The 3 New High-Speed Production Inkjet Applications to Take Your Color from Ho-Hum to Wow

This blog was adapted from “The Evolution of Color in High-Speed Production Inkjet” by Mike Herold, and Nick Fiore of RICOH Company Limited. You can read the full article in the November 2014 issue of Printing Industries of America: The Magazine. Mike is a featured speaker at the 2014 Color Conference, December 6–9, in Scottsdale, AZ.

Where is digital inkjet now, where is it going, and how is it impacting you?

The fast-growing market of High-speed production inkjet has transformed color printing in recent years. Today the opportunities are virtually limitless, affording greater capabilities and higher-coverage applications, such as direct mail, marketing collateral, books, and more. Digital inkjet now offers users the capabilities to produce rich color, completely variable, and full dynamic printing. As digital color consistency improves, much of this progress can be traced to new processes, inks, heads, coatings, and substrate options.

Let’s take a look at these sources of progress and the exciting new applications of high-speed production inkjet!

1. Paper

In high-speed production inkjet’s infancy, paper options were limited to say the least. Not optimized for high-volume piezoelectric drop-on-demand inkjet technologies, papers either absorbed too much ink or not enough. The result was less-then-desirable color output.

Over the past five years, and especially during the last two, this challenge has changed dramatically. New paper types, including recycled, inkjet coated, inkjet treated, and others have enabled customers to receive enticing output at a price appropriate for their markets.

The paper industry is also designing papers with specific ink types in mind, which is a huge step forward! Soon it may no longer be necessary to use coated papers, and users will have more choices without having to worry that their substrate is at odds with the color.

2. Ink Developments and Advancements

Inks are evolving as well with most high-speed inkjet vendors providing—and customers leveraging—a variety of dye, pigment, MICR, and other inks to meet the changing and growing demands for new applications. This diversity is enhancing color output and opening up a new world of applications for inkjet.

These new inks are higher density, more vibrant, and contain a lower water content to speed drying time and reduce the power needed to produce higher ink amount applications. But they’re not easy to formulate. Energy consumption, characteristics of the paper, color gamut, and finishing processes all need to be taken into consideration.

3. Advances in Color and Ink Management Tools

Next-generation controllers and workflows offer enhanced color management by size and object type, which lays the groundwork for more accurate color and consistent reproduction. Spot color dictionaries from Pantone and other color leaders enable spot color mapping, custom curves, and linked and unlinked advanced color management.

If you want to run high-color applications on production inkjet systems, inkjet tools have made it more feasible and less costly. You can even estimate ink usage before a job is printed because of tools that simulate printing! An inkjet system’s controller can track ink usage easily while the job is printing, and some can determine how to reduce ink usage while preserving the desired look and feel of the output.

Want to increase efficiencies and open up new revenue streams?  High-speed production inkjet will continue to be an important platform for companies looking to expand their capabilities.

Get up to speed on the color capabilities of high-speed inkjet with Mike Herold, Director of Continuous Feed Inkjet Technologies and Business Development, RICOH, at the 2014 Color Conference, December 6–9 in Scottsdale, AZ, with Color Innovations in High Speed Production Inkjet.

This intense conference turns up the volume with industry-leading speakers covering topics for professionals in design, branding, photography, print production, videography, and multimedia publishing. Seats are filling, so register ASAP at www.printing.org/color!

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