Star product: Delphax elan
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
Contact Delphax UK 01293 551051 www.delphax.com
“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
Price About £1.2m
Contact Fujifilm 01234 245245 www.fujifilm.co.uk
HP Indigo 10000
Max speed 3,450sph
Price About £1.5m
Contact HP 01344 363368 www.hp.com
Max speed 3,000sph
Price Around £850,000
Contact MGI 01442 446446 www.mgitechnology.co.uk
Konica Minolta KM-1
Max speed 3,300sph
Contact Konica Minolta UK 0800 833864 www.konicaminolta.co.uk
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)
Price From around £450,000
Contact Kodak 0870 8500204 www.graphics.kodak.com
Xerox iGen 150
Max speed 4,500sph (A3)
Price Around £500,000
Contact Xerox UK 0870 873 4519 www.xerox.com
Max speed 260ppm (A4)
Price About £580,000
Contact Xeikon 01904 520555 www.xeikon.com