Tag Archives: Printers

Don’t dismiss the Printer

I wondered why IT sales are doing so well, despite these extraordinary, uncertain times with Brexit, growing isolationism across the rest of Europe and insults thrown between Trump and Korea. According to the latest figures from the CONTEXT Distribution panel, revenues are up in the Eurozone by 6.7% compared to last year, with the UK steaming ahead with revenue growth of nearly 13%.

My colleagues are often blogging about the exciting new or “interesting” products that start to appear in our sales data – wearable devices, 3D printers, games consoles, mobile phones. Printers, on the other hand, can sometimes be overlooked but this is a market not to be ignored. In fact, in Germany, which represents around 20% of all revenues we pick up from the Distribution channel for IT products, Printing Consumables is ranked 2nd, behind only mobile computing. A similar picture emerges for France and the UK.

So, what is impacting the print market at the moment? We notice, particularly in the UK, workplaces transforming as millennials are looking beyond the traditional office. Working from home is increasing motivation and productivity and new technology is changing the way we work. Vendors are faced with new opportunities, and are rising to the challenge of how to best support the customers’ needs, be it savings on print costs, digitization, unified platforms – essentially, solutions for wherever your ‘office’ is at this precise moment.

Each quarter, the shift is moving from single to multi-function printers. We demand more from a printer than just printing. Unit sales of Inkjet and Laser multi-function printers grew around 6% in Q1 this year and now account for around 70% of all printers sold in Western Europe.

Inkjets are marking their return in the B2B sector with consistent double digit revenue growth of both the consumer and the business inkjets since Q2 2016. With more emphasis on lower print costs for businesses, vendors, particularly Epson and HP, are moving further into the higher price bands with revenues for business inkjets over Euro 400 growing by 37% year-on-year in Q1 2017. Business inkjets now account for almost 40% of all printer revenue in the SMB channel.

Finally, we’re also seeing a return in consumer confidence in some of the countries that have been struggling in the last couple of years. Spain has demonstrated an overall growth year-on-year of 16% in the print market, with a 12% growth in IT sales overall.

So, World disorder? I guess so, but business goes on and the printer market is still alive and well.

by DC

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Thoughts on HP Samsung acquisition

Last month, HP Inc. formally announced its acquisition of Samsung’s printer business in a deal valued at $1.05B – the largest in its history – bringing in 6,500 printing patents, over 1,300 engineers and researchers worldwide, as well as numerous channel partners. The acquisition is expected to be closed within a year, after which Samsung agreed to invest in HP through open market equity purchases of between $100m and $300m.

Their stated ambition? Disruption of the $55B Copier Segment.

But why now? To summarise, as the printed page continues to decline in an era of digitised private and professional communication, printer vendors are fighting it out to sustain revenues and market share. One major opportunity to do so resides in the contractual business space, which holds the promise of additional, ongoing revenues from the sale of supplies and services.

Will it work? Both Samsung and HP have failed in the past to make much headway in a market currently dominated by Xerox, Ricoh, Canon and Konica Minolta. With its acquisition however, HP appears to be in a particularly strong position to accelerate its efforts to crack the copier dealer channel, gain market share, and grow its contractual managed print business.

Indeed, combining Samsung’s A3 know how with its own proprietary technology, HP Inc. is confident that they have a strong value proposition and strategy in place to disturb the copier market space. Its new A3 LaserJet and Page Wide printers mount a comprehensive challenge to A3 incumbents: plugging the gaps in its portfolio, and offering reduced cost per page, affordable colour printing, as well as lower servicing costs for partners.

This being said, these are still early days. Certainly, HP Inc.’s strategy is appropriate, and their offering meets market demands. It is hard however to predict how the channel and HP Inc.’s competitors will respond, and the extent to which they will be able to effectively leverage Samsung’s technology, people, and channel partnerships – a space therefore to watch closely.

by ZB

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Why Makers are not Consumers in 3D Printing

The mainstream curiosity for 3D printing seemed to hit its apex between 2012 and 2014: a period in which the market witnessed sizable growth with sales of personal/desktop 3D printers doubling each consecutive year. Sales subsided a little in 2015 when there was year-on-year market growth of just 33% rather than the 124% seen from 2013 to 2014. Demand remains, however, as shown by lower prices, new brands entering the market and the emergence of even lower price points. The interest in this area is especially evident from recent Kickstarter campaigns from Tiko and OLO, both of which set records and saw pre-orders in excess of 16,000 units each!

But who is buying these printers? General, at-home consumers? Surely not. To the uninitiated, 3D printing can seem novel and fun and, no doubt, some uninformed consumers have purchased devices only to be disillusioned by how hard they are to actually use. This is what separates Consumers from Makers. Makers like to tinker and “make” things (not just consume them). For example, one of the details of desktop 3D printing that is rarely talked about is the effect that the materials used have on how easy the printer is to use.

I am a maker who purchased a 3D printer over a year ago and I use my printer on a daily basis, with my usage growing all the time. Here is what I’ve learned. I purchased a delta-style FDM printer (the most popular type of desktop machine) and have come to recognize that even when considering only the various plastics suitable for material extrusion printers there is quite a variety and each operates in its own way.

Materials include nylon (very durable, but vulnerable to water), acrylics (for smaller items with much detail), PET and its derivatives (to make plastic bottles and food containers), ABS (made from petroleum products, strong and durable) and many others, such as glow in the dark plastic or even clay for making crockery. Some personal 3D printers can also create objects in “wood” which is, of course, actually a mixture of plastics and wood filament that can be melted without burning.

elephant

The most popular material for personal 3D printers is biodegradable thermoplastic PLA, produced from renewable resources such as corn. It is the best material for beginners as it sticks well to the surface of the printer’s bed (build plate), solidifies quickly, and provides fairly predictable results. I would recommend those who are taking their first steps in 3D printing use the same material until they start to get a feel for their printer. Once someone has chosen to become a 3D printing maker, learning the qualities of different materials is a priority because it is essential that the temperature, printing speed, extrusion rate, retraction distance and so on are adjusted to the correct levels for each material. Many of these adjustments can (or cannot) be done by way of “slicer” software – another nuance of desktop 3D printing that keeps it from becoming more mainstream.

FDM printers not only have different plastics that require different trial-and-error settings, but different brands’ versions of the same materials are often different (because manufacturers may use different additives, for example). The final print result may vary, even when using material from the same manufacturer, when a different colour is used.

As a result, when trying out a new material, there is always a risk of layers sagging or the printer nozzle becoming clogged. The same can happen if the wrong temperature is selected or as a result of inaccurate bed levelling. There is no WYSIWYG in desktop 3D printing, that’s for sure.

While these nuances might be quite frustrating for a general consumer, such tinkering is what makers live for. This is what makes 3D printing a hobby, which I continue to enjoy. The great variety of materials available creates a vast landscape where those who love new technologies and love to experiment can find many exciting turns and challenges and develop new skills. Here designers and engineers can implement their ideas and fulfill their ambitions – the possibilities are limitless!

by NF

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HP’s first 3D Printers are Evolutionary but their entrance into the market is Revolutionary

Earlier today, on the 17th May at the RAPID 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing conference in Orlando Florida, HP Inc announced the first products to use the company’s new Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing technology, previously announced in 2014. The first two products, set for delivery later this year, are the Jet Fusion 3D 3200 and the Jet Fusion 4200 and allow for an open platform of print materials with initial focus on Nylon. Prices will start from $130,000. As planned all along, HP’s entrance into the 3D Printing industry will be on the Industrial/Professional side as opposed to Desktop/Personal side of the market, leveraging value-added resellers capable of sales and services of these machines into defined vertical market segments.

The technology offers some great evolutionary steps in terms of speed, ability to control materials at a voxel level (a voxel is the 3D equivalent of a pixel in 2D printing or in displays) and the ability to eventually use a multitude of different materials. While HP states that its technology is uniquely different, many engineers have noted it to be most like existing Powder Bed Fusion 3D Printers. HP’s Jet Fusion printers indeed are powder based and the material is eventually fused together (instead of being “glued” together) but HP’s technology is unique. Whether or not the technology is revolutionary is too early to tell, however. As the Jet Fusion printers make it to market, and as service bureaus and manufactures alike begin to actually use the Multi-Jet Fusion technology for finished good part production, only then will it be determined how revolutionary the technology is.

What is revolutionary is that a household name like HP has now entered full-force into the 3D printing market with clear intentions not just to dominate each sector in which it participates, but to open up new markets. HP is already talking about future Jet Fusion 3D Printers which will allow for color, offer the ability to print in ceramics and even print embedded electronics.

HP is entering a market still largely centered around the production of prototype parts. The move into finished good production has been mostly by way of the growing Metal 3D Printing sector, with machines finding their way on to shop floors more and more each day as companies such as GE and Boeing use Metal 3D Printers to make finished good parts. Metal 3D Printers sit at the very high end of the market with price points ranging from $500K-$2M+. Although HP will not initially play in the metal side of 3D Printing, the company is keen to point out that its new printer line can offer final part performance in a variety of other materials.

by CC

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Desktop 3D Printer market grows slowly while industrial sales stall

Growth in the Desktop/Personal segment of the 3D printer market continued in Q2 2015, while the Industrial/Professional segment stalled. Key indicators suggest that, in the short term, demand for desktop printers will continue to be strong while this is less quantifiable in the Industrial/Professional sector.

The number of Desktop/Personal 3D printers shipped worldwide Q2 2015 was 25% more than in Q2 2014. While this seems strong, over the previous four quarters unit shipments had risen by over 90% year-on-year. Q2 2015 marked the first ever-sequential decline in unit shipments in this category

While global shipments and demand on the Desktop/Personal side of the business remains strong, printer shipments on the Industrial/Professional side of the Additive Manufacturing sector continued to be challenged. Stratasys and 3D Systems are responsible for a significant portion of global unit sales and revenues in this segment, and both have again reported disappointing results in Q2 2015. This slowing down is seen as a short-term phenomenon with many noting that demand still remains strong. Indications are that many end-users are awaiting the entrance of players such as HP which announced its Multi Jet Fusion technology in 2014.

If these trends continue, the Desktop/Personal segment will be on track for a year-on-year unit growth rate of over 50% for 2014/2015, while the Industrial/Professional segment may only see single digit growth rates. It looks as if regional shipments will continue to be strongest in North America, especially in the Desktop/Personal segment. With an increased number of shipments scheduled for the AP region, some regional share-shift could occur in the near term, however. Additionally, the EMEA region also looks poised for growth with announcements of new or expanded B2B and B2C distribution for from the likes of ABCData, Exertis, MediaWorld (Italy), Midwich, Pico and others.

by CC

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HP’s JetIntelligence technology to make workplaces more efficient

by ZB

In the area of printing, people typically fall into two camps: those that prefer laser and those that prefer inkjet. Personally, I’ve always been a laser person. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that our first personal printer was a laser one. While bulky, the speed and quality of prints was outstanding compared to that of inkjet ones at the time. This was more than 20 years ago. The technology of laser and especially inkjet has significantly improved since then and we continue to see more inkjet technology devices making inroads into businesses.

A couple of years ago HP announced its OfficeJet Pro X and Enterprise X series with PageWide technology and the company’s move into the enterprise space with inkjet printers, claiming that the devices ‘looks and runs like a laser, but costs half as much per page’. People in the industry were wondering how this would affect HP’s laser printer sales. There was also a question around HP’s value proposition for its laser printers should be against a backdrop of less printing, due to mobile working and ‘think before you print’ themes in corporate environments.

I was excited to see HP announce a new series of LaserJet printers last month, built on the new toner formulation – the original HP toner cartridges with JetIntelligence technology. The new HP LaserJet printers, according to HP, use up to 53% less energy, take up to 40% less space and wake up, print and duplex in a fraction of the time.

The main improvements are ColorSphere 3 toner, which soft core melts at a lower temperature, and a new ‘page maximizer’ cartridge design, which is all about higher page yields, smaller and faster printer, and greater energy efficiency. Due to a new anti-fraud technology, the new HP toner cartridges make it more difficult for third-parties to re-manufacture the supplies, which typically take away a large chunk of HP’s supplies revenues. Other improvements include print gauge technology for more certainty when predicting cartridge life and an auto seal removal technology. The new JetIntelligence technology is set to fundamentally re-design HP’s LaserJet printers and future plans are in place to introduce JetIntelligence technology across all of HP’s LaserJet printer line-ups.

In contrast, Epson introduced 18 inkjet printers for the business environment, with its exclusive PrecisionCore printhead technology in March last year, announcing that Inkjets are the future and that any laser printer users would eventually switch to inkjet. On the other hand, HP is determined to keep its leadership position in both laser and inkjet markets and to continue to innovate to stay competitive.

 

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