A decade ago Canon launched its first imagePRESS, the C7000VP. Since then over 40,000 machines bearing the imagePRESS name have been sold worldwide. We asked Mark Lawn, European Professional Print Director, to explain why the latest flagship model — the imagePRESS C10000VP — takes digital quality and productivity to the next level.
Where does the imagePRESS C10000VP fit into the professional print portfolio?
It’s the flagship imagePRESS model, so it sits at the imagePRESS apex. It’s designed for in-house CRDs, Print-for-Pay operations and commercial printers. Its 100ppm speed and duty cycle of up to 1.8 million places it right in the sweet spot of the market, where the growth opportunities are greatest.
What is the thinking behind the press?
The same philosophy that’s behind every extension of our production colour digital range — to keep the imagePRESS portfolio fresh and totally relevant to current and future market demands. In the case of the imagePRESS C10000VP, this has meant designing a specification that recognises how digital printing has advanced over the last decade.
What have those advances been?
Manufacturers have steadily improved quality, productivity and flexibility, radically altering perceptions of digital print. In return, PSPs have printed more digitally and created new products and new business models. This “virtuous circle” has taken digital firmly into the mainstream, into businesses ranging from small, agile, digital-only operations to mid-size commercial printers with both offset and digital presses. However, what comes with the mainstream territory is pressure to match the performance of traditional processes and this means meeting print buyers’ demands for fast turnaround and high quality print at a competitive price, with as little maintenance downtime as possible. In short, the market has matured, and so have the attitudes of PSPs.
So how did these factors shape the imagePRESS C10000VP?
PSPs need a reliable, robust, fast, high-quality machine that can handle pretty much whatever is thrown at it — one that’s engineered for the demands of day in, day out production. In practice, this meant the new press had to tick five main boxes — quality, productivity, reliability, consistent colour reproduction, and media flexibility. And do so without compromising in one area to deliver in another.
Can you expand on that?
Take speed as an example. The fact that the imagePRESS C10000VP can print at 100 pages-per-minute is important, but only if it can do that shift after shift, job after job, producing colour that’s consistent sheet-to-sheet, and do all this on substrates ranging from 60 gsm up to 350 gsm (uncoated) and 70 gsm up to 350gsm (coated), textured or not. That’s the environment that PSPs operate in today — things are more complex, whether you’re talking about the portfolio of services they offer, the daily production schedule — even individual jobs, which might specify a mix of media or complicated finishing.
So the press’s mixed-media capability meets a real demand?
Absolutely. Used imaginatively and appropriately, mixing different weights and textures can really increase the impact of the job. It’s also essential to exploiting print’s edge over electronic media — its physical, tactile qualities. But with some digital presses handling mixed stocks involves a significant drop in speed. This isn’t the case with the imagePRESS C10000VP because of the dual fuser design. As well as streamlining the paper path, it enhances cooling so that users can print more heat-sensitive substrates. Incorporating an external heat belt instead of a roller makes for more stable fixing and constant temperature control, even printing at high speed or on heavy stocks.
You’ve emphasised how important consistent colour is. How does the press manage this?
Consistent colour is a big contributor to productivity — you don’t want to have to reprint a job because the colour’s all over the place. It doesn’t matter how good your colour-managed workflow is, if the repeatability of the print engine is poor. So for the imagePRESS C10000VP we introduced a new toner, CV-Toner, with a specially developed para-shell structure that minimises smearing and scattering, delivering excellent image quality. The toner also has a smoother surface, so it transfers more efficiently and, by adding an extra groove to the developer assembly, the supply of toner and developer is more consistent across the range of media. The press also features new calibration technology for real-time density correction.
Earlier you said that PSPs’ attitudes had matured along with the digital printing market. What do you mean by this?
I think there is a new maturity in the way PSPs decide their investments. As a simple example, it’s much rarer now for a PSP to base their investment plans on what a close competitor has just bought or, when it comes to productivity, to believe that faster is necessarily better. Today more PSPs look to what’s happening in their own businesses and in their customers’ businesses, because they know success means keeping their promises to clients.
These changes impact manufacturers like Canon, too. For one thing, it’s a more complex sales process, one where we take a more consultative approach, guiding the customer towards an investment decision based on both current and future business strategies. This is what we mean at Canon when we talk about the “customer journey”, along which Canon supports each individual customer in an ongoing cycle of feedback and development: to do this, we manufacturers must take the time to learn more about our customers’ businesses, and likewise deliver on our promises by developing products, such as the imagePRESS C10000VP, that help them reach their desired destination at the end of the journey.