We are deep in the midst of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” proclaimed EFI CEO Guy Gecht during his opening keynote address before a crowd of more than 1,000 industry representatives to kick off the 19th annual EFI Connect users’ group conference, which was held from Jan. 23-26 at the Wynn Las Vegas.
Taking a cue from his 2017 keynote, Gecht talked about how artificial intelligence is being driven by big data, the tremendous computation power in the cloud and the fast processing power of devices. He also noted how Netflix subscribers surpassed the number of cable pay-TV subscribers last year, and how it took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million users whereas it took the Angry Birds game 35 days.
“The new print is all about putting spectacular images on essentially any material,” he said. “With digital inkjet technology and automation, the new print brings immense opportunity in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Due to the demand for personalization and customization, print will extend to apparel, rigid surfaces, home furnishings, packaging and much more.
His keynote set the stage for EFI Connect 2018 - one of the printing industry’s largest (nearly 1,500 registrants), longest-running and most influential (attendees from 23 countries) users’ group conferences - which is designed to help attendees profit from the analog to digital transition.
Connect also featured the debut of several EFI products:
• EFI VUTEk HS125 Pro and HS100 Pro Fast-4 hybrid flatbed/roll inkjet press models that offer a range of super-fast, four-color grayscale modes, with speeds up to 225 boards/hr. This enables more cost-effective grayscale production of distance-viewed signage and graphics.
• The 3.4m-wide EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340i, a lower-cost, soft signage printer that delivers fully integrated, in-line sublimation without compromising engine speed or quality.
• Version 6 of EFI’s Enterprise Commercial, Midmarket Print, Publication, Quick Print, Packaging and Corrugated Packaging Productivity Suites.
• EFI MarketDirect, a cross-media customer engagement platform that enables printing companies to deliver comprehensive management on loyalty programs, offers, newsletters, surveys and other customer communication programs.
• Escada software, EFI’s recently acquired, corrugated process control product.
• EFI iQuote technology for enhanced estimating of versioned and variable data digital printing work.
• EFI Optitex 3D Design Illustrator, a plug-in tool for the fashion textile space that gives designers the freedom to validate and customize 3D garments in Adobe Illustrator.
In addition, EFI displayed a wide range of printers, including an EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340 soft-signage fabric printer, a VUTEk 3r roll-to-roll LED printer, an EFI VUTEk GS3250LX Pro hybrid LED printer and the new EFI Pro 24f dedicated flatbed LED printer.
Connect’s solutions center also featured a host of partner companies: 3M Commercial Solutions, Aberdeen Fabrics, Duplo, Enfocus, Esko, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Motioncutter, OneVision, Print ReLeaf, Progress Software, Ricoh Americas, Riso, SpencerMetrics, X-Rite Pantone, Xeikon, Xerox and Zünd.
Following his opening keynote, Gecht interviewed the CEOs from the first two worldwide installations of EFI’s Nozomi C1800 single-pass LED inkjet corrugated board printing press, which debuted at drupa 2016 as the first model in what will become a technology platform. They included Eric Bacourt, CEO of Xátiva, Spain-based Hinojosa Packaging Solutions; and Malcolm McGowan, founder and CEO of Dublin, Ireland-based McGowans Print.
While Hinojosa is largely using its Nozomi for high-quality digital corrugated packaging production, McGowans is outputting both short-run corrugated packaging and graphics display work.
“EFI’s single-pass corrugated board technology ... gives our customers a distinct competitive edge with reduced waste, just-in-time supply chain efficiency and greater opportunities to grow sales with multi-SKU marketing,” said Bacourt.
With much of its business centered on point-of-sale display graphics applications, McGowans Print is using its Nozomi press to meet existing demand for corrugated display work, as well as for corrugated packaging as a way to migrate away from litho lamination processes that are not economical for short- to medium-run work.
“You can tell a Nozomi print a mile away,” McGowan gushed in describing the output quality coming off of his Nozomi press, adding that the device is also creating new export opportunities for his business. “It’s been a complete game-changer,” he said.