Category: Production

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.

EFI Lands Another Customer for ‘Nozomi’ Digital Corrugated Printer

Bob Leahey
Feb 14, 2018

Companies watching for installations of high speed, single pass printers for corrugated learned of another customer for EFI Nozomi this month. EFI announced on February 12 that Corrugated Synergies International (CSI), based in Renton, Washington, has purchased not only Nozomi, EFI’s 246 fpm color inkjet printer for corrugated board, but also EFI’s Corrugated Packaging Suite, a comprehensive management execution system (MES) software tool set. The news marks the fourth deal to place Nozomi, which already has two installations in Europe and one in the U.S., and the first to include the EFI Corrugated Packaging Suite. Given that EFI Nozomi is driven by the EFI Fiery digital front end, CSI in effect is purchasing EFI’s full digital ecosystem for corrugated.

EFI Nozomi Placements, So Far

Company Location EFI Nozomi Installation
Hinojosa Packaging Valencia Spain 2017
McGowans Print Dublin, Ireland 2017
Complete Design & Packaging Concord, NC 2017
CSI Renton, WA 2018

 

CSI, which established “TenCorr” in 1982, was the first North American sheet feeder to manufacture corrugated sheets for sale to box manufacturers. Since then CSI has developed and now operates 12 sheet feeder operations and 3 full-line box plants, employing a total of 15 corrugators. It uses all the main pre-print and post-print analog technologies to print board stock, with a strong emphasis on high color graphics printing. CSI managers visited the first Nozomi installation (2017) at Hinojosa in Spain and say they were “blown away” by the quality of the printing they observed, and by Nozomi’s productivity.

From Feeder to Stacker, EFI Nozomi Is Over 100 Feet Long

For readers who are not familiar with the printer, “Nozomi” is named for a Japanese bullet train and, like its namesake, it’s built for speed. Based on Seiko piezo inkjet heads, Nozomi prints a bed of media up to 71”/1.8 meters wide at up to 246 pfm/ 75 m/min; measured in sheets (1.8 m x 3 m), that top speed is equal to 7,224 square meters per hour. Other specs:

Media ranges from 14pt folding carton board (about 0.4mm) to all corrugated grades, including triple wall.

  • Nozomi’s inks, which are manufactured by EFI, are LED curing formulations, with CMYK as standard and orange, violet, and white as options.
  • An in-line priming station improves control of ink droplets and allows printing of both coated and uncoated top sheet media.
  • The printhead has ink recirculation and prints four-levels of greyscale, in maximum resolution of 360x720dpi.
  • 100% inspection is also in-line, to manage jetting alignment uniformity of print.

Of all the EFI industrial printers, Nozomi appears to be the one that has benefited most from a team effort by the different EFI businesses. That development is proprietary, but it’s easy to imagine the contributions of individual EFI companies, from media handling and transport (VUTEk wide format, Cretaprint ceramic printing), to ink manufacturing (EFI Jetrion), to software (Fiery DFE, Radius workflow tools). There was likely help from outside EFI, with primer fluids and in-line inspection probably being the work of partners. Whatever the sequence, the resulting printer is highly automated in terms of feeding, monitoring, and off-loading, and the biggest and fastest ever from an EFI company.

CSI Operates 15 Corrugators Company-Wide

CSI will use the Nozomi to help it shift towards digital printing as an important complement to its analog print operations. The Corrugated Packaging Suite “MES” workflow will enable integration of digital production plant-wide, for a full business and production framework to handle all CSI’s digital, flexo, litho-lamination, and litho label operations. In its statements about Nozomi, CSI managers say they expect the Nozomi to expand the geographic range of customers that the company can serve, because the higher value of digital print jobs will make longer transport economic. They point also to the fit with “big box” retailing by major brands. Outlets such as Costco, Best Buy, and Walmark now often require tests of new products and new packaging in small amounts before committing shelf space. For consumer electronics, household goods, and many other products, that trend and many others spur the short run graphics printing jobs for corrugated that inkjet handles well.

Single Pass Just Starting

This story matters because the corrugated industry is just starting to have an influx of costly but highly productive color digital printers from several vendors, inkjet printers like Nozomi that print a wide bed of corrugated in a single pass and are a research focus for Keypoint Intelligence. EFI, which is dedicated to industrial uses of digital printing, is a top competitor; other participants and aspirants include Barberán, CorrStream, Durst, Handway, and HP, and there are at least one or two more in China. Total placements for all these vendors are now likely no more than 20 units worldwide, but that total could double within a year or two. All the printers, like Nozomi, are ones that will be used for two or three shifts, and each will likely print many millions of square meters of corrugated per year, dwarfing the output of even the most automated multi-pass inkjet flatbed printers. For corrugated converters, and for brands they serve, the collective effect will be huge, the arrival of new, timely, and profitable means to print short runs of corrugated digitally, and rapidly, with fine color graphics.

 

 

Fujifilm Acquires Control of Xerox

Jeff Hayes
Jan 31, 2018

The grapevine has been ripe the past weeks, but now the news is finally out. Fujifilm has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the majority holding of Xerox Corporation and will merge Fuji Xerox with Xerox.

The two companies said that Fuji Xerox, a joint venture between Fujifilm and Xerox formed in 1962, will use bank debt to buy back Fujifilm’s 75% stake for around $6.1 billion. Fujifilm will use those proceeds to purchase 50.1% of new Xerox shares. Plans are to complete the deal around July-August of this year.

The new entity, to be called Fuji Xerox, will become a subsidiary of Fujifilm, with dual headquarters in the United States and Japan. It will keep Xerox’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange and will be led by Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson and Fujifilm Chairman Shigetaka Komori.

Why Now?

Xerox has struggled to grow its document technology and related business over the last four years with 2017 revenue ($10.3B) down 19% compared with 2014 ($12.7B). Spurred by activist shareholder Carl Icahn, who owns approximately 9.7% of Xerox shares, Xerox spun off its business process outsourcing business in 2016 to focus on its core. Mr. Icahn has been vocal recently about seeking significant changes to Xerox’ board of directors, senior management, and the Fuji Xerox joint venture with an eye on a potential sale of Xerox in the future.

Read more »

Connecting at EFI Connect: New Strategies!

Pat McGrew

Each year EFI hosts their customers, partners, media and analysts at their signature event, EFI Connect. The format is part trade show and part educational conference, giving EFI a chance to not only show off the latest solutions, but also to interact with customers, gather their requirements, and answer questions. EFI mounts a major troop movement to ensure that any question you have can be answered by an expert!

Last year the EFI Connect story was about acquisitions and partnerships. The acquisitions of Reggiani and Optitex were still fresh and repackaging of workflow software into a series of suites consumed much of the conversation. Just after the event EFI announced the arrangement with Xerox to acquire the FreeFlow Print Server and to become the primary DFE provider to Xerox.

 

EFI showed printed textiles

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Xerox Hosts Security Summit at New York Stock Exchange

Rebecca Schiffenhaus
Jan 24, 2018

CNBC Bell Ringing

On January 23rd, 2018, Xerox hosted the Xerox Security Summit at the New York Stock Exchange. Understanding that cybersecurity has become essential for MFPs and printers as “always on end-points”, Xerox brought together thought leaders and partners in this field to join Xerox for the bell ringing and an afternoon of cybersecurity conversations. Mike Feldman, Executive VP and President, NAO, Xerox Corporation, opened the event by reflecting on the rebirth of Xerox one year ago, when Conduent became a separate company and Xerox was able to center itself.  In this past year Xerox has had many accomplishments, including a huge launch of 29 new devices, growth in ConnectKey and apps, and new devices and inks for production print.

Alissa Johnson, Chief Information Security Officer and former Deputy CIO for the White House opened the sessions by emphasizing awareness. Johnson said that breaches can usually be traced to a visible IP, an open port, or a vulnerable service. To protect these areas, Johnson had three tips, 1. Hunt- always assume there is a compromise, 2. Zero trust- whitelist instead of allowing, and 3. Cognitive security- develop advanced AI. Candace Worley, Vice President and Chief Technical Strategist for McAfee, discussed cybersecurity fears around automation. Namely, individuals fear that the system will malfunction, and they will be held accountable. Worley shared some important developments in this field, like the shift from prior work environments, with only a few operating systems and devices, to the current, complex network ecosystems with virtual desktops, countless devices, cloud services and more. Worley also discussed the anticipated labor shortage in cybersecurity, as there is a lack of talent to fill the jobs necessitated by cybersecurity. It is anticipated that by 2022 over 70% of jobs will go unfilled, and 9 out of 10 cybersecurity workers believe that they will need technology to fill that talent gap. Worley emphasized the need for more open culture, with sharing across vendors, to develop the technology to handle this.

Sergio Caltagirone, Director of Threat Intelligence and Analytics at Dragos, discussed the offensive and defensive sides of hacking. Encouraging everyone to be realistic about security, he stated that there are hunters and hunted. Caltagirone shared the Defender’s dilemma, “the adversary needs to be right once, the defender needs to be right every time,” but Caltagirone emphasized that the defender has the power, “the defender controls the space”. By shaping and controlling the environment, security experts have the upper hand so long as they maintain it. Dov Yoran, Sr. Director, Strategy and Business Development Security Group for Cisco, shocked and awed sharing this video, discussing the industrialization of cybercrime and how prevalent and intelligent it has become. Steve Hoover, CTP, Xerox, and Ersin Uzun, Vice President, Director of System Sciences Laboratory, PARC, discussed how approaching cybersecurity can emulate the way we approach parenting. Teaching security programs how to “think” by interrupting processes and asking it to explain why it made choices and having teaching moments for the next event. This leads to greater trust and faith in the program and helps preserve the human role in cybersecurity.

Over lunch, famed hacker Kevin Mitnick, showed us all how easy it was to fall victim to an intelligent cyber-scheme and made everyone feel like throwing their devices into the Hudson. He shared tips and tricks about phishing, ransomware, malware, cloning HID cards, and proved just how simple it would be to be targeted through a great number of innocuous daily business processes. During the final panel, the panelists were asked which they would prioritize: protection, detection, or prevention and the unanimous winner was detection. Detection was emphasized as necessary for expedient handling, as well as integral as a learning opportunity. To end the event, the panelists  shared what would be the one piece of advice they’d give for the day:

  • The most important things are integration and automation, this allows you to react faster and technology to work together.”- Dov Yoran
  • Patch quickly! It’s old school advice but do it. Patch rapidly because people hack rapidly.” – Candace Worley
  • Be proactive about insecurities- if your day to day is just monitoring, you’ve already lost.”- Sergio Caltagirone
  • Stay current.” – Steve Hoover
  • Educate your people about security, people are still a major source of access.”- Ersin Uzun

Xerox introduced the personified tenants of its security approach as characters of a “Super Cyber Squad”- the Protector, the Detector, the Preventer, and the Partner. It’s abundantly clear that conversations about cybersecurity are vital, and the more our industry collaborates and brings together different players, the better we will become achieving those tenants. This summit, and ongoing opportunities for sharing and learning among vendors, customers, partners, dealers, and subject matter experts, help to shape the future of cybersecurity.

 

Kevin Mitnick cloning an HID card 3 different ways in under two minutes.

Panel: Alissa Johnson, Ersin Uzun, Steve Hoover, Sergio Caltagirone, Candace Worley, and Dov Yoran 

 

 

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).

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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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