Customers from around the world are at Wynn Las Vegas as the Electronics For Imaging, Inc. Connect event once again reached sell-out capacity, with attendees from 37 nations gathered to participate in one of the print industry's longest-running and most successful users' conferences. This year's Connect features important technology advancements from EFI, including the debut of the company's largest soft-signage printer and new LED, roll-to-roll printers offering market-leading productivity.
Connect is still growing in its 17th year, with pre-registrations surpassing last year's record customer attendance. The conference, which caters to customers' evolving needs for information related to market and technology trends, features 8 new educational tracks in an agenda of 200+ classes. Special sessions include fireside chat keynotes with Quad/Graphics CEO Joel Quadracci and print technology veteran Jeff Jacobson, speaking on Connect's opening day in one of his first public presentations since becoming CEO of Xerox two weeks ago.
In addition to the new printers, EFI is unveiling version 5 of its Productivity Suite end-to-end workflow offerings at Connect. And, the company is highlighting next-generation EFI Fiery digital front end (DFE) production technologies that deliver uncompromising quality and productivity in digital print production. Many Connect sessions uncover the ways these new products and other EFI offerings drive customer productivity and growth by creating new opportunities and streamlining workflow processes.
In his opening keynote speech at the Conference EFI CEO Guy Gecht addressed artificial intelligence and the impact the next wave of advanced technology is having. Some ERP and MIS workflow products developed by EFI, for example, learn to be more efficient as they track business's operations.
"As with the developments we have all seen with personal computers and mobile technology, artificial intelligence promises to create more opportunities," said Guy Gecht, CEO of EFI in his keynote address. "In print, it can drive preventive diagnostics and predictive maintenance, which helps our customers improve their top and bottom lines."
Worldwide premiere of superwide roll-to-roll and soft signage printers
During Connect, EFI is announcing its new VUTEk 5r and 3r printers, which are designed to be the industry's most technically advanced LED roll-to-roll production offerings. Printing at speeds up to 4,896 square feet per hour in resolutions up to 1,200 dpi, the 5-meter EFI VUTEk 5r and 3-meter EFI VUTEk 3r printers maximise performance, efficiency and quality. Featuring high-resolution, 7-picoliter EFI UltraDrop™ Technology, the new printers offer the fastest throughput in the market, superior image quality and a lower total cost of ownership for premium graphics work. The printers are also available with a complete range of upgrade options for high productivity and versatility, including optional light colours and white for multi-layer printing; inline finishing for all-in-one printing, cutting, slitting, and collecting; auto backlit and blockout printing, and more.
Rami Cohen, general manager of the Rishon LeZion, Israel-based print business Campus Digital Imaging, recently replaced a pair of 2-metre solvent printers and a sublimation printer with the new VUTEk 3r model, a move that has reduced his turnaround times from two or three days to same- or next-day delivery. "It's faster than the three machines it replaces combined," Cohen said of his new printer. "Before, we had to move finished rolls to a dedicated machine to cut them into sheets. Now, the sheeting and slitting happen on the fly, simultaneously with the printing itself."
The new, superwide, roll-to-roll LED printers are available now. The 5-metre VUTEk 5r printer is being shown for the first time in Connect's center for innovation.
Superior, seamless imaging with the VUTEk FabriVU 520 printer
Customers can take advantage of fast-growing soft-signage opportunities using EFI's largest soft signage printer, the 5.2-meter EFI VUTEk FabriVU 520 launched at Connect. The printer gives users new capabilities for producing a broader range of soft signage products, including wall murals, theater drapes, and other superwide seamless applications.
After purchasing a 3.2-metre EFI VUTEk printer last year, marketing communications company Image Options has also just become one of the first companies in the world to install the 5.2-metre FabriVU model. The pair of advanced soft signage production devices has helped the Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based company grow its service offering.
"Image Options invested in EFI's soft signage products with the FabriVU 340 and, because of the demand we have seen, we quickly expanded our capabilities with the new FabriVU 540 printer," said Tim Bennett, Image Options' CEO. "This technology allows us to enter new markets with the widest and highest-speed performance available on the market today. The new 5.2-metre printer also gives us the ability to offer high-quality capabilities to clients who need un-seamed exhibit graphics."
The printer can produce up to 4,800 square feet (446 square metres) per hour, and prints at resolutions up to 2,400 dpi. It can do both direct-to-textile and transfer printing with an easy changeover using the same inkset for greater versatility. A patented ink-recovery system saves more than 95% of the ink lost in textile printing systems offered by other manufacturers.
Both new VUTEk printers on exhibit at Connect feature the latest-version EFI Fiery proServer DFE, which gives users the advantage of fast RIPing, accurate, high-quality colour and robust production management. EFI also is presenting a technology demonstration of a new, 65-inch wide EFI Wide Format LED inkjet hybrid roll/flatbed printer at Connect, showing the continuing evolution of the proven, energy-efficient and versatile 'cool cure' platform that has become the industry's most popular choice for production-speed LED imaging.
Certified, end-to-end workflows, backed by EFI's industry leading expertise
EFI Connect's workflow sessions focus on the advancements of the industry's largest software portfolio with version 5 of EFI's six Productivity Suites - the Commercial Print Suite, the Midmarket Print Suite, the Packaging Suite, the Quick Print Suite, the Publication Print Suite and the Corrugated Packaging Suite. Training, customer panels and voice-of-customer sessions at Connect discuss important capabilities, new solutions for different market segments and the value of the components that make up each Suite.
This year's conference will help print operations drive margins, increase throughput and eliminate errors and downtime with comprehensive training offered in MIS/ERP workflows and in components covering eCommerce, shipping, fulfillment, scheduling, imposition, planning and EFI's new textile software offering. The in-depth technical training in 16 educational tracks includes eight brand new tracks, as well as hands-on sessions, that allow attendees to closely target their specific business challenges.
A consultative approach to customer success
The educational offerings reflect the unmatched level of customer consultation and knowledge-sharing EFI offers at Connect and in direct customer interactions through its Business Consulting Services organisation. Print and packaging businesses worldwide advance their operations with EFI training, analysis and consulting services that give them the competitive edge for more-efficient management using EFI Productivity Suites, MIS/ERP workflows, value-added components and integrated DFEs and printers.
Connect attendee Wayne Peterson, executive vice president and COO of South Burlington, Vt.-based publication print business Lane Press, is using EFI's workflow technology and business consulting offerings to substantially improve efficiency and increase customer satisfaction. The company, which has an EFI Publication Print Suite with EFI Monarch as its core ERP software, is driving improved results to its bottom line by working with EFI consultants and maximising the use of its workflow software. As a result of an EFI Business Consulting Assessment of its workflow, "we have eliminated redundant processes, as well as more than half the forms we used to use," according Peterson. "And we went from 80% to nearly 100% on-time delivery."
Uncompromising digital print quality with the latest EFI Fiery products
Attendees are gaining new insights into their digital production workflows at Connect with the range of new and updated EFI Fiery® DFE products at the conference. The event features the new Fiery NX server and NX Station for fast RIPing and streamlined cut-sheet production automation; Fiery DFE products for wide- and superwide-format inkjet proofing and production; and Fiery Workflow Suite offerings that boost productivity with best-in-class tools for document imposition, assembly, late-stage editing, visual make-ready, prepress automation and more. The newest version of EFI Fiery Navigator™ on display simplifies the process of analyzing daily digital print operations and long-term trends, delivering actionable business intelligence in a customisable, visual dashboard while providing device management capabilities.
Fiery products shown at Connect provide top quality without compromise in digital production printing to the most rigorous production demands. EFI Fiery technology continued its advanced colour leadership by recently becoming one of the first offerings in the industry to successfully handle all 48 test patches in the new Ghent Workgroup PDF Output Suite version 5.0 - a critical test factor and de facto standard for determining quality printing of PDF documents.
Connect also features new technologies and exhibits in its solutions centre from EFI partners, including: 3M, Berger Textiles; Canon; Duplo; Enfocus; Esko; KDX America; Klieverik; Kodak; Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc.; NextWave; The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation; Print ReLeaf; Progress Software Corp.; Ricoh Americas Corp.; Riso; Xerox and Zünd.
EFI Connect is the printing industry's best venue for open dialogue and idea exchange, giving customers a valuable opportunity to participate in educational sessions, receive hands-on experience, discuss industry trends, network with peers, voice their opinions, and learn from others. For more information on the conference or on EFI products, visit www.efi.com.
[Image shows EFI VUTEk 5r printer]