While I still tend to think of RISO as a new entrant to the production printing landscape, for the first 3 or 4 years of the annual Inkjet Summit (2019 will be year 7), RISO was the most frequently cited OEM when applicants were asked if they currently owned an inkjet device.
At that time, available RISO devices were not considered “production class” devices and were typically used for reprinting and proofing or “copy-shop” jobs in in-plant operations. In recent years, RISO has actively worked to up-sell into the accounts where they already have a presence, beefing up the speed, capability and reliability of their line-up. Most recently, RISO expanded the production oriented features of their inkjet line up with the RISO T2 Twin-Engine Cut Sheet printer scheduled for controlled release later this year with 10 units currently available in the U.S. and will be generally available in January 2019.
The T2 is positioned as an entry level machine for transaction print and in-plant operations, but the “fit” for this device is quite a bit different than other options on the market. Several features differentiate the T2 Twin from other sheet-fed devices targeting this segment:
- First, it uses oil-based pigment ink which has been shown to reduce paper distortions, such as mottle and cockle, due to quick drying properties and delivers print that is more resistant to degradation from light and water than aqueous inks. For more on oil-based inks see our recent post from Mark Bale.
- Second, at 320 color impressions per minute it is one of the fastest sheet-fed devices on the market. While RISO claims to be the fastest, the back-on-market elan 500 from Delphax Solutions holds that distinction at 500 images per minute and the Xerox Brenva HD is not far behind at 300 images per minute. To compare sheet-fed devices, see Device Finder.
- Third, the machine is designed for CMYK plus Gray. The kryptonite of most inkjet printers is neutral gray. The addition of a gray color station not only addresses delivery of better gray and neutral shades but delivers a rich black which is important for text legibility on bills and statements.
From a resolution perspective, RISO developed the T2 with different resolutions for black and other color stations. Black is delivered via a 600 dpi piezoelectric print head while cyan, magenta, yellow and gray are delivered in 300 dpi. The addition of gray improves the overall result of the other 300 dpi print heads in the rendering of gradations, line density and color reproduction. While this level of capability is very suitable for the transaction environment, the device is competing with others that offer 600×600 up to 1600×1600 resolution with variable drop sizes. However, those devices are also significantly more expensive than the RISO.
The T2 Twin is arguably the lowest cost inkjet device on the market (based on projected list price), with some options selling for more than twice the cost of a T2. Other cost related initiatives include RISO’s FORCEJET architecture which operates on standard 110 power, draws a fraction of the power required by other devices and avoids the need for costly electrical upgrades. With a small footprint (similar to a Xerox Rialto roll-to-sheet press), the device also reduces overall floor space costs. The Alphastream controller on the T2 processes IPDS, PDF,PS and AFP print streams natively without the need for transform software.
In sheet-fed mode, the T2 supports paper sizes up to 13.38 x 21.65 inches (340 mm x 550 mm) with a maximum print area of 12.36 x 21.57 inches (314 mm x 548 mm.) It includes a high capacity feeder that supports 4,000 sheets. When using all of the trays in the device it has a capacity of up to 5,500 sheets for continuous feeding (depending on paper weight). Support for thick papers and envelopes expands the range of jobs supported by the device. But, it can be configured to be even more productive.
At PRINT ’18, RISO demonstrated a very intriguing addition to the T2 Twin available in Q1 2019: an optional roll-to-sheet system from Tecnau. Feeding up to a 50” diameter roll to the cutter unit delivers up to 50,000 sheets the T2 engines – 10 times more than when loading from trays. Naturally, when delivering paper from a roll, only a single paper type can be used at a time. However, it is not an “all or nothing” scenario. An operation could set up their workflow to run single-stock, high volume jobs using the roll-feed and then run jobs requiring multiple stocks, thick stocks or envelope feeds from media loaded in trays. This offers the productivity of a roll environment with the media flexibility and extensive finishing options of a sheet-fed device.
While this this productivity enhancement will help drive paper and labor costs down and increase up-time relative to the sheet fed version, it also brings in to question the duty cycle of the T2-Twin. Other devices targeting the same segment, such as the Oce Variostream i300, the Xerox Brenva HD and the Delphax Solutions elan 500 print at 294, 300 and 500 images per minute respectively. However their monthly duty cycles are 6 million images per month for the i300 and the Brenva HD and 5 million images per month for the elan 500. Some 1300 customers report achieving monthly volumes of over 8 million. With a duty cycle of 1 million, the T2 falls far below the production capacity of the other machines, running less than 7 full 8-hour shifts before reaching the monthly duty cycle.
The good news is that since the T2 Twin is a new entry to the market, the duty cycle is theoretical. RISO is introducing the press into existing RISO accounts that are running millions of images on RISO devices to learn the true limits of the solution. If the current duty cycle proves accurate there is still a place for the device in the transaction market where 80 percent of volumes may be produced in a two to three-day window. In addition, the low entry cost of the device provides the option for multiple presses building in redundancy and additional monthly capacity.
For more information on sheet fed inkjet, see Andy Gordon’s post You Can Do More with Sheet Fed.