On 26 March 2010 the Japanese press manufacturer Tokyo Kikai Seisakusho (TKS) invited a group of industry experts from Europe, North America and South America to an open house presentation of their Tokyo production centre. WAN-IFRA representatives attended the event, which showed the production facilities of TKS as well as a demonstration of the new 4 x 1 offset press “Color Top Ecowide.”
The highlight, however, was a live demonstration of a TKS Jet Leader digital newspaper press. The Jet Leader was introduced at the Japanese JANPS newspaper technology exhibition in November 2009. It is an ink-jet, drop-on-demand web press with a web width that can vary between 210 and 546 mm. The press we saw had 541 mm. The standard newspaper cut-off length in Japan is 546 mm.
The maximum speed of the press is 150 m per minute, which equals 15,000 copies of A4 pages per hour. Its resolution is 600 x 600 dpi. The reel diameter can be 1270 mm. Ground wood and ordinary grade paper as well as ink-jet paper can be used. Newsprint can be used as well, but the prepress system has to be adjusted to a lower total ink coverage rate so that shine-through is avoided. The basis paper weight can be between 45 and 108 g/m2. An optional dryer allows the use of SC and coated paper. The press does not generate start-up waste, but white waste is created because of the relatively long web-lead when a new press run is started.
Print heads are from Kyocera (formerly Kyoto Ceramics), and the water-based pigment ink-jet ink is from Sachet Inx, a well-known Japanese newspaper ink supplier. Unlike most other digital presses, there is no click charge or similar business model linked to the Jet Leader. The press owner is free to buy any ink from any supplier that meets the specification of the press. Ink consumption is said to be comparable with offset newspaper printing. A kilogram of ink may cost about 1,000 yen, equivalent to about 8 Euros.
With this machine, TKS targets printers with short print runs of up to 10,000 copies. The reel stand and the optional newspaper folder are derived from other TKS newspaper presses. The 175-cm-high Jet Leader is equipped with an infeed unit that controls web tension and anti-static illumination. A print image monitor automatically looks for print problems such as dirt or holes and assures the quality of printed characters.
The system can be equipped with a number of TKS-engineered post-processing options that allow newspaper broadsheet and tabloid folding, magazine and digest folding, and variable sheet cutting.
TKS president Shiba said output of variable data will become more important for newspapers, and he believes that ink-jet will be the dominant technology in this field of printing. He also believes that hybrid printing of offset and ink-jet will be a future requirement. As a consequence TKS also offers the technical integration of ink-jet and web offset, including the construction of an ink-jet printing tower that is integrated into a traditional coldset press environment.
Hybrid offset and digital printing system, source TKS
The sales release of the system is planned for autumn 2010. Industry sources predict that the price will be about US$ 2 million (about 1.49 million Euros) per press unit.