It is always exciting to see a new player to join the ranks of manufacturers of production inkjet presses. Last year Kyocera previewed the TASKalfa Pro 15000c and Inkjet Insight covered the event, but limited information was available at that time. It took a bit longer than expected for the new product to hit the market but now the Pro 15000c is finally available.
The device started selling in Europe in November 2019. To date, there are 5 devices in operation in EMEA as part of a controlled launch. Those are being trialed in diverse environments from a copy shop to large printer and managed print services for corporates. More of the devices are currently being shipped from Japan and should arrive in Europe soon.
The Pro 15000c is taking Kyocera into new markets. Until now, the company focused on home and office printing, although their fastest colour toner devices already reach speeds of 70 colour ppm. Still, professional print markets will require a new set of skills in marketing and supporting the devices. Kyocera has a mix of direct and indirect sales in Europe. It is expected that mostly the direct channel will take on the production devices.
Inkjet is at the core of the new device and allows for a print speed of 150 ppm in A4 (146 in letter size) for all paper weights. It supports weights from 56 to 360 gsm – which is quite a large range. The print engine is rated for a million A4 images a month, but targeted volumes are in the 150k to 700k range. With an imaging resolution of 600×600 dpi the quality should be good, although the high end in inkjet has already moved up to 1,200 x 1,200 dpi. We have not seen any recent print samples from Kyocera, so a final judgement on quality will need to wait as resolution is never the whole story.
Kyocera is a renowned supplier of inkjet heads. Their technology is found in many high-speed inkjet systems from other vendors. The Pro 15000c marks the first device sold by Kyocera using this type of high-speed inkjet head. In this light, the speed of 150 ppm (A4) seems both fast and slow at the same time. It surely surpassed almost all electrophotographic systems but is way below the speed reached in continuous feed inkjet systems using the same type of inkjet heads.
While the range of paper weights is quite wide, offset coated stock is not supported. This limits the use in commercial print. Interestingly the 15000c maintains the full speed of 150 ppm across the whole media range. There is a twist in the dryer design in which two paper paths are used and sheets travel alternatingly along the upper or lower path. This allows a longer dwell time as the effective speed of sheet travel is halved. At the end, sheets from both paths are combined again to form one stack (or moved into the finisher). This allows for a relatively simple dryer design, relying on hot air and moderate temperatures and therefore resulting in a low energy consumption. Kyocera reckons that their inkjet device consumes a third of the energy used in a colour toner device for a comparable page.
Based on the capabilities, three fields of applications have been singled as best fit for the Pro 15000c, at least in the first phase:
- Direct mail
- Transaction and related
- Centralised corporate/governmental print
The range of ancillary equipment is limited as can be expected with a brand-new device generation. The Pro 15000c comes with a Kyocera on-board controller as standard, but an EFI Fiery DFE is available as option. Finishing is limited to large capacity stackers and a finish & staple unit – but depending on market feedback and demand this can be extended in the future.
An important question is how the Pro 15000c measures up against other digital colour devices in the market. Compared to almost all toner-based printers the Pro 15000c has an edge in speed and in consumable costs, at least if the coverage is not too high. Unlike most other inkjet device vendors Kyocera offers click as well as ink-out pricing to suit different types of end users. Pricing of the total system according to Kyocera will be in the range of High Production colour systems like the Ricoh Pro C9000 Series or the Canon ImagePRESS C10000VP. Comparing the Pro 15000c against other inkjet devices, Kyocera is aiming for a mid to high quality level, where print quality matters but offset like output is not required, nor support for offset coated paper. This is based on the 600 x 600 dpi resolution and lack of support for coated paper. In terms of hardware pricing the Pro 15000c ranks noticeably below the other options in the same or higher quality bands.
B3 and B2 Cut-sheet inkjet document printing solutions
Kyocera is targeting the professional print market as strategic goal for company growth. The Pro 15000c is set to be the first of a range of devices, with future devices planned to move up the range towards higher-volume uses. The inkjet heads supplied by Kyocera would definitely support higher speeds and resolutions.
Prospects can see the Pro 15000C in the Kyocera showroom in the Netherlands for now. The first big public outing will be at drupa 2020, where Kyocera will present some upgrades to the device as well.