Canon has introduced a new continuous feed colour inkjet printer, the ProStream 1800, which builds on the existing ProStream 1000 that Canon first launched back in 2017.
Canon has expanded its ProStream range of continuous feed inkjet presses with this new 1800 model.
Canon has had a reasonable degree of success with the original press, installing 39 in total worldwide, 20 of which are in Europe with the rest mostly in the US and some in the Asia Pacific region. However, Chris Chapman, business development manager for production printing products for Canon UK, says: “We thought that it needed to be more productive for the size of the press and the investment in it.”
The result is the new ProStream 1800, which appears to be exactly the same but with the option to run at 133mpm, a substantial improvement on the 80mpm of the ProStream 1000. This speed equates to up to 1790 A4 colour images or 188 B2 sheets per minute. This figure is for duplex sheets, assuming the ProStream’s standard twin-engined configuration. Canon says this will deliver a monthly duty cycle of around 6.1m B2 sheets or 58m A4 pages.
Naturally, faster print speeds mean that the ink has to be dried quicker before the printed substrate reaches the rewinder. However, the drying system remains the same with Chapman explaining that there’s a lot of drying capacity in the original design, noting: “It’s one of the things that makes the machine so long.” It appears that more heat is applied to the substrate and so Canon has added an external cooling unit, which has a series of chilled rollers, cooled by water, to cool down the paper.
Now, we might assume that this faster speed has come about through using new printheads, particularly since Canon is known to favour Kyocera’s drop on demand piezo heads and Kyocera announced its second generation heads at the end of last year at the IJC.
But this is not the case as Chapman explains: “There is absolutely no difference between a ProStream 1000 and 1800 when it comes to the writing architecture; the printheads and drying system are all the same.” Though Chapman adds that there is additional software and of course the cooling unit.
So, not a new printhead but Chapman goes on to say that Canon is indeed using Kyocera’s second generation heads, complete with 1200 dpi resolution. Canon claims that it co-developed these heads with Kyocera though Kyocera has a more nuanced take on this, saying that it designed all the various elements in the printhead itself but that it worked with Canon as a beta customer and took account of feedback and requests from Canon.
This has meant that even as far back as 2016, Kyocera supplied Canon with printheads that had elements of what would become the second generation KJ4 printheads, including the monolithic actuator, and that from the point of shipping in 2017 the ProStream 1000 has used printheads that can be classed as second generation. I don’t think this has been covered elsewhere but helps to explain why Canon was so far advanced in producing a continuous feed inkjet press able to print to offset coated papers at that point in time.
This also means that it should be possible for customers with existing ProStream 1000s to upgrade to the new 1800 specification – Canon is still evaluating this – though it mostly seems to be a matter of developing a licensing key to unlock the faster speed and adding the necessary software to control that speed plus the installation of the external cooling unit. Certainly Chapman says that Canon wants to protect the investment made by its original ProStream 1000 users.
So, how did Canon manage to increase the speed? Chapman explains: “We reduce the resolution to 720dpi and then we change the modulation to create slightly different drop sizes to what we do in the Prostream 1000. We are still able to hit the gamut for Fogra 51 and 52.” Chapman says that there’s little discernible difference in the print quality at this higher speed.
However, it’s worth noting that the new ProStream can only achieve the 133mpm speed on lighter papers up to 160gsm. Chapman points out that this is sufficient for the main target market of magazines, brochures and direct mail.
The ProStream will take standard offset coated in gloss, matt and silk, uncoated and inkjet optimised papers from 40gsm to 300gsm, due to the use of Canon’s ColorGrip primer. Apart from the ProStream1800’s ability to run at 133mpm on papers up to 160gsm, both ProStream models can run at 80mpm but only on substrates up to 250gsm and then only with the optional Heavy Paper Productivity Enhance kit. These presses can print up to 556mm wide and can print images up to 1,524mm long.
Other options include a high speed camera system for inline quality control, and EdgEnhance, for detail sharpness with enhanced rasterizing architecture.
The press should be available from the beginning of September 2020. No details on pricing yet but for reference the ProStream 1000 starts at around £1.4 million. I’ve already covered the original ProStream 1000 here and the updates last year, plus you can find further details from canon.co.uk on the new 1800 model.
NB; I’ve updated this story to clarify the role of the external cooling unit.