Toner-based print still has a few surprises up its sleeves

Simon Nias
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

With less than 50 days to go until Drupa 2012, the four-year buzz is building to fever pitch. The launch announcements have been coming thick and fast and we have seen the likes of Esko, HP, Kodak and Xeikon all set out their Drupa stalls.

At Duomedia’s pre-Drupa press briefing in Lisbon last week, where Xeikon announced its Quantum platform (page 8), I was fascinated to hear a company pitching a major breakthrough in toner-based technology. With all the hype surrounding inkjet, it has been easy to overlook toner when anticipating the ‘next big thing’.

Which belies the fact that there are far more toner-based devices installed in commercial printers than inkjet devices and, while toner is the more mature technology, it certainly isn’t beyond the point where we can expect only incremental developments.

Speaking of the next big thing, time was that billing was given to the much-vaunted B2 sheetfed digital press. Having taken years longer than anticipated to come to market, we are suddenly being inundated with such machines, with HP the latest to unveil its offering this week with the Indigo 10000.

However, with the capital investment required to net one of these beasts likely to be upwards of £1m, printers will be asking, ‘what’s the price per page?’

On that front, it’s going to take a pretty compelling argument to get people to part with that amount of cash upfront to get their hands on a press that most would still consider to serve a niche market, versus the equivalent litho investment, or indeed two smaller-format Indigo or other digital devices.

– PrintWeek news editor Simon Nias


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