Many of the new opportunities for customers discussed at the 19th Annual EFI Connect Conference, held from 23-26 January in Las Vegas, reflected a market redefinition happening for the print industry in the wake of continued digital industrial transformation.
During his opening keynote speech at Connect, EFI CEO Guy Gecht said, ‘The new Print is all about putting spectacular images on essentially any material. With digital inkjet technology and automation, the new Print brings immense opportunity in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.’
The event, one of the printing industry’s largest, longest-running and most influential users’ group conferences, provided attendees with the latest training and technology details to help them profit from the analogue to digital transition. Several new EFI products were debuted, including:
• EFI VUTEk® HS125 Pro and HS100 Pro Fast-4™ hybrid flatbed/roll inkjet press models that offer a range of super-fast 4-colour grayscale modes, with speeds up to 225 boards per hour. This enables more cost-effective grayscale production of distance-viewed signage and graphics.
• The EFI VUTEk FabriVU® 340i, a soft signage printer that delivers a lower cost of entry into high-growth soft signage applications by offering fully integrated inline sublimation without compromising engine speed or quality.
• Version 6 of EFI’s Enterprise Commercial, Midmarket Print, Publication, Quick Print, Packaging and Corrugated Packaging Productivity Suites for advanced, end-to-end business and production MIS/ERP workflows.
• EFI MarketDirect, a next-generation cross media customer engagement platform that gives printing companies the power to deliver comprehensive management on loyalty programmes, offers, newsletters, surveys and other customer communication programmes.
• Escada software, EFI’s recently acquired, robust corrugated process control product.
• EFI iQuote technology for enhanced estimating of versioned and variable-data digital print work.
• EFI Optitex 3D Design Illustrator, a plug-in tool for the fashion textile space that gives designers the freedom to validate and customise 3D garments in Adobe® Illustrator®.
Fast, sustainable, and superior-quality wide and superwide-format inkjet imaging technologies were also prominent at Connect, including technologies customers can use to move into fast-growing soft signage and industrial packaging applications. Printers on display at the show included the EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340 soft-signage fabric printer, the VUTEk 3r roll-to-roll LED printer; the EFI VUTEk GS3250lx Pro hybrid LED printer; and the new EFI Pro 24f dedicated flatbed LED printer. EFI also showcased a new virtual reality demo of the EFI Nozomi C18000 ultra-high-speed single-pass LED inkjet corrugated packaging press.
EFI partner Ricoh Americas Corp. featured EFI inkjet technology as well, with the versatile EFI Pro 16h hybrid LED printer running in its booth.
Several partners, including Ricoh, Xerox, Konica Minolta® Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. and Riso, showcased print engines running EFI Fiery® digital front ends (DFEs). The new, scalable Fiery FS300 Pro DFE platform used in several new print engines from EFI partners can handle high-speed sheetfed and ultra-high-speed continuous-feed B1 production and offers new features for superior colour, performance, usability and integration.
EFI partners’ new Fiery-based DFEs include the new version 6 of Fiery Command WorkStation® – a highly advanced user interface with new preview, search and reprint functions that can serve as the single point of control for multiple Fiery Driven™ production devices. EFI also demonstrated upcoming Fiery products: Fiery Command WorkStation for wide and superwide-format inkjet and Fiery Navigator™ dashboard analytics for wide and superwide-format inkjet.
EFI Connect’s extensive conference programme featured more than 200 sessions covering technical, business management, marketing and more for an audience of commercial print, signage and graphics, packaging and in-plant production executives from 23 countries. Special keynotes at this year’s conference included a pair of fireside chat discussions with the first two users of EFI’s breakthrough Nozomi press: Eric Bacourt, CEO of Hinojosa Packaging Solutions and Mal McGowan, CEO of McGowans Print.
Now going into its 19th year, EFI Connect attracts print professionals worldwide for a collection of in-depth, informative training and education on key management and tech challenges for printing and packaging companies. The conference is an ideal venue for open dialogue and idea exchange, giving customers a valuable opportunity to participate in educational sessions, receive hands-on experience, discuss industry trends, network with peers, voice their opinions and learn from others.