In these Covid spoiled times proactive manufacturers are working hard to keep customers, prospects and the analyst community up to date with developments. We recently heard from Xeikon about the company’s current plans and new products.
Benoît Chatelard outlined Xeikon’s path for improved prepress productivity, high quality imaging and plate automation as a zero touch process. And its return to the graphic arts with what Xeikon claims is the fastest toner press in industry to mark Xeikon’s “re-entrance into the graphic arts”. One of the two originators of colour digital printing, Xeikon adds value in the narrow space between on demand and high quality production. The company has always focused on delivering, from small and difficult runs through to easy long runs.
There were two particularly significant announcements to do with Xeikon’s activities in the corrugated sector and the company’s re-entry into the graphics industry. Xeikon cancelled its Trillium liquid toner digital press project in 2017 and since then has focused mainly on labels and packaging. But also since then Xeikon has been devoting considerable resources to dry toner developments, as well as its imaging and fusing technologies and media conditioning.
The brightest star
The SX30000 is based on Xeikon’s Sirius technology announced at the end of March, just when lockdown became the new reality for many of us. Sirius is a completely revamped press with over 400 design changes compared to the previous generation dry toner technology. Central to Sirius’s design is the new EkoFuse fuser and cooling system which help ensure a successful marriage between output speed and quality. The Sirius toner has been improved to cope with higher engine speeds and whilst maintaining high quality especially in high coverage applications.
Dimitri Van Gaever Xeikon’s market segment manager for the graphic arts describes the SX30000 as Xeikon’s flagship for the graphics industry. It runs at 30m/m or 400+ pages per minute making it the “fastest machine we have made so far” for printing high value applications. It can handle a wide substrate variety, and produces offset quality even for high coverage applications. Van Gaever said that “by relaunching ourselves into the graphic arts we are aiming for a range of applications” especially high coverage, high value work. The SX30000 will be available by the end of the year 2020
With the support of its deep-pocketed parent Flint Group, Xeikon has developed Idera for single pass corrugated printing. The companies see solid opportunities in the postprint flexo market, where they believe maximising jobs for the press has the greatest potential.
Idera marks Xeikon’s entry into the new market of corrugated packaging where it sees considerable potential. Changed consumer and brand behaviours, spurred by the growth of online markets and e-commerce, are coming closer together. This creates new expectations and new supply chains and so new business models able to respond to more volatile customer bases. This is the market Xeikon wants to capture.
Idera is a modular platform based on Xeikon’s digital expertise combined with the manufacturing nous of its parent, Flint Group. This single pass post-press digital printing system is designed to print precorrugated sheets up to 1.6m x 2.8m. It runs at up to 150 metres per minute on coated and uncoated corrugated sheets using Xeikon’s food safe water based pigmented inks. It has integrated feeding and stacking technologies and software for colour management and production control. According to Sebastien Stabel, Market Segment Manager Carton Packaging Idera is “cocreated with converters”. The technology is still in the testing phase and will be installed at Xeikon’s Lier facility later this year. In the meantime Xeikon is inviting interested corrugated packaging converters to get involved in testing the machine. A dedicated web page is being set up to track progress of this development.
With its ThermoflexX and Woodpecker technologies Xeikon has been gradually raising its profile in the flexo market. This sector is changing with the growth both in packaging and in flexo output quality. This printing method is taking market share from offset and gravure, however the nature of the process has made innovation a major challenge for flexo. Technology developers, including Xeikon, are responding with process improvements to meet rising quality, cost and speed expectations within the market and brand owner communities.
Catena is a series of related products and services with Xeikon’s ThermoflexX imaging technologies and its Woodpecker screening at heart. Flint Group announced the Catena-W washer unit and Catena-DL dryer unit in March and Xeikon has now announced a new dryer the DLS which includes a light finisher and stacker module as well as the dryer. Modular like the other Catena links, it also has sensors for data collection and processing in the Catena cockpit.
All modules can be combined for fully automated plate production and processing. Production monitoring and data access are managed via the Catena cockpit. Catena can accept prepress data from any system and process all manufacturers’ plates. All modules designed and manufactured by Xeikon working with Flint Group colleagues especially on plate processing developments for lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The full system will be available in October 2020.