Yesterday Kodak and the U.K. Based Kodak Pension Plan (KPP) made news. Resolving their financial issues was only one element but surprisingly KPP ended up owning key Kodak businesses. In its release Kodak stated the following: “Eastman Kodak Company announced a settlement agreement with the U.K. Kodak Pension Plan (KPP).” KPP is Kodak’s largest creditor with respect to its Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization. Under the agreement, which will be filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Kodak’s Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses will be spun off under new ownership to KPP.”
“The settlement agreement provides, among other things, for the spin-off of Kodak’s Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses to KPP for cash and non-cash consideration of $650 million. Certain proceeds will be used to support the emergence of Kodak from Chapter 11 and the growth of its Commercial Imaging business. The agreement also settles approximately $2.8 billion of claims by KPP against Kodak and certain of its affiliates.”
“The agreement will be implemented as part of Kodak’s Chapter 11 plan in the United States. At the consummation of the spin-off, Kodak and its worldwide affiliates will be released from their obligations to KPP. The UK Pensions Regulator (“the Regulator”) has been kept fully informed of this process and the Regulator has granted clearance in respect of the acquisition.Â The Regulator has decided that it will approve the release of Kodak Limited, the KPP’s sponsoring employer, from its liabilities to the KPP and the UK Pension Protection Fund has confirmed that it has no objection. Closing of the transaction is subject to the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, approval by the Regulator and the satisfaction or waiver of other conditions precedent.” Read more »
Most of us at one time or another have received an “e-card” from a friend or relative, perhaps for a birthday or as an invitation to a party or event. Electronic cards have some key advantages over printed cards. For example, e-cards cost less, as many are available at no charge and there’s no postage cost for sending them. Many of us spend a lot of time sitting in front of our computers, so it’s often easier to just pick an e-card and send it off instead of taking the time to go to a store and search for the right card, or order a card online and wait for it to come in the mail before sending it back out in the mail to its recipient. E-cards also make a lot of sense as announcements and invitations, as you know the person will get it as soon as they check their e-mail and some vendors allow the sender to keep tabs on who has RSVP’d to the event.
InfoTrends 2012 Next Generation of Personalized Printed Products study posed a series of survey questions to respondents who had purchased various types of personalized printed products in the last year (such as greeting cards, invitations/announcements and thank you cards). Â In that survey, we asked respondents about how they’re using e-cards and the impact they’re having on printed cards. Many respondents have sent e-cards in the last year, with 45% telling us they sent electronic greeting cards and 37% saying they sent invitations. Thank you cards were sent by 33% of respondents, and 26% sent electronic announcements (multiple responses were allowed).
InfoTrends recently published the United States and Western European digital production placements numbers and market shares. As every observer of the world economy would have guessed the latest numbers are less than stellar. 2012 was not as bad as when the financial crisis of 2008/2009 hit the markets, but most segments declined with only a few product segments showing growth.
Overall installation numbers for digital production printing devices in the U.S. and Western Europe declined by 6.6% to 114,792 units in 2012. This is less of a reason for concern however, as we expected a decline in entry level devices which have a large share of the overall installations – in line with the declining number of small print establishments like copy shops, quick printers and CRDs (More details can be found in our establishment sizing reports for U.S. and Western Europe). After all, low-end devices produce little print volume anyway. We had already observed that with the production digital copy/print market maturing there is a shift towards higher volume devices, competing more and more for higher run lengths. To some extent that shift continued in 2012, although some high-end segments declined as well. For example the heavy production colour segment (1M to 10M duty cycle range) declined by 20%. A drop in this segment was not unexpected due to the drupa impact and for reasons within the product portfolio, but it was amplified by the difficult economic situation as well. Read more »
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show has been running for over 85 years and this year it was estimated that over 92,000 media and entertainment professionals from over 150 countries filled the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) from April 8 to 11.Â Â
At this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, Ultra HD (4K) displays were the talk of the show. If 4K displays are to succeed, they will need 4K content and that is where the NAB trade show comes in.
One day, during my second year at university, as I was storing away some boxes in the cupboard under the stairs I came across an old grey box wedged in a neat crack in between two steps. The box was covered in what looked like years’ worth of dust. Inside the box was filled with personal photos, certificates and letters. So many wonderful memories just stashed away and unintentionally forgotten about. There were many letters from family, friends, pen pals and girlfriends all addressed to a Scott Goodfellow. With almost every letter there was a photo. Amongst the letters there were endless photos of Scott and his family. I remember many of them clearly; Scott as a baby in the garden with his mum. Another of Scott sat beside his Nan. Several of Scott lined up next to his football team. I couldn’t bring myself to just tuck the memories back under the stairs, so I made it my mission to return the box to Scott. Read more »
On April 15th, it wasÂ announced thatÂ Kodak would look to sellÂ its Document Imaging businessÂ Â to Brother for $210 million dollars, this makes yet another Kodak business unit to divest as part of a bankruptcy restructure plan by the Imaging company. This announcement appears to be an opening bid for auction of the Kodak business unit. Under the terms of the agreement, Kodak will seek U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval of the bidding procedures at a hearing in late April and is targeting final court approval of a transaction in June.
Last Thursday, I met a top Boston-area commercial printer, one with the vision and fortitude to take his business to the next level. The occasion was the company’s open house to highlight its adoption of 3D printing technology as the next step in its evolution as a print service provider. Â We saw that technology, and a lot more.
For the event, Jim Corliss, a founder and owner of Braintree Printing, hosted nearly 200 guests at his company’s 17,000 sq. ft. operations, located just inside Route 128, Boston’s technology ring-road. Jim and his partners, Jerry Hogan and Jose Tafur, are veterans of the printing industry, having opened their first Sir speedy in 1982 and Braintree Printing in 2001.
Corliss and teammates have thus been in the trenches for many years and have successfully transitioned Braintree Printing into a full service commercial print operation, one incorporating workflow tools, lots of digital printing, and offset printing and fulfillment services.
Braintree Printing has an especially strong digital printing component, with two Xerox iGen 4s leading the company’s equipment list. While printed documents in conventional formats are the core of what Braintree Printing does, though, the spark of innovation and the desire to outpace the competition is driving Braintree to adopt new technologies, such as 3D printing. These technologies will allow them to maximize sell new services to existing and new customers and to add adjacent applications as well.
Adding new capabilities to Braintree Printing - Stratasys Dimension 1200es 3D
The piÃ¨ce de résistance at the company today is the newly acquired Stratasys Dimension 1200es 3D Printer. Here Jim and his fellow owners take a step towards future solutions that will allow them to offer a slew of new applications starting with this entry level model aimed at ABS plastic production, and likely in the future more advanced units for complex 3D production. Read more »
Last August, Lexmark announced that it would be exiting the inkjet business and was looking for a buyer. The printer maker planned to close its Philippines factory and cut 1,700 jobs worldwide, or 13% of its staff, to focus on high-end business printers, document software and services.Â At the time, many wondered who would want to buy their inkjet segment given market conditions and forecast predictions. As the chart shows below, inkjet is declining and Lexmark’s portion has grown considerably smaller. It turns out the company, Funai that has been manufacturing inkjet printers for Lexmark since 1997 was interested and will acquire the patents and the Philippine ink manufacturing facility. The deal announced on April 2, 2013 includes Funai Electric Company Ltd. (www.funaiworld.com) acquiring more than 1,500 of the OEM’s inkjet patents for $100 million and is expected to close during the first half of 2013. With US$26 billion/2,461 (JPY 100M) in annual sales, Funai has operations all over the world including North America, Europe, Japan, and Asia as well as other markets. The U.S. is their principal market with over half of the company’s sales.
Chart: 2012 U.S and Western Europe Serial Inkjet Populations by OEM
Three major business segments are the main focus for Funai: Audio Visual, Information Equipment (printers), and Other. The company’s Information Equipment segment represents about 12% of their sales. Funai has relationships with mass merchandisers and OEMs including Lexmark. OEM business accounts for about a third of Funai’s business. Funai depends on Chinese production for its products because it makes them more cost competitive which is important for their mass merchandiser customers. Over 80% of their products are made through consignment production in China. Funai had plans to commercialize printers developed in-house and last year announced that it had launched a laser beam printer business. This acquisition of inkjet technology speeds this process along for Funai which now has the capabilities to develop, manufacture, and sell inkjet hardware as well as inkjet supplies. In addition, Funai will become the manufacturer of Lexmark’s aftermarket inkjet supplies.
Funai Electric is a company that is known for a unique business model in that it MILKS markets to the end. The company has a history of investing in technology when it’s already proven and then building economies of scale in the production process. Beginning with sewing machines, the company moved on to transistor radios, then VHS. Only recently did they pick up LCD and this year they took over the entertainment section of Philips for their branded audio and accessories. Some wonder what this says about the inkjet market today? It’s certainly past its heyday but will we see Funai entering as a new inkjet brand — if we look at their previous pattern, then yes.
Our initial thought about this transaction is that it is good for Lexmark to have found a buyer for their inkjet business given what we know about inkjet. It will be interesting to see what Funai does with it. Since the serial inkjet market for consumers is in decline but business inkjet is growing, Funai may face challenges with that since what they know is centered around low-cost consumer electronics and relationships with consumer retailers. Funai has made it clear that they wanted to do more in this area and now they have more control over this process since they own the patents and facility. In the past few fiscal cycles, Funai did state in financial documents that orders for printers had been dropping so this deal may help them breathe new life into this area but may also present some risks for them in this very competitive and established market. Funai is not a known brand in the market and the question is whether they will be able to sell its inkjet printers to a wide range of customers under their own brand or even uncover new niches for inkjet? Our guess is that products developed based on this newly acquired intellectual property which may include new printers with new engines will be well suited for emerging markets versus established markets such as the U.S. and Europe even though the U.S. is a dominant market for Funai.
A science article in the New York Times by John Markoff last week detailed an innovation from Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) that could revolutionize the world of chip manufacturing.Â In a new manufacturing process from Xerox PARC, slivers of silicone called “chiplets” are immersed in a carrier liquid and are then “printed” onto a solid carrier material, much as toner particles are managed today in laser printing via Fluidic Self Assembly (FSA). Following Xerox’s rich heritage of innovation from the 1970s such as laser printing, Ethernet, the modern personal computer, graphical user interface (GUI), object-oriented programming, ubiquitous computing, amorphous silicon (a-Si) applications, and advancing very-large-scale-integration (VLSI) for semiconductors, printed chiplets Â could possibly surpass these. Chiplet technology has the potential to revolutionize conventional manufacturing of chips and other microelectronic components, a change that will give benefits in flexibility, timeliness, and efficiency for companies that make such products.
The image below provides an enlarged view of the chiplets, each no larger than a grain of sand. Using systems that are essentially laser printer, Xerox’s PARC may one day be able to create desktop manufacturing plants that use chiplets to “print” the circuitry for a wide array of electronic devices.
Source:Â Amy Sullivan/PARC An enlarged view of small slivers of silicon, each no larger than a grain of sand, called chiplets. Using laser printers, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center may one day be able to create desktop manufacturing plants that use chiplets to “print” the circuitry for a wide array of electronic devices.