The Hunkeler Innovation Days, better known to most people as ‘the Hunkeler’, or ‘Unkla’ for those of us from the East End of London, has once again proven to be the most interesting of the many print-related shows around the world.
It lacks the sheer size of Drupa, the tragedy of Ipex, the heady solvent aroma of Fespa and the long haul flights of Graph Expo, Print China and Igas. Instead it offers a no-frills, tightly focussed, highly integrated way of viewing print as a total solution that encompasses finishing alongside the printing.
All the stands are the same size and shape, finished off in bare concrete, which puts the focus firmly on the kit on show. The show mainly concentrates on direct mail, transactional and book printing and tends to attract senior managers from around the world. As a result, many printer vendors use it to launch new devices, with this year being no exception.
The star of the show was probably the Xerox Rialto, judging by the sheer number of people around it, which I’ve already covered. Similarly, other printers worth noting are the Xeikon 9800, Canon 3000Z and the Domino K630i.
Kodak also showed off a faster version of its Prosper 1000 monochrome inkjet press, which can now run at up to 300mpm. Will Mansfield, worldwide director of marketing for Kodak’s inkjet solutions, says that Kodak has modified the transport system and the front end to accommodate the faster speed, but without having to change the writing system or inks. He explains: “We have created a tight web tension where before we had a slack web tension.” However, the image quality drops to 133lpi, from the 150-175lpi that the Prosper can produce at speeds up to 200mpm. It was shown hooked up to a Hunkeler UW8 unwinder, one of the few winders that can handle such high speeds.
The Ricoh stand was also busy, with a twin-engined configuration of the recently launched VC60000 inkjet press. This has been developed with Screen, which showed its version of this press, the Truepress Jet 520HD. Ricoh had a coating unit between the winder and first engine, allowing it to print to an offset stock, which produced some quite nice samples. Ironically, Ricoh ran out of copies of the book it produced to showcase the press and didn’t seem able to print any more despite having the printer and a roomful of book finishing solutions on hand.
Hunkeler itself had a number of new things to show. Chief amongst these was the DP8 Punching and perforating module. This is capable of up to three cross perforations and up to eight longitudinal perforations and also includes a punching tool. It’s customisable so that customers can buy a basic version and then add further tools up to the full specification.
Also on the Hunkeler stand was the HL6 laser cutter, which can cut intricate shapes, including signatures, as well as basic perforations. There’s an option to add a second laser, which allows it to run at 150mpm.
Muller Martini showed off its new Vareo perfect binder, as detailed here.
Most of the finishing equipment uses QR codes printed in the margin to determine the correct pattern for folding, cutting and so on. This system is fairly universal as demonstrated with the live production of perfect bound brochures. This took signatures from a Hunkeler UW6-unwinding module, passed them to a CS6-I cross cutter and then onto a Heidelberg Stahlfolder TH 56 folder with a gathered pile sent to an inline ATS FAB A 820 bundler. The covers were then added via the new Müller Martini Vareo perfect binder.
Another notable launch was the Universe Sewing unit from Meccanotecnica, which can take both offset signatures and digital flat sheets. It’s designed to work as part of the Universe Inline, a modular system with separate units to apply glue and liners and feed in soft covers that can switch automatically between books of different thicknesses.
Finally, its worth noting that there were some really impressive print samples on offer, ranging from colourful cookbooks to brochures and quite sophisticated direct mail examples. It used to be that rollfed digital printers were the unsexy end of the print business – highly complex variable data printing but lacking bright colours and attractive graphics. But all that is changing with new inkjet printers increasingly aiming at taking work from offset printers.
In truth, both the image quality and substrate flexibility is still lacking but it’s clearly catching up so much so that many of these new printers are openly targeting more upmarket applications. And of course a big part of this proposition is having the finishing kit to match, hence the importance of a show like HID with its emphasis on integrated finishing including the various folders and book binders on show in Lucerne. Ultimately, the message from this year’s Innovation Days is that the inkjet vendors are really starting to target higher value applications now.