Commentary & Analysis
Xerox Previews New Inkjet and iGen Offerings at Pre-drupa Event
A new iGen, new production inkjet models, and software solutions were pre-announced to Xerox customers and the media at a special event held last week at the Gil Hatch Center in upstate New York.
By Richard Romano
Published: March 21, 2016
“Have a little energy and enthusiasm for workflow!” exhorted Kevin Horey, Xerox’s VP and General Manager for Workflow and Finishing Solutions. It was mid-morning at Gil Hatch Center for Customer Innovation in Webster, N.,Y., where Xerox hosted a pre-drupa customer and media event on March 16.
The centerpiece of the event was a sneak peak at the Brenva HD, which the company announced a couple of weeks ago. Brenva, the debut model of a new production inkjet platform, is a cut-sheet press, said to print up to 197 A4-size sheets per minute. In the context of Xerox’s overall portfolio, Brenva is intended to fit into the sub-iGen space, specializing in documents such as light direct mail, books and manuals, transactional, and other “business color” work. Since Brenva is the first model in a new series, and recognizing that the debut model of anything is a tough sell, the goal was to reuse as much proven technology as possible, so Brenva incorporates “the same frame, paper path, and feeding system as the iGen,” said Anne Fitzpatrick, Worldwide General Manager of Xerox-Developed Production Cut Sheet. “It includes some of the best technology we have,” she added. “You’re not buying the first version of a car.” Brenva utilizes the inkjet technology that Xerox acquired from its purchase of Impika in 2013 (the printheads are the same as those in the Rialto series).
Announced simultaneously with the Brenva HD was the Xerox Trivor 2400 Inkjet Press, the next generation of Xerox’s 20-inch rollfed presses, intended as a replacement unit for the Impika Compact. As the model number implies, Trivor print up to 2400 letter pages per minute, and it is intended for direct mail, catalogs, “magalogs,” and more offset kinds of work.
Both the Brenva and the Trivor will be on display at drupa, and the machines will be shipping in the Fall around the Graph Expo time frame. (By the way, “Brenva” is named after a peak in the Mont Blanc region of the Alps, while “Trivor” is one of the high peaks in the Karakoram range in Pakistan. The mountain range theme is meant to imply “take your business to new heights,” said Fitzpatrick.)
In addition to the new inkjet offerings, Xerox had also recently announced the latest generation of its flagship xerographic platform, the iGen5. The major new feature of the iGen5 is a fifth color station, with spot toners available in orange, green, and blue. (Violet is a more common additional color, but Xerox found that, after extensive experimentation, they could hit a greater number of brand logo colors with blue—the one significant exception being Yahoo!’s purple logo.) With these specialty toners, said Fitzpatrick, the iGen5 can match more than 90 percent of Pantone colors.
The iGen and toner-based production aren’t going anywhere, but Xerox clearly sees the inkjet writing on the wall. “[Inkjet] is getting more mainstream every day,” said Cristina Fernandez, VP and General Manager of Xerox’s Inkjet Business. “This is driven by business objectives, specifically shorter runs at lower cost.” She pointed out that inkjet falls into not only a “zone of disruption” between cut-sheet toner and continuous-feed inkjet, but there is also a zone of migration between continuous-feed inkjet and offset. Like other inkjet equipment manufacturers, Xerox recognizes that paper has traditionally been inkjet’s Achilles heel, but is actively addressing that issue. “How do we expand the range of substrates we can support?” said Deana Conyard, Xerox’s World Wide Inkjet Manager.
As befits the slogan that Xerox has been using at recent shows—“Let the work flow”—there was a special emphasis placed on workflow and software solutions. Automation, via Xerox’s FreeFlow Core, is essential to print shop success, and Horey’s presentation about workflow and automation stressed Xerox’s Document Finishing Architecture (DFA) that supports third-party finishing solutions inline with Xerox print engines. One example he presented was a Xerox Versant digital press inline with a Duplo sheet feeder, a GB C Advanced Punch pro, and a GBC wire binder to automate the production of wire-bound lay-flat books.
Part of the software conversation involved personalization, and how Xerox is “adding personalization where it never was before, like packaging,” said Idan Youval, Director of Business Development and Pre-Sales for XMPie. Youval also spoke of Xerox’s partnership with Highcon to develop a “web-to-pack” solution, and enable more customized and personalized packaging either for business-to-business or business-to-consumer applications.
Rounding out the sessions was John DiVincenzo, VP and General Manager, Production Packaging, who spoke about Xerox’s offerings in the color digital folding carton market. “The same forces that opened up digital to commercial printing are driving digital packaging,” he said. Those forces are declining run lengths (driven by, in the case of packaging, the proliferation of SKUs), faster time to market, and more “value added” applications, such as customization, personalization, brand protection mechanisms, and so on. Xerox’s folding carton press is based on the iGen—and the fifth color station makes it an even more appealing platform for packaging applications, especially as, said DiVincenzo, iGen toners have been certified food-safe by the Food and Drug Administration. And the solid ink used in the Xerox CiPress also “play nice” with corrugated substrates.
According to InfoTrends data, said DiVincenzo, less than one percent of most packaging (folding cartons, corrugated, and flexible packaging) is currently digitally produced, which presents enormous opportunities for growth. (As for labels, about 25 percent is currently digitally printed.)
Some new avenues of exploration, he said, include printing addressable memory and sensors for so-called “smart packaging” applications, as well as on-shape packaging, or printing directly on bottles, cans, and other three-dimensional objects.
“Packaging is one of the untapped areas for digital,” Robert Stabler—Senior VP, General Manager, Graphic Communications Business Group—had said earlier in the day in his introductory session.
The day was capped off with a tour of the Gil Hatch Center’s “show floor,” where Xerox reps as well as partner companies were demonstrating the hardware and software solutions in action—including the new Brenva HD.
“We still see growth in xerographic printing, as well as the new inkjet technologies that we’re embracing,” said Stabler.