Xeikon will unveil a new toner-based print platform at Drupa that it claims will combine the quality of its 1,200dpi colour printers with "inkjet-like speed" and cost of production.
The Quantum will offer the same 1,200dpi quality of Xeikon's 8000 Series LED array-based, electrophotographic printers, but at a running cost and print speed similar to high-speed inkjet presses.
While Xeikon is keeping its cards close to its chest until a special 4 May Drupa press conference, it did reveal that the technology used in the Quantum platform was developed over some 50 years by a company Xeikon stealthily acquired around two years ago.
The company is not mentioned in Punch Graphix annual reports of around that period and so presumably was kept off the balance sheet to allow Xeikon to continue developing it in utmost secrecy.
Quantum will only be shown as a technology demonstration at Drupa but Xeikon has already stated that all future document printer product lines will be based on it, although the company remained coy on the likely speed to market with a commercial version of the Drupa concept.
Chief executive Wim Maes said that the product had arisen out of a desire not to have to compromise after Xeikon noticed that for some high-page volume applications, printers were having to trade quality for the greater productivity and lower cost of high-speed inkjet technology.
Rather than OEM an inkjet machine, which Maes dismissed as "the easy option", Xeikon has apparently come up with a way to solve the fundamental speed limitations of the electrophographic process, which struggles to maintain resolution at higher speeds due to the fact it uses a powder in place of ink.
Ralf Schlozer of Infotrends argued (in a recent blog) that all signs point to the Quantum's use of a liquid toner technology, similar to that used by HP Indigo, as this overcomes some of the speed limitations of dry toner.
"The speed would need to be double or triple that of an existing products such as the Xeikon 8000, which runs at 19m/min, to fulfil the claim of a vastly increased speed. Given this and Xeikon’s heritage, it is likely to be web-fed," added Schlozer.
"Verification of claims about improved running costs and the ability to print on any paper will need to wait until a final product. Xeikon has set itself an ambitious goal , but the company has had enough time to delve into the technology and consider what it takes to make it a product."
Quantum will be aimed at the books, transpromo and direct mail print sectors and Xeikon has said that it will offer an upgrade programme to allow existing customers to be the first to transition to the new technology, while protecting their initial investments in current platforms.
The digital colour press manufacturer will also use Drupa to launch the 8000 Series, which standardises all three of Xeikon's current duplex presses, the 5000, 6000 and 8000, onto the 8000 platform.
The new models, comprising the 8500, 8600 and 8800, feature a toner optimisation mode (TOM) that reduces running costs by cutting toner usage by up to 50% for jobs that have a lower quality requirement.
Upgrade and trade-in deals will be offered to existing Xeikon 5000, 6000 and 8000 users, who will get an immediate productivity boost from switching to the new platform. The 8500 prints at 160 A4 ppm versus 130 A4 ppm on the 5000, while users switching from the 6000 to the 8600 will get a speed boost from 160 A4 ppm to 195 A4 ppm.
All machines are speed upgradable in the field, while running costs are said to be "considerably lower" with up to 20% savings on usage part costs, mainly related to improvements in the life of the parts.