IT Strategies Visionary Marco Boer Shares Insight, Observations for drupa
By Marco Boer
drupa is the largest printing equipment and supplies manufacturer exhibition in the world, featuring over 1,800 exhibitors, a projected 300,000 visitors (40%+ German, 8% Indian, 7% Belgian, 7% French, 6% Dutch, 5% British, and <5% N. American), all in the space of 11 days from May 31 - June 10, 2016.
What used to be a predominantly analog document print show has now truly become a digital print show. It has taken about 20 years, but indeed the demand for printing equipment has tipped in digital printing’s technology’s favor in terms of exhibit floor space presence. While based upon the exhibitor list, only about 5% of exhibitors feature digital printing equipment, those ~5% of exhibitors will account for ~50% of the exhibition floor presence.
Held once every four years (and soon every three years with the next show in 2019), it has historically been a bellwether of product development cycles. Many printing equipment and supplies vendors work towards the exhibition date to reveal next generation technology.
But just like the print industry, drupa struggles to maintain its relevancy in a world where few equipment manufacturers can afford to take up to two months to ship, install, and decommission what are often still technology concepts. Complicating things for the show organizers, with digital printing we are moving from large scale to smaller scale equipment footprints, from well defined to less well-defined technology/application roles (it used to be that Offset/Toner = Documents; Flexography = Packaging, while inkjet is functional for seemingly an unlimited number of applications), and the innovation cycles for digital printing technology advancements are getting longer rather than shorter as we try to address more substrates and applications. This may well be the last truly "big iron" equipment printing show.
To stem the tide, the drupa organizers are trying to create a bigger market for print to play in, adding smart packaging, printed electronics, mobile communication, 3D printing, and "green" printing.
Unfortunately, these topics don’t overlay well with the vendor-by-vendor booth layouts, and many are in the "dream" stage of development, so it is difficult to truly create a unified theme. Additionally, there remains a profusion of small exhibitors (Chinese manufacturers account for about 25% of all exhibitors) exhibiting rollers, belts, blankets, etc. — mainly aimed at keeping analog presses running. So hence we still focus on individual exhibitors, and mostly disregard the zones that drupa is trying to promote
drupa Digital Production Printer Theme Evolution
Production Document Inkjet Presses — A Real Market
Since drupa 2012, demand for roll-fed production inkjet systems has continued to grow at unprecedented rates. There are lots of nuances to the specific areas of growth within the market, with monochrome-only systems surging in demand in 2015, but the appeal of their incredible productivity and corresponding lower running cost than toner (and in some instances offset) has made this a mainstream print market, generating up to 5X more pages annually today than digital color presses (HP/Indigo, Xerox iGen, Xeikon, Kodak NexPress).
Most of these pages are not equivalent to digital color press pages. The production inkjet pages have tended to be low-coverage, on mainly uncoated/optimized inkjet papers. There is a major initiative underway to change this led to a large extent by press users who want to exit the old-line book and transactions world and get into the true future of varied data color digital printing.
Production Graphic Arts Inkjet Presses — Coming Up
Many of the roll-fed inkjet production presses to be shown at drupa 2016 will be shown with the claimed ability to print on coated offset stocks, with high-ink coverage applications, featuring higher resolution printheads and even better image quality than previously available. While the matching of offset stocks with inkjet inks and primers/precoats is a journey, there is no question about the demand for production graphic arts inkjet output.
Sheetfed Inkjet Production Printers
The commercialization of the $1.5M+ B-2 sheet size inkjet presses has been tepid at best since drupa 2012. This is what IT Strategies stated in its drupa 2012 Preview about B-2 sheet inkjet presses:
Since that time HP/Indigo has managed to install ~300 of their B-2 sheet size 10000 noninkjet presses (technically capable of B-1, which will be offered at drupa 2016 as the HP/Indigo 50000), while progress with large sheetfed (B2+) inkjet presses has been less over a longer period. So large-sheet (B2/+)-fed presses have had some success, though perhaps slower than anticipated, and EP has actually done better than Inkjet. This is also a reminder of the still-dominant place of EP in high-quality digital production document printing.
The surprise success (to some) has been the demand for B-3 sheet inkjet production printers. Also not a common sheet-size among commercial printers, these devices have won share on the basis of having significantly lower operating cost than toner devices, both monochrome and color toner presses. Both Canon Solutions and Xerox stand to gain significant growth with their new B-3 size inkjet production printers.
But what about B-1 size inkjet production printers? B-1 size digital production printers will be prominently featured by both conventional press manufacturers (Heidelberg, Komori, etc.) as well as newcomers (Landa, HP/Indigo) at drupa 2016. What will be different this time than the attempt at B-2 sheet size digital production printers? Since 2012, run lengths have continued to come down, but offset presses have also become significantly more automated. There is a lack of applications outside of transition print and direct mail that demand a high-degree of variable data, and a true digital production B-1 sheet size press might not be needed for micro-versioning with the advent of sophisticated nesting and workflow software for offset presses.
The argument that will prevail at drupa is that directionally the trends of increasing labor cost, higher job frequency, and greater demand for instant response will ultimately require a fully automated digital workflow and print process. This is undoubtedly correct, but as to when this will occur is a matter of individual opinion. For the moment, many of the B-1 size digital production printers will be shown for simplex applications such as folding cartons, partially out of development schedule convenience.
Packaging – Integration, Awareness and Reliability Issues Overriding in Mainstream Packaging Markets
The packaging markets are really highly integrated manufacturing markets in which print plays an important but subordinate role. That means it is not easy to get those markets’ attention, and it is especially not easy to get them to re-imagine their process costs and model from a print perspective however much sense it may make. But most of all, digital production systems will have to be built from the earliest days to conform to a set of severe process and usage specification the likes of which are rarely found in the document world.
And what is more, everything turns on in-line full speed reliability day in and day out. Digital can and will rise to this challenge, but it took 10 years plus to get into the relatively much simpler labels market. We caution against too much over-enthusiasm about this biggest but most complex prize of all, however good the demand-driven value propositions may be. The best approach to packaging will come from vendors with a cautious approach.
None of this excludes early experience being available from a strong community of experimenters within the packaging industry who will buy significant numbers of early systems and perhaps often keep them out-of-line in the early years. This will not be a really mainstream digital invasion of packaging, but it will be revenues and an essential opportunity to mix in the industry and gather experience. Our own view is that the most fertile and advanced packaging industry of all (also technically the most difficult) is the flexible packaging industry. That is a paradox, but it incorporates our view about the economic and distribution conditions of the folding carton and corrugated industries rendering these very expensive and elusive opportunities at this time for digital.
Digital Printing Equipment and Supplies Exhibitors
While there is the risk of omitting late registrants, here is the list of major digital printing equipment and supplies exhibitors we’ve been able to identify as of the end of April.
All of these exhibitors will have better print quality and greater productivity than we could have imagined at drupa 2012. The application focus of the show will be well beyond document printing, with packaging and point-of-purchase printing a predominant theme at many exhibitors’ stands. The delineation between what is a document printer, wide-format printer, and packaging printer will be greatly blurred. HP/Indigo 20000s are now purchased for Point-of-Purchase signage printing rather than flexible film printing, EFI/VUTEk’s UV-curable flatbed printers are used to produce corrugated packaging rather than signage printing, and there is little reason Fujifilm’s J-Press 720s folding carton printer can’t print documents.
For the halls not listed in the digital print table above:
Hall 2 features mainly offset and finishing systems manufacturers
Hall 4 features mainly paper manufacturers
Hall 6 and 7 feature mainly software and finishing manufacturers
Hall 10 features flexographic press/package printing manufacturers
Hall 11-13 features mainly specialized press and finishing manufacturers, many Asian
Hall 14 feature web-offset press manufacturers and associated suppliers
What follows is a non-comprehensive list of the exhibitor highlights as they are known just a few weeks before the opening of drupa 2016. There are products that will be revealed at the opening of drupa that are not included here, and products listed are subject to change.
Agfa – Hall 8a
- Asanti workflow software shown with Jeti and Anapurna wide-format inkjet presses
- Open source availability of Agfa UV-curable ink, software, and even inkjet integration services by leveraging Agfa’s know-how on fluids like inks, primers, white and varnish. Application targets include food packaging, flooring, decoration or bottling, as well as in the automotive industry, on glass or metal.
Amica Systems – Hall 6
- Family of Water-Based Pigment inks for printing on a wide variety range of substrates like glossy and coated paper, plastics, foils, pharmaceutical applications, packaging, and textile care labels.
- Amica LR54 is a new roll-to-roll narrow web printing system, which is able to print in full color, as well as monochrome on textile care labels, self-adhesive labels, lanyards and other materials for a wide range of applications in UV or with new water-based ink
Canon – Hall 8a
- ColorStream Chroma 6000, 157-416 ft. (48-127 m)/minute, featuring high-pigment load Chromera inks with superior color fidelity, wider color gamut, and higher optical density than standard ColorStream inks. Available Fall 2016, backwards upgradeable for existing ColorStream owners.
- VarioPrint i300 with ColorGrip pre-coat technology for printing offset stock
Domino – Hall 5A
- Domino K-600+ Gremser B-2 monochrome sheetfed press. 30.8” (782mm) wide, 120M/minute monochrome-only sheetfed press targeted at security printing for folding cartons, game cards, etc.
- K630i single-engine duplex, 150 m/min. inkjet press in partnership with Kern and IBIS for producing up to 7,000 booklets/hr.
- N610i seven-color inkjet digital label press (adding orange and violet), printing at up to 75 m/min., with UV-curable inks
Durst – Hall 6
- Introduction of the Rho 130 SPC, single-pass corrugated inkjet press, with a print speed of up to 9350 sq. m/hr.
EFI – Hall 9
- End-to-end integration software solutions to increase productivity and profitability across all print applications and technologies, including the DFE for Landa
- “The Imaging of Things” — print on everything, even on substrates and materials you´re not thinking about today using the full range of EFI inkjet wide-format, label, industrial ceramics and textile printing solutions
- New innovations in inkjet technology, packaging applications
Fujifilm – Hall 8b and Hall 1
- Integration and evolution of printheads, inks and image optimization technologies under the “Fujifilm Inkjet Technology” umbrella, to be shown at multiple partner booths including Heidelberg
- J Press 720S, with 20% improved uptime due to software upgrades, heavier media and canvas support, and additional XMF workflow features
- Onset X and UviStar, featuring a choice of Fujifilm’s Dimatix printheads and Uvijet inks
Heidelberg – Hall 1
- Primefire 106, B-1 size, four-color inkjet sheetfed press. Uses Fujifilm/Dimatix SAMBA printheads
- VersaFire CP/CV — rebranding of LinoPrint CP/CV press
- Gallus Labelfire 340 — rebranding of Gallus DCS340. Uses Fujifilm/Dimatix SAMBA printheads
- Omnifire 250/1000 — inkjet printer designed to print on 3D objects such as soccer balls, bottles, automotive parts. Omnifire 205 is monochrome only, available now. Omnifire 1000 is four-color, available end 2016.
HP – Hall 17
- HP/Indigo 5900, replacement for the 5600. 68ppm, 13”x19”, (90 ppm productivity mode), 4/0, four-color in 2-up mode sheetfed press, with optional in-line primer.
- WS6800p for photobooks. 98ppm, 4/0, 12.48” wide, four-color in 2-up mode rollfed press, with standard in-line primer.
- HP/Indigo 7900, replacement of the 7800. 120ppm (160ppm productivity mode), 4/0, 13x19”, four-color in 2-up mode sheetfed press, with optional in-line primer.
- HP/Indigo 8000, 197 ft./min. four-color (262 ft./min. in enhanced productivity mode), 12.25” print width, web-fed label press. Double productivity of current Indigo WS-6800 label presses through use of twin-engine configuration, at less than double the cost.
- HP/Indigo 12000, an evolution of the HP/Indigo10000 B2 sheet press deploying an optional ElectroInk primer, extended media coverage through one shot image laydown for synthetics and metalized substrates, new blanket, screens, color profiling tools and more for higher image and color quality, and in future “HDLA” — an increased writing head laser array up to 40 from 24 for higher image quality
- HP/Indigo 50000, a B-1 image-size, 29.5x44” (rollfed input) press, printing the equivalent of 575, 4/0 letter-size, four-color pages/minute. Optional six- and seven-color printing. Spot colors also available.
- HP PageWide Web Press T240HD, 22” wide, four-color, 250 ft./min. quality mode (500 ft./min. performance mode), inkjet rollfed press featuring HDNA 2400 lpi thermal printhead technology.
- HP PageWide Web Press T490HD, 42” wide, four-color, 500 ft./min. quality mode (1,000 ft./min. performance mode), inkjet rollfed press, 2,400 lpi thermal printheads.
- HP PageWide Web Press T490M HD — same as above, monochrome only. Aimed at tradebook printers.
INX (Sakata) – Hall 3
- Direct-to-Object printing solutions made possible by integration partners that utilize JetINX integrated imaging components, ink delivery systems and software.
- Digital printing solutions to be demonstrated in the booth will include modular single-pass automation; helix rotary inkjet technology and software for straightwalled and tapered cylinders; a multi-pass conveyor belt scanning platform; and digital technologies for narrow-web labels and film applications.
KBA – Hall 16
- Rapida 145, the largest sheet offset press at drupa (98 ft. long), with double-pile delivery for packaging
- RotaJET L series, redesigned to work with KBA’s advanced polymer pigment inks. The new inks in connection with the new 1,200dpi inkjet head technology claim to be able to print on coated offset stock.
Kodak – Hall 5
- UltraStream Printhead technology, 500 ft. (150m)/min., 600x1,800 dpi, micromilled nano-particle inks
- XGV demonstation on flexible films, 8” to 97” wide
- Prosper 6000C press with in-line finishing. This press will be running with a MEGTEC automatic roll splicer and multiple in-line finishing solutions for two different applications.
Komori – Hall 15
- Impresia IS29, B-2 size UV-curable sheet press, available now.
- Impresia NS40, B-1 size press, 6,500 sheets/hr. using Landa Nano technology. Demonstation only.
Konica Minolta – Hall 8b
- AccurioJet KM-1 (re-branded KM-1, to reflect KM’s workflow software)
- KM-C demonstration: Flatbed B-1 size inkjet press for folding cartons and thin corrugated applications up to 0.3-1.2mm thickness
Landa – Hall 9
- Landa S10 — sheetfed press for folding cartons and point-of-purchase signage.
- Landa S10P — sheetfed duplex (perfecting) press for commercial printing
- Landa W10 — web press for flexible packaging and paperboard. 41” (1 n) wide, eight colors, 656 ft. (200 m)/min. on plastic packaging films, paper, carton board and aluminum.
- Metallography, a zero-waste metallization process that is claimed to halve the cost of metalized printing, to be demonstrated on a narrow web-label press.
All available for order now; first deliveries scheduled for 2017
Matti- Hall 6
- Roll-to-cut IJ sheet duplex printer
- UV IJ press for flexible packaging
Memjet- Hall 5
- Digikett GmbH Digi-M-Jet, a mobile digital color inkjet imprinting solution, for offset and flexo presses and finishing solutions, at 1,600x1,375 dpi at speeds up to 102 m/min.
MGI – Hall 5
- JetVarnish 3D Evolution, a B-1 size digital sheet-fed enhancement press (800,000 Euro) featuring digital foiling, spot varnish, 3D raised varnish. Available for order and installation now. Claims it has installed over 400 B-2 size inkjet embellishment presses (433,000 Euro) to date worldwide. Konica Minolta has increased its ownership stake in MGI to 40.5%.
Ricoh – Hall 8a
- Enhancements to its Pro VC60000 continuous-feed inkjet printer that enable it to reach speeds of 150 m/min.
- Watkiss PowerSquare 224 booklet maker inline with the Ricoh Pro C9100, the Ricoh Pro C7100x and the Ricoh Pro 8100
Riso – Hall 5
- Transaction printing featuring ComColor printers
- Exhibition of the future potential of inkjet technology
RMGT (Ryobi/Mitsubishi Heavy Graphic Technology) – Hall 16
- DP7, a B-2 size liquid toner press jointly developed with Miyakoshi. Still a prototype press.
Scodix – Hall 4
- Ultra Series; Compatible with offset, laminated sheets and digital print, the presses process a variety of substrate weights and thicknesses up to B2+ size
- Scodix Foil Station: An optional module that runs in-line with the Scodix Ultra Pro Digital Press, delivering foil enhancement capabilities including high gloss, embossed and a variety of densities.
- Over 200 inkjet embellishment presses installed since its introduction in 2012.
Screen – Hall 8a
- Truepress 520HD speed upgrade option to 150 m/min.; Screen will show it working with its EQUIOS software as a solution platform for digital marketing applications
- Truepress Jet W3200UVII is the latest addition to Screen GP’s lineup of wide-format systems and offers print speeds of up to 184 sq. m. (1,980 sq. ft.)/hr. (in billboard mode)
- Truepress Jet L350UV adds a security label and traceability solution utilizing Screen’s EQUIOS software
Think Laboratory – Hall 3
- FXIJ-1AQUA, 21.25” (540mm) wide aqueous inkjet, 5-color, 5-30 m/min., 600 dpi, printing on plastic packaging films like PET. VOC-less inkjet inks developed by KAO.
Xaar – Hall 8b
- Introduction of the Xaar 5001 thin-film printhead, targeted at aqueous ink use and textile printing.
- Introduction of the Xaar 1003 printhead with nozzle plate protection. The Xaar 1003 GS12 (rich colors or higher speeds) for ceramics applications is first to be launched, closely followed by the Xaar 1003 GS6 (for fine detail) and the Xaar 1003 GS40 (for special effects).
- The Xaar Print Bar System adds single-pass inkjet capability to analog web presses featuring a choice of Xaar 1002 printheads (GS6, GS12 or GS40 depending on the application), an ink supply system and full print management and workflow capabilities to ensure total control of the print process. The print bar us available in widths from 70mm up to 560mm, and single or dual configurations, with print speeds up to 75 m/min. as standard
- Xaar aims to double revenue to 200M GBP by 2020 through application expansion and acquisition of an inkjet decorative provider.
Xeikon – Hall 8a
- Trillium One, 200 ft./min., 1200 dpi,19.7” (500mm) liquid toner press. Mechanical engineering provided by Miyakoshi (according to ProPrint, April 2016). Available for order now; installation availability 2017. Designed for high-coverage (40-60%) ink jobs.
Xerox - Hall 8b
- Brenva HD, 182ppm 4/0 letter-size, aqueous ink, sheetfed inkjet press.
- Trivor 2400, 551 ft. (168m)/min., 4/0, entry rollfed inkjet press
- Agfa Graphics
- Bobst Group North America
- Canon Solutions America
- D&K Group
- Epson America
- FUJIFILM Graphic Systems Div.
- INX International Ink
- KBA North America
- Komori America
- Konica Minolta Business Solutions
- Landa Digital Printing
- MGI USA
- Oki Data Americas
- Ricoh Corp.
- RISO Inc.
- Roland DGA
- Screen Americas
- XAAR Americas
- Xerox Corp.