Posts tagged: EFI

ITMA 2019: a Massive Showcase for Digital Printing

Ron Gilboa
 Jul 9, 2019

Every four years the textile production community gathers to learn about what is new in weaving, knitting, accessorizing, printing and production management. In 2019, it was Barcelona’s turn to host ITMA – a premier garment and textile tradeshow event. With over 1,717 exhibitors in 8 halls and over 105,000 visitors from 137 countries, the event was buzzing. While we surveyed the entirety of the display showcase, our focus on digital printing kept us in halls 3 and 8.

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Memjet DuraLink and MGI AlphaJet

Ralf Schlozer
 

Memjet invited recently several European analysts and journalists to a press event into their San Diego HQ – in a move to make the Memjet brand more well known in Europe. Memjet is the R&D company behind a set of highly compact inkjet heads and assemblies that are integrated by small to large size OEM partners into their printing equipment. Memjet’s approach especially enables small companies or custom integrators to bring their business ideas to life, which could never afford their own inkjet head development. Memjet markets their heads to OEMs, not to end users. Still Memjet supports marketing printers that are using their inkjet heads and has coined the tag line “Memjet inside “. This works well, if the company behind is well known enough and accordingly Memjet is stepping up their market visibility to drive further growth.

From an early days R&D lab in Australia with a bunch of patents Memjet grow into a 350+ employee company. The company started out with a model of page-wide inkjet heads, now termed VersaPass, mainly for office products. The company expanded its reach via integrators in the production print space, these in turn, helped diversify the offerings into wide format, high volume press engines and components sets.

With the next generation DuraLink the company made a big step into high volume production print. The DuraLink line of heads has been launched in 2017, which has been covered in another blog already (https://blog.infotrends.com/bright-new-horizons-for-memjet-duralink-integrators/). Memjet quotes a head life of 50 litres of ink with 2.2pl droplets (compared to 1.5 pl of the VersaPass) and the use of pigment ink, while preserving the 1,600 dpi spatial resolution of the VersaPass head. Printing resolution in the direction of the paper transport depends on the speed and ranges from 1585 dpi at 75.5 m/min to 580 at 203.6 m/min.

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LIGNA 2019 – Surface Decoration Going Digital

Ron Gilboa
 Jun 3, 2019

From May 27th to the 31st over 90,000 visitors from 100 countries descended on the Hannover Messe in Germany to experience firsthand the products and innovations that impact our lives daily. From harvesting forest (timber) products using larger than life equipment to anthropomorphic robot arms manipulating the smallest of parts during construction, LIGNA 2019 had a varied array of displays. Innovation at every stage was present, from ideas to final packed and ready-to-ship products. In the closing press release Deutsche Messe Managing Board member Dr. Andreas Gruchow noted “A total of 1,500 exhibitors from 50 nations presented their impressive solutions for the future, making innovations tangible and easy to grasp for users from every sector of the industry, on a scale unrivaled throughout the world. By focusing on digitization, automation, robotics and revolutionary surface technology applications, LIGNA’s exhibitors played a major role in driving technological advancement. Technologies considered to be visionary at the previous LIGNA have now become reality,”

LIGNA 2019

LIGNA 2019

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EFI Strengthens Textile Ink Production with Acquisition of BDR

Ron Gilboa
 May 6, 2019

On May 2nd, Electronics for Imaging (EFI) announced it had reached a deal to acquire privately-owned Turkish company BDR Boya Kimya (BDR). BDR is a worldwide supplier of textile inks and will be incorporated into EFI Reggiani, expanding the company’s digital textile solutions. EFI has stated that BDR’s Turkish operations will remain as they are, with all BDR employees joining the EFI team and continuing product support and development.

“We are excited to have the BDR team on board and to fully support their industry-leading customers,” said EFI Reggiani Vice President and General Manager Adele Genoni. “The synergies arising with BDR and the world-class portfolio of EFI Reggiani textile printers will be a key point of emphasis for us to continue providing high-quality products and innovation. EFI Reggiani is also significantly strengthening its presence in Turkey with this acquisition, which brings us to the heart of an important and growing textile hub.”

EFI Reactive Textile Inks

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Siris Capital Acquires EFI in First Deal of Technology Buyout Fund

Ron Gilboa
 Apr 15, 2019

EFI: The Acquirer is Acquired
Siris Capital Group, LLC, a New York City-based private equity firm founded in 2011, announced the acquisition of Electronics for Imaging, Inc. (EFI) earlier today. The buyout is a pivotal moment for both graphic arts and industrial segments due to both the size and role that EFI plays throughout the industry; it is also a tribute to EFI’s skill, not only at acquiring promising companies over time, but also enlisting their talents and technologies to create synergy for whole of EFI. EFI’s many parts, from the original Fiery business to the industrial print technology divisions that EFI has acquired or developed over time, have become strategic partnerships, ones spanning hardware and software in sectors as diverse as networked office printers, sign & display graphics, ceramic, textile, and corrugated printing, all aided by a vast portfolio of workflow solutions.

The details of the transaction include a $1.7 billion all-cash investment which values EFI stock at $37 per share, approximately a 45% premium over the 90-day volume-weighted average price on April 12, 2019. Although the deal is expected to close by the third quarter of 2019, EFI can accept proposals from other companies over the next 45 calendar days.

Siris’ First Deal in Technology Buyout Fund
Private equity firms continue to focus on print-related technology companies with solid cash flows and future earnings potential as the analog-to-digital transformation continues for segments in our industry. Frank Baker, a Siris Co-Founder and Managing Partner, commenting on the role that EFI plays in enabling digital transformations, said  “We believe that, by partnering with Siris, EFI will be well positioned to capture this transformational opportunity associated with increased digital inkjet penetration, industrial automation and software enablement. We are eager to partner with management to help the Company achieve its strategic objectives.”

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EFI Reggiani Pushes Single Pass Boundaries with New BOLT Hybrid Printer

Ron Gilboa
 Nov 19, 2018

Last week represented a significant milestone in EFI Reggiani’s history of providing printing solutions for the textile industry. The company announced its EFI Reggiani BOLT, a digital single pass production textile printer. To celebrate this event and highlight BOLT’s capabilities, the company invited almost 300 people to witness the unveiling – including customers, media, and its channel representatives from around the world – in its factory in Bergamo, Italy.

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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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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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Jetrion Returns to Flint, sort of

Ryan McAbee
 Nov 3, 2017

Back in 2006, EFI acquired the Jetrion inkjet label printer business from Flint Group, which had developed the technology to expand beyond their traditional foothold in ink. At that time EFI was on a major push to expand into inkjet-driven hardware which was viewed as a growth engine beyond its Fiery and software businesses. EFI paid around $40 million in cash for the Jetrion business which was expected to post between $16-$18 million in annual turnover. After eleven years of less than expected growth, EFI announced an exclusive partnership for Jetrion label presses with Xeikon, a Flint Group company.

The agreement was reached after several months of negotiation, with the first hint of EFI’s decision to “exit the label market” given a week before by Guy Gecht during EFI’s most recent Q3 earnings call. Effectively, EFI is licensing the Jetrion brand while retaining control of the intellectual property and Jetrion ink business. Xeikon picks up the sales and service.

Source: efi.com

The Impact for EFI

The deal is a short-term win for EFI as the company retains the intellectual property rights and keeps the recurring revenue from the ink and, presumably, Fiery. EFI also gets to clear its financial books from an underperforming division. Gecht stated that 2016 Q3 Jetrion printer sales were $4 million which would not average to the $16-$18 million annual revenue expected after the acquisition back in 2006. The competitive market for inkjet-based digital label presses has also changed significantly over the last eleven years. There are more vendors competing in a more mature digital label market which has impacted the ability to place machines with just over 200 Jetrions installed globally to date.

In the long-term there are still uncertainties. Customers and prospects take notice when an underperforming division is jettisoned, creating uncertainty as to the future commitment to other divisions. EFI clearly stated that growth markets in corrugated and industrial printing are a primary focus. Could other divisions, like VUTEk, follow suit? In the Q3 financial call, the company noted a slowing of ink growth volume for its VUTEk line of printers which is an indicator of the end customer’s print volumes. There is always the possibility, but Keypoint Intelligence thinks it highly unlikely until other areas of the industrial inkjet division reach sizable revenue.

The material impact to the rest of the EFI ecosystem, for Fiery but also for Productivity Software solutions, is also unknown. Initial feedback indicates that Fiery will be the digital front end (DFE) for future sales, but Xeikon also has its own DFE. Does the change in sales and service reduce the potential pipeline for other productivity software, such as Digital StoreFront or Radius? Probably not due to the limited install base.

The Impact for Xeikon

HP and Xeikon dominate the digital label market, but both are leveraged to electrophotographic technology. The new agreement with EFI gives Xeikon a further expansion in UV-based label printers to complement its PX3000 Panther press announced earlier this year. The company can also leverage the existing Jetrion install base netting a greater presence in North American.

The company indicated that there will not be any immediate changes for customers, but there is opportunity for Xeikon to leverage some of its existing technology going forward. There are opportunities to have the Flint Group’s ink companies involved with the ink component of Jetrion. Xeikon has developed its X-800 DFE platform with an emphasis on label production and uses it for all other equipment, including Panther, although the company reiterated plans for the Jetrion line to be powered by EFI Fiery. Other lessons learned during the development of Panther could also be leveraged to retool and even expand the existing Jetrion line.

Final Thoughts

The greatest, initial benefactor to the agreement will be existing Jetrion customers who will see expanded service and support from Xeikon which has been at the forefront of digital label production for many years. Users will also be able to join Xeikon’s business development program aXelerate, which helps label converters build applications and sell digital output to grow their business.

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.

2016 InfoTrends, Inc.

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