Everything really is bigger in Texas — it’s true for many things, including the inaugural PRINTING United trade show that was held in Dallas October 23-25. The result of a strategic partnership between SGIA and NAPCO Media, and the subsequent acquisition of NAPCO Media by SGIA, PRINTING United 2019 showcased the convergence of print technology, products and services that is happening as print service providers, manufacturers and suppliers explore new areas of print to enter. The show included 724,000 square feet of show space housing 680 exhibitors. An estimated 30,000 attendees showed up.
Commercial, in-plant, packaging, wide-format, garment and other specialty printing equipment was displayed. Offset, digital toner, digital ink and dye sublimation technologies along with workflow, cost estimation and accounting software were spread throughout the show floor. Print embellishment technologies ranging from high speed raised varnish equipment to tabletop embellishment products and printers with multi-station toner and ink were highlighted.
The Imaging Channel spent three days at the show touring the exhibits and talking to executives of the companies. Here are some of the highlights we took away from the show.
Konica Minolta’s exhibit was one of the three largest of the show (with Ricoh and Canon the other two). Five new products were announced, including the worldwide debut of the AccurioPress C14000/C12000.
In a glass-windowed exhibit that attendees entered by appointment, Konica Minolta staff demonstrated the AccurioPress C14000 and its many capabilities. At the worldwide debut, held in a theater on the show floor, Konica Minolta’s Kevin Kern called the AccurioPress C14000 a “color output factory.”
The other four new announced products included:
AccurioLabel 230 – toner-based label press.
Precision Packaging Series PKG-675i – digital inkjet corrugated box printer.
AccurioShine 101 – a small footprint, tabletop print embellishment solution.
MGI JETvarnish 3D One – a “digital print enrichment press” for cut sheets up to 14”x29”.
Konica Minolta also showed the continuous feed SuperWeb digital inkjet printer, AccurioPress C3080, AccurioWide 160 and 200 UV LED wide-format inkjet printers, MGI Jet Varnish 3D Web, and PLS 475i inkjet label printer and finisher.
“Store windows” showed various applications and an app available for download on attendees’ phones and pointed to the displays showed a video of how the item was created.
“Everything we are doing from label, carton printing, embellishment, and wide format, we come to market with products that can do something unique or more,” said Konica’s Dino Pagliarello. He noted that the core office business is still healthy, and that production print is gaining net new business.
With a theme of “Rethink Print” and noting that the technologies shown at PRINTING United 2019 were targeted at growing markets, Konica Minolta demonstrated they have been busy positioning themselves as a good alternative for print providers and others wanting to produce what the company calls high-value print.
We visited with Andre D’Urbano and Jesse Heindl at the RISO exhibit. They demonstrated the new VALEZUS T2100 system and talked to us about RISO’s position in the industry.
The VALEZUS T2100 uses ComColor GD series 160ppm inkjet printers coupled with an inline duplex unit between the two printers to produce duplex output at up to 320ipm. It has up to 8,000 sheet input and output with two individual 4,000 sheet paper carts in which a full cart can be removed, emptied and replaced while the printer is running.
D’Urbano explained the target market for the T2100 is transactional customers printing statements or bills and who want lower cost color without a need for higher quality custom prints. He said the new model is perfect for mid-size print shops to participate in RFPs for customers such as municipalities printing tax bills, and other forms at a low entry cost.
Stressing RISO’s message that their technology is a complement to and not a replacement for production printers, D’Urbano and Heindl pointed out that RISO brings low cost color to the office and in-plants. As a “Swiss Army knife” to print utility type color documents the RISO devices can sit side by side with higher quality output, higher cost production printers. They said RISO is looking to destroy the perception that all color is expensive.
We spoke with Terry Antinora, who overviewed the PrimeLink C9065/9070 and the applications it can be used for. Using Adaptive CMYK Plus Technology the PrimeLink C9065/9070 can bring in gold, silver or white toner for print overlays or spot colors. Samples showed a variety of applications including print on media up to 25 inches long and duplexing 350gsm media. Antinora said the Adaptive CMYK Plus Technology and a fluorescent yellow kit will be available in 1Q 2020.
Antinora said Xerox has shown technology demonstrations using fluorescent white toner on VersaLink devices and showed us a print sample on black, tear-resistant stock using white toner and other fluorescent toners. He said Xerox continues to experiment with colors and fluorescents.
We also had time with iGen and Iridesse Product Marketing Manager Amy Stear, who said Xerox realized designers didn’t fully understand how to design and create files for optimal output results using Xerox digital technology. Additionally, she said Xerox saw a need to help their PSP customers promote their Xerox technology and business.
To help educate designers, Stear showed us materials Xerox has available to provide a step by step process in creating digital files that produce the best output on Xerox devices. The CMYK+ Design and File Preparation Guidelines booklet shows different applications of Iridesse technology and how to design a file to take full advantage of the technology. Covering spot color, use of metallic, white and clear toner, the booklet is a kind of an “Iridesse for Designers”.
For iGen, Stear said the recently announced iGen 5 XLS is now available in the Americas and that current iGen 5 installations can be upgraded to support up to 35-inch-long sheets and fluorescent yellow toner. An interesting note was that the fluorescent yellow toner is the same color as the fluorescent used for USTA tennis balls.
EFI’s new Executive Chairman and CEO Jeff Jacobson kicked off a press event with a brief review of EFI’s acquisition by Siris Capital. “The acquisition enables EFI to execute our go-forward strategy, optimize how we work, and increase our ability to execute our mission,” said Jacobson, noting this results in being better able to make long-term strategic investments in technology and relationships with customers/partners. He emphasized EFI will continue to invest in R&D which is approximately 15% of revenue. Jacobson ended saying EFI’s key objectives are maintaining their leading market position, keeping their customer focus from beginning to end, leveraging ultra-high-speed inkjet into packaging, industrial printing and textile printing (EFI sees significant opportunity in corrugated production where less than 1% is digital and textile print where 5%-6% is digital), keeping attention on ink and service, continued innovation in Fiery and productivity software, and participation in growth areas such as display graphics.
EFI’s Ken Hanulec then reviewed the products and technology EFI was showing on the floor. These included the first showing of the VUTEk 32h LED inkjet hybrid printer (winner of a 2019 SGIA Product of the Year award), and the new Fiery FS400 Pro DFE platform. Hanulec also noted new EFI IQ cloud services, the EFI ColorGuard cloud product, a new Fiery FreeForm application, the latest version of EFI Color Profiler and more.
On the show floor in EFI’s booth, we spoke with Frank Mallozzi, who said EFI is “Staying the course to addressable markets” and that outside of standard packaging and corrugated print growth “Textile is (the) ‘lights out’ opportunity.” He echoed Jacobson’s statements saying that only 6% of the textile print market is connected to digital.
Regarding the future Mallozzi sees artificial intelligence playing a larger role. He noted the abilities of EFI IQ to learn and store setup profiles of a job and automatically apply them when the next job like it arrives and how predictive and active supply replenishment enables the device to know when ink is low, place an order for the supply and send a notification that the order was placed.
We came away from the Ricoh exhibit and conversations with executives with a sense that Ricoh has developed a new marketing and sales message when compared to their OEM contemporaries. Equipment on the floor included the newly available RICOH Pro TF6250 flatbed printer, RICOH Pro L5160 roll-to-roll latex printer, EFI Pro 16h, the new Colex Sharpcut Pro 1732 flatbed cutter, RICOH Pro C7210X printers, and a RICOH Pro VC70000 inkjet printer display, which used an augmented reality app to show how samples made on the printer were designed and printed. Additionally, there was a lab using RICOH Pro C7210X printers to provide a hands-on educational experience to customers in using Ricoh’s fifth color digital technology.
However, emphasis in the booth was on Ricoh’s focus to become a trusted alliance partner.
Ricoh’s Gavin Jordan-Smith said the goal for the show was about more than print. It was helping improve the customer’s experience by “creating and understanding the customer journey.” Jordan-Smith said Ricoh is focused on not building a partnership but building alliances between Ricoh, PSPs, the PSP’s customers, and dealers. He went on to clarify that “An alliance is something in which we care not just about your success but your failures as well so we can turn them around.”
Ricoh is now out of restructuring mode and ready to open up aligning sales activity with marketing efforts, according to Jordan-Smith. Additional news from the show is that Ricoh is expecting to announce a B-size printer in the coming year and Ricoh Digital Painting Company had a technology showcase of their Vehicle Art Robo technology. This is a “super-wide” inkjet technology that can print on an entire truck trailer, corrugated metal and even tires. We were told this is already in use in Japan and a demonstration and technology center is planned to be operational in the Atlanta area by year-end. See a video of Vehicle Art Robo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jchd2cSWwhE
Matt Kochanowski toured us through Epson’s booth where we saw wide format and Epson’s A3 Workforce inkjet MFPs. The focus of Epson’s exhibit was the announcement of five new wide format products. These included:
- SureColor F570 – Epson’s first 24-inch desktop dye-sublimation printer.
- SureColor F9470 and F9470H – Epson’s first dye-sublimation textile printer with fluorescent ink.
- SureColor S60600L and S80600L – 64-inch S-Series solvent printers with a bulk ink system.
As part of Epson’s exhibit, a local Dallas installer demonstrated a car wrap application. The installer said wraps like these have been installed for customization and by car dealers to “rejuvenate” older cars.
Canon did not announce any new products; however, the Océ Colorado 1650 large format graphic printer, Océ Arizona 1380 XT UV flatbed printer, Océ Touchstone Software (all winners of 2019 SGIA Product of the Year awards), and imagePRESS V10000 were demonstrated. Displays showing applications from Canon technologies including the VarioPrint i-series+, ColorStream, and ProStream inkjet presses, showed the versatility Canon and Océ print can provide to the industry.
Canon’s Sal Sheikh said the key takeaway he hoped attendees would get was the breadth of product available from Canon. PRINTING United 2019 enabled Canon to show that off to a larger audience, noting that many commercial printers offer large format services but outsource it. “The beauty of coming to a show like this is you can look at all the technology that is available, come to us and see what it (large format like Arizona or Colorado) can do for your business.” He said the Arizona flatbed printer line has 7,000 installations worldwide, and that next year Canon will introduce more Colorado models, “taking that technology and applying it to larger than 64 inches.”. An expansion into fabric printing is also possible with the Colorado technology.
Canon’s Eric Hawkinson and Tonya Powers highlighted the success of the Océ ColorStream roll-fed inkjet printers, introduced nine years ago and with 1,300 worldwide installations are doing between 10 million and 100 million pages per month. They also noted that the i300 (Niagara) now has 130 installations in the U.S. Printing 9,000 pages per hour, it replaces three to four traditional toner-based devices at a higher productivity and lower cost.
Canon recently announced the retirement of the Océ brand name, and we were told that next year the Océ brand will be replaced by the Canon brand name. This primarily affects production printing products like Arizona, Colorado, i-series, and ColorStream products. Océ Technologies will be changed to Canon Technologies and remain in Venlo, Netherlands, and Poing, Germany.
Ahead of PRINTING United 2019 HP announced its commitment and five-year investment of $200 million to develop water-based ink technologies for digital corrugated packaging and textile printing. At the show, HP displayed their new Stitch dye-sublimation printers and their latex wide format printers.
HP’s Tom Wittenberg talked about the HP Stitch series. He said while HP had been a bit late to the dye-sublimation market the Stitch printers are performing well. On display were various pieces of clothing, fabric and soft signage made on a Stitch printer. Wittenberg took us to the HP “Café,” a meeting area in which the floor, wallpaper, signage, cardboard display and pillow fabrics were all printed using HP Stitch or Latex technology.
Rochester Software Associates (RSA) showed the latest releases of their QDirect output manager, ReadyPrint universal prepress suite and WebCRD web to print software. The also announced new integrations with Ultimate TechnoGraphics, Inc. and P3Source.
RSA’s Dirk Craib and Anthony Leccese said that RSA’s ReadyPrint now integrates with Ultimate TechnoGraphics Ultimate Impostrip 2019, an imposition software used in the commercial and graphic arts space. The integration enables a fully universal automated prepress, imposition and finishing workflow across digital, offset or hybrid platforms.
RSA’s WebCRD integration with P3 Software’s P3Source, a print sourcing and buying management solution, enables in-plants to have a seamless workflow for receiving jobs, handle prepress, and use P3Source to manage bidding and performance metrics for work that must be sent off-site. RSA’s workflow software is OEM independent and can be used across a “multi-verse” in plant or shop using various OEM products. Craib said the goal that RSA has is to provide a “Touchless Workflow” in the printing flow.
The comments from most of the people we spoke to during the show was that it was an effective and profitable event and achieved PRINTING United’s goal of creating “a global platform to connect print service providers and suppliers in the graphic and visual communication industry like never before”. The crowds in the aisles required us to navigate around them, and the activity in the major OEM exhibits brought back memories of the good old days of trade shows. PRINTING United may have found a way to bring excitement back to shows like this and show that print is still alive and growing.
Thomas O’Neill, an analyst for BPO Media, is a 35+ year marketing and product strategy professional in the enterprise imaging and print industry. Beginning with positions in sales and training management, for the past 24 years he’s held director and manager positions at Canon, Océ, Lexmark and Minolta. He has extensive experience in hardware and software product marketing, strategic product planning and sourcing, solution sales, marketing content creation and strategies, branding strategy and vertical marketing strategies. Contact him at email@example.com.