Asian printers highlight, major trends roll on
In this same space in our January/February issue, we reported on the host of new printers that had recently come onto the scene. Now, less than six months later, manufacturers have again pushed the envelope of printer introductions--this time at the ISA 2004 show in Orlando. As you'll see on the pages that follow, more than 50 printers were introduced this year.
What trends can you spot within these printer introductions? Perhaps the most obvious--and the most discussed on the show floor--is that the surge of new Asian companies continues. No fewer than 11 Asian companies, most from Korea and China, exhibited printers at the show. This trend was in strong evidence at last year's ISA and SGIA shows and continued unabated at this year's ISA, perhaps even more so. With many of these companies having minimal US-based staff and some still seeking US distribution, however, the concern for most attendees we talked to had to do with service after the sale. If these companies are able to address this concern--and no other issues appear--they may indeed see some migration of sales from the more established nameplates to their own.
The second trend is media-handling flexibility: More and more print providers are considering printers that accept the broadest range of media--rigid as well as flexible. If a printer can indeed handle media ranging from foamboard and polycarbonate to PVC, metal, and wood, the print provider can further diversify his services and perhaps bring in a wider range of customers. But this cuts both ways: Print providers want their flatbed units to also handle roll media. Of the flatbeds introduced at ISA, several supported roll media. On a related note, flatbeds are slowly but surely becoming more affordable. Oce's Arizona 60 UV flatbed and rollfed printer (introduced prior to ISA), for instance, sells for less than $40,000, a price point that even small print operations likely find appealing.