Xeikon Brings Xeikon Café to North America
After holding the Xeikon Café in Europe for several years, Xeikon brought the event to North America this week in Chicago. While primarily a user conference, Xeikon took the opportunity to add in a press conference and provide new insight on their strategy and positioning.
One of the key positioning elements for Xeikon today is that it is now a division of Flint Group, a large, highly respected manufacturer of inks for the printing industry. The backing of a large, reputable, and successful player removes all the issues surrounding the financial stability of the company, something that has hung over the company for years.
Why is this so important? Caslon research on buying criteria has uncovered the following criteria as the most important and trust in the vendor is one of them:
- The buyer can print the desired applications with the necessary image quality. If the press can’t meet the application requirements the buying process ends abruptly
- Productivity - the press needs to be able to keep up with demand and at economical cost
- Reliability - uptime and the associated service are critical for success
- Trust in the Vendor - The vendor has to demonstrate commitment, financial stability, and a roadmap that customers can rely on.
With Flint Group as the new owners and a new management team at Xeikon, there is a whole new positive vibe around the future.
Presenting at the press conference were three members of the management team, CEO, Benoit Chatelard; VP of sales and marketing for North America, Dave Wilkins; and VP of marketing, Filip Weymans. These three laid out the strategy for Xeikon which focuses on three markets: Graphic Arts, Labels, and Packaging. While there are interesting things going on in all three segments, I’m going to focus on Xeikon’s strategy for the Graphic Arts/Commercial Printing market in this blog article.
Xeikon’s roots are in the Graphic Arts market where they specialize in high-quality, high-volume applications. With speeds of up to 290 ppm, their 20˝ webfed, toner-based digital presses are designed for companies running several hundred thousand to several million impressions per month for applications that require offset like image quality. And while Xeikon presses are used to produce nearly every type of application in the graphic arts market today, Xeikon has identified five sub-segments in the market where they think their presses have a decided advantage and as such they will continue to develop compelling solutions in these areas.
- Direct Mail (high quality)
- Book covers
- Point of Sales Displays
- Wall Decorations
While inkjet has found a market in low coverage, low quality applications on uncoated stock, the high end of the direct mail market where personalization drives higher response rates is still best served by toner presses. Xeikon’s presses deliver offset quality output critical for automotive, travel, fashion, and luxury goods. And the X-800 front end was designed to easily handle data processing for the largest personalized campaigns.
Xeikon’s 20˝ wide web and unlimited length make it ideal for high quality applications with larger format requirements such as book covers, point of sale items, and wall paper.
And Xeikon has developed a full range of security applications that utilize a wide array of digital press technology and Xeikon toner features: variable print (numbering, images), barcodes, microtext, guilloches, UV reflecting toner, raised images, brand color toner, security toner (tagged), hidden images, track and trace, and specialty substrates.
Xeikon has been building digital presses since 1993 and they have not only mastered image quality but they pride themselves on developing solutions, not just presses. Its solutions always include five elements:
- Press - range of webfed toner-based presses
- Workflow/DFE - the X-800 is Xeikon’s internally developed and highly regarded DFE. It integrates with many Web-to-Print and MIS software packages.
- Toner – Xeikon manufactures its own toner including white and customer colors
- Substrates – 40-350 gsm (27-lb text to 130-lb cover)
- Pre and Post Equipment. Xeikon manufactures unwinders, rewinders, web varnishing module (aqueous or UV), web finishing module, wallpaper rewinder, variable width stacker. And they have a large number of finishing partners as well. In all cases Xeikon assumes responsibility for the performance of the entire solution.
As I mentioned above, the purpose of the meeting was a user event called Xeikon Café. And they got the meeting right. The value proposition was easily high enough for customers to attend. The meeting enabled:
- Xeikon users to talk to each other. The amount of learning that occurs when users share information about their experiences with each other is usually enough justification for attending the event.
- Xeikon users to find ways to leverage and enhance their investment in Xeikon technology by seeing the entire eco-system of finishing and other peripherals available. Xeikon had about 30 partners on hand at the event.
- Users to learn about the latest trends and applications in the market today from other Xeikon customers and industry experts, not just Xeikon personnel.
- Users to learn about the latest new products and features.
- Creation of a user community to help move their businesses forward.
All in all the Xeikon Café in North America was a first class event that created real value for all who attended. Xeikon users can look forward to this becoming an annual event.
Dave Erlandson is the GM of Caslon & Co. One of Caslon’s primary activities is to serve as the North American Affiliate for PODi, the Digital Print Initiative. PODi is a leading industry initiative focused on developing the market for digital printing through education and standards activities. Other key activities include digital printing market analysis and sales training.