Xerox Turns Over the Development of its FreeFlow Print Server Digital Front End to EFI

Jim Hamilton
 Feb 2, 2017

Today Xerox and EFI announced a move that extends their longstanding partnership: Xerox is selling its FreeFlow Print Server digital front end business to EFI. EFI will manage production and support of the existing FreeFlow Print Server and later will integrate it with EFI’s Fiery digital front end.

This next generation digital front end will integrate with EFI’s Productivity Suites, including print management information systems such as PACE, PrintSmith Vision, Monarch, and Radius ERP. It will also integrate with Xerox FreeFlow Core and XMPie workflows as well as third-party prepress solutions from Agfa Apogee, Heidelberg Prinect, and Kodak Prinergy. There is also the future opportunity to leverage JDF more effectively. EFI reports that its Fiery DFE is currently the only JDF certified digital front end. This opens the opportunity, through an API, to allow integration to any other applications.

Xerox Trivor 2400 with an EFI Fiery digital front end at drupa

Xerox Trivor 2400 with an EFI Fiery digital front end at drupa

Some who hear this news may be confused by a quirk in the nature of Xerox’s FreeFlow branding Read more »

A Review of 2016 Corporate Greeting Cards

Jim Hamilton
 Jan 22, 2017

This is the seventh time that I have recorded a video blog review of all the corporate greeting cards I received during the holiday season. This year I highlight cards I received from three different types of providers: technology/systems, support services, and printing/marketing. In this video you’ll see premium substrates, dye cuts and folds to create structural pieces, dimensional effects and foils, as well as eye-catching design and innovative personalization techniques.

If you have an interesting greeting card you’d like to send me, my address is Jim Hamilton, Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends, 97 Libbey Industrial Parkway, Suite 300, Weymouth, Massachusetts 02189, USA

If you would like to see the previous videos, here are the links:

 

Komori Highlights the Impremia IS29 at an Open House in Tsukuba, Japan

Jim Hamilton
 Dec 12, 2016

We were in Japan last month and as luck would have it we were there at the same time that Komori held an open house to showcase its newest digital print solutions. This international event took place at Komori’s facility in Tsukuba, Japan and drew hundreds of attendees from all over the Asia Pacific region. It provided the opportunity to showcase Komori’s Impremia IS29, a B2-format, sheet-fed, UV inkjet printer capable of speeds up to 3,000 simplex sheets per hour. Also on display were a six-unit, 18,000 sheet per hour, B1-format Komori Lithrone GX40RP H-UV offset press running UV inks and a Komori Apressia DC105 die cutter. Komori’s recently announced sales partnership with Highcon was clear to see through the demonstration of the Euclid II+ during the open house. Horizon, also a Komori partner, showed a saddle stitcher.

Komori facility entrance - 700

The theme running across all of the products shown was a demonstration of a hybrid workflow for test marketing a national campaign for a cosmetic product. Read more »

New Print Sample Videos for International Print Day

Jim Hamilton
 Oct 18, 2016

In honor of International Print Day, InfoTrends is releasing ten new print sample videos. This brings to 100 the number of print sample videos I’ve recorded since 2012. Here are the new ones:

  1. HP Indigo books and output on canvas
  2. Kodak Flexible Film technology demonstration
  3. Touch7 and the Ricoh C5110
  4. Xeikon Trillium and 9800 samples
  5. OKI C942 CMYK plus white on colored sheets
  6. Selected dimensional and foil print samples (included are examples from Duplo, Eagle Systems/Kurz, Intec, Konica Minolta, MGI, and Scodix)
  7. Envelope printing (included are examples from Bell+Howell, Pitney Bowes, Sensible Technologies, and Spiral Binding)
  8. Canon imagePRESS 850 direct mail and photo book samples (finished on a Duplo DC-646 and a Plockmatic BLM50)
  9. An International Paper substrate comparison on the Canon Océ VarioPrint i300
  10. Why I Record Print Sample Videos

For the previous ninety videos, go to the Print Sample channel on the Jim Hamilton YouTube page.

For those who are not familiar with International Print Day, it is “24-hour celebration without borders” for “anyone with an interest in the original communication delivery device…to join the planet’s largest conversation about print in all its forms.” International Print Day starts at 6 pm ET on October 18th (11 pm GMT, 9 am AEST) and will finish 24 hours later. Those wishing to participate on social media should use the hashtag #IPD16.

International Print Day logo, IPD16_site_hdr

Read more »

What Do I Take Away from the 2016 thINK Conference?

Jim Hamilton
 Oct 17, 2016

Last week I went to Boca Raton, Florida for the 2016 thINK Conference. thINK is a user community made up of Canon Solutions America (CSA) inkjet customers. This conference was the second such meeting and it has grown since the inaugural event in New York a year ago. Attendance is up significantly (from 350 to 450 attendees). Also impressive is the growth in partners. Nine additional partners joined for 2016, which brings the total number of partners to 34. This resulted in a larger exhibit area (or Partner Pavilion, as it was described on site). Finishing systems, paper, and software tools are the recurring themes of these partners.

thINK logo 3 - 400

Keynote sessions included tennis great Chris Evert, inspirational speaker Scott Burrows, the Winterberry Group’s Jonathan Margulies, and David Humphreys of The Economist. Though high-profile keynotes are intellectually stimulating and inspiring, I find that the two most important benefits from events like these are the educational sessions and the opportunity to network with peers. The conference program this year expanded to include twenty sessions across five tracks. Those sessions that I attended were well done and thought provoking. The opportunity to hear innovative peers speak about their experiences is priceless. Two examples will demonstrate this. Read more »

What’s Next for Graph Expo?

Jim Hamilton
 Oct 13, 2016

Graph Expo’s first visit to Orlando can be considered a qualified success, in part based on the low expectations that most exhibitors had for the show. It followed drupa, and a drupa year will always be a challenge for Graph Expo. What the future holds for this venerable show is up for discussion.

Let’s first consider attendance in Orlando. Thayer Long, the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) president, said in a WhatTheyThink interview that the number of visitors (including booth staff) exceeded 13,000. This is down significantly from Graph Expo 2015 in Chicago, but is more or less in line with a reduced show that had at least 30% less exhibit space than in 2015.

Another factor is cost. Chicago is a great city, but Read more »

What to Expect at Graph Expo in Orlando

Jim Hamilton
 Sep 7, 2016

Graph Expo’s greatest strength this year could also be its greatest weakness. Coming on the heels of drupa, Graph Expo (Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, September 25-28) will be a great opportunity to see some of the latest product announcements made at drupa. That said, many exhibitors maxed out their marketing budgets at drupa, and the impact on Graph Expo will mean smaller booths and fewer support staff. The move to Orlando is likely to have an impact as well. It is yet to be seen whether the draw from southeastern states plus South and Latin America will balance off the commercial printers from the heartland who drove to Chicago for previous shows (and who may skip the show this year). Graph Expo 2016 will be a smaller, more compact version of the show, and yet that’s no reason to stay away. There will still be a lot to see.

Who Are the Largest Exhibitors?

InfoTrends has been measuring and comparing the booth sizes of trade show exhibitors at trade shows for many years now, most recently at drupa 2016 but also at Graph Expo in 2015. We believe it provides an important metric to assess the level of marketing spend that an exhibitor makes at a trade show.

The biggest Graph Expo 2016 exhibitors (by square foot of exhibit space as measured from the publicly available show floor map) are shown below.

Graph Expo 2016 top 10 show floor ranking - reducedCanon and Konica Minolta tie for the top spot. In fact, Read more »

Reinventing HP Inc.: The 2016 Industry Analyst Summit

Jim Hamilton
 Jul 1, 2016

Last week HP Inc. brought a sizeable group of industry analysts to Boston for the first time since splitting from Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The goal was to discuss its priorities and outline how it intends to grow. The company’s bold vision and mission statements set the tone for the details that followed:

  • Vision: Create technology that makes life better for everyone everywhere
  • Mission: Engineer experiences that amaze

HP Strategy

Dion Weisler kicked off the event by outlining the company’s strategy and describing four major trends that impact the company’s decisions: Read more »

Four Things that Surprised Me at drupa 2016

Jim Hamilton
 Jun 20, 2016

I’d already been briefed on a lot of drupa 2016 news before I left home so I wasn’t really expecting much to surprise me when I arrived in Germany. I was wrong. I’ll name four announcements or technology demonstrations that truly surprised me. I’d argue that each of these was strategically designed to make a simple statement to the effect of: “Hey everybody, we can do this.” These types of developments are what make a mega-show like drupa so special.

drupa 2016 flags - 400

These are the items that caught me off guard: Read more »

The Top drupa 2016 Trends

Jim Hamilton
 Jun 14, 2016

After digesting a week of meetings at drupa 2016 (May 31st to June 10th, Düsseldorf, Germany) along with plenty of good German food and beer, the InfoTrends analyst team believes the show can be characterized by five major themes:

drupa 2016 flags - 400

  1. Inkjet 3.0 –After important advances in production inkjet printing at drupa 2008 and 2012, this drupa can be considered “inkjet drupa 3.0” because of new and improved print heads, higher quality levels, wide printhead arrays, improved performance on a range of substrates, and expansion across a range of document, packaging, and decorative applications. These developments have brought digital printing into the mainstream. All of the leading offset press manufacturers are now committed to a digital print strategy, and though for some there is an important component that is based on electrophotography, it is the high productivity levels of inkjet that have convinced them that there is a place for digital print in production environments.
  2. Digital printing of packaging – Though digital printing of packaging is certainly being influenced by inkjet, the major theme in this area is process automation. Digital printing, digital embellishment, and digital die-cutting were seen integrated across many production lines for labels, folding cartons, corrugated packaging, and even some direct-to-shape applications. Despite its commercial print heritage, drupa is morphing into a show with a significant package printing component. Meeting the needs of different segments of the packaging market is a challenge that requires effective software, workflow, and finishing if the true advantages of digital print for the entire supply chain are to be gained. It’s not clear today that digital printing system vendors have fully grasped the magnitude of this.
  3. B1 digital – Many commercial printers have an almost emotional attachment to the B1-format press platform that has served them so well for offset printing. The new generation of B1-format digital printing devices appeals to them because they can see how they would fit easily into their production lines with minimal disruption (despite the fact that smaller digital devices might be just as efficient and/or cost effective). drupa 2016 saw the arrival of larger format digital cut-sheet color printing systems as well as off-line systems for special effects such as spot gloss, dimensional effects, and metallic foils. The progress in B1 sheet-fed design is facilitated by wider inkjet arrays that benefit from the latest advances in inkjet head technology. The challenge for any of these larger format digital printing devices is to meet the production requirements for quality, consistency, substrate support, and color registration while performing at high speed. Also important is integration of finishing technologies that leverage the benefits of digital print. Therefore laser cutting and creasing, particularly for folding carton applications, is also advancing, and for some of these devices the focus is on a B1 sheet size. For the off-line digital devices used for special effects, the B1 sheet size opens up sizeable opportunities because these systems are capable of supporting conventional presses as well as digital printers.
  4. Special effects – Offset print processes have typically excelled at special effects beyond process color such as spot gloss, flood coats, foils, and corporate color matching. This kind of embellishment is now accelerating for digital print. Electrophotographic devices are using effects like printed metallic, dimensional, clear gloss, spot colors, fluorescent, security and other embellishments to differentiate the printed products and provide added value. Inkjet, particularly with ultraviolet (UV) curing inks, is extending this with some eye-popping results that leverage dimensional clear and metallic foil. The use of hybrid configurations, including those that leverage electrophotography and inkjet together, will have compelling applications in commercial and packaging markets. Many of the off-line special effect solutions, as noted above, are able to support larger format conventional sheet sizes, which opens their market impact significantly.
  5. Industry 4.0 – For many years, system providers have talked about how production data can be used to drive operational excellence and even facilitate predictive service calls. Cloud-enabled production data tracking is now making this type of data-driven production a reality, not only for commercial and packaging applications, but for decorative and industrial ones as well. Today these tend to focus on a single vendor platform (rather than a true heterogeneous ecosystem). Despite these limitations there are still many benefits, such as performance benchmarking across peers with similar equipment. This also elevates the importance of automated workflows that make it easy for production managers to assess and react to their production site(s) based on real-time data. Taking this even further, InfoTrends expects to see semi-autonomous print production and robotic automation culminate in what has been described as “Industry 4.0,” in other words the foundation of a fourth industrial revolution that is based upon automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, similar as what has happened in the car industry.

Read more »

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