• Sha Jumari

Xeikon Set to Blaze Trails in Asia

Xeikon emphasised commitment to the Asian market as it highlights the company’s innovative future with Trillium One and Fusion Technology at drupa 2016.

Xeikon’s expansion in the Asia Pacific region is nothing short of impressive. The beginning of 2015 saw the opening of the company’s Technology Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which also marked the inauguration of its headquarters for Asia Pacific. At the end of 2015, Xeikon celebrated the opening of its second Technology Centre in Tokyo, Japan and drupa 2016 is Xeikon’s first major show since it was acquired by the Flint Group in late 2015.

“Asia is a very important future market for Xeikon and the Flint Group. By being an integral part of the Flint Group, we have a shareholder which is very willing to invest, and have capital to put to work for growing our business. We are able to increase our budget not just in terms of R&D, and also in feet in the streets,” said Wim Maes, chief executive officer of Xeikon and president of Flint Group’s Digital Printing Solutions division.

The Flint group consists of two major shareholders, namely Goldman Sachs and Koch Industries. Thanks to the added resources provided by Flint Group, Xeikon can further strengthen its commitment and reach into Asia. Its first priority? To grow regional sales team.

Wim Maes, CEO of Xeikon and president of Flint Group’s Digital Printing Solutions division; with Bent Serritslev, managing director of Xeikon Asia Pacific.

“Two years ago, there were basically zero of us in Asia. By the beginning of the year, we grew to 16 people, and by the end of the year there will be 24 of us. We are growing very fast as Asia is a huge focus for us. Its represents a big potential growth area for our product offerings in high quality / high performance digital printing,” Maes continued.

According to Xeikon, Japan currently holds the biggest single footprint in terms of manpower and installed base in the Asia Pacific region. To further grown, the company has also put a direct sales team in China and appointed sales managers in India and Australia.

“We’ve also put more of our best people in front of our customers in the Southeast Asian markets as well. This is what our customers want: the commitment. You get commitment by putting people in front of the customers both in terms of customer relationship management, support and services,” added Bent Serritslev, managing director, Xeikon Asia Pacific.

“With Flint Group, we can further capitalise on the reach that they have in the market as well. Our focus has essentially developed from label, to successfully entry into the commercial printing space in Asia as well. If two years ago, we were recognised for our label solutions, today we are also known as having solutions in the commercial and packaging space,” Serritslev said.

“We truly believe in the potential of the market. We invest a lot in this region and make dedicated products for the Asian market,” added Maes. “Every time I meet people in Asia, I'm always positively surprised with their entrepreneurial drive, their creativity and the can-do mentality to make it happen. We want to be good partners with Asian converters and companies in digital print and we’re very interested to talk to them.”

Trillium One – the Future and Beyond

At drupa 2016, the company officially presented the brand-new Trillium One press to the public. The liquid toner technology pegged to the Trillium was first introduced four years ago at drupa 2012. Since then, Xeikon has worked closely with hand-picked customers to complete the development of the flagship 4 over 4-colour Trillium One press – just in time for the 2016 edition of drupa.

The press is capable of currently running at 60 metres per minute at 1200 dpi, with a print width of 500mm.

Applications that require high-quality prints are typically produced by offset, or toner-based printing. Under the toner-based printing spectrum, there are dry toners and liquid toners. As the frontrunners in dry toner technology, Xeikon now includes the Trillium technology, which is a liquid toner printing process that can print at very high speeds.

“The Trillium press that you see at the show is the fastest liquid toner-based machine at up to 50% faster. And this is just the beginning. The Trillium technology has the potential to go 50%, or even 100% faster than what we have now,” said Maes. “It’s a technology that allows you to print wet on wet, so this technology prints very fast and economically.”

Touted as the “missing link” in the industry for high volume direct marketing materials and publishing, the Trillium One aims to combine cost-effectiveness, high quality and speed. Xeikon is targeting the Trillium One at the commercial and direct marketing materials, and catalogues have been identified as high quality markets for Trillium One, with more target markets and applications expected to be added over time. At drupa, Trillium was on demo five times daily using a range of applications during 30-minute demonstrations.

In addition, Trillium’s Microgapping technology process allows for an initial 5-micron development gap, so toner particles easily transfer from one roller to the other with extreme precision and at a very high speed as the substrate progresses through the imaging process.

“Trillium is a technology we acquired in 2010 and we’ve since invested a lot in it. It’s a strong future technology not just for Xeikon and the Flint Group, but will also be a game changer for the print industry,” added Maes.

Tonnik – The Elixir of Sustainability

At the core of the Trillium One technology is the liquid toner, Tonnik. The liquid toner combines all the advantaged of dry toner in a liquid format and has the potential to become the most sustainable, environmentally friendly and economical colorant in the industry.

The Tonnik’s first focus is on recyclability. According to Maes, a lot of the digital printing technology currently available in the market are not able to meet requirements of paper recycling plants. Often times, these technologies, be it in inkjet or toner-based, do not recycle.

“A lot of plants out there do not necessarily have the money to invest in new paper recycling technology. We have to make sure that whatever we print can fit with current paper recycling technology,” explained Maes.

“It’s not a problem when your digital printed products are only 2-3% of the total paper coming in. However, digital printing is growing very fast. Soon you’ll see the numbers growing to 5%-10%, then it becomes an issue,” Maes continued. “The new Tonnik liquid toners have been fully tested and is going to be perfectly paper recyclable.”

With the Trillium technology, Xeikon is planning to head towards vegetable oil-based toners in the future. The Tonnik liquid toner will be just as sustainable as Xeikon’s current repertoire of dry toners, including QA-CD and ICE, which are all food-safe.

Trillium is able to achieve a high level of quality due to the high resolution made possible by the imaging heads (1200 dpi) and the small toner particle size of less than 2 microns used in the Xeikon-crafted high viscosity liquid toner.

The toner contains no evaporating carriers for a more environmentally conscious print production process that also mechanically recycles the majority of the carrier liquid. Biomaterial derived carrier liquids have been identified further increasing the sustainability of this new technology. As tested by INGEDE, printed materials are perfectly deinkable on the Trillium press.

Fusion Technology – One-Pass Wonder

Fusion Technology is another headlining concept on demo at the Xeikon booth. Targeted at the label and packaging market, the technology combines full colour production printing with digital embellishment of labels and packaging in a single, one-pass and fully digital production process.

“In label printing, a lot of labels are being printed digitally, but next to printing there's a lot of embellishments to be done, such as foiling and varnishing, which are done conventionally. Having a total solution to connect the digital technologies and make them run as one, is an important development. This umbrella of connecting various digital solutions we call Fusion,” said Maes. “Fusion is essentially the workflow and the concept of combining all these different technologies. digital foiling, digitial varnishing, we will put all of these into fusion.”

This innovation is capable of producing embellishments through modules, which currently includes a digital alternative to hot / cold foiling, screen printed white, tactile varnish, spot print, and Braille.

Serritslev added that Asian interest in Fusion is high: “There is a definite interest in the Fusion technology. Asian converters are asking about the technology and keen to explore what it can do to make a difference to their business Fusion gives them a different level of flexibility and opens up opportunities to reach outside of what they're currently doing.”

Read the full version of this article and more print news in the July issue of Print Innovation Asia.

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