Category: Production

HP Indigo Lands Big Deal for HP Indigo 20000

India Tatro and Bob Leahey
Feb 21, 2018

HP Indigo announced this month that a current user of HP Indigo 20000, ePac Flexible Packaging, has agreed to purchase 10 additional HP Indigo 20000s. ePac, based in Madison, Wisconsin, is a young, all-digital converter of flexible packaging and is already operating three HP Indigo 20000s sited in Madison and in Boulder, Colorado. The company, which started operations only in 2016, working with just one HP Indigo 20000, will add the new units to its existing sites this year and next at new facilities in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Miami.

HP Indigo 20000 30″ digital web press

Among color digital printers for packaging and labels, HP Indigo 20000 is rare indeed. As of today, it is the only fully commercialized production level digital printer designed to print flexible packaging. Meanwhile, it was only in 2014 that HP Indigo launched the printer, so this seven color, 30” (760 mm) EP web is off to a fast start. At the time of the recent ePac announcement, HP Indigo also revealed that the current global installed base of this printer is 115 units. Given this model’s high purchase price, HP Indigo has likely achieved nearly $200 million in sales of HP Indigo 20000, not including the recent ePac deal.

A Brief History of the HP Indigo 20000

HP Indigo 20000 has predecessors, but they are all HP Indigo printers, namely the HP Indigo ‘Series 3’ label webs, especially HP Indigo WS6000 and WS6800. Starting around 2009, HP Indigo began developing flexible packaging as an extra application of WS6000, enlisting partners such as Karlville and Avery Dennison for finishing and media. As HP Indigo expanded further into flexible packaging, the company began to work with narrow-web label converters to help them start printing this application. In addition, HP Indigo even equipped rare flexible packaging converters with the Series 3 printers. Today, the HP Indigo 20000, an HP Indigo ‘Series 4’ printer, is the pinnacle of the HP Indigo’s efforts to develop digital printing for flexible packaging. With a web width equal to that of many flexo presses, and a powerful print engine based on the HP Indigo 10000, the Indigo 20000 is a practical digital option for flexible packaging.

Labels, Other Applications Also

Since HP Indigo 20000 is a roll-fed printer with a substantial web width, it is well suited for the production of both flexible packaging and labels. About 75% of the printing done on the Indigo 20000 is flexible packaging, with the remaining 25% being labels, or a mix of label and flexible packaging, or other applications. Keypoint Intelligence estimates that gross billings from the current base of HP Indigo 20000s for all uses is over $300 million annually. Those billings will grow as the base does, and as converters gain skill both in using the printer and in selling its services.

HP Pack Ready

While there are no new HP Indigo flexible packaging printers in sight at this point, a key finishing addition to the Indigo 20000 will be commercialized this year. This is HP’s new Pack Ready Lamination system which will dramatically decrease the time spent waiting for printed and laminated rolls to cure. While flexo converters must wait up to a week for their laminated rolls to cure, users of Pack Ready can expect curing to be almost immediate.

HP Pack Ready system with specially designed hardware form Karlville

The first component of Pack Ready is proprietary chemistry: HP Indigo licenses film manufacturers to use its patented coating technology to coat film for use in HP Indigo 20000 (several film companies in different regions have been licensed). After printing in HP Indigo 20000, that pre-coated film goes into a specially designed laminator by Karlville, HP’s partner for FP finishing. The laminator uses thermal energy to join the printed film with another film layers, and the lamination is fully cured in only a few minutes.

Pack Ready coating structure with HP’s proprietary heat-activated coating (in yellow)

Not Alone Forever

While the Indigo 20000 continues to be the industry leader for digital printing of flexible packaging, there are at least a few new digital entrants. These new machines are from Japanese companies Think Lab and Fujifilm, as well as Uteco Converting from Italy; Think Lab and Uteco are experienced suppliers for gravure and flexo in the flexible packaging industry, and Fujifilm is a giant in industrial inkjet. The new machines from these companies have only a handful of beta installations, mostly in Japan, but more will come, possibly also from competitors that are not evident today. As in all industrial printing, inkjet has high potential to contribute to flexible packaging printing. That said, EP printing from HP Indigo 20000 has a big lead, as exemplified by the recent deal with ePac.

EFI Lands Another Customer for ‘Nozomi’ Digital Corrugated Printer

Bob Leahey
Feb 14, 2018

Companies watching for installations of high speed, single pass printers for corrugated learned of another customer for EFI Nozomi this month. EFI announced on February 12 that Corrugated Synergies International (CSI), based in Renton, Washington, has purchased not only Nozomi, EFI’s 246 fpm color inkjet printer for corrugated board, but also EFI’s Corrugated Packaging Suite, a comprehensive management execution system (MES) software tool set. The news marks the fourth deal to place Nozomi, which already has two installations in Europe and one in the U.S., and the first to include the EFI Corrugated Packaging Suite. Given that EFI Nozomi is driven by the EFI Fiery digital front end, CSI in effect is purchasing EFI’s full digital ecosystem for corrugated.

EFI Nozomi Placements, So Far

Company Location EFI Nozomi Installation
Hinojosa Packaging Valencia Spain 2017
McGowans Print Dublin, Ireland 2017
Complete Design & Packaging Concord, NC 2017
CSI Renton, WA 2018

 

CSI, which established “TenCorr” in 1982, was the first North American sheet feeder to manufacture corrugated sheets for sale to box manufacturers. Since then CSI has developed and now operates 12 sheet feeder operations and 3 full-line box plants, employing a total of 15 corrugators. It uses all the main pre-print and post-print analog technologies to print board stock, with a strong emphasis on high color graphics printing. CSI managers visited the first Nozomi installation (2017) at Hinojosa in Spain and say they were “blown away” by the quality of the printing they observed, and by Nozomi’s productivity.

From Feeder to Stacker, EFI Nozomi Is Over 100 Feet Long

For readers who are not familiar with the printer, “Nozomi” is named for a Japanese bullet train and, like its namesake, it’s built for speed. Based on Seiko piezo inkjet heads, Nozomi prints a bed of media up to 71”/1.8 meters wide at up to 246 pfm/ 75 m/min; measured in sheets (1.8 m x 3 m), that top speed is equal to 7,224 square meters per hour. Other specs:

Media ranges from 14pt folding carton board (about 0.4mm) to all corrugated grades, including triple wall.

  • Nozomi’s inks, which are manufactured by EFI, are LED curing formulations, with CMYK as standard and orange, violet, and white as options.
  • An in-line priming station improves control of ink droplets and allows printing of both coated and uncoated top sheet media.
  • The printhead has ink recirculation and prints four-levels of greyscale, in maximum resolution of 360x720dpi.
  • 100% inspection is also in-line, to manage jetting alignment uniformity of print.

Of all the EFI industrial printers, Nozomi appears to be the one that has benefited most from a team effort by the different EFI businesses. That development is proprietary, but it’s easy to imagine the contributions of individual EFI companies, from media handling and transport (VUTEk wide format, Cretaprint ceramic printing), to ink manufacturing (EFI Jetrion), to software (Fiery DFE, Radius workflow tools). There was likely help from outside EFI, with primer fluids and in-line inspection probably being the work of partners. Whatever the sequence, the resulting printer is highly automated in terms of feeding, monitoring, and off-loading, and the biggest and fastest ever from an EFI company.

CSI Operates 15 Corrugators Company-Wide

CSI will use the Nozomi to help it shift towards digital printing as an important complement to its analog print operations. The Corrugated Packaging Suite “MES” workflow will enable integration of digital production plant-wide, for a full business and production framework to handle all CSI’s digital, flexo, litho-lamination, and litho label operations. In its statements about Nozomi, CSI managers say they expect the Nozomi to expand the geographic range of customers that the company can serve, because the higher value of digital print jobs will make longer transport economic. They point also to the fit with “big box” retailing by major brands. Outlets such as Costco, Best Buy, and Walmark now often require tests of new products and new packaging in small amounts before committing shelf space. For consumer electronics, household goods, and many other products, that trend and many others spur the short run graphics printing jobs for corrugated that inkjet handles well.

Single Pass Just Starting

This story matters because the corrugated industry is just starting to have an influx of costly but highly productive color digital printers from several vendors, inkjet printers like Nozomi that print a wide bed of corrugated in a single pass and are a research focus for Keypoint Intelligence. EFI, which is dedicated to industrial uses of digital printing, is a top competitor; other participants and aspirants include Barberán, CorrStream, Durst, Handway, and HP, and there are at least one or two more in China. Total placements for all these vendors are now likely no more than 20 units worldwide, but that total could double within a year or two. All the printers, like Nozomi, are ones that will be used for two or three shifts, and each will likely print many millions of square meters of corrugated per year, dwarfing the output of even the most automated multi-pass inkjet flatbed printers. For corrugated converters, and for brands they serve, the collective effect will be huge, the arrival of new, timely, and profitable means to print short runs of corrugated digitally, and rapidly, with fine color graphics.

 

 

Fujifilm Acquires Control of Xerox

Jeff Hayes
Jan 31, 2018

The grapevine has been ripe the past weeks, but now the news is finally out. Fujifilm has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the majority holding of Xerox Corporation and will merge Fuji Xerox with Xerox.

The two companies said that Fuji Xerox, a joint venture between Fujifilm and Xerox formed in 1962, will use bank debt to buy back Fujifilm’s 75% stake for around $6.1 billion. Fujifilm will use those proceeds to purchase 50.1% of new Xerox shares. Plans are to complete the deal around July-August of this year.

The new entity, to be called Fuji Xerox, will become a subsidiary of Fujifilm, with dual headquarters in the United States and Japan. It will keep Xerox’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange and will be led by Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson and Fujifilm Chairman Shigetaka Komori.

Why Now?

Xerox has struggled to grow its document technology and related business over the last four years with 2017 revenue ($10.3B) down 19% compared with 2014 ($12.7B). Spurred by activist shareholder Carl Icahn, who owns approximately 9.7% of Xerox shares, Xerox spun off its business process outsourcing business in 2016 to focus on its core. Mr. Icahn has been vocal recently about seeking significant changes to Xerox’ board of directors, senior management, and the Fuji Xerox joint venture with an eye on a potential sale of Xerox in the future.

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Connecting at EFI Connect: New Strategies!

Pat McGrew

Each year EFI hosts their customers, partners, media and analysts at their signature event, EFI Connect. The format is part trade show and part educational conference, giving EFI a chance to not only show off the latest solutions, but also to interact with customers, gather their requirements, and answer questions. EFI mounts a major troop movement to ensure that any question you have can be answered by an expert!

Last year the EFI Connect story was about acquisitions and partnerships. The acquisitions of Reggiani and Optitex were still fresh and repackaging of workflow software into a series of suites consumed much of the conversation. Just after the event EFI announced the arrangement with Xerox to acquire the FreeFlow Print Server and to become the primary DFE provider to Xerox.

 

EFI showed printed textiles

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Xerox Hosts Security Summit at New York Stock Exchange

Rebecca Schiffenhaus
Jan 24, 2018

CNBC Bell Ringing

On January 23rd, 2018, Xerox hosted the Xerox Security Summit at the New York Stock Exchange. Understanding that cybersecurity has become essential for MFPs and printers as “always on end-points”, Xerox brought together thought leaders and partners in this field to join Xerox for the bell ringing and an afternoon of cybersecurity conversations. Mike Feldman, Executive VP and President, NAO, Xerox Corporation, opened the event by reflecting on the rebirth of Xerox one year ago, when Conduent became a separate company and Xerox was able to center itself.  In this past year Xerox has had many accomplishments, including a huge launch of 29 new devices, growth in ConnectKey and apps, and new devices and inks for production print.

Alissa Johnson, Chief Information Security Officer and former Deputy CIO for the White House opened the sessions by emphasizing awareness. Johnson said that breaches can usually be traced to a visible IP, an open port, or a vulnerable service. To protect these areas, Johnson had three tips, 1. Hunt- always assume there is a compromise, 2. Zero trust- whitelist instead of allowing, and 3. Cognitive security- develop advanced AI. Candace Worley, Vice President and Chief Technical Strategist for McAfee, discussed cybersecurity fears around automation. Namely, individuals fear that the system will malfunction, and they will be held accountable. Worley shared some important developments in this field, like the shift from prior work environments, with only a few operating systems and devices, to the current, complex network ecosystems with virtual desktops, countless devices, cloud services and more. Worley also discussed the anticipated labor shortage in cybersecurity, as there is a lack of talent to fill the jobs necessitated by cybersecurity. It is anticipated that by 2022 over 70% of jobs will go unfilled, and 9 out of 10 cybersecurity workers believe that they will need technology to fill that talent gap. Worley emphasized the need for more open culture, with sharing across vendors, to develop the technology to handle this.

Sergio Caltagirone, Director of Threat Intelligence and Analytics at Dragos, discussed the offensive and defensive sides of hacking. Encouraging everyone to be realistic about security, he stated that there are hunters and hunted. Caltagirone shared the Defender’s dilemma, “the adversary needs to be right once, the defender needs to be right every time,” but Caltagirone emphasized that the defender has the power, “the defender controls the space”. By shaping and controlling the environment, security experts have the upper hand so long as they maintain it. Dov Yoran, Sr. Director, Strategy and Business Development Security Group for Cisco, shocked and awed sharing this video, discussing the industrialization of cybercrime and how prevalent and intelligent it has become. Steve Hoover, CTP, Xerox, and Ersin Uzun, Vice President, Director of System Sciences Laboratory, PARC, discussed how approaching cybersecurity can emulate the way we approach parenting. Teaching security programs how to “think” by interrupting processes and asking it to explain why it made choices and having teaching moments for the next event. This leads to greater trust and faith in the program and helps preserve the human role in cybersecurity.

Over lunch, famed hacker Kevin Mitnick, showed us all how easy it was to fall victim to an intelligent cyber-scheme and made everyone feel like throwing their devices into the Hudson. He shared tips and tricks about phishing, ransomware, malware, cloning HID cards, and proved just how simple it would be to be targeted through a great number of innocuous daily business processes. During the final panel, the panelists were asked which they would prioritize: protection, detection, or prevention and the unanimous winner was detection. Detection was emphasized as necessary for expedient handling, as well as integral as a learning opportunity. To end the event, the panelists  shared what would be the one piece of advice they’d give for the day:

  • The most important things are integration and automation, this allows you to react faster and technology to work together.”- Dov Yoran
  • Patch quickly! It’s old school advice but do it. Patch rapidly because people hack rapidly.” – Candace Worley
  • Be proactive about insecurities- if your day to day is just monitoring, you’ve already lost.”- Sergio Caltagirone
  • Stay current.” – Steve Hoover
  • Educate your people about security, people are still a major source of access.”- Ersin Uzun

Xerox introduced the personified tenants of its security approach as characters of a “Super Cyber Squad”- the Protector, the Detector, the Preventer, and the Partner. It’s abundantly clear that conversations about cybersecurity are vital, and the more our industry collaborates and brings together different players, the better we will become achieving those tenants. This summit, and ongoing opportunities for sharing and learning among vendors, customers, partners, dealers, and subject matter experts, help to shape the future of cybersecurity.

 

Kevin Mitnick cloning an HID card 3 different ways in under two minutes.

Panel: Alissa Johnson, Ersin Uzun, Steve Hoover, Sergio Caltagirone, Candace Worley, and Dov Yoran 

 

 

Workflow in 2018: What’s Included in the Package?

Pat McGrew
Jan 10, 2018

In 2017 we walked the workflow, followed an audit trail, and ended with the admonition that your workflow is not proprietary. That last post might have seemed odd, but the reason for the post evolved out of countless conversations with printers who see their workflow as their Intellectual Property. It is understandable to want to protect processes that make a business unique and provide a competitive advantage, but when broken down the optimized workflow process has four components: Creating the content, getting the print job on-boarded, manipulating and managing the job files through to the RIP, and the RIP and Digital Front End (DFE).

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Fuji Xerox Iridesse – Two specialty colours is better than one

Ralf Schlozer
Dec 6, 2017

Less than a year ago, InfoTrends published a multi-client study: “Beyond CMYK: The Use of Special Effects in Digital Printing”. Not only did we find that many printers voiced a strong interest in specialty colours and the desire to have several effects as an option, they also indicated that having two specialty colour stations in the press is their preferred option.

Less than a year later, Fuji Xerox launched the Iridesse Production Press at the Fuji Xerox Premier Partner Conference on the 14th of November in Bangkok for the Asia Pacific market.

For the first time in dry toner production printing, a print engine has been equipped to print six-colours, adding two colour channels to complement process colour print with different specialty colours, including metallic, in a single pass. The Iridesse houses up to two additional specialty toners of gold, silver, clear and white, in addition to standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black. One specialty colour is in front of the CMYK units and one behind, therefore the Iridesse can underprint with one specialty colour, and overprint with another (or the same) in one pass.

Fuji Xerox also revamped toners. CMYK toners are made of Super EA Eco toner, which is Fuji Xerox’s smallest particle size toner to date, citing a particle size of 5 micron for the colour toner. The Super EA Eco toner is able to fuse quickly at a low temperature, and is able to evenly transfer six layers of toners. Another patented improvement is flat metal flakes being embedded into the metallic toner particles. The flat metallic flakes should improve the shininess of metallic prints, and some improvement over the gold toner of the Color 1000i can be noticed – although digital metallic print remains far less shiny than foiling or the like.

A unique feature of the Iridesse is being able to print hues of metallic tones in one pass, by printing silver or gold first and overprinting it with CMYK. Other toner printers would need multi-pass printing, and in offset printing each of the metallic hues would need to be mixed first. This can reduce the effort drastically in hitting metallic effects beyond plain silver or gold. The press supports metallic colours found in colour catalogues such as Pantone Metallic and Pantone Premium Metallic. By using these colour swatches, the operator can reproduce colours similar to Pantone metallic colours by simply designating the colour codes. Also, since the press offers more hues than found in the Pantone swatches, Fuji Xerox has a range of predefined metallic colours on top.

Print sample showing metallic overprinted with CMYK

 

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Comparting 2017: “Digitalizing Communication! Digitalizing Business Processes!”

David Stabel and Pat McGrew
Nov 17, 2017

Under the motto of “Digitalizing Communication! Digitalizing Business Processes!”, this year’s Comparting conference, held November 9-10 in Germany, was all about how digitalization affects the document and output management for enterprises as well as print service providers. Keypoint Intelligence’s Pat McGrew had the honor to provide the keynote titled: “Let’s Get Digital!” Other presentations also focused around the topic of digital transformation of customer communications. And, of course, Compart’s latest innovation, DocBridge Impress, had a central role at the conference.

Harald Grumser, CEO
Thorsten Meudt, CMO

Compart, who celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has successfully hosted this annual event since 2005 with the number of participants increasing each year. More than 400 people from 14 countries world-wide attended the conference, representing a 10% increase over last year. The number of participants outside of Germany almost doubled from 25% in 2016 to 40% this year and reflects Compart’s growing international business.

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Jetrion Returns to Flint, sort of

Ryan McAbee
Nov 3, 2017

Back in 2006, EFI acquired the Jetrion inkjet label printer business from Flint Group, which had developed the technology to expand beyond their traditional foothold in ink. At that time EFI was on a major push to expand into inkjet-driven hardware which was viewed as a growth engine beyond its Fiery and software businesses. EFI paid around $40 million in cash for the Jetrion business which was expected to post between $16-$18 million in annual turnover. After eleven years of less than expected growth, EFI announced an exclusive partnership for Jetrion label presses with Xeikon, a Flint Group company.

The agreement was reached after several months of negotiation, with the first hint of EFI’s decision to “exit the label market” given a week before by Guy Gecht during EFI’s most recent Q3 earnings call. Effectively, EFI is licensing the Jetrion brand while retaining control of the intellectual property and Jetrion ink business. Xeikon picks up the sales and service.

Source: efi.com

The Impact for EFI

The deal is a short-term win for EFI as the company retains the intellectual property rights and keeps the recurring revenue from the ink and, presumably, Fiery. EFI also gets to clear its financial books from an underperforming division. Gecht stated that 2016 Q3 Jetrion printer sales were $4 million which would not average to the $16-$18 million annual revenue expected after the acquisition back in 2006. The competitive market for inkjet-based digital label presses has also changed significantly over the last eleven years. There are more vendors competing in a more mature digital label market which has impacted the ability to place machines with just over 200 Jetrions installed globally to date.

In the long-term there are still uncertainties. Customers and prospects take notice when an underperforming division is jettisoned, creating uncertainty as to the future commitment to other divisions. EFI clearly stated that growth markets in corrugated and industrial printing are a primary focus. Could other divisions, like VUTEk, follow suit? In the Q3 financial call, the company noted a slowing of ink growth volume for its VUTEk line of printers which is an indicator of the end customer’s print volumes. There is always the possibility, but Keypoint Intelligence thinks it highly unlikely until other areas of the industrial inkjet division reach sizable revenue.

The material impact to the rest of the EFI ecosystem, for Fiery but also for Productivity Software solutions, is also unknown. Initial feedback indicates that Fiery will be the digital front end (DFE) for future sales, but Xeikon also has its own DFE. Does the change in sales and service reduce the potential pipeline for other productivity software, such as Digital StoreFront or Radius? Probably not due to the limited install base.

The Impact for Xeikon

HP and Xeikon dominate the digital label market, but both are leveraged to electrophotographic technology. The new agreement with EFI gives Xeikon a further expansion in UV-based label printers to complement its PX3000 Panther press announced earlier this year. The company can also leverage the existing Jetrion install base netting a greater presence in North American.

The company indicated that there will not be any immediate changes for customers, but there is opportunity for Xeikon to leverage some of its existing technology going forward. There are opportunities to have the Flint Group’s ink companies involved with the ink component of Jetrion. Xeikon has developed its X-800 DFE platform with an emphasis on label production and uses it for all other equipment, including Panther, although the company reiterated plans for the Jetrion line to be powered by EFI Fiery. Other lessons learned during the development of Panther could also be leveraged to retool and even expand the existing Jetrion line.

Final Thoughts

The greatest, initial benefactor to the agreement will be existing Jetrion customers who will see expanded service and support from Xeikon which has been at the forefront of digital label production for many years. Users will also be able to join Xeikon’s business development program aXelerate, which helps label converters build applications and sell digital output to grow their business.

IPEX 2017 – feeling the pulse

Ralf Schlozer
Nov 2, 2017

Many print industry pundits will still eagerly remember IPEX as the second most important trade show for the graphic arts industry. Held at mid-term between two drupa trade shows, IPEX was the show to kick the tyres of new products that just reached the market after being previewed at drupa as technology demo.

That held true until IPEX 2014, when the show essentially imploded. Most major exhibitors pulled out leading to a much smaller footprint with 15,000 m², down from 50,000 m² in 2010. Declining margins in the printing industry did take their toll, with exhibitors questioning the return for a costly trade show presence. The show’s move to London did not help IPEX either. The hope of addressing new overseas visitors failed, and UK printers shunned the travel into central London. Although plans for IPEX 2018 to take place from 19 to 24 March 2018 at the Excel, London were announced, everybody expected this to be the end of IPEX.

As a bit of a surprise came the announcement of IPEX 2017, back again in Birmingham. The timing for autumn 2017 was set as the drupa organisers were still aiming for a three-year cycle, so that IPEX would again fall in the middle between two drupa shows. Certainly, the return of IPEX was not on the big scale it once had. IPEX 2017 occupied just parts of one hall of the NEC exhibition centre, instead of 11 of them in 2010, with ample space left to squeeze in more booths. Most equipment vendors did not join the IPEX bandwagon in 2017 either, with Ricoh being the only major digital print equipment manufacturer exhibiting. Other vendors were present via dealers or driving finishing equipment in the booths of finishing equipment vendors. It is noteworthy that finishing vendors did contribute most to the footprint of the show, complemented by software and supplies vendors.

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