid

Speed Up to 120m/min at launch, 150m/min in future

Resolution Up to 600x600dpi with 600x1,200 dpi in future

Max paper width 520mm

Max print width 520mm

Stock weight range 40-250gsm

Dimensions 3.2x1.9x2m

Pricing Not yet decided but will be between the IP5000 and VC60000, which costs around £1.5m

Contact Ricoh 01784 416900 www.ricoh.co.uk


ALTERNATIVES

HP Inkjet Web Press T240HD

Max speed 122m/min, 61m/min in quality mode

Max resolution 1,200x600dpi

Max print width 521mm

Stock weight range 60-215gsm

Footprint 3x11.6m

Price About £1.3m

Contact HP 01344 363368 www.hp.com/uk

Fujifilm Jet Press 540W

Max speed 127m/min (600x480dpi)

Max print width 541mm

Stock weight range 64-157gsm

Footprint 6.6x3.25m

Price £900,000

Contact Fujifilm 01234 245245 www.fujifilm.eu/uk

Screen Truepress Jet520NX

Specs identical to Ricoh Pro VC40000

Price TBA

Contact Screen Europe 01582 725400 www.screeneurope.com

Canon Océ ColorStream 3000 Twin

Max speed 127m/min (600x600dpi)

Max print width 540mm

Stock weight range 60-160gsm

Footprint 12x2.5m (Inline Twin)

Price £800,000 to £1.5m

Contact Canon 020 8588 8000 www.canon.co.uk

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