The Belgian manufacturer previewed Trillium (then known as Quantum) in March 2012, and showed a concept single-colour unit at Drupa.

It has now advanced to the point where a four-colour high-speed press is ready to go into testing.

The firm aims to take on high-speed colour inkjet devices from suppliers such as HP, Kodak and Canon/Océ.

Michael Ring, president of Xeikon America, said: “We’re able to address inkjet costs and speeds, but without any limitations to area coverage or image quality, which seems to be a void in the market today that can’t be addressed by any other digital technology.”

Trillium technology prints at 1,200dpi using toner particles that are around 10 microns in size, compared with Xeikon’s existing 28 micron particles. It also differs from Xeikon’s current range because it uses an intermediate transfer cylinder.

Xeikon director of document segment marketing Danny Mertens said one of the most important breakthroughs with the technology was ‘micro-gapping’ between the cylinders, which involves a gap of just five microns.

“This is almost impact printing. With micro-gapping we are very close in those contact zones, the toner particles only have to jump a very small distance to develop the image,” Mertens explained. “The look and feel of the print is totally different, because the toner layer is a lot smoother and smaller.”

He added: “If you compare us with other technologies we are probably the most accurate next to traditional print in transferring and developing an image, and that’s an important differentiator for the quality of the image but also the speed.”

HP Indigo also uses liquid toner, but Mertens said the Xeikon method had major differences. “Our implementation is what we call high viscosity liquid toner. We do not evaporate or fuse out the carrier oil, we recycle it in the system. So don’t have to evacuate any vapours out of the printing press.”

The print width of the Trillium press is 500mm and it can run at 60m/min, printing on substrates from 60-250gsm. Mertens said the duty cycle was a minimum of 5m A3 prints per month and described the machine’s footprint as “compact for the speed offered” at 11x5m.

The beta site will be a producer of high-quality direct mail.

Xeikon has also tested the de-inkability of the output, which Mertens said was at the same level as its current products. “It was almost a design specification from our side because we see it as very important.”

Pricing was not disclosed, although Xeikon said it would be a “significant” investment

After beta-testing, field tests will begin in Q1 2014 and run for six months, followed by full commercial launch.

Meanwhile parent firm Punch International has confirmed that it is in advanced talks with an unamed party over the possible acquisition of Xeikon at a share price of €5.85.

It is the company’s first announcement on the issue since it revealed in a statement in January that it was in early stage talks with a possible buyer.