Big Iron and New Ink at SGIA

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Oct 12, 2009

I’m just getting back from the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) show in New Orleans, LA. I am working on a more detailed write-up, but in short I think there were two distinct sets of wide format digital printing equipment developments.

At the front of the show floor, basically right next to each other, the leading high-end wide format graphics hardware suppliers like Durst, EFI, Fujifilm, and HP were showing off their latest equipment and tools. Durst had its new Rho 900 flatbed printer and Rho 1000 printer, EFI was leading with the new GS-3200 and new Fiery XF RIP product, Fujifilm was demonstrating the Onset S20,its new UviStar 3.2- and 5-meter wide UV-curable inkjet printers. The UviStar models are private-labeled from Matan. HP has the widest portfolio of products in the wide format graphics market, and was at SGIA with equipment ranging from its high-end flatbed inkjet printers to its new low-end “Latex” printer (more on that in just a minute). All of those vendors were reporting that they were closing deals right there on the show floor. The trend on the high-end is clearly about the tools that make up solutions and help customers build and operate their wide format business more effectively,with Fujifilm showing its Print Run Controller software, the new EFI Fiery XF solution and HP’s Capture program all taking a position.

The other big development was on the ink side, where I should note the aforementioned Latex printer, but also identify new inks from Roland DG and Seiko I Infotech. HP’s Latex ink has a lot of appeal in and of itself because of the low VOC emission and good image durability. The reaction I got from one of the HP resellers I spoke to was very strong, he told me “HP is going to sell a ton of those”. On the eco-/light-/mild-solvent inkjet side, there were new printer models but also new ink formulations. Roland’s new printer is the first to use a metallic silver inkjet ink, so this represents something of a breakthrough, and the examples in Roland booth illustrated the great effects that can be created using these metallic inks. The printer will start shipping later this year. Also on the solvent side, SII announced a new ink set called “EG Outdoor-LX” which are lower-priced than the company’s “EG Outdoor-EX” ink sets. These new inks are less expensive and come in larger cartridges than the EX-series ink, but do not offer the same outdoor durability.

The SGIA show was smaller and the attendance was lower compared to past years. There was very limited participation in the event from the screen-printing side. New Orleans did not draw the attendee-vacationers that Las Vegas or Orlando usually does, but according to the vendors I spoke with, attendees at SGIA were ready to do business, so just about all of the vendors I spoke to were pretty happy. We’ll be publishing that more detailed write-up of SGIA later this week.

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