With a gamut of new products in its portfolio, Xaar eyes wide format & textiles in India and aims to double its global revenue by 2020.
This was the first visit to India by UK-based Xaar’s CEO in 13 years, since the company established its Indian regional office – a testimony to the fact that Xaar is ready to be the leader in printhead technology globally. Top officials gathered here to share plans as to how Xaar will scale up the ladder. The company personnel present in the meet included Doug Edwards – Xaar’s CEO, Bob Bobertz – Xaar’s Director-Asia and Namrata Sharma – Commercial Account Manager, Xaar India.
Xaar – The Printhead Technology Giant
Xaar is a world-leader in the development of inkjet technology and is known for its piezoelectric drop-on-demand industrial printheads. The company also develops and sells ink systems, electronics and fluid optimisation services to accelerate inkjet system development and adoption.
Xaar printheads incorporate patented technology which delivers unbeatable performance when decorating, patterning, or depositing functional coatings onto – or adding structure to – a variety of industrial and consumer products.
Today, leading manufacturers worldwide, in sectors ranging from Ceramics, Wide-format Graphics and Labels to Direct-to-shape packaging and Decorative Laminates, opt for Xaar’s printheads. This is because they are extremely precise, exceptionally versatile, incredibly reliable, and specifically designed for high-volume production.
Unveiling Future Plans
Unfolding the plans, Doug Edwards confirmed that the company is strengthening its business in India with its wide portfolio of inkjet printheads and new technology for a variety of print applications. Edwards also outlined the importance of the Indian market to the company’s global goal to reach annual sales of £220m by 2020.
Elucidating his plans, Edwards gave a thorough update on each of the four strategic pillars (see box) central to Xaar’s 2020 goal. “Our focus for the last two years has been to broaden our horizons into a wider range of print applications, all of which are of significant interest to our customers and partners in India. I am delighted to say that results from the first half of this year show that we are making good progress.”
Unravelling the financial plan, Edwards added, “Product revenues outside Ceramics are growing by 60%; global sales into the Graphics sector have grown by 33%, and we have also made good progress in our Packaging and Product Printing markets, where global sales have jumped by 54%. We expect the Packaging and Product Printing area of the business to be about a third larger than Ceramics by the end of this year. In addition, we have seen an increase in our Asian business, which now makes up 47% of the company’s overall sales.”
“The Indian market is particularly important to us, especially now, because we think that we have the portfolio of products needed to grow our business significantly in India. Though we are already the market leader in Ceramic tile decoration, the gamut of products we now have can help us lead many other areas, especially in Wide-Format Graphics as well as Textile and Packaging,” averred Edwards.
Re-Establishing in Wide-Format with Extended Product Range
Divulging Xaar’s plan on Wide-Format, Bob Bobertz shared that the recent printhead launches from Xaar are starting to shift the company towards a broader reach. “Of particular interest to the Indian market are the Xaar 1201 and Xaar 5501, both of which are capable of handling aqueous inks. This means that OEMs looking to produce textiles or graphics printers using water-based inks now have access to robust and reliable technologies.”
According to Bobertz, Xaar has already made a significant impact in Asia with the introduction of the Xaar 1201 around nine months back. “The Xaar 1201 is a Thin Film Piezo Silicon Micro Electrical Mechanical System (MEMS) technology printhead for printing Wide-Format Graphics (WFG) and Textiles with dye sublimation, eco-solvent or aqueous inks.”
He added that, to complement Xaar 1201, the company recently announced Xaar 5501, which previewed in China a few months ago. “This compact and lightweight printhead is the first product resulting from Xaar’s collaboration with Xerox, and delivers high print quality combined with low printing costs, whilst integration costs will also be kept to a minimum.”
Betting High on Textiles
According to Edwards, for Textiles, about 100 bn sqm of fabric is printed and decorated annually. “Of this, about a 3rd, i.e. 30bn sqm, is actually printed rather than dyed. And of this printed fabric market, only around 4% is digital, leaving a host of potentials for us to tap into. Our analysis suggests that it might surge to 6% by 2020, i.e. about 2bn sqm of fabrics would be printed digitally every year,” he anticipated.
He suggested that one of the driving factors for this is the fast-moving fashion industry, which entails a very long supply-chain, and brings a great deal of waste. “In a market like Europe, there are about seven fashion seasons a year. And for a very long supply-chain, it’s not easy to determine which particular design, colour or fabric will be of choice in a particular season. This means more than a 3rd of every garment produced is wasted – either getting discounted or discarded to be thrown in the bin. To put a cap on this, we have plans to introduce print-on-demand.”
New High Laydown Technology for Indian Ceramics & Packaging Markets
Edwards announced that Xaar’s High Laydown (HL) Technology, initially launched in the Ceramics market, is now available for packaging customers, enabling raised effects to be added to substrates and transforming standard labels and folding cartons into high-value packaging for products that can command a premium.
“For labels and packaging, High Laydown Technology with UV varnish enables raised or tactile effects to be printed in a single-pass and with a single print bar – for example, the Xaar 1003 U with HL Technology can achieve a varnish film thickness of 80 microns at 25 m/min line speed. Competitor offerings typically require multiple print bars or much lower line speed to achieve the same result,” asserted Edwards.
He underscored that, in Ceramics applications, High Laydown Technology allows effects such as gloss and adhesives to be applied with unprecedented laydown levels – for example, the Xaar 1003 C with HL Technology can achieve a laydown of up to 90 g/m2 at 35 m/min line speed.
Going into further detail, Namrata Sharma added that, once launched into the market, the HL Technology will be a wonderful addition to the burgeoning ceramic tile decoration segment. It’s a software upgrade, which can be applied to standard Xaar 1003 and 2001+ printheads. The Technology is in its final stages of development and has been successfully demonstrated with a number of ceramics effects. The company will be working in close coordination with its Premier OEM partners and ink partners in order to bring the full solution to market.
“With this upgrade, printheads can operate either in greyscale for colour decoration of wall and floor tiles, or in High Laydown (HL) for effects. Besides, it will also be compatible with UV inks, adding value especially when it comes to UV varnish on labels, in high-speed single-pass machines,” she elaborated.
Xaar’s HL Technology has been designed and developed in such a way that existing machines can be upgraded to accommodate it, and new bars for Ceramics effects can be added. Apart from that, upgrades to the ink delivery systems will also be required during system upgrade. Customers interested in HL Technology – either for upgrade or a new machine installation – should talk to one of Xaar’s Premier OEM partners.
A Global Company with a Local Focus
For over 13 years, Xaar has been the only printhead manufacturer to have a direct and local presence in India, with its Indian regional office located in New Delhi. “We are very much committed to supporting our customers and partners in India,” said Edwards, adding that, since Xaar has a regional base in India, its customers and partners benefit from local technical expertise, a quick response and a printhead partner with a more in-depth understanding of the Indian marketplace. “Our focus is always on helping our customers get to market quickly with a range of products their own customers want and need. We believe that having a local presence is the only way to serve our customers well,” he summed up.
Four strategic pillars that Xaar plans its growth around:
As of now, 85% of the world ceramic market is digitally converted and this transition has taken place in just six years, at a very rapid pace. Under this segment, the printhead replacement business model is gaining traction. The company has already established itself in this segment with 70% of the market share in India. Xaar is about to introduce High Laydown (HL) Technology to further its market share.
Product Printing & Packaging:
This pillar, which includes Coding, Digital label printing, Product printing, and 3D Printing, grew last year by 83% – 40% organically and the rest through an acquisition in North America. The company expects it to be the fastest growing area for Xaar, with anticipation of 1/3rd larger sales than Ceramics, which currently stands at £40m. Accordingly, Product & packaging would be close to £55m by the end of this year.
Xaar’s EPS (Engineered Printing Solutions) is ahead of plan, backed by a very strong sales funnel. While the company is establishing a European distribution channel for its digital product portfolio, it is eagerly interested in establishing an Asian, and in particular Indian, distribution channel for the same.
Xaar has recently introduced two new products – the Xaar 501 and the Xaar 502 – in Coding & Marking, and expects to go beyond the sector to include Graphics and Packaging as well. Further, the company expects to note very high growth in 3D and Advanced Manufacturing (Displays), wherein its HL Technology would add much needed speed and volume .
Xaar has two new and important partnerships announced this and last year with Xerox and Ricoh respectively. The recent launch of Xaar 5501 and Xaar 1201 are born from that relationship enabling Xaar to broaden its printhead offering. The company will be able as a result to re-establish itself in wide format graphics and enter new markets like commercial printing, packaging and textiles.
While Xaar has already achieved a whopping sales figure of £2m for its 1201 in the first half of 2017, it recently signed a two-year master distribution agreement to supply more than 90,000 printheads. Meanwhile, the design for Xaar 5601 printhead is frozen, and the first development kit has already been shipped to Textiles OEMs.
Acquisitions & Partnerships:
The fourth pillar is also very much important to the company’s strategy. The company made one acquisition last year in North America for product printing, and taken on a team in Nottingham and Copenhagen to develop the 3D printing business– while it aims to make some more acquisitions in time.
Of the about £100m growth targeted by 2020, roughly half, i.e. about £50m, would come from the acquisitions. Of this, Xaar has already invested £15m in acquisitions, while the rest is to be done within the stipulated time period.