EFI continues focus on innovation and inks

EFI chief technology officer Doug Edwards believes single-pass inkjet technology will drive the analogue-to-digital printing transition, and anticipates that EFI will be able to leverage its ink manufacturing know-how to deliver new water-based ink solutions to its customers.

Edwards (left) and Hanulec at EFI's Ignite virtual event
Edwards (left) and Hanulec at EFI's Ignite virtual event

Edwards joined EFI at the beginning of the year.

He was speaking at EFI’s three-day virtual event, taking place this week, in a ‘fireside chat’ with EFI vice president of worldwide marketing Ken Hanulec.

Edwards said that in his first 90 days at the company he had learned a lot about the breadth of the EFI offering, and inks had been a stand-out area.

“That's the area that surprised me most about EFI. I knew how good the software was, I knew how good the equipment was, what I didn't appreciate was the capabilities in ink. And I think there's a lot we can do a lot more we can do with ink,” he stated.

He said that developments in water-based inks would be a key driver.

“I think one of the areas where I see a lot of potential is what's happening in ceramics and what we're doing right now in ceramics. We’ve just introduced a water-based ink. That market is dominated by solvent and oil, and everybody in that market would love to have a water-based solution.

“So we're just introducing that and I think it's going to become a pretty dominant technology for us across the industry.”

The firm is also developing ink concentrates to reduce shipping and end user costs.

Edwards said that in digital UV inks, where EFI claims a market-leading position worldwide, it was also working on water-based formulations,

“I don't think we would be far away from that,” he added.

“We’ve made a lot of investment in the ink business.”

When asked by Hanulec to pick his favourite product in the EFI portfolio, Edwards said that single-pass inkjet demonstrated the “core strength” of EFI.

“If you think about where we started, in single pass, it was in ceramics. And we've managed to migrate that technology into many different application spaces,” he said.

“It moved into corrugated packaging. It's used by a number of display customers as well. We've moved into textiles. We've moved that technology into wood decoration, cement decoration, and there are many more we can move into.

“So I would pick that that technology platform and I think that’s a key role of mine and of R&D to make sure we leverage those sorts of synergies across the company.”

He said EFI now had more than 30 installations worldwide of its Nozomi single-pass large-format printer for corrugated packaging and display applications.

Referring to the general impact of the ongoing Covid-19 situation, Edwards commented: “I think if we look at the business today, our software businesses has been less impacted. And likewise, our packaging business and, the Nozomi business, less impacted.

“The business probably most impacted is displays. Not surprisingly, our customers are supporting major events, large gatherings, trade shows, music events, sporting events etc, so until we see a vaccine, I think that's going to be continuing for a little while.

“But I think our expectation is those will bounce back reasonably well when we come through this.”

Hanulec said there were already some signs that larger retailers were gearing up to re-open, which would be good news for display graphics customers.

He said that the Covid-19 pandemic, and the postponement of Drupa until next year, would not stop EFI bringing new products to market.

“We are going to continue to innovate. I wouldn't say that our product launch strategy has changed – our role is to work with our customers and bring new technologies to market that enable new digital applications,” Hanulec said.

“We also want to help our customers lower their cost per square metre so that they can drive hyper-efficient factories and any of the innovations we bring to market always answer those two questions. We will have several new commercialisations this year and of course, we'll go into Drupa with a couple of new announcements as well. So the innovation machine at EFI is alive and well and it's not slowing down.”

He added: “I want to say on behalf of the 3,000 EFI employees and our partners, we wanted to take one minute and say, thank you to our frontline and essential workers, the sacrifices they're making around the clock, in the face of these unprecedented times is just really amazing. And for that we're truly grateful.”

More details about EFI’s Ignite Virtual Experience event, which concludes on 23 April, can be found here.




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