Star product: Konica Minolta KM-1

By Simon Eccles, Monday 11 January 2016

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Konica Minolta’s much anticipated B2 inkjet sheetfed press will launch at Drupa 2016.

sp-km-1

What does it do?

The Konica Minolta KM-1 is a sheetfed duplex B2-format digital inkjet press, using UV-cured inks. The company calls this the “first machine in the industrial inkjet heavy printing segment” and predicts it will match offset quality more closely than any other digital press to date. 

The company has made toner-based digital colour presses since 2006. The KM-1 is its first sheetfed inkjet press and has been developed as a joint venture with Komori, which will sell it under its own name as the Impremia IS29. 

UV-cured inks and cool LED lamps enable the press to handle a wide range of substrates including standard offset stocks or synthetics, with no need for special pre-coatings. It can also handle thicker cartonboard stocks up to 0.6mm as well as heavily textured or embossed papers. 

When was it launched and what are the target markets?

Konica Minolta and Komori announced the press just prior to Drupa 2012 and a KM-1 prototype was demonstrated running at the show in Düsseldorf, then again at Ipex 2014 and Graph Expo 2015. It’s now in beta sites in Japan and the US with the first European beta going live at an unnamed site around now. The official launch is planned for Drupa 2016 at the end of May. The main target markets are packaging, books and commercial print.

How does it work?

The configuration is broadly similar to other B2 format sheetfed inkjet presses, with offset type feeder, gripper-to-gripper sheet transport and delivery. Konica Minolta makes the print engine (including its own inkjet print heads and controllers), inks and front-end, while Komori provides the substrate feed and transport mechanisms. Komori assembles each press. 

It takes oversized B2 sheets up to 585x750mm, allowing six-up A4s. 

New 600dpi printheads with piezo shear technology are fitted in pairs to give 1,200dpi. There are eight pairs per full-width print bar and one print bar per colour. Initially, the presses will be wide-gamut CMYK, with five and six colour options in future. 

Inline sensors detect misfires and correct on the fly. The head carriage retracts sideways for maintenance and heads can be replaced by the operator.

The most unusual aspect is the UV-cured ink. This was specially developed for the KM-1 and is heated to reduce viscosity, allowing very thin ink films. The LED curing lamps are compact and cool, though a simple fan extractor and duct is required, largely because of the heated inks. 

How fast is it?

Production presses will print 3,000 simplex or 1,500 duplex B2 sheets per hour at up to 1,200dpi, with full variable print. This is a little slower than the 3,300sph originally announced. Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe’s head of market development Mark Hinder says this was needed to achieve the desired feed reliability. There are three printing modes, with the same resolution but different ink drop sizes, which helps reduce ink consumption depending on requirements.

How does it differ from previous models?

This is a brand new “clean-sheet” press design, although it builds on Konica’s experience with its bizhub Pro presses and Nassenger SP-1 textile inkjet, plus Komori’s media handling know-how.

What’s the USP?

According to Hinder, this is a “UV inkjet that has offset quality, look and feel, with the benefits of digital printing”.

How easy is it to use?

Control is largely through Konica Minolta’s digital front-end, which it calls the Inkjet Manager. There will be two performance options, with the more expensive Pro being for full-speed variable data, and the Light type being for less demanding content. Sheet loading and unloading is similar to an offset press.

Konica Minolta offers full service and support contracts, plus operator training at its academy as well as its Digital 1234 business development services. 

What does it cost?

Konica isn’t revealing prices until Drupa, but previous predictions have ranged from £1.2m to £1.3m. There’s likely to be a combined per-copy charge with consumables sold separately. UV inks tend to be expensive, though far lower volumes are needed than aqueous inkjet inks as there is no significant evaporation. Konica is predicting significantly lower costs-per-copy than toner presses, allowing the KM-1 to be more competitive against offset on short-to-medium runs. 

How many are installed?

So far there are three beta presses, in Japan and the US already with the first European site due to start up at the end of January.  


SPECIFICATIONS

Colours Wide-gamut CMYK (five- and six-colour options in future)

Max speed 3,000sph (1,500sph duplex)

Max sheet size 585x750mm

Stock weight range 0.06 to 0.6mm (simplex), 0.06 to 0.45mm (duplex)

Footprint  2.7x5.2m 

Price TBA, probably £1.2m to £1.3m. Click charge: Per copy and separate consumables

Contact Konica Minolta Europe 07793 758571 www.konicaminolta.eu or mark.hinder@konicaminolta.co.uk


ALTERNATIVES

Delphax elan

This Memjet based aqueous inkjet press has an unusual SRA2 sheet size but its price of around £430,000 is well under half that of rival inkjets, while beating them all on speed. 

Colours CMYK plus two spot

Max speed 3,750sph (duplex)

Max sheet size 450x640mm

Stock weight range 60-350gsm

Price £420,000

Contact Delphax 01293 551051 www.delphax.com 

Fujifilm Jet Press 720S

Revamped version launched in 2014, with a handful of installations. It remains simplex but now has facilities for data verification and registration of the second side for work-and-turn. High image quality and wide colour gamut are key features. 

Colours  CMYK

Max speed  2,700sph

Max sheet size  750x532mm

Stock weight range  127-300gsm

Price  £995,000

Contact  Fujifilm 01234 245245 www.fujifilm.eu

HP Indigo 10000

The only B2 digital sheetfed press to see significant sales so far, with more than 200 installed worldwide. HP’s liquid toner gives up to seven colours, good print quality and compatibility with a lot of substrates. Up to three paper drawers can be used.  

Colours  Seven (including CMYK)

Max speed 4,600sph

Max sheet size 750x530mm

Stock weight range Uncoated: 70-400gsm;   coated: 90-400gsm 

Price Around £1.5m, plus click charge

Contact HP 01344 363368 www.hp.com

Screen Truepress JetSX

Shipping in 2012, Screen’s B2 sheetfed inkjet press has duplexing and the ability to print cartonboard up to 600gsm. Image quality is stressed, but it’s quite slow. 

Colours  CMYK

Max speed  1,620sph simplex, 810sph duplex

Max sheet size  530x740mm

Stock weight range  0.1-0.6mm

Price  About £1.2m 

Contact  Screen Europe +31 020 456 78 00 www.screeneurope.com

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