In addition to more than 200 sessions covering technical, business management, marketing for the commercial print, signage and graphics and packaging segments of the print industry, keynote speaker presentations took place as well as the “fireside chat” conversations – now a staple at EFI connect – where EFI CEO Guy Gecht sits down with printing company leaders. And the chats this year were with the first two users of EFI’s Nozomi press for corrugated applications: Eric Bacourt, CEO of Hinojosa Packaging Solutions and Mal McGowan, CEO of McGowans Print. The selections served as an indicator of where EFI’s sees the most growth potential for its technology.
EFI Connect 2018 marked the unveiling of several new EFI products for use in the packaging and corrugated industries, including version 6 of EFI’s Enterprise Commercial, Midmarket Print, Publication, Quick Print, Packaging and Corrugated Packaging Productivity Suites for advanced, end-to-end business and production MIS/ERP workflows, EFI MarketDirect, a next-generation cross media customer engagement platform, Escada software, EFI’s recently acquired, robust corrugated process control product as well as EFI iQuote technology for enhanced estimating of versioned and variable-data digital print work.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Gecht, during his keynote speech, emphasized that the “fourth industrial revolution is now upon us." Aspects of this new era, he said, include a demand for personalization and frequent changes in design. He noted that in order to transform the end user and consumer experience, customers must be thought as individuals and be connected with on a personal level. With regard to inkjet, Gecht added, “Print today is all about putting spectacular images on essentially any material. With digital inkjet technology and automation, the new print brings immense opportunity in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.”
He also stressed that companies that have been around for decades have a few things in common: “They embrace digital print and print beyond paper, they define markets and excel at them, and they cut costs without cutting quality," Gecht said.
Jetrion: In the hands of Xeikon
EFI has made a change in strategic direction, and it affects its role in the label market. Late last year, and echoed by Gecht during Connect 2018, the company indicated it will not be looking to major acquisitions to get into new markets, but will be focusing on developing its existing markets. However, the industrial label press market is one that it is not-so-much leaving behind, but is shifting is sales and service to Flint Group-owned digital press manufacturer Xeikon, who had representatives on hand at the event’s Solutions Showcase. Interestingly, Xeikon has recently launched its own Panther inkjet label printing technology.
At the time of the announcement, Gecht said, “EFI Jetrion printing systems have helped to establish the market for industrial digital inkjet label production, and the numerous innovations developed for high-resolution Jetrion technology – including high-end, production-class LED imaging, superior opaque white ink and true all-in-one integrated print, varnish, cut and slit systems – have given EFI Jetrion the largest installed base of UV inkjet label presses in the world. As we expand our portfolio of industrial inkjet products, we prioritized our go to market investment and resources. It was a clear choice for us to pick Xeikon, one of the undisputed leaders in digital label printing, as the ideal partner to continue a trustworthy sales and service operation for the Jetrion product line.”
“Knowing that our label customers will be in excellent hands in this partnership, we are looking forward to working closely with Xeikon to continue to provide ink for our current and future customers,” Gecht continued, “as we look for opportunities to expand this partnership to Productivity Software and future innovation.”
During Connect 2018, Gecht concluded: “In the past we made big acquisitions to get into an area. We are not planning to do that now. What we want to do is get deeper in the areas we are currently in.”
And it’s clear that these areas include wide format commercial, textile and corrugated printing. However, when asked by L&NW editor Steve Katz is someone wanted to buy a new EFI Jetrion label press, they’ll be happy to make one, and it’s EFI that would be handling production.
Clickable Paper, PrintReleaf
Several of EFI’s technology partners exhibited at EFI Connect 2018’s Solutions Center, and some – such as Ricoh – utilized the venue to unveil new products
Ricoh USA, Inc. introduced the new “gamification” and cookies-enablement features for Clickable Paper, revealing its latest strategic investment for the future of print and augmented reality (AR) applications. Clickable Paper leverages Ricoh Visual Search image recognition technology to enable communications to reach beyond the printed page by linking printed materials to rich online media sources – photos, websites, e-commerce portals, videos, social media platforms, to name a few – empowering marketers and other users to make print interactive quickly and easily, as it does not require any special markings such as QR codes. With the addition of new gaming features, push notifications and cookies-enablement, Clickable Paper now allows users to engage in challenges, contests, quizzes, surveys and more, along with new customization and workflow capabilities, increasing and improving campaign engagement and ROI.
Users can begin implementing these new features immediately, even in ongoing campaigns. The ease-of-use of the service enables marketers to apply and adjust clickable content to existing campaigns instantly, based on new campaign elements or feedback from Clickable Paper's built-in analytics. The new release was demonstrated throughout EFI Connect 2018.
"Since Ricoh was founded, commitment to innovation has been at the heart of everything we do. Clickable Paper is no exception," said John Fulena, Vice President, Commercial & Industrial Printing Group, Ricoh USA, Inc. "This captivating service empowers communicators to get the absolute most out of their printed collateral, both now and in the rapidly evolving future. Today, marketing is all about capturing mindshare, and with Clickable Paper, marketers can instantly do just that, and do it with the peace of mind that they can adjust on the fly, capture analytics and much more. It's a new way to bring paper to life."
PrintReleaf demonstrated at EFI Connect its latest reforestation technology. "At PRINT 17 in Chicago, PrintReleaf was rolled out to the commercial printing market and its collaboration with EFI was announced. At EFI Connect 2018, PrintReleaf showed how commercial and label and package printers can offer their customers reforestation services. “This popular technology has been proven in the managed print services environment, and is now ready for broad implementation in the commercial printing market,” PrintReleaf founder and CEO Jordan Darragh said.
PrintReleaf creates a global sustainability standard by certifiably guaranteeing to “releaf” the paper consumption of PrintReleaf customers. PrintReleaf is touted as the only technology platform that measures customers' paper usage and certifiably reforests that usage on an equivalent basis. The patented PrintReleaf technology not only tracks paper consumption, but also monitors PrintReleaf reforestation partners to ensure fulfillment.
Several partners, including Ricoh, Xerox, Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA and Riso, showcased print engines running EFI Fiery digital front ends (DFEs). The new, scalable Fiery FS300 Pro DFE platform used in several new print engines from EFI partners can handle high-speed sheetfed and ultra-high-speed continuous-feed B1 production and offers new features for superior color, performance, usability and integration. EFI partners’ new Fiery-based DFEs include the new version 6 of Fiery Command WorkStation – a highly advanced user interface with new preview, search and reprint functions that can serve as the single point of control for multiple Fiery Driven production devices. EFI is also demonstrating upcoming Fiery products: Fiery Command WorkStation for wide- and superwide-format inkjet and Fiery Navigator dashboard analytics for wide- and superwide-format inkjet.
Additional partners participating in Connect’s solutions center included: 3M Commercial Solutions, Aberdeen Fabrics, Duplo, Enfocus, Esko, Kodak, Motioncutter, OneVision, The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation, Progress Software Corp.; SpencerMetrics, X-Rite Pantone and Zünd.