Back in 2010, Xerox released its latest update of the iGen digital printing press. The iGen4 was positioned as the “all new iGen” by Xerox. Most iGen owners who have transitioned from iGen1 up to iGen3 were not thrilled to hear of a new update. The updates were primarily in software, with subtle hardware fixes. The update from iGen3 to iGen4, however, is a great leap. One of the biggest things is the ability to print up to a 14.33″ x 26″ sheet, the largest size possible for a sheet-fed digital printing device. There are also other interesting quality-control upgrades that I will touch on below.
Many may think that a larger sheet size on a digital press wouldn’t be such an improvement. As digital equipment tries to catch up to offset equipment, however, this sheet size has been the one thing that’s been holding digital back. Think about trying to print a cover for an oblong 11″ x 8.5″ book. The cover itself would be 22.5″ x 8.5″ plus bleeds. This was impossible until the iGen4! This large-sheet capacity has given digital printers the opportunity to print materials that were once achievable only on offset equipment.
One of the drawbacks of printing a larger sheet is having to control the color across a larger surface. Xerox has introduced some new equipment to take care of this. First, an inline spectrometer is used to automate color adjustments and calibrate the equipment from sheet to sheet to ensure quality. There is also an auto density controller that Xerox says will virtually eliminate streaking and banding (though I find this very hard to believe since this is the largest complaint with all plastic-based toner machines)!
Lastly, one of the new features of the iGen4 is its use of Xerox’s new “dry ink,” which is basically a nice way of saying plastic-based toner. The only difference between the old toner and the new toner is the fact that this toner is generated from scratch, allowing the toner particles to be identical in size and color. Xerox refers to this process as “chemically born toner” meaning that instead of the toner be refined from one particle to the other, these particles are specifically generated to be toner. This will help to ensure that the quality of the toner is spot on and will increase the overall quality of the print.
It’s great to see that Xerox is taking the bull by the horns and making digital equipment that rivals that of offset. But the question still looms: Will the claims Xerox makes in its marketing materials hold true when you get the iGen4 in house? I would dare to say, with the proper maintenance and calibration routine, yes, but if you forgo that routine, the quality will begin to fade quickly!
So, what new opportunities will this press open up for you?
Author: John Mehl