Shortly before PRINT 2013 Collins Ink Corporation changed its name to Collins Inkjet Corporation in a move that the company said reflected “Collins’ expansion into printer upgrades, parts, and support.” At PRINT 13 Collins made it clear exactly what it meant by that statement when it announced that it would refurbish Kodak Versamark equipment, beginning with Kodak’s 5120 and 6240 print heads. Readers will likely recall that Collins, formerly a close Kodak partner and ink supplier, severed the relationship in a contentious battle beginning in October of 2011. (See “Collins Ink Terminates Agreement with Kodak Versamark”.)
PRINT 13 (September 8th through 12th at McCormick Place in Chicago) will test the validity of print trade shows in an era of always connected mobile access. Combined with the CPP EXPO (Converting & Package Printing) EXPO, the show runs once every four years and is a day longer than Graph Expo. The show used to be massive. It has contracted and now is about the size of a Graph Expo from the days of yore. In light of the sad decline of IPEX (March 24th to 29th, 2014, London), which virtually all of the possible major exhibitors are avoiding, all eyes will be on PRINT 13 this year as a test of the level that the industry will support a large printing trade show.
Print is driven by applications and production digital printing is no exception. Demand for certain applications, however, changes over time due to various reasons, such as growth in usage, electronic replacement, personalization, and the move to shorter runs. The change in demand will have a profound impact on production digital printing in competition with other processes as well as between different digital product groups. InfoTrends just published its 2012-2017 production digital print application forecast for the U.S. and Western Europe. It details application volumes and volume growth for 28 print applications in seven main application groups for the main categories of production digital printing devices.
Main Production Digital Printing Applications and Application Groups
The application forecast draws from many sources. InfoTrends’ consulting staff conducts ongoing primary and secondary research in the marketplace to determine the print volume share of the applications and volume trends. The underlying print volume forecast is based on published forecasts, which provide market size in terms of installed base, average monthly print volume, retail value of print, and other factors.
As an example, here is a view of some of the top production digital print applications in Western Europe (by absolute page growth).
10 Fastest Growing Applications in Production Digital Print in Western Europe 2012 to 2017
Industrial printing is always a side story at specialized trade shows like the beverage industry’s ‘drinktech’. Home to vendors of filling systems and other automation equipment for brewers and makers of soft drinks and other products, the 2013 version will take place September 16 to 20 in Munich. And though most of the printing will be coding and labeling related, there will be at least one full color printer, the KHS Innoprint. Already the subject of advance publicity, Innoprint prints on PET bottles directly in CMYK colors, using UV inkjet. The Innoprint is not the first system to do such printing—Tonejet and INX have offered direct color printing of metal cans since 2009—but if Innoprint performs as claimed, it will be the fastest direct digital color printer of beverage containers, and the first to come from a major maker of industrial automation systems for the drinks industry. The speed of Innoprint is important because it means that digital printing of labels as an integrated part of a production-speed bottling system will become possible.
With a quiet roar, the namesake of a product we are all familiar with is taking a leap into the digital age. Formica Group, global manufacturer of the ubiquitous—and trademarked—Formica, is taking a bold step and now offers custom versions of its decorative architectural laminates to meet the needs of individual customers and designers called Formica Envision™. Your restaurant’s bar counter, or your living room wall panels could thus soon feature your theme, or whatever other image or pattern that you want. Naturally, digital printing is behind the change; Formica Group will not comment on its technology, except to confirm that it some species of inkjet. Read more »
In 2012 Xeikon announced that it had acquired a research company active in liquid toner electrophotography. Its intellectual property provided the foundation upon which Xeikon is developing a liquid toner based printer. The technology was presented publicly for the first time at drupa 2012 with a single station unit shown behind glass printing at 60 meters per minute as a technology demonstration, but without showing or handing out print samples.
Cross-section view of Xeikon Trillium print towers
Though interesting, this technology demonstration did not fully convey the potential of the technology. Now Xeikon has made public some more details on the technology and its planned first product implementation, which show how the company intends to challenge inkjet technologies at higher volumes.
According to Xeikon, Trillium is targeted at high quality print applications, similar to the current 8000 Series dry toner printers, but designed for higher print volumes and with an improved cost structure that will challenge not only inkjet, but also provide an improved break-even point versus offset. In short, Trillium is an extension of the Xeikon product portfolio of document printers. The company plans to position the technology for demanding high coverage colour applications that inkjet cannot reach from a quality or cost perspective.
This year’s Doxnet conference and exhibition, held from June 17th to 19th in Baden Baden, Germany, was remarkable for two reasons: strong attendance and a focus on Enterprise Content Management (ECM). Doxnet (www.doxnet.eu) is a not-for-profit association for document experts and companies active in document management – usually for mission critical documents and traditionally with a focus on print output. The geographic focus is on German speaking countries and for obvious reasons the majority of members come from Germany with smaller shares from Austria and Switzerland. The event had 613 attendees pre-registered from a total of 218 companies, setting a new record attendance. The exhibition hall had strong representation from manufacturers of inserting equipment, but less so for printing system manufacturers, with only Canon/Océ, Pitney Bowes, and Ricoh exhibiting. There was also a strong showing in the area of electronic document solutions from software to service providers for electronic alternatives to printed statements.
Over the past couple of days here at FESPA 2013 we’ve had a great opportunity to get a glimpse at the future of industrial printing. Many times Tim and I were approached by customers and vendors alike the industrial printing topic is top of mind. However producers as well as vendors define industrial printing in ways that center on applications their products produce. Some consider packaging, laminates, textiles, and others ceramic tiles as industrial applications. But let me offer another perspective, an industrial application is one where a transition from short run custom printing for pilot projects, or prototypes is converted to a manufacturing process that integrates management, workflow, and an integrated digital printing solution that is used for full production runs. Read more »
Yesterday we went through some of the highlights from the first day of the FESPA event at the Excel Center here in London. Over the past couple of days we’ve gotten a flurry of other announcements and other new printer information that we’ll be adding to our new Ultimate Guide to Wide Format. Some of the major announcements are highlighted quickly below: