MUNICH, Germany - Océ Printing Systems last month unveiled a new digital press aimed squarely at newspaper publishers interested in migrating from offset to digital printing.

The JetStream 2800, available later this year, is the firm's latest evolution in short-run web-fed full-color presses, said Guy Broadhurst, vice president of technology and client development, production printing systems for Oce North America.

It follows in the footsteps of the JetStream 2200 digital press, a narrow-web machine Océ introduced in 2007. The JetStream machines use Oce's proprietary DigiDot piezoelectric inkjet, which varies the size of each ink drop automatically.

The 2800, priced at between $5 million and $6 million depending on configuration, can be outfitted with Océ's latest workflow, PrismaProduction 4.02, which supports fully integrated preflight and make-ready tools.

The new press is configured with a 30-inch web and a live-image area of 29.5 inches. It can image at a resolution of 600-by-600 dots per inch and has a run speed of 130 meters per minute, or 4,000 copies per hour for a 32-page tabloid newspaper, Broadhurst said.

It can be equipped with finishing systems from Hunkeler and Bowe Bell + Howell and uses software and inkjet engine technology from Creo and Miyakoshi Printing Machinery Co., respectively.

Up to 85 percent of all newspaper formats can be produced on the press, Broadhurst said. "We believe the 2800 is designed to support the market's accelerating transition from offset to digital printing," he said

"As newspaper publishers are struggling with rising costs, changing market expectations and a challenging economy, we feel that we can help address their business issues and improve supply chain and business models."

Broadhurst said changing reader habits will drive publishers to adopt short-run print

"Readers used to have to wait to get copies of their homeland newspapers. By printing digitally, however, editions can roll off the presses in as little as 20 minutes after deadline," he said. Digital production will also help publishers attract new revenue streams by allowing advertisers to target readership more effectively with personalized content, he said.

"We have the speed, quality and productivity for newspapers to migrate to digital production. Now the industry can think about new personalized newspaper projects," Broadhurst said.

Flexible content

Additionally, said Crit Driessen, Oce's vice president of marketing and strategy, digital presses provide publishers with great flexibility in how they want to create new products.

Rather than conventional, centralized production and mass-market distribution, the advent of presses such as the JetStream 2800 will enable newspapers to create hyper-local products, with flexible content and formats. That includes things like tailored FSIs and slimmed-down versions of newspapers for distribution to travelers and other targeted readers. Los Angleles-based O'Neil Data Systems, for example, already prints a number of Australian titles for Qantas Airlines passsengers. "We believe newspapers will become one of our biggest growth markets," Driessen said.

Meantime, Océ said it sold a JetStream 2200 digital press to Madrid-based publisher Imcodavila. The firm said it will use the machine to print in full color 6,000, 80-page broadsheet papers each day - a mixture of dailies, weeklies and monthlies.

The machine, with a speed of 150 meters per minute and a web width of 21.5 inches, will go on-edition next month. It will allow Imcodavila to eliminate having to produce short-run titles on the publisher's existing manroland Uniset machines.

"The installation of an Océ JetStream printing system will help us to provide our customers with a wide range of quality publications in full color," said Imcodavila Manager Luciano Monedero, adding that the firm will begin producing foreign financial newspapers on the digital press later this year.

Digital pricing 1,2,3

Océ Printing Systems breaks its pricing structure into three separate components: the hardware, which is the actual digital press; a service contract that covers maintenance and, if requested, software and finishing equipment; and ink plus clicks.

It's the latter that sometimes confuses newspaper production managers who are more familiar with the costs associated with running a web offset press.

Simply, said Guy Broadhurst, vice president of technology and client development, production printing systems for Océ North America, ink plus clicks means a publisher would only be charged on the amount of throughput per linear foot on the press. It is not based on web width of the press. This type of billing is similar to how many commercial operations charge for digital press time.

Ink plus clicks is monitored via software installed on the press. The software tracks how much paper moves through the press and at the end of the month the clicks (12 inches, or one linear foot) are charged as a variable cost. The clicks measured black or full color printing. Spare parts are also put under the click area.

Broadhurst said Océ works hard to ensure users that digital ink costs are priced fairly. The company, he said, fully discloses ink yields, coverage ratios and the cost per imaging.

"It's a different industry, and newspaper executives can't think of digital press operational costs in the same terms as offset. Digital printing should be examined under the total cost of ownership, dependent upon volume and ink coverage," he said.