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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Large Format Printing: New Presses from AGFA

Digital printing manufacturers are getting more serious—and creative—with their offerings. I recently read about two AGFA products, the :M-Press Tiger and :M-Press Leopard, which combine large-format flatbed inkjet printing and custom screen printing in various (changeable) configurations.

This is exciting because it allows suppliers to produce double-sided prints on numerous flexible and rigid substrates, with exceptionally high-quality output, lower materials costs, and added variable data information, while incorporating spot colors, metallics, opaque white, and varnish using the inline screen printing options. This makes digital custom printing competitive with traditional multicolor custom screen printing for short, medium, and some longer runs.

Why These Are Such Impressive Inkjet Presses

  1. Image quality—The two digital inkjet presses (:M-Press Tiger and :M-Press Leopard) include 64 grayscale drop-on-demand variable drop piezo print heads, which vary inkjet drop sizes between 10 picoliters and 26 picoliters (a picoliter is one millionth of a millionth, or 10 to the 12th power, of a liter). The smaller ink drops allow for precise text (down to 4 pt. type) and line art, while the larger drops provide increased image saturation. Together, the larger and smaller ink drops provide both clarity and vivid color along with smooth gradations and flat tints, all without any banding.
  2. Color gamut–Agfa’s :Anuvia HD (UV cured) inks provide an exceptionally wide color gamut compared to similar inkjet equipment.
  3. Varied substrates—Since both the :M-Press Tiger and :M-Press Leopard are flatbed inkjet printers, they can produce both indoor and outdoor materials on everything from backlit material to paper, metal, corrugated board, PVC, and self-adhesive vinyl. This translates into all manner of products, from point of sale materials to backlit signage, from vehicle wraps to building wraps. And these large format printing presses can print on substrates up to 2” thick.
  4. Cost-savings—These two inkjet printers lay down a very thin film of ink; therefore, the lower ink consumption keeps the overall cost of operation low. (As a beneficial side effect of the thin layers of ink, the :M-Press Tiger and :M-Press Leopard allow for smooth overprinting with special coatings and additional colors.)
  5. Immediacy of UV inks—The UV dryer that can be configured with the system makes printed products ready to use immediately after they exit the press.
  6. Multiple configurations of inkjet and screen printing—Printers can configure these flatbed inkjet presses along with their custom screen printing units in different ways. For instance, the screen printing can follow the inkjetting unit, or it can both precede and follow the inkjetting unit (i.e., you can incorporate two custom screen printing units into the overall press configuration). Depending on where you locate the screen printing units, you can add primers, thermal ink, or even scratch-‘n-sniff inks without compromising productivity and throughput. By using two screen printing units in the press, you can even lay down a film of high-density white ink before proceeding to the 4-color inkjet unit and then on to the post-press screen printing unit.
  7. Variable data printing—For point of sale imaging, as well as flexible packaging, it’s possible to use the :M-Press Tiger and :M-Press Leopard to produce multiple versions of printed items depending on the demographics of the target audience (i.e., you can change the packaging to make it more personal to the buyer). This allows for shorter consecutive press runs with less makeready, providing printed products that can be more effective in capturing audience interest.

What This Means for You

If you are a designer, commercial printing supplier, or print buyer, I think you will find it useful to understand just how serious today’s press equipment manufacturers have become in their digital press offerings. Quality has improved measurably and has gone far beyond the output of desktop inkjet models. :M-Press Tiger and :M-Press Leopard are full-scale printing presses with large footprints. They automate printing processes, improve quality, allow for flexibility and personalization, and reduce costs. Ink on paper isn’t going away, but the landscape is changing, and digital custom printing is making major strides forward.

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