Commentary & Analysis
Wide-Format at Drupa—That Was The Week One That Was
Drupa 2016 thus far has not had a lot of wide-format announcements per se, but corrugated—one point where wide-format and packaging meet—is playing a big role this year, with some major announcements.
By Richard Romano
Published: June 6, 2016
As I expected, the first week of drupa has not seen an abundance of wide-format announcements and introductions, although there was much wide-format on display (see the full recap in next week’s report).
As you’ve no doubt seen elsewhere in our ongoing drupa coverage, there have been some big announcements around corrugated packaging, one of those areas where wide-format and packaging overlap. As Sister Cary tweeted earlier in the week, “Will this be the corrugated drupa?” (hashtags removed for clarity). It certainly seems to be shaping up that way.
On Tuesday, EFI launched the Nozomi C18000, an LED-based single-pass corrugated press. The 1.8m inkjet press is said to run at speeds up to 75 linear meters per minute and, like the majority of EFI’s portfolio, uses the company’s LED-based “cool cure” drying technology. “Nozomi” means “hope” in Japanese, but is also name of the fastest train running on Japan’s Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen lines. In other words, they’re implying that the press is fast. (This is why you will never see a digital press named “Amtrak.”) You can get a look at the Nozomi C18000 here.
Getting back on track, it was also announced this week that EFI and Esko have partnered to develop workflow systems specific to the packaging market. The first fruit of this partnership is integration of Esko’s Automation Engine, EFI’s Packaging Productivity Suite, and EFI’s Fiery front end. This will be officially available by the end of the year.
When Duke Ellington, and Barney Bigard, and Irving Mills wrote “Mood Indigo” in 1930, were they foreseeing drupa 2016? You’ve seen all the HP Indigo news elsewhere on WhatTheyThink, but in keeping with our theme, HP is previewing the new PageWide C500 Press, an industrial direct-print corrugated press that, unlike HP’s Scitex Corrugated line, is based on the company’s PageWide production inkjet technology. Its water-based inks are safe for food packaging (at least the non-food contact surface) and are said to comply with global food safety regulations and industry guidelines. Testing of the PageWide C500 starts in 2017 should be available in 2018.
Both EFI’s Nozomi and HP’s PageWide C500 are targeted toward print providers of all sizes, so we’re seeing corrugated solutions migrate downmarket, allowing more players to enter what all us analysts say is the fast-growing corrugated market.
In other corrugated news, Durst has announced a single-pass corrugated and label solution. The new Rho 130 SPC runs at speeds, says the company, of up to 9,350 square meters per hour, and is designed for cost-effective production of small- and medium-run packaging, as well as sampling, customization, and versioning. The Rho 130 SPC is based on Durst Water Technology, its aqueous-based ink.
A little later in the week, Screen and BHS Corrugated announced their partnership to develop they call the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Printing Solution, targeted at corrugated box plants. A new company, Screen GP IJC Ltd., has been launched to develop the print engine technology for the BHS Corrugated Inline Digital Print Solution.
So there will be many things corrugated-related to follow-up on this fall at Graph Expo.
Meanwhile in wide-format finishing, Canon Europe is demonstrating a prototype of what it is currently calling “View & Cut” (the name is also a prototype), a workflow automation system that is the product of a partnership with Zünd Skandinavien. View & Cut is designed to automate the finishing of output from Canon wide-format printers on the Océ ProCut G3 and S3 flatbed devices.
Epson has had a slew of product introductions over the past several months, including the 64-inch SureColor SC-P20000, but they saved one for drupa: the 44-inch SureColor SC-P10000. A high-speed photoprinter, the SC-10000 is designed to produce wide-format photos, POS/POP displays, and signage, and is targeted at photolabs, photo and copy shops, print production providers, and in-house/in-plant printing departments.
Finally, we should say bon anniversaire! to Caldera Software, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary at drupa. The traditional gift for a quarter-century is silver, but in this case, it is version 11 of its Caldera RIP software. Caldera was one of the earliest RIP manufacturers to specifically support wide-format printing, and last year they started partnering with Enfocus to bring automation to wide-format workflows via Enfocus Switch. Caldera has been increasing its partnerships—HP is one of the latest—and has also been staking claims in other specialty printing markets. TextilePro is designed for large-scale digital textile production, while Nexio is a software connector for workflow automation for industrial and graphics printing. At drupa, Caldera is specifically staking out a claim in the additive manufacturing (popularly called “3D printing”) space, and has announced several partnerships, including Massivit, manufacturer of large-format object fabricators. 3D-printed houses? The mind boggles.
Patrick Henry has more coverage of the corrugated packaging announcements and developments in the Label and Packaging section, and stay tuned to WhatTheyThink all next week as the show goes on in Düsseldorf.