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Market Trends

Hunkeler Innovationdays

Ten months has passed since Hunkeler Innovationdays. Talking to key exhibitors, Harriet Gordon journeys back to track the developments that have taken place since

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Hunkeler Innovationdays returned to Lucerne in Switzerland between February 20th and 23rd 2017

Déjà vu

There is nothing quite like the hustle and bustle of a well-attended trade show. The whir of machines, the smell of solvents, and the sense of community you feel when suddenly surrounded by members of your industry, all intent on uncovering the latest and most exciting developments.

Yet with all this activity, it can be hard to keep a handle on everything taking place. The time flies by, and before you know it, you are sat on your train or plane heading home, your brain working overtime trying to process all of the things you saw and heard. It can sometimes be worth taking a while to reflect, returning (figuratively) to the scene of the show in several month’s time, to recap what actually happened in those whirlwind couple of days.

That is just what this feature will address. Hunkeler Innovationdays, back in February of this year, offered an overwhelming amount to its visitors, from the most recent developments in technology to the latest practicable applications to offer your clients. To try and reflect on some of what was on offer, and track any new developments since the show, I talked to two of the biggest exhibitors about the inline print finishing technology creating conversations on the day.

Journey back

The bi-annual digital event that is Hunkeler Innovationdays returned to Lucerne in Switzerland between February 20th to 23rd, bringing together many of the leading digital print manufacturers and their workflow ‘partners’ to showcase the latest digital print technology.

One the biggest presences at the show was Friedheim, which brought 125 customers (as well as members of the trade press), as Zunaid Rahman, marketing manager, explains: “Friedheim took over 100 UK customers to the show over the course of three days, a few even came on their own steam since we were unable to get them flights at the last minute. The number of customers coming from the UK has increased year on year, and with the largest Innovationsdays, 2017 was no exception.”

One the biggest presences at the show was Friedheim, which brought 125 customers and members of the trade press to the show from the UK

He continues: “The response from the show was and always has been phenomenal. With over 5,000 visitors all of which are personally invited by either Hunkeler’s agents around the world or the print venders, the atmosphere was buzzing with innovation, new technology, new ideas being realised on people’s stands, and lots of questions being raised about the future of the industry.”

Friedheim’s Zunaid Rahman says the ‘atmosphere was buzzing with innovation, new technology, and new ideas being realised on people’s stands’

Rahman attributes much of this success to Hunkeler itself, continuing: “Hunkeler have, for close on a decade, been classed as producers of the very best digital paper processing suppliers in the world. Their excellence in manufacturing, their components, and the sheer effort they put into their research and development has maintained their reputation, and will continue to do so.

One of the key technologies on show was the Hunkeler POPP8 generation finishing technology

“A lot of the advances that come out of Hunkeler are actually attributed to conversations and feedback they get from customers themselves. We launch products on site and work through difficulties in the process with the customer, tweaking and changing, always evolving the final product until at last it’s ready to be rolled out.”

We launch products on site and work through difficulties in the process with the customer, tweaking and changing, always evolving the final product until at last it is ready to be rolled out

This positive response to the show was shared by many exhibitors; Joanne Punter, Duplo’s international commercial manager, suggests the event has been growing in stature ever since it started.

She continues: “Our customers found the show extremely worthwhile and it gave them many ideas on how to take their business forward. Visitors showed real interest and knowledge of our systems and how these interplay in different working environments. Many wanted to find out more on current print finishing trends and the newest developments as well as how we, at Duplo, can assist in moving their business forward.

O Factoid: Over 5,000 visitors attended Hunkeler Innovationdays in February, all of whom were personally invited by either Hunkeler or other print venders. O

“Duplo has the widest range of print finishing systems in the industry and Hunkeler was an important platform for us to demonstrate live applications. We generated lots of interest in our products, particularly for our two international launches—the PFI DI-CUT 300 and the DC-646i JDF software. Another focus was a product promotion for the 600 Duetto Booklet System.”
Duplo’s Joanne Punter says the event was an important platform to demonstrate live applications, particularly the international launch of the PFI DI-CUT 300

Hot off the press

Product launches were indeed a feature of the show. There were numerous new products lined up next to Duplo’s showing, including the Hunkeler POPP8 mailing production finishing line—comprising the next generation integrated WI8 web inspection unit, WM8 web merger, and CS8 length and cross cutter.

Innovations in loose-leaf stacking production were also on show, in the form of the new POPP8 generation finishing technology. A modular roll-to-stack solution for stacked sheet output with continuous feed digital printers, it included the CS8 length and cross cutter, SE8 offset separator, and LS8 stacker.

The Hunkeler Unwinder UW6 is a productive unwinding module for rolls of up to 1370mm in diameter

When considering the new technology on display, there is a clear, key focus running throughout: generating greater value for the user.

Robin Brown, national sales manager in digital solutions at Friedheim, comments on the future of inline print finishing: “In the digital arena, the most important demands are making the product more interesting, clever, and secure, which gives more value to the end user. This in turn will add value to the likes of bank statements, utility bills, making them more personalised and customer orientated. Instead of giving out generic information and rewards, focused direct mailings will be highly targeted and incredibly effective.

“We are committed to showing our customers new techniques and solutions that they can in-turn offer their customers. Friedheim and Hunkeler are in constant contact with both customers and every major printer vendor in the UK, highlighting the addition of security features to the print run, smarter and thought-provoking finishing, collating, folding, laser engraving, and more. We have seen a surge in bespoke and on-demand book production and are perfectly placed to deal with this demand, since Hunkeler have the only viable and cost-effective book of one production line.

Brown continues: “Indeed, it looks like in the digital sector, transactional, direct-mail, book-on-demand, and some specialist areas like security and tracing of documents are getting a lot of attention. We are being asked more and more frequently about these processes, and how Hunkeler and MBO Digital can help them.

“Hunkeler Innovations has always been a focal point of the industry, and this year’s was no less so than most. With new processes, new printers that are faster, wider, and able to print on more substrates, we find Hunkeler always looking forward to what is around the next corner. Which is why the new POP8 system was designed for heavier stocks, wider formats, and faster printers.”

There is no doubt that this is a competitive market, so keeping abreast of the trends and concerns of your customer base is vital. Duplo’s Punter says that brand integrity and continued product development are the key points that help Duplo stand out.

She continues: “For us at Duplo, great products are at the heart of what keeps us moving forward and ever-growing. Print finishing systems are no longer seen as a separate department; most printers want easy integration, automation, precision, and zero wastage.”

Onwards and upwards

Punter’s point about moving forward is key. Competition is what drives a market, and the continuous developments it fosters ensures the industry stays relevant and the technology fresh.

Even in the ten months since Hunkeler Innovationdays, the technology has come on leaps and bounds. Punter explains the latest developments taking place at Duplo: “We are constantly evolving and innovating. Since Hunkeler, we have launched the Du Sense DDC-810 sensory coater to the UK, EMEA, and Russia markets. This is a compact embellishment inkjet that prints clear UV spot varnish and helps customers to diversify and attract new business streams. Our staff are equally important. At Duplo, we have been investing in additional staff as part of our growth to provide even better support to its customers and dealers, as well as ramping up our marketing and sales.”

She continues: “The development of inline print finishing technology will be of growing interest over the coming years. The benefits of this are linked directly to the print engine. Set up requires little or no manual intervention, and the fully integrated print and finishing process offers optimal workflow efficiency, in which all aspects of the process are streamlined and automated. Whilst most commercial printers in the sheet-fed environment still have the need for offline/nearline finishing, there is a strong market for inline solutions in CRD, print shop, and government sectors. Duplo has recently launched inline booklet makers for Ricoh colour presses and we will continue to innovate where our customers need us to.”

Looking to the future of post-press, Punter sees the increasingly short-run lengths facing print businesses as crucial; she explains: “Our customers are now looking for full automation and precision at the touch of a button. They are also looking for all-in-one solutions that provide a smooth operation with minimal human intervention, to handle any application.

“One of the growing trends we see is print companies that once outsourced all or most of their finishing, are now increasingly looking to bring a higher capability of printing in-house. This trend will continue and, with it, will bring the need for print finishing equipment, whether it’s nearline, offline, or inline.”

Perhaps once the poor relation of printing, most printers now understand that it is in the finishing process where real extra value can be added to the printed product. Punter concludes: “Investing in the latest technology can give printers that competitive advantage. What our customers hope to gain from technology is pretty much universal: easy integration, automation, precision, minimal wastage, and a good return on their investment.”

Also looking towards the future, Friedheim’s Brown identifies two areas that will see improvement: the range of substrates that can be digitally printed on, and the speed of this printing matching that of the finishing.

He explains: “The printers have finally caught up to the speed, but only a few are able to print on a range of substrates. Printing on heavier substrates breaks into personalised digital packaging, a sector that is gaining more and more momentum, which is especially good for us since Hunkeler’s new POP8 system is perfect for heavier substrates at faster speeds.

“In the future I am sure we will be seeing faster and wider finishing to fall in line with the digital printers, and more security with real time tracking of documents—making sure what is on the paper is what is supposed to be on the paper. We have seen what 100 percent error correction is and it should now be standard—I think it will become so in the near future.”

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