Domino launches N730i label press

Domino Printing Sciences has shown off a new inkjet label press, the N730i, which heralds its new Generation 7 inkjet platform and as such marks a significant step forward from the N610i

Domino has announced this N730i inkjet label press, built with its generation 7 printing engine.

Domino could easily have simply updated the N6i0i, which proved to be a solid workhorse over the years. But instead the company appears to have gone back to basics and rethought almost every aspect of the label press from the chassis upwards.

Louise Adcock, global product manager at Domino, explains: “We have almost 1,000 global installations already using our existing Generation 6 inkjet platform. During the development of the N730i, we really listened to our customers, so we are confident that this press will enable label converters to get the best return from their digital printing investment. Based on customer feedback, we focused on three key areas: providing consistent print quality at high speed, ease of use and flexibility.”

The existing N610i is basically a print engine with winder and rewinder units either side but theN730i has a solid-looking chassis, built by a European flexo press vendor, presumably MPS. Domino has already worked with MPS to develop a hybrid version of its N610i so this suggests that the company is planning on having a hybrid generation 7 model sooner rather than later.

It prints from 170 to 340mm wide. It will take rolls up to 1 metre in diameter and incorporates servo driven tension control. The press has a modular design and there are optional flexo stations that can be dropped in either side of the digital printing unit. These allow for adding primer, as well as for spot colours or varnishing, or even reverse white for cost-effective shrink sleeve applications. These flexo stations can be ordered with the press or retrofitted later. 

At the heart of this press is a brand new printhead, the BitStar, that has been developed by Domino’s parent company, Brother, and which I will deal with in a separate story to follow shortly. For now it’s worth noting that this is a 1200 dpi head, where the existing N610i used 600dpi Kyocera heads. Also, important to note, the press can run at 70mpm, at 1200 dpi in greyscale mode for all colours including white.

In most cases there’s a trade off between print quality and running speed because its harder to place the drops of ink accurately at higher speeds. That means that most press vendors would offer users a choice of  1200 dpi at 70mpm or a faster speed with a lower resolution. Domino isn’t offering this option though the company says it is looking at ways of running faster. 

However, Domino went on to say that its market research suggests that running at 70mpm with the optimum print quality is preferred to higher speed at the cost of quality or reliability. The hope is that the higher resolution will appeal to brand owners and help customers win more business. Personally, I’d agree that 1200 dpi resolution is better at delivering fine detail and the sort of image quality necessary to compete against flexo. However, I also noticed at last year’s European label expo show that a large number of digital press vendors seemed to have concluded that customers weren’t yet ready to pay the sort of cost associated with 1200 dpi printing, and that there were quite a few 600dpi machines around. 

The only really serious competition at that resolution comes from Durst, which uses Fujifilm Samba heads. But Durst is not exactly known for low prices, and Domino wouldn’t comment on the cost of the N730i. In my experience, everybody likes the idea of high resolution until they see the price and start worrying about their profit margins. So 1200 dpi might well be the future, but most label converters that I know will wait till that future arrives before they invest that sort of money.

That said, Domino did show the press running at its beta site, Olympus Print Group, based in Pudsey, just outside Leeds, UK. Adrian Brown, managing director of Olympus says that the bar for quality always goes up and never comes down, noting: “five percent of our work requires 1200dpi but that will become the new normal and people will look for that.” Olympus already runs two Domino generation 6 machines, a roll to roll N610i inkjet press and an N610i hybrid model. Richard Spencer, technical manager for Olympus adds that 1200dpi will open up new markets because of the improved text detail and better solids. He also says that the new press runs 40 percent faster than existing old N630i.

The N730i press uses Domino’s i-Tech Clean Cap2 system to cap the Brother printheads

I-tech modules

There are 80 print heads in total, with ten per colour channel, and eight channels. The heads sit 1mm above the substrate and there is an edge protection guard around the head to prevent head strikes. 

Domino has developed a number of i-tech modules over the years to automate various aspects around the maintenance of its presses. There are two new modules, i-Tech SetAlign and i-Tech CleanCap2, both designed to help with different aspects of managing the print heads. 

The press ships with a head removal tool so that defective heads can be replaced. The i-Tech SetAlign module is used to automatically set up the position of the head in terms of angle and alignment via a scan of a printed test image. The data is then fed into the press to automatically move the head position via the micromotors on each head. A similar method is then used to voltage trim the head to ensure smooth density balance. The aim is to deliver uniform and seamless print quality across the full web width. 

The i-Tech CleanCap2 module is to help integrate the heads into the press. It automates the print head cleaning and capping system in a controlled way to reduce manual operator intervention and waste. It has enhanced cleaning using a vacuum purge in place of the ink purge. Domino says that this uses less flush and provides a more efficient and more cost effective automatic cleaning system. In theory there shouldn’t be any other cleaning and maintenance beyond routine preventative maintenance.

UV curable inks

The press can be configured with up to seven colours – CMYK plus orange and violet and two white channels. The ink is Domino’s own in-house developed UV90 ink set, which is said to have good fade resistance, achieving a maximum Blue Wool Scale of eight on certain substrates. Domino also claims good mechanical properties including abrasion and scratch resistance. It’s possible to print textured effects, which could add a tactile level to a shelf design, and presumably could also print braille.

The UV90 white ink is said to be able to achieve an opacity of up to 76%, enabling customers to print inkjet without having to use silk-screen. I think it’s fair to say that even other vendors I’ve spoken with over the years acknowledge that Domino’s white ink is one of the best around in terms of opacity. 

It’s worth noting that this is not the food compliant UV95 inkset that Domino developed last year for its N610i series printers. Domino says that it’s still in the first phase of the new generation and that further configurations and inksets will be released later.

Domino’s N730i label press boasts 1200 dpi print resolution for reproducing small text and fine lines.

To cure the inks Domino has taken a pin and cure approach, using LED curing to pin the white and the colours to ensure fine detail with text, but with a conventional lamp for full curing. The inks have been designed to be wet on wet compatible.

Domino’s technical director Julie Cross says that the press will work with the same substrates as a flexo press, including standard papers, PE and PPE label stocks, without any need for primers. She adds that it might be necessary to use a primer to run with lower cost uncoated media. 

There’s a new user interface, called Sunlight, that’s said to be more intuitive to use. This works with an Esko v3.0 digital front end, which supports variable data as well as JDF/JMF for automated job set-up and reporting. Domino says that this can easily be integrated with any standard MIS.

Philip Easton, director of Domino’s Digital Printing Solutions division, commented “This is the most significant new product we have launched since we started in the digital label press business. It has been a huge collaborative team effort, spread over five years, involving our colleagues at Brother Industries, supplier partners, our development team and our existing customers. Today, we are so proud of what the N730i delivers, as we truly believe it is setting new standards in high performance ink jet label printing.”

It’s inevitable that Domino will follow this with a hybrid version though Easton wouldn’t be drawn on future product announcements. Nor would Domino discuss pricing, which means that it’s too early to say now if the 1200 dpi printing comes at a premium. In the meantime, the N730i is available now and first shipments should start in January 2021. You can find further details from



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