B2 Digital Presses: Market is Ramping Up in Europe, North America

Bob Leahey and Ralf Schlozer
Dec 2, 2014

The new generation of ‘B2’ format sheet fed presses from HP Indigo and several other suppliers has caused interest and excitement since their first unveiling two years ago. Today about 140 B2 presses are operating worldwide, and that total is growing. InfoTrends recently interviewed 40 current users of B2 presses and also surveyed 200 prospects for the technology in Europe and North America, in order to understand the status and outlook for B2 digital systems, which are available now from Delphax, Fujifilm, HP Indigo, and Screen, with more to come.  The results are charted and interpreted in the new report, Opportunities and Challenges in B2 Digital.

Table 1: B2 Sheet Fed Color Digital Presses, December 2014

Company

Model Tech First Installs
Delphax Elan 500 Inkjet 2014
Fujifilm Jet Press 720 Inkjet 2011
HP Indigo 10000 EP 2012
HP Indigo 30000 EP 2014
Komori IS 29 Inkjet 2015
Konica Minolta KM-1 Inkjet 2015
Landa S7/S10 Inkjet 2015
Ryobi DP760 EP 2015
Screen True Press Jet SX Inkjet 2012

Because of the research splits its emphasis between users of B2 presses and potential users we learned different things from each group. Regarding users—we spoke to nearly 30% of the existing owners of B2 presses—we offer the following excerpts:

  • HP Indigo has about a 70% share of the B2 installed base, thanks mainly to the HP Indigo 10000, which the company commercialized end of 2012.
  • Commercial printers own most B2 digital presses, but they are augmented by growing numbers of digital print specialists and packaging converters.
  • Most B2 users have from 50 to 200 staff, but users we met range from 20 to over 2,000 employees, and 82% already had some kind of digital printing before installing B2 digital.
  • General advertising and direct mail are the most frequent applications for B2 presses and, for some users, direct mail is 90% of what they print with the technology.
  • Folding carton printing is cited at a 16% print volume share, but placements of B2 presses dedicated to packaging had their first installs only in the last 12 months and this application is growing.
  • A full 75% of B2 press users say that owning this technology has expanded their customer base and another 10% expect it will do so after they become more familiar with it.

Types of Companies Owning B2 Digital Presses, 2014


What about prospective users of B2 digital presses? For Europe and North America we sought print providers that have at least one 4 color sheet fed offset press and that are big enough to be good prospects for B2 digital technology—almost all responding companies have more than $5 million in annual revenues, the average revenue for the total of 200 respondents is $18.1 million. As expected most users of offset presses are commercial printers (82%), but the prospective B2 users that we surveyed include digital print specialists and packaging converters as well. Some quick findings:

  • Just 22% of companies that are prospects for B2 presses are “quite familiar” with B2 press technology, and 9% are somewhat familiar, which is surprise after the media coverage these products have garnered since drupa 2012. There are differences among countries however.
  • For companies with some awareness of B2 digital, HP Indigo is the brand they are most aware of, but awareness of Fujifilm and Konica Minolta is nearly as high.
  • 17% of all responding companies are considering investing in B2 digital. Again the investment interest differs by country and region, and in regions where printers are more familiar with B2 presses they are also more likely to invest.
  • Short print runs are a clear motivation to use digital presses for the group, which consistently expects decline in the number of jobs with more than 5,000 sheets, and increases in jobs of shorter run lengths.
  • For companies planning to invest in B2, the top motivation to do so is higher productivity (33%), but there is wide variety of drivers that push these companies toward a B2 investment.

Our research turned up plenty of challenges for B2 print technology, such as the need to print a bigger range of media, and to offer extensive support and training to users during press installation start-up. That said, everything we learned indicates that the use of B2 presses is growing, and that new print providers in commercial printing, direct mail, and packaging converting will soon be investing.

For more information on our study on Opportunities and Challenges in B2 Digital, please visit our project website or contact Scott Phinney at 781-616-2123 or scott.phinney@infotrends.com.

 

Photo of HP Indigo 10000:

Photo of Konica Minolta KM-1:

 

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