Category: Production

Epson Acquires Robustelli to Secure its Position in the Production Digital Textile Printing Market

James Hanlon and Ron Gilboa
Jun 27, 2016

Epson Group and Epson Italia S.p.A. announced that they agreed with the Robustelli family to acquire 100% of the capital of Fratelli Robustelli S.r.l. (“Robustelli”). This agreement aims to help Epson and Robustelli gain share in the fast-growing digital textile printing market.

Robustelli was one of the early innovators that used Epson’s printhead technology to develop the Monna Lisa product line. These products are considered the standard for high-quality digital textile printing. Located in Como, Italy, Robustelli had 25 employees and an annual turnover of over €12 million in 2015. The company’s heritage is in the textile machinery industry, developing, manufacturing, and selling Monna Lisa inkjet textile printers. Epson will deploy its worldwide sales and service network to sell Robustelli’s high-end printing systems in more countries and regions around the world, expanding its current footprint and reaching emerging digital markets.

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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.

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

The Top drupa 2016 Trends

Jim Hamilton, Jeff Hayes, Ron Gilboa, Ralf Schlozer and Ryan McAbee
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:

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  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.

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Millennials Won’t Respond to Printed Catalogs and Direct Mail, Right? WRONG!

Eve Padula
Jun 7, 2016

In a world where consumers are inundated by online requests and e-mail messages, printed communications really cut through the clutter and attract attention. Although some might think that tried-and-true marketing methods like direct mail and catalogs primarily appeal to Baby Boomers, InfoTrends’ research shows that even Millennials are responsive to these communications.

In late 2015, InfoTrends conducted a benchmark study entitled Direct Marketing Production Printing & Value-Added Services: A Strategy for Growth. This effort included an in-depth survey to uncover what the future holds for marketers, consumers, and direct mail printers. The findings from this survey were broken down by age demographic, and respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 are considered Millennials for the purposes of this study. Read more »

The Value of Tradeshows… As I Head to drupa!

Barb Pellow
May 27, 2016

drupa is the largest printing equipment and supplies manufacturer exhibition in the world. This year’s event will feature over 1,800 exhibitors and a projected 300,000 visitors (40%+ German, 8% Indian, 7% Belgian, 7% French, 6% Dutch, 5% British, and <5% North American), all in the span of 11 days (May 31 – June 10, 2016). Our industry has changed dramatically since The Great Recession, but marketers and business executives continue to watch their pennies and scrutinize every decision while exploring new and different ways to do business in today’s economy. As drupa looms, business owners, decision-makers, and participants alike may question the value of exhibiting at and attending trade events when information is so readily available on personal computers and mobile devices.

Why Exhibit at drupa?

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RISO Announces New Inkjet Products at Dealer Event

Jim Hamilton
May 26, 2016

RISO has had high-speed inkjet in its ComColor line since 2005. At its recent Americas dealer event (May 18-19 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas) it announced product line updates as well as some production-oriented news for the upcoming drupa trade show (May 31 to June 10 in Dusseldorf, Germany). RISO’s ComColor products have always straddled the line between office use and light production. With the announcement of these two new offerings the company is differentiating the product family to target the products to the right customers.

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The new inkjet products are the GD9630 and the FW5230. RISO calls the GD9630 “Professional Inkjet” or “Pro-Jet” while it uses the term “Business Inkjet” or “Biz-Jet” for the FW5230:

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KBA VariJET 106 & The Making of ‘The B1 drupa’

Bob Leahey
May 25, 2016

KBA-Sheetfed Solutions, a division of German press manufacturer KBA, announced recently it will offer a B1 sheet fed inkjet press called KBA VariJET 106 for printing folding cartons. The new press will be built on the platform of KBA Rapida 106, a sheet fed offset press, and on an inkjet print engine and DFE by Xerox Impika. According to KBA, KBA VariJET 106 will print 4,500 sheets per hour in B1 size (750 x 1060mm/29.5 x 41.7 inches) and will be modular in nature, allowing custom configurations to include Read more »

The Future of Kodak Prosper: drupa, UltraStream, and New Ownership

Jim Hamilton
May 19, 2016

In April, Kodak held an inkjet-focused briefing in Dayton, Ohio to update industry analysts on their current status, new developments, and drupa 2016 plans. The event provided an excellent opportunity to get an up-close look at Kodak’s inkjet offerings, including some technology demonstrations that will be highlighted at drupa 2016 (May 31st to June 10th in Dusseldorf, Germany).

It’s an important time for Kodak’s Dayton-based Enterprise Inkjet Systems Division. drupa 2016 is fast approaching, and the division has big plans there. The next generation of Stream head technology (UltraStream) will also be on display as a technology demonstration. Perhaps most importantly, Kodak’s board has announced that the Enterprise Inkjet business, including the Prosper Press Platform, the S Series Imprinting Systems, and related products are for sale.

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Kodak, with a sizeable booth in Hall 5, will be the fifth largest exhibitor at drupa. From an inkjet perspective, Kodak plans to showcase Read more »

Xeikon at drupa 2016: Another Must-See Exhibitor

Bob Leahey
May 18, 2016

With drupa 2016 about to start, InfoTrends has written reports and blogs on key digital printing and finishing companies that will exhibit products for packaging and label converting there. With this report we will preview one more important drupa exhibitor, Xeikon.

A drupa-Sized Entrant Read more »

HP Jet Fusion 3D 3200/4200 – Innovation in 3D Printing

Ron Gilboa and Christine Dunne
May 17, 2016

Today at the RAPID 3D print show, HP unveiled its first proprietary 3D printing product: the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution. Calling it “the world’s first production-ready commercial 3D printing system,” HP says the new Multi Jet Fusion product is part of its journey to bring disruptive manufacturing solutions to market.

As HP has said previously, the device will deliver superior quality parts up to 10 times faster and at half the cost of current 3D print systems. It will also print functional parts at the individual voxel level, HP said, a 3D printing first. During a pre-briefing call, Alex Monino, Head of Marketing and Go-to-Market for HP’s 3D printing business, indicated that HP has plans for a marketing campaign centered around the “voxel” concept. Read more »

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