What do key manufacturers have in store for us in terms of technical trends and developments in 2013? Melony Rocque-Hewitt investigates.
What can we expect in 2013 from the leading manufacturers in the wide-format sector? A simple enough question, but not necessarily as simple to answer! Here’s what some of the key players have to say…
Agfa Graphics UK
Steve Collins, wide-format inkjet product and channel manager
It is in UV-curable printers that Agfa sees the most potential, as it has a number of advantages over other digital ink types - such as high printing speeds, application on a wider range of substrates, colour consistency, ecologically friendly and less ink consumption.
In 2012, Agfa achieved success with the latest additions to the Anapurna and Jeti range of printers in commercial print sites as well as in the sign and display markets. A notable introduction was the Jeti Titan, designed to grow with the customer’s business, and 2013 will see further exciting developments in these ranges.
As far as the future is concerned, the technological evolution towards faster printers, improved printheads, cheaper and more functional inks and media as well as greater advances in software is likely to continue. Printheads will become faster with improved accuracy, cheaper and more reliable. All this will result in a further growth of inkjet printing in the coming years, and for far more applications than available today.
Michael Lackner, head of marketing
Durst remains committed to applying inkjet technology to industrial levels of production. At Drupa in 2012, Durst exhibited an automated production line for corrugated printing with output to rival offset printing but incorporating all the benefits of digital printing. In addition, during 2012 Durst continued to apply inkjet technology to other areas of manufacturing. At Glasstec in October, Durst introduced a new, fully automated inkjet production line for glass decoration.
In 2013 Durst will continue to look at integrating inkjet technology into complete production processes as well as exploring yet more areas of manufacturing. For example, we will investigate new applications within the glass industry as well printing on wood in the furniture industry, amongst others. In addition, the company will focus on the growth area of wide-format textile printing with dedicated systems for soft signage, home textiles and other disciplines.
Marc Verbiest, international public relations manager
The EFI and Vutek wide-format portfolios have continued to grow in popularity during the past 12 months, along with the company’s software solutions and UV-curable inks, demonstrating that greater environmental awareness and a reduced carbon footprint are key drivers for the future direction of the display, sign-making and graphic arts’ sectors.
The wide-format market will also see increased demand for higher quality, cost-effective production and reliability, which EFI brings to the industry with its new Orion printer architecture and greyscale option, optimal ink usage and sophisticated remote diagnostics. The transition to UV-curable technologies continues, with the company’s solutions leading the trend for maximising resources, reducing over production, minimising waste and saving energy.
The need for efficiency and accountability is also growing in importance for the wide-format industry, with users increasingly turning to EFI’s business software solutions to drive more eco-aware environments.
The year ahead will also see an upsurge in users wanting greater productivity from their printer platforms, complemented by greener practices and sleeker integration through data handling, workflow, production, web-to-print and MIS/ERP functions.
Nick White, sales manager, professional graphics
Textile printing is shifting rapidly from analogue to digital, with the latter forecast to grow by 400% between 2010 and 2015. In addition to providing the signage and CAD sectors with a range of innovative printers, Epson aims to play a prominent role in the digital textile industry. We first entered this market back in 2003 when, with Robustelli, we jointly developed the Mona Lisa digital textile printer based on Epson's proprietary Micro Piezo inkjet technology.
In 2013 we will continue to expand our Epson line-up of wide-format print solutions for industrial applications that incorporate Epson’s proprietary MicroPiezo inkjet technology.
Steve Cookman, product manager inkjet
Drupa 2012 was regarded as the inkjet Drupa and we see no reason why this inkjet focus won't continue into 2013. In 2012, our Acuity LED 1600 proved to be a great success, boasting a perfect mix of features which give early adopters of this technology the opportunity to create novel applications. Over the coming months, the technology inside this device is set to develop further, opening up even more opportunities for PSPs looking to achieve that extra competitive edge.
In the commercial print world wide-format inkjet will continue to raise the bar on higher quality images with greater productivity and continue to challenge the viability of existing analogue technologies. This will be brought about by further developments in ink, printhead and software, all of which Fujifilm are pioneering.
Last but not least, 2013 is of course the year of Fespa on these very shores, and we will have lots to talk about at that show.
Mark Rowland, regional business manager, HP Scitex, Greater Western Europe, UK and Ireland
Innovation and differentiation are essential elements in remaining competitive and HP has regularly introduced new printers and capability upgrades for the large-format sector to help customers offer new or enhanced products, or work with improved print quality, versatility and productivity. Recent examples are the new features for the HP Scitex TJ8600 and FB7600 Industrial Presses. These improvements have included, variously, greater substrate versatility, finer print detail and higher throughput. Additionally, both presses have Greenguard Children & Schools Certified inks, opening many new application possibilities and revenue streams.
Looking ahead, we will continue to see the migration of work from conventional to digital production. As a result, there will be more targeted or localised POP display and packaging applications, and part of this will be greater use of the Cloud and Web-to-print for POP displays, signage and packaging. The marketing trends are converging with technical capabilities, driven by brands and commercial considerations. HP will continue to be an active supplier in the development and refinement of these technologies.
Heather Kendle, marketing director
Over the last year, throughout the industry as a whole, we have seen increased flexibility and improved quality, productivity and materials handling, delivered by wide-format printers using a variety of inks. This trend is accelerating and 2013 promises to be a great showcase, not only for the very latest in wide-format equipment, but also for the diversity of profitable applications PSPs can produce with them. Inkjet applications are spreading, in response to demand for shorter run lengths and more variation. So where next? There is no doubt that innovations in ink technology will enable such new applications, and new equipment will accompany these ink innovations.
At Inca, we will continue to develop and introduce software and hardware enhancements and options as we have done over the last year. These allow us to continually improve the performance and functionality of the Onset models and will enable us to maintain our position at the top end of the PoP industry as the recession eases and demand grows. We aim to expand our product offering to increase our share of the growing digital market and establish one or more product areas outside PoP.
Mike Horsten, marketing manager
2012 was an amazing year for Mimaki Europe, with the introduction of more than 12 new products. Not only did we introduce hardware like the JFX500 UV LED flatbed and the TS500, but we also achieved new developments in ink technologies like Latex and SUV (Solvent UV).
Developing many new markets in the last few months has put a strain on the company so it added staff in all departments and in October Mimaki Europe became responsible for not only the European region and Russia but also Africa and the Middle East regions where added, actually forming a new virtual Mimaki EMEA.
The new product introductions in 2012 will start to be visible in the 2013 revenue of the company and will make us stronger and adaptable for the future.
Dominic Fahy, Business Group director, Display Graphics and Imaging
We have more than 3,000 Océ Arizona installations worldwide so we know we’re in a position to help provide the foundations for our customers to grow their business in what have been challenging and dynamic market conditions.
In 2013 you can expect to see more developments from Océ, particularly as we grow even stronger as part of the Canon Group of companies. We see distinctly different types of customers investing in our systems. There are sign-makers, roll-fed solvent printers and big print organisations that are investing in flatbeds for the first time to grow into niche markets. They all see the benefit of dramatically improved quality, personalisation and higher profits from shorter runs on print jobs from the Océ Arizona systems. And then there are flatbed printers already benefiting from the higher profit returns who are investing in second, sometimes even third systems. Companies that have invested in the right systems and the right skills will be in a stronger position to grow their business going forward in 2013 and move into the space left behind by those downscaling or exiting the industry. Flatbed digital is the big trend.
Roland DG UK
Rob Goleniowski, business manager, Sign and Graphics Division
The growing trend for sign makers and printers to source a complete solution from a single, trusted provider will continue to accelerate in 2013 as they seek to have the edge in terms of quality, consistency and continuity with their wide-format machines. A complete solution, involving machine, software and inks from a single manufacturer, is the best way printers can ensure their production capabilities are as effective and efficient as possible. More and more printers are recognising that there is hidden cost to the ‘cheapest price at the point of purchase’ and if that cost is production downtime, the cost is just too great.
I believe the key trend for 2013 will be that the industry will recognise that digital printing, in all its forms, has truly come of age. Drupa 2012 was a major milestone in the evolution of digital printing, and digital – whether wide format or cut-sheet – really dominated the show and this will continue in 2013. In line with this, the perception of wide-format and its place in the industry has reached the tipping point on the back of the incredible versatility and quality these machines now offer.
Tony Cox, business manager for digital aftermarket
We have witnessed a growth in the number of printer installations sold in 2012 and we predict this will continue in 2013. Solvent printers will continue to dominate the installed base. However, there is also a move towards water-based and UV printers in the wide-format sector, and I believe this trend will continue to rise significantly this year.
Soft signage has also enjoyed a surge in popularity, with brands choosing to replace the traditional rigid display with more tactile textile materials to stand out from the crowd. I imagine that this theme for exhibition and other promotional displays will carry on well into 2013. The printer will require direct to fabric inks and dispersed dye technology will be prevalent for this application as a result.
Sun Chemical is also planning to launch new products within the wide-format sector to complement our growing Streamline range of inks for wide-format and superwide-format applications. The official launch will take place on Sun Chemical’s stand at Fespa 2013.