Canon has revealed plans for a new B3 sheet-fed inkjet press in its VarioPrint iX line, complementing the existing iX2100 and iX3200 models, but offering 170 A4 ppm via a new Canon thermal printhead and tailored ink combination.

Being previewed this week at Canon Expo 2023 in Yokohama, Japan, the VarioPrint iX1700 is not expected to be commercially available until 2025, but will be shown at drupa 2024. While pricing and a raft of other details are unconfirmed at this notice, Canon has said that the CMYK press uses a jetted ‘conditioner’ akin to the ColorGrip primer already used in its sheet-fed and web inkjet presses, to enable printing to a wide range of coated and uncoated media.

The new machine will target print volumes that fall between those achievable with Canon’s toner-based flagship ImagePress V1350, and the inkjet VarioPrint iX2100/3200 and completes the company’s offering for heavy production environments. The 170 A4 images per minute equate to 73 B3 images per minute, which both can be halved for duplex pages per minute figures. The target users are ‘demanding’ commercial printers and in-house print/CRD operations.

Canon says the 2400 x 1200dpi full B3-width printhead and water-based ‘highly saturated’ pigment inks will enable the iX1700 to produce high-quality print applications such as marketing collateral, books and ‘demanding’ business communications.

The ink is said to form a very thin layer, preserving the texture of the substrate and Canon claimed a wide colour gamut for the result but was not yet able to quantify this, other than to say that the Fogra 51 specification was a target and that similar results to those achievable with the iX3200 were anticipated; neither would it be drawn on whether additional channels might be supported at a future date. Being water-based, the ink is expected to be suitable for secondary food packaging applications.

The new press will run with existing Prisma Sync production and workflow software. The new printhead and ink combination is (so far) unique so far to the iX1700 and will not be transferred to the more productive piezo-based iX models, for which Canon Europe’s Hans Schmidbauer confirmed that this remains the preferred technology. Jennifer Kolloczek, European planning, marketing & innovation senior director, production print at Canon confirmed that the company will continue to support toner technology, saying, ‘Electrophotography volumes are relatively stable and both have a place in the market. We see a number of double installs of sheet-fed inkjet and toner presses.’

The iX1700 will encompass a number of automation and reliability features derived from the company’s existing inkjet expertise, including on-the-fly registration correction. Continuous ink circulation within the new thermal printhead is intended to keep ink at the optimum viscosity for jetting for stable operation over long runs. Canon could not confirm the expected lifespan of the thermal printheads nor whether they would be classed as a consumable.

The ability to handle a wide range of media was claimed but no specifications for weight ranges or media types was given. The unit is described as being more compact that the existing iX models, with a minimal configuration occupying a length of around 8.5m and a depth of 1m. More details are expected to be announced as drupa 2024 draws nearer.