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Mimaki scores a crafty goal
With Mimaki announcing the launch of two latex wide format printers and its own LX Ink system it would appear as if Mimaki has seemingly run the length of the field and slotted the ball into the corner of the goal while the keeper was looking the other way. Nobody saw it coming apart from a few onlookers on the touchlines.
It has been four years since HP announced it was launching its Designjet HP Latex ink technology for the signage and display markets at DUPA 2008 and, in the intervening years, the company has invested vast sums in launching and marketing its unique latex offering to eager customers looking for an environmental friendly solution. HP has enjoyed the enviable position of being the undisputed world champion of latex printing for all this time, and today has firmly set its sights on what it calls the ‘disruption of the eco-solvent market’.
Now that Mimaki has entered the latex arena it is claiming that its new JV400 LX series latex printers are more environmentally friendly than ‘other systems’ currently in the market because they consume less energy than ‘similar’ systems. Mimaki says this is because their printers benefit from pre, print, and post print heaters that typically run at levels below 60°c in combination with built in drying fans to aid the fast curing of the Mimaki LX ink.
Mimaki claims that this energy saving leans towards greater sustainability in print because it opens up the possibilities for a much wider range of recycled printing substrates that can be used with its system, and these will remain more dimensionally stable and will accept better ink adhesion due to the lower levels of heat.
Mimaki is also claiming that its latex solution is the first to deliver a white ink that sits alongside six process colours that deliver what the company is calling a more ‘vibrant’ yield and ‘extended’ colour gamut over – again – ‘other systems’ available in the market. However, without evidence of a specification sheet and seeing it with our own eyes, we will simply have to wait take Mimaki’s word for it until we get to FESPA in a couple of week’s time and can judge this for ourselves.
What really intrigues me is who really cares about energy consumption as an environmental issue? Well it would appear that many in the litho printing sector already do, but this is probably because many of their customers are mostly large business organisations that already have environmental policies in place and they in turn are beginning to seek more sustainable business partners and suppliers.
However, there are some companies operating in the more traditional areas of the sign sector that are seemingly not overtly concerned about energy as an environmental issue. But if this is so, why have these companies been investing in environmentally friendly latex printers from HP? Well, probably because they are vehicle wrapping companies and latex prints don’t need to be left overnight to de gas and printed vinyls can immediately be applied to the vehicle. GDW’s Stig is a perfect example of this. He loves HP’s latex solution because he is a vehicle graphics specialist and the ‘direct to vehicle’ print approach saves him a ton of time and a lot of his customers budget, but now there is a new contender for HP’s crown because this is something that Stig can also do with a Mimaki. If only he had one.
This is why I think that Mimaki might be able to dribble around the keeper for a second time and score another crafty goal. But in order for it to do this it needs to shift its channel focus towards the emerging market of commercial printing that is conscientious about low energy consumption as a factor in sustainable printing, while continuing to serve its core sign and display/vehicle wrapping customers - who currently love their eco solvent JV3 machines – who will probably snap up its new JV400 LX latex solution simply because they now have a clear upgrade path with a brand and a dealer they are already familiar with. In the UK Mimaki’s exclusive distribution partner Hybrid Services is well placed to capitalise on this through its existing dealer channels.
As for HP I would expect the company to metaphorically put its arms around Mimaki and embrace it as another kindred spirit keen to spread the message that latex printing is the way forward for the whole of the wide format sector in return for a better and more ecologically sustainable future.
FESPA Digital in Barcelona has never seemed like a more tantalising prospect for UK buyers looking to see the latest wide format technology first hand and to speak directly with the manufacturers. Now that Mimaki has entered the latex arena, things look set to get a lot more exciting. And choice is a good thing right?
See you there!
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