Digital Print, Expanding Horizons in Woodworking

Ron Gilboa
 Sep 20, 2018

The biannual International Woodworking Fair, which took place August 21-25 in Atlanta, GA, held its inaugural Digital Printing Symposium, which was created in partnership between IWF, the organizers of the show, Surface & Panel Magazine, and Keypoint intelligence. While this symposium is new, digital printing has actually been part of the woodworking industry for some time. That said, the need to short-run cost-effective decorative surfaces, as well as ongoing development in digital inkjet printing sector, is creating a perfect storm for the technology to meet woodworking’s market needs.

Inaugural IWF Digital Print Symposium

Inaugural IWF Digital Print Symposium

Participating in this inaugural event were industry-leading companies such as Barberan, Baumer, Cefla Finishing, North American Plywood, and Schattdecor, as well as household names from the graphics arts industry like Canon and Vanguard digital.  While these companies may appear to work in different sectors, they all share a common strategy to address the growing needs of suppliers, as well as a desire to address the mass customization in an 11 billion M2 per year décor laminate market and an over $140 billion annual woodworking industry in the U.S. alone.

About 60 attendees from various woodworking segments such as cabinetry, panels, and flooring learned about the benefits of digital printing and heard firsthand experience from companies that already use digital printing in production.

The opening presentation by Keypoint Intelligence provided context for key dynamics in the market, namely the continued demand by consumers for richly decorated surfaces that are customized to their needs, as well as the desires of commercial architects and contractors looking to add unique elements to their projects. Furthermore, digital printing technology can aid in improving operational efficiencies such as just-in-time manufacturing, reduction of inventories, and reduced waste and obsolescence of designs. These are addressed with a range of digital technologies capable of creating décor surfaces for high-pressure laminates, flooring laminates, and direct decoration onto boards.

Schattdecor Oversized digitally printed pattern

Schattdecor Oversize digitally printed pattern

In his presentation, Chief Technology Officer at Schattdecor Inc. Roland Heeger noted that digital printing can offer opportunities to create new products that were previously impossible with rotogravure, such as designs that may exceed 15’ in length, or larger than the typical circumference of a gravure cylinder, as well as a ‘rainbow roll’ of décor paper. These rolls contain several lengths of print jobs with different designs based on client requirements. Remember to keep in mind that a typical minimum order for décor paper is one ton of paper. This old limitation necessitated that clients order individual rolls of décor, and manage inventory until they were consumed or became obsolete. Rainbow rolls only include the décor designs the line needs in the exact quantity required.

 

Another producer in the event was Don Kuser, General Manager of North Americal Plywood. His company has a full production line for manufacturing decorated board, from sanding and priming to digital printing and coating, NAPL meets clients’ needs for “digital staining” of natural wood and veneers, as well as printing on panels that require full coating. NAPL has taken advantage of a unique feature of its UV printer, namely printing without immediately curing the ink. This process allows ink that is printed on natural wood or wood veneers to soak into the wood prior to final UV cure and coat. The result is a wood face that looks naturally stained, or resembles a premium wood species, simulated on a less expensive baseboard.

NPLY Inca based print line

NPLY Inca based print line

These two examples were followed by discussions from equipment suppliers including Barberan,  Baumer, Canon, Cefla, and Vanguard. Each highlighted various opportunities that digital printing offers to small and large producers alike. From scanning head to single pass inkjet printing, they all noted that the key to successfully implementating digital printing in woodworking required investment, not only in the technology but, more importantly, in a clear business strategy, production workflow, and quality assurance. Each also stressed the investment in trained staff.

Grand Burkholder from Sauder Woodworking Company noted, “The capabilities of it (digital printing), creating depth of pattern, reproducing wood species, using pigmented inks, is amazing.”

The symposium concluded with attendees noting that digital printing has unique capabilities, some of which they had not been aware of beforehand. Many attendees felt these features would be useful when incorporated into their existing product workflows, allowing their companies to differentiate themselves and create new opportunities for business growth.

Keypoint Intelligence believes that the benefits inherent to digital printing will provide new opportunities for woodworking producers and brands to offer creative high-value products that meet industry standards, as well as offer consumers customized products that meet their lifestyle at a cost effective price.

Dover Corporation rounding up portfolio of digital printing technologies

Ron Gilboa
 Apr 12, 2017

Last week Dover [NYSE:DOV] bought Caldera for 35 million euros. This acquisition is the third such recent move for Dover and expands their digital print capabilities to include color management, web-to-print, production workflow and automation.

Dover corp

Dover Corporation was a $6.8 Billion company in 2016, with global holdings served by almost 29,000 employees. The company’s holdings are in four key areas: energy, engineering systems, fluids, and refrigeration & food equipment. Over the past few years Dover has set its sights on the digital printing market and its related growth opportunities. This strategy has resulted in several acquisitions of which Caldera is the latest one. Preceding this acquisition Dover acquired MS Printing, a manufacturer of textile printing solutions in February of 2014) and followed this with the acquisition of JK Group, a manufacturer of inks for the textile industry, in October of 2015. These acquisitions of inkjet printing and inks companies were key to developing a value chain in digital printing, but one aspect was missing;  workflow. The Caldera acquisition helps round out the solution set.

Calder aLogo

Caldera, under the leadership of CEO Joseph Mergui, has been developing digital front-end solutions for wide format printing for over 25 years. Caldera provides a high-end color management, production management tools, web-to-print, automation and connectivity to most wide format type printers in this industry segment.

Over the past few years the Caldera team has focused on the demands of the sign & display industry and has begun to embed tools for advanced workflow solutions beyond simple RIPping and color management. The company has added job management, accounting, and production dashboards that allow print service providers to evaluate their production environment from job timing to ink consumption. Caldera also has begun to add solutions for emerging opportunities in industrial print segments and now offers solutions for textile printers and mixed environments for digital displays are in use side by side with printed output.

This acquisition will benefit both companies. Dover now has a workflow solution that integrates well with its existing assets, and through Caldera’s industry network they gain access to other markets. Caldera now benefits from the strength and market development capabilities of a large organization that sees digital printing in the graphics, industrial, and decorative markets as strategically important for future growth.

This acquisition is reminiscent of several others in this space, most recently that of AVT by Danaher, as well as that of Reggiani and Optitex by EFI.  A generation of innovative, smaller companies, are uniting with larger organizations for growth in digital printing and related areas. We expect these mergers and acquisitions to continue as industrial markets turn to digital printing as a mean to address end user demand for mass customized products.

Growth & Creativity – FESPA Digital Textile Conference Milan 2016

Ron Gilboa
 Oct 18, 2016

How are some of the best known designer clothing brands in the world using digital textile printing? If you want to know, you need to go to Italy, where last month about a hundred attendees met at the nHow hotel in Milan to exchange ideas, network, and hear about the latest in technologies and techniques at a conference sponsored by FESPA. FESPA, the driving force behind this event, has been promoting digital printing of textiles across the globe from Italy to Turkey and China.

Milan is one of the world centers for fashion with many brands headquartered in the city, including Armani, Etro, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dolce & Gabbana, Iceberg, Marni, Missoni, Moschino, Prada Trussardi, Valentino, Versace, and Zegna. About 50 kilometers to the north in the Como region, a large community of suppliers and manufacturers have been serving the fashion and décor industries in Europe and beyond for many decades. These companies as well as local associations helped to sponsor the event. These included Platinum partners EFI Reggiani, EPSON, MS Printing Solutions, and Mimaki as well as FESPA ITALIA Association, Sistema Moda Italia (SMI), and Associazione Italiana Disegnatori Tessili. Read more »

Digital Printing at IWF 2016 – Creative, Effective, Innovative

Ron Gilboa
 Sep 8, 2016

A week passed since the successful conclusion of the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta on August 27, 2016. With over 25 product categories such as custom wood working, veneers, flooring, doors, and accessories spread over more than 500,000 square feet. The show drew over 26,000 participants and 1,080 exhibitors some attended educational sessions and most walked the show in search for new product, innovations, as well as sourcing materials for their projects.

IWF 2016 - Home for digitally produced decorative surfaces

IWF 2016 – Home for digitally produced decorative surfaces

Read more »

Cefla Finishing Acquires a Majority Stake in JetSet Industrial

Ron Gilboa
 Aug 4, 2016

Today, Cefla Finishing group announced that it had acquired a majority stake (60%) in JetSet Industrial S.r.l., a manufacturer and integrator of inkjet printing systems for a range of applications and industries. JetSet Industrial’s move into inkjet printing started in 2012 in Bergamo, Italy, which is also home of several other inkjet equipment suppliers.

Still a start-up in many ways, JetSet is a bespoke supplier of decorative printing systems for ceramic, glass, textiles, and woodworking materials. JetSet has the skill set to integrated technology as well as develop materials in support of their printing technologies. This makes the company a turn-key supplier to its customers. According to Hoovers.com, the company has eleven employees and generated $2.15 million in revenues in the past year. JetSet has also invested heavily in their core capabilities for inkjet system integration.

JetSet Wave Integrated Color Single-Pass Print Head Module

JetSet Wave Integrated Color Single-Pass Print Head Module

Read more »

Epson Acquires Robustelli to Secure its Position in the Production Digital Textile Printing Market

James Hanlon
 Jun 27, 2016

Epson Group and Epson Italia S.p.A. announced that they agreed with the Robustelli family to acquire 100% of the capital of Fratelli Robustelli S.r.l. (“Robustelli”). This agreement aims to help Epson and Robustelli gain share in the fast-growing digital textile printing market.

Robustelli was one of the early innovators that used Epson’s printhead technology to develop the Monna Lisa product line. These products are considered the standard for high-quality digital textile printing. Located in Como, Italy, Robustelli had 25 employees and an annual turnover of over €12 million in 2015. The company’s heritage is in the textile machinery industry, developing, manufacturing, and selling Monna Lisa inkjet textile printers. Epson will deploy its worldwide sales and service network to sell Robustelli’s high-end printing systems in more countries and regions around the world, expanding its current footprint and reaching emerging digital markets.

Read more »

The Top drupa 2016 Trends

Jim Hamilton
 Jun 14, 2016

After digesting a week of meetings at drupa 2016 (May 31st to June 10th, Düsseldorf, Germany) along with plenty of good German food and beer, the InfoTrends analyst team believes the show can be characterized by five major themes:

drupa 2016 flags - 400

  1. Inkjet 3.0 –After important advances in production inkjet printing at drupa 2008 and 2012, this drupa can be considered “inkjet drupa 3.0” because of new and improved print heads, higher quality levels, wide printhead arrays, improved performance on a range of substrates, and expansion across a range of document, packaging, and decorative applications. These developments have brought digital printing into the mainstream. All of the leading offset press manufacturers are now committed to a digital print strategy, and though for some there is an important component that is based on electrophotography, it is the high productivity levels of inkjet that have convinced them that there is a place for digital print in production environments.
  2. Digital printing of packaging – Though digital printing of packaging is certainly being influenced by inkjet, the major theme in this area is process automation. Digital printing, digital embellishment, and digital die-cutting were seen integrated across many production lines for labels, folding cartons, corrugated packaging, and even some direct-to-shape applications. Despite its commercial print heritage, drupa is morphing into a show with a significant package printing component. Meeting the needs of different segments of the packaging market is a challenge that requires effective software, workflow, and finishing if the true advantages of digital print for the entire supply chain are to be gained. It’s not clear today that digital printing system vendors have fully grasped the magnitude of this.
  3. B1 digital – Many commercial printers have an almost emotional attachment to the B1-format press platform that has served them so well for offset printing. The new generation of B1-format digital printing devices appeals to them because they can see how they would fit easily into their production lines with minimal disruption (despite the fact that smaller digital devices might be just as efficient and/or cost effective). drupa 2016 saw the arrival of larger format digital cut-sheet color printing systems as well as off-line systems for special effects such as spot gloss, dimensional effects, and metallic foils. The progress in B1 sheet-fed design is facilitated by wider inkjet arrays that benefit from the latest advances in inkjet head technology. The challenge for any of these larger format digital printing devices is to meet the production requirements for quality, consistency, substrate support, and color registration while performing at high speed. Also important is integration of finishing technologies that leverage the benefits of digital print. Therefore laser cutting and creasing, particularly for folding carton applications, is also advancing, and for some of these devices the focus is on a B1 sheet size. For the off-line digital devices used for special effects, the B1 sheet size opens up sizeable opportunities because these systems are capable of supporting conventional presses as well as digital printers.
  4. Special effects – Offset print processes have typically excelled at special effects beyond process color such as spot gloss, flood coats, foils, and corporate color matching. This kind of embellishment is now accelerating for digital print. Electrophotographic devices are using effects like printed metallic, dimensional, clear gloss, spot colors, fluorescent, security and other embellishments to differentiate the printed products and provide added value. Inkjet, particularly with ultraviolet (UV) curing inks, is extending this with some eye-popping results that leverage dimensional clear and metallic foil. The use of hybrid configurations, including those that leverage electrophotography and inkjet together, will have compelling applications in commercial and packaging markets. Many of the off-line special effect solutions, as noted above, are able to support larger format conventional sheet sizes, which opens their market impact significantly.
  5. Industry 4.0 – For many years, system providers have talked about how production data can be used to drive operational excellence and even facilitate predictive service calls. Cloud-enabled production data tracking is now making this type of data-driven production a reality, not only for commercial and packaging applications, but for decorative and industrial ones as well. Today these tend to focus on a single vendor platform (rather than a true heterogeneous ecosystem). Despite these limitations there are still many benefits, such as performance benchmarking across peers with similar equipment. This also elevates the importance of automated workflows that make it easy for production managers to assess and react to their production site(s) based on real-time data. Taking this even further, InfoTrends expects to see semi-autonomous print production and robotic automation culminate in what has been described as “Industry 4.0,” in other words the foundation of a fourth industrial revolution that is based upon automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, similar as what has happened in the car industry.

Read more »

HP Jet Fusion 3D 3200/4200 – Innovation in 3D Printing

Ron Gilboa
 May 17, 2016

Today at the RAPID 3D print show, HP unveiled its first proprietary 3D printing product: the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution. Calling it “the world’s first production-ready commercial 3D printing system,” HP says the new Multi Jet Fusion product is part of its journey to bring disruptive manufacturing solutions to market.

As HP has said previously, the device will deliver superior quality parts up to 10 times faster and at half the cost of current 3D print systems. It will also print functional parts at the individual voxel level, HP said, a 3D printing first. During a pre-briefing call, Alex Monino, Head of Marketing and Go-to-Market for HP’s 3D printing business, indicated that HP has plans for a marketing campaign centered around the “voxel” concept. Read more »

The “New Print”: Separated by a Common Language

Frank Romano
 Apr 7, 2016

Note: This blog is a result of an ongoing discussion about market definition that began with a conversation that Frank Romano and Ron Gilboa had at SGIA last November. Jim Hamilton joined the discussion later and after a few exchanges Frank suggested that we present this in point/counterpoint form. Frank will go first.

Frank: Separated by a Common Language

When you are on a ship in the South Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from any land, and the satellite connection is down, you start to overthink things. Some people multi task; I multi think. And I started to think about all the new technology we will see at drupa for printing beyond the traditional. But as I read the releases, articles, and punditry, I wonder if we are all on the same page.

Take the three terms that are now bandied about: industrial and functional printing, and decoration.

  • Industrial Printing: the product is produced using multiple technologies in an integrated manufacturing process. A prototype gear that becomes part of a mechanism is industrial. A container that has its identification printed at the factory where it is filled is industrial. Printed display screens are industrial. Most printed electronics is industrial.
  • Functional Printing: the product is sellable in and of itself. A brochure is functional. A sign is functional. A 3-D printed model of a person is functional (your own personal mini-me). A package is functional. A printed T-shirt that changes color in the sun is functional. Products that change color due to external influences such as light (UV/black light), temperature (heat), pH changes, or water contact are primarily functional. “Smart” textiles and wearables are functional. Home decor wallpaper, fabric, and floor coverings are functional. The argument may be made that everything has a function, so why have two categories. But we must distinguish between products where commercial printing may be integrated at the point of manufacture, and products that may be produced by outside services.
  • Decorative Printing: adding type, color, and imagery to existing products. This would include inkjet food decoration, printing on glass, wood, textiles, and other material. In the late 1800s they figured out how to print on metal, and beautiful tin boxes were produced for both home use and packaging. Embossing, coating, and die-cutting are decorative. This category may not be necessary, but Ron likes it.

Read more »

HP at drupa 2016: Re-Imagining Production Digital Printing

Ron Gilboa
 Mar 29, 2016

During a pre-drupa event last week in Israel the HP Indigo and PageWide Web Press production teams announced a range of new products and product improvements. Headlines among this news are:

  • A new B1-format device called the HP Indigo 50000
  • A twin-engine, 197 feet-per-minute, roll-fed, label print called the HP Indigo 8000
  • A new Indigo high-definition laser array capable of 1,600 dot-per-inch resolution
  • Spectrophotometers, scanners, sensors, and vision systems for the Indigo product line that enable improved productivity, consistency, and image quality
  • Expansion of HP’s PageWide Web Press HD platform to include a monochrome offering called the T490 M HD
  • Ongoing development of PrintOS

HP’s event was hosted at the HP Indigo facilities in Kiryat Gat and Ness Ziona and was informative as well as very telling about the company’s ongoing commitment to the future of digital printing not only from a technology perspective but taking into consideration social responsibility related to environmental impact as well as the profitability of their community of customers.

In his welcoming comments Alon Bar-Shani, General Manager, Indigo Division at HP Inc. mentioned the team’s commitment to the success of their clients, pointing out page growth of over 50% that has occurred in the Indigo installed base since last drupa, that is expected to produce an estimated 30 Billion A4 pages by the end of 2016. According to Bar Shani, this growth can be attributed to the dedication of HP Indigo’s team to print quality, the versatility of their solutions, and a line of products that is built to last. This sentiment was echoed also by David Murphy, Worldwide Director of Marketing & Business Development, HP PageWide Web Press division, HP Inc., who cited productivity, quality, versatility and economics as the key drivers in the estimated 50 Billion A4 pages printed on HP’s PageWide Web Press installed base in 2015.

Alon Bar-Shani holding up new canvas high quality HP Indigo print

Alon Bar-Shani Holds Up High-quality Canvas HP Indigo Print

Read more »

2016 InfoTrends, Inc.

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux