Last week IMI Europe hosted a mergers & acquisitions in inkjet forum on the day before the 2019 European digital printing conference. I have to admit that it has been a long time that I gained that much insight on trends that will shape our industry from a conference – although I am not even in danger of buying or selling a company any time soon.
Ken Stack from Proximus LLC led through the forum on drivers and market activity in mergers & acquisitions for production inkjet technology and related companies. Despite the negative assessments print is receiving sometimes, there is a healthy interest in production inkjet companies from various sectors such as public companies, private equity (PE) and increasingly private companies as well. There is no lack of funding capital either, especially in the era of zero interest rates. On the other hand, R&D in new technologies is pricey and protracted, with spending well above a hundred million US$ for a new inkjet head generation or press design. Hence even for established players acquisitions can make a lot of sense.
The model choice for SRA3 based inkjet production printers is still quite limited, especially when compared to the choice in colour toner devices. While the sales of toner-based systems in high-end SRA3 are levelling off however, inkjet can extend the market by bringing its own strengths to the table, like: highest speeds, lower consumable cost – especially for low coverage – and a simplified marking engine. Inkjet will not make toner obsolete, but it will enlarge the scope of digital cut-sheet production presses noticeably.
Accordingly, it should lift some eyebrows when Xerox is launching a new model with the Baltoro HF. It is not the first foray for Xerox, having launched the Brenva HD at drupa 2016. On the 17th of October 2019 the Baltoro was shown publicly in Europe for the first time after having had its launch in Rochester in June already. On the first appearance the Baltoro and Brenva look quite similar – both use the tried & tested paper transport of the iGen5. This includes a wide range of paper decks and in-line finishers, which become available for the Baltoro. The drier is a very compact NIR drier.
We just passed the mark of 250 days left until drupa 2020, the Olympics and football world championship of print rolled into one. There was a noticeable uptick in activity from Messe Düsseldorf recently with floorplans published, interviews given, and the ticket shop opened (for the very very impatient among us). In times of flailing trade shows drupa still goes strong with 1,800 exhibitors announced already and the floor space almost sold out. There is no doubt that drupa 2020 will set the agenda again for years to come around printing technology.