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Interview With

Duncan Smith

Brendan Perring talks to Duncan Smith, director of industrial and production solutions at Canon UK, about its innovative new technology and the avenues of business growth open to printers

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Duncan Smith is the director of industrial and production solutions at Canon UK

Unleashing print’s capabilities

You are set to exhibit at The Print Show 2017, what key pieces of print technology will you be bringing, and what are your plans for it?

Visitors to the Canon stand will experience a hub of creative ideas that will help them to unlock the power of print. UV gel, our game-changing technology launched this year, is certain to draw in the crowds. This is a UV curable ink that gels immediately on contact with the media, requiring no heat to cure, and therefore being suitable for a wide range of media, including ultra-thin and heat-sensitive substrates.

The first printer using this technology, the Océ Colorado 1640, will be at The Print Show. This 64” roll-to-roll wide-format has been engineered to address demand for the short turnaround wide-format graphic applications and meet the highest industrial standards for the peak production requirements of businesses of all sizes.

The first printer using UV gel technology is the Océ Colorado 1640, which will be on display at The Print Show

This breakthrough technology allows users to print up to four times as fast as is possible with water-based printers. It therefore breaks through the speed barrier and helps customers sidestep production bottlenecks. It delivers consistent vibrant colour, banding-free output, and its versatility means that POS, billboard, wallpaper, and more, are effortlessly at the disposal of the signage and interior décor market.

It is faster than any other printer in this segment, with a top speed of 159 m2/h for applications such as billboards or outdoor banners, and even at the highest level of quality for close-up indoor applications, the printer operates at a speed of 40 m2/h.

That is just one highlight. As a technology leader for continuous feed, sheetfed, and flatbed inkjet, we will also show the new Océ Vario Print 6000 Titan cut-sheet monochrome production press. This delivers enhanced productivity, quality, and media versatility. Supporting volumes of up to ten million A4 size impressions per month, it is ideally suited for producers of commercial print materials, books, and transactional documents, as well as large in-plants.

Also at The Print Show from Canon will be the Océ Vario Print 6000 Titan cut-sheet monochrome production press

It has a maximum running speed of 328 A4 images per minute (ipm) in perfecting mode, Prism Async print server v7 that allows advanced job scheduling for up to eight hours, and the Titan Light Weight Media (LWM) option that enables printing on substrates as light as 45gsm, opening multiple new product avenues. It also supports plain, coated, textured, and other specialty media such as NCR paper.

The commercial print industry in the UK is now stable, but has seen some tough times. What avenues of business growth are open to printers?

At Canon, we are in constant contact with the industry, to ensure that our technology and services meet modern day requirements. Customers want to uncover new revenue streams, improve their margins, and make the most of their equipment. New applications and new services have been made possible, but ultimately the consumer’s experience of print has been made more valuable than it has ever been. Looking ahead, we believe that the opportunities will increase, as the needs of our customers and their customers continue to evolve.

The pace of change is fast. However, we continue to bring bold and disruptive ideas to life. There are still many avenues for growth in the print industry. One for certain is book publishing, where publishers have gone on record as saying that digital printing has changed their world. It is the present, not the future.

Other growth opportunities include wide-format printing—anything from signage to wallpaper—and the production of photo merchandise, as well as the power of print in marketing. The possibilities are endless.

What are the common denominators of your most successful customers?

Our most successful customers are invariably the ones who recognise change and developments in markets. Developing strong partnerships to help nurture and support is a pillar of the Canon strategy. Our philosophy is to work closely together to openly explore the challenges and opportunities our customers face, to inspire them to unleash their print capabilities, and help them with ideas to evolve and unlock their commercial potential. We want to help them offer meaningful solutions to improve their profitability.

Developing strong partnerships to help nurture and support is a pillar of the Canon strategy

One key support initiative is the Canon Essential Business Builder Programme, which is delivered by independent experts and consultants. As a consultative-led organisation, we proactively assess how these forward-thinking customers can address these trends by investing in technology to improve business performance and keep ahead of the competition. We help printers to diversify and differentiate themselves.

Other practical help and support in our strategic approach to the market is provided through The Centre, our production print showroom in Birmingham. It combines our insight and expertise along with that of independent industry mentors and is a showcase of real world applications and where we host customer events to demonstrate the latest Canon technologies.

The Centre is Canon’s production print showroom in Birmingham

So, competition remains fierce in the digital print sector. What are the core strengths of your offering that have resulted in continued growth?

We have been challenging perceptions of digital printing for over a decade by pursuing a programme of continuous innovation across all our technologies. UV gel is just the latest example of our philosophy of working closely in partnership to help drive growth for customers.

Our ongoing dialogue through a collaborative, partnership approach helps customers to work smarter, access new revenue streams, devise new print applications and business models, and differentiate themselves by adding value for their customers in unexpected ways.

What is the most technically advanced piece of print technology on your books, and is it worth investigating?

There are many Canon technologies worth investigating, but let us talk about UV gel. Our Océ Colorado 1640 was developed to address booming demand for wide-format graphic applications and enable graphics producers to seize opportunities to grow. Suitable for businesses producing both indoor and outdoor applications, including posters, banners, signage, POS, billboards, window graphics, and bespoke wall coverings, it is designed for low total cost of operation to accelerate return on investment.

With the Océ Colorado 1640, we are bringing radical innovation to roll-to-roll printing, offering PSPs producing lower volumes an affordable step up to true production printing with rapid ROI. For PSPs already handling high volumes, it offers a uniquely versatile technology at an affordable price point.

Productivity is further boosted by its dual-roll configuration, which enables the PSP to switch between two types and sizes of media on the fly, for fast production of mixed applications. Its heavy, robust frame, class-leading rigidity and industrial components ensure stability of media handling. The system also uses an optical feedback loop that continuously monitors media advance to automatically correct the subsequent step size as needed.
It runs our UV gel technology that reduces ink consumption by up to 40 percent compared with competitive technologies, thanks to a more efficient way of jetting ink. It significantly reduces maintenance and removes the need for optimisers. The cured UV gel prints are instantly dry and ready for finishing or laminating, ideal for businesses handling jobs demanding fast turnaround and installation.

Do you think the UK needs an annual exhibition such as The Print Show, and why?

Trade shows today have evolved enormously from what they once were and, at Canon, we focus on delivering a truly immersive experience to visitors. Our physical presence at print exhibitions is vital, but we also think beyond stand design and product promotion to effectively communicate the broad range of services, end-to-end solutions, and expertise we offer our customers.

Face-to-face experiences are always valuable. You can be sure that our specialist teams ensure that visitors get maximum value from what we are sure will be another great UK event for commercial printers to experience our world-class offering.

The Print Show is another opportunity for us to come together and network with like-minded individuals. We are committed to innovation, with a clear focus on delivering solutions and services to help customers build better businesses.

The Print Show is another opportunity for us to come together and network with like-minded individuals

Key Company Stats

  • Canon will be on stand E24 at The Print Show
  • UV gel technology launched in 2017
  • 159 m2/h is the speed of the Océ Colorado 1640
  • The Océ Vario Print 6000 Titan runs at 328ipm

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