Efi's inkjet future will increasingly feature single pass technology with water based inks, new CTO Doug Edwards told an online audience last week.
Edwards joined the US company at the start of this year with an overview on all aspects of Efi's technology portfolio. Inkjet for display graphics and industrial applications was the focus for the series of online tours, webinars and sessions that linked an internet audience with Efi facilities in Israel, New Hampshire and Belgium.
Among these was a fireside chat between Edwards and chief marketing officer Ken Hanulec, in which Edwards, latterly CEO of Xaar, explained the appeal of inkjet. “The fascinating thing about inkjet is its versatility,” he said. “So Efi is probably the best place to be.”
Efi's inkjet interests extend over corrugated, building materials and textiles as well as display graphics. Following the sale of Jetrion to Flint, Efi has no immediate interest in labels. That may change if the opportunity is there, said Edwards.
Of more immediate interest are the opportunities in corrugated and other single pass print applications. To date Efi has shipped 30 Nozomi presses for printing on corrugated. Most have gone to packaging companies, though some have been installed at display graphics printers. Bolt, its version of single pass printing for textile applications, is posted to follow suit.
The success that Efi is enjoying in inkjet is due, he explained, to the company’s ability to build an end to end solution involving the Fiery DFE, the print engine, the ink and productivity software. “We are a systems integrator,” he said.
“With the exception of ceramics, all the industries we are in have a relatively low digital adaptation: display graphics is an $80 billion sector with 40-50% conversion, corrugated is a $180 billion market which is less than 1% digital; textiles is $150 billion with 5-10% printed digitally. Packaging and textiles are where we see the greatest potential for growth.”
And that change, accelerated by the pandemic, could be rapid. The transition in ceramics to 90% digital printing took place over ten years, kick started by the Lehmann Brothers crash.
“The justification for the transition is waste reduction and personalisation. In ceramics it is possible to do with digital what was just was not possible with analogue.”
Efi's ink expertise is key. It is the largest supplier by volume in the world for UV inkjet inks and is working on products that are water based, something that is required in textile and packaging print. And is also possible elsewhere. “We have just introduced a water based ink for ceramics,” he said.
There will be more launches from Efi this year in lieu of Drupa, though there are no specifics as yet, and further launches for Drupa when it takes place a year from now.
Efi has a strong position in display graphics though Vutek's range of flatbed and roll to roll machines, ultra wide format printers and matched UV inks. It is finding success with the Nozomi in corrugated packaging where the transition to digital has only just begun, says CTO Doug Edwards.