HenKaku Arrives!


Well-known member
Henkaku Arrives

By Noel Ward, Editor@Large

I got wind of it a couple years ago and have been awaiting the formal announcement before I said much. Then the word came down today: Ricoh is rolling out a B2-size (23 x 29-inches), cut-sheet inkjet press. About time, you, me, and a few others are probably thinking. And it is, but even better is that this box—dubbed the Ricoh Pro Z75—targets offset printing in terms of a quoted duty cycle of 2.6 million B2 prints per month. OK, that’s less than a big offset press can do, but there are fewer and fewer applications where millions and millions of impressions are required. So if you think the best days of your Heidemori Printmaster are still ahead, think again.

According to Ricoh, the Pro Z75 is built on a cast iron and steel frame, much like an offset press, OK, I know that most digital presses these days are pretty sturdy but building it like this from the get-go may mean that fewer limitations will stem from the frame when the speed is ramped up a year or two from now. This may mean that future upgrades will be faster, easier and not require a forklift. This is very Japanese, looking to the future with an eye on long-term capability, rather than planning to replace the whole machine and roll in a new one when the lease is up.

Other emerging details are also compelling. It can run in simplex mode at about 4500 sheets per hour (4/0). Automatic duplexing trims that in half, to 2250 sph for four colors on both sides. Ricoh says it can accommodate 60-400gsm uncoated papers and 73-400gsm offset coated. This can all happen at 1200 x 1200 dpi, regardless of print speed, thanks to new Ricoh developed print heads.

Ricoh says the new CMYK aqueous inks flowing through these heads have a higher gamut to better match offset inks. These inks are dried on a new dryer system to shorten drying time and provide better quality on light stocks without cockling.

I want to get a look at the paper transport and drying technology but that will have to wait until a live visit to Boulder. I also want to see how the new press is living up to its claim to accurate front to back registration. Some digital presses do well at this. Others, not so much, but it is a big deal if this machine is going to compete toe to toe with offset presses. I'll let you know hat I see and learn!

Ricoh is already putting a lot of marketing energy into this press, claiming that the Z75 is designed and built around the Japanese notion of henkaku, which means “Transformational Innovation.” We’ll see if it comes through on this promise, but with new aqueous inks, more speed, and its other capabilities, the Z75 seems to be the kind of machine that can not only replace some offset presses but stand on its own as a press for many seasons. Stay tuned!
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