In this article, David looks at the state of Fujifilm imaging, its successful reintroduction of the J Press 720S, the J Press 540W, and a new technology demonstration at drupa, as well as some of its other current technologies.

By David Zwang
Published: May 12, 2016

As is the case in many Japanese companies, Fujifilm operates very conservatively, with minimal marketing fanfare. As a result, some may overlook them when reviewing the print production solution landscape. However, Fujifilm is a real powerhouse in graphic arts, electrophotographic printing and production inkjet. In my first article on Fujifilm, I looked at the company history and product lines including its continuing and significant relationship with Xerox (FujiXerox). In that article, I also covered the strategic acquisitions that were made to support the emerging Fujifilm production inkjet business. Fujifilm provided a technology demonstration of its first sheetfed production inkjet press, the J Press 720, at drupa 2008, which then became commercially available in 2011. At drupa 2012, the company previewed the  J Press 540W, a web-fed production inkjet press, as a technology demo that became commercially available during the first half of 2013.

Since that last article, Fujifilm has been very busy. In November of 2013, the company announced a joint partnership in production inkjet development with Heidelberg, and that effort began to show fruits with the recent introduction of the B1 format Heidelberg Primefire 106. While Fujifilm was very early —  perhaps too early — to market in sheetfed production inkjet, that experience enabled a better understanding of what the market wanted and how to best deliver a great solution for it. With that new understanding, Fujifilm did a soft release of the new J Press 720S in November of 2014 and has been busy building market awareness and customer acceptance throughout 2015. Add to that a technology demonstration to be highlighted at drupa 2016, and you can see they are on a mission to gain a significant position in the inkjet marketplace.

Imaging

If you have seen the impressive photographic quality print output from the J Press 720S, or the Heidelberg Primefire 106, it can primarily be attributed to the Fujifilm Dimatix SAMBATMG3L printheads. If you haven’t, you should.

The SAMBA is a 1200 native dpi piezo-electric DoD (drop on demand) printhead. And while the Landa presses have a unique imaging process, they use the SAMBA printhead as well. There are many advantages to its MEMS design, including VersaDropTM which delivers multi-level grayscale through the ability to support multi-drop and fixed drop sizes from 2.4 to 13.2 picoliters. Another significant advantage is RediJet recirculation, which continuously recirculates the ink behind the nozzle to keep the printhead primed, with minimal ink waste and improved reliability. I covered the similar Canon ‘pre-fire’ head technology earlier in this series. In addition to this recirculation technology keeping nozzles open and saving ink, it also allows the inks be manufactured with a lower level of humectants, which can make it faster to dry on a variety of media. However, that still doesn’t ensure good ink adhesion to the wide variety of media that will be used in a sheetfed press. That is why Fujifilm, Canon, and most of the other sheetfed production inkjet press manufacturers include a primer solution as well. Each SAMBA G3L printhead has 2048 nozzles and a print width of 1.7 inches. The unique parallelogram nozzle plate of the SAMBA was designed to support large arrays of printheads with simplified printhead stitching, resulting in a very narrow print bar. This gives the OEMs a lot of design latitude. While each of the vendors mentioned above are currently using aqueous inks, the printhead also supports UV-curable inks, organic solvents and latex, making it flexible for a variety of applications.

Inks

As discussed in the last Fujifilm article, the company purchased the Avecia and Sericol ink companies in preparation for its entry into production inkjet press development. One result of those acquisitions is Vividia pigment ink which was designed to work in conjunction with the Dimatix printheads, including the SAMBA, and provide exceptional print quality, a wide color gamut and good media adhesion.

 J Press 720S

In conjunction with the J Press 720S B2 format sheetfed production inkjet press release, Fujifilm did a fork lift upgrade of all of the installed J Press 720’s in the field. This new model has apparently taken the market by storm. Since the introduction of the J Press 720S about  12 months ago, Fujifilm has installed more than  70 units, and the orders are still coming in.