Ipex inkjet epiphany

Jo Francis
Monday, April 14, 2014

An Ipex happening crystallised the inkjet opportunity for Jo Francis.

I had a bit of an epiphany at Ipex.

As you may be aware, we PrintWeekers were producing the Show Daily live at the exhibition.

I’ve been involved in many projects of this ilk over many years and many different shows. Back in the last century we produced a Daily using film that was hand-planned, we’ve used CTP and sheetfed presses, a web offset press (yes, really), and using a variety of electrophotographic digital print kit.

This project marked an inkjet first for us, as the Ipex Daily this time around was printed on Fujifilm’s 540W inkjet web press.

My epiphany came around day three of the show. We had just pressed the ‘go’ button after approving the final page of the 16pp job in Fujifilm’s XMF workflow. And, miracle of miracles we hadn’t busted the deadlines on the agreed schedule TOO badly. Ahem.

We were sitting in our little editorial office feeling quite chuffed, thinking about the next set of tasks for the following issue.

Then Fujifilm’s Sean Lane popped in holding a 16pp Daily section that was literally hot off the press.

This was eight minutes after we’d pressed go on it. EIGHT MINUTES. I must emphasise that we hadn’t set it up as some sort of “how fast can we do this” experiment, and Sean had merely sauntered over to us from the Fujifilm booth rather than attempting a Usain Bolt-style sprint across the show floor.

Hence my epiphany. It made me realise just how quickly jobs can be turned around using slick workflows and this type of printing technology.

Production of the complete finished job didn’t take much longer once the Horizon Stitchliner got to work on a reel of sections.

The world’s first inkjet press of this type is installed at Glasgow book printer Bell & Bain. Books being an area where the print-on-demand model has really taken off.

It seems to me that there are potentially many other untapped opportunities for this type of digital print production.

Yes, of course the economic model in terms of the cost of the kit and the running costs has to tick the right boxes. And that is one of the big questions marks over the latest generation of digital presses.

But surely there will be print bosses out there having a similar epiphany about the inkjet opportunity, too.


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