Hunkeler: Making connections

The Hunkeler Innovation Days may have started out as just another open house event, but it has evolved far beyond that into one of the most compelling events on the print industry calendar.

What sets this event apart from others is its strong focus on connecting the various products together to show working production lines that demonstrate practical solutions to the sort of problems that many printers face. This is down to Hunkeler’s willingness to partner with other suppliers, for both printers and other post-press equipment. But it doesn’t hurt that this year’s event followed on from last year’s Drupa, which meant that many customers had identified possible solutions in Dusseldorf and used the Luzern event to firm up their decisions.

Naturally, Hunkeler’s own kit dominated most of the production lines on show. Philipp Fritschi, Hunkeler’s head of marketing, explained: “Now we show the standard Popp8 generation for the next ten years. So with the reel to stack line we process 22.5ins wide paper web so it’s a little bit wider than the Popp6 generation and it’s faster.” In Lucerne Hunkeler showed systems running at up to 180mpm but Fritschi says that these can go higher, adding: “We think it’s enough for the current generation.”

The big theme at this year’s show was that of greater connectivity. So, for example, Muller Martini showed its Sigma Connex and announced that this has now been opened up to other vendors, including Hunkeler, Heidelberg and Polar.

Horizon also contributed modules to several production lines, including a new smart binding system based around the BQ480 perfect binder running on a line that included several Hunkeler units. It can handle variable data production down to a book of one as well as short runs with multiple thicknesses providing the books are the same size.

Hunkeler’s Popp8 winder with Kodak imprinting modules.

There is a symbiotic relationship between a digital press and the post-press kit necessary to turn printed paper into actual products. This is perfectly reflected in the relationship between Hunkeler and the press manufacturers; the event attracts so many buyers that many press vendors use it to launch new printers; at the same time, the show’s reputation for showcasing new presses has helped cement its position and attracts more customers.

This year Canon has stepped up to the mark, announcing the Océ ProStream. I’ve already covered this as a news story and will expand on this in another post but for now it’s worth noting that this press reflects the two main trends in inkjet right now – towards better print quality rather than higher speeds plus the ability to print to standard offset stocks.

HP also announced the T235 PageWide Inkjet web press. It’s 25 percent slower than the T240 but can be upgraded to the same spec. Essentially it’s the same print engine and just needs additional RIP power and drying capability.

Canon launched this Oce ProStream at the Hunkeler Innovation Days event.

Naturally both HP and Canon claimed to be the number one in the industry, taking into account various caveats. Most companies seem to feel obligated to say something like this to a roomful of journalists even though most journalists feel equally obligated to ignore this kind of posturing. Of course, it’s easy for me to be cynical because I really am the leading player in my field, which just happens to be unfit middle aged red-headed English men writing obscure blogs about printing technology.

In the meantime, stay tuned as I’ll break out some of the more interesting points and announcements into separate stories and will update this article with links to those stories.

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