Xeikon is taking on sales and support for EFI’s Jetrion label printers, bolstering its nascent inkjet label venture which began with the introduction of the Panther label press at Labelexpo.
In contrast Jetrion was the first viable production focused inkjet label press and there are more than 200 units in the field, making it the third largest supplier of digital label presses globally, behind Xeikon and HP Indigo. However, with growing competition and stronger prospects in textile printing and corrugated board printing, Jetrion has slipped in the ranks of importance at EFI.
While it introduced a new model at Labelexpo to address some of the resolution issues, it remains at 33m/min relative, slow compared to other presses, Xeikon’s Panther included, which are pushing towards 75m/min in some cases.
But the installed base does provide significant service and consumables revenue, even if EFI will continue to supply ink at this point. And it opens the doors for Xeikon to market other products to these customers. There is a significant concentration of Jetrions in North America, an area where Xeikon has in the past been under represented. Xeikon has also been active in Asian markets, building a sales and service network which could support the Jetrion.
The deal has been under negotiation for some while, in part due to an internal review that EFI has been undertaking. Consequently, EFI explains it lost focus on the business and secured no sales for the Jetrion in Q3, the month of Labelexpo, compared to $4 million in the same quarter last year.
The takeover of the business also returns Jetrion to the Flint Group. Flint had built the first label machines as a vehicle for its UV inkjet inks, introducing the press in 2004. But for internal reasons, it sold Jetrion to EFI in 2006. Now as Flint builds a strong position in digital printing as its customers across commercial and packaging print invest in digital, Jetrion has a role to play.
The 4900 model, introduced in 2011, is the mainstay of the product line. It uses Xaar printheads and was market leading at the time. Jetrion was also first with inline laser cutting. The latest 4950LXE model has doubled the number of printheads to lift resolution from 720x360dpi to a maximum of 1260x720dpi and added a semi rotary die cutter, as PE and PVC based film labels do not take well to laser cutting. A low migration UV ink was also introduced at Labelexpo.
The 4900 has been responsible for the 200 plus machines in use, half a dozen of which are understood to be in the UK. “Customers are going to greatly benefit from improved service levels,” says Filip Weymans. Xeikon will take 11 Jetrion people as part of the deal, most on the service side. “We have more than 100 looking after more than 1,000 machines, and we have a much broader coverage,” he says.
Xeikon has acquired the rights to build the Jetrion press, though how it will position what is a mature proven machine against the very different Panther has still to be decided. Jetrion uses similarly mature Xaar printheads, Panther uses new and faster Kyocera heads. “We can talk to our customers and Flint customers and can still sell them a Jetrion, or a Panther or a Cheetah, our high speed toner press. We want to understand the application and provide the best solution for that. We have more than one card that we can play.”
There are no announced plans to integrate Jetrion with Xeikon’s X800 digital front and it will continue with the EFI front end. EFI will also continue support through its MIS applications.
Just weeks after announcing the termination of its trillium development, Xeikon has added EFI's Jetrion inkjet label business to its portfolio. The division does not represent a strong growth opportunity for EFI which had neglected the product in favour of textile and corrugated board printing.