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B1-format simplex seven-colour digital press for industrial packaging printing.

What does it do?
This is a B1-format simplex seven-colour inkjet press intended primarily for folding carton work in runs of one to about 1,500 sheets. The press is a collaboration between Heidelberg, which makes the main press platform, and Fujifilm, which largely builds the inkjet print engine. The inks are water based and food-safe (conforming to Swiss Ordnance).

Specifications
Max sheet size: 75x106cm

Media weight: 170-450gsm

Media thickness range: 0.2-0.6mm

Printheads: Fujifilm Samba greyscale piezo, single-pass

Resolutions: 1,200x1,200dpi or 1,200x600dpi

Speeds: 2,500sph (1,200x1,200dpi), 4,500sph (1,200x600dpi)

Inline coating: Optional UV or aqueous

Inks: Heidelberg Saphira aqueous pigment

What market is it aimed at?
Montserrat Peidro-Insa, Heidelberg’s senior vice-president heading the digital print business unit, says, “It allows folding carton converters to improve their competitive edge by increasing margins in their increasingly short runs and by developing new business models only possible with an industrial digital production system.
“As with any other of the market segments in the printing industry, such as commercial or labels, packaging and specifically folding carton converting, is adopting digital printing and digital workflows in order to open new business and margin streams.” Simplex applications including calendars and book covers are also targeted.

How does it work?
The press is a 106cm wide single-pass inkjet with a print resolution of 1,200x1,200dpi. Speeds are up to 2,500sph, or 4,500sph with lower linear resolution.
The main platform (framework, feed, delivery, media transport, etc) is based on the XL 106 offset litho press. The inkjet print engine uses Samba greyscale print heads from Fujifilm Dimatix, and has a lot in common with the engine used in the B2 format Fujifilm Jet Press 720S. All colours are applied in quick succession over a large format drum, with driers positioned afterwards.
According to Peidro-Insa, “the print engine is a co-development between the two companies, therefore the input of Heidelberg is of key relevance, especially in terms of jetting control, compensation algorithms, printhead alignment and many other factors indispensable for the system to operate”.
The Saphira inks are exclusive to the Primefire and are completely different formulations to those on the Jet Press, she says.
A wide-gamut seven-colour inkset is used, where Jet Press has four. The inks are said to match 95% of Pantone colours.
There is extensive automation on the press, including XL 106 Preset Plus feeder with Intellistart 2 setup. Heidelberg’s Prinect Press Controls are used and the Prinect Digital Front End accepts and processes PDF files, which can incorporate variable data.
There are three standard configurations offered, with different workflow levels: standard, high performance and full variable data.
An interchangeable UV or water based varnish unit can be fitted inline.

What’s the USP?
Peidro-Insa says,“Primefire 106 is the first B1-size digital print offering industrial standards of production and quality, expected by any carton packaging converter used to offset technology.”

How easy is it to use?
“Operators currently using Primefire are regular offset operators with a bit of understanding of basic digital processes,” says Peidro-Insa. “The majority of the processes are automated and Heidelberg intends to keep on improving its user interface based on the feedback of the beta customers.”
Maintenance is highly automated, she says. There are short daily and weekly routines to standardise quality, plus a quarterly engineer visit as part of the package.
 
What training and support are offered?
The standard yearly service package includes a two-week training programme for operators. A printhead maintenance and exchange package is also offered.

How many are installed?
Currently two beta units are installed, at MPS and Colordruck Baiersbronn, both in Germany. Production machine shipments will start in the first half of 2018.

Alternatives
Koenig & Bauer VariJet 106
The full name of this B1 inkjet carton press includes ‘powered by Xerox’ at the end. This is a joint venture between Koenig & Bauer (using the Rapida press platform) and Xerox (using Impika inkjet technology), so it’s similar in concept and capability to the Primefire. It uses aqueous inks suited for use with coated stocks. Planned options include an opaque white unit, inline litho and screen printing units, cold foiling plus finishing units including grooving/perforating and die-cutting.

Landa S10
Landa’s S10 is a B1-format simplex digital press aimed at carton applications. This uses the Landa Nanography technology, which is basically an offset inkjet process suited to a wide range of substrates including plastics, using water and resin based inks that contain extremely small pigment particles.