EFI has wound up its three-day global annual conference, EFI Connect, in Las Vegas.

The conference welcomed more than 600 EFI customers and partners. The company took the opportunity to share its vision for the future and to launch new solutions and update others.

In his keynote presentation, Jeff Jacobson, chief executive at EFI, advised companies and customers to focus on the now instead of solely on the future. He sees the now and future pendulum working in tandem, with businesses keeping sight of what they do now and how it will impact the future. He said, “There is sometimes conflicting interests between the now and future conversations. Why do we need to choose between the now and the future? Why can’t we have them both?

“Throughout my 30-plus years in this industry I have always been confronted with this same question from my team: do we want more revenues or profits? Why can’t we have both?

“The now and the future is the same debate as analogue and digital. But isn’t it about the convergence of the two? We want to be the now and we want to be in the future.

“You cannot afford to eliminate everything that you own and invested in if you come up with something new every year. This is the print and digital convergence, the co-existence of analogue and digital, legacy versus new, and mature versus developing. So, you need the now in order to fund and migrate to the future.”

New Vuteks

At Connect EFI launched a mid-range three and five-metre wide roll to roll printer line, the Vutek D3r and D5r LED inkjet printers.

The company says its new printers leverage the capabilities of the Vutek 3r+ and 5r+ printers to offer a mid-range solution with high value applications, including white and clear ink, offering sign and display customers the opportunity to drive more volume with high-end digital print for endless applications and designs. EFI claims higher efficiency and a lower total cost of ownership for the 3.5m and 5.2m wide printers.

The Vutek D3r can print up to 204 square metres per hour and the Vutek D5r can print up to 244 square metres per hour. Both presses employ UltraDrop technology which can deliver precise and sharp three-point size text with a true resolution of up to 1200 dots per inch, offering near photographic quality, according to EFI.

Options include white and clear ink; inline x-cutters and y-slitters; automatic backlit and block-out printing; media spreaders and motorised winders and both printers also come with EFI’s Fiery proServer digital front end, which target increased productivity and accurate colour matching.

Fiery update

EFI sees colour, performance, connectivity and management as the key drivers of profitability and it has added these capabilities to Fiery to help its customers improve productivity.

At Connect, Toby Weiss, EFI senior vice-president and general manager of Fiery, Toby Weiss, spoke about four key journeys EFI offers with Fiery, including new updates to the Fiery FS400 Pro and Fiery XF7 platforms now available. It has launched Fiery Edge, a next-generation colour profiling technology for superior colour results, more automation, variable data and cloud solutions.

He says, “Fiery supports the customer journey, regardless of what their journey looks like and helps our customers speed up their paths. These enhancements make output quality of Fiery-driven printers even better.”

EFI has introduced Fiery JobExpert, an automated system that analyses incoming PDF files, dynamically chooses the optimal print settings, and aims to achieve the highest print quality while optimising production time.

He adds, “There’s an enormous number of possible combinations and resulting potential for error leads to test prints and waste. JobExpert is a built-in expert for optimal print output. Fiery JobExpert provides the intelligence to print every job perfectly.”

In the journey from static to automation, the company has launched Fiery FreeForm Create, a free stand-alone variable data printing creation application.

Its new EFI IQ cloud technology platform requires only one sign-on and one ID but gives customers different value propositions such as IQ Dashboard, Manage, ColorGuard, EFI Go, and Insight. IQ Dashboard provides a real-time current view of key print metrics, with drill down detail ColorGuard provides cloud colour verification and compares it to industry colour standards Insight provides more detailed printer metrics such as utilisation, ink, media, and job details. EFI Go provides the same information, but on a mobile Manage is for customers who have many Fierys to manage their fleet, providing remote Fiery configuration, status tracking and compliance reports for fleets.

Weiss also spoke about the expansion of EFI Communications and the creation of Learning@EFI, a learning platform that provides free training resources and paid certification programmes.

Software Suite gets sweeter

Nick Benkovich, EFI productivity software portfolio product management vice-president, pointed out the new enhancements to its software portfolio.

He said that with mailing still huge in parts of the world and developed markets, the company has made a significant investment in its iQuote platform to specifically deal with the needs of large commercial mailers. He said, “There hasn’t been much work done in this space previously. We found that a lot of people had homegrown solutions or outdated solutions in place and the market needed one that works throughout the production cycle.

“It will be a complete end-to-end mailing solution – from submission to entry to the mailing stream. Basically, if you think about mailing, it’s often done where the details are somewhat vague. But variable data has sub components to it and letters need to be personalised and contain variable content. Some need to be mailed out on different dates. So, there needs to be a solution that plans it and updates as you go.”

EFI has signed up four early adopters in the US and the product will go into general release in Q3 this year.

EFI has also launched a new module called eFlow Automator, a business platform management system. He said, “It is the backbone that we use to connect all our components. It allows you to create automated rules in a system that if a job, an estimate or a customer, for example, meets certain criteria, that we can detect and perform actions such as alert through an email or chat message, or add onto a to do list.

“It allows customers to take those mundane, repetitive tasks and largely automate them. And this solution is not just about the EFI ecosystem, it allows you to automate actions outside of the EFI system. If you are connected to an SAP for example, we can update the credit limit in SAP.”

Up until now, EFI Vertical Applications has been available in the market if a customer buys one of EFI’s MIS but enhancements now enable customers to leverage the technology with a generic ERP system. He said, “Historically, we’ve been an MIS company and sold MIS systems and then, things attached to MIS systems. This past year, we’ve been working on a strategy where we will allow customers to integrate many of our components directly into a generic ERP system.”

In the packaging space, EFI has expanded its MarketDirect suite with PackCentral enhancements that include a fulfilment solution (a solution that transitions from spreadsheet based to cloud based), a new module called AutoEngage, and a new integrated shipping model named ShipExpress for orders to be shipped out easily.

The full update to the EFI Productivity Suite 8 is as follows:

Packaging: Digital Print workflow enhancements and enhancements in end-to-end workflow for flexible packaging

Midmarket: Display Graphic production roll optimisation and management, simplified estimating workflow to reduce clicks and improve win rate, business intelligence for MM Suite

Enterprise Commercial: Increased efficiency with Import RFQ Spreadsheet for large campaigns and investment in end-to-end mailing workflow

Corrugated: Business Intelligence for Corrugated Print Suite and improved efficiency in MES

Web to Print and Marketing Solutions: MarketDirect PackCentral packaging procurement and eCommerce solution, as well as AutoEngage – integrated customer retargeting solution for MarketDirect StoreFront

Auto-Count: Packaging expansion, especially for flexibles and resin.

Single Pass a new direction

Ken Hanulec, EFI vice president of worldwide marketing, gave some clues about the company’s direction in industrial and display graphics. He said,

“As we move with Single Pass across all of our portfolio, the one printer you don’t see Single Pass in right now is display graphics. So, if you connect the dots, maybe you can see where we’re going with the technology.

“We believe that we have the broadest inkjet product range. We have got a robust display graphics line. We’re just getting started with Single Pass and you’ll probably soon see Single Pass extend to display graphics.

“I foresee Single Pass to be the dominant technology that wins in the end at drupa. Anybody in the production environment will see value in Single Pass and we have a leadership in this position, which is why it’s critical that we talk about it.

“Single Pass only works if you have a world class printer and world class ink. The only way to make Single Pass work is if you also have the workflow and digital front end tools available to keep up with those production speeds.”

Reggiani sustains green ambitions

The move towards green drives EFI Reggiani’s transformation, with the company making efforts to improve its sustainability efforts, says EFI senior vice-president and general manager for Reggiani Adele Genoni.

She called the three biggest drivers within the textile industry sustainability; big data management and artificial intelligence; and technical textiles for any application within industries such as fashion, healthcare and home.

She said, “What we have done so far is keep on the edge of technology and becoming a one-stop shop for those in the industry. We have built on a continuous ink recirculation system, proprietary electronics and software, higher uniformity printing modes, and new recirculation printhead integration. With the Reggiani range, we aim to satisfy the needs of both small-scale customers and mass production customers.

“Our focus is on driving digital innovation but doing so in a sustainable fashion.”

Reggiani will increase its attention towards:

  • Direct to fabric sublimation: allowing print to go directly onto fabric instead of paper, eliminating the need for steaming and washing
  • Greenest pigment technology: creating no requirements for steaming, washing and stentering
  • Denim dyeing: finding new ways to reduce chemical usage, higher indigo intensity, reduced water usage, operating costs and deeper sulphur dyeing shades with no steaming

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