Yes, the judges decisions are in, and for the second time, Xerox is being recognized with a Must See ‘Ems Award for a production inkjet press. The Xerox Rialto 900 Inkjet Press is the latest Xerox inkjet device to claim the award, following in the footsteps of the CiPress 500 Production Inkjet System, which won in 2011.
The awards recognize new products that visitors to Graph Expo, North America’s largest graphic arts tradeshow, must see. And both of these presses brought something to the industry that had never been seen before. In the case of Rialto, we are excited to be pioneering a new inkjet market segment that seeks a small footprint and ease of use, which the Rialto delivers through an all-in-one, roll-to-cut-sheet design. CiPress, on the other hand, was the industry’s first waterless production inkjet printing system.
Breakthroughs like these don’t come out of thin air. And that’s certainly not the case at Xerox, having more than 50 years of combined experience in inkjet technology development through three branches of the Xerox family tree. They are: Impika, founded in 2003 and acquired by Xerox in 2013; The Imaging Division of Tektronix, formed in 1986 and acquired by Xerox in 2000; and Xerox’s own substantial inkjet initiatives, which date to the early 1990s.
Xerox’s Inkjet History
Xerox’s initial inkjet development initiatives were around aqueous inkjet technologies that contributed to three Xerox-brand inkjet devices in the 1990s. Then in 2000, Xerox acquired the Tektronix Imaging Division, and shifted its inkjet focus to the division’s solid ink technology, which was having—and continues to have—considerable market success. Subsequent development has found applications for this technology in other areas, as well.
One is 3-D printing. Because solid ink has considerable viscosity—much more than aqueous inkjet—its print heads are highly adaptable to the additive manufacturing process of building layer upon layer to create a three-dimensional object. Tektronix began developing and supplying 3-D print heads for leading 3-D printing companies in the late 1990s. Xerox has continued the business, backed by ongoing print head development that feeds both 3-D and 2-D printing systems, and complemented by research initiatives at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada and PARC, A Xerox Company.
Another application for solid ink was in the CiPress systems, the industry’s first waterless production inkjet systems, enabling high-quality printing on plain paper, including very lightweight and inexpensive stocks. A number of print providers are growing their businesses with CiPress systems today.
Impika Adds Inkjet Depth
However, some Xerox customers who want to move into production inkjet printing prefer aqueous inkjet, which is more widespread in today’s graphic communications industry. That led Xerox to acquire Impika, which had a wide-ranging product lineup and a strong customer base in Europe.
Impika also brings to Xerox a unique combination of inkjet-related technical skills in electronics, software, mechanics, fluidic, pneumatic and chemistry, complemented by excellent integration capabilities working with leading print head and ink partners to bring solutions to market.
With Impika in the fold, Xerox now has what may be the industry’s broadest range of inkjet technology, a growing customer base across many markets and geographies, and an ambitious plan for advancing inkjet technology to meet the needs of the graphic communications market and its key applications. Among them: books, catalogs, magazines, marketing materials, labels and packaging.
The first glimpse of how the plan will play out is the Rialto 900, the first product that incorporates the thinking of both Impika and Xerox. It’s a bold offering that establishes a new market segment and introduces a number of industry firsts to build what is arguably the industry’s most automated, easy-to-use production inkjet system.
With our history of innovation and success in graphic communications, the odds are good that it will not be the last MUST SEEM ‘EMs award presented for Xerox inkjet technologies.