Xeikon's first digital flexo press will be pitched at the independent sector, printing in a single pass with water based inks as a post print unit.
The challenge of using aqueous inks is greater, but for food packaging it will be essential argues Xeikon CEO Benoit Chatelard. Since taking over as CEO, Chatelard has been recruiting expertise in inkjet and investing heavily in the sector, while mainlining investment in the dry toner technology that has served the company well for 30 years.
“Digital printing is taking a new direction with inkjet,” he says. “This includes flexible packaging as well as corrugated, while dry toner has a very bright future and is far from the end of its life.”
Packaging is the key driver for both technologies, supporting double digital growth as brands are in pursuit of demographic change and demanding individualisation of the packaging.
Xeikon held its first press conference to introduce colour digital printing 25 years ago at the Elsenveld hotel in Antwerp. It returned to that hotel to celebrate 30 years since former Agfa executive Lucien de Schamphelaere, then 57 years old, started the business with five much younger colleagues and 25 years since Ipex 93 where both the Xeikon and Indigo presses introduced the printing industry to colour digital printing. Xeikon was the second choice of name, taken from the classical Greek for dry (xeros) and image (eikon).
“Customers have become family,” says Chatelard, “We have thrived on customer intimacy and we want to keep it that way. We are all a bunch of very passionate people.” Two employees have been with the company for more than 25 years, though not its founder who died early in 2017.
The company has this year produced a series of blogs about the development of digital printing and pointing to possible futures, compiling these and other memorabilia into PastPrintFuture, a book written by Laurel Brunner and Ed Boogaard, and presented to those present. Guests also took away bottles of commemorative beer brewed for the occasion and with labels printed on the Xeikon presses.
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