Narrow Web Europe

Agfa: a digital dilemma

October 14, 2008

Photographic films were for decades the flagship product of Belgium based Agfa. Then digital cameras came along and the flagship ran aground. Agfa has since done a creditable job in reinventing itself, developing in particular prepress systems and inkjet printers. At this year’s Drupa show in Germany, Agfa took orders for US$150 million. According to company president Stefaan Vanhooren, visitors were particularly interested in Agfa’s industrial inkjet systems and eco-friendly prepress. Agfa, of course, bought out Dotrix several years ago and has had some success in introducing this inkjet process into the narrow web sector.
In the prepress segment, the shift from analog computer-to-film systems to digital computer-to-plate systems continues, and Drupa 2008 clearly showed a growing interest in systems that allow computer-to-plate printers to operate in a more environmentally friendly way. Agfa this year demonstrated both “chemistry free” and “low chemistry” print plates for both narrow and wide web.
Rumors abounded earlier this year that Agfa had been in discussions to sell its graphics division (annual sales $2 billion) to Germany’s Heidelberg. However, the German giant’s huge investment in this year’s Drupa show, together with falling sales in many of its developed world markets, have reportedly left Heidelberg’s coffers sadly depleted.