Ricoh teams up with Aeoon

At the end of October Ricoh announced a global partnership with Aeoon Technologies, an Austrian company that has developed a number of industrial printers. I asked Christian Compera, general manager of Ricoh Industrial Printing Solutions to explain some of the thinking behind this arrangement.

Aeoon has developed a number of industrial DtG printers.

He started off by saying that the agreement is “a first step to provide Ricoh technology to Aeoon and to come up with new products with our insight.” He continues: “Our first focus is to come up with a technology solution, where we feel we can provide a real differentiation to the market, first for Aeoon. Then if that solution is available, and it’s very well defined, then we as a partner can decide how do we take advantage of the solution.”

Compera explains: “Our approach is always to work with partners who have expertise in the market, which is why we have partnered with Aeoon. They are a very unique supplier of digital DtG applications, with a great technology portfolio, a great expertise and so far they have a good presence in the market. And we felt that together with Ricoh they could improve their positioning.”

He adds: “The beauty of our technology is that it’s proven, especially for the industrial environment which is very challenging for inkjet because of the dust in the environment and the need for uniformity is very challenging.”

According to Compera, the DtG market now is worth around $1 billion, including the hardware and consumables. He says that this market is split evenly between commercial entry-level printers and industrial machines, and the industrial side can be further sub-divided between entry level and high end devices.

He places Ricoh’s own RI-series DtG printers, along with those from Epson and Brother, in the commercial entry market, and says that only Kornit and Aeoon are really operating in the industrial sector, though he also gives credit to Roland, which has developed the Texart XT-640S.

Naturally Ricoh would like to expand into the industrial market. Compera notes that some industrial customers cluster several of the RI 2000 printers together to form a print farm but adds: “But there are some customers who have a higher demand that need an industrial solution with a heavy duty machine that can run 24 hours around the clock.”

Ricoh could simply develop its own machines, but apart from the time this would take, Compera says that it wouldn’t necessarily add any value. He explains: “The added value is in the combination of ink and substrate. That means the cost structure of the production will mainly be driven by the ink and the efficiency to bring the ink to the substrate or the garment, to have the best cost structure on the garment. This is the key success factor”

He points out that Aeoon has already developed an industrial printer, adding: “We are working together with Aeoon with the ink and head and making sure we have the best combination to get the best results at a competitive TCO and this will be our focus.”

It’s likely that the first fruit of this collaboration will be shown at the American ISS show in Long Beach, Florida in January 2022. 

For now, the heads in question will come from Ricoh’s proven bulk piezo range. Compera says that it’s too early to use the new thin film TH6310F head but notes: “It has additional advantages but we see that time to market is important.” It’s worth noting that Aeoon is mostly using Kyocera printheads at the moment.

He describes the ink as a joint activity but says that it will use some Ricoh IP, noting that Ricoh has some IP in textile ink, but that this will be used with IP from an ink producer.

Ricoh does own IP for two types of ink, latex and the recently-announced plant-based ink. For now, Ricoh will lean on the IP developed around its latex ink. But Compera says that Ricoh is testing the plant-based ink for use with textiles, which would offer a very sustainable solution. He adds: “We are keen to leverage our capabilities where we see opportunities for digital growth.”

Compera says: “We think there will be a fashion on-demand industry coming up, following on from the Corona virus and all the disruption we have seen with the supply chain. I think that big fashion brands are also considering to do their fashion on-demand locally and so therefore they would need a smaller production capability with high flexibility and environmentally-friendly solutions.” He adds that an emphasis on flexibility and sustainability are the right toolsets for fashion on-demand solutions, pointing out that moving production into highly regulated areas such as Europe will require a greener approach.

Many readers may also be aware that Aeoon has developed a flatbed industrial printer and demonstrated this printing a range of applications such as wood flooring. Compera says of this: “It’s a small business for them and it could be an opportunity for us in the future but it’s not decided.”

Clearly, it’s worth keeping an eye on this partnership as it has the potential to push Ricoh into the industrial DtG space in the same way that the partnership and eventual acquisition of AnaJet helped Ricoh enter the commercial DtG market. Compera says that Ricoh has not talked about acquisition, adding: “Ricoh would like to invest in textile and would like to grow with partners.” It will certainly be interesting to see what Ricoh and Aeoon come up with if they are serious about taking on Kornit in the industrial DtG market.

You can find further details from and on the RI-series from

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