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Collaboration on the Print Frontier

As part of Domtar Paper’s unwavering commitment to the industry and to enable us to provide the best paper solutions for our partners we invest time and resources to help us best understand the emerging Inkjet print market.

We interact with the leading equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) to help learn what they currently manufacture, how the equipment is used by our customers, and how it performs with uncoated paper.  This also gains insight into what future equipment additions or upgrades so that we can research and prepare any adjustments required on the paper front.

Our goal with OEM’s is to share mutually beneficial information that will allow for a better end-user experience as new equipment is purchased and installed.  Paper development and testing of new paper products on new printing equipment is a vital function of our Business Development team.

Jay Abraham sold equipment for Xerox for 15 years and spent another 7 years with the company working on their media side with paper. His background makes him a natural fit in his role with Domtar as a Business Development Manager. Jay is responsible for Domtar’s relationship with HP, W+D and Dominion Voting Systems. Jay shares insights on his interaction with the three OEMs and what it potentially means for your business.

What changes have you observed from the OEM’s in the last three years?

Inkjet continues to be where most hardware OEM’s are spending their equipment research and development dollars. A couple of years ago, the inkjet print market crossed the tipping point where inkjet volume exceeded toner volume. The next runway for inkjet growth is in new applications that lead to the conversion of offset volume.

What demands from the users of this equipment in the last few years?

In general the potential buyers of new equipment are interested in both the hardware and software that will allow them to manage their customer’s data with better precision including post-production analysis. They are looking for more analytics about the piece’s effectiveness. The printer’s ability to manage and customize large amounts of data are critical to OEM success.

How often do the OEMs introduce a new model?

It’s not like the automobile industry where each calendar year will automatically yield a new model. It’s driven by the OEM's development of new hardware or new inks.  Often the “new” models are upgrades to existing models in some area of functionality, like improved drying time of the inks or better color gamut.

What does the lab look like or if they build a prototype?

I have been to several and it depends on whether the OEM develops their own inks or inkjet heads as sometimes they buy these items from a 3rd party.  The more comprehensive labs are sophisticated and a single instrument can cost in excess of $1mm.  In some cases, there are rooms and rooms full of instruments. Typically Engineers or Chemists are in these labs running tests so it’s not just the instruments but really smart people are involved in creating the piece of equipment.

What is the most recent production inkjet press launched by the OEMs you are partnered with? 

HP has introduced the T250, a 22” web press that features HP Brilliant Ink. The press is specifically designed for the commercial print market.

W+D launched the Halm i-Jet 2 in the last year. It’s very high speed envelope press designed for short to medium runs of printed envelopes and offers full-color variable data capability on each image.

Dominion Voting manufactures ballot scanning equipment and has recently upgraded their touch screen voting system.  Dominion has many offerings for scanning equipment and tabulators for printed ballots, some of which are printed inkjet.  Domtar maintains a relationship with Dominion to offer collaboration on paper products for both ballot printing and the envelopes in which the ballots will be mailed.

What are the OEMs seeking from Domtar as they research a change?

Paper testing and development play a vital role in the OEM’s product development. Many of the OEM’s have recommended paper lists for their equipment. When Domtar develops new papers we ask the OEM to test the paper and provide us detailed feedback. They analyze not only the print production but the performance in the finishing room.  They test the color gamut to see how it compares to other papers.

How has this collaboration between the OEM and Domtar changed the inkjet print market?

We have better communication at both the corporate level and the field level.  Many of the OEM field reps know the local Domtar Account Manager. So, besides the testing that goes on in new OEM product development, the local reps have each other to rely on for information in the other’s area of expertise. It allows for more informed communication to the folks who have invested in the hardware.

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