Star product: FFEI Graphium

By Simon Eccles, Friday 30 August 2013

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Narrow-web inkjet press that delivers "more than just labels".

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What is it?

Named after a colourful family of butterflies, the Graphium is a single-pass narrow-web inkjet press that runs UV-cured inks in CMYK plus white. There’s a choice of 330mm and 410mm web widths. This is an all-British press: its print engine is built in Hemel Hempstead by FFEI, with Xaar 1001 printheads, made in Huntingdon, on a chassis built by Edale in Whiteley.

How does it differ from FFEI’s Caslon?

FFEI describes this as a "standalone" press, in contrast with its Caslon narrow-web inkjet press, launched in 2010 as a joint venture with Danish flexo label press maker Nilpeter. Only nine Caslons have gone to customers; FFEI hopes that Graphium will have broader appeal.

It has a lot in common with the Caslon, using the same Xaar heads and FFEI print bars and a similar basic configuration. However, the Graphium has an integral fifth colour facility for an opaque white ink. "We found that white ink is very important for this market, not just as an undercoat, but an overcoat and integrated white," said Andy Cook, managing director of FFEI. "In future there will be a six-channel version, for either an extra white or spot varnish."

Fujifilm Speciality Inks’ Uvistar UV-cured inks are used, which combine wide-gamut CMYK with a particularly opaque white, according to Cook.

LED lamps are placed between colours to pin the ink and stop it running, although more powerful mercury vapour lamps are used for the final cure. Also new is the user interface on the press controller, which is said to be easier to learn.

The Edale chassis is said to be more versatile yet half the price of the Nilpeter FE press used with the Caslon. Cook also hints at wider versions to come.

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

It will be launched at the Print 13 show in Chicago and the Labelexpo show in Brussels in September, with commercial availability in October. According to Cook: "Graphium is being promoted for a wider range of applications, including labels as before, but also speciality printing, flexible packaging and even thin cartonboard work. Last summer we talked to the market and identified a "speciality printing" market that is more than just labels."

How productive is it?

The top speed is 50m/min, equivalent to 1,230m2/hr on the 410mm model running with 180x360dpi resolution and eight grey levels. On the 330mm model the maximum throughput is 989m2/hr. Speed is halved if you increase the resolution to 360x360dpi with eight grey levels, but there’s an intermediate speed/quality level of 360x360dpi with six greys.

What are the front-end options?

If you buy from FFEI or one of its dealers, the standard front-end is FFEI’s own RealPro Workflow suite. FFEI also offers RealPro Toolkit, a set of Adobe Illustrator plug-ins dedicated to packaging and label design. Fujifilm, which is licensed to sell the Graphium in North America and Europe, will offer its own XMF workflow.

What is the USP?

Cook says that the Graphium differs from competing 330mm narrow-web UV inkjet presses in offering the 410mm-width option, although dry-toner Xeikon label presses are available up to 516mm. The high-opacity white is also claimed as a USP, as is the versatility of the Edale chassis.

What is the sales target?

There are no users yet, but Cook says: "Our plan for the first 12 months is 10 units from October 2013. Beyond that, by May 2014, we will have a build capacity of up to 30 per year, but we’ll adjust based on demand."


SPECIFICATIONS

Max web width 330mm or 410mm

Colours CMYK plus white

Speed Up to 50m/min at 180x360dpi and 8 levels of grey

Max resolution 360dpi

Options Pre- and post-digital flexo printing stations; inline finishing

Price From £500,000 for 330mm with a basic RIP (the 410 mm version costs another £15,000)

Contact FFEI 01442 213440 www.ffei.co.uk


ALTERNATIVES

Domino Printing Sciences N600i

Domino’s 340mm-wide UV-curing print engine is CMYK only (and built by Domino’s Swiss subsidiary Graph-Tech). It offers a native resolution of 600dpi (1,200dpi equivalent with four grey levels) and runs at 50m/min, or 75m/min with three grey levels. A new N-series model will be announced at Labelexpo, said to have a wider colour gamut and greater versatility.

Max web width 340mm

Colours CMYK

Max speed 75m/min (3 greys); 50m/min (4 greys)

Resolution 600dpi

Price £444,640

Contact Domino 01954 782551 www.domino-printing.com

 

EFI Jetrion 4900M

The 4900M print engine uses Xaar 1001 and offers CMYK plus white inks. There are 210mm- and 330mm-wide versions, both running at up to 24.4m/min, with a choice of 360dpi or 360x720dpi. Options include an inline laser cutter and stripping station for producing dieless labels in short runs.  

Max web width 210 or 330mm

Colours CMYK plus white

Max speed 24.4m/min

Resolution 360dpi or 360x720dpi

Price £340,000-£600,000

Contact EFI UK 01246 298000 w3.efi.com

 

There are two other machines worth bearing in mind. They are both new so spec details are incomplete.

Epson SurePress L-6034VW

Epson’s first single-pass narrow-web UV-cured label press was shown as a prototype at Drupa 2012 and will be launched at Labelexpo. It will use new ‘thin film piezo’ printheads as well as new UV inks.  

Max web width TBA, possibly 340mm

Colours TBA, but will include white

Max speed TBA

Resolution TBA

Price TBA

Contact Epson 0871 423 7766 www.epson.co.uk

 

Screen Truepress Jet L350UV

Screen’s first narrow-web label press was also shown as a prototype at Drupa. It runs at up to 50m/min on widths up to 332mm. New wide-gamut inks are used, plus a white option. It’s roll-to-roll as standard, but can be configured with inline finishing. Pricing will be revealed at Labelexpo.

Max web width 332mm

Colours CMYK plus white

Max speed 50m/min

Resolution 600dpi

Price TBA

Contact Screen UK 01908 848500 www.screeneurope.com

 

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