Fujifilm: Higher Speed JetPress, Flex Pack and More

By Ralf Schlozer / Published:

In a year without any global live trade shows so far, Fujifilm used the time to host their own virtual exhibition, which ran from the 24th of June to the 9th of July. Although the program officially ended, visitors still can visit the site (https://believinginprint.fujifilm.com/virtual/en/) and get informed on the exhibits . Besides presenting familiar products Fujifilm used the event to launch several new products and the ones using inkjet technology stood out.

JetPress 750S High speed

First announced in April 2021 the virtual exhibit provided a lot more detail on the High Speed Model of the JetPress (in the US JPress) 750S. Fujifilm has been a pioneer in B2 inkjet presses with the B2 inkjet product first showcased at drupa 2008. The first model, the 720, started to ship in 2011, soon to be replaced by the 720S. Finally, in 2018 the 750S was introduced, now being complemented by the High Speed version of the device.

Cranking up the printing speed by 50% from 3,600 to 5,400 sheets per hour is a major enhancement and should improve economics considerably. There is no doubt that the Ryobi (RMGT) manufactured offset chassis is capable of even higher speeds. The printheads are capable of the higher speed as well, although the resolution drops to 600 dpi in paper direction. Yet drying, priming and other functions need to keep up with the higher speed as well.

The real secret of the higher speed lays in a new ink set. Fujifilm terms it: Dual Mode ink. The ink can be used with or without primer. In standard (high resolution) mode the primer is used. In High Speed mode the primer is switched off and the ink is said to still achieve good quality printing on any papers. With less water to evaporate the existing drier can cope with the higher speed.

The JetPress has been setting benchmarks in printing quality so far. It is likely there will be some compromises when moving from 1,200 x 1,200 dpi to 1,200 x 600 dpi resolution and the max density should drop as well. Not using the primer might impact the quality as well on some papers and possibly some gloss coated paper can be more difficult to print on – although gloss coated paper is still supported, and Fujifilm has not seen problems so far. Fujifilm states that the quality achieved remains very high and would be sufficient for most jobs. Alternatively, users can immediately switch between High speed and high quality modes. An interesting side effect of the higher speed is that less ink and no primer would be used, but Fujifilm has not validated how big the savings would be. Fujifilm will host a life event on the 27th of July from their showroom in Europe, to demonstrate the high speed mode and show possible quality differences. 

On the hardware side there are no major replacements necessary for the speed upgrade. Still some tweaks on hardware and electronics/DFE are required. The main piece of work will be switching the ink set. Fujifilm states that the upgrades will take a week and could possibly be faster in the future.

The first High Speed Models are currently being installed as upgrade in the European and U.S. showrooms. The first customer install of the upgrade in the U.S. has been announced for August 2021. The first European users will get their upgrades in autumn. For the time being Fujifilm will be busy in producing upgrade kits and new presses will be shipped accompanied by upgrade kits. The upgrade is still in a pre-release phase for now und Fujifilm does not want to state prices.

Considering that the High Speed Model essentially runs on the same hardware and the tweaks can be included in the factory, I see little need for having two separate models moving forward. The High Speed Model is capable of using the same speed and set-up as the standard model, without having a lot of additional hardware. The only difference is the ink set and here the pricing will be in the hand of Fujifilm.

The Jet Press FP790 for flexible packaging

The FP790 isn’t Fujifilm’s first foray into flexible packaging printing with inkjet. The 540WV – also named EUCON for the technology used – has been presented in 2016 and several presses have been placed in Japan. The technology uses UV inks and the name giving ‘Enhanced Under Coating and Nitrogen purging’. The UV inks jetted are cured under a nitrogen atmosphere, which should reduce UV ink odour and help in curing. While having some success in Japan the UV ink technology did not prove to be suitable for U.S. and European customers for flexible packaging.

Nevertheless, Fujifilm pursued that market and on the basis of the 540WV the FP790 was developed. Crucially now aqueous inks are used. The press has a 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution using Samba heads, a top speed of 50m/min and a maximum substrate width of 790 mm. Using a CMYK ink set, the press is claimed to hit more than 90% of the Pantone colour gamut. With two white ink channels a good white opacity should be achieved.

As the product is still in an early launch phase, Fujifilm is not divulging too many products specifics. The first best press will be installed at a U.S. customer early 2022. First devices for European and other parts of the world will be shipped later in 2022. The FP790 will join an increasingly busy market for inkjet presses for flexible packaging as covered in a recently published Inkjet Insight article (https://inkjetinsight.com/knowledge-base/inkjet-gets-flexible-in-packaging-part-1/). It is no coincidence that all devices launched or announced now use aqueous inks.

Imprinting with the X-BAR

Fujifilm is not a newcomer to imprinting heads. Earlier this year the 42K Printbar System was launched, a configurable inkjet imprinting solution. Using a modular approach and Samba print heads the 42k can cover virtually any imaging width. In a single row configuration, this system provides print speeds up to 1,000 fpm (300 meters per-minute) or as a dual row configuration for print speeds up to 1800 feet per minute (548 meters per minute)

The 42k is now complemented by the X-BAR. Also called a modular inkjet imprinting system the X-BAR, is available in two widths only: 4” and 9”. It can be fitted to conventional presses and finishing lines. It uses Fujifilm Dimatix 1,200 dpi print heads and a maximum print speed of 300 m/min can be achieved. In contrast to the 42k, the X-BAR is a pure imprinting solution, designed for adding monochrome variable overprint. It is said to be comparable to existing imprinting systems like Versamark or Prosper imprinting stations, designed to fit into racks for those devices. According to Fujifilm the controller can even drive mixed stations of those types.

Given the high speed and ensuing complexities of integrating inkjet heads into existing lines a consultative approach is necessary. Accordingly, the X-Bar is available via Fujifilm’s Integrated Inkjet Solutions business, based in the U.S. and the X-BAR already available in the U.S. The coverage is being expanded globally as the group expands its geographic coverage.

About the Author

Ralf Schlozer

Ralf Schlozer is Independent Print Analyst. Ralf provides analysis, sizing and forecasting the market for digital printing technologies and associated applications and business processes. Connect with Ralf on LinkedIn

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