Star product: Canon Océ VarioPrint i300

Simon Eccles
Monday, April 18, 2016

New features for this B3 sheetfed inkjet to be shown at Drupa.

What does it do?

It is a sheetfed B3 format inkjet press, much faster than high-end SRA3 toner presses but with higher quality than web-fed inkjet. It was announced and shipped in 2015, but significant enhancements due at Drupa 2016 will give it the ability to print on uncoated offset papers, or with higher quality on inkjet coated grades. 

The i300 was the first B3 sheetfed inkjet press on the market, but at Drupa Xerox will launch the slower but cheaper B3+ Brenva HD. Infotrends has identified a gap in the market that it calls the “zone of disruption”, between high-end toner presses and low-end inkjet webs. Both i300 and Brenva HD fit this description. 

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

The European announcement was in February 2015. At Drupa Canon will introduce ColorGrip, which prints drops of a priming liquid beneath every colour ink drop. This will greatly extend the range of papers that it works with. 

Applications were originally mainly in transactional documents and direct mail, but Canon’s UK channel director Craig Nethercott says that ColorGrip will allow it to handle higher-quality work. 

Target buyers include existing Kodak NexPress and Xerox iGen users plus liquid toner HP Indigos. Nethercott says that offset press users who need image variability and automated inline finishing might also consider the i300, as it can now offer compatibility with offset papers. 

Previous sheetfed inkjets have been B2 format, with conventional offset pile feeds, but sales have been modest.

How does it work?

It’s a single-pass inkjet system with full-width head arrays of variable-drop inkjet heads. The print engine is adapted from Océ ColorStream inkjet webs, with Kyocera piezo printheads giving 600dpi resolution and DigiDot 2-bit variable drops for a “perceived 1,200dpi” quality. 

Although a CMYK system there are six ink channels, with two ‘spares’. ColorGrip uses one channel to print a priming liquid. Canon may introduce special inks or spot colours in future.

Printhead nozzles are monitored and failures automatically compensated for. A ‘sentry’ unit detects and diverts bad sheets.

What are the new features for Drupa?

The i300 is designed to be upgradeable as new features are released. In addition to ColorGrip technology, at Drupa there will be an enhanced CMYK ink set with a wider gamut on a greater range of media.

Two new finishing options are being introduced. The BLM600 bookletmaking system produces square-back booklets up to 224 pages thick. The Tecnau TC1530 dynamic cut-sheet perforator creates horizontal and vertical micro-perfs, with the ability to be on or off on a per-page basis. 

How productive is it?

It can print up to 300 A4 impressions per minute. Canon says it can reliably output 8,700 duplex A4s per hour on average, including cleaning and other stoppages. In offset terms, this is about 4,350sph B3. 

What is the USP?

Until Xerox ships the Brenva HD this is the only cut-sheet B3 inkjet press on the market. Canon says its real USP is iQuarious, its brand name for the range of technologies it uses to make high-speed cut-sheet inkjet work with decent quality. 

How easy is it to use?

It’s controlled through the proven Canon Prisma controller and Prismasync digital front-end technology, with graphical user interface and touchscreen controls. 

What support is on offer?

Full training is provided to operators on installation. Canon says its support operation can provide up to 24/7 service coverage, 365 days a year. 

How much does it cost?

Around £750,000 depending on configuration and options. Like most other inkjet press makers, Canon uses a click charge plus consumables model for running costs. 

What is the sales target and how many are installed currently?

No figures for sales target, but Nethercott says that “more than 30 units have now been shipped in the EU and US.” 


Process Drop-on-demand piezo inkjet

Inks Water-based pigment

Paper sizes From 203x203mm to 488x320mm. With optional guide: 178x254mm. With PIM-XL: 353x500mm

Stock weight range 60–300gsmPaper input module 4,600 sheets per input module (2 input modules available with maximum 9,200 sheets), 80gsm

Speed Up to 300 A4 images/minute, or 106 duplex A3 images

Front end Prismasync Controller

Options One or two extra paper input modules, high-capacity stacker, ColorGrip, BM600 bookletmaker, Tecnau TC1530 perforator

Footprint 10.2x2.8m 

Price £750,000 depending on configuration

Contact Canon UK 0870 600500 


HP Indigo 7800

This is HP’s top SRA3 model, billed for throughput as well as print quality. It will print up to seven colours, but top speed is only hit if you confine it to CMY Enhanced Productivity Mode. 

Process  Liquid toner electrophotography

Number of colours  up to seven

Max speed  A4: 120ppm (CMYK), 160ppm (EPM/CMY)

Max sheet size  330x482mm

Stock weight range  60-350gsm

Price  From £575,000, Upgrades from £50,000

Contact  HP 0330 587 5113

Kodak NexPress SX3900

Top of today’s dry toner NexPresses is the SX 3900, with a long-sheet capability up to 1,000mm (needing an add-on pile feeder). A fifth unit is included with the ability to print gamut extenders, spot gloss, raised imaging and special effects. 

Process  Dry toner electrophotography

Number of colours  five

Max speed  A4: 120ppm (long-sheet option: 131ppm)

Max sheet size  Standard: 356x520mm;  optional: 356x1,000mm

Stock weight range  60-350gsm

Price  £320,000

Contact   Kodak 0845 602 5991

Xerox Brenva HD

Only the second sheetfed B3-plus inkjet press to be announced. It mixes iGen and Impika technology. Maximum sheet size is longer than the i300, it’s slower but a lot cheaper. It can handle uncoated offset and inkjet coated papers and expected applications are transactional print, books and manuals, and direct mail. 

Process  Drop on demand piezo inkjet

Colours  CMYK

Max sheet size  364x520mm

Speed  197 A4 simplex images per minute

Stock weight range  60–220gsm

Price  £463,000 with DFE, stacker   and input module

Contact  Xerox UK 0870 873 4519


“The experiences are great. The quality of the inkjet is quite  comparable to toner and is better than the quality reached by roll-fed printers. The press runs like a train – without any issues” 4.5/5

Frank van Boxtel Managing director, Digiforce, Vianen, the Netherlands


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