Digital Print, Expanding Horizons in Woodworking

Ron Gilboa
Sep 20, 2018

The biannual International Woodworking Fair, which took place August 21-25 in Atlanta, GA, held its inaugural Digital Printing Symposium, which was created in partnership between IWF, the organizers of the show, Surface & Panel Magazine, and Keypoint intelligence. While this symposium is new, digital printing has actually been part of the woodworking industry for some time. That said, the need to short-run cost-effective decorative surfaces, as well as ongoing development in digital inkjet printing sector, is creating a perfect storm for the technology to meet woodworking’s market needs.

Inaugural IWF Digital Print Symposium

Inaugural IWF Digital Print Symposium

Participating in this inaugural event were industry-leading companies such as Barberan, Baumer, Cefla Finishing, North American Plywood, and Schattdecor, as well as household names from the graphics arts industry like Canon and Vanguard digital.  While these companies may appear to work in different sectors, they all share a common strategy to address the growing needs of suppliers, as well as a desire to address the mass customization in an 11 billion M2 per year décor laminate market and an over $140 billion annual woodworking industry in the U.S. alone.

About 60 attendees from various woodworking segments such as cabinetry, panels, and flooring learned about the benefits of digital printing and heard firsthand experience from companies that already use digital printing in production.

The opening presentation by Keypoint Intelligence provided context for key dynamics in the market, namely the continued demand by consumers for richly decorated surfaces that are customized to their needs, as well as the desires of commercial architects and contractors looking to add unique elements to their projects. Furthermore, digital printing technology can aid in improving operational efficiencies such as just-in-time manufacturing, reduction of inventories, and reduced waste and obsolescence of designs. These are addressed with a range of digital technologies capable of creating décor surfaces for high-pressure laminates, flooring laminates, and direct decoration onto boards.

Schattdecor Oversized digitally printed pattern

Schattdecor Oversize digitally printed pattern

In his presentation, Chief Technology Officer at Schattdecor Inc. Roland Heeger noted that digital printing can offer opportunities to create new products that were previously impossible with rotogravure, such as designs that may exceed 15’ in length, or larger than the typical circumference of a gravure cylinder, as well as a ‘rainbow roll’ of décor paper. These rolls contain several lengths of print jobs with different designs based on client requirements. Remember to keep in mind that a typical minimum order for décor paper is one ton of paper. This old limitation necessitated that clients order individual rolls of décor, and manage inventory until they were consumed or became obsolete. Rainbow rolls only include the décor designs the line needs in the exact quantity required.

 

Another producer in the event was Don Kuser, General Manager of North Americal Plywood. His company has a full production line for manufacturing decorated board, from sanding and priming to digital printing and coating, NAPL meets clients’ needs for “digital staining” of natural wood and veneers, as well as printing on panels that require full coating. NAPL has taken advantage of a unique feature of its UV printer, namely printing without immediately curing the ink. This process allows ink that is printed on natural wood or wood veneers to soak into the wood prior to final UV cure and coat. The result is a wood face that looks naturally stained, or resembles a premium wood species, simulated on a less expensive baseboard.

NPLY Inca based print line

NPLY Inca based print line

These two examples were followed by discussions from equipment suppliers including Barberan,  Baumer, Canon, Cefla, and Vanguard. Each highlighted various opportunities that digital printing offers to small and large producers alike. From scanning head to single pass inkjet printing, they all noted that the key to successfully implementating digital printing in woodworking required investment, not only in the technology but, more importantly, in a clear business strategy, production workflow, and quality assurance. Each also stressed the investment in trained staff.

Grand Burkholder from Sauder Woodworking Company noted, “The capabilities of it (digital printing), creating depth of pattern, reproducing wood species, using pigmented inks, is amazing.”

The symposium concluded with attendees noting that digital printing has unique capabilities, some of which they had not been aware of beforehand. Many attendees felt these features would be useful when incorporated into their existing product workflows, allowing their companies to differentiate themselves and create new opportunities for business growth.

Keypoint Intelligence believes that the benefits inherent to digital printing will provide new opportunities for woodworking producers and brands to offer creative high-value products that meet industry standards, as well as offer consumers customized products that meet their lifestyle at a cost effective price.

Almost 50% of General Office Workers in the U.S. said their Required Color Printing is Increasing.

Barbara Richards
Sep 19, 2018

According to recent Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends primary research, roughly 50% of 18 to 29-year-olds in general office environments said their required office color printing is increasing compared to 33% for all respondents.   Furthermore, our study found almost 59% of all office workers indicate no change or decrease in their required color printing of work-related documents. Our survey found that companies with less than 100 employees showed a greater increase in their required color printing overall.

For all your required work-related printing is the use of color increasing, decreasing or remaining the same?

In addition, 40% of general office workers said that their optional work-related color printing is increasing. Again, this was highest among 18 to 29-year-olds in our survey results, with 55% stating their optional color printing was increasing. Furthermore, compared with our 2016 survey results, in the U.S., color printing of optional documents is growing.

Growth in color output can be directly attributed to the growth of color devices in the market. In fact, in 2017, color EP office devices grew 2.7% year over year. As the price of color printers and MFPs continue to decline more and more people have access to these devices in the office.    In fact, general office users in our survey, said the reasons they have increased their color printing was that it adds more value to the document, makes it easier to read and that color prints are more influential overall.

This is just a sampling of some of the key findings, from our recent primary research survey results. On October 22nd, Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends Office Group Analysts will be presenting a Webinar “Future of Office Print” please select the links below if you are interested in attending.

10AM EST – https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5561315912742553345

2PM EST – https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1882686456762387457

 

Our Best Photos Deserve to Be Printed

Ed Lee
Sep 12, 2018

SoI-BG-2018

Excerpt from Digital Imaging Reporter’s State of the Industry 2018

The photo output market has gone through major changes since digital cameras replaced film photography. Film had to be developed and printed in order to see the photos. So there was a minimum ratio of one-to-one with prints. Thanks to smartphones, we are now taking more photos than ever before. However, only a fraction of them will ever make their way onto a print or photo product (more than 1.2 trillion images were captured globally by cameras and smartphones in 2017). Read more »

HP acquires Apogee

Deborah Hawkins
Aug 8, 2018

On the 1st August 2018, HP Inc signed a definitive agreement to acquire all shares of Apogee.

The UK based office equipment dealer claims to be Europe’s largest independent provider of print outsourced services and document and process technology. The transaction values Apogee as of closing at GBP380m

Why Apogee?

This acquisition is a continuation of HP’s strategy to expand its contractual sales strategy and disrupt the A3 office market which began with HP’s acquisition of Samsung Printing in September 2016. Since that time, HP has been recruiting selective office equipment dealers that offer higher margin services, to its partner program across the globe. Read more »

Brands Represent BLUE Ocean for Esko

Ryan McAbee
Jul 25, 2018

Last week Esko announced its acquisition of BLUE Software, LLC, a label and artwork management software company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. We had the opportunity to speak with Heidi Larsen, VP, Brand Integration Leader, who is directing the integration of the two companies, to get Esko’s perspective.

BLUE will join other Esko acquisitions, Enfocus and MediaBeacon, and sit under Danaher’s Product Identification platform of companies. In the issuing statement, Esko President Udo Panenka, said “We are relentlessly seeking to reduce time to market, cost and quality risk in the end-to-end packaging value chain. The acquisition of BLUE enhances Esko’s unique set of tools to enable brand owners and their partners to improve all three.”

Global brands continually need to flatten and speed up their supply chains so they can respond more quickly to marketing opportunities, different consumer segmentations, and ever-changing consumer preferences. The difficulty is that the industry averages 198 days to produce a label change, as cited at this year’s EskoWorld event. The challenge is further compounded considering brand’s refresh nearly a third of their SKUs every year according to a Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends study. The BLUE acquisition will further strengthen Esko’s product portfolio to support their growing and significant business supporting the packaging and identification needs of global brands. Read more »

HP Announces the Latex R1000 – The Latest Addition to The Latex R Series

Steve Urmano and India Tatro
Jul 12, 2018

On July 9th HP announced an expansion to its newly released R Series of latex printers, the R1000 Printer. Like the previously released R2000, the R1000 is designed for printing on a number of both rigid and flexible substrates including foamboards, PVC cardboard, fluted polypropylene, solid plastics, aluminum, wood, and glass. Like the R2000, which Keypoint Intelligence reported on when it was first announced, the R1000 is designed for a variety of applications within the sign & display and decorative printing industry segments.

HP Latex R1000 Printer

R1000 Key Specifications

While the HP Latex R2000 focuses on larger PSPs, HP explained in it’s latest press release that the R1000 is designed to be an ideal solution for smaller companies:

“The current portfolio includes the HP Latex R2000 Printer, designed for large-signage printer service providers (PSP’s) who require workflow efficiency and sustained production. With the debut of the HP Latex R1000 Printer, HP is adding depth to offer maximum value in one device. Designed for growing businesses with investment and space constraints, the versatile printer offers a single set of inks for a wide range of flexible and rigid media including applications for retail, outdoor signage, window graphics, events and exhibitions, and decorations.

The new printer comes with three liter-ink cartridges, compared to the larger model with five liters, and is designed to accommodate materials up to 1.64 meters/64 inches wide and up to 5 cm/2-inches thick while the R2000 prints up to 2.5-meters/98-inches wide and up to 5-cm/2-inches thick.”

Additional specifications for the R1000 have been released on HP’s website. Most notable are the smaller footprint (the R1000 measures in at 166 x 143 x 69 in), and productivity of up to 57 m² per hour (614 ft² per hour). The R1000 will also feature the HP Latex White Ink and Overcoat that are used on the R2000.

HP Latex R Series Print Samples (Taken at Print4All 2018)

Analyst Comments

While Latex grew very quickly in the Roll to Roll product segment drastically offsetting solvent sales mainly in NA and EMEA markets over the past several years, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on the impact it will have in the UV Hybrid arena. There are several market conditions that need to be overcome. HP has done well in the low end of the market due to both price point and marketing strength. The UV Hybrid and Roll Markets have already grown double digits the last several years and have already drastically offset and penetrated the solvent arena and this is a very crowded vendor space.

There is a very wide range of low-priced Chinese machines on the market priced below $100K. The Latex R1000 & R2000 1.6 – 3.2 M Wide Format Hybrids come in on the higher end of the price spectrum in a market that has become flooded with lower cost LED UV Hybrids & Flatbeds. In the US, Mimaki, Mutoh, CET, Vanguard, and others have been servicing this segment, so pricing and product performance will be a key issue for market entry.

Time will tell if HP’s marketing machine will be able to overcome these hurdles. However, Keypoint Intelligence sees the potential in Latex with the higher performance R ink-set. It appears to have a whiter white, and lay flatter than UV inks which tend to have a thicker ink deposition. The battle for the durables continues with the domination of ink technology playing a key role.

 

 

Konica Minolta Acquires MWA Intelligence

Christine Dunne
Jul 11, 2018

On July 2, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. announced the acquisition of MWA Intelligence (MWA)—a provider of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for the imaging channel. Scottsdale, Arizona-based MWA offers the FORZA ERP solution, which is built on SAP Business One.

The platform provides visibility and control over a variety of business operations, including accounting and finance, sales and customer management, inventory and distribution, purchasing and operations, service and mobility, and reporting and administration. It has an open architecture, and can be customized by dealers for various functions and industries.

MWA employees will join All Covered, Konica Minolta’s IT services division.

Acquisition in context

ERP software helps businesses manage their core business processes, often in real-time and with the goal of operating more efficiently and effectively. The global ERP market is valued at approximately $34 billion; market leaders include companies like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and NetSuite.

Of course, the imaging channel represents just a fraction of this opportunity. Within the United States, for instance, about 2,200 office equipment dealerships are in operation—including about 600 with branch locations.

These dealers often use ERPs like Compass Sherpa and E-Automate, or internal systems, to manage their business. Considering that declining profit margins are considered a top threat to indirect office equipment vendors (dealers and resellers included) in both the United States and Western Europe, it is clear that an ERP can provide valuable insight into opportunities for operational improvement.

What are the three biggest threats to your business based on shifts in the industry?

Source: Office Channels Survey (Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends, 2017) Read more »

The Ricoh Ecosystem: Interact 2018

Pat McGrew

Do you go to vendor open houses and networking events? If you are a customer of any of the big hardware vendors or many of the independent software vendors you are likely to receive a cheery invitation to one or more events each year that give you an opportunity to hear from the company executives and listen to technical presentations on current and future products. They usually bring in a few industry speakers and try to create an environment where everyone has an opportunity to network. These are valuable experiences for the vendors who host them, the customers who attend them, and the journalists and analysts to attend, as well.

Ricoh recently hosted their Interact 2018 meeting in Westminster, Colorado, just a short ride form their plant in Boulder. The event was full of interesting insights from Ricoh staff, customers, and industry speakers, but that wasn’t the most interesting thing about Interact. For a company like Ricoh there are a lot of moving parts. Even inside of Commercial and Industrial Printing, led in the US by John Fulena, there are production cut sheet, production web, wide format, and a variety of industrial print devices worthy of your attention. Staging a conference where attendees can get a sense of Ricoh – One Ricoh – is difficult. How many sessions do you run concurrently? how do you give everyone podium time to talk about their innovations?

Read more »

Xerox Iridesse – After the glitter settles! Well what if? or Sure why not?!

Marc Mascara
Jul 2, 2018

Xerox unveiled their latest production printing press during two jam-packed events in the US and Europe. The first event took place May 9th outside Rochester, NY at the Xerox Gil Hatch Center for Customer Innovation — the largest digital print showcase in the world.

Images courtesy of Xerox – Iridesse launch Webster, NY

 

Customers, prospects and the media were invited to the unveiling of the Iridesse press and given the opportunity to kick the tires. The second reveal took place on May 23 in Warsaw, Poland during the 2018 Xerox Forum, where Xerox Premier Partners (customers) and Graphic Communication Resellers attended.

Image courtesy of Xerox – Iridesse launch Warsaw, Poland

 

Both events could be worthy of an Oscar with the pomp and circumstance of a professional product reveal that introduced the global availability of the press.

My colleague Ralf Schlozer’s first impressions of the Iridesse, launched by Fuji Xerox last December, can be found in the post Fuji Xerox Iridesse – Two specialty colours is better than one. I invite you to re-visit Ralf’s blog for all the launch and specific details of the press while I answer the philosophical question of “do printer’s need a press like the Iridesse now that the glitter and dust have settled?”

So, if you ever worked production you know that manufacturer suggested limits are always ignored, especially if you need to get a job out or when client work is accepted in lieu of going to the competition. You see this in the offset world all the time and that is why successful print companies know that being able to configure equipment for different needs trumps equipment with a “wow” factor. Print customers first question is always can you do this, and the printer wants to respond sure, why not?! Digital equipment sometimes puts the printer into the “what if” situation. Basically, well what if we do this instead?

Quality CMYK for the most part is expected in this class of press, but in terms of flexibility, print providers expect numerous options for not only resolution but multiple halftone screens. Having the ability to respond to real time production needs based on image quality and media range gives production the flexibility to confidently accept work. Iridesse meets that challenge with Ultra HD Resolution which delivers 1200 x 1200 x 10 bit RIP resolution and 2400×2400 imaging resolution, enabling screening options from stochastic to fine line screens up to 600 dpi.

Image courtesy of EFI – Xerox EFI Exp6 5/6 color image Viewer

 

Media plays a huge role in just how many jobs and what type of work a print provider can accept. Just as in offset, digital presses must address a wide array of media while running at rated speeds. I would say most equipment manufacturers are fighting it out on this front regarding the range of media weights and types being supported. Iridesse tops out at 400gsm but gives a respectable range from 52 to 400gsm. Production flexibility comes into play when the print providers press supports a wide array of media types and weights, multiple pick points  (i.e., multiple paper trays), that allow for a broad range of supported media and media sizes along with multiple insertion options all running at rated speed. To meet these extreme requirements Xerox equipped Iridesse with technologies integrated throughout the press called “Mixed Media Xceleration”  giving the operator a wide array of run time media options with no slowdown of output.  Its this production flexibility that digital press manufacturers continue to expand upon, driving machine innovations which adds to the acceleration of the offset to digital migration and the continued ability to drive manual labor cost out of the production process. With that said, Iridesse is highly configurable, supporting many finishing scenarios from square fold to booklet making with Plockmatic’s advanced capabilities, again reducing the overall production touch points with greater production flexibility.

One could say that most digital press manufacturers are competitive in all these areas offering their own set of production capabilities, but Xerox upped the ante by making the print order of colors configurable without the need for a service technician!  As in the offset world, you just run a cleanup and change ink, or in this case you swap out the dry toner. As a PSP, you not only have the ability with Iridesse to produce 4, 5 and 6 color work, but you can self-configure which special color will underlay and overlay the CMYK opening a whole host of design capabilities for high value applications.

Xerox calls this snazzy feature “EZ Swap” which allows operators the ability to swap and run two specialty dry inks in a single pass. The key phrase is single-pass. Just imagine what you could do with a press that supports multiple pass capabilities with very accurate registration. I think offset press operators can see where I’m going with this.  Xerox has tapped into one of the last frontiers left for digital press capabilities in opening the ability for the operator to decide the dry ink lay down order with multiple specialty colors and to expand that capability with multiple passes.

Read more »

Every Picture Tells a Story….Don’t It

Carrie Sylvester
Jun 28, 2018

“Print your most important photos they are worth the time and the effort”

Remember the days of snapping photos, printing them out and filling photo albums? There was nothing like the feeling of dropping off a roll of film at the store to be developed and eagerly waiting for them to come back to see if you got that awesome picture of Joey dancing on the tables at a party or Betty enjoying a quiet day at the beach. Dating myself? That’s OK, I don’t mind sounding like a relic when it comes to photos.

Nowadays printing photos tends to escape most people’s priority list and some may think “well I’ve got all my pictures on my phone, why do I need to print them?” I have even fallen victim to no printing for at least a year or more. A few weeks ago, I received an email from one of the services that I use to store photos with a promotion to print 250 prints for free. FREE is key. Although there were thousands of photos at my disposal that I have been storing since the beginning of time, or at least the beginning of online photo storage when Ofoto was in the game,  I had a tough time selecting 250 photos to print before the free promotion expired.

All it takes is time

Whether it was the free offer that made the idea of printing so interesting or the fact that a big picture taking event, my Son’s Prom, had just happened, getting the email was kismet. One of the biggest obstacles to printing these days is having the time to peruse photos and choose which ones are print-worthy. Recent Keypoint Intelligence surveys tells us the lack of time to go through all their photos and decide what to print is one of the top three reasons people don’t print more often. Free time doesn’t make itself available when we are busy running about our daily lives, so sometimes we just need to find the time.

Opinion – Photos are worth the effort

Although printing, even ordering free prints, costs time and money (shipping isn’t free ya know), the dividends of reliving your life stories in printed photos is priceless. A person doesn’t need to own a digital camera to print. If all you use for photography is your smartphone, there are many apps and retail store resources that make it easy to print. Even those “reduced quality” Facebook photos may be worth printing since the quality is usually just fine for a 4” x 6” (or smaller) print.

Although time is a precious commodity, so are our memories. Each group of printed photos was like a piece of the memories coming back to life. Putting the prints into a photo album, handwriting location details and quotes or just keeping track of names is all a way to keep memories alive. Not only that but when storage media like CD/DVD becomes unreadable, or something happens to that smartphone (bite your tongue) you won’t be able to get those photos back. Trusty, reliable photo prints are not disaster-proof, but they won’t disappear and will remain viable for decades to come to be enjoyed by future generations that may not even remember who the person was that printed them.  Printing your most important photos they are worth the time and the effort.

Contact Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends with question or to learn more about our ongoing research about consumer and professional imaging trends and behaviors.

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