Keeping Busy in the Big Easy

While unseasonably cool temperatures greeted me on my arrival to New Orleans for SGIA 2011, it certainly didn't slow me down when it came to the first day of the show.

A few notes from my meetings over the course of the day…

SGIA Opening

SGIA opened the first day of the Expo with a press breakfast and overview of the show. Michael Robertson reported that 36 percent of attendees registered for the show were first-timers. It makes me wonder

  1. what is different about New Orleans and SGIA this year to warrant such a high number of first-time registrants and
  2. what market segments these folks have come from.

I didn't get the chance to ask Michael, but it's on my list of questions I need to follow-up on with SGIA.

Dan Marx continued the morning with a show overview—450 exhibitors, 30 educational sessions, and 6 demo "no sales" educational zones—PDAA, Narrow-Format, Digital Apparel Production, Screenprint Apparel Production, Industrial and Printed Electronics, and Digital Signage. He also went into some of the results from the recent Market & Product Trends Survey. Top three markets: Retail Corporate branding Non-profits.

Top three applications

  1. Banners
  2. Window Graphics
  3. POS/POP Signage

"SGIA is very optimistic about the show and the industry," said Marx during his remarks this morning. "This segment continues to grow and SGIA offers the widest view of the industry."

A New Take on Old Printers

One of the more interesting concepts I'd seen in a long while was the one offered by Printer Evolution. Former EFI VP of Sales Kevin Sykes mans the reigns as CEO and co-founder along with Mike Mills (another former EFI VP on the engineering side). Greg and Tara Lamb (Global Imaging) are on-board as equity partners—and provide exclusive distribution for new printers released by Novus Imaging (another new company co-founded by Sykes and Mills). With Printer Evolution, they are giving new life to old printers. With the Vutek 3360 as the base—for the frame—Printer Evolution provides a full field upgrade kit, changing over these older printers into something new with brand-new technology. The new Evo33 printers have completely upgraded electronics and motor control systems, along with new printheads and a "wrapped" or skinned printer which provides the final make-over for these older printer models. This model was originally conceived by the Lambs with the help of their other companies including Global Garage and Panoply Supplies.

Through Novus Imaging, two new printers are entering the market. The Synergia H/UV (in beta beginning 11/10/11 and shipping by the end of the year) is a UV printer priced at $525,000. The Synergia H/AQ (priced at $649,000) is a aqueous resin printer with a unique AquEpoxy ink. This binary epoxy ink is a two-part solution (colorant + reactant agent) that, once combined on the substrate, mixes to form an ink that is "glued" to the substrate. Both printers feature Spectra grayscale printheads, use Caldera RIPs, and are available through Global Imaging. An upgrade path is available for PSPs purchasing the Synergia H/UV to upgrade to the AQ model when it becomes available in 2012. The beta for this unit is set for January 2012.

Look for additional products in this line at ISA and a European introduction at drupa 2012.

EFI

During EFI's press conference, Scott Shinlever (Sr. VP/GM of EFI Inkjet Solutions) talked about how EFI was the "little big company" and how its GS series has matured over the years, aiding in the industry's move from screen to digital. New products on the show floor include: GS3250LX (hybrid printer), GS5000r (roll-to-roll 5m), GS3250r (featuring a "money mode" of more than 1,000 sqft), TX3250 (3.2 m direct-to-fabric or transfer paper textile printer), Rastek R3200 (a 3.2m eco-sol printer under $150k), and the Jetrion 4900 digital label printer (recently released at Label Expo).

Onyx

Over at the Onyx booth, I had the opportunity to sit down with Keven Murphy (new president, moving over from Oce) and Danielle Mattiussi (director of product marketing) to see what was new. Most of our discussion revolved around JDF and the new JDF standard that was under development with the CIP4 wide-format subgroup. It will be interesting to see this standard finally take hold in the wide-format market—a market that has traditionally not had any standards in regards to color management or workflow. For the commercial printers, the JDF standard is something they've been looking for since it has already been in place in the market there for many years. I see this as another step in the maturity of the wide-format industry as it moves from a craftsman mindset to one based on manufacturing (marked by the moves to automation and more efficient production). Look for more on this in the coming year.

Durst

Durst's VP of marketing Chris Howard took us on a brief—but very interesting discussion—about the Durst Rho 1000 and how Durst was positioning itself as a "boutique industrial printer"—building printers to order and providing digital solutions to industrial markets (i.e. ceramic, flooring, textile decoration). Through the use of digital print, Durst has really changed the way some of the manufacturing markets (i.e. ceramic tile) have some to market with some of the larger ceramic tile manufacturers replacing the older technology with the Gamma printer in-line.

The popularity of the Rho 500 and the Gamma (for ceramic tile printing) has also led to the expansion of one of their facilities. While some trends they are observing are more social (globalization and connectivity) there are five specific trends to the wide-format market that they feel has had a driving influence market development: green/sustainability, technical developments, price pressure vs. high-quality demand, new applications, and more efficient production process.

HP

HP has several big announcements during the opening day of SGIA including the release of three new printers from the Scitex division. The new GM of Scitex, Xavier Garcia, opened the pres conference with some overviews of the signage market. According to Garcia, the signage market currently stands at 6.2B sqft of signage a year, but only 33 percent is currently produced via digital means—leaving quite a bit of opportunity for PSPs. He also reported that the signage market is also growing 11 percent CAGR (2010-2015). Of the many markets within this segment, retail signage shows some of the highest potential for growth. Decoration (digital interior market) and packaging were also two other market segments that show high potential for growth on the digital side.

Other trends: 67 percent of PSPs report shortening runs 3x the number of jobs for the same volume two years ago Jobs have decreased from 10,000 to 20,000 copies to 1,500 copies More than 40 percent of PSPs report an increased demand for QR codes and VDP.

The "Cloud" is changing the market and the way PSPs do business. It's not just about B2B anymore. It's not B2C. It's also about managing services from a variety of locations instead of one centralized hub. This is enabled through the  "Cloud" as well.

New products: Scitex FB7600 (replacing the FB7500) features multi-sheet loader and new FB225 (replacing FB221) ink. Available after November 1. Scitex XP2500/XP5500 (replaces the XP2300/XP5300 respectively) The new ink (FB225) is GreenGuard certified, Fogra39 compliant, and can be used for Pantone color matching.

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