Epson has taken on 200 new employees across Europe in the last 12 months, and has also grown revenues by €100 million to €1.7 billion in that time.
This comes from the larger machines used in proofing, display and textile printing and in label printing where the UV press receives a boost with options on integrated finishing.
The company opened a new factory to produce the PrecisionCore technology in a variety of formats, both smaller as well as wider than the standard page wide unit.
“It is a third generation printhead,” says executive director Duncan Ferguson, “and the first Epson head designed for industrial implementations.” Not surprisingly at Labelexpo the emphasis was on labels and packaging, a market which is growing. Digital label production had grown 50% in the five years to 2019 and similar growth is predicted for the next five years, says Ferguson. “Toner has grown and continues to expand, but inkjet is growing faster,” he says.
For Epson, this means not only print for pay printing by industrial scale converters, but what it calls print for use, labelling to help in storage, in functional and increasingly also in consumer facing applications. These are no longer simply mono, but also taking advantage of colour printing. This need not be of the quality needed for on shelf appeal, but as the number of Skus increases in the mature economies and as commerce continues to grow, the demand for labels produced at the point of need will increase.
This began when legislation forced chemicals companies to used coloured pictograms to convey information about the safety of their products. It drove a rapid growth in the need for colour printing, says Frank Maeder, head of product and professional printing. “As the colour quality increased, people started to use these machines for targeted marketing”. And also for short batch production, he might add.
Thus Epson’s bench top Colourworks machines have cropped up in bakeries, in jam makers, in electronics manufacturers where labels are needed on the production line.
The latest version is the CW6000/6500 which can print both roll labels and sheet labels with a built in peel capacity as the first in this class of product to do so. This uses a four-colour version of the PrecisionCore printhead while the larger machines use single-colour head arrays. It may not be the quality of a label found on a supermarket shelf, but is not something that will bother Epson, nor its customers.
Epson is using its Precisionfre printhead in a wide range of its own applications from production level UV label presses to the latest versions of the Colorworks printers for point of use applications in warehouse and production line labelling. It is also to make the thin film printhead available to OEMs.