Category: Print

When Should PSPs Outsource Print Products?

Marc Mascara and Colin McMahon
Jan 16, 2019

Print service providers (PSPs) exist in a competitive landscape. Despite being a mainstay technology used to address a diverse range of applications  print faces challenges in the 21st century. The digital revolution is in full swing with new innovations making headlines daily. On top of this, the print world itself is seeing a smaller upheaval in the form of digital printing as a replacement/supplement of traditional offset.

For those seeking to turn a profit, this pace of change means frequent challenges. The new landscape has altered customer demand, placing more emphasis on shorter runs and high value product applications. Businesses, especially those small to medium-sized, are constantly trying to eliminate the advantages of larger competition. One such benefit that large PSPs enjoy is a wide product portfolio – one that can meet most any customer demand.

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China’s Suzhou Ruifa Looks to Disrupt the Printhead Manufacturing Segment

Ron Gilboa
Dec 20, 2018

For decades, precise deposition of materials was achieved by utilizing a range of technologies that  produce range of products from graphics arts, decorative, functional, and a host of other applications. Today, several key inkjet technologies drive markets and applications. These are enabled in part by a new generation of micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS) deposition / jetting devices, whether continuous inkjet (CIJ), piezoelectric drop on demand, or thermal inkjet drop on demand (TIJ). These technologies have been – for most part – the domain of a handful of companies that had the intellectual property and made the investment in silicone-based printhead manufacturing for several quite some time.

While the main suppliers of existing inkjet heads are almost all clustered in Japan, Western Europe, and the USA, a new competitor is now launching in China. After a significant investment in technology and resources, China’s Suzhou Ruifa Printing Technology Co. has announced its entrance as a supplier of thermal inkjet printheads. The company’s new printhead, SUREJet T7680, is a 41mm/1.6” wide thermal head, with 7680 nozzles. According to Suzhou Ruifa, SUREJet T7680 has two meter per second print speed and is capable of 1800×1200 DPI print resolution.

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Highlights from JAPANTEX 2018

Masato Atoda and Colin McMahon
Dec 11, 2018

JAPANTEX 2018 was held over three days, November 20 – 22, at the Tokyo Big Sight International Exhibition Center. The event, which is currently in its 37th year, serves as an annual exhibition of interior fabrics. Around 8,700 visitors, as well as exhibitors from 277 companies, attended the event, which this year focused on a combination theme of Japanese style and interior beauty, mixed with all the professionalism one can expect at this type of event.

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EFI Reggiani Pushes Single Pass Boundaries with New BOLT Hybrid Printer

Ron Gilboa and Catherine Cresswell
Nov 19, 2018

Last week represented a significant milestone in EFI Reggiani’s history of providing printing solutions for the textile industry. The company announced its EFI Reggiani BOLT, a digital single pass production textile printer. To celebrate this event and highlight BOLT’s capabilities, the company invited almost 300 people to witness the unveiling – including customers, media, and its channel representatives from around the world – in its factory in Bergamo, Italy.

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MTEX Solutions: A Key Iberian Manufacturer, Sprouting New Industrial Printers

Bob Leahey and Catherine Cresswell
Nov 6, 2018

MTEX Solutions, the Portuguese manufacturer of digital printers for textile and label applications, recently held its debut summit for customers and prospects in Porto, Portugal’s beautiful port city. Sporting the tagline “Back, Better than Ever,” the summit drew participants from as far away as Russia and the U.S. These attendees came to learn about a key industrial inkjet printer vendor, one lately transformed and growing internationally, and its new products. Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends (InfoTrends) attended the event and offers here what it captured about the company and its newest hardware.

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Why North America is Embracing Digital Wide Format Printing

Colin McMahon
Oct 15, 2018

The digital revolution is impacting every industry, and this includes wide format printing. Advancements in digital wide format technology have created the potential for new offerings. This is important news for a wide variety of businesses, including marketing firms as well as sign, graphics, and visual communication companies. In our recent analysis, Embracing Digital Wide Format Printing, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends explores how signage companies can leverage these innovations and highlights the benefits of making the switch.

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HP Announces the Latex R1000 – The Latest Addition to The Latex R Series

Steve Urmano and India Tatro
Jul 12, 2018

On July 9th HP announced an expansion to its newly released R Series of latex printers, the R1000 Printer. Like the previously released R2000, the R1000 is designed for printing on a number of both rigid and flexible substrates including foamboards, PVC cardboard, fluted polypropylene, solid plastics, aluminum, wood, and glass. Like the R2000, which Keypoint Intelligence reported on when it was first announced, the R1000 is designed for a variety of applications within the sign & display and decorative printing industry segments.

HP Latex R1000 Printer

R1000 Key Specifications

While the HP Latex R2000 focuses on larger PSPs, HP explained in it’s latest press release that the R1000 is designed to be an ideal solution for smaller companies:

“The current portfolio includes the HP Latex R2000 Printer, designed for large-signage printer service providers (PSP’s) who require workflow efficiency and sustained production. With the debut of the HP Latex R1000 Printer, HP is adding depth to offer maximum value in one device. Designed for growing businesses with investment and space constraints, the versatile printer offers a single set of inks for a wide range of flexible and rigid media including applications for retail, outdoor signage, window graphics, events and exhibitions, and decorations.

The new printer comes with three liter-ink cartridges, compared to the larger model with five liters, and is designed to accommodate materials up to 1.64 meters/64 inches wide and up to 5 cm/2-inches thick while the R2000 prints up to 2.5-meters/98-inches wide and up to 5-cm/2-inches thick.”

Additional specifications for the R1000 have been released on HP’s website. Most notable are the smaller footprint (the R1000 measures in at 166 x 143 x 69 in), and productivity of up to 57 m² per hour (614 ft² per hour). The R1000 will also feature the HP Latex White Ink and Overcoat that are used on the R2000.

HP Latex R Series Print Samples (Taken at Print4All 2018)

Analyst Comments

While Latex grew very quickly in the Roll to Roll product segment drastically offsetting solvent sales mainly in NA and EMEA markets over the past several years, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on the impact it will have in the UV Hybrid arena. There are several market conditions that need to be overcome. HP has done well in the low end of the market due to both price point and marketing strength. The UV Hybrid and Roll Markets have already grown double digits the last several years and have already drastically offset and penetrated the solvent arena and this is a very crowded vendor space.

There is a very wide range of low-priced Chinese machines on the market priced below $100K. The Latex R1000 & R2000 1.6 – 3.2 M Wide Format Hybrids come in on the higher end of the price spectrum in a market that has become flooded with lower cost LED UV Hybrids & Flatbeds. In the US, Mimaki, Mutoh, CET, Vanguard, and others have been servicing this segment, so pricing and product performance will be a key issue for market entry.

Time will tell if HP’s marketing machine will be able to overcome these hurdles. However, Keypoint Intelligence sees the potential in Latex with the higher performance R ink-set. It appears to have a whiter white, and lay flatter than UV inks which tend to have a thicker ink deposition. The battle for the durables continues with the domination of ink technology playing a key role.

 

 

The Ricoh Ecosystem: Interact 2018

Pat McGrew
Jul 11, 2018

Do you go to vendor open houses and networking events? If you are a customer of any of the big hardware vendors or many of the independent software vendors you are likely to receive a cheery invitation to one or more events each year that give you an opportunity to hear from the company executives and listen to technical presentations on current and future products. They usually bring in a few industry speakers and try to create an environment where everyone has an opportunity to network. These are valuable experiences for the vendors who host them, the customers who attend them, and the journalists and analysts to attend, as well.

Ricoh recently hosted their Interact 2018 meeting in Westminster, Colorado, just a short ride form their plant in Boulder. The event was full of interesting insights from Ricoh staff, customers, and industry speakers, but that wasn’t the most interesting thing about Interact. For a company like Ricoh there are a lot of moving parts. Even inside of Commercial and Industrial Printing, led in the US by John Fulena, there are production cut sheet, production web, wide format, and a variety of industrial print devices worthy of your attention. Staging a conference where attendees can get a sense of Ricoh – One Ricoh – is difficult. How many sessions do you run concurrently? how do you give everyone podium time to talk about their innovations?

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Xerox Iridesse – After the glitter settles! Well what if? or Sure why not?!

Marc Mascara
Jul 2, 2018

Xerox unveiled their latest production printing press during two jam-packed events in the US and Europe. The first event took place May 9th outside Rochester, NY at the Xerox Gil Hatch Center for Customer Innovation — the largest digital print showcase in the world.

Images courtesy of Xerox – Iridesse launch Webster, NY

 

Customers, prospects and the media were invited to the unveiling of the Iridesse press and given the opportunity to kick the tires. The second reveal took place on May 23 in Warsaw, Poland during the 2018 Xerox Forum, where Xerox Premier Partners (customers) and Graphic Communication Resellers attended.

Image courtesy of Xerox – Iridesse launch Warsaw, Poland

 

Both events could be worthy of an Oscar with the pomp and circumstance of a professional product reveal that introduced the global availability of the press.

My colleague Ralf Schlozer’s first impressions of the Iridesse, launched by Fuji Xerox last December, can be found in the post Fuji Xerox Iridesse – Two specialty colours is better than one. I invite you to re-visit Ralf’s blog for all the launch and specific details of the press while I answer the philosophical question of “do printer’s need a press like the Iridesse now that the glitter and dust have settled?”

So, if you ever worked production you know that manufacturer suggested limits are always ignored, especially if you need to get a job out or when client work is accepted in lieu of going to the competition. You see this in the offset world all the time and that is why successful print companies know that being able to configure equipment for different needs trumps equipment with a “wow” factor. Print customers first question is always can you do this, and the printer wants to respond sure, why not?! Digital equipment sometimes puts the printer into the “what if” situation. Basically, well what if we do this instead?

Quality CMYK for the most part is expected in this class of press, but in terms of flexibility, print providers expect numerous options for not only resolution but multiple halftone screens. Having the ability to respond to real time production needs based on image quality and media range gives production the flexibility to confidently accept work. Iridesse meets that challenge with Ultra HD Resolution which delivers 1200 x 1200 x 10 bit RIP resolution and 2400×2400 imaging resolution, enabling screening options from stochastic to fine line screens up to 600 dpi.

Image courtesy of EFI – Xerox EFI Exp6 5/6 color image Viewer

 

Media plays a huge role in just how many jobs and what type of work a print provider can accept. Just as in offset, digital presses must address a wide array of media while running at rated speeds. I would say most equipment manufacturers are fighting it out on this front regarding the range of media weights and types being supported. Iridesse tops out at 400gsm but gives a respectable range from 52 to 400gsm. Production flexibility comes into play when the print providers press supports a wide array of media types and weights, multiple pick points  (i.e., multiple paper trays), that allow for a broad range of supported media and media sizes along with multiple insertion options all running at rated speed. To meet these extreme requirements Xerox equipped Iridesse with technologies integrated throughout the press called “Mixed Media Xceleration”  giving the operator a wide array of run time media options with no slowdown of output.  Its this production flexibility that digital press manufacturers continue to expand upon, driving machine innovations which adds to the acceleration of the offset to digital migration and the continued ability to drive manual labor cost out of the production process. With that said, Iridesse is highly configurable, supporting many finishing scenarios from square fold to booklet making with Plockmatic’s advanced capabilities, again reducing the overall production touch points with greater production flexibility.

One could say that most digital press manufacturers are competitive in all these areas offering their own set of production capabilities, but Xerox upped the ante by making the print order of colors configurable without the need for a service technician!  As in the offset world, you just run a cleanup and change ink, or in this case you swap out the dry toner. As a PSP, you not only have the ability with Iridesse to produce 4, 5 and 6 color work, but you can self-configure which special color will underlay and overlay the CMYK opening a whole host of design capabilities for high value applications.

Xerox calls this snazzy feature “EZ Swap” which allows operators the ability to swap and run two specialty dry inks in a single pass. The key phrase is single-pass. Just imagine what you could do with a press that supports multiple pass capabilities with very accurate registration. I think offset press operators can see where I’m going with this.  Xerox has tapped into one of the last frontiers left for digital press capabilities in opening the ability for the operator to decide the dry ink lay down order with multiple specialty colors and to expand that capability with multiple passes.

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Smart Package Manufacturing: HP One Package Workflow Suite Brings New Levels of Optimization

Pat McGrew
Jun 25, 2018

Corrugated product producers have traditionally thought in terms of square meters and board feet. The goal: keep corrugated products heading out the door. For corrugators that meant keeping the corrugator online and in production which was managed with a Manufacturing Execution System tied to standard business management software suites. Corrugated board manufacturers often use their business systems to manage their manufacturing requirements, augmented with process-specific tools. The advent of digital corrugated production options adds many more requirements to the production workflow, most of which are closer to traditional commercial printing than traditional converting. With experience born from implementations of both digital liner preprinting ahead of corrugation and digital corrugated board printing (“post printing”) comes the HP One Package workflow suite targeted toward users of all HP PageWide Industrial corrugated presses.

HP PrintOS Site Flow Drives End-to-End Print Production for HP Corrugated

Source: HP

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