25 January 2017 People

Belgian founder of digital printing and Xeikon dies

Lucien De Schamphelaere, one of the pioneers of colour digital printing and founder of Xeikon, has died in Belgium.

Lucien De Schamphelaere, one of the founders of colour digital printing, has died aged 85. The Belgian inventor was one of the founders of Xeikon, bringing a colour digital press to Ipex in 1993 at the same time as Indigo was launched.

That press was launched with the razzamatazz that Benny Landa became associated with, while the De Schamphelaere press was operating in a quiet part of the Agfa stand. Visitors could get close to what was the Agfa Chromapress which was running throughout the show.

De Schamphelaere had spent 40 years with Agfa-Gavaert, having joined the Antwerp company in 1952 as an electronics engineer. He became head of a 100-strong department focusing on automation and workflows helping his employer gain a leadership position in the field.

Convinced that photo processing must be replaced by electronic imaging, he began working on an electronic printing machine, starting an electronic imaging department which introduced the Agfa P400 digital press at CeBit in 1982.

Four years later he became president of Agfa’s venture capital fund looking to invest in promising businesses and technologies and drew up plans for his own start up.

De Schamphelaere left Agfa in 1988 to form Ellith with four colleagues which shortly after became Xeikon from the Greek for dry (xerox) image (eikon). Agfa took a minority stake in the business and agreed to sell the first Xeikon DCP-1 as the Chromapress. Other OEM channels included IBM and Xerox.

The wider DCP/50D followed, until recently the only digital press capable of printing a B2 sheet. Xeikon also introduced a single-sided version and a fifth colour station used for white toner.

Xeikon joined the Nasdaq in 1996 and De Schamphelaere, then 67, stepped down as CEO. In 1998 he stepped away from the company’s president role. He started a printing business, Triakon, that continues today to drive development and applications for digital printing. It operates two Xeikon presses.

His career was recognised by multiple awards from the Otto-Bayer Medal in 1988, the GATF Award, IS&T Award and the Cary Medal.

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Lucien De Schamphelaere

Lucien De Schamphelaere

Lucien De Schamphelaere, advocate for digital printing and founder of Xeikon, has died in Belgium. He worked for Agfa for many years, leaving to start Xeikon and latterly for Triakon.

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