thINK and Canon Expo: Technology and Trend Highlights
By Jim Hamilton
Group Director, InfoTrends
I had the pleasure of attending two amazing events in New York early in September: the thINK Forum User Conference and the Canon EXPO technology showcase. Both are marvelous examples of the use of inkjet, electrophotographic, and imaging technologies for a wide variety of applications.
thINK is a “community of Canon Solutions America production print customers” with a focus on inkjet. Announced last February, the very first thINK event drew over 350 registered attendees to the Roosevelt Hotel near Times Square in New York City from September 8 – 10. Timed to coincide with the once-every-five-years Canon EXPO, attendees benefited from a range of educational programs and an exhibit area of sponsors highlighting workflow, paper, and finishing technologies. Former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms was the keynote speaker on the opening evening of the event, and I kicked off the following morning with my view on the state of the inkjet market.
thINK FORUM USER CONFERENCE IN NEW YORK CITY
Marking a Turning Point in Inkjet
This really is a pivotal time in inkjet’s history, and I believe that three things were particularly remarkable about the timing of the thINK event:
- The fact that an educational community is gathering around these Canon Solutions America products is a true sign that production digital printing using inkjet has reached critical mass in a relatively short period of time.
- It is clear that a cutsheet inkjet revolution is just getting underway. This developing class of inkjet systems, as represented by the Océ VarioPrint® i300 inkjet press, will have a huge impact on the market as the benefits of inkjet are brought to cutsheet devices.
- The move to high-quality, high-speed systems capable of printing economically at high coverage on coated paper is exciting. Products like the Océ ImageStream™ 3500 inkjet press and the Océ ImageStream 2400 inkjet press will create opportunities in applications that haven’t yet been touched by inkjet to any significant extent.
Together, these trends helped make this an historic event.
Seeing Possibilities at Canon EXPO
A big reason for having thINK at the same time as Canon EXPO was so thINK attendees could see the massive Professional Printing exhibit at Canon EXPO. Building on its theme of “See Impossible,” Canon put on an amazing show at Canon EXPO, covering everything from its cameras and security systems to its wide format and production digital printers. One good example of the “See Impossible” theme was a security imaging demonstration that showed how advanced sensors in security cameras can pick up nighttime detail in existing low-light conditions that human eyes are unable to see. Building on its recent acquisitions of Axis and Milestone, Canon is now the largest surveillance system company in the world. In his keynote address at Canon Expo, Mr. Fujio Mitarai, Canon’s chairman and CEO, joked that drivers can blame him the next time they get a video speeding ticket.
As for the printing market, Canon had ten production digital devices running live at Canon EXPO, including four brand new ones — the Océ VarioPrint i300 inkjet press, the Canon imagePRESS® C10000VP series printer, the Océ ColorStream® 3900Z inkjet press, and the Canon imagePROGRAF® iPF850 printer. Also new was the Océ PRISMAdirect™ workflow management software solution. Canon EXPO was the first time that the Océ VarioPrint i300 inkjet press was shown publicly in North America, while the other units are either already installed or about to be.
The unveiling of the Canon imagePRESS C10000VP series printer came along with the news that this 100-page-per-minute production color digital printer had won a coveted “Must See ’Em” award at Graph Expo.
The more compact design of the new Océ ColorStream 3900Z inkjet press (a third smaller than previous models) will expand the opportunities for this continuous-feed inkjet system in size-constrained environments. Announced in July, the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF850 printer is part of a family of three new 44-inch large format inkjet printers intended for technical markets.
Innovation in Action
Technology demonstrations were another exciting part of Canon EXPO. Canon showed a single printing unit of the Océ InfiniStream™ production digital printer for packaging applications. This liquid-toner, seven-color, continuous-feed device, which was first revealed in a technology demonstration at drupa 2012, is expected to become available at the end of 2016 or early 2017. A particularly eye-catching demonstration was Elevated Printing Technology, which was exemplified by numerous photographic and design examples in which a raised color layer was applied by a modified Océ Arizona® series printer using UV-curable inks. The output could reach a thickness of 20 millimeters (about three quarters of an inch), and in that sense it was a bit like 3D printing. The results were beautiful, making this demonstration a big crowd favorite at the Canon EXPO.
If you would like to attend thINK in the future, the next event will take place in Boca Raton, Florida, October 10 – 13, 2016. If you are near Tokyo, Paris, or Shanghai, you can still catch Canon EXPO later this year, but it won’t be back in New York until 2020. If you can’t wait that long to learn more about the production printing market, you can start by signing up for the recently launched thINK forum website, which takes over for the MyPressGo site as the central hub of resources for Canon Solutions America customers.