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Print Engines on the Beach

Press release from the issuing company

By Noel Ward, Executive Editor, On Demand Journal; Managing Editor, WhatTheyThink.com February 17, 2005 -- One of the surprises at this GOA was the expanded presence of the major print engine vendors. As the Latin American markets grow and become more politically and economically stable there's a natural fit for all types of digital print engines and the attendant workflow software that enhances their efficiency. This was evidenced by the bigger booths of Xerox and Hewlett-Packard this year, along with the presence of Xeikon and Nipson--newcomers to GOA. For whatever reason, the various press conferences and meetings I had seemed to be in reverse alphabetical order, so that's how I'll play it back here. Xerox took the opportunity at GOA to roll out its latest "light production" 4110 Digital Copier/Printer. There's a clear family resemblance between the 4110 and its more powerful sibling, the Nuvera Copier/Printer and Nuvera Digital Production System. A common point is the dual-head scanner, which simultaneously scans both sides of a page at 110-ppm, while the printer is busy printing the same document. Always the skeptic, I timed the demo in the booth and sure enough, the scanner cranked through 55 duplex pages in a minute and the printer finished the job about 5 seconds later. I was also impressed by the image quality, that uses Xerox's EA (Emulsion Aggregation) toner and achieves 2400 x 2400 dpi resolution, significantly raising the bar for the competition. The 4110 can hold over 8,000 sheets of paper in up to eight paper trays and offers a numerous finishing options including C- and Z-folding, 100-sheet stapling, two- and three-hole punching, saddle-stitching, and a booklet maker. In keeping with a trend in the industry, the 4110 can also handle oversized sheets--up to 13 x 19.2 inches-- in stocks ranging from 16-lb. Bond to 140-lb. Index. Should be a nice fit in many small to mid-sized print shops. Order taking begins worldwide in March, with list prices starting at $56,500 for the copier and $63,050 for the copier/printer. In both price and capabilities the 4110 is well-suited to the needs and budgets of smaller print shops in developing markets. Xerox has long been committed to Latin America and has an established presence in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Argentina. Brazil is the currently the largest market, but every country is growing, says Tom Wetjen, vice president, Worldwide Graphic Communications Industry. "And it's not just growing in one area. We're seeing steady growth in cut-sheet, continuous-form and color, from the low-end to the high-end of the market." Xeikon, coming to GOA for the first time, has a built a sales and marketing team focused on developing the Latin American market for the Xeikon 5000, 500 and 320 models, as well as the 330 label printer. Kristof Vereenooghe, president of Xeikon America, said the company believes the same 5-color, one-pass duplexing, and image quality that are making the new 5000 successful in Europe and North America will appeal to digital print providers in Latin America. He announced that the company, now a part of Punch International, has been profitable for three years and reached its annual 2004 sales goals for the 5000 by the end of September 2004. Not bad for a model launched back not long before drupa! To start off 2005, Vereenooghe announced at GOA that Vertis, a Baltimore, Maryland-based targeted direct marketing, advertising, and media firm is purchasing five Xeikon 5000s to keep up with demand. No stranger to Xeikon products, Vertis has been producing direct mail, digital one-to-one marketing and fulfillment pieces on six Xeikon-based engines for several years. These were earlier models, acquired from IBM as InfoColor 100s. Experience with those machines showed Vertis the Xeikon technology was right for their needs and they upgraded based on the ability of the 5000 and the new X-800 Digital Front End (DFE) to meet the company's stringent production specifications and high print volume. "We chose the Xeikon 5000 because we know Xeikon well," said Tom Dyson, vice president of sales and technical services for Vertis. "We were impressed by the development of spot color and MICR applications by Xeikon as well as the new back-end Print Protector, which is important for our direct mail programs." Nipson, another GOA first-timer, was in Miami Beach because they saw the growing potential in the Latin American market. Robert Stabler, president of Nipson America, told me the company has a large sales force in place and sees five different markets of opportunity, including: commercial and package printing, direct mail, security printing (such as checks and ID cards), MICR, and books. About half the jobs are coming to require interaction with other digital equipment or offset presses, and the high throughput of the Nipson devices makes them a good fit for handling many different types of jobs. "The VaryPress can slow down and speed up to match other machines," he explained, "And the cold fusing process we use lets us print on a very wide range of substrates." Nipson's immediate challenge in Latin America is to increase brand awareness and give the growing sales force the tools they need to succeed in the market. Stabler says Latin Americans will see increased PR efforts from Nipson and more activities in shows that address the region. Also coming are partnerships (still under development) to provide the finishing support needed for high speed production. Hewlett-Packard had it's new HP-Indigo 5000 press on hand, and it seemed to draw a steady crowd. Alon Bar Shany, vice president and general manager of the Indigo digital press division said the 5000 will be a fixture in HP booths at most major print shows this year. "It's a good platform for extending our technology, not only for printing but also for workflow and for media choices." HP-Indigo doesn't yet have a big presence in Latin America, but Bar Shany says a new product is designed to meet the needs of this and other developing markets. The HP Indigo 1050 is intended for smaller printers looking to enter digital printing without the financial commitment required by many of the higher-end machines. The 1050 builds on the success of its predecessor, the 1000 model, and continues to offer a low acquisition cost--about $150,000--and an upgrade path to the much more powerful 3000 model. For printers who want to spend even less, but still need digital color, reconditioned 1000 models are also available. They come with a one-year warranty and Bar Shany said HP is aggressively seeding markets with these machines. In addition to Latin America, Bar Shany said HP is seeing some significant growth in the Mid-East, eastern Europe, and Asia. He said it is important to tailor offerings to specific regions. This goes beyond equipment to include business development programs, collateral materials, equipment and service programs and to work through channel partners in ways that give them advantages for offering HP products. But wait, there's more! I still haven't told you about the Book Factory. That's next and will wrap it all up.