Posts Tagged ‘Memjet’

  • Memjet powers new Gallus label press

    The Gallus Smartfire is unveiled at the company’s Innovation Day in St Gallen, Switzerland.

    Gallus has unveiled a new low-cost digital label press using Memjet ink head technology. The Gallus Smartfire will complement the Heidelberg subsidiary’s existing Labelfire press.

    The Smartfire, launched at the Gallus Innovation Day held at the company’s HQ in St Gallen, is an entry-level inkjet label press which allows converters to get into the digital space without needing to invest in the high-end Labelfire. According to Michael Ring, head of digital solutions at Gallus, the Smartfire is easy to use and an ideal ‘starter model’ for digital labels. “With the Gallus Smartfire, we are focusing on new target groups who are looking for a smart entry into digital label printing. The Memjet technology allows us to offer an inkjet printing press that produces labels with a quality of 1600×1600 dpi while still keeping the investment costs at a low level,” he said.

    The press prints in CMYK with food-safe water-based ink, and, like Gallus’ other presses, also includes an in-line finishing unit with lamination, integrated cutting plotter, and semi-rotary die cutter. It has a compact footprint and a low power requirement, needing only a standard outlet, and its water-based ink means no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted during operation, removing the need for an exhaust system.

    The Innovation Day event also featured existing Gallus kit. As well as the Labelfire, Gallus’ conventional presses were on show: the high-powered Labelmaster Advanced, the benchmark RCS 430, and the popular ECS 340.

  • Rapid introduces new kit for its Memjet range

    Rapid Machinery Company, the Australian-based manufacturer of Memjet-powered narrow web digital label printing systems, is introducing the Rapid-X SR2 (pictured) slitter-rewinder globally to complement the international footprint of  its X1 and X2 digital presses and  its D2 die-cutter/laminator.

    The company’s modular approach to short-run label printing is already proving popular among the market, with the first SR2 sale – part of a complete Rapid-X line – already on its way to Europe through master distributor, Impression Technology Europe (ITE).

    “The SR2 is a total rewinding solution with length/label counting, rotary knife slitting, trim extraction and dual reversing rewind spindles with 38mm and 76mm expanders as standard. It offers optional matrix rewinding, strobe inspection or other additions as requested,” says Nick Mansell, Rapid general manager and winner of the inaugural Print21 Graphic Arts Technology Innovator of the Year Award (GATI). “As short run digital label presses become more popular, the finishing systems are beginning to emulate those found on higher-speed devices.

    “Because Rapid runs a complete R&D and engineering shop, with over 35 years of experience making custom label equipment, we are well positioned to respond quickly to market demands and the SR2 is an example of this,” he says.

    ITE Managing Director Roy Burton, says: “We are delighted to be taking the first SR2, in addition to an X2 digital label press and D2 die-cutter, for one of our mainland Europe customers. The quality of the build, coupled with attractive investment and running costs, is hitting the right spot in the label market and we expect this to be the first of many.”

  • Drupa Snooper – A tale of two drupas

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us…” Andy McCourt feels that Charles Dickens´ opening words from A Tale of Two Cities might well apply to drupa 2012.

    Greetings from Dusseldorf, Germany where I am attending two trade shows. Two? Well they are both called drupa and co-located, in fact it is drupa but there are two distinct themes running through the 17 fairground halls; a dichotomy of ideas, culture and approach to our industry. Analogue and digital? No, not quite. Old technology and new technology? No. Electronic and paper-based communications? Not even that – if archaeologists unearth a tablet computer in 1,000 years time, it won’t work and will remain a mystery of Rosetta Stone proportions. “We believe that early 21st century humans used this item in religious ceremonies where the high priests ate sacred Apples and were in constant conflict with a rival deity named Mike Rosoft.” If they unearth a book, they will simply open it and read it.

    My call on the “two drupas” is that one is ‘push’ manufacturing-driven and the other is ‘pull’ service-driven. Naturally, this ‘push-pull’ division pits digital methodologies against analogue and trade craft skills against IT savvy but it is not absolute. It is, however, something that exhibits an observable force on where the crowds are flocking, and flocking they are.

    I walk around the print-manufacturing aisles and, while some have respectable numbers of visitors, I see many where stand staff are talking amongst themselves and looking up and down the aisles hoping for a customer visit. I walk onto Xerox, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, Screen, Canon, Xeikon, MGI, HP, Heidelberg, Epson, EFI, Mimamki Memjet OEMs and Landa –especially Landa and I’m shoulder-to-shoulder with enthused delegates from all over the world eager to paw and ogle the equipment.

    Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that manufacturing-centric print and finishing is dying, far from it. Ryobi, for example, have attracted huge crowds to working demonstrations of a single-unit B1 press! It’s a 1050-1 with a UV casting and holographic foiling for security and decorative packaging work. If a sparkling holographic perfume carton adds 25 cents to the cost of a product that sells for $50 – who cares?



    The tale of two drupas is about your printing business model and how you see your future – craft based manufacturing bidding for large print runs together with many other printers, with reducing profit margins as the runs get longer; or a service-based business model where print runs can be ‘diced and sliced,’ produced on-demand, versioned and personalized, use fewer staff, have lower capex, respond to market ‘pull’ and the value that is added is your most excellent service and being able to say ‘yes’ to almost every customer request.

    Take a look at the photo of a Landa S10 press here. Yes, I’m writing about Landa again and why not? The more the Snooper discovers, the more fascinating it becomes. This press is a B1 8-colour perfector capable of 13,000 sheets per hour and yet it looks like something out of Doctor Who! Like the Tardis, you get a lot, lot more inside than the physical dimensions would suggest. It’s digital of course but it is also a ‘green’ press using no plates, water-based inks, totally recyclable and de-inkable output and a footprint on-third of a comparable offset 8 colour perfector.

    It’s not operated from the feed or delivery end, it is operated from a ‘side-on’ giant touch-screen. The story behind this is fascinating in itself. During the R&D, Landa involved school-age children in a project something like “if you could design your own operating interface for a nice big colour printing machine to print your own books – what would it look like?” The result was the sublime giant touch-screen that you see in the picture. In true Generation Y fashion, the smart kids came up with an Xbox/iPad solution. Forget trade school to learn this kind of printing – just read the manual.

    With a claimed break-even crossover to offset at around 8,000 B1 sheets, the Landa S10 commercial and its packaging single-sided incarnation, is a short-to medium run dream machine when it becomes available in 2013. This is not a print-manufacturing machine, it is a print service providing facilitator. It is likely that the Heidelberg, manroland and Komori Nanography-licensed versions when they come out, will also reflect this trend.



    Konica-Minolta is also showing a prototype digital B2 press, the KM-1 using Konica’s own printheads and ink. Manager of Production Print Marketing and Inkjet, Kazuyoshi Tanaka and Australian Sales Chief David Procter admit it represents a new game for them. “We recognize that the B2 commercial market might not want the ‘click’ business model that is almost universal in the B3 digital sector, so we will be flexible in offering both a click-based pricing model and a consumables-with-service one,” said Procter. The print quality on the samples I saw were very sharp and exhibited great colour.

    With Konica-Minolta’s existing BizHub range decidedly in the ‘Service Print’ sector; the KM-1 will no doubt appeal to both PSPs wanting to upsize and commercial offset printers wanting digital production that can utilize existing finishing plant.

    Pictured: McCourt with KM’s Kazuyoshi Tanaka in front of the Km-1 prototype

    Speaking of B2 digital, I now count 12 current or future suppliers: HP Indigo, Landa, Konica-Minolta, Komori, Jadason (a Chinese manufacturer), Screen, Fujifilm, MGI, Ryobi, Miyakoshi, manroland and Heidelberg. It’ll be a market space as crowded as sheetfed offset was in the 1980s and one can expect Darwinian influences will cause some casualties; but it is a happening thing and can’t be ignored.



    Following the swift and very wise settling of the patent dispute with Silverbrook Research, Memjet has lost no time in announcing three new OEM licensees – Canon/Oce, Toshiba and today Fujixerox. Toshiba is for an office MFP but both Canon/Oce and Fujixerox are for high-output 42” wide format machines with particular appeal to the CAD/GIS market.

    Visiting Memjet’s VP Marketing Jeff Bean (pictured left) and Wide-Format President Mike Puyot (pictured right), it is obvious that Memjet companies (Wide Format, Labels and Office, they decided to pull out of a Photo market specific strategy), will embark on a licensing spree where Memjet printheads, chips and ink crop up in zillions of printing and marking products made by third parties. Signing up Fujixerox is indeed a jewel of a deal since FX is so strong in the engineering drawing and production graphics sector. Bean and Puyot are pictured proudly holding one of the Memjet ‘Waterfall’ Mems-engineered printheads.

    All of Memjet’s OEMs offer service-centric incarnations of the technology – short run high speed documents (e.g. Delphax); fast convenient office printers (e.g. Lomond) and very fast wide format machines (e.g. Xante).



    Even finishing is going service-based. One of the great press conferences I attended was for Highcon, an Israeli company started in 2009 to digitalise die-cutting and creasing. Highcon’s Euclid technology is currently in Beta – they even had the Beta customer addressing the media – and machines will begin shipping in late 2012. Euclid uses lasers to die cut folding cartons and a clever UV-cured polymer-like material that is squirted into the creasing cylinder and hardened with UV energy.

    Euclid is a natural companion to B2 digital presses and again brings service-related packaging print into the equation for small runs, test marketing, versioned packs, serial numbering and so forth. It costs around $1,600 to set up a die knife and cutting press for a folding carton print run and takes days. Euclid claims it can do the same for $375 in 15 minutes. Imagine the demand for that!

    So what is best? Manufacturing print or Service print? Well, I don’t subscribe to a ‘best/second best’ simplification. If you are happy manufacturing print in long runs and competing fiercely on price; why not? But for growth and better profitability I am in no doubt that Service-based printing and an administrative back office to support it is the way to go.

    Pictured: That’s not a drupa snooper… this is a drupa snooper

    It’s your future and your choice but whichever direction or combination you choose – which tale of the two drupas you believe – don’t be like Dickens’ Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities and lose your head!

    Another drupa Snooper next week at the end of the show and more news-as-it comes from our Publisher Patrick Howard who has worked twice as hard.

    Everything is before us.

  • Battle for Memjet as Silverbrook fires back

    “We are devastated that Australia’s best and brightest scientists and engineers have been made to take annual leave from our Australian facilities. We have had to pay the staff on the Memjet project from our own pockets since February, while our US-based Memjet customer has over  $22 million in outstanding invoices owing to Silverbrook Research.” – Kia Silverbrook.

    The battle for Memjet moved into full metal jacket mode last week with Australian inventor and entrepreneur, Kia Silverbrook, launching a stirring rebuttal of the allegations of fraud and trickery against he and his partner Janette Lee from Oklahoma-based investor George Kaiser’s tax entity, GKFF. Insisting the UK court has jurisdiction to hear the case, he derided claims that he and Ms Lee were at fault in the breakdown of the Memjet development partnership that has consumed $600 million over eight years.

    He insists the claim is designed solely to eliminate him and his company, Silverbrook Research, as minority shareholders prior to Memjet being sold for a price between $2 -$5 billion. “This US-led group is trying any means to gain control of the patent portfolio, which they licence, but have not created and do not own,” he claims.

    The court case proceeds against the background of the dissolution of research and development company, Silverbrook RS, in Sydney, where the staff are on enforced leave until next week. There are also allegations that some have been made redundant without receiving their benefits. Silverbrook claims the US backers have frozen badly needed money, refusing to pay an outstanding $22 million in an effort to take over the company’s IP.

    In a detailed witness statement lodged with the London court, Silverbrook refutes every one of the claims made against him and Lee. He makes the point that George Kaiser, the leading investor, is not party to the claim against him and that the head of GKFF, Frederick Dorwart, is also head of the firm of lawyers bringing the case.

    The protracted commercialisation of the Memjet technology has put increasing strains on the relationship between the Australia and US partners. After nine years the development partnership finally broke down in June 2011 when it was declared the Memjet companies would require an extra investment of between $250 million and $400 million to break even. Ms Lee accused the Memjet management of spending considerable time on issues such as option plans, bonuses and salary increases while they failed to meet sales targets, achieving only 8% of predictions. They also failed to raise $250 million in capital as promised.

    All parties have now come to the recognition that the best, possibly only, way forward for Memjet is to sell the company and the technology to a large technology firm, such as HP or Canon. The legal battle is over how it is sold and by whom. The Americans fear that due to the fragmented nature of the original Silverbrook corporate structure, they will not be able to account for all the necessary IP. Silverbrook reckons the Americans just want him and Lee out and be left with liabilities so they can maximise their profit from any sale.

    There seems little doubt the memjet technology is a disruptive inkjet printing technology, already successfully integrated into working printing equipment, notably by Nick Mansell of Rapid Machinery in Sydney and sold throughout the world. The cost and difficulty in bringing it to commercialisation – it began in 1997 and has over 5,000 dedicated patents – has cast a pall over its groundbreaking stature.

    In his witness statement Silverbrook claims… many companies have attempted to develop what the Memjet technology achieves. Canon has spent at least $1 billion in several attempts to achieve it. Philips made three unsuccessful attempts over a period of around six years, each costing over $200 million. HP has spent several billion dollars in several attempts, and has come the closest to succeeding, although its solution is inferior to the Memjet technology. Many other companies, including Xerox, Sony, Fuji-Xerox, and Samsung, have also tried and failed. It is a technology, which is deceptively simple in concept, but enormously difficult to implement in practice.

    The danger is Memjet will become bogged down for years now in court battles across the world.


  • Drupa snooper – The change will do you good

    Welcome to drupa Snooper number eight. Only one more to go before the show itself – when your ‘Snoops’ will come directly from the Messe aisles and laneways of Düsseldorf itself. By the way, now that drupa Snooper has gone viral it has been adopted by two of the most innovative exhibitors at the show, Memjet and Landa Nanoprint 

    Now the build-up has commenced; the stand-builders are erecting their ephemeral gin-palace citadels; the electricians are wiring up what will be the world’s largest printing factory for two weeks and the hotels are jacking up their rates five-fold (it’s true even for mediocre places where the normal €60 nightly fare has become €260 – one German booking website has even disabled the ‘under €200’ option from its search engine!); what’s it all about?

    Friends, it is about change. Never before in drupa’s sixty-year history, has the event portended so much change. It is not just incremental or evolutionary change. To our industry, this drupa may represent the equivalent of the asteroid that hit planet Earth 65 million years ago and killed all of the dinosaurs.

    Imagine you were a scribe in 1450. After a busy day scrivening, you hear news of a new device that will reproduce beautiful text faithfully from hand-cut type letters. As you quaff your cup of Malmsey-wine with colleagues down at the Scrivener’s Arms, you reflect on how this might affect your livelihood; a noble craft that has endured since ancient times. A few cups later and a chat with your pal Desiderus Erasmus, you bid farewell saying “It’ll never catch on you know – this printing thing from Gutenberg. People want their books hand-written by us and beautifully illuminated.”

    “Too right,” replies Erasmus, who went on to account for about 20 percent of all the world’s book sales by the early 1500s – printed of course. But Scribes still exist of course; the Reformation and education saw to it that we all learnt how to write for ourselves and DTP made us all printers too. Nevertheless, in a marvelous example of enduring respect for craftsmanship, there still exists in London, the Worshipful Company of Scriveners, established in 1373 and, in its own unique way, still going strong.

    Ring in the changes

    Change is the only constant and I see at this drupa, evidence of so much change in the way we as an industry will be doing business, the kind of careers we will be offering our youth, the geopolitical shifts in influence. To get your mind around change, I have selected a few quotes about the subject:

    “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.”
    This came from Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of Britain twice in the 60s and 70s. His challenge was to try and make post-imperial Britain relevant in an uncertain world.

    “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
    I like this one from psychiatrist and contemporary of Freud, Viktor Frankl since it drives straight to the heart of what afflicts our industry. Evidence abounds that the Printing Industry can no longer change the world’s communication dynamics, so it is time to look inwards for re-invention.

    Even 400 years BC, Greek tragedian Euripedes observed: “What can we take on trust in this uncertain life? Happiness, greatness, pride – nothing is secure, nothing keeps.”
    And finally from Robert C Gallagher: “Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.” The only reason this is here is because I think it is funny. However, it could equally apply to drupa hotel rates and a €500 note.
    So what are the change dynamics of this drupa that so affect our immediate futures?

    Change deals:

    When exciting new technology comes along, those who have funded it like early returns. This encourages OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) deals to be done, accelerating the adoption of the tech and also allowing companies who have resisted change for years to catch-up quickly. Remember Nokia made gumboots before it made mobile phones. Here are the digital deals known to date, including one you are reading here first:

    • Memjet – Océ: an industry source says expect to see a wide format iteration using Memjet printheads. Note Océ, not Canon at this stage. Oce is known to have been working with Memjet but the company can not confirm nor deny if an Oce-Memjet product will be ready for drupa.
    • Memjet with others – Delphax, LG, Lenovo, Lomond, Astro Machine Corp, Colordyne Technologies, Xanté, Japan Electronics Inc, Imaging Systems Group, Own-X, Rapid Labels
    • Heidelberg – Ricoh
    • Komori-Konica Minolta (including another B2 digital sheetfed press)
    • Ryobi-Miyakoshi
    • Manroland (web) – Océ
    • KBA – RR Donnelly
    • Timsons – Kodak
    • Screen – Ricoh Infoprint
    • Hunkeler – with anyone who makes a digital web press
    • Fujixerox – Miyakoshi and Impika
    • Esko/Videojet – X-Rite/Pantone

    What can be seen from the above is that offset manufacturers are turning to established digital vendors for their digital products. One exception is KBA who, through their development partnership with RR Donnelly, claims that the RotaJET 76 is ’the only German-manufactured digital press.’ The printheads, however, will almost certainly not come from Germany, and my understanding is that the Océ ColorStream 3500 is made near Munich which last time I looked, is in Germany. Standout non-digital players include Mitsubishi, Sakurai, Hans Grohni and Akiyama/Goss, with Presstek doggedly sticking to the DI type of fixed-data ‘digital’ press, with a loyal following.

    Whether the Landa Nanographic process will be licensed to others or OEM’d; or sold solely as a Landa product remains to be seen after drupa. Speaking of Landa, CEO Benny Landa is delivering a keynote address on the opening day in the drupa Cube area entitled:

    “Print in the Digital Era: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the iPad” – not to be missed, which brings me to change force number two:

    Change from mass market to mass customization

    This is the big one and probably why so many all-analogue printers ‘don’t get it.’ The mass market started in 1940s and 50s as the post-war economy and baby boomers surged ahead. Print experienced massive growth and, when colour came along for magazines and catalogues, the advertising world seized upon the opportunity to pump billions of dollars into promoting mass-market products. Newspaper circulations boomed, great and even not-so-great literature sold by the millions.

    Today, in all aspects of social behaviour, we are moving away from mass markets and closer to targeted, zoned and personal markets. This demands that printed products must follow their customers’ lead and, to quote Mike Ferrari – a 30-year veteran from doyen of mass marketing Procter & Gamble – “The analogue supply chain can no longer cope with this.” Ferrari is speaking in the drupa Cube on day two, 4th May. Remember, he is a guy who has purchased billions of dollars in mass packaging over time and yet he says: “Several brand name companies are already relying on a digital supply chain. They are already profiting from faster turn-around times. I therefore recommend that all companies that produce products for end consumers to consider digital processes – and quickly!”

    I’ve heard printers express despair at the shortening of orders and the IT demands of changing content for both small batches and, worst of all, single products or pages. Take heart – the market is still ‘Mass’ – it’s just ‘Massively Customised’ now and all you have to do is change the way to think.

    Change print-web-mobile

    So you still think drupa is all about hawking heavy metal, mashed up trees and oil by-products? Change that thought right now! It’s about trends and new processes. If the good people organizing drupa, (and bear in mind the drupa President is also CEO of the world’s largest heavy-metal print manufacturer, Heidelberg), have seen fit to incorporate online, mobile, iPad and other electronic media in its main message, why not you?

    Print in almost all of its forms is part of a Galaxy of media and communications that reflects the contemporary state of the human condition. This means, as Benny Landa has so eloquently put it, we must “stop worrying and learn to love the iPad.” To that could be added the SmartPhone, Facebook, Twitter, the X-Box and anything else that your ten-year old child likes to interact with. In return we can teach them to learn to love books, magazines, newspapers, great graphic design, personalized wall art, photobooks, smart packaging and snazzy signs.

    Change the world

    Finally, a word of change for this spangled orb, this sapphire and emerald jewel of a planet on which we live. Print has to continue the already-begun good work, to become a totally sustainable industry that takes no more from the Earth than it puts back. Aqueous inks, no chemistry plates or no plates, zero waste and emissions, power-efficiency, managed forests for pulp, zero tolerance of environmental vandalism to produce paper and clean, safe, harmonious workplaces – these are just a few of the steps underway that will help us to thrive in perpetuity.

    Drupa is the world’s largest trade fair dedicated to the printing and allied graphic media industries. Held every 4 years, it opens on May 3rd at the Messe Düsseldorf, Germany and closes on May 16th. The Printing Industries Association of Australia, in conjunction with Eastern Suburbs Travel, is organizing tours including a pre-drupa ANZAC-themed tour of Gallipoli and beyond. For details please contact Marty, Vicki or Sonia on
    02 9388 0666 or

  • Silverbrook Research hives off employees to new Memjet R&D Pty Ltd

    The Australian developer of Memjet printing technology has put its entire workforce on enforced annual leave until April 23 to give itself breathing space while setting up a new company to help settle a $600 million US lawsuit.

    An estimated 250 employees at Silverbrook Research have been on enforced leave since the end of March. Their employment was terminated and transferred to the new entity, which will be responsible for the future commercialisation of the Memjet project.

    The new company will re employ those who accept the deal on Monday April 23. It is understood there have been a number of redundancies at the high-tech research company.

    The move comes as principals, Kia Silverbrook and Janette Lee, battle allegations of fraud and misrepresentation from giant US investor, George Kaiser Family Foundation, an Oklahoma Corporation. The suit claims that among other harmful acts, Silverbrook threatened to gut the Memjet Companies of their most valuable asset – the patents and intellectual property underlying Memjet’s revolutionary printing technology.

    The saga of the commercialisation of the memjet technology took a critical turn with the lodging of the suit in the USA. Silverbrook maintains it is  simply part of a tussle for ownership of the memjet intellectual property.