Fujifilm unveils HS6000

Fujifilm has shared further updates on its forthcoming HS6000 single pass Inkjet press, which is based on the JetMaster from the Spanish company Barberan, and which the two companies first announced last year. However, while Barberan has mainly targeted the corrugated market Fujifilm has adapted the press to focus on the higher end of the sign and display market.

Up until now Fujifilm has satisfied this market with an exclusive arrangement to sell the Inca Digital Onset series. This agreement has expired and Agfa has bought Inca Digital and is now selling the Onsets. But Fujifilm does know this market, and many of the customers, and will have noted that many customers have bought multiple Onsets over the years. So working with Barberan does give the company one of the fastest, most productive presses for the sign and display market. However, it remains to be seen just how much of an appetite there is for such a machine in the sign and display market, and it’s difficult to see how Fujifilm could use this press to expand into the much larger packaging market without competing against Barberan. 

The press itself is an enormous machine, well over 30m long, so not surprisingly Fujifilm opted to show a scale model on its stand at Fespa. I had a long conversation with Steve Cookman, wide format inkjet solutions manager for Fujifilm Europe, who showed me several samples from the HS6000. The press itself is built at Barberan’s base, just south of Barcelona in Spain. For now, Fujifilm has opted for a maximum print width of 1.61m wide though the JetMaster can manage wider materials so Fujifilm could expand this if necessary. 

The HS6000 can produce up to 6000sqm/hr but the Production mode of 4700 sqm/hr is a more realistic figure, which equates to 50mpm at 600dpi resolution. All the samples that Fujifilm showed at Fespa were printed at this 600dpi resolution. 

Fujifilm has adapted the feeder to handle the broader range of materials common to sign and display. Barberan used a bottom feeder for corrugated sheets but Fujifilm has created a hybrid feeder by adding a new top loader to this for handling lightweight materials like correx and foamboard as well as flexible sheets from 170gsm and heavier. It can handle boards up to 1.7m wide and 1.8m long.

After the feeder, there’s a Primer unit, which can lay down a water-based primer developed by Fujifilm. This is mainly to help with the surface finish of the print rather than helping the inks adhere to the substrate and may not be needed with all substrates. Cookman explains: “You need a good surface finish to allow the ink to wet out on the media and that gives us the latitude that we want to ensure bonding for printing.”

The Primer unit also includes hot air drying for the primer. The entire unit is on a rail so that it can be moved out of the way or replaced by an alternative process such as a UV coater, which appears to be a hangover from the original Barberan design. 

The inks are Fujifilm UV-curable inks. Cookman explains: “UV because it’s an existing technology and this platform has been using UV ink. So we end up with a glossy sheet which might not be your first choice in the sign and display market. You might need a post process to take that level of gloss down.” 

The samples did indeed look quite glossy and that may be an issue for some applications, but equally might be better for others. They showed strong colours, which you would expect with a Fujifilm ink, and very good skin tones and gradients, as well as good detail, even for close-up viewing.

Immediately after printing there are LED lamps for variable pinning of the ink to prevent the ink from flowing too much. This is then followed by a high powered UV cure to really bond the ink to the media.

Barberan usually works with Epson for its print engines so the printheads are Epson S3200u, which have been designed around an s-shape to allow multiple heads to be slotted together to create a printbar. Each head has two channels and there are two bars per colour, meaning four channels per colour for each of the CMYK colours. Cookman notes: “So we have some latitude if we have a defective nozzle.” Fujifilm has developed its own waveforms for the heads, which are set up with four greyscale levels: 0, 3.6pl, 7pl, and 15pl drop sizes. This arrangement allows for up to 600dpi resolution. 

At the back of the printer there’s a scanning station to check for print integrity. Cookman adds: “It can be used as part of the head alignment process and also colour checking.” 

Defective sheets are diverted away from the pallets. Otherwise the sheets are sent to the palette stacks at the back of the printer. There are two stacks so that there’s no need to stop the press whilst unloading one palette. Fujifilm has made some modifications to the stacker to prevent damage to the media surface. 

The press should be commercially available by the start of 2024 and the price is likely to be around €5 million. It can run with a Colorgate or PrintFactory RIP.

You can find further details on Fujifilm’s range of wide format printers from fujifilm.com and on the JetMaster series from barberan.com.


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