PRINT 05 DIGITAL PRINTING -- Volumes Turning Up
Just prior to the show, HP announced it had signed an agreement to acquire the assets of Scitex Vision, a maker of wide- and super-wide format printing systems for production of signage, displays and other graphics. This past summer, Japan-based Dainippon Screen acquired Inca Digital Printers, which primarily offers wide-format, flatbed ink-jet printers for industrial printing and packaging applications. EFI completed its acquisition of Vutek Inc., a leading player in the super-wide ink-jet segment, about the same time.
At the show, HP moved to extend its presence in the market by signing an OEM agreement with Seiko I Infotech to jointly develop and market solvent-based large-format printers for the outdoor graphics market. Enovation Graphic Systems and Mutoh America shared a booth to demonstrate the latter's wide-format ink-jet printers that are being distributed by the former. Agfa had a separate booth in the special pavilion to showcase, for the first time in
North America, the Dotrix flatbed, industrial ink-jet technology it acquired last year and its Grand Sherpa Universal line of rollfed ink-jet printers configured for graphics applications, not proofing.
Kodak, of course, had previously announced the incorporation of Encad's ink-jet printer business into its Graphic Communications Group. Xerox and Canon U.S.A. both have long offered large-format printer lines that they displayed. A number of independent companies had booths in the pavilion, as well, including the likes of Epson America, Roland DGA, Mimaki USA, Gandinnovations and Fujifilm Sericol USA.
While digital large-format printing has been touted for years as a new business opportunity for commercial printers, it seems the technology's time may finally have come. For example, at an event held the second night of the show, a representative of Enovation commented that large-format systems had been leading its sales—in terms of number, not dollar value.