Category: Uncategorized

The Side Stories from Hunkeler Innovationdays

Pat McGrew
Mar 7, 2019

By now you have read about the highly capable printing equipment that supported the Hunkeler Innovationdays demonstrations of Hunkeler, Horizon, Meccanotecnica, Kern, Bowe, Muller Martini, GUK, Sitma and others. You have probably read about the Agilox Intelligent Guided Vehicle that traveled the floor among the attendees moving paper and finished work among the stands.  But what you may not have read about are some of the other solutions worthy of your attention. They range from real-time shop floor monitoring to service, to accessibility, and all have a place in print production environments.


Agilox IGV getting ready to pickup finished work at Hunkeler Innovationdays.
Source: Keypoint Intelligence

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Hunkeler innovationdays 2019 – a hardware view

Ralf Schlozer
Mar 5, 2019

The Hunkeler innovationdays started out as a humble open house event of a Swiss finishing manufacturing company. Indicating a forward-thinking company, the innovationdays morphed over the years into the most important global event for continuous feed production document printing – as finishing equipment is naturally best demonstrated in conjunction with a printing system. Visitors love the idea of seeing printing lines from all major vendors sitting side-by-side and feeding the finishing lines for converted products. The 2019 iteration improved again on the number of exhibitors and visitors with about 100 exhibitors and 6,500 visitors expected for the show.

The theme of this year’s event was “success with automation”. There is no doubt that automation is getting increasingly important as a means to reduce labour cost, counter the shortage of skilled staff, avoid production mistakes, and speed up the device setup. This is especially critical the shorter the runs become. Hunkeler presented some fine examples of automation, notably a prototype of a sheeter and stacker that is able to automatically change formats from within seconds. Other new launches with focus on automation included a non-stop roll splicer for continuous feed printers, folders, perforators and web inspection modules.

Hunkeler Automated Cut & Stack line

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WHEN DID SNEAKERS BECOME ACCEPTABLE BUSINESS ATTIRE?

Deborah Hawkins
Feb 11, 2019

I haven’t done the rounds of many exhibitions the last few years. My focus area of office print is generally served by Vendor specific events and the one global event the industry had, CeBIT has now finally been put to bed. So I was quite surprised at my first visit to ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) 2019 in Amsterdam. It was full, thriving and so many people were wearing sneakers.

Does this have something to do with the meeting of two worlds that ISE has emerged from?  The vibrant Audio Visual (AV) high tech hardware focussed industry and the IT world that can integrate practically anything without having to heed to standards or obligations?

Founded in 2004 and boosting 3500 visitors that year, the exhibition has grown to some 1400 exhibitors and an expected 90,000 visitors in 2019. For me, it felt far more than that. The growth has undoubtedly been supported by the portfolio breadth of AV boasting 8k, curved as well as inflatable screens and flashy displays and its acceptance across many horizontal and vertical sectors. What attracted me most to the show however, was the connection to IT and looking at how the AV industry hooks up with business IT, the hub of our digital world today. I see a lot of parallels to the office printing industry and I knew this industry was in a similar stage of disruption when I saw the likes of Google & Uber speaking about workplace trends at ISE 2019. Read more »

What’s Next for Production Print DFEs?

Marc Mascara and Eve Padula
Feb 6, 2019

A Trip Way Back in Time

On demand production print digital front ends (DFEs) began their competitive march in the late 1990s when Scitex Corporation announced its entry into the print on demand (POD) space by launching the Spontane printing system. The solution was an OEM version of the Fuji Xerox Docucolor 40. During that same timeframe, Scitex also developed a DFE version of its Brisque Prepress system and adapted it for the on-demand market. This announcement started a high-end competitive DFE battle between EFI, Scitex, and to some extent ColorBus.

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Digital CMYK+ Ushers in a New Crop of Design Enthusiasts

Marc Mascara
Jan 29, 2019

Designing for offset print is nothing new; the PDF revolution is a distant memory at this point and the “how to design for print” guides are long gone. For quite some time, designers have understood how to extend gamut and design for that hit of varnish. With that said, designing for these offset jobs was always difficult and somewhat restrictive to the creative process. Any creative liberties typically added a significant amount of time to the process because prepress often needed to make corrections to the designers file for reliable printing. As a result, commercial printers have always had a love/hate relationship with the creative members of the design community. This all began to change when the HP Indigo Digital Presses began to roll out 7-color liquid toner capabilities. It was still important to educate the design community, but not in terms of capability—the focus shifted to learning how best to design a clean file for prepress.

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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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HP acquires Apogee

Deborah Hawkins
Aug 8, 2018

On the 1st August 2018, HP Inc signed a definitive agreement to acquire all shares of Apogee.

The UK based office equipment dealer claims to be Europe’s largest independent provider of print outsourced services and document and process technology. The transaction values Apogee as of closing at GBP380m

Why Apogee?

This acquisition is a continuation of HP’s strategy to expand its contractual sales strategy and disrupt the A3 office market which began with HP’s acquisition of Samsung Printing in September 2016. Since that time, HP has been recruiting selective office equipment dealers that offer higher margin services, to its partner program across the globe. Read more »

Brands Represent BLUE Ocean for Esko

Ryan McAbee
Jul 25, 2018

Last week Esko announced its acquisition of BLUE Software, LLC, a label and artwork management software company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. We had the opportunity to speak with Heidi Larsen, VP, Brand Integration Leader, who is directing the integration of the two companies, to get Esko’s perspective.

BLUE will join other Esko acquisitions, Enfocus and MediaBeacon, and sit under Danaher’s Product Identification platform of companies. In the issuing statement, Esko President Udo Panenka, said “We are relentlessly seeking to reduce time to market, cost and quality risk in the end-to-end packaging value chain. The acquisition of BLUE enhances Esko’s unique set of tools to enable brand owners and their partners to improve all three.”

Global brands continually need to flatten and speed up their supply chains so they can respond more quickly to marketing opportunities, different consumer segmentations, and ever-changing consumer preferences. The difficulty is that the industry averages 198 days to produce a label change, as cited at this year’s EskoWorld event. The challenge is further compounded considering brand’s refresh nearly a third of their SKUs every year according to a Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends study. The BLUE acquisition will further strengthen Esko’s product portfolio to support their growing and significant business supporting the packaging and identification needs of global brands. Read more »

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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Canon Europe’s Philosophy on the Smart Workplace

Deborah Hawkins
Jun 25, 2018

The traditional work environment is fundamentally transforming, and visions of the future “smart” workplace are emerging. Through the combination of the Internet, mobility, cloud, sensors, and the Internet of things, work can be performed virtually – enabling anytime, anywhere communication, collaboration, and fulfilment of transactions.

To better segment and organize the smart workplace, Keypoint Intelligence has created a taxonomy of services related to our industry. This taxonomy helps define and categorize disparate technologies and services, providing a more concrete and comprehensive view of smart workplace solutions and services.

                                                    Smart Workplace Segments

As part of our coverage of the smart workplace, we interviewed key vendors on their visions. The following is an excerpt from interviews with key visionaries at Canon Europe, namely Arthur Batalona (Senior Consultant Strategy & Business Development), Ian Tomlin (Senior Consultant Information Security) and Brennan Peyton (Sales Director, Business Imaging Solutions). Read more »

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