Fuji unveils new Jet Press 720 and secures first five European sales

Darryl Danielli
Monday, November 17, 2014

Fujifilm has formally launched the next generation of its B2 sheetfed inkjet press, the Jet Press 720S, which features a number of enhancements over the Mk1 machine including the ability to handle variable data.

While the 720S is still a simplex machine, it features what Fuji describes as “semi-duplexing”, where each sheet is given a unique barcode to ensure it is married to the correct reverse image for double-sided personalisation or versioning.

It also features faster closed-loop image correction with the inline sensor relocated from the delivery unit to the imaging unit. The speeds up the automatic compensation for nozzle drop-outs, dramatically reducing the number of waste sheets.

According to Fuji, overall the new machine boasts significantly improved uptimes, thanks to elements including faster colour correction when changing paper types, down from 20 minutes to three, and an image data transfer rate twice that of the old machine.

Servicing and maintenance has also been improved with design enhancements such as better spacing of the printhead modules, cutting the three-day swap-out time of a module on the Mk1 to a three-hour job on the 720S, and a two-minute fully automated head cleaning programme.

The paper transport, which is still built by Ryobi, features a new chain system that ‘floats’ the sheet on air from the imaging unit to the dryer, which now has a hot air knife as well as IR drying to enable the vast majority of jobs to go immediately into post-press.

Finally, the imaging drum has more segmented vacuum areas to better handle lighter stocks and sheets with heavy image areas.

Despite all of these enhancements though, the new press has the same headline performance as the Mk I machine, such as a top speed of 2,700sph, 1,200dpi resolution and the same Fuji Dimatix Samba printheads with four-level grayscale (2pl, 4pl and 6pl on the 720S) in four-colour bar configuration.

However, Graham Leeson, Fujifilm Europe head of communications, graphic arts, said: “Don’t be misled by the specifications.

“It’s not just about the speed at which you can lay down an image on a sheet, it’s about the whole process and we’ve designed this press so that the overall print process is much more efficient.

“The industry needs uptime and reliability from its digital presses – this is critical, and we’re getting a lot of interest in the 720S due to its ability to be running 24/7.”

He acknowledged that total cost of ownership is also important and the 720S has what Fuji described as a “significantly improved business model” over the Mk1.

While the firm didn’t reveal details of its pricing model, according to Leeson, while the 720S itself is nominally cheaper than the Mk1, he said the real saving was in lower running costs thanks to the introduction of the Vividia water-based pigment inkset optmised for the 720S.

“The old Jet Press had a fairly small sweetspot – some applications were great to run on it – but with the technical improvements, combined with the business improvements, the sweet spot for the 720S is much bigger,” said Leeson.

While Mk1 Jet Presses can also be reconfigured to run the new lower cost inkset, Leeson said that Fuji would instead be recommending customers upgrade to the 720S.
 
"The reshaped commercial offer is a result of many technical and manufacturing changes in both the press and the consumables (primarily ink).  To get the best results, therefore, both technically and commercially, we are recommending an upgrade to the Mk2 press for Mk1 users," he said.

The first beta 720Ss were installed in Japan around six months ago and five 720Ss have already been sold in Europe, with two already installed, and another seven installed in Japan and one in the US.

A total of 23 Mk1 Jet Presses were installed worldwide in the three years it was available, three of which were in Europe.

“We believe there are significant opportunities for printers to make money with this press, this [the sales] is a good example of where this press is going, and the opportunity. And if you look at the fact that we have sold five machines in six months [in Europe], then it’s quite exciting.”

A demonstration Jet Press 720S was installed at Fuji’s Advanced Print Technology Centre in Brussels last month, and Fuji is hosting a series of open days to show off the new press this week with around 200 visitors expected from across Europe.

Fuji hopes to secure its first UK sale in the coming months.

To coincide with the launch of 720S, and support its ability to handle personalisation, Fuji also unveiled a new version of its XMF Workflow, incorporating Adobe Mercury RIP Architecture, and new version of its XMF Remote web portal system. See separate article here.

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