Roland DG has launched a partnership with software developer Custom Gateway to integrate hardware and software in order to deliver customised products on-demand.
The deal was signed at last month, after two months of discussions between Roland and Custom Gateway.
The first wave of development will incorporate the VersaUV LEF series with Custom Gateway’s cloud-based software, followed by the VersaStudio desktop inkjet printer and cutter and the Metaza metal printer, with the first integrated systems due for installation in summer 2017. Roland released its latest customisation printer, the small-format VersaUV LEF-200 flatbed flatbed, earlier this year.
Formerly called Gateway 3D, Custom Gateway is intended for retailers, printers and e-commerce traders. It enables all aspects of personalisation, design and image acquisition, along with the management of order workflow, and works through web storefronts and in-store kiosks.
Newly integrated machines will be rolled out to demo sites over the next four to eight weeks, with the first one due to appear in Roland’s Clevedon office. The machines should allow consumers to benefit from in-store personalisation of products on demand.
Roland has brought in Simon Wilcox as its new business development manager to head up the project. Acting as a Roland consultant for the last three months, Wilcox started in the role earlier this week. He will be responsible for delivering the project, managing a team of three Roland engineers and working with staff at Custom Gateway.
Wilcox, who has been in the digital imaging industry for 30 years, described the partnership as the “consumerisation of professional print”.
“This is about mixed production environments and has been driven by consumer demand and will accelerate because availability is feasible,” said Wilcox.
“If you looked at this five or 10 years ago it wouldn’t work but it will work now because everything works, mobile works, the internet is available anywhere at different speeds, technology is better, materials are cleaner and solvent inks are not part of the equation anymore.”
Roland managing director EMEA Jerry Davies said that the partnership contained three key elements: enabling existing sign and graphics customers to access personalisation, bringing Roland print technologies into retail stores, leisure parks and sports venues, and embedding Roland imaging and 3D technology into customised manufacturing processes.
Last month, Roland added a number of new vinyl cutters to its Camm-1 cutter family and late last year it revealed a prototype for an SME-friendly 3D printer.
Headquartered in Cheshire, Custom Gateway is a global operation with bases in Germany, the US and Slovakia.