This week in San Diego, HP previewed the PageWide Web Press T250 HD, which will launch officially at drupa in Düsseldorf, Germany, this June. An upgrade to its popular T240 press, the new version is aimed squarely at capturing more of the commercial print work traditionally run on offset litho presses.
First, what hasn’t changed: it still runs at 500 color fpm, and can handle up to 62 million letter-size pages per month. It still has a 22˝ web, and still offers three modes — Performance, Quality, and Performance HDK, which blends the two. It is completely upgradeable from any of the T200 series PageWide presses, and will continue to be supported and upgraded as future innovations are released.
What has changed — and it’s a big one — is the inks.
Launching alongside the T250 are the new HP Brilliant inks. The new formulation is specifically designed for commercial markets, with the ability to print directly to both coated and uncoated media without needing an extra step. HP has replaced the primer station that was needed to run multiple stocks on the T240 with a new HP Optimizer that runs in-line with the rest of the printheads.
The Optimizer is automated, and lays down the exact amount of coating needed, exactly where it is needed on a page to ensure ink adhesion every time, no matter what the surface of the paper actually looks like. HP bills it as a universal laydown to build the perfect surface for the inks every time, virtually eliminating the need to have specially treated papers, or limited options.
The inks also boast upgraded color, with 30-50% higher gamut than most industry standards, as well as offering a glossier look and feel, especially when printed on a glossy stock. According to HP, the HP Brilliant inks produce “deep reds and dazzling blues,” and are “designed to meet or exceed the sheet gloss of the paper.”
The press uses the latest HDNA thermal inkjet printhead, also launching at drupa, which is more finely tuned than previous iterations, promising smoother color transitions, with good shadows and highlights. The press will come with the Color Vision system as well, which has been upgraded to include color cameras and a new lighting system, so “what you see is what you get,” allowing operators to see in real time what the press is doing at full speed, and manage any faults or errors on-the-fly, without needing to stop the press.
Kris Albee, global marketing manager, noted that HP designed the T250 to simplify the process, providing one ink across coated, uncoated, quality, and production on a single press, in-line. “This is one press that does it all,” she said.
A New Era in Coating
Launching alongside the HP PageWide Web Press T250 HD is the ExcelCoat ZRW Web Coater from partner Harris & Bruno. This is said to be where the T250 goes from a great production inkjet device to a full-scale commercial printing powerhouse.
The coater simultaneously runs both aqueous and UV coatings, with changeout between the two done is as little as 10 minutes. It has also been simplified and automated, making it easy for a single operator to handle the entire operation from white paper to coated stock. The gloss level can be adjusted to capture the exact look that the piece requires, from a soft touch to a high gloss, and it is robust enough to withstand the abuses of the traditional mail stream, reportedly making it perfect for capturing direct mail operations.
Everything from the cylinders to the dryers are modular, making it very easy and quick to change out, without needing tools or equipment. It can also feed directly into existing finishing lines, with the combination of press and coater playing well with all of the major finishing equipment, including winders, cutters, creasers, and more.
For commercial printers looking to expand into new growth areas without sacrificing applications such as direct mail or transactional jobs, this is a pretty compelling piece of equipment. It solves many of the challenges of earlier inkjet options, while still providing all of the benefits of a fully digital product.
All in all, this is an exciting step forward for high-speed production inkjet for the commercial space. The press will get its first beta installations in July after drupa wraps, with orders anticipated worldwide.