Category: Packaging

B2 Digital Presses: Market is Ramping Up in Europe, North America

Bob Leahey and Ralf Schlozer
Dec 2, 2014

The new generation of ‘B2’ format sheet fed presses from HP Indigo and several other suppliers has caused interest and excitement since their first unveiling two years ago. Today about 140 B2 presses are operating worldwide, and that total is growing. InfoTrends recently interviewed 40 current users of B2 presses and also surveyed 200 prospects for the technology in Europe and North America, in order to understand the status and outlook for B2 digital systems, which are available now from Delphax, Fujifilm, HP Indigo, and Screen, with more to come.  The results are charted and interpreted in the new report, Opportunities and Challenges in B2 Digital.

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HP Flexes Its Packaging Muscles: Part 1

Ron Gilboa
Nov 24, 2014

HP’s Graphic Arts division demonstrated its ongoing commitment to the future of digital printing for packaging applications by announcing a partnership with Kama, a major manufacturer of finishing automation.. The announcement came a part of a recent open house that Kama held at its Dresden, Germany headquarters; also at that event, Kama, a 120-year-old manufacturer of automatic die cutters, hot foil stamping systems, and folder-gluers, revealed its collaboration with HP Indigo to launch a prototype of the FlexFold 52, a folder-gluer that will become commercially available in Q2 2015. During his introduction, Kama CEO Marcus Tralau proclaimed that “packaging is coming home” to Germany with this new technology introduction.

The FlexFold 52 offers automatic setup for rapid changeovers from one job to the next, making it ideal for producing short runs of folding cartons. Setup is handled via JDF and JMF commands, and the device can automatically adjust the length and width of the folding elements before gluing them together at a speed of 200 meters per minute with nearly whisper-quiet operation. Developed in collaboration with HP Indigo’s team, the system complements the capabilities of the HP Indigo 30000 printing system when producing folding carton applications.

 

Kama FlexFold52

Kama FlexFold52

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Digital Packaging Printing Moving into Focus for Heidelberg and Canon

Ralf Schlozer
Oct 1, 2014

Heidelberg and Canon/Ocè both reemphasized their push into the digital packaging printing market at their customer events last week. Each company gave a detailed update on the progress it has made.

As promised back in April at a digital sneak peek event, Heidelberg showed their first digital label printer at the Gallus “Innovation Days” from the 23rd to 25 of September in St Gallen, Switzerland. The event, which is not to be confused with the Hunkeler innovationdays) served well as a platform to reemphasize the changes in the ownership structure; this summer Gallus became part of the Heidelberger group, the upshot of a share swap that increased Heidelberg’s ownership of Gallus from 30% to 100% and with the former owner of Gallus becoming the biggest individual shareholder in Heidelberg.

Center stage, however, was the digital label press with the somewhat less catchy name of Gallus DCS 340. The press, which comes with in-line finishing, is the result of development cooperation between Gallus, Heidelberg and Fujifilm. The press base is supplied by Gallus and is derived from the well-established ECS 340 label press, hence the web width is set at 340 mm (13.4”) and a range of flexo, screen and offset modules can be added. The press has a solid granite base and is equipped with an unwind and a die cutting/stripping module. Only the speed of the DCS had be limited to 50 m/min (150 ft/min) compared to 165 m/min (492 ft/min) of the conventional press. The integrated finishing is somewhat misleadingly named “ digital converting system”, since the ECS C finishing part contains no digital components at all. Its core is a semi-rotary die cutter, which is at least format variable, but still requires a conventional die.

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Investcorp Acquires SPG Prints

Other Posts, Ron Gilboa and Bob Leahey
Jul 21, 2014

Recently, Investcorp, a multi-national investment firm known for investing in alternative markets, announced that it will be acquiring SPG Prints, a Netherlands-based company specializing in the manufacture of digital inks and equipment for wide format, textile, and packaging applications. With this acquisition, SPG Prints may now have a chance to further expand their offerings within the graphic arts industry.

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Landa and Altana: Why It Makes Sense

Bob Leahey
Jul 11, 2014

Digital print technology start-up Landa made a splash recently with its news of a $130 million investment in it by Altana Chemical (Germany), in the process becoming a minority owner of the Israeli company. In an interview  with InfoTrends recently, Benny Landa, founder and head of his namesake company, explained that the Altana investment is about more than money and ownership–Altana is a strategic partner, contributing to Landa’s mission in terms of materials science, marketing, and global supply chain. Some points:

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Xaar 1002: Future Proofing Industrial Digital Print

Bob Leahey and Ron Gilboa
Mar 19, 2014

Last week piezo inkjet head manufacturer Xaar plc (Cambridge, UK) announced the commercial availability of the Xaar 1002 piezo inkjet head for use with both UV curing and ceramic inks. The news is significant because Xaar has more than twenty OEM customers using its Xaar 1001 head for industrial printing applications; the first batches of Xaar 1002 head have been shipped to OEMs and over time will completely replace Xaar 1001, which is now out of production.

While Xaar improved its 1001 head since its launch in 2007, the Xaar 1002 is the first truly new successor to it. The new head is outwardly almost identical to the earlier one but, according to Xaar, contains 90% new components. At its heart, for instance, the 1002 head has the same number of nozzles–one thousand–but the nozzles are based on a new design and new manufacturing, changes that Xaar says ensure straighter jetting and other enhancements.

Xaar 1002 Piezo Inkjet Printhead
Xaar 1002 Piezo Inkjet Printhead

Xaar has had great success Read more »

xpedx + Unisource – Will Bigger Be Better?

Jeff Hayes
Jan 31, 2014

International Paper (IP) and Unisource Worldwide (UWW) Holdings have announced a definitive agreement to merge their distribution businesses and form a newly created, publicly traded company that will be the largest paper distributor in North America.

This is a big deal. Two of the largest distributors of paper, board, and related supplies for the commercial printing and packaging industries are merging. It would be like Sysco and US Foods, UPS and Fedex, or Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks merging — OK, maybe not that big, but you get the idea.

The new xpedx/Unisource (unipedx? I hope not.) will have an unparalleled combination of product assortment, availability, logistics services, operational efficiencies, and, potentially, pricing power in the market. According to IP, the combined xpedx and Unisource business will have projected annual revenue in the range of $9 billion to $10 billion, and will have about 9,500 employees across more than 170 distribution centers in North America.

xpedx (blue) and Unisource (red) North American Locations

InfoTrends graphic from xpedx and Unisource data

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Konica Minolta Solidifies Long-Term Relationship with MGI Group

Other Posts and Ron Gilboa
Jan 27, 2014

This week, Konica Minolta announced that it will take a 10% minority shareholder position in MGI Group. This investment is valued at €13.7 million. Konica Minolta’s technologies in this area include office MFP devices, an upcoming B2 digital printer under its own brand, and a wide range of commercial and industrial printers for textiles, woods, and materials. According to Konica Minolta, the relationship with MGI is one step of many in a growth strategy that involves investing in technologies and companies that can advance its market penetration into digital printing. This alliance is also beneficial for the MGI Group, whose growth strategy is to expand its range of digital printing solutions for commercial printing environments into digital printing for industrial environments. The MGI Group already offers a wide range of products, including:

  • Digital color printers (e.g., the Meteor DP8700S XL)
  • Print enhancement tools (e.g., the JETvarnish 3D)
  • A variety of finishing products for card, punch, and envelope that are integrated with its printers
Figure 1: Meteor DP8700 XL

Figure 1: Meteor DP8700 XL

JETvarnish 3D

Figure 2: JETvarnish 3D

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Markem Imaje Bets on Growth in Color Digital Labels, Buys “Linoprint L” from Heidelberg

Bob Leahey
Jan 15, 2014

On January 10, Markem Imaje announced it has purchased from Heidelberg that company’s Linoprint L business for an undisclosed price. The news puts an established CMYK label press under the wing of Markem Imaje, a global supplier of coding and marking systems, and a key competitor to companies such as Domino and Videojet. Before discussing strategic upshots, we first offer a few basic details:

  • The Linoprint L is the former CSAT iTS600, the Kyocera-based, 600 dpi inkjet web press for labels that Heidelberg bought from CSAT and re-badged in mid-2011.
  • CSAT, the German supplier of digital printers to pharma companies, had initially targeted the printer at the drug industry, but Heidelberg expanded its market focus to include label converters.
  • After its 2011 purchase of the printer, Heidelberg modified it, renamed it Linoprint L, and handled its marketing to flexo label press manufacturer Gallus (Switzerland), which is 30% owned by Heidelberg.
  • Per the most recent deal, while Markem Imaje becomes owner of the Linoprint L business, Gallus will stay as the main distributor for the printer in the label and converting space.

Heidelberg Linoprint L

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2013: A Turning Point for Inkjet in Production

Jim Hamilton
Dec 10, 2013
Though inkjet has been a hot topic since 2008 (remember the ‘inkjet’ drupa?), it is hard to underestimate the continuing impact inkjet is having across all areas of the graphic arts. I think 2013 marks an interesting turning point. Inkjet is everywhere from document printing to labels & packaging to decorative to functional and 3D printing.

Gartner Hype Cycle

3D printing had to be one of the most talked about topics of 2013 and jetting technologies are the key behind many 3D printing implementations (though in this case they are jetting materials rather than inks). That being said, in my opinion 3D printing has reached what Gartner likes to call the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ and others have described as ‘Irrational Exuberance.’ The way some people talk about 3D printing you’d think that before long you’ll be 3D printing your beer complete with the bottle (with a label on the outside and a cap on top).

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