Ricoh Expands its Wide Format portfolio with addition of EFI® Vutek™ Hybrid Printers

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Since 2004 when Ricoh acquired Hitachi Printing Systems, they have been on a mission to become a world leader in production printing. In a short period of time they have built an impressive portfolio of high speed rollfed inkjet presses and cutsheet toner presses, software (Web to Print, VDP, MIS, and workflow) plus a line of services that include color management and workflow analysis.

Ricoh continues to invest in this market. Just this year they doubled the number of sales reps in the field selling to the production and wide format markets. And of course new products are being continually added to the portfolio.

EFI 16h hybrid printerThe newest additions to the wide format portfolio are mid-level EFI® H1625 and high-speed EFI® Pro 16h wide-format LED printers. The portfolio now includes Ricoh latex roll to roll printers, Mimaki flat bed printers and the EFI®hybrid printers.

The partnership with EFI goes well beyond a simple reseller’s agreement.  It’s a worldwide alliance that Ricoh has with EFI that includes software, DFEs and now wide format printers. On the software side it is a fully integrated partnership that covers just about all the devices offered. With regard to wide format printing, this is a worldwide alliance as well. Ricoh is already selling and servicing EFI printers in Latin America and Europe.

Why partner with EFI? Well EFI is a market leader in the UV inkjet space and their hybrid technology which combines roll-to-roll and flatbed printing is compelling and fits a nice segment of the market.

What enables this partnership to work is the combined skills of both companies makes for a better experience for the customer.  One of the key elements of any wide format printer is the inkjet heads and EFI has adopted Ricoh Gen5 Printheads in this product.  Thus the customer gets the advantage of Ricoh inkjet technology along with EFI’s expertise in imaging science, software science and substrate delivery. (The Ricoh inkjet printheads are also used in Ricoh’s Latex printers and Mimaki flatbed printers.)

In addition, since the hybrid printers are driven by Fiery™, integration with Fiery cutsheet presses is seamless making it easy for plant personnel to run these new hybrid printers and streamline workflow.

And finally, Ricoh will leverage its massive service organization to service these printers giving customers faster response times and more peace of mind.

What’s in Your Mailbox?

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The USPS just reported their results for 2017, (their fiscal year ends in September).

For the year ended September 30, 2017, Marketing Mail revenue decreased $1.0 billion, or 5.7%, on a volume decline of 3.2%, compared to the prior year. The percentage of decline in revenue was greater than the percentage of decline in volume for 2017 due to the April 10, 2016, expiration of the exigent surcharge, which generated approximately $396 million in incremental Marketing Mail revenue in the first six months of 2016. Revenue and volume were also adversely affected by a reduction in mail advertising campaigns by certain large mailers.

This is in contrast to the year ended September 30, 2016, Marketing Mail wherein volume increased 1.1%, compared to the prior year.

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New Ricoh Inkjet Press Product Briefing

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company

Blog PhotoRicoh has a new continuous feed inkjet press out and there’s a PODi Product Briefing on it. Their new RICOH Pro VC40000 fits in nicely between their IP50000 and Pro VC60000 presses.

The RICOH Pro VC40000 is a CMYK plus one optional color, continuous feed, digital inkjet press designed to meet the needs of direct mailers, service bureaus, and data centers who produce tens of millions of pages per month. The innovation in the Pro VC40000 over the IP50000 is in its color uniformity across the page and its ability to print at its highest quality at all speeds. Let me explain why this is important.

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Magazines continue steep decline

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One of the industry’s largest players, Quad Graphics reported third quarter results that showed steady profits, however revenue declined by $50 million or 4.8% versus the same period in 2016. Keep in mind that a printer with $50 million in revenue is a top 100 printer in the US.

Quad didn’t announce where the decrease in revenue is coming from, but I’m betting magazine printing is a big part of the decline. Roughly 16% of Quad’s revenues are from magazine printing. They list Time Inc. as one of their big publishing customers and previous announcements have indicated Quad prints as much as 85% of Time magazine, plus many other titles. Read the rest of this entry »

Manageable and Effective Marketing – Pacesetter Did It and You Can Too

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Remember that saying, “the cobbler’s children go unshod”? I would be lying if I said that our company, Pacesetter Enterprises, never suffered from something similar. We often get so busy working on our clients’ needs that we lose focus on our own marketing efforts. Many times, we would go weeks, even months, without sending out a single marketing piece.

With increased competition and reduced budgets, losing sight of your marketing can be detrimental to your overall sales. We are competing, in many cases, on a larger scale. Our systems need to be streamlined, our branding needs to be on point, and our daily tasks need to directly contribute to the overall goal of the company.

How do we do that on a shoestring budget? How do we do that if our resources are limited? How do we even figure out how we’re different from our competitors? Read the rest of this entry »

Xeikon on a roll.

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After holding the Xeikon Café in Europe for several years, Xeikon brought the event to North America this week in Chicago. While primarily a user conference, Xeikon took the opportunity to add in a press conference and provide new insight on their strategy and positioning.

One of the key positioning elements for Xeikon today is that it is now a division of Flint Group, a large, highly respected manufacturer of inks for the printing industry. The backing of a large, reputable, and successful player removes all the issues surrounding the financial stability of the company, something that has hung over the company for years.

Why is this so important? Caslon research on buying criteria has uncovered the following criteria as the most important and trust in the vendor is one of them:

  1. The buyer can print the desired applications with the necessary image quality. If the press can’t meet the application requirements the buying process ends abruptly
  2. Productivity – the press needs to be able to keep up with demand and at economical cost
  3. Reliability – uptime and the associated service are critical for success
  4. Trust in the Vendor – The vendor has to demonstrate commitment, financial stability, and a roadmap that customers can rely on.

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Digital Printing Dominates at Print 17

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Once again digital printing dominated the show. Booths from Xerox, HP, Canon, Konica Minolta/MGI, Ricoh, Screen and Fujifilm were prominent. And offset stalwart Komori was showing off the Impressia I29, their version of the Accurio KM-1, a B2 digital inkjet press. Graphic Systems North America (GSNA) brought the only offset press (RMGT Series 9 LED UV Press) to the show.

OverviewPrint17 CanonRicohKM

In addition to walking the floor, I had the chance to attend numerous press conferences to hear about what’s happening.  Here are the highlights: Read the rest of this entry »

Hands-On Instruction Will Jumpstart Your Sales Prospecting

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The advantages of a good sales prospecting program are clear – increased sales, lower expenses, improved productivity and improved relationships with customers. But how do you actually conduct an effective prospect search? What are the tools that are available to the average printer and what are the best practices for using them?

John-Leininger-titleI spent some time talking with Dr. John Leininger, professor in the Department of Graphic Communications at Clemson University, and he has some answers that he will be sharing in his upcoming PODi Institute course.

According to John, the strongest printers are using a vertical market strategy. While most print and marketing services executives know this, very few have actually applied it to their businesses in a meaningful way. One reason for this is that they’ve been told what they need to do but not taught how to do it. Read the rest of this entry »

KODAK NEXPRESS Presses Drive Long Term Customer Relationships

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Over the last 10 years there have three main players in the very heavy duty cycle, high quality production color cutsheet market: Indigo, iGen, and Kodak NEXPRESS.  With Print 17 coming up it’s a good time to catch up on new developments. In this blog I’ll focus on the NEXPRESS.

The NEXPRESS was originally designed for high volume production and today there are many NEXPRESS customers who focus on traditional 4 color work.  For these customers it is common for presses to routinely run over 1 million impressions per month and some run as much as 2.5 million impressions per month.

However, while many customers are cranking out huge volumes each month other customers are leveraging the high value-added features and are making money with volumes as low as 150K per month. Features such as dimensional, clear, and additional colors enable customers to focus on niche markets that can be very profitable. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Service Providers Optimistic about Growth of Color Digital and Offset Printing

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With page volumes up by 15% in 2016, digital color printing continues to be a top growth opportunity for print service providers. This marks the fifth year in a row of annual growth between 12% and 18%.  Contrast this with offset printing where print volumes declined again in 2017 and over the last five years page volumes have declined by 21% or about 4% per year.

Caslon surveyed print service providers at the beginning of 2017 to get insight into how they thought their print volumes will change in 2017.  The survey was for companies in the production printing market which includes applications like direct mail, collateral, catalogs, magazines, books, manuals, transactional (and 10 more) but does not include packaging, newspapers, and wide format.

Presented here are survey results for three different segments of the market: commercial printers with more than 10 employees, quick printers and small commercial printers, and digital printers (companies with no or very little offset printing).

In all three cases the survey respondents are expecting good growth in color digital printing.  80% to 90% of the respondents are expecting growth.  Roughly a third of the PSP’s expect color digital printing to grow by more than 10%.

color digital page growth


As for offset the responses weren’t as positive with only 10% to 15% expecting to grow offset pages by more than 10%.  However commercial printers are still optimistic with nearly 60% expecting to grow their offset business by 1 to 10%.  Quick printers weren’t as optimistic with roughly 25% expecting offset volumes to decline.

offset pages

Overall the results show digital color printing continues to be a growth area and for many print service providers and offset printing is expected to grow too – a welcome change from previous years.