Category: Functional & 3D printing

Pre-drupa: Israel’s Scodix Rolls Out Speedy, B1-Sized Digital Enhancement System

Bob Leahey
Apr 12, 2016

Scodix, the Israeli provider of digital enhancement systems for the graphic arts industry, announced on April 7 its introduction of Scodix E106, a B1-sized version of inkjet-based embellishment systems for which the company is now famous. Scodix will target the folding carton market with Scodix E106, where it says the new press will enhance up to 4,000 sheets per hour, speed that will allow it to finish short and medium print runs for both digital and analog presses. Scodix says it has already taken eight orders for E106, which will be the centerpiece in its booth at drupa; InfoTrends will report on that show (May 31 to June 10 in Düsseldorf ) for its package related consulting service.

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The “New Print”: Separated by a Common Language

Frank Romano, Ron Gilboa and Jim Hamilton
Apr 7, 2016

Note: This blog is a result of an ongoing discussion about market definition that began with a conversation that Frank Romano and Ron Gilboa had at SGIA last November. Jim Hamilton joined the discussion later and after a few exchanges Frank suggested that we present this in point/counterpoint form. Frank will go first.

Frank: Separated by a Common Language

When you are on a ship in the South Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from any land, and the satellite connection is down, you start to overthink things. Some people multi task; I multi think. And I started to think about all the new technology we will see at drupa for printing beyond the traditional. But as I read the releases, articles, and punditry, I wonder if we are all on the same page.

Take the three terms that are now bandied about: industrial and functional printing, and decoration.

  • Industrial Printing: the product is produced using multiple technologies in an integrated manufacturing process. A prototype gear that becomes part of a mechanism is industrial. A container that has its identification printed at the factory where it is filled is industrial. Printed display screens are industrial. Most printed electronics is industrial.
  • Functional Printing: the product is sellable in and of itself. A brochure is functional. A sign is functional. A 3-D printed model of a person is functional (your own personal mini-me). A package is functional. A printed T-shirt that changes color in the sun is functional. Products that change color due to external influences such as light (UV/black light), temperature (heat), pH changes, or water contact are primarily functional. “Smart” textiles and wearables are functional. Home decor wallpaper, fabric, and floor coverings are functional. The argument may be made that everything has a function, so why have two categories. But we must distinguish between products where commercial printing may be integrated at the point of manufacture, and products that may be produced by outside services.
  • Decorative Printing: adding type, color, and imagery to existing products. This would include inkjet food decoration, printing on glass, wood, textiles, and other material. In the late 1800s they figured out how to print on metal, and beautiful tin boxes were produced for both home use and packaging. Embossing, coating, and die-cutting are decorative. This category may not be necessary, but Ron likes it.

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Highcon Ramps Up: Lots to Show at drupa 2016

Bob Leahey
Mar 23, 2016

Highcon, the digital finishing system supplier, recently held a three day event at its headquarters in Israel to show technology developments that it will soon unveil at drupa 2016 in Germany. The short version of our report on this “pre-drupa” gathering:

  • Since its debut at drupa 2012, Highcon has placed 25 of its “Euclid”  and “Euclid II” devices globally
  • In 2016 it will add a new portfolio of digital cutting and creasing systems and related tools, the Highcon Beam, Highcon Euclid III and the Highcon Pulse.
  • These products will give carton converters and other printers new access to Highcon’s unique finishing, and also to two applications new at Highcon, 3D printing and variable data cutting.

 Why Highcon Matters Read more »

Manufacturing Ink for Digital Print: EFI’s Acquisition of Rialco

Ron Gilboa
Mar 7, 2016

On March 2nd, EFI has acquired Rialco Limited, a UK-based supplier of dye powders and color products for digital print and industrial manufacturing industries. The acquisition is an important one for EFI because it could augment EFI’s equipment offerings with complementary EFI OEM inks for their digital textile printing products.

Based in Bradford (an hour’s drive northeast of Manchester), Rialco manufactures inks and dyes for textiles and wood finishing applications. Rialco was incorporated in 2003 and its latest turnover is just about 7.9 GBP (or just over $11 million) and gross profits of about 2.1 GBP (or just under $3 million) for 2014 (according to DueDil.com). According to EFI the company will operate as part of EFI’s industrial inkjet business, and will continue to support its existing clients as well as expand and grow its capabilities with new products and new customers as part of its long term growth strategy. As noted by Stephen Emery, Vice President of EFI’s Ink and Jetrion businesses, “The deal announced today gives EFI the platform to accelerate the technical advantages we provide to customers in the textile, signage, ceramics and other industries that are rapidly transitioning from analog to digital printing.” Read more »

InPrint 2015 – demonstrating that print is much more than ink on paper

Ralf Schlozer
Dec 21, 2015

November 2015 saw the second instalment of InPrint, the industrial print show and conference. A total of 3,400 visitors from 68 countries came to the Munich Trade Fair Centre. Compared to the previous event in Hannover, the numbers of exhibitors, attendees and foot print increased by a third.

InPrint focussed on three fields of application: functional, decorative and packaging printing. Unlike traditional printing shows, InPrint has a different attendee profile: Typical visitors to InPrint are companies such as system integrators, materials developers, and manufacturers interested in providing solutions for the industrial/decorative print market. But even if you do not intend on integrating a custom press, the show is a good opportunity to get informed on where printing technology is being used beyond document printing. Print service providers, who visit InPrint, have been able to expand their horizon while visiting vendor booths as well as attending the conference with its extensive program.

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Leveraging Kodak Flexo Technology to Print Touch-screen Sensors

Jim Hamilton
Sep 25, 2015

In a huge manufacturing building in the Eastman Business Park in Rochester, New York, Kodak is printing sensors that can be used in touch screens for tablets, computer screens, kiosks, and industrial equipment. The process uses technologies that print service providers will find familiar, but they are being used to achieve a very different end result.

First, a series of flexographic plates are imaged on a modified Creo square-spot plate imager. Each plate has a repetitive design of extremely thin parallel lines. The plates are mounted on a modified roll-fed flexographic press that prints with a catalytic ink on both sides of a roll of clear plastic (similar to the material used for motion picture film). The catalytic ink provides a receptive surface for the next step, in which the printed roll of plastic is immersed in a bath with a copper fluid solution. In that bath, copper is applied to the thin printed lines of catalytic ink. The copper is what makes the resulting print conductive, and that’s why you can make touch screens with this printed component. A darkening agent is applied on top of the copper, and the rolls are then cut into sheets containing the functionally printed sensor that will ultimately go into a touch-screen display. This printed grid of thin, crisscrossing lines is virtually invisible, yet it provides the underlying conductive foundation that is able to sense when someone puts a finger on a touch-sensitive screen.

Kodak touch-screen sensor (showing a magnified view of the touch-sensitive grid)

Today Kodak is printing working production samples that can be tested by prospects who may one day Read more »

Label Expo Preview: What to Look for in Brussels Next Week

Bob Leahey
Sep 23, 2015

Label Expo, the premier tradeshow for the label industry, will take place September 29 to October 2 in Brussels. Now decades old, this is the show that never seems to fade, and also one where the role of digital printing technologies always seems to grow. InfoTrends will attend and make a detailed report about it to clients but for now we offer a quick preview of what we expect to see:

A huge HP booth: The stand’s core equipment will be HP Indigo WS6800 (labels and other applications) and 20000 (a 30” web, for flexible packaging and for labels also), but there will be many other products. Ones particular to HP Indigo presses will include a white ink specifically for shrink sleeves and new yellow and magenta inks with enhanced lightfastness, also software upgrades, including a VDP tool for Adobe Illustrator, within HP SmartStream Designer prepress. Some exhibits will be from partners to HP Indigo (finishing Read more »

Brewing in Belgium: KHS & Martens Brouwerij Ramp Up ‘Direct-to-Shape’ Printing

Bob Leahey
Aug 19, 2015

Color digital printing for packaging got a boost in Europe recently when a brewer long known for innovation, Martens Brouwerij (Belgium) publicized its use of a direct-to-shape print system to print PET bottles in full color, starting in June 2015. Called “Direct Print Powered by KHS™”, the system is engineered and built by KHS (Germany), a global supplier of filling and packaging solutions to the drinks industry, and commercialized by a wholly-owned KHS subsidiary, NMP Systems. The system, based on Xaar 1002 heads, Read more »

Konica Minolta Announces Next Generation High Resolution, High Speed MEMS Printheads

Ron Gilboa
Jul 27, 2015

Konica Minolta, a long time innovator in inkjet technology with over 30 years of experience, has released information on a new generation of print heads aimed at the evolving graphic arts, industrial, and functional printing markets. These printheads have resolution as high as 1,200 nozzles per inch (npi), drop size as low as 3 picoliters, jetting frequency of up to 100 kHz, and a physical size that is significantly smaller than the previous generation of Konica Minolta heads. As with many print head manufacturers Konica Minolta is manufacturing these printhead using Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) fabrication. Konica Minolta’s high precision printhead is capable of jetting of a range of inks and functional materials such as resins. These new capabilities will enable innovative new products in a range of industries. Konica Minolta expects to begin mass production of these heads in the spring of 2016. Read more »

New Standard Aims to Simplify 3D Printing Process

Christine Dunne and Ron Gilboa
May 4, 2015

Last week, it was announced that seven leading companies in the global 3D printing sector have launched a new consortium—the 3MF Consortium—focused on interoperability, functionality, and standards within the 3D printing industry.

The 3MF Consortium’s Logo

As a first step, the consortium is releasing a new specification—the 3D Manufacturing Format (3MF) specification—that enables design applications to send “full-fidelity” 3D models to other applications, platforms, services, and printers. The first version of the specification is free, and available for download on the consortium’s website.

According to the press release announcing the news, current 3D design file formats—such as STL files—often have limitations around accuracy, ease of use, and functionality. They aren’t necessarily capable of fully describing models and all their characteristics. Read more »

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