Offset, Digital Vendors Select Dance Partners –Michelson
To me, an even more intriguing agreement was the March 1 announcement that RR Donnelley—North America's largest printing concern, with 2010 global sales that surpassed $10 billion—has licensed its Apollo piezoelectric digital inkjet printing technology to web and sheetfed offset press manufacturer KBA, which will be integrated into digital press offerings that KBA plans to debut at Drupa. According to Tom Quinlan, RR Donnelley president and CEO, the coupling combines R&D resources totalling nearly 1,000 engineers and imaging scientists. The new press designs will be geared toward the packaging, commercial, securities and newspaper segments, and will reportedly also enable RR Donnelley to expand its capabilities into new print markets. No further details of this new cooperative agreement were available at press time.
And, let's not forget the Dec. 1, 2010, strategic alliance between Océ and manroland that enables manroland to sell Océ's continuous-feed color inkjet systems. Strong in the transactional printing arena, the partnership should help extend Océ's reach into the commercial and newspaper web offset printing sectors, where manroland excels. The two companies will be working together on future product developments, as well.
Other digital press manufacturers have also made decisive moves recently. Xerox unveiled its first entry into the production inkjet printing space at the recent Hunkeler Innovationdays. Leveraging its resin-based, solid ink formulation, the new waterless, continuous-feed, color inkjet system enables the use of low-cost, lightweight, untreated offset papers. And, on the cutsheet digital press front, Kodak and Konica Minolta have expanded their global distribution arrangement. Kodak will sell Konica Minolta's color and monochrome bizhub press models, and Konica Minolta will add Kodak's NexPress color digital press line to the monochrome Kodak Digimasters it was already selling.
Look for more announcements from all of the above mentioned companies—as well as other press manufacturers—in the coming months as their dance cards keep filling up.