By Martin Habekost
By Martin Habekost
EFI hosted its annual worldwide user conference, called EFI Connect, at the Wynn in Las Vegas from January 23 to 26, 2018, launching a range of new products for different markets – hinting at how the company has broaden its portfolio over the past decade. Here, I take a look specifically at EFI’s new products and updates for the packaging market.
On the first day of the conference, Guy Gecht, CEO of EFI, hosted a fireside chat with two customers from Europe. These customers were a couple of the first to install a Nozomi C18000 digital UV LED inkjet press for the corrugated market. This machine is intended for corrugated packaging, corrugated display and high-quality graphics for integrated corrugaters and independent converters. It can be run in single-lane mode were the corrugated board is as wide as the feeder of the press or in dual-lane mode, which prints the corrugated pieces side-by-side in one pass. In this dual-lane mode, the print speed reaches up to 6,600 sheets per hour.
The first customer that Guy Gecht spoke with was Eric Barcourt, CEO of Hinojosa Packaging Solutions in Spain. This company has 12 production sites in Spain and they use offset, flexo and gravure as their main print technologies. They service the middle-market to the small customer. One important statement was that big customers do not do value-added production of their packaging products. Hinojosa started out by serving the shoe and textile industry in Spain by printing simple, single-colour boxes for the shoe industry. This is now changing with the outside of packaging products becoming more and more colourful and individualized.
In the past some of Hinojosa’s customers transferred their packaging printing to low-cost countries to save money, but now they are bringing their business back to Spain, because they require relatively short delivery times between the finished printed product and getting it to the end customer. In Europe, the market is consolidating and production and shipping costs need to be reduced. The internal processes in a print company also have to optimized to make a company successful. This includes also the office, back office and the design department. It is important to combine people, technology and means to achieve an efficient corrugated packaging business.
Eric Barcourt pointed out that they were the first customer to install a Nozomi C18000. He stated that the Nozomi offers the best image quality for the substrates they use and it allows them also to print on substrates which not always 100 percent flat. The Nozomi press allows them to service their customers with faster turnaround times and more customized and individualized solutions.
The second Nozomi customer was Mal McGowan, CEO of McGowan Print in Ireland. His business is a bit different than that of Hinojosa Packaging in Spain. He has a digital print company, mostly small-format printing. They also use Indigo technology to satisfy their customer needs. One of the special finishing technologies they use is Scodix. McGowan Print produces mostly outdoor media, advertisement for bus shelters and banners. They use PVC banner material and mesh fabric. These are usually printed on one of the company’s five flatbed machines. This gives an idea what they are doing in their business.
McGowan explains that for them digital printing is growing, the technology is getting better and they can print better and faster than screen printing companies. The purchase of a Nozomi C18000 allowed McGowan Print to get into corrugated packaging and now they are producing work for companies like L’Oreal. The Nozomi allows them to get into the production of floor displays, which they now sell to the UK and Europe. The purchase of the Nozomi, explains McGowan, was a game changer for the company.
During the Wednesday keynote at Connect, Marc Olin, CFO of EFI, stated that EFI has purchased the FreeFlow RIP software technology from Xerox and has integrated this technology into its lastest Fiery RIP products. This allows the use of 5- and 6-colour digital toner-based machines that support the application of gold, silver and white colour together with CMYK. The customer can choose to print one of the metallic inks in print station one and either white or the other metallic colour in print station six. This unique ability allows for some interesting colour effects on any small-run packaging applications.
A new flatbed printer was announced at EFI Connect 2018. It was the HSF4, a 3.2-metre-wide machine with print speeds of up to 225 boards per hour. It is designed for the corrugated packaging market.
Also at EFI Connect, productivity suite 6.0 for the corrugated box converting and folding carton industry was announced. This suite offers productivity gains in the areas of new revenue generation through cross-media marketing, eCommerce/Web to Print, customer relationship management and fulfillment and warehousing. Efficiencies and Profitability can be enhanced through dynamic intelligent estimating, global resources scheduling and optimized layout and planning. In the areas of pre-production the suite offers improvements in imposition and composition, complex versioning, personalization and integration with pre-press. The suite also offers benefits for the production through shop floor data management, direct machine interface and integrated digital front end (DFE) and job management.
Trough the cooperation between Xeikon and EFI in the area of the Jetrion digital label printers synergies are achieved. Xeikon will provide service, sales and support for the Jetrion presses, while EFI will continue to manufacture inks for these presses. Xeikon manufactures digital presses for packaging and labels. Its LED technology allows true 1,200-dpi resolution. Digital label printing is one of the core strengths of Xeikon, which usually offers toner-based digital presses for label printing, folding cartons and commercial presses.
During an interview session with the press Guy Gecht, he said that the flexible packaging is a very interesting market for EFI. Unfortunately, but he would not provide more information in regards to this statement at the moment. From what transpired during EFI Connect is the fact that once they get into a market they are very dedicated to offer their customers the best possible solutions that allows them to be profitable in that market segment that they are currently in or intended to go into.