Oct 1, 2014
Heidelberg and Canon/Océ both reemphasized their push into the digital packaging printing market at their customer events last week. Each company gave a detailed update on the progress it has made.
As promised back in April at a digital sneak peek event, Heidelberg showed their first digital label printer at the Gallus “Innovation Days” from the 23rd to 25 of September in St Gallen, Switzerland. The event, which is not to be confused with the Hunkeler innovationdays) served well as a platform to reemphasize the changes in the ownership structure; this summer Gallus became part of the Heidelberger group, the upshot of a share swap that increased Heidelberg’s ownership of Gallus from 30% to 100% and with the former owner of Gallus becoming the biggest individual shareholder in Heidelberg.
Center stage, however, was the digital label press with the somewhat less catchy name of Gallus DCS 340. The press, which comes with in-line finishing, is the result of development cooperation between Gallus, Heidelberg and Fujifilm. The press base is supplied by Gallus and is derived from the well-established ECS 340 label press, hence the web width is set at 340 mm (13.4”) and a range of flexo, screen and offset modules can be added. The press has a solid granite base and is equipped with an unwind and a die cutting/stripping module. Only the speed of the DCS had be limited to 50 m/min (150 ft/min) compared to 165 m/min (492 ft/min) of the conventional press. The integrated finishing is somewhat misleadingly named “ digital converting system”, since the ECS C finishing part contains no digital components at all. Its core is a semi-rotary die cutter, which is at least format variable, but still requires a conventional die.
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Jun 19, 2014
At a recent launch event in San Diego, CA HP unveiled plans to “reboot” its wide format digital printing portfolio with a new modular thermal inkjet (TIJ) platform. Additionally HP launched new wide format technical printers, production software, and a single print driver for their DesignJet family, but the headliner was a wide format printer from HP that will compete in the single-pass wide format segment.
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Jun 6, 2014
With the digital camera market struggling this year, it could be very easy for camera vendors to pull back their marketing and sales efforts and try to weather out the storm by controlling their costs. However, this would be the worst thing that they could do. “Out of sight, out of mind,” as the saying goes. A better approach to the situation should be, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Canon and Samsung are showing that they are not going to roll over and let the market dictate to them what the outcome for the year will be. InfoTrends estimates that, on average, there will be over one million cameras sold a month this year. Although this number has been much higher in recent history, it is still an impressive quantity of product being sold. Some company is going to sell these cameras and it appears that Canon and Samsung are saying, “Why not us?”
May 30, 2014
Continuous feed colour inkjet printing has been a big success story over the past seven years especially in transaction print and with some book and direct mail printers. However the market lost a bit of momentum recently. While the move to inkjet in the transaction market is in full swing a lot more opportunities rest in short run publishing and promotional applications, especially when some degree of customisation, personalisation, and just-in-time manufacturing. Inkjet has had limited success so far in areas requiring higher print quality, particularly on coated papers. Canon’s launch of the ImageStream 3500 is intended to address that challenge.
On the 22nd of May Canon invited a small group of analysts to the Miyakoshi Akita plant in northern Japan, where all of Miyakoshi’s digital print engines are manufactured. At the manufacturing site Canon presented the latest launch in its inkjet portfolio, the ImageStream 3500. At first sight the ImageStream 3500 looks like a JetStream 3300 – part of Océ’s Wide series. In fact, both products share the same press base. Accordingly the maximum print speed is set with 160 meters per minute and the paper width is 30 inch.
The differences between a JetStream and the new ImageStream lie in the inkjet heads and the ink. The printer uses the latest Kyocera printheads with a native resolution of 1,200 dpi and three drop size levels. The printer can print with 1,200 x 600 dpi resolution at full speed, or 1,200 x 1,200 resolution at half speed, which is still an impressive 1,600 A4 pages/minute. The high resolution results in tiny droplet sizes with 1.3, 2, and 2.8 picolitre. Canon is using a new, waterbased ink as well, not only optimised for the tiny droplet size, but also engineered to stick on the surface of the paper – any paper. Read more »
May 29, 2014
At the Canon for Business 2014 event in Poing, Germany and at the FESPA trade show in Munich last week, Canon Océ showed strong signs of progress in a variety of areas related to digital color printing through a series of announcements:
- High-speed color inkjet printing on standard coated offset papers – Announced but not shown in Poing was a new inkjet system that Canon Océ representatives say can print on a range of offset paper stocks, including coated ones, without the use of bonding agents or primers. The solution, according to Canon, can accomplish this due to its high resolution, small ink droplets, dryers, and a special aqueous pigment ink formulation. The Canon Océ ImageStream 3500 runs at up to 160 meters per minute (525 feet per minute) at 1,200 x 600 dot per inch resolution on a 750-millimeter (30-inch) web. (The device can also run at 1,200 x 1,200 dpi, though at half the speed of 1,200 x 600.) Canon expects the product to be available at the beginning of 2015. InfoTrends will learn more about this product soon (Canon hosted analysts, including InfoTrends’ Ralf Schlőzer, in Tokyo last week), but for now, it’s intriguing to consider that a vendor has come up with a solution to address standard coated offset papers without inkjet treatments of any kind. (See Ralf Schlozer’s blog on the ImageStream 3500.)
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Mar 13, 2014
The digital camera market is in decline. Vendors are cutting back on their product range. Olympus and Fujifilm have announced that they will exit low end compact cameras. Even Canon has hinted following rumours that they will consider what to do with cameras that are priced under ¥20,000. Nikon seems to be the vendor that is planning to stay in for the long run, capturing low hanging sales as competitors exit.
InfoTrends’ forecast shows the trend clearly over the last 10 years. 2014 is shaping up to show continued steep decline. Changes in technology, the emergence of competing devices and perhaps a tendency for camera vendors to believe that the exceptional image quality found in cameras will protect them from competition can all be used to explain the shape of the curve below. Read more »
Feb 20, 2014
Probably the most interesting news item to come out of the recent Canon Solutions America (CSA) briefing was CSA’s announcement that it was forming a user group steering committee, and that it hoped to have its first convention in 2015. The focus of this user group will be production digital print.
Keep in mind that two of the most successful user events in the production digital print space—Dscoop (a cooperative of HP Graphic Arts users) and EFI Connect (the annual EFI worldwide users’ conference)—have been gaining more traction in recent years. That CSA would consider creating a group for its own production digital print users should come as no surprise, particularly with Francis McMahon on board. McMahon, Vice President of Marketing for CSA’s Production Print Solutions division, played an integral role in getting Dscoop off the ground many years ago when he was the Director of Marketing for HP’s Graphic Solutions Business. In addition, CSA’s hiring of Dscoop Executive Director Eric Hawkinson in 2013 should have tipped us all off; it makes sense that Canon would use Hawkinson’s skills to start an initiative like this.
- CSA’s Eric Hawkinson with Customer Panel
Exactly what form (or what name) the user group will take has yet to be determined. Read more »
Feb 3, 2014
As we look back on the new product announcements from 2013, I have to admit that the year was largely overshadowed by drupa 2012 and the many new and exciting technologies shown there. We were especially eager to see the new B2 products enter the market in 2013, but it has proven to be a rather slow process. As analysts with many years in the industry, we experienced that launch schedules are overly optimistic side and that the actual product launches often seem to drag on forever. But the announcements from drupa 2012 seem to have taken these delays to a new dimension.
It seems that the duration from the first tech demo to the beta test phase and then to final product is getting longer and longer. Admittedly the line between an early product demonstration and a technology demo is blurred. Many vendors take a cautious approach and label the new announcements as technology demonstrations. Also technology demoes may never end in a product at all. Still, prospective users want to know when they can expect a launch date of a new product or at least know when limited availability will start for early users. Read more »
Dec 20, 2013
It is fair to describe 2013 as the year of 3D printing. A range of technologies using additive manufacturing have been finding applications in short-run production, prototyping, manufacturing, and other applications for industries such as architecture, industrial design, automotive, aerospace, engineering, fashion, civil engineering, dental, and medical. What is particularly interesting now is that with this growth, the activity is not only in new product developments and acquisitions, but increasingly in technology and distribution partnerships, particularly with graphic arts vendors.
iPhone cases made from 3D Systems ProJet Series 4500
It is logical that graphic arts vendors are migrating to become more active in the 3D printing market space. In fact it’s more of an evolutionary development rather than a revolutionary one. Many of these companies have imaging technologies that are well suited to 3D printing. In addition, they have the sales, marketing, and service capabilities that are required to support the higher end 3D printing offerings. So it is natural that a series of business developments and announcements have made headlines in 2013 involving companies like Canon, Fuji Dimatix, HP, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, and Xerox.
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Dec 13, 2013
The lead up to the Holiday gift giving season is always a busy time as people start making out their gift giving lists or their own wish list for Santa. Being an analyst that tracks camera phones and digital cameras, this is also a busy time of year for me as I start getting emails, phone calls and text messages from friends asking me for camera buying advice. Since Thanksgiving I have already received many emails and texts from friends saying they need an opinion about what type of camera to buy.
I will admit I like being the one my friends and relatives turn to for an educated opinion about cameras. That role also carries some pressure with it, given the hundreds of camera models that can be found for sale from an online retailer or traditional brick and mortar stores. So as I prepare for the “what is the best camera to buy?” question I thought some of my ponderings would be helpful for others looking to answer the very same question.
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