Tried & Tested: Kodak Digimaster

By Jon Severs, Wednesday 19 January 2011

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Boasting clever technology and a quality end result, this famously hardy mono digital press has enjoyed success across the globe, says Jon Severs

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If someone was to offer you a Kodak DigiSource you’d be forgiven for being slightly confused. The original name for the company’s monochrome digital press range, which launched in 1999, lasted just a year before the Kodak and Heidelberg joint digital venture saw it rebranded under the more familiar Digimaster name. When Kodak took control of Heidelberg’s digital division in 2004, it maintained the Digimaster moniker.

"The Digimaster brand is built on the values of the robustness of the system, the overall simple paper path, the image quality, and the overall productivity you get from the machine," explains Andreas Nielen-Haberl, Kodak product category manager for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. "Currently, the portfolio is the EX 300, the EX150 and then we have the EX 138, EX 125 and the EX 110. To make it easy for customers, the numbers represent the pages-per-minute speed of the press."

The line-up, aimed at commercial printers and inplants at large organisations, faces competion from a variety of manufacturers due to the broad range of speeds it encompasses – at lower speeds, the likes of Canon, Ricoh and Konica Minolta have a presence, whereas at higher speeds, Océ and Xerox are the main competitors.

Where the Digimaster stands out, according to Nielen-Haberl, is in its innovative technology and reliability. For the latter, the paper path is a key feature. The transfer of paper through the machine remains almost even throughout, so there are no complex twists or turns. As a result, the risk of paper jamming is keep to a minimum.

Innovative approach
Technology-wise, Kodak believes its decision to use an LED bar to expose individual pixels, rather than a laser approach, has the advantage that it gives a more uniform result over the width of the machine. Indeed, Nielen-Haberl says that this process is key to the quality of the end result.

"It is important to understand quality is not defined by the image resolution alone but also by software and laser capability," he explains.

An arsenal of extras is available for the Digimaster range, including trimmers, stackers, binders and roll feeders. Nielen-Haberl says that if a company wishes to upgrade to a higher speed, it won’t have to install a new press – Kodak will fit a second print engine to bring the machine up to speed. This means that existing bolt-on options can still be used and companies can easily upgrade the presses when necessary.

Kodak has installed more than 5,000 Digimaster systems across the globe and the popularity of the machines endures for applications such as variable data, books and transactional work. The company also puts secondhand machines through a rigorous factory process, which emerge as one of two ‘reconditioned’ models. 

"We bring in systems previously used in the field, refurbish them and replace all the parts so as to bring them back to the standard of a new machine," explains Nielen-Haberl. "We are just using the components of the machine that have a longer life. We resell these as the 9110 or the 9150, both of which come with service packages."

A new EX150 with basic configuration will set you back in the region of €264,000 (£202,000), while a new EX110 will cost around €150,000 (£126,000). If you are buying secondhand, check for general wear and tear. Last week, a 2004 Digimaster 9150 was advertised for sale in PrintWeek’s For Sale & Wanted section for £40,000.
SPECIFICATIONS
Speed 110-300 A4 images per minute depending on model
Paper weight 60-200gsm
Max paper width 356x457mm or 365x470mm with extended paper size option
Footprint
EX300 4.6x1.2m
EX150 2.2x1.2m
EX110 2.2x1.2m
Resolution 600dpi
Price
New: EX150, £202,000; EX110 £126,000
2004 9150, £40,000
What to look out for
• General wear and tear

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