The main stories from 2023

As 2023 draws to a close it’s time to reflect on where we are now and which stories mattered throughout the year before we move into the new year.

The UK inflation rate has fallen steadily through the year to 3.9 percent but the economy is still balanced on a knife edge. The EU economies are slightly better off, though Germany is weaker than expected, while the US has recovered at a much faster rate. The pandemic now seems like a distant memory though Covid still persists in most countries. The war in Ukraine still rages on while there is the very real risk that the conflict in Gaza could spread further, which will undermine the Western economies.

On the other hand, the printing industry is in a much more healthy state, judging by the range of stories that I’ve covered this year. So to remind ourselves of this I’ve picked out the most widely read stories from Printing and Manufacturing Journal for each month of the year. 

Back in January, the news that EFI had spun off its Fiery division as a separate company proved popular with many readers. However, although Fiery has its own management structure, it is still owned by the same venture capital company Siris Capital Group, that acquired EFI in April 2019. Nonetheless, this was a necessary move to create space between EFI, which is continuing to develop its inkjet printer portfolio, and Fiery, which is also selling its software to rival OEM printer manufacturers.

The top story from February was an interview with Mike Rottenborn, CEO of Hybrid Software Group, in which he discussed how the group had grown and the strategy behind this. This has resulted in a diverse but highly interconnected portfolio that should make the company worth checking out at the upcoming Drupa.

Surprisingly, an older story from the end of 2022 on Fujifilm developing a new sheetfed B2 dry toner press, was the second most widely read story in February. At the time this was a prototype but this press has since been launched commercially in Europe as the Revoria GC12500 and means that Fujifilm can offer customers a choice between dry toner and inkjet in the B2 format

Thomas Hofmann, head of continuous feed printing, and Jennifer Kolloczek, senior director for production printing for European planning, marketing and innovation, with the new Canon ProStream 3000.

At the end of February I travelled to Luzern in Switzerland for the Hunkeler Innovation Days, which led to a number of stories. Of these, the most widely read was Canon’s new ProStream 3000 continuous feed single pass inkjet press. It builds on the existing ProStream 1000 but with a new paper path and drying system that allows the press to run higher weight stocks. This in turn means that customers can take on higher value work such as photobooks.

A second story from Luzern, on HP’s Advantage 2200 inkjet press, also proved popular. It was a first chance to see the press in Europe and its modular approach to drying. Essentially, users can choose how many drying zones to install with the press, with more drying zones allowing for the use of heavier substrates. The drying itself is more efficient than the older T250 press, which should save on energy costs.

The end of March brought the news that Kyocera had acquired the French inkjet specialist Nixka, since renamed Kyocera Nixka. The company, which is headed by Paul Morgavi, grew out of the remains of Impika and has mostly specialised in developing bespoke inkjet solutions. Kyocera said at the time that it would use the acquisition to “expand its business into new markets, including print engines, systems and integrated services” and I have a feeling that we will be hearing a lot more from Kyocera in 2024 in this regard.

This was followed by Epson announcing two new printheads, the I3200(8)-S1HD and S800-S1. These are both variants of existing heads. Paddy O’Hara, Business development manager for Epson Europe, explained: “These heads are suitable for more aggressive solvents. The size and shape of them together with our highly accurate and consistent jetting makes them very interesting for the functional fluid market, but that market uses some challenging chemistry. Therefore with increased solvent resistance it allows us to fulfil more applications in those markets.”

Kyocera’s Forearth is a 1.8m wide inkjet textile printer.

May saw Kyocera unveiling its new textile printer, the Forearth, which is the company’s first entry into the textile printer market but also signals a bolder intention to develop a wide ranging portfolio of inkjet printers. Naturally the Forearth printer uses Kyocera printheads together with a proprietary pigment ink. Kyocera has also developed a pre-treatment liquid and finishing agent that will allow this printer to work with a wide range of fabrics, including cotton, silk, and polyester to nylon and blended fabrics.

I spent a couple of days at the end of May at the Fespa show in Munich, which led to a number of stories. One of the most widely read was Fujifilm’s new HS6000 inkjet press, which is the result of a collaboration with the Spanish company Barberan. It’s based on Barberan’s JetMaster, which was designed for printing to corrugated, but with Fujifilm planning to target the higher end of the sign and display market. It’s a large machine, capable of producing 4700 sqm/hr at 600dpi resolution, which Fujifilm will use to replace the Inca Digital Onsets that it previously sold and which have now been taken over by Agfa.

At the start of July I reported that Xaar had signed an agreement to manufacture Quantica’s high viscosity NovoJet printhead. Quantica has developed this head for use in its own 3D printers. The NovoJet printhead has quite a unique approach, which I’ve written about in more detail here. It can handle high viscosity fluids up to 400cP at jetting conditions, which means temperatures up to 85ºC. Consequently this allows Quantica to take a materials jetting approach – that is using an inkjet printhead to lay down a fluid that is heavily loaded with the final build material. 

In August, Ricoh refreshed its flagship production printer with the introduction of the new Pro C9500. The specifications remained broadly similar to the outgoing C9200 series though many of the subsystems were improved, which should ensure better print quality while also making the press easier to manage. Ricoh followed this up in October with a new light production printer, the Pro C7500.

Inca Digital haș developed this SpeedSet 1060 single pass inkjet press for the packaging market.

In the summer I dropped by Inca Digital’s base in Cambridge, which is now part of Agfa, to see the new SpeedSet 1060 packaging press. I’ve been following the progress of this press for several years now so it was good to see the more or less finished product. This is a single pass inkjet press that can print to micro flute and folding carton at up to 11000 sph. Agfa has since officially launched the press which should be available next year.

October saw an interesting announcement from Canon, which is developing two new presses using its thermal printhead technology combined with water-based inks. The new presses are the LabelStream LS2000, a 340mm wide rollfed label press, and the VarioPrint iX1700 sheetfed B3 production press. The new presses are likely to be a big draw at the upcoming Drupa since this was the most widely read story on Printing and Manufacturing Journal of the whole year.

Aki Ohno, with Sabine Geldermann of Drupa, addressing the networking party.

At the end of October I travelled to Tokyo for the Japan Inkjet Technology Fair and wrote a series of stories. Although this was mainly a Japanese event, it’s clear from the feedback that I received that these stories resonated with many readers in other countries.

In November Ricoh announced its latest continuous feed printer, the VC80000, which is targeted at the commercial print, direct mail and books markets. The new model also marked a change in manufacturing partner, from Screen to Miyakoshi, which is mainly down to Screen and Ricoh both targeting similar markets. The new VC80000 has a slightly wider print area that will benefit European users. It’s also 50 percent faster, assuming that most users will opt for 1200 x 600 dpi resolution, which runs at 150mpm.

December brought with it the surprise news that Muller Martini had acquired its fellow Swiss finishing specialist Hunkeler. The first question that most people asked me was what would happen to the Hunkeler Innovation Days, which Muller Martini says that it will continue with. Indeed, Hunkeler will continue to operate under its own name, with the current management and from its existing base in Wikon, Switzerland with Muller Martini still figuring out how to merge the two operations together.

3D printing has been used to produce prototypes and even parts for motorbikes.

It seems only fitting to give a special mention to Nano Dimension and its continuing efforts to buy Stratasys, which has been a running theme throughout much of the year. This story started with Nano Dimension’s largest shareholder, Murchinson, attempting to take control of the company and its large cash reserve. That quickly spiralled into an increasingly aggressive attempt to spend the cash on buying Stratasys. Then Stratasys attempted to buy Desktop Metal, prompting 3D Systems to also bid for Stratasys. There will be more on this story next week, which is continuing into the new year.

Finally, I have to say that for me personally 2023 has been quite a difficult year as I am continuing to recover from a severe personal and health issue. This has meant that some stories have been delayed and that there have been some gaps in my coverage. But I have found that the friendship and the community spirit within the printing industry has helped me greatly.

The basic premise behind Printing and Manufacturing Journal – that people would appreciate good quality and unbiased information – still seems to hold true. So I hope that the articles that I have written this year have proved useful to readers and I want to thank everyone who has helped me this year either through donating to support my work or through giving me information and advice on stories – I appreciate all of your help and look forward to continuing with this project next year.

So it only remains for me to say – my best wishes to everyone in the New Year



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