September 2, 2016 report
New Xerox inkjet prints on a variety of items and surfaces
(Tech Xplore)—Xerox has announced a new type of printer on its website called the Xerox Direct to Object Inkjet Printer. As the company demonstrated at the recent Drupa print media fair, it can print text and graphics directly on objects placed inside of it, eliminating the need for decals or other types of transfers.
3-D printers have made headlines for several years, but now it appears that Xerox is still in the business of making cutting-edge 2-D printers. The new printer is approximately the size of a vending machine and uses inkjet technology to print directly onto a 3-D object that is placed (and strapped) inside of its cabinet. Xerox explains that this is possible because of advancements they have made with the print nozzles—each is approximately the width of a human hair and is capable of very accurately spraying for distances up to a quarter of an inch. This is what makes non-flat surface printing possible.
The printer is capable of printing designs on football helmets, or names and logos on such things as drinking bottles. It can print on glass, paper, metal, ceramic and possibly other materials, and can print at resolutions up to 1,200 DPI on objects as small as a bottle-cap. Xerox claims the printer can handle approximately 30 jobs per hour (depending on the object and the skill of the loader.)
Xerox is clearly aiming its new printer at the manufacturing market, as the $145,000 cost per unit is far too high for most small shops or users at home. The company actually sold the demo it was showing at the fair to a U.K.-based printing company, suggesting they plan to sell the printers directly to customers on an individual basis—this further suggests that some parts of the printer (such as the cabinet) may be customizable to allow for printing on larger objects. There is also the implication that such printers may find niche makers as well, such as sports stadiums offering on-site printing of personalized gear. Notably, Xerox is not the only printer maker branching out into direct printing. Companies such as Resolute DTG, Roland DG and Mimaki have all announced similar systems.
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