Pre-drupa, Part 2: A look at Xeikon's new Trillium Press


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The pre-drupa events industry journalists and analysts attend are, in a way, training for the main event in Dusseldorf. We fly to Europe, get jet-lagged, eat different food than we’re used to, then sit through meetings where we learn a lot about a host of equipment and software… one presentation after another. But this is all good, and we don’t have to do the endless walking and weaving through crowded show halls and that can make drupa days feel like a twisted remake of the movie Groundhog Day.

Still, what makes these pre-drupa events great is the access to top level people at multiple vendors who can talk about their markets and how they see their new products being positioned. And even better, we sometimes get a first-hand look at new technologies.
In March, it was Xeikon’s Trillium.

Back at drupa 2012, Xeikon had a technology demo of a new liquid toner press called Trillium. The appeal of this machine is the promise of toner image quality with the speed and lower cost of inkjet printing. And at drupa 2016, the first Trillium press, dubbed Trillium One, will be revealed.

Joint Effort
To make Trillium a reality, Xeikon joined forces with Miyakoshi to leverage the Japanese company’s expertise in handling large rolls of paper at high speeds. Xeikon brought its skill in digital imaging with toner, high-speed electronics, high-resolution LED technology, and its X-800 workflow software. “This approach,” notes Xeikon president Wim Maes, “allowed both parties to focus on their respective strengths.”

According to Xeikon, the four-color (CMYK) Trillium One is capable of running at 60 meters (200 feet) per minute at 1200 dpi, with a print width of 500 mm (19.7 inches). With lower running costs than other toner-based presses (no click charges), Xeikon says it combines speed, cost-effectiveness, and high image quality in a way that offers attractive new options for digital printing. For now, direct marketing materials and catalogs will be the initial markets for Trillium One, with other markets and applications to be added over time.

The new machine uses Tonnik, Xeikon’s new liquid toner that is said to be economical, environmentally friendly, and deinkable. It contains no evaporating carriers and the machine mechanically recycles the majority of the carrier liquid. Testing by INGEDE, a European organization that tests the deinkability of the output of various presses, materials printed on the Trillium are fully deinkable.

As for the image quality, if the magazine-like brochure/product positioning piece we were all given is anything to go by, Trillium One is certainly capable of printing quality equal to most offset presses. Xeikon says some of the secret sauce for image quality is Microgapping. This is a 5 micron gap between rollers that facilitates precise toner particle transfer from one roller to the other at high speeds.

For more detail, here’s a link to a white paper:

Beyond the Trillium launch, Xeikon, now part of Flint Group, will be in Halls 3, 8A and 8B, with a full array of its Thermoflex line of platesetters as well as new systems for nearline folding carton production, new Fusion technology for fully automated label and packaging production, cloud-based color management, and an increased range of brand protection features, some of which are already in use for banknotes and identification documents.

My Take
Liquid toner is hardly new: HP has been using it for years, and Toshiba before that. But in the case of Trillium it comes with attractive print speeds and purportedly lower operating costs. While inkjet has captured some of the low-cost-per-page territory, most machines in that space are high-speed, high-volume beasts suited for different markets than toner-based presses. With claimed speeds of a couple hundred feet per minute and per-page costs competitive with inkjet, Trillium could fill a worthwhile niche and give Xeikon a winner. The real world acquisition and operating costs are still to be determined, but any print provider considering a high-end digital press should probably have Trillium on their list for testing and comparison.

Still. Trillium doesn’t ship until Q2 of 2017, and as we’ll see at drupa, it is not going to be alone in the higher speed liquid toner space. Yes, there’s more to come from other vendors. Stay tuned.


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