Xaar revamps with new look and new offering

Jo Francis
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Xaar is back on the front foot with a new look and a revamped offering that includes its first move into aqueous printheads.

Xaar: Now completely different in terms of product offering
Xaar: Now completely different in terms of product offering

The inkjet manufacturer unveiled its new brand alongside its interim results today (30 September).

Chief executive John Mills, who took over a year ago, said that the business had won 30 new customers after revamping its go-to-market strategy, and was now “back on track”.

He was fulsome in his praise for how the firm’s employees had coped with Covid-19 disruption.

“I’ve been hugely impressed with the team and I’m grateful to our staff for their attitude and for stepping up. It’s been incredible,” he said.

In the UK, the Cambridge-headquartered business has not furloughed any employees or used any government loan schemes.

“We could have used the JRS scheme but from a moral perspective we as a team viewed it as something that was there to help companies that were very severely affected,” Mills explained.

Mills said the firm also planned to take on six apprentices and six graduates in order to help with the expected rise in youth unemployment.

Xaar’s US direct-to-object printing business EPS, which supplies end users directly, felt the economic slowdown there “more directly” and has benefited from a $1m (£779,000) government loan.

Intellectual property developed as part of its £70m Thin Film printhead project, which was canned last year, has been incorporated into Xaar’s new ImagineX platform.

“I have a good idea of what customers want in a printhead,” said Mills, who was previously CEO at Inca Digital.

“We developed a huge amount of know-how and IP [with Thin Film] and we have added that to our new ImagineX bulk printhead platform.

“We are now a completely different Xaar in terms of our product offering.”

Mills said the new branding (below) was intended to “try and make sure people take a second look” at what Xaar could offer.

“We’ve signed up more than 30 new accounts in the last 12 months, that’s 30 new machines being built across the globe for two reasons: our heads are incredibly capable, and people can see the roadmap.

“If people engage with us I think they’ll like what they see.”

Mills said the manufacturer’s first aqueous head was running successfully and the firm was now working with partners to test it.

“This will be hugely competitive across a large number of areas,” he added, citing textiles as a key target.

The ImagineX bulk printhead platform is billed as being capable of powering Xaar products for the next 30 years.

ImagineX will be capable of higher resolutions of up to 1,440dpi, and runs faster with a planned frequency increase from 30kHz to 47kHz by the end of the year, and then to 150kHz.

Mills said the firm was also bringing in silicon nozzle plates across its range, making the heads more robust and with a bigger throw distance – key to markets such as coding and marking.

He said speed would also increase three-fold because Xaar had found a way around its old shared wall system and could now print using all nozzles at the same time

The ImagineX platform can also print at temperatures above 200°C, and like Xaar’s other printheads, can handle high-viscosity inks. 

Sales on continuing operations in the six months to 30 June were down slightly at £23.7m (2019: £25.5m). Gross margin was maintained at 27% and the business made a bottom line loss of £1.6m compared with a £2.5m loss the prior year. Net cash increased to £23.9m from £21.6m.

Net R&D investment rose from £1.6m to £4.2m.

Xaar’s share price was up 6.3% to 97.8p on the news (52 week low: 18.7p, high: 111p).


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