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
Like its predecessors, drupa 2016 will be about all printing applications, from commercial printing to additive manufacturing. Given that range, and also the sheer size of the show, it will be an event where some suppliers of digital print systems will find it hard to stand out. Xeikon, though, is big enough and has enough development occurring to be a must-see exhibitor for anyone intent on industrial-strength digital printing, the market that is the focus of InfoTrends “CDLP” consulting service.
The Belgium-based company has significant additions in each of its two main businesses, commercial printing and label and packaging. In commercial printing, Xeikon will show “Trillium One”, a color digital press using liquid toner. Trillium One, which was previewed as a monochrome version at drupa 2012, is based on Xeikon’s core LED imaging technology and transport by partner Miyakoshi; the printer is Xeikon’s first product to use liquid toner, which the company makes itself at its plant in Heultje,
Belgium, where it has long made dry toners. Trillium One will target direct mail, duplex printing a 500 mm (19.7”) web with twin CMYK engines, at 1200 dpi resolution and up to 60 mpm/185 fpm speed. High coverage print samples that we saw at a pre-drupa event in Belgium were excellent. Price for the printer, which will be available Q2 2017, is also expected to be industrial strength, about $2.7M.
In label and packaging, Xeikon will show its dry toner 3000 series presses and its current flagship press, the Xeikon CX3 (2015). Nick-named “Cheetah”, after the fastest land animal, Xeikon CX3 prints 5 colors at up to 30 mpm/98 fpm; the printer was the star of Xeikon’s booth at the 2015 Label Expo and today has +20 installations. Meanwhile, at a pre-drupa event that it held in Belgium in March, Xeikon CEO Wim Maes noted that his company’s installed base of label and packaging digital presses now tops 400
units worldwide. At drupa, Xeikon will show its label and packaging presses but will also highlight key finishing options. The most important will be “Fusion,” the digitally driven enhancement technologies (foiling, inkjet-based white, etc.) that Xeikon will place in-line with a 3000 Series press; Fusion thus is the combination of print and embellishment into one platform, with all stations driven by the same DFE, Xeikon’s own X-800.
Another key adjunct to Xeikon label and packaging presses will be Xeikon’s suite of finishing for folding cartons, which is the company’s second packaging focus after label printing; in that area, the company will also introduce the Xeikon FDU, a flatbed diecutting unit. Developed by a partner, the FDU will carry the Xeikon name and Xeikon will be its exclusive distributor globally. Xeikon notes that it will fit alongside the other partnerships the company already has as part of its Folding Carton Suite, but it will
be unique because of its lower initial investment and its ability to reduce the tooling costs for the stepped diecut process. Xeikon FDU is a 2000 sheet per hour system that handles sheet sizes from 400 x 400 mm to 530 x 1000 mm and a maximum die-cut size of 490 x 700 mm; substrate thickness can range from 160 to 890 microns for paper, carton board and also microflute corrugated.
Why Xeikon Matters
In the label and packaging market, Xeikon is the second biggest digital press vendor, the nearest competitor to HP Indigo, and it shares that company’s dual commitment to commercial printing and to label and packaging printing. As noted above, Xeikon will have big introductions at drupa in each category; that said, Xeikon revealed last year that its revenues from label and packaging have started to surpass those from commercial printing. Other evidence about Xeikon makes it clear the company is one that will do new things and that it will contest the digital printing market in all parts. The most important is Xeikon’s new owner, Flint Group. Flint, a $2.9 billion maker of supplies for analog presses, bought Xeikon in Q4 2015 and has made it the leader of a new Flint division targeting digital print. Flint is an important and helpful parent to have, with 170 sites in 40 countries, many hundreds of clients, and a mission to establish itself as a supplier of digital products.
For digital vendors in the label and packaging especially, Flint’s purchase of Xeikon brings to mind other instances of consolidation: Brother, which bought Domino (inkjet coders, and inkjet label presses), and also to an extent EFI, the owner of EFI Jetrion, VUTEk, Cretaprint, and Radius. In each case a rich, powerful parent has sought by acquisition to advance in industrial print applications, in turn has boosted the prospects of the acquired companies.
As to doing new things, Xeikon proves that regularly: Its presses are growing in their core applications, but they also keep edging into crossover uses, such as heat transfers and even wallpaper; as seen in Fusion’s white station, Xeikon will work with inkjet where it’s a fit, and is thus not married to EP. Then there is Trillium with its “Tonnik” liquid inks, a sure sign that the company is open to alternate approaches. Overall, Xeikon in recent years has proved to be sturdy, creative, and ambitious, and at drupa 2016 it will use its new products and parentage to reach a new level.
Xeikon will show Trillium One at its booth in drupa Hall 8A
Xeikon will show its BasysPrint and Thermoflexx lines in Hall 8B
Flint Group will show its range of flexographic products in Hall 3
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