Reflections on Ricoh Interact 2019

German Sacristan
Jul 3, 2019

The Ricoh Interact 2019 event took placed early June in Denver CO.  The three-day educational event enabled print service providers (PSPs) to connect with industry experts, fellow print professionals, and Ricoh leadership and product developers to help grow their business. Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends (InfoTrends) analysts were on hand to attend the show. Topics at Ricoh Interact varied, with focuses on support software, wide format, inkjet, and toner. All of these topics were being addressed by category – Ricoh had divided the event into Business Development, Operational Excellence, Print Solutions, and a Ricoh ProcessDirector User Group.

Ricoh Interact 2019 Banner

As with any show, Ricoh Interact featured a mix of panels and vendors. As this was a Ricoh event, many of the panelists/speakers were either employees of Ricoh or partners/clients working with the company. Some of these panelists – who themselves were PSPs – confirmed throughout several panel sessions that quality, including substrate accessibility, productivity, and economics, are no longer obstacles.  Their customers fully accept inkjet jobs and operators appreciate its simplicity to the point that some might run an offset job on an inkjet press.

Attendees were encouraged to invest in production inkjet due to its flexibility (including variable data), its cost effectiveness over toner, and its reduced environmental impact. PSPs shared that the sale cycles for a roll-fed production inkjet press is up to two years and the cost of a printed piece could be around 4 cents per foot on 50% color area coverage (no including capital investment).  They stressed that thorough business assessments, as well as finding the right partnership with a vendor that understands and supports the customer’s business, is imperative.

One particular product, the VC70000, was at the center of many discussions. One customer noted that his experience with the VC70000 surprised him in how little ink was used on glossy paper when compared to offset printing. This represented a cost savings far greater than anticipated. Another, however, noted that offset coated paper could be only half the price of inkjet coated paper and therefore there is a great cost benefit being able to use coated offset paper on the VC70000.

Overall, InfoTrends took away a clear desire to transfer offset pages to digital inkjet, as well as to utilize digital unique flexibility and capabilities to generate brand new pages for the printing industry. Ricoh wants its partners and clients to embrace change and upgrade their technology (while retaining Ricoh as a partner).  Digital Inkjet service providers, as well as press manufacturers, are keeping a close eye on the large offset market in which digital inkjet only has small share.

Every page moved to digital will have to take full advantage of digital inkjet’s unique capabilities. Rushing or only half-implementing inkjet will risk not taking full advantage of the opportunity, even slowing the total potential growth of the printing industry. Ricoh Interact 2019 was full of many of these cautionary tales, which tampered Ricoh’s vision with realistic expectations and a focus on workflow strategies.

For those who would like to know more about what happened at Ricoh Interact 2019, please see InfoTrends’ full evaluation of the show.

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