The Rise of Digital B2

Ralf Schlozer
 Aug 29, 2019

Personally, I always believed in the potential of B2 digital since it become mainstream at drupa 2012 with several vendors showing or previewing products. Of course, new product concepts often take longer in hitting the market than expected, accordingly it took some time for real placements to arrive at customer sites. In our research we already identified a number of benefits these presses bring, and therefore it was no surprise to see installations rise quickly for several years.

For 2018 we feared to see some slowdown, as the printers with investment interest should have already made their calculation by then whether there is a business case for a B2 digital press or not. But it seems there is quite a bit of continuing interest for the devices, and 2018 placements held up reasonably well, despite drupa 2020 looming large. There are ongoing improvements on the existing devices, but there will be a lot more choice in models at drupa 2020, including next generation improvements on existing ones. But it seems that even in the meantime companies interested in B2 still find new opportunities, business cases, or are still only beginning to explore the capabilities of existing devices.

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Print On Demand Forecast shows high growth in Colour Inkjet

Ralf Schlozer
 Jul 16, 2019

Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends just launched their latest digital printing forecast for the POD market. For years we have been tracking and forecasting digital production printing markets, including placements, installed base, print volumes, equipment, service and supplies revenues. The data can be broken down by multiple device classes and features to allow for further insights. Our latest POD forecast has 2018 as base year and looks at developments until 2023.

It is always interesting to see how types of devices with a small number of placements can have a big effect on other metrics, such as print volumes. Continuous feed (CF) colour inkjet started to gain traction in 2008, and while sales crept up, the total number is barely reaching 291 units in the US and about 160 in Western Europe. This even includes counting these devices by engine, which means the number of installed print lines is about half. It pales against 12,000 (WE) to 16,000 (US) toner-based devices installed in 2018, even when excluding entry level devices.

Looking at print volumes we see how the small group of CF inkjet colour devices already has a big impact on colour volumes. By 2018 inkjet print volumes overtook colour toner volumes, mostly due to the impact of CF inkjet devices, which contribute about 95% to the colour inkjet print volume.

POD Digital Colour Print Volume Forecast

CF colour inkjet will be a major driver not only in the future growth of inkjet impressions, but for colour impressions in general. Although we expect the colour toner volumes to increase by 10 to 15% by 2023, the colour inkjet volumes are expected to grow by around 80% between 2018 and 2023. This is leading to an average annual growth in the range of 8 to 9% for all colour digital impressions. Not only because of the recent success in CF inkjet sales will the US remain the larger market, the US market has a larger potential in replacing black & white volumes as well. Converting digital black & white volumes into colour has been a big driver in the past, but offset conversion and application growth will drive this colour growth more and more.

The dominance of CF colour inkjet will wane somewhat in the future as more cut-sheet inkjet devices are launched and prove to be very productive. We expect drupa 2020 to be a major launch pad. Still, even by 2023 the vast majority of inkjet print volumes will be contributed by the continuous feed devices.

For more details on our latest US and Western Europe POD forecast and all the other digital print and imaging forecasts we produce please contact us at or check out our report store

 

 

Memjet DuraLink and MGI AlphaJet

Ralf Schlozer
 Jul 9, 2019

Memjet invited recently several European analysts and journalists to a press event into their San Diego HQ – in a move to make the Memjet brand more well known in Europe. Memjet is the R&D company behind a set of highly compact inkjet heads and assemblies that are integrated by small to large size OEM partners into their printing equipment. Memjet’s approach especially enables small companies or custom integrators to bring their business ideas to life, which could never afford their own inkjet head development. Memjet markets their heads to OEMs, not to end users. Still Memjet supports marketing printers that are using their inkjet heads and has coined the tag line “Memjet inside “. This works well, if the company behind is well known enough and accordingly Memjet is stepping up their market visibility to drive further growth.

From an early days R&D lab in Australia with a bunch of patents Memjet grow into a 350+ employee company. The company started out with a model of page-wide inkjet heads, now termed VersaPass, mainly for office products. The company expanded its reach via integrators in the production print space, these in turn, helped diversify the offerings into wide format, high volume press engines and components sets.

With the next generation DuraLink the company made a big step into high volume production print. The DuraLink line of heads has been launched in 2017, which has been covered in another blog already (https://blog.infotrends.com/bright-new-horizons-for-memjet-duralink-integrators/). Memjet quotes a head life of 50 litres of ink with 2.2pl droplets (compared to 1.5 pl of the VersaPass) and the use of pigment ink, while preserving the 1,600 dpi spatial resolution of the VersaPass head. Printing resolution in the direction of the paper transport depends on the speed and ranges from 1585 dpi at 75.5 m/min to 580 at 203.6 m/min.

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Landa moving towards commercialisation

Ralf Schlozer
 May 23, 2019

No other company captured the attention and imagination of drupa 2012 and 2016 like Landa Digital Printing. Some time later there was a launch event in September 2017 for the first Landa press installed at Graphica Bezalel in Israel including announcements of more presses to be shipped soon.

Since then, news about Landa has been pretty quiet, and even the more patient observers have wondered where the company is heading. That is until the 22nd of June, when Landa invited press and prospective customers to Edelmann, a folding carton printer in Germany, to have a look at the second S10 installed.

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Print China 2019 – Second Biggest Print Trade Show

Ralf Schlozer
 May 2, 2019

Print China, Asia’s largest printing industry exhibition, has been held every 4 years since 2007. The 4th iteration of the show took place from April 9th to 13th at the Guangdong Modern International Exhibition Center. The trade show alternates with China Print in Beijing, which is also held every four years and caters to the general printing industry as well. Since the Chinese market is so vast, both shows have a unique regional appeal—Print China focuses on Southern China while China Print caters to the Northern China printing industry. Both shows have the same organizers and are sponsored by the Printing and Printing Equipment Industries Association of China (PEIAC). Both shows are large enough to attract local as well as international visitors, primarily from the Asia Pacific region – the organizers claim visitors from more than 100 countries. Language can sometimes still be a barrier, and not all vendors are well-prepared for a discussion in English.

A final post-show statement for 2019 is not yet available, however Print China 2015 already set an historical record with a total trade volume of nearly 6 billion RMB (about US $1 billion, intended transactions included). This represented an increase of about 20% in relation to Print China 2011. In addition, Print China 2015 surpassed the 8th Beijing International Printing Technology Exhibition (China Print 2013) to become the largest exhibition in Asia and the second-largest in the world (Drupa in Germany captured the first place spot). About 206,000 visitors attended Print China in 2015, up 20% over 2011. The preliminary count for 2019 amounted to just over 200,000 visitors—in line with what was seen four years ago. The 2019 event attracted 1,200 exhibitors from 28 countries. Print China covered several halls of the Dongguan Exhibition Centre, with many halls having two floors. While the ground level floors were packed with exhibitors and visitors, the upper level was decidedly less busy. Print China 2019 accommodated 140,00 sq. meters of space, only slightly smaller than Drupa 2016 (158,237 sq. meters).

Print China Entrance

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Hunkeler innovationdays 2019 – a hardware view

Ralf Schlozer
 Mar 5, 2019

The Hunkeler innovationdays started out as a humble open house event of a Swiss finishing manufacturing company. Indicating a forward-thinking company, the innovationdays morphed over the years into the most important global event for continuous feed production document printing – as finishing equipment is naturally best demonstrated in conjunction with a printing system. Visitors love the idea of seeing printing lines from all major vendors sitting side-by-side and feeding the finishing lines for converted products. The 2019 iteration improved again on the number of exhibitors and visitors with about 100 exhibitors and 6,500 visitors expected for the show.

The theme of this year’s event was “success with automation”. There is no doubt that automation is getting increasingly important as a means to reduce labour cost, counter the shortage of skilled staff, avoid production mistakes, and speed up the device setup. This is especially critical the shorter the runs become. Hunkeler presented some fine examples of automation, notably a prototype of a sheeter and stacker that is able to automatically change formats from within seconds. Other new launches with focus on automation included a non-stop roll splicer for continuous feed printers, folders, perforators and web inspection modules.

Hunkeler Automated Cut & Stack line

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InfoTrends’ Global Forecast Data Suggests Growth in Emerging Countries

Ralf Schlozer
 Nov 6, 2018

Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends recently published its annual global production copying and printing market forecast for 2017 through 2022. The global figures for the installed base enable calculations of copy/print volume, service/supply revenues, and the retail value of print. This forecast aggregates the data for the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and more than 20 other countries or regions to provide a global perspective on how the industry is evolving.

Much of the production printing market is dominated by the most developed areas, including the United States, Western Europe, and Japan. Together, these three countries/regions accounted for nearly two-thirds of total production printing placements in 2017. Although the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan represent the lion’s share of placements, they only make up about 24% of the global GDP and about 10% of the worldwide population.

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Going Silver, Gold, Fluorescent and more with BiancoDigitale

Ralf Schlozer
 Jun 18, 2018

With all eyes on high volume production solutions we often overlook the small solution that can add value and enhance print at a very affordable level. At Print4All – the Italian print show combing all kinds of print from commercial, to packaging, to industrial – Xerox highlighted its recently launched Iridesse. Simultaneously in the corner of the booth, Xerox’ Italian concessionaire M.C. System showed its BiancoDigitale print and print enhancements system, based on a modest Xerox C60 Light Production device.

M.C. System srl is a family owned Xerox concessionaire since 1984 and is based close to Perugia. The company has 45 employees and provides full sales and service for Xerox equipment. BiancoDigitale is a registered trademark of M.C. System srl which developed the entire project. BiancoDigitale is actually a range of solutions consisting of the Multiverse as a kit for the C60 and C70 or as a modified C60 device and the BiancoDigitale White Printing Series for desktop printers (Phaser 7800, Versalink C400 and C7000 and old models as the Phaser 6600 and 7100) for printing on transfer media or coloured paper. The specialty colour kits were previewed at drupa 2016 and became available in 2017. By now there are more than 100 kits sold. While the kits for the desktop printers are restricted to the very occasional users, the solutions based on Xerox’ Light Production devices have real appeal to the production market.

In its base version the BiancoDigitale Multiverse is a replacement toner kit for the Xerox C60 and C70. Two kits are currently available: silver/gold/white/clear or with 3 fluorescent toners + black. Two more kits are under development using silver/CMY or gold/CMY. To turn a standard C60/70 into a print enhancement system the existing CMYK toner cartridges and developments systems are removed and placed on a special rack (supplied as well) and the special colour kit is loaded. According to M.C. System this should take no longer than 5 minutes. A kit does cost about €9,000 for end users.

Xerox C60 with BiancoDigitale Multiverse kit

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Web Offset Consolidation – manroland Web Systems and Goss to Merge

Ralf Schlozer
 Mar 5, 2018

A few years ago, the prospect of two major offset press manufacturers merging would have easily dominated the headlines. And there was never a great number of preeminent manufacturers of web offset commercial printing and newspaper presses. Together with KBA, Goss and manroland Web Systems were among the big three, complemented by a handful of much smaller, more specialized manufacturers mainly in Japan and India. A few other manufacturers left the market recently such as Swiss newspaper press manufacturer Wifag.

Goss and manroland have a long history of press manufacturing but had a mixed past since the first big slump in web offset press demand following the year 2000. manroland started the millennium as a subsidy of the German heavy industry conglomerate MAN, then became an independent company in 2006, and went bust in 2007. Following the insolvency, manroland was split into a sheet-fed and a web-fed group, the latter being acquired by the German manufacturing holding Possehl Group. The recent history of Goss is even more protracted. After being spun off from Rockwell in 1996, Goss filed for chapter 11 in 1999, and again in 2001, blaming the downturn in press demand. A group of banks as creditors sold the business to MatlinPatterson Global Opportunities Partners. At that time Heidelberger Druckmaschinen had its ambitions set on entering the web offset business and invested heavily. Soon after Heidelberg did shed all low margin businesses to dress books before going public and Goss did pick up the web press activities in 2004. This doubled the global headcount at Goss to about 4,000. In 2010 the Shanghai Electric Group acquired Goss, adding it to its range of (sheet-fed) offset press and finishing equipment manufacturing brands. In 2015 the private equity firm American Industrial Partners acquired Goss. All the while both companies shed thousands of jobs compared to its heydays in the early 2000s

Under the terms of the proposed deal Goss and manroland Web Systems will combine their businesses. Details are still being negotiated, and everything depends on regulatory approval. The main site of manroland Web is Augsburg in Southern Germany. The main site of Goss is located in Durham, New Hampshire. Both have sales and service organisations as well small parts/components manufacturing locations across the globe. The current shareholders, American Industrial Partners and the Possehl Group, will continue to co-own the combined company. The Possehl Group will hold the majority and the combined operation will be headquartered in Germany. Subject to regulatory approval, the merger is expected to be completed by the middle of 2018. For the time being both companies will continue to operate independently.

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Fuji Xerox Iridesse – Two specialty colours is better than one

Ralf Schlozer
 Dec 6, 2017

Less than a year ago, InfoTrends published a multi-client study: “Beyond CMYK: The Use of Special Effects in Digital Printing”. Not only did we find that many printers voiced a strong interest in specialty colours and the desire to have several effects as an option, they also indicated that having two specialty colour stations in the press is their preferred option.

Less than a year later, Fuji Xerox launched the Iridesse Production Press at the Fuji Xerox Premier Partner Conference on the 14th of November in Bangkok for the Asia Pacific market.

For the first time in dry toner production printing, a print engine has been equipped to print six-colours, adding two colour channels to complement process colour print with different specialty colours, including metallic, in a single pass. The Iridesse houses up to two additional specialty toners of gold, silver, clear and white, in addition to standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black. One specialty colour is in front of the CMYK units and one behind, therefore the Iridesse can underprint with one specialty colour, and overprint with another (or the same) in one pass.

Fuji Xerox also revamped toners. CMYK toners are made of Super EA Eco toner, which is Fuji Xerox’s smallest particle size toner to date, citing a particle size of 5 micron for the colour toner. The Super EA Eco toner is able to fuse quickly at a low temperature, and is able to evenly transfer six layers of toners. Another patented improvement is flat metal flakes being embedded into the metallic toner particles. The flat metallic flakes should improve the shininess of metallic prints, and some improvement over the gold toner of the Color 1000i can be noticed – although digital metallic print remains far less shiny than foiling or the like.

A unique feature of the Iridesse is being able to print hues of metallic tones in one pass, by printing silver or gold first and overprinting it with CMYK. Other toner printers would need multi-pass printing, and in offset printing each of the metallic hues would need to be mixed first. This can reduce the effort drastically in hitting metallic effects beyond plain silver or gold. The press supports metallic colours found in colour catalogues such as Pantone Metallic and Pantone Premium Metallic. By using these colour swatches, the operator can reproduce colours similar to Pantone metallic colours by simply designating the colour codes. Also, since the press offers more hues than found in the Pantone swatches, Fuji Xerox has a range of predefined metallic colours on top.

Print sample showing metallic overprinted with CMYK

 

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