Given the huge scope of Drupa, we asked manufacturers and PSPs within the large-format inkjet arena: What did the show tell you about technological developments/trends that could impact large-format print? Here’s what they said…
Willy Van Dromme
marketing manager wide-format inkjet, Agfa
Inkjet solutions of all kinds clearly left their mark on Drupa 2016, though mainly for industrial printing and commercial printing applications, featuring single-pass solutions and various ink alternatives. For wide-format applications specifically, the existing market trends were confirmed - automation for printing and finishing systems in the mid- to high-end market is a priority.
LED curing technology has also moved a step forward thanks to the availability of the high-power air-cooled UV curing LEDs that combine high output power, low energy consumption and temperature radiation. Our Anapurna LED range proves that UV LED curing is ready to change the wide-format installed based without the need for hybrid curing systems that involve a combination of bulbs and LED.
Last but not least, the sign and display market has now clearly adopted dedicated workflows to integrate Web-to-print, file transfer, job handling, colour management, printing and finishing in wide-format printing environments.
business group manager, wide-format group, Canon UK
Without doubt, digital is the biggest trend at play. Not only has digital established new ways of working, it has also spurred completely new business models in the industry. Brands and retailers are increasingly aware that the customer is their number one priority, with every decision taken with them in mind. This trend is most clearly seen with the growth of personalisation and customisation, thanks largely to the emergence of digital. In general consumers who buy customised products are more satisfied and valuable.
Print is at the heart of a number of core creative expressions - from posters and signage to packaging and photography. Often the applications with highest added value are cutting edge. These tend to be the most creative pushing equipment to the limit, with the highest quality output. As the market evolves the print service providers that offer the greatest breadth of applications tend to be the most successful.
sales manager, Epson UK
“From my point of view what stood out at this Drupa was the leap in quality and breadth of colour gamut that can be achieved now due in part to new printhead technology and machines with 10+ colours - including metallic.
PSPs are being pressed by their customers to deliver better quality but at lower costs, so our Drupa demo - showing how they can produce amazing quality quickly on low cost monomeric vinyl for the first time - drew the crowds.
director of digital print, SMP
Drupa was an excellent show. We bought two machines that will improve productivity.
The stand out machines were the single-pass water-based UV corrugated printers. We were amazed to watch the Durst printing at 120m/min! Both EFI and HP will have a similar offering that adds up to a quantum leap in production speed.
product manager, Xaar
One of the main takeaways for us were the developments to support a continued push towards higher and higher productivity. This of course is reflected in our own announcement of the Xaar 5601.
Drupa 2016 highlighted a step up in the quality of large-format output, including a move away from simple four colour printing and much greater use of special colours - particularly whites and clears. Fujifilm is continually developing its Uvijet range of UV inks - with their wide colour gamuts, such inks are changing the parameters of what is possible in large-format.
Another trend worth highlighting is the broad range of applications print businesses are beginning to explore with low-end LED printers, such as the Acuity LED 1600 II. In producing decorative and creative prints - such as wallcoverings - many commercial printers are learning that an investment in a low-cost, reliable machine like this can be an excellent first step in diversifying their business beyond traditional printing to paper - vital if they are to survive in this rapidly changing industry.
managing director, Speedscreen
I have been going to Drupa over 40 years and I can honestly say this visit has been the biggest game changer in that time, the reason is a simple one – digital. The Fuji B2 press, for example, is outstanding. I note that Fuji seem to be the leaders with the inkjet head technology, with Heidelberg and even Landa using their Samba printhead. Landa had a very impressive stand and show, and Nanographic technology is clearly another milestone in the changing face of print.
Most wide-format manufacturers are still making steady improvements in what are now well known platforms, and many have tapped into the demands needed by more specialist printers, say for corrugated board printing. What I did notice too though, was the massive increase in smaller manufacturers offering wide-format digital machines - companies I have never heard of from Europe to Asia - with a flatbed or roll-to-roll offering that is much cheaper than those from the big names.
There were two really big ‘wow’ factors for me though. The first was stumbling across the giant 3D printer from Massivit producing objects up to 1800mm high by over 1m in diameter. This Israeli machine, being marketed by Papergraphics in the UK, seems currently truly unique. For those companies already in the VM world, or museum, theme park, film and stage prop world, it is a must have! At £300k not a silly price either, though the substrate is £100 per kilo - ouch!
The other ‘wow’ was something that will truly change the face of volume wide-digital print, the single pass digital printer. A number of manufacturers are developing one, but Durst had their offering on the stand running. This blew me away, printing 1.3m x 1m wide 3mm corrugated boards at 9000m2/hr. with a high gloss and good quality. If you slow it down to 4500m2/hr then you have outstanding! This beast is some 30m long, with much it for drying the aqueous inks with a combination of IR and UV, but at an as yet unconfirmed price tag of £3m+ it’s not for the faint hearted. My maths are not great but I make that about 2m/sec at high speed - these are pre cut boards, printed and dry ready to go straight for cutting and finishing. Truly astonishing.
Single pass digital with water-based inks? Watch this space because this is where we are all heading.
general marketing manager EMEA, Mimaki Europe
Where Drupa 2012 was a battle between digital and conventional, this Drupa the technologies were blended and accepted in both worlds. New developments in digital were expected, and they were certainly on hand from digital companies, such as Mimaki. But they have also made their way into the leading conventional companies as they have now all adopted in some way or another the digital revolution of print. High volume digital sheet-fed printing has been in the market for some time, but Drupa 2016 reflected that these digital presses have truly found their space in the market.
It’s not only hardware innovation that spoke at Drupa, but the many new applications - including personalisation of just about anything that can be printed - that also made their biggest step into the future at Drupa.
head of marketing EMEA, Roland DG
The impact of digitalisation and e-commerce is transforming the purchasing habits of consumers and is definitely shaping the wide-format print industry. The expectation of millennials is that their shopping experience and the products they buy, will be personalised to their individual tastes and needs. What started as ‘mass customisation’ is now evolving to bespoke, unique production. This trend, coupled with the effects of globalisation, means that consumers are also able to source products, or to take inspiration for personalised products, from around the world.
This evolution of how and what consumers purchase is also having a huge impact on retailers who are turning to digital technology to help them compete with e-retailers and to enable them to diversify their offering and to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Digital wide-format solutions are ideally suited to short-run, bespoke and customised production and at Drupa visitors wanted to discover more about the customised applications which are possible with Roland technology. Seeing commercial printers looking to expand into digital customisation and personalisation shows how far the industry has progressed in the past few years and provides a tremendously encouraging picture of where the print industry could be heading in the future.
VP sales, Screen Europe
“Compared to the last Drupa in 2012 a great deal has happened in wide-format print technology developments. No longer is there a compromise between quality and speed - in terms of you can’t have one without the other. Today you certainly can have the best of both worlds: fast and in stunning quality.
There is definitely a lot of demand for printing onto a variety of different substrates such as wood, glass, metal and leather - and UV is particularly suitable for these. One company in Portugal bought their second printer in a year at Drupa to meet demand for printing onto leather and glass for added-value applications – and he is not alone by any means.
This Drupa also heralded a new generation of ultra-wide print bars for single-pass applications. Our subsidiary company Inca Digital showed a 1.5m wide bar on our booth at the show - which can be extended up to 3m if required - and it created a great deal of interest from companies looking to create new wide-format opportunities and applications.”
managing director of large-format printing segment, Durst
As an industrial inkjet specialist, we had huge interested in our new corrugated packaging and display printing segment where we showcased single-pass and multi-pass printing systems for corrugated cardboard manufacturers and converters. Our traditional large-format printing customer base, and many commercial printers, who visited our stand throughout Drupa, were also looking for advanced solutions for their existing business. Of specific interest were our continuous printing systems such as the Rho 1300 Series, which answers the increasing demand for short turnarounds and complex order structures.
sales director, Zund
To realise genuine, real-world advances in overall production speed, automated finishing is increasingly becoming a must-have, and is now the focus for many mature sign and display print businesses. At this year’s show we launched the Zund D3, a double-beamed, automated digital cutting table - and that has attracted a lot of attention.
PSPs are also looking to take advantage of modular and expandable finishing systems - adding things like the Automatic Router Bit Changer for on-the-fly tool changing, as well as looking in detail at stacking and feeding options.
Diversification and growth are always key trends so Drupa visitors have been naturally drawn to equipment that helps to achieve that.