Greene discusses two new technologies that might be emerging at just the right time for you to secure a better place in the market for your graphics business.
By Tim Greene
Epson’s launch into the wide-format, safe-solvent business is potentially very interesting as well. Epson has long supplied printhead technology to many of the market leaders in wide-format solvent inkjet, but the launch of its GS6000 64-in.-wide printer warrants attention, in my view, because of Epson’s focus on print quality. We’ve been saying for a while now that due to print-quality improvements in the eco-solvent market, combined with lower running costs, eco-solvent technology would take some of the print volume away from wide-format aqueous inkjet in the graphics business. Epson’s GS6000 uses eight colors and the company’s new UltraChrome GS inks, which Epson indicates are a safe-solvent ink by virtue of their nickel-free composition. The Epson printer also prints up to 340 sq ft/hr, making it one of the fastest printers in its class.
It’s also interesting that the Océ and the Epson products are being launched with additional device-management and usage-tracking utilities. Epson’s utility is called myEpsonprinter, while Océ’s utility is called SmartClick. I think the addition of these utilities is becoming more of a standard offering and reflects a greater focus on a more comprehensive printing solution than what vendors have offered in the past. It’s clear that manufacturers are packing more and more value into wide-format equipment, even as prices for that equipment remain stable or even decline.
Timing and execution are also key for printing establishments when deciding to adopt new technologies. Significant first-mover advantages are gained by being the earliest to adopt new technologies or production processes. But you can get burned by vendors or products that promise too much too soon. Time will tell where the Océ, HP, Epson, and Xerox technologies and initiatives fall in those terms.
The more I speak to printing establishments, the more I see that timing new hardware acquisitions is both a near-term and big-picture issue. In the near term, time it so you get the best deal from your sales rep. In the big picture, timing the acquisition can help you address new markets, improve your top and bottom lines, and protect your client base. I believe these new technologies mark the next wave of innovative solutions that will alter the wide-format landscape in the next five years by offering graphics printers the opportunity to meet some key market challenges.
Tim Greene has worked at Info Trends (formerly known as CAP Ventures) since 1997 and been the director of InfoTrends’ Wide Format Printing Consulting Service since 2001. He is responsible for developing worldwide forecasts of the wide-format-printing market and conducting primary and secondary research. Greene holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Northeastern University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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