As the clock ticks off the days until the drupa 2016 printing pilgrimage in Düsseldorf, Germany, which runs from May 31 to June 10, a number of technology providers banded together to demonstrate the value of their solutions when run in combination. It also proved that the country of Belgium has more to offer than just chocolate and beer ... but that is certainly a good start.
A pre-drupa press event, held in Bruges, Belgium, March 16-17, dubbed “Press On to the Future,” featured a collection of wares to be demonstrated at the exhibition. Esko, X-Rite Pantone, Enfocus, CHILI Publish, Cerm and Asahi Photoproducts provided presentations on the first day.
The conference hit the road for Lier on day two, where Xeikon unveiled its long-awaited Trillium One continuous-feed liquid toner press. The bus tour then shifted gears to nearby Mortsel, where Agfa showcased a host of products, highlighted by wide-format inkjet models.
More than 60 journalists from 27 countries converged on Belgium to get a taste of the interactivity offered by the hardware and software providers. In a live demonstration that underscored the possibilities offered by the providers, Cerm flexed its MIS muscles with a project that captured, processed and digitally produced images of all the attending journalists on a personalized label.
Journalists Get Personal(ized)
Each journalist had his/her photo taken on the first day. The image was personalized through CHILI Publish, processed on the Esko automation engine and printed on the Xeikon press — and all of it was driven by the Cerm MIS engine. A personalized set of printed labels was distributed the following day at the Xeikon facility.
There was a lot of buzz surrounding Xeikon, having been acquired by ink manufacturer Flint Group only last December. Trillium technology actually debuted in 2012, just prior to the last drupa event, and Xeikon finally got around to naming its baby just in time for drupa 2016. Xeikon will be taking orders for the press, with initial installations set for the second quarter of 2017.
“Our strategy is not changing. It’s the same people, same approach,” says Wim Maes, president of digital printing solutions at Xeikon. “We try every day to be a customer-oriented company.”
Reporters openly speculated that Kodak, which revealed it was searching for a buyer to take the helm of its Prosper inkjet platform, was in talks with Flint Group. But while Flint Group officials acknowledged their intent to look at other opportunities outside of Xeikon to grow its digital platform, the attention remained firmly on Trillium One’s coming-out party.
Trillium is a joint development project between Xeikon and Miyakoshi. It combines Miyakoshi’s mechanical proficiency in press production with Xeikon’s pioneering approach to digital imaging, high-speed electronics, high-resolution LED technology, and workflow and toner technology.
The four-color press, designed for direct marketing materials and catalogs, operates at 200 fpm and 1,200 dpi resolution, with a print width of 19.7˝. Trillium One uses Xeikon’s own Tonnik, a liquid toner that carries all the benefits of a dry toner.
“Part of the value proposition is in the operating costs as opposed to inkjet technology,” observes Lode Deprez, VP of R&D, consumables and process group, at Xeikon.
Agfa Graphics and its president, Stefaan Vanhooren, welcomed the press contingent to the company’s plant on the fringe of Antwerp. The ubiquitous provider of analog and digital imaging systems and IT solutions for the printing industry carried a “We Embody Print” theme as company officials rolled out a laundry list of solutions.
The company has a stated goal of being a top three player in wide-format inkjet printing for the sign and display market, as well as a leading player in the industrial inkjet printing and mobile publishing spaces. Agfa also touts itself as the partner of choice for prepress solutions in offset printing.
One of the talking points for Agfa is Eco3, which stands for eco-friendly, economic and extremely convenient. It fits in nicely with its chemistry-free prepress platform and aims to continue improving conventional systems. New offerings include Azura TU VLF chemistry-free plates for very large-format offset applications, in combination with the new Azura CX150 clean-out unit, and the Azura TE direct-on-press plates, which feature image contrast as well as daylight stability and fast roll-up.
Other drupa unveils will include the Avalon N8-90 thermal computer-to-plate system and the Energy Elite Eco printing plate.
On the wide-format solution side, Agfa will boost a trio of offerings: Anapurna roll-to-roll and hybrid solutions, the Jeti Mira (with dockable roll-to-roll option) and the Jeti Tauro (with new automatic board feeder and unloading unit).
“Users get the most out of our wide-format systems thanks to the tight integration with the Asanti workflow,” notes Dominiek Arnout, VP of inkjet. “Now, with the automation features added, the entire printing process is fully streamlined to deliver maximum productivity.”
Esko Keeps Packaging Simplified
Among the highlights on the first day of the press conference:
- Esko, which will be housed with X-Rite Pantone and Enfocus, revealed that its drupa theme is “Packaging Simplified.” Among the unveilings for the company: A major upgrade of its entire software suite and new product announcements for digital flexo platemaking (Esko EPS 5080) and digital cutting (updated Esko Kongsberg line).
- X-Rite Pantone, along with family members/booth mates Esko, Enfocus and MediaBeacon, will create “Inspiration Zones” at their stand. In addition to the launching of 112 new Pantone colors, bringing the grand tally up to 1,867, the company is brandishing its IntelliTrax2 automated color measurement system.
- A lot of attention has been given to Enfocus’ Appstore, released earlier this year. The Appstore enables Switch automation software users to instantly purchase and use apps created by other Switch users. Users will have access to an infinite number of tasks and integrations that can be automated through Switch. The company estimates that, by drupa, more than 50 apps from 20 app creators will be available and 250-plus trials will be underway.
- CHILI Publish touted the release of the Publisher 5.0 online document editor and rendro for online PDF and 3D viewing. The rendro PDF rendering solution provides full relief, high-resolution rendering, which enables users to parse, stream and view a PDF in 3D on any platform that supports the HTML5 canvas.
- In addition to its live MIS demonstration for the narrow web space that affixed journalists to labels, Cerm revealed that it would release new versions of its digital shopfront, Web4Labels. The existing tool has been entirely re-engineered from scratch, and Responsive Web Design will enable the use of any device — phone, tablet or portable/desktop computer.
- Headlining the new products for Asahi Photoproducts is the AWP-DEW with pinning technology for the wide-web flexible packaging sector. It features faster plate processing speed for large formats and higher plate throughput. PI