Partner, Inkjet Insight
In Part 1 of our 2019 Prediction series, I looked at topics including supply chain issues, page volume growth strategies, and new market opportunities. Part 2 of this series looks at the competitive landscape of production inkjet presses for page printing applications and product announcements that we anticipate throughout the year.
Rising Tide or Shakeout?
Most of the top print brands are offering production inkjet solutions and there are a bevy of companies plotting their entry. Newcomers hope to capitalize on the maturation of inkjet technology and their potential to be disruptive in uniquely serving the market. It begs the question of whether there is enough opportunity to meet the aspirations of these companies designing and manufacturing solutions. We have seen some noteworthy indications of public companies struggling with transformations and Kodak was openly trying to sell its inkjet portfolio before changing strategy.
Is this a rising tide situation where inkjet floats the boat of opportunity for all manufacturers to displace analog applications? … or does success (or failure) in inkjet impact the long-term viability of these businesses causing a shakeout? The commercial market still remains widely untapped due to the most stringent requirements for speed, substrates, quality and low production costs, however other application segments are getting quite crowded. OEMs in application segments such as transaction printing and direct mail are also seeing competition from their own “pre-owned” models coming back on the market as viable solutions for new entrants.
The pace of innovation and potential for shake-out is likely to vary by application focus. Companies with a broader portfolio can shift their attention to new markets while those committed to an already crowded segment are likely to suffer. We are not likely to see the true winners and losers until the end of 2020, but expect that the pace of innovation will accelerate in the run-up to drupa. We expect to see announcements from several companies not represented on Inkjet Insight today.
New Products Will Enter the Market in 2019
Inkjet Insight’s Device Finder has over 176 products listed. Many of these are configurations within product lines and some are still supported while the manufacturers transition to newer product lines. The pace of new product introductions should continue as vendors jockey for new print volume.
There are several known products we expect to see introduced or commercialized in 2019 and we can speculate on others:
Canon most likely will bring the Canon Voyager, targeted for 2018 release, to market in 2019. This 3,000 B2+ sheets per hour press will use an intermediate transfer system and promises near photographic quality with 2,400 x 2,400 dpi resolution and up to 7 colors.
Also, noteworthy, Canon introduced multiple flagship platforms, both cut-sheet and roll-fed, in 2015 and 2017. While they may wait until drupa, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were new announcements in 2019 that extend the capabilities of these platforms.
Fujifilm announced the JPress 750S at the end of 2018. The throughput of the product increased from 2,700 B2 sheets per hour on the JPress 720S to 3,600 B2 sheets per hour on the JPress 750S. The JPress 750S also has a wide maximum sheet size of 23” x 29.5” (585mm x 750mm).
Fuji Xerox announced the 11000 Inkjet Press in January for the Japanese market. This 262 fpm roll-fed press leverages FujiFilm’s 1,200 x 1,200 DPI SAMBA inkjet technology and a new aqueous pigment ink that contains a fixing agent and is targeted towards direct mail applications including on coated substrates.
I anticipate that Komori will begin rolling out the Impremia NS40 B1 sheet-fed press in 2019. This press is based on a Komori chassis and Landa imaging technology. The company is focused on a freedom of substrate strategy which aligns well with their core base of high-end offset printing customers. Komori has been quietly winning deals with their Impremia IS29 B2 sheet-fed press which is based on the Konica Minolta platform. They also represent and service the roll-fed Truepress Jet520HD from Screen in North America. The entire portfolio delivers at 1200×1200 resolution and is laser focused on the commercial market that Komori serves with their offset and gravure presses.
Konica Minolta / Super Web / Memjet
These companies announced a three-way marketing partnership in 2018 leading to Konica Minolta selling Super Web’s WEBjet 200D and WEBjet100D. I expect to see more innovations from this partnership as Konica Minolta seeks to have a seat at the table in the high-speed roll-fed inkjet market, along with their sheet-fed inkjet products.
Kyocera Document Solutions
Kyocera previewed the TASKalfa Pro 15000c in 2018 and indicated it will begin shipping in 2019. This product is designed for production document printing and is targeted to compete with both existing black and white and color toner installations. In addition to being a copier and printer supplier, Kyocera is a major inkjet printhead supplier and it’s interesting to see this company bringing their own production printing system to the market.
Landa announced in 2018, placements of their technology with customers including the B1 format S10P at Mecury Print Productions in Rochester, NY. I expect to see them ramp up these activities in 2019. The Landa offering promises to open up commercial print applications on a wide range of substrates including coated stocks.
This inkjet component manufacturer has been on a roll recently with several interesting announcements, including the partnership with Super Web and Konica Minolta discussed earlier, a technology partnership with MGI Digital Technology to create a sheet fed press with MGI’s embellishment technology, and a cross-licensing agreement with Canon that was announced in 2018. Memjet’s technology is also part of the Delphax platform. Memjet is working hard to bring their technology to the production print market, and I expect to see at least one new partnership in 2019.
Ricoh announced the RICOH Pro VC70000 late last year with new inks and drying technologies that enables printing on offset coated substrates. I look forward to hearing about customer installs in 2019. In addition, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see the company extend these developments throughout their portfolio.
Screen just announced the addition of their Truepress Jet520HD+ which has a new AdphosNIR (near-infrared) Dryer technology and is intended to improve drying performance for both lightweight coated stocks and heavier weight, coated offset stocks. Screen has been putting a great deal of emphasis on inkjet growth in the label and packaging segment and I expect 2019-2020 announcements to be focused there rather than page printing applications.
Suzhou Ruifa Printing Technology Co.
The SUREjet-T7680 industrial grade thermal foaming inkjet print head was released by Chinese manufacturer Suzhou Ruifa last month. Scientist Xie Yonglin (formerly from Xerox and Kodak) founded the company with the goal of producing thermal inkjet heads for the production printing industry. While news of this technology is emerging, see a recent post from Ron Gilboa of KeyPoint Intelligence, the impact is yet unknown. If they follow the pattern of other technology developments, we should expect to see some business development and/or partnerships announced by drupa 2020. This most likely won’t impact the products in the market in 2019, but it will be interesting to watch moving forward.
While Xerox is still sorting out its’ relationship with Fujifilm and shareholders, this doesn’t impact their inkjet strategy. The company is busy developing equipment based on inkjet technologies it acquired from Impika. I wouldn’t be surprised to see new product designs to address applications on offset-coated stocks as well as doubling down on cross-selling of the Xerox/Fuji Xerox/Fujifilm portfolio to leverage the world-wide sales and service force more efficiently.
An Exciting Year Ahead
There are a lot of new products that have been queued up to be released in 2019 and I expect to see some product concepts announced that give additional insight into where the industry will evolve over the next couple years.
In a future post, I’ll dive into the market penetration of inkjet into the core print markets to help put these developments into context. We are quickly moving past the low hanging fruit of light coverage applications on uncoated paper stocks and will be seeing equipment that is purposely designed for some of the most challenging applications. 2019 is definitely a year where you must pay attention to what is happening in this market and Inkjet Insight will be there to help you sort out the news. Have a great year!