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Manroland could be set to move into the digital wide-format print market after being granted its 709th patent for ‘inkjet printing apparatus’.

The manufacturer filed for the patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and it marks the 709th patent the company has received.

According to industry experts, the print apparatus covers a simplified printhead array for single-pass printing that would be compatible with current and future piezo inkjet heads.

The current patent outlines “an inkjet printing apparatus having an array of inkjet printheads, wherein each printhead has at least one ink port for receiving ink and at least one nozzle for directing ink onto a substrate to be printed”.

At this point, it is unclear which printhead manufacturer would supply the heads for such a machine or whether the printer would output more than one colour.

Andrew Tribute, a consultant in digital and pre-press technology, said he was not surprised by the growth of litho manufacturers expanding into digital.

“Lots of companies are doing it and this patent could be the basis for a wide-format inkjet printer, if a bit of a late entry by Manroland.”

Last week, fellow press manufacturer KBA said it was looking into “new business lines”, including digital.