By DPS Staff
Color is a growing segment, but for many printed pages B&W remains the technology of choice. In the cutsheet, toner-based production print market, printer manufacturers take note of the continued use of monochrome printing and release faster, better, and cheaper devices to support its loyal user base.
The biggest driver of monochrome is price. While an exact cost comparison is tough to gauge due to the amount of variables, in general it is expected that a B&W page is more cost effective to produce than color.
“When comparing the overall total cost of ownership of two toner-based systems, it’s fair to assume that the monochrome page will be drastically cheaper than the same image printed on a color press—even if that monochrome page was printed on an offset, pre-printed shell,” explains John Santoli, platform and product marketing manager, Xerox Corporation. “The cost of a monochrome page is measured in tenths of a penny—which is very cost effective.”
Jennifer Kolloczek, senior manager, marketing, production solutions division, Business Imaging Solutions Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc., adds that when “comparing most digital toner-based devices, monochrome can be as low as ten to 20 percent of color printed pages. With a higher adoption of inkjet in the very high-end market, this cost difference is less significant,” she admits.
Above: Ricoh offers a range of B&W multifunction production printers, including the RICOH Pro 8210s/8220s/8220, featuring speeds of up to 135 ppm with a resolution of up to 1200×4800 dpi.
The continued use of monochrome printers is largely driven by output cost and engine productivity.
“In my opinion a number of factors influence a print service provider’s (PSP’s) decision to print B&W over color,” says John Dembia, manager, product marketing, production print products, Konica Minolta Business Solutions, U.S.A., Inc. “We are in a price-sensitive market, so certainly cost is a factor as B&W printed sheets typically do cost less than color. Other factors include productivity based on the speed of the engine and volume of the printed job. And simply put, not all applications require color.”
Drivers for B&W depend on the specific job requirements and the appropriate use of color. “For example, when you go into a book store, the vast majority of pages are B&W. Applying color for the sake of applying color will not offer the return on investment that color generally provides. For that reason, we see that when there is no benefit of applying color, then there is no need to increase the production cost on a color device,” says Brian Dollard, director of strategic planning and business development, Commercial & Industrial Printing Business Group, Ricoh USA, Inc.
Just behind cost as a benefit of B&W is speed—or productivity. “Many B&W applications have tight timeline requirements—like bills and invoices, so the faster a press can complete each job, the better,” says Santoli.
B&W investment drivers are similar across applications. “That said, it is up to the PSP to decide how they will produce each job and many factors can influence this,” says Kolloczek.
Santoli suggests that while strategies for adopting a digital monochrome press may start differently, at the end of most decision processes, all printers—regardless of the segment they serve—will evaluate the overall quality and performance of any monochrome system on its total cost of ownership.
Key Features Per Application
Key features and requirements of B&W print engines vary from each individual environment or vertical market.
For instance commercial printers require machines that support high monthly print volumes, greater sheet input, and high capacity stacking if using offline finishing. A CRD may require high-speed scanning and will want to reduce overall cost by bringing advanced finishing in house to spare the expense of outsourcing. Education environments might look for ease of use, scanning, and may not require advanced finishing, suggests Dembia.
Kolloczek adds that book production environments typically require duplex printing and tight registration. Transactional and direct mail requires native IPDS/AFP or PCL. “The common denominator for monochrome printing is that it is low margin work, making productivity, uptime, and reliability essential.”
Transaction printers—either in plant or service bureaus—are most interested in accepted data streams. RIP performance, print speeds, and feeding and stacking capacity associated with a press; while publishing printers are most interested in maximum paper size, print quality, registration tolerance, imposition, and inline finishing options, notes Santoli.
Dollard says generally speaking, all industries require more than just the printed piece, which compels the printer to take a closer look at finishing. “The question is, are the volumes there to support an inline solution or an offline solution. We don’t see a dramatic difference in that requirement from one industry to the next, it’s more of an issue of application requirement,” he explains.
On the Market
Select vendors feature toner-based, monochrome cutsheet presses targeting a range of environments.
Canon U.S.A., Inc. offers a range of toner-based monochrome cutsheet production digital presses, including the varioPRINT 140 Series, targeting light- to mid-volume production environments; the imagePRESS 1135+ for mid-volume production; and the Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN SERIES for high-volume production environments.
The Océ varioPRINT 140 Series supports optimal monthly volumes from 80,000 to 800,000 letter-sized impressions per month. It consists of three models that print at speeds of up to 140, 130, and 114 impressions per minute (ipm). The Series incorporates Canon’s DirectPress Technology, which is designed to eliminate quality degradation. The varioPRINT 140 Series supports media from 5.5×7.17 to 12.6×19.2 inches, and weights from 13 lb. bond to 110 lb. cover in all trays. It offers print resolutions of 600×2,400 dpi/200 lpi. The Windows 10-based PRISMAsynch Print Server drives the varioPRINT 140 Series.
The Canon imagePRESS 1135+ targets mid-volume commercial and in-plant production customers and features print speeds of up to 135 ipm. It supports media sizes up to 13×19.2 inches and weights from 14 lb. bond to 110 lb. cover in all trays. It has a maximum input capacity of 14,000 sheets from ten input trays, plus a post-insertion capacity of up to 4,000 sheets. It provides resolution up to 1,200×1,200 dpi with 256-level grayscale.
The Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN is a high-volume production market device built on the Océ VarioPrint 6000 platform and features Gemini Instant Duplex Technology, which prints both sides of the page simultaneously. The Océ VarioPrint 6000 supports optimal monthly volumes of up to ten million letter impressions.
The TITAN Series features three models, the Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN for commercial printers and corporate in plants, the Océ VarioPrint 6000 TP for transactional print environments, and the Océ VarioPrint 6000 MICR TITAN for sensitive financial documents.
The Océ VarioPrint TITAN series offers a maximum running speed of up to 320 letter ipm in perfecting mode. Four speed models are available to meet different production requirements—VarioPrint 6180, 6200, 6270, and 6330. The Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN supports sizes from 8×8 up to 13×19.7 inches when the Paper Input Module Flex-A1 is installed.
Konica Minolta offers the entry-level bizhub PRO 1100, a B&W engine printing at speeds of up to 100 letter pages per minute (ppm). It supports standard media weights from 40 to 300 gsm and up to 350 gsm with the optional MB-507 multi bypass tray. Print resolution is specified at 1,200×1,200 dpi. Target markets include central in-house printing facilities, external print-for-pay services, education, and legal environments.
Dembia says the company’s most recent B&W engines are found in the AccurioPress 6136 series, which consists of three models, 6136, 6136P, and 6120.
The Konica Minolta AccurioPress 6120 prints at rated speeds of up to 120 letter ppm. It supports standard media weights from 40 to 350 gsm. Print resolution is specified at 1,200×1,200 dpi.
The Konica Minolta AccurioPress 6136 prints at a rated speed of up to 136 letter ppm. It supports standard media weights from 40 to 350 gsm. Print resolution is specified at 1,200×1,200 dpi. The Konica Minolta AccurioPress 6136P is a printer-only, high-volume print engine.
New developments include automated real-time density and front-to-back registration control with Konica Minolta’s IQ-501 Intelligent Quality Optimizer.
Operational efficiency is improved with a user interface similar to Konica Minolta’s color production engines. “This provides a unified experience for the operator in a mixed B&W and color environment,” says Dembia.
Ricoh offers the RICOH Pro 8210s/8220s/8210/8220 B&W multifunction production printers featuring speeds of up to 136 ppm with a resolution up to 1,200×4,800 dpi. The devices support a range of media, including heavy and textured stock, up to 13×19.2 inches.
Recent advancements in B&W production by Ricoh include the Ricoh Peripheral Interface Port. “This technology allows third-party professional production finishing to connect inline, creating a finished printed product with less operator involvement due to a standardized interface,” says Dollard.
Another advancement is oversized media support for printing on media up to 27.5 inches. “This enables a wider variety of applications that go beyond the industry standard B3 such as book jackets, six page tri-fold brochures, and point of purchase displays,” adds Dollard.
The Xerox Nuvera Production System is a networked printing system comprised of multiple modules that are configurable to meet individual customer needs.
The products are sold with speeds from 100 to 314 ipm. They can be acquired with either traditional toner or with Magnetic Ink Character Recognition to print checks. The systems service a variety of print environments, including commercial print establishments, in-plant CRDs, quick printers, service bureaus, and data centers.
All Xerox Nuvera Product Systems can print on coated and uncoated papers—ranging from 52 to 300 gsm, and deliver a 4,800×600 dpi print resolution with an offset-like finish.
While monochrome printing is not usually the most highlighted technology in a print provider’s portfolio, or the buzz at industry events, vendors that play in this space continually invest in the technology.
Canon continues to invest in new technologies for the B&W production market. Both the varioPRINT 140 Series and the Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN Series were launched in 2017.
The varioPrint 140 Series and Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN Series feature Canon’s productivity tools for production planning and monitoring. These include PRISMAsync Job Scheduler, PRISMAsync Remote Manager, PRISMAsync Remote Control application for smart devices, and PRISMAlytics Dashboard for historic press performance analysis.
Konica Minolta continues to invest in new technologies in the B&W production market. “Research from various sources within our industry indicates that there is a shift occurring to color pages for many applications. We know that. However, that same research also shows that B&W pages will continue to make up the majority of the volume of overall printed pages for many applications including books, user manuals, transactional printing, direct mail, or reports and forms,” says Dembia.
Ricoh is also making strategic investments in B&W and color support. “While industry reports note print volumes are shrinking, we are seeing opportunities for expanded, value-added relationships with our customers ranging from printing, capturing, document management, finishing, and more. For those reasons, Ricoh continues to develop and support monochrome solutions across both eletrophotographic (EP) and inkjet,” offers Dollard.
Xerox continues to invest in the B&W toner market. “We will continue to demonstrate that commitment for the foreseeable future as additional plans for investments are currently underway,” says Santoli.
Recent Xerox investments into the Nuvera product line include an expansion of supported paper stocks, image quality improvements, advancements to IPDS data stream support, and updates to the self-service maintenance wizard.
Toners found in cutsheet B&W production presses differ by manufacturer.
Canon offers a range of toner imaging technologies from traditional EP in its imagePRESS 1135+ digital press, to Copy Press Technology in its Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN Series and DirectPress Technology driving its varioPRINT 140 Series.
The imagePRESS 1135+ features auto gradation technology and the developer unit offers a twin sleeve design, which helps provide consistent distribution of toner across the page. It’s designed to avoid mottling and create fuller solids, explains Kolloczek.
The Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN features Copy Press and Gemini Instant Duplex Technology. Océ’s Copy Press technology presses a toner image to paper at low fusing temperatures. “The result is highly consistent print quality with an offset look and feel with virtually no waste of toner or ozone emissions. The majority of monochrome applications are duplex and Océ Gemini Instant Duplex Technology leverages the unique characteristics of Copy Press and mirrors one Copy Press engine, allowing it to print on both sides of the paper at the same time to address this demand,” says Kolloczek.
The Canon Océ varioPRINT 140 Series features DirectPress Technology, which takes Copy Press a step further by eliminating variables like electrical charges, static, and light to deliver consistent quality across pages, jobs, systems, and time. “In this process, toner goes only where it’s supposed to, eliminating wasted toner. Low fusing temperature enables a wider range of media,” says Kolloczek.
Konica Minolta’s B&W production print engines use proprietary Simitri HD toner technology. “The toner is polymerized, which helps to reproduce greater detail because it employs smaller, more uniform toner particles that adhere more tightly to the paper, rendering fine lines and sharp edges with superior quality. It also ensures great halftone definition and solid fills,” adds Dembia.
The toner found in the RICOH Pro 8200 series is pulverized to a very fine, uniform dot shape, shares Dollard. This is complemented by Ricoh’s 1,200×4,800 VCSEL laser technology, which enables smooth gradients and a low pile height on the media enabling the devices to use a lower fusing temperature.
The Xerox Nuvera line utilizes Emulsion Aggregation (EA) toner technology, a latex-based dry ink toner designed to produce sharper text and prints that don’t have an embossed feel on the printed page, according to Santoli. “This brings digital printing another step closer to production offset-like quality. EA toner also has double the yield of traditional toners and fuses at a lower temperature than traditional carbon-based toners—opening up the range of supported coated papers,” he says.
Committed to B&W
A variety of printed pages are produced using B&W technologies. Continued advancements enable better productivity, higher quality output, and cost-effective print runs.
Mar2018, DPS Magazine