Ricoh: new B2 press is an inkjet first
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Ricoh plans to begin beta-testing its B2 sheetfed inkjet press over the summer, after revealing further details about the new device’s technical specifications.
The Japan-headquartered manufacturer had already released a series of teaser videos about the Ricoh Pro Z75, which it said would bridge the gap between toner devices and offset litho.
The firm has also brought its production printing and graphic arts operations together under the umbrella of the Ricoh Graphic Communications Group.
Vice president Eef de Ridder said that after “a year like no other” Ricoh remained convinced about the long-term resilience of the graphic arts market.
“We are confident it will bounce back very quickly as the economy recovers,” he stated.
The Pro Z75 is billed as “the first B2 automatic perfecting sheetfed inkjet press running aqueous inks”.
Maximum sheet size is B2-plus at 585x750mm and it prints in CMYK with a top speed of 4,500sph straight printing, or 2,250sph in perfecting mode.
The press, which is about 12.5m long, can handle standard uncoated offset papers from 60-400gsm, or 73-400gsm coated. It can also handle sheets down to A3 size.
It is driven by a new frontend developed with EFI and uses newly-optimised Ricoh multi-drop printheads printing at 1,200x,1,200dpi “at all speeds”.
Tim Taylor, director of inkjet production solutions global marketing, said: “I genuinely believe we have introduced a product that has the advantages of toner with the low running costs and high productivity of inkjet.”
Also new is an aqueous ink with a “higher gamut to match offset”, along with a new drying system that uses some of the know-how developed on its VC70000 high-speed inkjet web press.
Taylor said the vibrant pigments used in the ink reduced the amount of ink required, and therefore the amount of water needed, which helped with drying.
“The new dryer is another step forward. It eliminates waviness and cockling, so sheets can go directly to finishing,” he added.
Duty cycle is a maximum of 2.6m B2 impressions per month, and the press has a “heavy duty” cast iron and steel mainframe.
Ricoh is keeping some of the details about the Pro Z75’s precise configuration and the technologies used under wraps for the time being.
Sander Sondaal, director of commercial print sales at Ricoh Europe, said the Pro Z75 had been developed in response to customer demand for a new platform, and in anticipation of growing digital print volumes over the next decade.
“700 billion pages in the next ten years – 70 billion a year – will convert to digital printing because of changing needs in the market,” he said.
Ricoh is expecting the press to be applicable in a wide range of uses, from commercial printing to books, e-commerce, direct mail, personalisation, and packaging.
Ricoh will be competing with established players in the B2 digital space including HP with its liquid toner B2 presses, Fujifilm’s water-based inkjet Jet Press 750S, the Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1e LED UV inkjet and the Komori Impremia IS29 which is based on the KM-1 platform.
Landa had originally planned B3 and B2 models, but decided to focus on B1 instead.
“When we look at the current B2 market, we don’t see a viable solution currently out there, either they’re too slow, or too limited in the supported media,” Sondaal stated.
In terms of pricing, Sondaal said this could not be divulged at present, but it would be essential that the Pro Z75 delivered “a good business model for customers”.
“Total cost of ownership is going to be critical. We know what is out there in the market so the business model has to be right to capture this opportunity”.
Ricoh has chosen to focus on B2 initially but has hinted it could also explore the potential for a B1 model in the future.
The first beta site is likely to be at a US customer. Ricoh will run customer demos at its customer experience centres from Q1 2022 with commercial availability slated for Q2 2022.