The VarioPrint iX-series is an evolution of the VarioPrint i-series, Canon’s single pass inkjet sheetfed production press, which was commercially launched in 2016 and was the first B3 inkjet machine available on the market.
“The step forward from the i-series to the iX-series is in three areas: quality, media range and inkload, and therefore application versatility,” said Peter Wolff, vice president, Production Printing Products (PPP), EMEA Commercial Printing, Canon Europe.
Comprising the i300 and i200, the current i-series offers 600dpi and is capable of between 150 and 300 A4 images per minute (ipm).
The new iX platform was unveiled at a briefing at Canon’s Production Print headquarters in Venlo in late February, where two machines were on show – including a working prototype in the firm’s R&D labs and another in its demo-suite that was being configured with an CP Bourg inline bookletmaker.
The iX-series features two base models, the 320 A4ipm (9,000 SRA3iph) iX-3200 and the 210 A4ipm iX-2100, which is field upgradable to the iX-3200 specs.
Both models feature Canon’s latest iQuarius technology centred on higher resolution 1,200dpi heads jointly developed with Kyocera, which are tuned versions of those used in the Canon ProStream inkjet webs, and a new quality and nozzle control system, which includes inline scanning and auto compensation.
While the iX-series features the proven paper path of its predecessor, other new features include a new polymer pigment water-based inkset developed in Venlo and a new “breakthrough” combined air, heat and humidification drying system that broadens the media range and fixes the image for immediate finishing.
“This machine should address the entire market, people that want to go from analogue to digital or step up from toner or liquid toner to inkjet,” said Christian Unterberger, chief marketing officer & executive vice president, PPP, Canon Production Printing.
“Today is the i300 is the most productive system in the world, what was missing was stepping up on the quality side to liquid toner or toner in general, which had a quality advantage. With this [the iX series] we should be at least on par if not better.”
The iX-series runs Canon’s PrismaSync controller and Prisma software and can handle offset coated paper from 90-350gsm and uncoated 60-350gsm. Thanks to its open DFD interface for inline finishing.
A number of European customers, predominantly current iSeries users, were also shown the VarioPrint iX at a series of one-to-one briefings in Venlo prior to the coronavirus outbreak. There are more than 250 iSeries inkjet presses in operation across the world, which, according to Canon, offer a marketing leading average uptime of 94%.
“While others often compare nominal speeds, for us it’s always about the productivity of the total system and we have a proven track record of operating at an extremely high level,” said Wolff.
The iX-series was initially due to get its public debut at Drupa in June, with commercial availability starting soon afterwards. While Drupa has been rescheduled to next April, commercial availability of the iX-series, which will be sold alongside the i-series, is still slated for July this year.
The first beta machine, set for an EMEA customer, is due to be installed shortly, with more to follow in the coming months.
Pricing is dependent configuration and local markets but starts at around €750,000 to €900,000 for the two models, according to Wolff, and would offer “significantly more attractive running costs” than toner technologies.