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Digital Digest

November 2012
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Printers Take Wide View of Fujifilm Inkjet Technology

KANSAS CITY, KS—Fujifilm invited roughly 30 printers, ranging from screen to commercial printing operations, to its facility here for an Inkjet Technology Summit, Sept. 17-18. This two-day show-and-tell was actually held at the Crown Westin Hotel in Kansas City, MO, and at Fujifilm's offices just over the state line in Kansas City, KS.

While the content was heavily weighted toward Fujifilm technologies, a cast of presenters delivered sermons that encompassed the big picture. "Anything printed analog today will be printed digitally in the future," predicted Fuji-film's Mitch Bodie. So, regardless of a given manufacturer's technology, digital output devices are going to play an ever-growing role for the printer of tomorrow.

One of the most enlightening and entertaining presentations was given by Bill Baxter, CEO of Inca Digital Printers, Fujifilm's UK-based partner. He spoke of the company's early days with its Eagle 44 flatbed printer, which debuted in 1998. Again, the burgeoning significance of digital printing devices, particularly inkjet, was hammered home.

"These are the very early days for inkjet," he said. "In 10, 20, 30 years, it will still be evolving, still be dynamic."

During the demonstration portion of the event, attendees toured the shop area to get a taste of Fujifilm's wide- and superwide-format digital press offerings, including the Inca Onset S40i flatbed UV inkjet printer, which debuted at drupa last spring. Visitors watched as the Onset jetted impressive images via eight passes on 100-lb. cover stock.

Also on display was the Acuity Advance series of roll-to-roll printers, which allows full-bleed printing on rigid substrates. Highlights included a white ink option and near-photographic image quality. Likewise, the Acuity LED 1600—a six-color, 64˝ wide-format machine that boasts 1,200 dpi resolution and the ability to print white and clear ink—can operate either as a flatbed or roll-to-roll.

Another machine introduced at drupa, the Uvistar Pro8, is a high-speed, superwide inkjet printer for point-of-purchase products, banners and billboards. It has a backlit camera option that automates registration for two-sided printing.

On the finishing side, Fujifilm highlighted Esko's Kongsberg XP digital cutting table, which can enable print providers to generate high-margin products including 3D items, boxes and table tents, among other things.

Another highlight of the Summit was a wide-format user panel, consisting of representatives from Miller Zell of Atlanta; McCoy Limited of Torrington, CT; Wallace Printing of Newton, NC; and Brown Industries of Dalton, GA. They discussed the digital evolution, among other topics, and the degree to which it has not only made their businesses more competitive, but kept them relevant as well.

"We had been struggling in screen printing," noted Bill Gillespie, vice president of printing operations for Brown Industries. "We hired a consultant who advised us that 80 percent of what we were printing belonged on equipment that we didn't have."

Naturally, several guests peppered the printer panel with ROI questions. One company wrote its machine down in four years. For justification, another recommended running business equivalent to four to five times the cost of the machine. Still, one printer pointed out the danger of number crunching, stressing that pricey substrates can account for the lion's share of the cost of a wide-format job.

In the end, going down the wide-format digital printing road requires a leap of faith, as Andy Riberdy, president of McCoy, observed: "At some point you have to take the plunge, like we all did." PI



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