Category: Printing

Xeikon Update: Notes From Q1 Analyst Call

India Tatro
Mar 5, 2018

Xeikon, much in the news in 2017 for its “Xeikon Café” events and its debut as an inkjet technology vendor, held a first-ever quarterly briefing for press and analysts in all regions. On hand were top managers: Filip Weymans and Jeroen Van Bauwel, both from Xeikon’s headquarters in Belgium, and Dave Wilkins and Donna Cavannon, marketing and sales leaders for Xeikon North America, based in Illinois.

 

The Xeikon “Blueprint”

Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s VP of Global Marketing kicked off the presentation with an overview of the strategy or “blueprint” for the company. The key point was that Xeikon will now continue product development based on both dry toner electrophotographic and inkjet printing technologies, also that Xeikon will continue to expand finishing and workflow offerings for Xeikon’s commercial print and industrial printers. Xeikon will have a particular emphasis on folding carton printing on the industrial side and on high-value graphic arts applications like direct mail and educational books on the commercial print side. At the same time, Weymans noted that Xeikon has a long-term goal of moving into the corrugated market. In the meantime, though, Xeikon will focus on the label printing applications that today are the core of its industrial printer business. Read more »

SGIA SPIRE Group Presentation 2018

Steve Urmano
Feb 22, 2018

This year’s SPIRE event has been ramped up to include great new content to help you manage your graphics business – all delivered at warp speed. 33 top tier graphic imaging professionals and 10 presenters participated in this eclectic conference to provide new ideas to build a framework to future growth requirements.

Steve Urmano, Director of Wide Format had a half hour presentation and Q&A on the topic: Convergence, How The Wide Format Industry Is Changing. It focused on all the different ink & media technologies and how the market opportunities are changing along with them. Attendees should come away with a view of new opportunities & adjacencies.

The schedule is so full, the 10 presenters are sure accomplish this lofty goal. With a limited number of spots available, attendees needed to register quickly to ensure they didn’t miss out on the event of the year. The SPIRE strong sharing environment allows for critical insight and game-changing industry networking.

A sampling of the presentations are as follows:

  • Richard Romano, What They Think, Developments in Production Automation
  • Patrick Morrissey, EFI, Review of New Products & Scope
  • Kerry King, Spoonflower, Décor & Shift Towards Online Portals
  • John Hagan, Hagen Graphic Assets, Exploring Employee Recruitment
  • Alexander Hussain, 3D Chimera, 3D Printing: Production & Partnership

 

About SPIRE

SPIRE is a unique network of CEOs and top executives from industry leading producers of retail, point-of-purchase, OEM, transit, outdoor, and similar graphic solutions. The interests, concerns, and challenges of SPIRE members are often different than those of individuals managing smaller companies within the SGIA membership. SPIRE has been in existence for more than 20 years, providing both educational and networking opportunities that are unparalleled in our industry. The members of SPIRE have carefully created an environment where printers from related markets, even direct competitors, can comfortably address common issues. In fact, just about every SPIRE member will tell you that their SPIRE network is their most valued SGIA resource.

 

Feedback from the Organizers

“I’m very proud of how we have advanced the quality and pacing of the SPIRE program. It’s dynamic, relevant content that speaks to today’s industry challenges.”

– Scott Crosby, SPIRE Program Co-Chair, Holland and Crosby

Scott Crosby of Holland & Crosby

“SPIRE has become the don’t-miss meeting in the print industry. At SPIRE, we provide high-level topics for top-level executives you can’t get anywhere else.”

– Terry Corman, SPIRE Program Co-Chair, Firehouse Image Center

Terry Corman of Firehouse Graphics

 

Meetings and Social Events
Ongoing changes to the graphic arts industry are profound, with new areas of convergence and unprecedented opportunities for those companies that can navigate change successfully. Attendees gained insight from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends industry consultant Steve Urmano as he presented his views on how today’s changes will affect tomorrow’s realities.

 

 

Moms Provide Insight Into Print’s Advantages

Christine Dunne

My local online moms group recently got into a discussion about whether paper or digital invitations are preferable for kids’ party invites. While they were discussing consumer printing (and in many instances production printing for consumers), it got me thinking about how many of their comments are also relevant to the world of business printing.

First, let me show you the main points addressed by these moms. In summary, they cited the following advantages of printed versus digital invitations.

Advantages of printed vs. digital invitations cited by local moms

Read more »

HP Indigo Lands Big Deal for HP Indigo 20000

India Tatro and Bob Leahey
Feb 21, 2018

HP Indigo announced this month that a current user of HP Indigo 20000, ePac Flexible Packaging, has agreed to purchase 10 additional HP Indigo 20000s. ePac, based in Madison, Wisconsin, is a young, all-digital converter of flexible packaging and is already operating three HP Indigo 20000s sited in Madison and in Boulder, Colorado. The company, which started operations only in 2016, working with just one HP Indigo 20000, will add the new units to its existing sites this year and next at new facilities in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Miami.

HP Indigo 20000 30″ digital web press

Among color digital printers for packaging and labels, HP Indigo 20000 is rare indeed. As of today, it is the only fully commercialized production level digital printer designed to print flexible packaging. Meanwhile, it was only in 2014 that HP Indigo launched the printer, so this seven color, 30” (760 mm) EP web is off to a fast start. At the time of the recent ePac announcement, HP Indigo also revealed that the current global installed base of this printer is 115 units. Given this model’s high purchase price, HP Indigo has likely achieved nearly $200 million in sales of HP Indigo 20000, not including the recent ePac deal.

A Brief History of the HP Indigo 20000

HP Indigo 20000 has predecessors, but they are all HP Indigo printers, namely the HP Indigo ‘Series 3’ label webs, especially HP Indigo WS6000 and WS6800. Starting around 2009, HP Indigo began developing flexible packaging as an extra application of WS6000, enlisting partners such as Karlville and Avery Dennison for finishing and media. As HP Indigo expanded further into flexible packaging, the company began to work with narrow-web label converters to help them start printing this application. In addition, HP Indigo even equipped rare flexible packaging converters with the Series 3 printers. Today, the HP Indigo 20000, an HP Indigo ‘Series 4’ printer, is the pinnacle of the HP Indigo’s efforts to develop digital printing for flexible packaging. With a web width equal to that of many flexo presses, and a powerful print engine based on the HP Indigo 10000, the Indigo 20000 is a practical digital option for flexible packaging.

Labels, Other Applications Also

Since HP Indigo 20000 is a roll-fed printer with a substantial web width, it is well suited for the production of both flexible packaging and labels. About 75% of the printing done on the Indigo 20000 is flexible packaging, with the remaining 25% being labels, or a mix of label and flexible packaging, or other applications. Keypoint Intelligence estimates that gross billings from the current base of HP Indigo 20000s for all uses is over $300 million annually. Those billings will grow as the base does, and as converters gain skill both in using the printer and in selling its services.

HP Pack Ready

While there are no new HP Indigo flexible packaging printers in sight at this point, a key finishing addition to the Indigo 20000 will be commercialized this year. This is HP’s new Pack Ready Lamination system which will dramatically decrease the time spent waiting for printed and laminated rolls to cure. While flexo converters must wait up to a week for their laminated rolls to cure, users of Pack Ready can expect curing to be almost immediate.

HP Pack Ready system with specially designed hardware form Karlville

The first component of Pack Ready is proprietary chemistry: HP Indigo licenses film manufacturers to use its patented coating technology to coat film for use in HP Indigo 20000 (several film companies in different regions have been licensed). After printing in HP Indigo 20000, that pre-coated film goes into a specially designed laminator by Karlville, HP’s partner for FP finishing. The laminator uses thermal energy to join the printed film with another film layers, and the lamination is fully cured in only a few minutes.

Pack Ready coating structure with HP’s proprietary heat-activated coating (in yellow)

Not Alone Forever

While the Indigo 20000 continues to be the industry leader for digital printing of flexible packaging, there are at least a few new digital entrants. These new machines are from Japanese companies Think Lab and Fujifilm, as well as Uteco Converting from Italy; Think Lab and Uteco are experienced suppliers for gravure and flexo in the flexible packaging industry, and Fujifilm is a giant in industrial inkjet. The new machines from these companies have only a handful of beta installations, mostly in Japan, but more will come, possibly also from competitors that are not evident today. As in all industrial printing, inkjet has high potential to contribute to flexible packaging printing. That said, EP printing from HP Indigo 20000 has a big lead, as exemplified by the recent deal with ePac.

Workflow in 2018: What’s Included in the Package?

Pat McGrew
Jan 10, 2018

In 2017 we walked the workflow, followed an audit trail, and ended with the admonition that your workflow is not proprietary. That last post might have seemed odd, but the reason for the post evolved out of countless conversations with printers who see their workflow as their Intellectual Property. It is understandable to want to protect processes that make a business unique and provide a competitive advantage, but when broken down the optimized workflow process has four components: Creating the content, getting the print job on-boarded, manipulating and managing the job files through to the RIP, and the RIP and Digital Front End (DFE).

Read more »

ECi Software Solutions Acquires PrintFleet

Steve Pearl
Jan 5, 2018

Consolidation in the document imaging space continues, with ECi Software Solutions adding PrintFleet to its portfolio of business-management tools for office equipment dealers. That makes ECi the purveyor of two of the leading fleet-management platforms that underpin MPS (managed print services) practices. The company acquired FMAudit in 2011 to expand its dealer-focused software portfolio. According to ECi, this latest acquisition represents its commitment to the field service industry by expanding its service offerings and providing a global reach in print and service management. The President of PrintFleet, Chris McFarlane, will continue in his position—as part of ECi’s Field Service Division. Ron Books will maintain his role as ECi’s CEO.

Read more »

Let’s Talk About IPEX 2017

Pat McGrew
Nov 9, 2017

We know it wasn’t the 11-hall extravaganza of shiny hardware we have seen in the Birmingham National Exhibition Center in the past. It wasn’t even the show we saw mounted at the ExCel center in London. The return of the IPEX brand to the print industry trade show market was half of hall 5 at the Birmingham NEC. And that is OK. It’s a new start on a rebuilding campaign for one of the oldest Print trade shows, so why not give it a fair shake?
Read more »

Labelexpo 2017: Quick Takes From Brussels Show

Bob Leahey
Oct 4, 2017

Labelexpo, the biannual tradeshow of the label industry, took place September 25 to 28 in Brussels and, thirty years after its start, it retains its momentum and “giant” status, with over 650 exhibitors and 30,000 visitors, most from Europe but many from Asia, the USA, and Latin America. Digital printing was at the core of the show, in big booths of all the top EP and inkjet printer vendors (HP Indigo, Xeikon, Domino, Durst, Screen, and others) and at the stands of many others, including a few entrants that are both new and significant. Before producing a detailed report for consulting clients, the InfoTrends division of Keypoint Intelligence offers the following conclusions from the 2017 Labelexpo:

In-line digital embellishment is hot. The two EP leaders, HP Indigo and Xeikon, are both developing proprietary, in-line jetting modules to add white, spot varnish, tactile effects and even metallic decoration to their toner-based label print webs. Meanwhile, other vendors contribute their own products to the trend, such as printer suppliers Domino, Gallus, and Konica Minolta, and head supplier Xaar.

HP Indigo GEM Embellishment Example

EP is still vital and growing. While inkjet is growing and has many more vendors, electrophotographic technology showed dynamic additions in high production systems, such as Xeikon CX500 (new at the show) and HP Indigo 8000 (2016). At that same time, Konica Minolta announced its 100th global placement of KM C71cf after less than two years of availability, and then announced a successor to it, Accurio 190.

Accurio 190 Replacement for Konica Minolta C71cf

Hybrid printing is a focus for key suppliers. The top three vendors of narrow web label presses—Gallus, Mark Andy, and Nilpeter—all market hybrid flexo/inkjet systems as key parts of their product lines. Meanwhile multiple other vendors also contribute, such as Colordyne, IPT, MPS, Omet, and Prototype and Production Systems. We note especially the focus on hybrids by Gallus, Mark Andy, and Nilpeter, each of which has hundreds of established press customers worldwide.

Gallus Labelfire 340, Based on Flexo Plus Fujifilm Samba Inkjet

UV inkjet is adding low migration options. UV inkjet, which powers most inkjet label printers, is handicapped by concern about possible migration of uncured photoinitiators. In food packaging. “Low migration” UV inks designed to address these concern were evident at multiple booths (printer vendors Durst, EFI Jetrion, Epson, and ink makers Siegwerk and Sun Chemical) at Labelexpo 2017. New, or nearly so: the use of a “nitrogen purge”, to enhance polymerization of toxic monomers, as seen at Screen and Durst booths.

Aqueous inkjet is gaining momentum. Production digital label webs using aqueous inks have been limited to the Epson Surepress, plus Colordyne and a few others based on Memjet. A key merit of aqueous inks have been their safety for food labels, but the main options have limitions, Epson SurePress print speed (15 fpm), and Memjet dye-based inks, CMYK only. From Labelexpo 2017, though: Epson and the Memjet OEMs are have had good success; Mouvent’s aqueous future printer could be influential; miniature production printers from Afinia, Trojan, and New Solution all use aqueous inks; last, Memjet will upgrade to pigmented inks in 2018; Kodak will add aqueous CIJ printing via Uteco Sapphire.

Mouvent Label Printer Example

Label converting is now “cyber” oriented. The label industry likes the idea that manufacturing will be automated and driven by data exchange, through The Cloud and the “Industrial Internet of Things,” and Labelexpo had lots of evidence to that effect, notably Labelexpo’s first “Automation Arena” in Hall 11. There a collaboration by AVT, Cerm, Esko, Kocher + Beck Matho, MPS, Rotocontrol, Wasberger, and Xeikon,  yielded two automated press lines, one for digital and one for conventional label production, with automation of everything from job creation through prepress, printing, finishing and invoicing.

Package printing is strategic at Labelexpo. Digital printing for folding cartons and flexible packaging has been a side focus of Labelexpo since at least the 2011 show; in 2017, both applications are well established, whether for printing unsupported film on webs or 18 point folding carton board, on both roll-to-sheet and sheet fed systems. HP Indigo and Xeikon have both spurred folding carton printing; in flexible packaging, HP Indigo is alone so far as an established solutions provider. At Labelexpo, others showed they will join that drive, with Uteco & partners INX and Kodak, as examples.

Xeikon Carton Print Example

A summary conclusion to all of the above: The world’s label industry is now full of digital technologies, for printing and for all its ancillary processes and needs; the 2017 Labelexpo showed the growth of those technologies, and the strong prospect for more in years to come.

At LabelExpo 2017 Workflow is Automated!

Pat McGrew
Oct 3, 2017

Underpinning a very successful LabelExpo 2017 was talk workflow and talk of speed. This year in Brussels we saw not only new technology for label production and finishing running at higher speeds, but we saw a growing emphasis on the workflow that drives production, with echos of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things in the subtext of every press conference and every workflow demonstration.

Across the 9 halls and 679 exhibitors there was workflow specified on the signage, in the demonstrations, and most notably, in the Automation Arena, where the emphasis was on live demonstrations of automated conventional and digital label and packaging solutions from Cerm, Esko, Xeikon, MPS, Kocher + Beck, grafotronic, AVT, WLE and Matho. The Automation Arena demonstrations were supported by Avery Dennison, FlintGroup and Zeller + Gmelin for inks and substrates. As a bonus, the LabelExpo team took the time to build a great YouTube video which you can find here and should be on your playlist if you work in label production.

The AVT Booth at LabelExpo 2017

Across all of the halls it was clear that the equipment manufacturers of flexo and digital solutions recognize that the key to a successful customer is not only reliable, flexible production equipment, but a solid set of workflow solutions to guide their clients towards the fullest possible automation. Many hardware suppliers have partnered with CERM, which bills itself as the business management software for narrow web printers. Their solution, which begins at quoting and touches the required stops through to warehousing, shipping and invoicing has components for costing, data collection and a Web to print solution called Web4Labels.

As common as the speed story prevalent among the hardware vendors was a new emphasis on job acquisition. The web-to-print story was everywhere, on signage and in booth demonstrations, and not just for digital solutions. Many of the flexo solution vendors also have web-to-workflow solutions that open new product options for their customers.

Durst featured Workflow and Web-to-Print on their signage.

Many vendors were emphasizing their options for variable data and variable imaging as digital print solutions and hybrid solutions vocalize their value propositions that include making output personal or at least customized. The team from Chili Publish, seen below, fresh from their successful Print 17 stand in Chicago, indicated that they were having vibrant conversations with both existing clients and prospects as they look for solutions to create value in the print chain. In Chicago next year and Brussels in two years from now it is likely that more software solutions providers will set up stands to engage in this growing market opportunity.

The team from Chili Publish at Label Expo 2017!

Worthy of note was a kiosk (seen below) in the FlintGroup/Xeikon booth touching on a topic that needs more focus across the industry: how to sell these great digital solutions. The Xeikon aXelerate program is one of several seen on the floor that put the spotlight on helping label producers sell the value proposition of digitally-produced labels. There are myriad product offerings that leverage what digital can do easily, such as adding targeted messages, QR codes, and other technologies.

Xeikon had a great story around helping to sell digital!

One of those technologies is Augmented Reality, which was available in the SCREEN booth in partnership with Solimar Systems. SCREEN Europe worked with Solimar to enable a set of labels (seen below) that, when viewed with the Solimar App, runs a video showing the SCREEN workflow and print story for labels. It was a great way to allow an attendee to carry a demo with them, though the signage in the booth missed the opportunity to spotlight this unique demonstration.

From productivity suites to job journeys, the emphasis on using workflow to a competitive advantage was clear in every hall. For any label producer who has not yet investigate web-to-print options and automated workflow options, this show is the clear indicator that this is the time to invest to stay competitive.

If you are wondering how you can stay competitive, consider spending some time in our report store (http://store.infotrendsresearch.com/ ) or engaging with us in the Production Workflow Service. We go to the shows and conferences, study the market, and do deep dives into the technology so that we can provide the best advice and guidance to our clients. We are standing by to help you on your path to automation.

 

 

If you have stories to share reach out to me! @PatMcGrew on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or Pat.McGrew@KeypointIntelligence.com all reach me. For more information on how to gain access to our research, market sizing & forecasts, or how to subscribe to our Production Workflow or other services, contact Deanna Flanick today at deanna.flanick@buyerslab.com!

Romano’s Ramblings: New Print Will Prevail!

Pat McGrew

by Frank Romano

Where will printers make money in the future? Some say it will be from digital printing? But digital printing is usurping analog volumes, and analog volumes are not growing. To grow, the printing industry must find new products and new services.

The best example of “new print” is wide-format inkjet printing. Go back to 1995. The first wide-format inkjets were seen as proofers for color printing. Suddenly, signage became a hot market. Not just signage, but color signage. Signage was done by screen printing, but full-color reproduction was not typical. The wide-format machines got bigger and bigger. Commercial printing companies added them to their fleet of production devices. Today, well over half of all printing firms have wide-format inkjet. They make money with a technology that was never predicted.

Predictions are hard. Back in the late 1990s, I gave a talk at RIT and said that there would be half as many printers in ten years. I was booed, and that was by the faculty. I remember when offset was said to be only for “quick and dirty printing” and when PostScript was just another printing driver.

 

 

There are no leading indicators for the future of technology. Not only did no one expect the Spanish Inquisition (sorry Monty Python), but no one expected Facebook and Twitter, etc. etc. In fact, no one ever predicted the Internet.

So, we come back to the original question. If printing services are to prosper, they must find new products and services. Paper-based volumes are declining. Therefore, printers must print on something besides paper. Some already do. Those printers invested in flatbed inkjet printing. They can print on foamcore, glass, plastic, ceramics, textiles, wood, metal, and more.

It is true that there are industrial plants that print on these materials right now. Of course, the quantities are in the millions, and there is little customization. But new print markets are evolving, like industrial design, home décor, specialty signage, promotional items, unique packaging, and other decorated items.

 

 

2016 InfoTrends, Inc.

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