Agfa plots 'huge growth' with Inca tech

Jo Francis
Thursday, June 2, 2022

Agfa CEO Pascal Juéry said the group was “eager to get started” with the integration of Inca, with selective demos of the new B1 Speedset folding carton device set to commence later this year.

Upbeat team: Wille, Wilson and Juéry at Fespa
Upbeat team: Wille, Wilson and Juéry at Fespa

Speaking at an Agfa press conference at Fespa yesterday (1 June), Juéry said the deal had completed as planned on 31 May, and it was now all systems go.

Inca employees joined the Agfa team on its booth at the expo (3.2-C20/D20), and were able to ‘go public’ after their new ownership become official, wearing personalised Agfa ‘Think Inkjet Think Agfa’ badges – the manufacturer's theme for the show.

“We have lost no time, we are eager to get started. This deal is a perfect example of the reinvention of Agfa,” Juéry stated.

Single-pass push
Vincent Wille, president of Agfa’s Digital Print & Chemicals division, said Agfa would benefit from Inca’s established single-pass printing technology, a process that is absent from Agfa’s portfolio at present.

As well as the high-end Onset device for display graphics the upcoming developments will be a platform for growth in packaging.

“Mixing that with our chemicals know-how makes us very strong. We are moving into packaging with a full line-up,” he said.

Wille said that Agfa’s own Dotrix single-pass device, canned over a decade ago, had been “too early”.

“Agfa was first on the market with single-pass, it was a good product but it was too early and customers weren’t ready. I now believe the market is ready for it,” he stated.

Agfa’s expanded offering from the entry-level Anapurna 70sqm/hr printer to the 60,000sqm/hr corrugated print engine for BHS meant the firm could offer “from the bottom to the super-high-end, all from one house and with inks – a complete full solution,” he added.

“Digital printing on packaging is only really starting, it is just a few percent now. That will grow tremendously going forward, and Inca will allow us to tackle that market.”

Agfa is in the process of making its Offset Solutions business a standalone operation, and the expectation is it will ultimately be sold or spun-off. But Juéry said this would not hold back its expansion plans in digital, despite the potential customer crossover for its digital packaging printing product range.

“We believe the way forward is focused on digital printing solutions. I fully understand we may lose some market synergies, but we believe that is the right way forward,” Juéry stated. 

“When we had digital printing as part of offset, it was a small developing part within a very large established and mature business. This is not the best way to give the right chance of development of the digital business,” he explained.

“A few years ago we made the decision to split the two units and that has proved to be the right decision, because you are not subject anymore to an arbitrage between the mature division and the more dynamic, growing business.

“The core growth engine for Agfa today is digital printing,” Juéry stated. “We have huge growth ambitions for Inca, and we expect Inca to start contributing from day one.”

Agfa is in the process of fine tuning its own inkset for the Onset range.

“We expect the first machine with our inks to be converted in fall this year,” said Mike Horsten, global business global press and PR manager.

High hopes for Speedset
Inca will become a sub-brand of Agfa initially, and will then become fully integrated over time with the Onset name continuing as a product name.

Inca managing director Steve Wilson said the first Speedset is being built now in Cambridge, with customers “knocking at our door” and more than 100 leads already. 

He hinted that in the future the B1 device “might get wider, it might print corrugated”.

Customers have been able to view Speedset sample output at the show, and Wilson said the response had been very positive.

“It was developed when we were part of Screen, so it has Japanese print quality targets for 4pt Kanji text reverse, which means we can do 2pt Roman text.”

The Speedset has a flat substrate path and print at 150m/min, or 11,000sph B1.

“We can achieve ISO colour gamut at that speed,” Wilson added.

Fespa showcase
On its Fespa booth Agfa is showing the Jeti Tauro H3300 HS, producing full flood varnish at 75sqm/hr, which it highlighted as a USP.

The Oberon RTR3300 roll-to-roll device now has white printing capability. “It’s an opaque white that will knock your socks off – we’ve printed onto glossy black vinyl so you can see how good it is,” explained Horsten.

Also on show are the Avinci CX3200 dye-sub and Asanti workflow, the InterioJet Décor printing solution, and Alussa high-end leather decoration system. Alussa is based on the Jeti Tauro with a specially-adapted transport system for leather.

Agfa's industrial solutions wing is highlighting its OEM offering for UV and water-based inks and fluids.

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