Category: Decorative Printing

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.

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.

 

 

HP Latex R Series: First to Print Rigid Media for HP Latex, and First White Ink

India Tatro
Mar 27, 2018

Ten years since the introduction of HP Latex Printing Technologies in 2008, HP unveiled the latest addition to that series of wide format printers recently at ISA Sign Expo in Orlando. The new “HP Latex R Series” builds on existing HP Latex technology but is the first HP Latex printer to print on rigid media. HP Latex R, which also prints flexible media, is designed to print a wide variety of rigid substrates including foamboards, PVC cardboard, fluted polypropylene, solid plastics, aluminum, wood, and glass.  The Latex R Series is also notable because it marks the introduction of HP Latex White Ink. Like its other water-based Latex inks, HP says the Latex R’s  white ink will maintain the appearance and texture of the substrate, a desirable quality when printing on materials like aluminum or wood. HP also claims that their new white ink—the first for the HP Latex line– will not yellow over time, which can be a problem with some white UV inks.

HP has also included fluid management technology in the R series  to combat  problems typically associated with white ink. Pigments in white inks are prone to settling due to the larger particle sizes of white pigments; their larger particle sizes can make such inks a problem for print heads, causing clogs or blockages during printing or while the printer is idle. To counteract possible problems with settling and clogging,  HP has added an ink recirculation system to keep ink moving both within the ink delivery system and at the printhead. The ink storage system will also feature an automatic ink agitator to prevent settling over time.

 

HP has not yet released photos of the new R Series, though a teaser video can be found on their website

 

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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.

The Next Big Thing

Frank Romano
Nov 2, 2016

 

Look around the industry. What do you see? Offset presses. Digital printers. Wide format inkjet printers. Offset litho was discovered in 1900, but did not gain traction until the 1950s. Digital color printing was introduced in 1993. Wide format inkjet came in 1995. Walk into any plant; they may have all three.

It took a while for all three printing technologies to find their place in print production. All three were challenged by a status quo. Offset was once described as “only for quick and dirty printing.” Ironically, they said the same for digital color. The president of Xerox was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying almost the same about inkjet printing (2004). Now Xerox is becoming a force in inkjet.

Yet, all three processes make money for printers. What will be the next big thing? The technology is already here. We just have to find markets for it.

Flatbed UV inkjet can print on any substrate—plastics, wood, glass, board, metal, ceramics, textiles, carpeting, and more. Commercial printers print on paper. Where is the market for printing on all those other substrates? Read more »

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

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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

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

James Hanlon and Ron Gilboa
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.

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KBA VariJET 106 & The Making of ‘The B1 drupa’

Bob Leahey
May 25, 2016

KBA-Sheetfed Solutions, a division of German press manufacturer KBA, announced recently it will offer a B1 sheet fed inkjet press called KBA VariJET 106 for printing folding cartons. The new press will be built on the platform of KBA Rapida 106, a sheet fed offset press, and on an inkjet print engine and DFE by Xerox Impika. According to KBA, KBA VariJET 106 will print 4,500 sheets per hour in B1 size (750 x 1060mm/29.5 x 41.7 inches) and will be modular in nature, allowing custom configurations to include Read more »

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