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Inca Speeds Up Columbia, Showcases One-Pass Fastjet Technology

(July 2004) posted on Wed Jul 21, 2004

Also formally introduces Spyder 150 to European market


Although it was formed just four years ago as a spinoff of Cambridge Consultants in the UK, Inca Digital has already made some serious waves in the wide-format marketplace"?in the US as well as overseas. At Drupa, the company launched its new, faster Inca Columbia Turbo flatbed and its Fastjet single-pass machine, and also formally introduced its Spyder 150 to the European market.

Inca introduced its Columbia in 2002, and the new Columbia Turbo"?shown at partner Sericol's booth"?now offers a maximum speed of 1800 sq ft/hr (at 590 x 600 dpi), vs. a top speed of 1720 sq ft/hr (at 800 x 400 dpi) for the non-Turbo version.

As with the Columbia, the 4-color Turbo utilizes piezo drop-on-demand technology (Spectra heads); its UV-curable inks are manufactured by Sericol. It has a maximum print area of 130 x 63 in., and can print on rigid substrates up to 1.57 in. thick. In addition, the Turbo has a moving bed and can print edge-to-edge, allowing images to be printed to bleed (removing the need for trimming). Substrates can include paper and board, wood, textiles, flexible and rigid plastic, glass, lenticular displays, and even single-faced corrugated board and foam.

"We believe [this] is a hugely significant launch for the high-quality, point-ofsale market producing signage using rigid and flexible display material," says Bill Baxter, Inca's managing director. "Until now, flatbed digital inkjet machines have been used for short runs and special jobs. Here is a printer that can realistically replace screen printing for a large part of its core market, while the productivity of the Columbia Turbo will enable a relatively short payback period."

A Wasatch 5.1 RIP is standard, which features the use of ICC profiles, spot-color replacement, and the specification of input profiles for proofing.

Current Columbia users can upgrade their machines to Turbo mode, however doing so requires a completely new print engine. The Turbo will begin shipping in the US at the end of the year. Price has yet to be set, although the standard Columbia sells for $700,000.

Also announced at the show was the Columbia 220, which features an 86-in. wide bed, instead of the normal 63-in. Columbia bed. Throughput and other features remain the same as the Columbia.

Meanwhile, in Drupa's Print City, Inca showed off a pre-prototype ("technology demonstrator," as Inca refers to it) of a new Fastjet printer, developed in conjunction with Sun Chemical. The Fastjet allows 4-color, high-quality UV inkjet printing in a single pass over a substrate; the materials pass underneath a print station with a stationary printhead, and the entire width is printed at the same time. The Fastjet can produce a print width of 20.5 in., onto substrates up to 47 in. wide and 0.27 in. thick. The model shown at Drupa printed 4-color images at 300 dpi, and although it was printing a tad more slowly at the show due to curing limitations, Inca expects the commercially released product to hit a mark of 300 linear ft/min.

The Fastjet will be initially aimed at the corrugated market, for packaging of fastmoving consumer goods such as wine. "Generally, this type of packaging carries only simple graphics because better-quality options are too expensive for low run lengths," says Heather Kendle, Inca's director of marketing. "With such a technology, manufacturers have the opportunity for mass customization of products as well as the option for print-on-demand packaging, improving just-in-time flexibility, and the ability to handle short runs"? or even customized runs"?economically."

Inca plans to have a Fastjet product ready for beta testing toward the end of this year and become a commercially viable printer sometime in 2005. No price estimates were given.

A prototype of the Spyder 150 was shown at this year's PMA show, and we reported on the machine in our March issue (p. 10), but Inca's formal introduction of the printer took place at Drupa. A high-productivity flatbed with a 60 x 40- in. print area, the Spyder "has been designed from scratch to meet the needs of the photo lab and the digital print sectors," says Baxter. The printer is particularly aimed at print providers that might not have the volume of work to warrant the purchase of a larger printer. The Spyder 150 carries a price of $410,000. (Inca Digtal Printers: www.incadigital.com)


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