This year’s EFI Connect, which took place at Wynn Las Vegas, featured important technology advancements from EFI, including the debut of the company’s largest soft-signage printer and new LED, roll-to-roll printers offering market-leading productivity.
In addition to the new printers, EFI unveiled version 5 of its Productivity Suite end-to-end workflow offerings at Connect. The company also highlighted next-generation EFI Fiery® digital front end (DFE) production technologies that deliver uncompromising quality and productivity in digital print production. Many Connect sessions uncovered the ways these new products and other EFI offerings drive customer productivity and growth by creating new opportunities and streamlining workflow processes.
The new VUTEk® 5r and 3r printers are designed to be the industry’s most technically advanced LED roll-to-roll production offerings. Printing at speeds up to 454.8sqm (4896 square feet) per hour in resolutions up to 1200 dpi, the five metre EFI VUTEk 5r and three metre EFI VUTEk 3r printers maximise performance, efficiency and quality. Featuring high-resolution, 7-picolitre EFI UltraDrop™ Technology, the new printers offer the fastest throughput in the market, superior image quality and a lower total cost of ownership for premium graphics work. The printers are also available with a complete range of upgrade options for high productivity and versatility, including optional light colours and white for multi-layer printing; inline finishing for all-in-one printing, cutting, slitting, and collecting; auto backlit and blockout printing, and more.
VUTEk FabriVU 520 printer
Customers can take advantage of fast-growing soft-signage opportunities using EFI’s largest soft signage printer, the 5.2-metre EFI VUTEk FabriVU 520, launched at Connect. The printer gives users new capabilities for producing a broader range of soft signage products, including wall murals, theatre drapes, and other superwide seamless applications.
The printer can produce up to 446 square metres (4800 square feet) per hour, and prints at resolutions up to 2400 dpi. It can do both direct-to-textile and transfer printing with an easy changeover using the same ink set for greater versatility. A patented ink-recovery system saves more than 95% of the ink lost in textile printing systems offered by other manufacturers.
Both new VUTEk printers that were on exhibit at Connect featured the latest-version EFI Fiery proServer DFE, which gives users the advantage of fast RIPing, accurate, high-quality colour and robust production management.
In his opening keynote speech at the conference, EFI CEO Guy Gecht addressed artificial intelligence and the impact the next wave of advanced technology is having. Some ERP and MIS workflow products developed by EFI, for example, learn to be more efficient as they track business’s operations.
‘As with the developments we have all seen with personal computers and mobile technology, artificial intelligence promises to create more opportunities,’ said Gecht. ‘In print, it can drive preventive diagnostics and predictive maintenance, which helps our customers improve their top and bottom lines.’
Jeff Jacobson, the new CEO of Xerox, was featured in Gecht’s ‘fireside chat’. Xerox recently completed the separation of Conduent Incorporated, creating two market-leading, publicly-traded companies. Jacobson said the successful completion of the separation sharpens the company’s market focus and commitment to its customers.
He also said that his aim was to create ‘a culture of winning’ at Xerox and believed in focusing on customer relationships and mobilising and energising employees. His leadership advice included: ‘commitment, accountability and playing to win. You need to get the best player in every position’.
EFI Connect’s workflow sessions focused on the advancements of the industry’s largest software portfolio with version 5 of EFI’s six Productivity Suites – the Commercial Print Suite, the Midmarket Print Suite, the Packaging Suite, the Quick Print Suite, the Publication Print Suite and the Corrugated Packaging Suite.
The event featured the new Fiery NX server and NX Station for fast RIPing and streamlined cut-sheet production automation; Fiery DFE products for wide and superwide format inkjet proofing and production; and Fiery Workflow Suite offerings that boost productivity with best-in-class tools for document imposition, assembly, late-stage editing, visual make-ready, prepress automation and more. The newest version of EFI Fiery Navigator™ simplifies the process of analysing daily digital print operations and long-term trends, delivering actionable business intelligence in a customisable, visual dashboard while providing device management capabilities.
Fiery products shown at Connect provide top quality without compromise in digital production printing to the most rigorous production demands. EFI Fiery technology continued its advanced colour leadership by recently becoming one of the first offerings in the industry to successfully handle all 48 test patches in the new Ghent Workgroup PDF Output Suite version 5.0 – a critical test factor and de facto standard for determining quality printing of PDF documents.
Packaging is a major focus for EFI. There is much excitement about the release of the Nozomi C18000 press, targeted at digital printing for packaging. The press was introduced at drupa 2016 and will help corrugated manufacturers and brands access a wide colour gamut and broader design options in corrugated board work with fast turnaround times, all while maintaining low production costs. It was announced at the event that the first press will be installed at a company in Spain during early March.
Besides packaging, other solutions in the pipeline that will allow customers to branch out into new markets include the EFI Cubik series, which will address the building materials market and can print on wood, concrete, metal, glass and natural stones.
The event concluded with a talk from Andy Paparozzi, chief economist at Idealliance, who said that the printing industry is heading for an upturn. He emphasised that this upturn was exclusive to those with ‘superior knowledge of what clients and prospects value most and superior ability to consistently deliver that value; superior knowledge of how their client’s communications needs are changing and superior knowledge of what will work tomorrow’.
Some of the questions businesses should ask themselves to ensure they are not left behind include:
– What are we doing differently in 2017 than we did in 2016?
– How are we becoming more valuable to clients? What really makes us valuable to them?
– What are our biggest internal barriers to profitable growth? What internally is holding us back? What are we doing about it?