Inkjet can be a very powerful production technology and it is extremely versatile. Although there is a lot of choice in printers, many customers find that they need something different – customised to fit their production requirements. This is the world of inkjet integrators – companies that build custom solutions based on inkjet technology.
Keeping track of all the offerings can be difficult however, as these companies are seldom in the limelight. Still there are remarkable suppliers like NEOS. The company was founded five years ago in Fiorano Modenese, Northern Italy. The founder, Vincenzo Palumbo, had 20 years of experience in ceramic inkjet printing and yet he decided to bring inkjet technology to a number of other markets with the new company. Today, NEOS has about 30 employees and continues to grow. Design and manufacturing are all on-site, as is the customer centre. The centre has three demo lines for different applications and up to 800mm width installed. Customers and prospects are invited to bring their materials for print trials.
With the focus on inkjet, NEOS specialises on flexibility and customisation of the print lines. Printers supplied can be integrated in existing production lines or can be stand-alone printers. Customers are equally varied, ranging from equipment suppliers, printing companies and goods manufacturers.
Currently the company has its main focus on three application areas:
- Wood laminate on paper and edge banding on ABS or PVC for the furniture industry
- Sheet metal for interior or exterior use
- Packaging applications, including label, folding carton, flexible packaging and corrugated
In the edge banding sector, the company achieved great success so far, confirmed by the latest orders, both in Italy and abroad. While the focus is on these three areas, the company can move into other application areas as well.
There are 8 base model designs the company can draw from. Those offer belt (for rigid substrates) or roll transport – or can be integrated into production lines if required. The base solutions can be quite complex like the Fighter FR series for packaging markets, with up to 12 imaging stations, surface treatment units, driers (including pinning) and unwind/rewind. The base models cater for the main segments targeted and can be modified to fit the specific use cases. NEOS offers hybrid solutions as well, in which the inkjet unit can be combined with flexo or gravure units – which is helpful in the packaging markets.
Most focus is on printers with page-wide inkjet heads. However, with the UR series a scanning head plotter solution for widths up to 2.25m is available as well. Additionally, NEOS offers a test printer for R&D purposes or to test inks, substrates and print heads.
In terms of head and ink supplier, NEOS is flexible. The final design will depend on the application case and NEOS has worked with a number of head suppliers so far. NEOS has a stake in an ink supplier in Italy, which could be beneficial in developing custom inks. Ultimately the ink used will be governed by the application and this will determine the ink supplier. NEOS has installations with water-based and UV-inks. Software and RIP are provided by NEOS as well to cater for the varying needs of the different industrial applications.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has halted trade fairs and international relations, in 2021 NEOS turnover will more than double compared to 2020: from 4.8 million to 10 million euros, with a staff growth to 40 employees anticipated.
Apart from Italy NEOS is currently active in Germany with the installation of a Bombardier B-Roll printer at a major company in the furniture sector for printing wood décor on paper. This machine is set up for highest performance: printing at 120 m/min on media 2.25 metres wide. The printer operates with 200 print heads to offer maximum resolution and speed. Plans are to increase the sales coverage in Europe and into the Middle East and to have agents in the respective countries.
With business activities picking up and trade shows opening again it will be interesting to see more of the NEOS solutions in the market. Customised inkjet printing solutions for specialty markets will remain a hot topic in any case.