Rumours abound within the industry of the launch of new digital production printing devices with even more colours to provide extended colour gamut and increased functionality.
Take the latest device from Xerox. It is a six-colour single pass device, with gold, silver, white and clear dry toners, giving a the option of metallics without the need for expensive substrates. Certainly the output quality is living up to the marketing messages and the future for Xerox digital looks better than ever. But currently on sale in Fuji-Xerox Australasia regions is the new Xerox Iridesse, set to make an appearance in the UK and Europe around May/June 2018. This is a fantastic product, offering an very wide choice of colour and substrate variability, further pushing the capability of digital printing and giving the competition something to catch up on. However, the story is not just about colour, there is the aded dimension of sheet sizes.
The Iridesse brochure states a sheet size of SRA3 and paperweights of 400gsm. Nothing there to threaten or concern competitors. However, a closer look at what the device is doing ‘down-under’ reveals prints longer than 660mm sheets and as such this raises the question - just how long is long enough? Auto-duplex a sheet of 720mm x 330mm seems like a good idea, but what print applications call for this?
When you come to think about it, how many colours in digital printing is actually enough? Six colour single-pass is great with more on the horizon, but what do PSPs really need? It’s already possible to produce a neon orange using existing devices. Other manufacturers have plans to launch similar sheet sizes, or so I’m told and substrate weights are always in question, aren’t they?
What else is ‘coming’? Well it’s looking as if we’re going to start seeing banner sheets up to 1.2m long using dry toner digital AND 5th colours. But who would print this sheet size and what is the application that calls for it? Three-up A4 landscape is achievable now, so do we really need four-up?
Weights up to 450gsm are also mooted, but why? Perhaps, because the old standards of reliability, image quality and service support are now an expected and accepted ‘given’, and print service providers are looking for that little bit of something different that sets them apart from their competition?
Maybe the whole 5th/6th colour story has nothing to do with competition but is more about setting out your own stall to show just how creative YOU can be? Maybe, it’s a healthy mix of both?
One thing is for sure, the manufacturers of digital presses are enjoying a period of creativity that seems to suggest that they have actually listened to the market and have responded to its needs.