It’s one thing to spot a market need, says Kevin Jenner, European Marketing Manager at Fujifilm Wide Format Inkjet Systems, it’s another thing entirely to successfully fill it.
Laying the groundwork
The best innovations, the ones that really make an impact, are those that fill a real market need. Obvious, I know. So obvious it hardly seems worth mentioning, and yet accurately identifying those market gaps is not always straight-forward. And even when they are identified, there’s still the small matter of conceptualising, designing and building the right solution to fill them.
None of this is simple to do, and even the best innovators don’t always get it right. But the best innovators are always looking for those opportunities.
A few years ago, we identified just such an opportunity. Rather than keep chasing marginal gains in quality and productivity, achieved through minor enhancements, we asked ourselves a few questions - why not take the opportunity to go back to the drawing board? Why not create a whole new range, with every component part and every aspect of its design carefully chosen to deliver exactly what our customers wanted?
So we asked them what they wanted, and they told us. From better performance and lower cost – to dozens of minor design features to make the operation of the printers that much easier.
Even when you’ve correctly identified a market need, delivering a solution that actually meets that need is always a huge challenge. If it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it!
We threw all our decades of UV ink and inkjet expertise into the challenge and the end result was what we called our ‘new blueprint for wide format’ –an all-new range of Fujifilm Acuity wide format printers.
Designed in-house from the ground-up, from concept to realisation, the range sought to deliver a new and unbeatable combination of ease of use, speed, reliability, productivity and ROI.
We were quickly confident that we’d hit the nail right on the head. The first machines – the Acuity Ultra R2 and the Acuity Prime – were announced in late 2021, and we didn’t have to wait long before the third party endorsements started rolling in. Each won three prestigious design awards: Red Dot, iF and Good Design, but the endorsements we really wanted, above all else, have come from the several hundred customers – some we’d worked with before, and other we hadn’t – who have been impressed enough to invest in a new Acuity printer for their business.
I could quote them all at length here, all the things they’ve said about quality, value and reliability – but the real endorsement is that in investing in the future of their business, they’ve invested in our new range and our new technology. That’s the biggest endorsement we could ever hope for.
An evolving story
But the development of a new blueprint was never intended to be a one-off exercise. The whole point of bringing the range under our control was that it frees us to develop and adapt it. At FESPA 2023, we introduced the Acuity Prime Hybrid; we announced speed increases to our Acuity Ultra R2 5m and 3.2m models, and the Acuity Prime machines, and we demonstrated how printing with four colours instead of six can save up to 25% in ink volumes – without compromising on speed or quality. It’s worth adding, of course, that colour does not impact on speed either way.
We always listen to our customers – that’s how the new blueprint for wide format first came into fruition, and it’s how it will continue to develop and grow. We also hugely value the power of data. From our printers, we are generating all of the data our customers need to calculate ROI; ink usage; energy expenditure; diagnostics, and areas for improving efficiencies. Put simply, if we continue to improve our understanding of the ways that our customers use their printers, then we can further cater to those needs by enhancing the most-used features, creating upgrades, or adding ground-breaking functionalities – based on real customer data – to future printers in the range.
We’re a few years into this journey now. But this is still just the beginning.