Ricoh shows off Pro Z75 at IGAS

B2 duplex water-based inkjet CYMK digital press shown in Tokyo

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Ricoh showed its Pro Z75 B2 inkjet press at IGAS 2022. Photo Nessan Cleary
Ricoh showed its Pro Z75 B2 inkjet press at IGAS 2022. Photo Nessan Cleary

Ricoh has finally got around to showing off its new B2 sheetfed single pass inkjet press, the Pro Z75, where it was right at the front of Ricoh’s stand at the recent IGAS show in Tokyo, after several years of talking about this press.

The press has been developed entirely by Ricoh, using the expertise in designing cut sheet paper transport systems gained from its dry toner presses, combined with its own printheads and ink technology as seen on the rollfed VC70000-series inkjet presses. The printheads are based on Ricoh’s Gen5 design as used in the VC70000 but with a more compact version to make for a better fit across the printbar. The idea is that operators will be able to replace the individual heads fairly easily, which presumably means that Ricoh will also implement some form of calibration so that replacement heads match the remaining heads in a given print bar. The print resolution is 1200 x 1200dpi. It uses 11 printheads per color.

There are currently four colors – CMYK – but there is space to add a fifth color. Ricoh is in the process of assessing feedback to see if it needs a fifth color. Personally I think that it would have been more sensible to leave space for up to six colors, since just about every vendor that’s ever tried to convince journalists on the merits of a fifth color station privately admit that they really wish they had six units.

The ink is a water-based pigment ink. The press uses two drying systems, including NIR plus a second system that Ricoh has understandably not disclosed because it it still awaiting the patent protection. There has been some suggestion that Ricoh could use a highly pigmented ink to avoid the need to put too much ink, and therefore water, onto the paper. However, the Gen5 printhead usually works with relatively low viscosity inks so even if Ricoh is using very vibrant pigments, there will still be a certain amount of water content in the ink, meaning that the efficiency of the drying system will determine the density of the ink coverage and the printing speed.

It will print to offset coated plus plain and inkjet coated paper from 60 to 400gsm without using any kind of primer. It takes B2 sheets up to 585 x 750mm. This is suitable for printing 6-up letter size pages, which will be fine for the US market, but not for 6-up A4 pages, which is likely to be less attractive for any potential European customers.

It can print 4,500 images per hour, and includes full auto duplexing where the speed for double-sided printing is 2250 per hour. Ricoh sees Fujifilm’s Jetpress 750 as a major competitor and believes that the auto duplexing ability is a key differentiator. This speed is certainly faster than the Jet Press at its maximum 1200 dpi resolution though it’s worth noting that Fujifilm does offer higher speeds at lower resolutions.

Ricoh has one of these presses installed as a beta at an American commercial printer, Heeters, based in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. The company is an established Ricoh customer, having first installed a Pro VC60000 inkjet webfed press back in 2015 and then become the first printer worldwide to install a Pro VC70000 back in 2018.

Republished by permission of www.nessancleary.co.uk

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

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