Star product: Delphax elan

Simon Eccles
Monday, April 14, 2014

A high-output SRA2 sheetfed printer that undercuts B2 rivals.

What does it do?

This is an SRA2-format cut-sheet digital press based on Memjet high-speed inkjet printheads and aqueous inks. Its £420,000 price vastly undercuts all the true B2 sheetfed digital presses so far announced, whether inkjet or liquid toner. 

The elan can print up to 3,750 SRA2 single-pass duplex sheets per hour, equivalent to 500 A4 page images per minute. This is faster than any other B2 sheetfed digital press of any process, though reel-fed inkjets in the 520mm range are faster.

Initially it will produce medium-quality colour print suited to direct mail, books and similar applications. The superfine nozzles of the Memjet heads only allow for dye colourants, not pigments. 

Ongoing development is aimed at producing “full graphic arts capable systems” during 2015, with faster, more addressable pigment-capable heads that will be retrofittable to the early presses. 

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

A prototype elan was shown at Drupa 2012 and the first beta installed in 2013 at a direct mail printer, but Delphax says that book and transactional/transpromo systems are “coming online”. Commercial launch is set for the end of April.

How does it work?

Although Delphax has long experience of making fast reel-fed toner printers, this is an entirely new design. It’s the first commercial press to use Memjet printheads, which elsewhere have been used in A4 document and label printers, or large-format poster/corrugated printers. Each head has five channels, normally for cyan, magenta and yellow plus two blacks.

Delphax has developed the paper transport and head configuration. There are eight printheads per side for CMYK, with the option of two more for spot colours. At top speed it prints at 1,600x800dpi, if you halve the speed you can get full 1,600dpi.

Up to four 5,000-sheet (75gsm) feeders lead to a patented high-speed SST paper transport. A sheet cleaner removes any dirt before printing and a verification tray just before the delivery enables the operator to take press pulls. Delivery is to a stacker or inline folder.

The front-end is an Adobe APPE-based RIP with a PDF workflow. Variable data formats accepted include IPDS, PCL, VIPP and Metacode. There’s also JDF support. 

Initial options include an inline primer coater for standard offset papers, roll-to-sheet input and a MICR ink version for chequebook printing. Inline coating will be offered in 2015. A simplex press is a lower cost option. A faster sheetfed model for up to 700ppm A4 will be unveiled at Drupa 2016. Roll-fed versions are also planned. 

How fast is it?

Currently 3,750 SRA2 duplex sheets per hour. Duplexing can be done at full speed but is restricted to 250gsm stocks. 

What’s the USP?

According to Steve Hubbard, general manager of Delphax UK: “This takes CMYK cut-sheet systems to a new level of performance, with higher quality than the existing continuous roll-fed offerings. This system is up to four times faster or more productive than most comparable devices.”

Training and support?

Maintenance contracts are offered (four-hour response) or Delphax can provide self-maintenance training. Operator training and software support is also provided.

How many are installed and what’s the sales target?

So far there’s the undisclosed direct mail beta user in California, who is expected to announce purchase in April to replace “several electrophotography devices”. 

Two more US betas are imminent: to a book printer and another DM house. Hubbard says the sales target in Europe is 25 systems in the first year of availability. 


Max speed 3,750sph (duplex)

Resolution 1,600dpi or 1,600x800dpi

Colours CMYK plus two optional spot colours

Inks Aqueous inkjet dye

Ink droplet size 1.1picolitres

Max sheet size 450x640mm

Max print width 441mm

Min sheet size 203.2x203.2mm

Stock weight range 60-350gsm

Price £420,000

Contact Delphax UK 01293 551051


“The elan system continues to outperform our complete fleet of electrophotography devices. The elan has handled a workload of over 3m pages in our busiest period with nominal downtime” 4/5

Anonymous beta user San Francisco  


The price and performance of the elan mean there are alternatives on several levels: format, speed, print process and quality. Here are some options.

B2 sheetfed digital presses

This format is slowly getting off the ground. High price and low throughput compared with B2 offset presses may be to blame for the lack of take-up.

Fujifilm Jet Press 720

Max speed 2,700sph

Resolution 1,200dpi

Price About £1.2m

Contact Fujifilm 01234 245245 

HP Indigo 10000

Max speed 3,450sph

Resolution 2,348dpi

Price About £1.5m

Contact HP 01344 363368 

MGI Alphajet

Max speed 3,000sph

Resolution 1,200dpi

Price Around £850,000

Contact MGI 01442 446446

Konica Minolta KM-1

Max speed 3,300sph

Resolution 1,200dpi

Price £1.2m-£1.3m

Contact Konica Minolta UK 0800 833864 

Toner press alternatives

The elan is in the same price range as high-end dry toner electrophotography, but it’s at least twice as fast as even the speediest. Top toner models can match offset results on some stock. 

Kodak NexPress 3900

Max speed 3,273sph (B3)

Resolution 600dpi

Price From around £450,000 

Contact Kodak 0870 8500204

Xerox iGen 150

Max speed 4,500sph (A3)

Resolution 2,400dpi

Price Around £500,000

Contact Xerox UK 0870 873 4519 

Xeikon 8800

Max speed 260ppm (A4)

Resolution 1,200dpi

Price About £580,000

Contact Xeikon 01904 520555


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