About 40 printing industry journalists and analysts gathered in Boca Raton, Florida, last month for an annual Canon update.
This annual event used to be tagged Canon Solutions America’s Anniversary event, celebrating anniversaries following Océ’s acquisition by Canon. In light of the company’s One Canon initiative, launched in August of last year, the event now focuses on broader content from both Canon Solutions America and Canon USA.
Toyo Kuwamura, President of Canon Solutions America, was unfortunately unable to join us, but Canon USA Chairman and CEO kicked off the event. It is always interesting to get a top-level view of the company, beyond just print. Canon is in so many different businesses, all with images at their heart, from medical to enterprise workflow to, of course, a huge range of camera/photo solutions. Canon has also ranked high on the list of patent filers; in 2016, IBM filed 8,000; Samsung filed 5,000; and Canon filed 4,000. A key message from Mr. Adachi with respect to the need for continuing innovation was this:
We cannot stay at the same place forever. No organization is safe from non-traditional competition.
Canon truly takes that advice to heart, as evidenced by the innovation we see in the company’s many new products.
The event included both good news and surprises. The company had just come off Hunkeler Innovationdays in Lucerne, Switzerland, where the new Canon Océ ProStream series production inkjet press was shown publicly for the first time. (It had been unveiled to a group of journalists and customers in Poing, Germany, the week before.) My colleague David Zwang shared details about this completely new design, whose goal was the ability to produce high quality, high coverage print on conventional coated and uncoated offset media. Canon has already sold six ProStream presses, with the first installation scheduled for July 2017, and is anticipating selling up to 25 total presses before the end of 2017. The 2018 sales target is 100 presses. The press is 75 feet long and is not positioned as a replacement product, but as one that will open up new markets.
The surprise was the launch of a brand-new wide format imaging technology embedded in the Colorado 1640, a 64-inch rollfed printer featuring UVgel technology. My colleague Richard Romano provided details of this innovative offering. The product was unveiled at the end of the day to great fanfare. We saw how fast it prints – up to 1,710 square feet per hour – and witnessed its great quality. Canon touts not only its speed, quality and small footprint as advantages, but also reports that the cost per square foot for consumables is up to 40% lower than competitive machines, including Latex and Eco-Solvent. At a list price of $58,000, this is sure to be a market hit. It is expected to start shipping next month, so this was no smoke and mirrors demo! Meanwhile, Canon plans to grow its Arizona sales by 50% in 2017.
Meanwhile, the Canon Océ i300 sheetfed production inkjet press is gaining ground quickly. Mal Baboyian, Executive Vice President at Canon Solutions America, reported that 70 units had been placed and the presses were experiencing 750,000 images mean time between failure with 97% uptime. I had an opportunity to speak to a couple of customers at the event who validated the reliability of the press.
At drupa 2016, Canon surprised attendees with a prototype of Voyager, 7- color B2 sheetfed ‘offset’ production inkjet press running at 3000 sph and producing photographic quality print on a wide variety of untreated substrates. Baboyian reports that the product is still on track to launch in 2018.
Canon does a nice job of integrating customers into these events, and many of the presentation segments were Q&A sessions with customers. Customers were also for us to speak with throughout the event.
Finally, the company announced the dates for the thINK Forum, the Canon Inkjet users group, scheduled for 9-12 October in Boca Raton. It will present a good opportunity for a further update on upcoming product launches in the production inkjet space, as well as news about the installation status of the company’s broad range of existing products. thINK is also a great venue for the media to speak with customers, who are central to the event, as attendees and presenters!