Canon Expands Into U.S. Commercial Photo-Printing Market with DreamLabo 5000 Color Ink-Jet System

In a very interesting development, Canon U.S.A. has announced it will be expanding into the U.S. commercial photo-printing market with the DreamLabo 5000, a color ink-jet system with a new, fixed-width 12” print head. The system, which will ship in early 2012, is designed for deployment in retail photo-printing and high-end print-on-demands environments for printing photos, photo calendars, photo collages, etc., and draws upon Canon Inc.’s some 30 years of experience developing ink-jet printing technology.

CanonDreamLabo5000-550x208Canon is currently showing the system (above) at the AIIM On Demand Exposition and Conference being held in Washington, D.C. The system incorporates what Canon calls FINE (Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering), and uses high-speed one-pass printing, requiring only a single pass of the paper while the print-head remains in a fixed position. It’s capable of printing a 20-page A4-size (8.27″ x 11.69″) photo album in 72 seconds (in auto duplex mode, which is standard), or up to 4”x6” color photos in one minute.

Operators can also replenish ink during printing, as the system uses a Double Ink Tank System—it temporarily stores ink from the main tanks in buffer tanks, allowing users to replace ink tanks while the system’s printing. Operators can also replace paper while printing, via a Double Paper Magazine System—paper is supplied from a separate magazine if the paper roll in use runs out. When equipped with an optional paper deck, the system enables the loading of four paper rolls, also supporting continuous-run printing.  

DreamLabo 5000 uses seven ink colors: black, cyan, magenta and yellow, plus photo cyan, photo magenta and gray, for smoother gradations, especially in images’ often difficult to render highlight and shadow areas.

An optional Digital Photo Image Enhancement System automatically analyzes images, determining the appropriate corrective adjustments for best print results; output options are also available. The system is designed for use with Canon ink-jet paper, which the firm says employs alumina as the key material; according to Canon, the advantage is that alumina quickly absorbs ink solvent, affixing only the dye component near the surface of the ink-receiving layer for higher density and more vivid color. Canon will be making a range of single- and double-sided, glossy and semi-glossy papers in a variety of widths available.

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