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DIGITAL digest

June 2006
Expo Shows Demand for Digital Presses

PHILADELPHIA—By all measures, save one, the recent 2006 On Demand Exposition (co-located with AIIM) has been widely judged a success. The exception being that the sponsors apparently found the Pennsylvania Convention Center wanting and have decided a move to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is called for in 2007.

More than 20,000 registrants and 450 exhibitors were reported to have participated in the 2006 expo. There was a noticeable up-tick in the new product introductions (or U.S. debuts, at least) from the digital printer/press vendors at the show, resulting in further segmentation of the market. A surprising number of the systems highlighted, however, will not be available until later in the year.

Canon U.S.A. used the show as a platform to debut a 51 ppm color device, the imageRUNNER C5180, targeted to corporate environments. The company also again previewed its now-named new production color systems—imagePRESS C1 (color: 14 ppm; black-and-white: 60 ppm) and imagePRESS C7000VP (70 ppm for both). These machines, which feature a 13x19.2˝ format and 1,200 dpi resolution, are expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Outputting 50 ppm, the Xerox DocuColor 5000 is designed for print providers that average between 30,000 and 150,000 impressions per month. It features a 2,400 dpi resolution, tight registration and can be configured with optional finishing equipment, including a high-capacity stacker and a stacker/stapler. This press can be driven by the Xerox FreeFlow DocuSP color server or front ends from Creo PODS and EFI.

Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. introduced the bizhub PRO C6500 color system, which outputs 65 ppm utilizing next generation Simitri-HD polymerized toner. The combination of a smaller toner particle size and oil-free fusing at a lower temperature is said to improve image quality while reducing toner and energy consumption.

Designed for printing on plastic (up to 14 mil) and paper (up to 110-lb. cover) with polymerized dry toner, MGI’s Meteor DP40 Pro digital press has an 1,800 dpi resolution and 121⁄4x18˝ maximum sheet format. The machine is rated for outputting 2,100 color sheets (81⁄2x11˝) per hour and supports variable data printing with an integrated EFI Fiery RIP.

The Screen (USA) Truepress Jet 520 color press is a continuous-feed ink-jet printer using Piezo drop-on-demand technology and water-based pigment inks. It prints at 420 ppm with 2-bit imaging for each color to create the appearance of higher resolution printing. Commercial sales are expected to begin in October.

Along with launching new toner-based office equipment, Ricoh Corp. introduced the HQ9000 Priport digital duplicator as a replacement for the JP8500. The new machine prints 135 ppm at 600 dpi using fast-drying “HQ ink” chemistry that is said to reduce roller marks, prevent set-off and eliminate the wait time between passes.

All three of the workgroup systems introduced by Sharp Document Solutions output color at 41 ppm and print in black-and-white at model-specific speeds—MX-5500N (55 ppm), MX-6200N (62 ppm) and MX-7000N (70 ppm). Options include a Fiery controller and various finishing systems, including an inserter, stapler, hole punch and saddle-stitch unit.

Coinciding with the 15th anniversary of its introduction of VaryPress magnetography technology for monochrome digital web printing, Nipson
Digital Printing Systems announced an intention to offer a 500 fpm model, the VaryPress 500, beginning in 2007.

Similarly, Delphax Technologies made public its plan to upgrade the rated speed of its CR2000 roll-fed, monochrome, electron-beam printer to 500 fpm in early 2007.

Another trend in the market is vendors defining new niches based on the level of color capability.

Two systems from Océ North America had their first showing in the United States. The Océ Vario-Stream 9230 continuous printer device supports 3/3 printing of “Job Appropriate Color” at 231 impressions per minute with a 600 dpi resolution. Using Océ CustomTone technology, users can print black and two highlight colors on each side of a page. At 250 ppm, the new Océ VarioPrint 6250 is said to be the fastest cut sheet duplex printer (see page 32 of PRINTING IMPRESSIONS’ May 2006 edition for more details).

RISO is targeting what it sees as an emerging market for “communications color,” which includes four-color printing with an emphasis on function at a lower cost. Its new HC5500 ComColor ink-jet printer outputs 120 ppm (letter size) in color and prints up to 11x17˝ paper in weights from 12-lb. bond to 80-lb. cover. The machine is expected to be available this summer.

Color in the corporate world could get a big boost from IBM’s proposal to entirely open up the development of its AFP (Advanced Function Presentation) architecture. The move has to be approved by the members of the AFP Color Consortium, which has been working to develop an open color standard for the architecture.

“TransPromo” seems to be catching on as a new industry term for the intersection of transactional and promotional communications.

Punch Graphix has targeted this market with the introduction of its Xeikon IPDS Controller for incorporating color and personalized content into transactional documents. The controller is designed to integrate with the Xeikon X-800 front end to drive the Xeikon 5000 digital color press.

Beyond the new product introductions, the other trend among digital press exhibitors at On Demand was a continuing pursuit of ways to help existing users build volumes.

Hewlett-Packard is offering a series of new customer-oriented programs. Its business development program includes pre-sales consultancy and ROI tools, a personalized resource portal, education programs and more. The digital press implementation and ramp-up program combines classroom courses with a series of on-site and remote hands-on training sessions. Instant support provides remote monitoring and predictive maintenance capability.

Kodak MarketMover business development services encompass tools, training and support designed for owners of Kodak Nexpress, Digimaster and Directpress DI presses. Along with getting access to prepared material, program professionals work directly with customers in developing marketing plans and sales programs. The company also rolled out version 2.0 of its TeamWorks online collaboration software and demonstrated the ability of Prinergy 3.1 to drive a Kodak Nexpress in a unified offset/digital workflow.

EFI Connect 2006 Is Largest Ever

LAS VEGAS—More than 1,300 attendees converged on Sin City for the seventh annual EFI Connect 2006 users conference, making it the most well-attended event to date. Held at the Venetian Resort April 30 through May 3, Connect 2006 offered participants an information-packed, interactive exchange of trends, ideas and educational sessions.

When attendees weren’t hitting the slots, they had the opportunity to “test drive” the latest EFI software in the lab area, take part in more than 200 educational sessions and visit exhibits from 21 supplier partners, including Xerox, Adobe, Canon and XMPie.

Under the theme “Expand Your Opportunities,” the conference commenced with a keynote by CEO Guy Gecht. He spoke about EFI being in the business of digitizing the entire print process while perfecting its business of people.

“Business is becoming more personal,” he said. “Business is about the people at the end of the line—the consumer.” He also stressed personalization from devices like iPods, cell phones and print, and how his company is working to provide the necessary tools.

Following Gecht’s speech, a networking reception was held in the exhibit/lab area.

The next day it was back to business, beginning with a keynote from Marc Olin, general manager and senior vice president, EFI Professional Printing Applications. He gave an overview of the latest product releases and enhancements.

To coincide with the start of Connect 2006, EFI shipped an upgrade to its Hagen OA management system, version 9.0, which integrates to Manhattan Associates’ logistics and outbound shipping solutions.

Also released was version 3.0 of PrinterSite Fulfillment, a Web-to-print solution with integration to Hagen, Logic and PSI systems. With VDP tools from new partner XMPie and integration with USA Data’s list module, users can order direct mail campaigns and fulfillment programs.

Two new Vutek super-wide digital printers debuted: the six-color UltraVu II 150 and the four-color PressVu UV 320⁄400. EFI’s commitment to the environment was highlighted by the soon to be released, 80 percent bio-based BioVu ink designed for Vutek printers. BioVu is made from corn.

In addition, the company announced separate collaborations with Artwork Systems and Presstek.

Attendees could also spend their time at educational sessions ranging from JDF integration and a wide-format customer panel to user group meetings or just strolling the exhibit floor. Media attendees were also invited to interactive sessions with EFI’s Gecht and Olin, as well as a customer panel with executives from J&A Printing and New London Communications.

Las Vegas will once again be home for EFI Connect 2007, planned for June 10-13 at the Wynn Las Vegas.

Getting the Digital Scoop

FORT MYERS, FL—The Digital Solutions Cooperative (Dscoop) recently took the next big step in its evolution as a resource for HP Indigo users by putting on an inaugural annual conference. More than 300 people registered for the educational and networking event. A tag-team of HP execs kicked off the conference with a session on how to “Improve Your Return.”

Based on the company’s internal market analysis, digital printing should grow from representing 3 percent of the total “page equivalents” printed in 2005 to 5.5 percent in 2010, reported Stephen Nigro, HP’s senior vice president, IPG Graphics & Imaging Business. The average number of impressions printed by HP Indigo users in the first quarter of 2006, for example, was up 43 percent compared to the same period in 2005, he added.

Variable data printing should grow from representing 17 percent of the digital print volume in 2005 to 30 percent in 2008, added Alon Bar-Shany, vice president and general manager of HP’s Indigo Digital Press Div. Nearly a quarter of the total volume in 2008 should come from run lengths of greater than 2,000 pages, while run lengths under 1,000 pages will decline from 37 percent of the total in 2005 to 11 percent in 2008, he asserted.

During the “Challenges Facing Enterprise Accounts” session, Sarah Dupras, vice president of marketing at The Home Service Store (HSS), a national home improvement management organization, said her company spent two years looking for a supplier partner willing to provide a Web-based marketing solution—for printed material and hard goods such as apparel—customized to its specifications. Once Dupras found Digital Printing & Imaging (DPI) in Kennesaw, GA, it took less than five months to get a comprehensive ordering and management system launched.

“The possibilities presented by Web-to-print are the most exciting part of the business today,” noted Susan Moore, DPI president and co-owner. She added that training users has proved to be an ongoing challenge in providing a solution for HSS because it has a very diverse group of affiliates, ranging from the lone contractor with a truck to large companies with established ad agency relationships. All of the training has been done through Web-based presentations, which are offered twice a month.

One of the more interesting aspects of the story shared by the second pairing is that the customer worked with an outside player to launch a variable data marketing program despite having an extensive in-house print shop that runs two shifts seven days a week.

Salt River Project (SRP) is a quasi-governmental public power utility in the Phoenix area, explained John Bord, its senior program manager for Hispanic marketing. When R and R Images made its pitch, SRP was “data rich and technology poor,” he added.

Rod Key, R and R president, said starting out by proposing a pilot project helped the company win the utility over. “We weren’t scared away by SRP having an internal print shop because we’re a marketing solutions firm, not a printer,” he explained.

Reaching the right person, doing homework on prospects and being patient and persistent are what it takes to be successful in this market, according to Key.

Along with being a strong believer in the value of variable data printing, Bord said he considers the ability to offer personalized URLs as a response mechanism to be “one of the best tools for a marketing professional. You get real-time analysis so you can adjust a campaign as you go to make it more effective.”

More than 40 breakout sessions were offered over the course of the three-day conference and attendees also had the opportunity to learn about offerings from more than 30 Dscoop partners in a Solutions Showcase area. The event provided an opportunity to address other business matters, as well.

The Dscoop board of directors announced its decision on membership rates, which will be $595 for one year and $995 for two years. All members will be entitled to register for the second annual conference at a discounted rate.

Led by Dscoop board member Terie Syme, operations manager at Prestige Label, an Industrial Committee has been formed to develop tools and value-adds targeted to label and packaging members. Included will be forums and Webinars dedicated to those industry segments.

HP also unveiled plans to port the HP Indigo Yours Truly Designer variable data software to the Adobe InDesign CS2 platform. The plug-in is expected to be available by the end of this year.
 

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