Oct 25, 2010
A trip to Paris can be a wonderful experience, but hosting a business event in France can also be a gamble these days due to the strikes that have affected transport services. Luckily, this gamble paid off for Canon as the company held its 2010 Canon Expo Europe in Paris. Despite the strikes, this event attracted nearly 14,000 attendees in 3 days. Once every five years, Canon holds its expo for customers, prospects, dealers, and press members in the major geographies. A U.S. event was held in New York City in the beginning of September, and this was followed up with the Paris event in mid-October.
In this video I discuss a set of print samples from Graph Expo 2010 and explain how they relate to the following trends:
- Formats larger than 12 x 18
- Cut-sheet color products using chemical toner
- Effects that go beyond CMYK
- High-speed color inkjet printing on coated paper
- Color inkjet envelope printing
I hope you enjoy the video. If you have comments or questions, please let me know. If you have innovative samples you’d like me to see, please send them to: Jim Hamilton, InfoTrends, 97 Libbey Industrial Parkway, Suite 300, Weymouth, MA, 02189
Oct 20, 2010
FINAT, the international association for self-adhesive label industry, announced this month that it has taken the first steps to achieve standardized testing methods for digital printing of labels. FINAT has begun establishing a picked group of industry representatives to form a “task force” dedicated to this topic.
The news from FINAT, which is based in The Netherlands and has 600 members from around the world, is a sign of the importance and maturity of digital technology in the label industry, which is now has well over 1,300 color digital presses base on EP or inkjet. While color digital presses have thus come into their own in the market that was once exclusively served by analog presses, there is a gap between digital and analog in terms of print testing. For analog technology such as offset, letterpress, flexo or gravure presses, the industry has well established testing equipment, procedures and standards, one that are accepted by the key supplier categories such as media and press manufacturers and by converters and their customers.
Color digital technology, though, is younger than analog, and most of the standard printability tests and procedures have not yet been fully tried. It is also possible that such tests may need to be modified or new tests developed for use in judging digital printing of labels and packaging. FINAT is aiming to close the gap, and make digital technology as well and uniformly tested as analog technology. Their overall goal is to make digital label printing a more globally standardized technology in terms of printability, performance standards, test methods and procedures.
InfoTrends believes this initiative by FINAT is very helpful one. While vendors of color digital technology have collectively achieved good success in the label market, they are a disparate group. They include not just two major technology categories, EP and inkjet, but subcategories of technologies within them, defined by toner technology (liquid or dry toned) and inkjet heads (Epson, Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Panasonic, Toshiba TEC, Xaar). There is a lot to judge and compare, such as image resolution and color matching, among other items.
What will a better, standardized testing do for color digital technology? A key benefit will be greater acceptability of digitally printed labels among brand owners. Some share of brand owners still rate digital output as marginal compared to analog, and top consumer brands are especially demanding in terms of color matching and other features. These companies seek consistency and fidelity; standardized testing will enhance the reputation of color digital.
The move by FINAT is spurred by IGT Testing Systems, a print testing specialist based in Switzerland, and Mike Fairley, a key industry consultant with Tarsus Group, the organizer of Label Expo. FINAT is now in the midst of establishing the task force, which it says will represent different disciplines. FINAT’s Wilco de Groot is chairman of the group, and will soon make recommendations about its further recruitment.
Oct 8, 2010
At Graph Expo xpedx announced that it will distribute the EFI wide format printer line including EFI-VUTEk and EFI-Rastek. This is a very positive deal for xpedx, which has been moving methodically into wide format for a number of years, and for EFI which recently lost an important distribution partner in the United States when Agfa acquired Pitman. Read more »
Oct 6, 2010
I spent four days in Zhuhai, China, which was host to two related events the last week of September. These were the GRIGA Conference and RemaxAsia Expo 2010, both organized by Recycling Times Magazine. The day before the trade show, Saturday Sept 25, was the day of the Global Remanufacturing Industry General Assembly (GRIGA) 2010 conference. Here we had presentations by watchers or participants in the remanufacturing world from almost every continent. Read more »
Oct 5, 2010
Océ organised its fourth “Home of Color” event on Wednesday September 22, 2010, which took place at its production facilities in Poing, Germany (near Munich). Océ organises the “Home of Color” events to update customers and industry observers on new product developments as well as the progress it makes in driving the transition from monochrome to colour.
Oct 4, 2010
Software continues to play an integral role in print and cross-media production. Conventional wisdom is shifting from “throwing software at it” to try and solve problems in production environments to “strategy-based” software deployment. Numerous times we have seen companies play a reactive role when it comes to software; a client has a need not currently met by a company’s existing software arsenal, forcing them to quickly come up with a solution through investment or custom development. While this approach solves an immediate issue for a particular client, larger opportunities and long-term implications can be missed.
While there are no doubt many challenges service providers still face in today’s economy, many businesses are anxious to tackle initiatives they may have been forced to put on the back-burner in the past year or two; these initiatives may include automating workflow to increase efficiency, extending capabilities to the Web with e-commerce, and offering new services. Software is a key enabler for many of these initiatives, and service providers need to take a more proactive approach to choosing a vendor, product, and ultimately a partner that can help meet strategic goals. Read more »
Oct 3, 2010
Here are some thoughts leading into Graph Expo 2010:
- Digital is mainstream — Look at the exhibitors across the front of the Graph Expo show floor. This is real estate that had been held for years by Heidelberg. Now it’s (from left to right): Xerox, HP, EFI, Presstek, xpedx, and Pitney Bowes. Heidelberg, the largest exhibitor for many years, does not have a booth at the show. Komori, another press manufacturer with a long history of participation at Graph Expo, is not exhibiting either. The landscape has changed and digital has become mainstream at Graph Expo.
- Inkjet, inkjet, inkjet — The digital print market is represented mostly by toner-based electrophotographic devices today. They produce by far the majority of production digital print output. Yet in five or ten years that equation could be turned on its head by high-speed continuous feed color inkjet products capable of printing high volumes on a range of uncoated and coated paper types. Graph Expo 2010 will be a turning point in the use of coated paper on these devices. Economical coated paper that works on this class of products will open up new application areas and drive high volumes of print. Label & packaging applications using inkjet are also a new growth area.
- Larger format cut-sheet — The B2-format inkjet products from Fujifilm and Screen grabbed a lot of attention at IPEX. So did Presstek’s announcement of its 75DI (which can handle 6-up letter). Leading into the show Kodak and Xerox made announcements about increased formats for top-of the line NexPress and iGen4 products. These announcements have important implications for productivity, of course, but perhaps more importantly for the types of print applications that will fit within the print area. Think about multi-up small document applications like business cards and post cards as well as applications where every inch counts such as folding cartons.
- New cut-sheet color products — 2010 has been a strong year for new cut-sheet color products with announcements from Canon, HP Indigo, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, and Xerox. The range of choice for cut-sheet color devices faster than 70 pages per minute (ppm) has expanded. In addition, offerings in the 50 to 70 ppm range are also coming on line. Keep an eye out for how these devices are being leveraged with new workflow, front-end, and finishing tools.
- Effects beyond CMYK — There are a growing number of products that have new or added features that differentiate them from their competitors. These include expanded CMYK color gamut, fifth colors, and gloss coating. Taking advantage of these features to their fullest is a challenge since they require software tools and education to be used to their fullest. Look beyond the hardware to see what these vendors are doing to make these effects easy to employ.
Looking forward to a very interesting show. Hope to see you there.