Heidelberg Primefire 106 B1 Digital Inkjet Press and Considerations for Industrial Inkjet Applications
Applications for digital printing are increasingly expanding into the B1 (29x40") format for a variety of reasons: manufacturing cost economies, common size convenience for file prep and finishing, and hybrid print applications from the combination of inkjet with conventional printing. Successfully producing digital applications that perfectly match conventional printing can be a challenge, however. Historically, digital print engines have had difficulty matching Pantone colors, and maintaining color consistency throughout the run and on repeat jobs. Additionally, registration consistency has been a concern. Those pursuing digital press technology also need to consider additional requirements like matching identical substrate compatibility, dimensional consistency for shrinkage compensation, screening appearance, aqueous and UV coating compatibility and appearance, and handling durability. With the latest inkjet technologies, like Heidelberg’s (Booth 10143) Primefire 106 digital press, these challenges have been conquered. Based off of Heidelberg’s Speedmaster XL 106 sheetfed platform, the Primefire 106 is a 7-color, aqueous-based inkjet digital press with inline coating that is compatible with coated and uncoated substrates from 6 pt. to 24 pt. Achieving tight color to color registration, and image to sheet registration equal to or better than offset, the Primefire’s marking technology applies all seven inkjet colors to the sheet simultaneously on one vacuum cylinder. This approach allows for running an offset-printed sheet through the machine for digital applications.
The stability of inkjet printing technology maintains color uniformity for jobs and repeat jobs within a fraction of 1 ΔE. This color accuracy and consistency is essential to folding carton production, top sheet printing for rigid box applications, digital photobooks, signage, posters, and art reproduction. Additionally, customers have the advantage of achieving Pantone color accuracy using a Multicolor (CMYKOGB) build, as opposed to the traditional method of using a specific spot color ink. The Primefire’s 175 Fuji Samba 1,200-dpi inkjet heads spray up to 12 billion drops of ink on each B1 size sheet. To ensure reliable production with no image defects from clogged nozzles, the Primefire’s inkjet module monitors each nozzle’s firing sequence, and is climate controlled to maintain moisture to the heads. Integrated cameras monitor for clogged nozzles, employing automatic compensation for print line defects.
Integrating into offset production, Heidelberg’s Prinect Digital Frontend manages all elements of prepress job creation, which includes substrate profiles that control all elements of the press.
Finally, coating compatibility with aqueous inkjet for offset is challenging — matching gloss appearance, adhesion, and abrasion durability. Working with Heidelberg-owned subsidiary Hi-Tech Coatings, Saphira aqueous and UV coatings have been formulated with a variety of gloss levels, from extra matte to high gloss. These coatings not only match their offset counterparts, but also achieve stringent mechanical requirements in folding carton and book jacket applications.
With advancements in inkjet technology, the time for commercialized B1 format digital presses has arrived. Before making an investment, users should be sure to comprehend all of the elements of these complex print applications.