Well it’s finally, “officially” available. The long awaited and often debated “Waterless Inkjet” technology from Xerox made its North American debut at Graph Expo this past week. The CiPress (pronounced Cypress, as in the tree, which is a symbol of color, energy and stability) was the highlight of the Xerox booth and a winner of the coveted “Must See ‘ems” award presented by PrintCom Consulting. The awards are given to the most unique, innovative, and compelling products on display at Graph Expo.
To say this product is unique and innovative is an understatement. The machine features a Xerox-patented granulated resin-based ink formulation (phase-change technology) that eliminates the use of water, which the company claims produces “vibrant, consistent color” on low-cost offset paper without ink bleed through. From previous showings at IPEX 2010 and Hunkeler Innovation Days 2011, the early industry scuttlebutt on this technology was one of skepticism. Many felt that the system wouldn’t stand up to competitive presses that use aqueous (water-based) inks. The concerns were based mainly on image quality and image permanency. Well, their concerns were unwarranted as the image quality that I saw was outstanding and image permanency held up to a thorough coin scratching.
As for the specification on the equipment; the CiPress in capable of producing 2180 ipm 2-up duplex US letter, 500 feet per minute. It utilizes 56 piezo-electric, drop-on-demand print heads with more than 49,000 nozzles jetting nearly two billion ink drops per second. It prints at a resolution of 600x400dpi and can handle untreated, uncoated paper stocks up ranging from 6.5 “ to 20.5” in width and weights ranging from 50gsm to 160gsm. The press incorporates many time features that enable quick setup with automatic registration and alignment as well as automated print head maintenance.
While Xerox may be late to the party from an production inkjet perspective, many analysts and members of the press feel that this technology will shake up the market. In the words of Andrew Tribute of What They Think, “I have become a convert to waterless inkjet as a real challenger in the growing inkjet market.”
Is the Xerox CiPress a game changer? Only time and the marketplace will tell. Stay tuned.