|An article by Phil McMullin, Sales Manager, ProGraphics, Epson (UK) Ltd
Positive comment about the future of print
It is a challenging time and printers have admirably risen to that challenge. They have focused their creativity and flexibility on exploring new markets, adding fresh capabilities and reviewing their existing operations. It has been inspiring to see the industry demonstrate its ability to transform, embrace new ways of working and look after its employees.
Many commercial printers will have considered ways to futureproof their business. How they can lock in incremental revenue growth and make sure it is profitable. Wide format is a great way to go and Covid signage is another.
While printers have been adapting their offering and broadening their market base our R&D team has been working on new products to support them. Our newest portfolio additions created to take us into new places in the signage arena are the SureColor SC-R5000 resin printer and the SureColor SC-V7000 flatbed UV printer.
The resin printer, we believe, takes the technology a step further. The first benchmark is its image quality. Most people will see the Epson brand as offering the ultimate quality and critically the consistency of replicating that quality on a day to day basis. With the new resin ink we believe we are the only big manufacturer that has the full house of different ink sets – aqueous, eco solvent, dye sublimation, Direct To Garment, Direct To Fabric, and now resin and UV that can address all the different applications possible.
We have also set the quality benchmark at a very affordable price with our UV flatbed. It enables the customer to replicate that quality and get the reliability and durability expected of an Epson device
How well print has helped during the pandemic
Of course, we have seen how certain types of print have played a key role in communications throughout the pandemic – particularly with social distancing measures. We have also seen customers in the photographic sector performing well, for example in canvas production. For some operations who identified areas of opportunity and focused their energies on delivering the desired services the pandemic has enabled them to demonstrate the power of print.
How using print will promote our end users and stimulate the bounce back.
We have a number of customers that have been growing their business during the pandemic.
Phil McMullin goes on to answers a few often asked questions…
What opportunities or new print services are possible with the newly launched SureColor SC-R5000.
What does the SureColor SC-R5000 do?
It offers print service providers and creative design agencies the ability to produce a wide range of signage and high value applications with environmentally friendly, outstanding results. It is ideal for uncoated media and wallpapers and enables immediate lamination for same day delivery.
How does the Epson resin ink work and does it differ from HP’s latex ink?
Resin ink is a water based ink with the base acting as a carrier solution for particles of resin and pigment. The resin ink is jetted to the substrate and subjected to heat to develop a fully cured finish. During drying/curing, the water based solution is evaporated leaving the resin and pigment in place. The resin ink in the R5000 is Epson’s own unique chemistry and only available in Epson branded devices.
Epson has had resin ink technology for some years so why develop this now?
The inclusion of resin into Epson’s large format line up has long been Epson’s intention. Now Epson has reinforced the R&D team for Commercial & Industrial Printing, we have been able to develop multiple new printers incorporating our core head and ink technologies, one of which is the R5000.
What is the energy consumption of the R5000 printers?
Energy consumption for resin ink products is higher than products using accelerated drying components such as solvent or photo-initiated inks but do bring environmental advantages in the form of reduced lamination requirements and a wider support of non PVC materials used in signage applications.
Epson takes the challenge of sustainability and environmental impact very seriously with various deep rooted commitments embedded into our operations from design to supply, aiming to reduce our overall environmental impact. Please refer to the summary below that covers some of Epson’s efforts and engagements on the subject.
As a global organisation, Epson is committed to improving its environmental engagement in all geographies across the world. In 2018, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) approved Epson’s global greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets. The initiative, which is a joint project between the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI), and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), is working to recognise companies whose GHG reduction targets are in line with keeping a global temperature rise this century to well below two degrees Celsius, a central aim of the Paris Agreement.
Epson has set FY2025 targets for reducing direct emissions associated with its business activities (scopes 1 and 2 emissions) and for reducing indirect emissions (scope 3 emissions). Epson’s approved targets (the baseline year being the financial year that ended 31 March 2018) are to:
• Reduce scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 19% by the 2025 fiscal year
• Reduce scope 3 (categories 1 and 11)* GHG emissions from purchased goods and services and use of sold products per unit of value added by 44% by the 2025 fiscal year
Since setting these goals, we have continued to make strides and increase our positive actions to meet the targets set in all countries and regions in which we operate. Globally in the financial year 2019, we demonstrated progress in some of our most important areas of development, based on our benchmark year of 2017:
• Scope 1 and 2 emissions reduced by 18% (equivalent to 485,753 t-CO2 emissions)
• Scope 3 emissions increased by 60.5% as a percent of business profit (equivalent to 5,780t-CO2e/100 million yen)
1. The GHG Protocol (internationally recognised standards for accounting and reporting greenhouse gas emissions) defines three scopes for accounting for greenhouse gas emissions:
Scope 1: Direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the organisation
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from the consumption of purchased sources of energy
Scope 3: Emissions from an organisation’s value chain
* – Category 1: Purchased goods and services
* – Category 11: Use of sold products
2. This increase in emissions is due to a significant decrease in business profit
How does the R5000 printer fit into the Epson portfolio? Is Epson planning to use the resin ink technology to replace its solvent printers?
The SureColor SC-R5000/R5000L will occupy a complementary position in the Epson signage line-up. With the launch of products with different ink types such as GS3, RS and UV, our customers can now enjoy optimised, uncompromising performance across a vast range of sign and display applications. Of course, there’s plenty of overlapping application compatibility with ink types and the selection of one ink type does not exclude from good performance in another. For customers whose primary application is high quality vehicle wrapping we would propose the GS3 with red ink set. Whereas a customer producing POS products with quick turnaround requirements would benefit from our resin ink, with its increased performance on uncoated papers and increased scratch resistance making it ideal for posters and wallpapers.
As we come to the end one of the most unusual business years in living memory what are your thoughts about 2021?
It is fair to say none of us have ever experienced a year like 2020 in our working lives. We have all had to make enormous changes to the way we work. As a supplier we have looked to maintain a high level of service and support while helping customers understand how their operational landscape looks now and enable them to find ways to adapt.
The lack of a clear timings from the very beginning hindered constructive planning. It quickly became obvious that operations needed to find their own ways to manage and responsive suppliers had a vital role to play. As such we supported our customers with advice, guidance and new systems designed to help them expand their production capabilities. In addition, Epson UK did not furlough any staff.
At the moment early 2021 looks like a continuation of today with businesses having to remain adaptable to national and local restrictions. However, many have been agile in their adaptability and that will enable them to respond proactively. Many have also increased their portfolio of offerings and added options in response to Covid which will continue to be required for the foreseeable future particularly if some social distancing behaviours are retained for the short to medium term.
Where do you see the greatest opportunities for your customers?
In the ability to add new capabilities to respond quickly to market opportunities. Once a streamlined order to completion process is in place operations can readily expand their production possibilities with new systems. Easy to operate and simple to set up and fast and flexible systems that deliver high quality results allow businesses to move into new markets while maintain the quality their customers expect.
Epson has announced a number of new products. Which for you is the most exciting and why?
There are reasons to be excited about all the recent additions but the SureColor SC-R5000 opens up a whole new production world with its resin ink. It offers print service providers and creative design agencies the ability to produce a wide range of signage and high value applications with environmentally friendly, outstanding results.
It also means Epson is the only big manufacturer that has the full house of different ink sets – aqueous, eco solvent, dye sublimation, Direct To Garment, Direct To Fabric, and now resin and UV that can address all the different applications possible.
The 64-inch printer offers exceptional print performance and colour control thanks to the PrecisionCore Micro TFP printhead and its efficient drying and curing process enables lamination and same-day delivery to reduce turnaround times. Also the new six colour UltraChrome RS inkset is an odourless, water-based resin ink and is suitable for use in any environments such as schools, hospitals, hotels and indoor facilities.
Key features include:
• Epson UltraChrome RS ink - resin ink with wide colour gamut
• High levels of scratch resistance
• GreenGuard Gold, AgBB and French-VOC certification
• Accurate feeding and take-up roll system - provides roll to roll print for superb productivity
• Advanced Auto Tension Control (Ad-ATC) for accurate and stable media feeding
• Operator-replaceable parts (user replaceable printhead)
• Newly designed three station heater (preheat / platen heat / post-cure heat)
• Bulk Ink Solution - 1.5lt ink pouches for Medium print volume users and 2 X 1.5lt ink pouches for High print volume users, supported by hot swap function
• 4.3 inch touch panel for intuitive operation
• Epson Edge Print RIP software for easy set up
What new products are in the pipeline?
We are not able to share any detail on products in development. However, our R&D team remains committed to listening to our customers and creating systems and solutions that answer their business needs today and those in the future. You should expect to see new innovations from Epson in the future covering all of the ink sets we have mentioned in this Q&A.
What’s the best bit of business advice you’ve been given?
“always buy your budgie smugglers one size too small” probably doesn’t really qualify as “business” advice so I would say – focus only on what you can influence and don’t sweat over the rest of it.
Thanks to Phil for giving our quick print audience such an insight during our meeting on the Epson stand at www.PrintTradeExpo.co.uk