Wide-Format Printers/Plotters

Canon Keeps CAD in Mind with New Wide-Format Color Printers

4 Sep, 2013 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Paperless documents may be decreasing the demand for printing hardware, but the diversified digital imaging solutions provider is still pursuing the CAD market.


Today Canon expanded its large-format printer family, adding the 44-inch iPF8400S and 24-inch iPF6400S to its imagePROGRAF S Series. The eight-color printers support the imagePROGRAF Direct Print & Share software, which allows users to print files without opening them and to share files via the cloud.

"We have a fairly robust lineup — 23 printers altogether," said Rich Reamer, director of product marketing. He explained that Canon offers twelve-color printers for graphic arts, eight-color models for production printing, and five-color units for technical documents and general use. With the decentralization going on in the CAD world, Reamer continued, many subcontrators are now working with inkjet printers. "[We are] really giving the ... CAD world a lot of flexibility ... and doing so at a low cost."

The iPF8400S and iPF6400S are geared toward print service providers and feature:

  • a built-in 250-GB hard drive
  • support for high-capacity ink tanks (300-mL ink tanks in the iPF6400S; 330-mL and 700-mL in the iPF8400S)
  • an upgraded multisensor color calibration system
  • Color Calibration Management Console (CCMC) software, which provides system-wide color management control from a single computer.

  • an optional spectrophotometer.




The iPF8400S (top) and iPF6400S are expected to be available in mid-September for $4,995 and $2,995, respectively. Images courtesy of Canon.


ColorWave of the Future

This announcement comes on the heels of last month's unveiling of the ColorWave 900 — "It redefines production wide-format color," said Executive Vice-President Mal Baboyian. The 42"-wide printer can produce as many as 500 B1-size pages per hour, and can print close to 14,000 feet continuously, thanks to its six-roll capacity. "Production is a lot more than mechanical speed," Baboyian noted. "You don't want the production to stop." Prints dry "instantly" and feature resolution as high as 1600 x 1600 dpi.

The ColorWave 900 is designed for professional print providers; reprographers will use it for CAD-type printing jobs, said Baboyian, as well as graphic arts. The decision to address both markets with the same product reflects Canon's assessment of the CAD market's potential.

In 2012, Canon claimed about 39% of the CAD/GIS market in terms of market placement in North America. However, "that market is relatively flat," said Baboyian. "It's a technological change away from printed materials [among CAD users] ... you're seeing a shift away from a significant amount of printing to either decentralized printing or no printing at all," he explained. "I don't see that coming back ... there will be a shift from black-and-white to color as the cost comes down, but that's a different issue."

 

Although Canon's Large-Format Solutions Group is intent on entering new markets, it will continue to serve CAD/GIS customers as well: In addition to the ColorWave 900, products coming to market in this area include the low-volume, cloud-integrated PlotWave 340 and 360, introduced in July; and the mid-volume, monochrome PlotWave 750, coming in October.


The high-speed ColorWave 900 will make its U.S. debut this month, and delivery will begin in Q4 2013. Image courtesy of Canon.


One Canon Park

In August, Canon invited a group of journalists and analysts to visit its sleek new headquarters building in Melville, New York, for a preview of all these new printers. The 52-acre campus comprises a 700,000 ft² building, two parking garages, and even a walking trail. "[The new headquarters] is not only for Canon people; we designed it for outside people, the community," said President and CEO Joe Adachi, explaining that the facility's conference center and education rooms are available as resources for students and other members of the community.

The new headquarters also houses the biggest Canon showroom in the world, a 12,000 ft² showcase of the company's professional and consumer printers, cameras, and other products. Canon's iconic camera lenses are displayed next to medical imaging devices, remote monitoring systems, and projectors — "diversified products, but all have optical technology inside," as Adachi noted.

Canon also uses this space to demonstrate less familiar offerings, such as its MR (Mixed Reality) display solution. This combination of hardware and software enables users to view computer-generated models in the real environment, interacting with them in three dimensions. For example, when an audience volunteer donned the head-mounted display, he saw a full-size car appear in the middle of the room. He could walk around the digital prototype as if it were a real car, evaluating finishes and comparing various paint colors.

"You can preview design options ... you can see the level of detail," explained Product Marketing Manager Jeff Tepper. "You have an opportunity for cost savings and getting your product to market sooner."

What's Next for Canon

Adachi explained that Canon offers a complete range of digital imaging devices, both input and output, from entry-level "to the tip top." Now, the goal is to integrate these devices for customer purposes; instead of isolated standalone devices that perform one function — such as a copy machine — the future lies in connected, integrated devices, said Adachi.

Integration also requires breaking down the walls between the divisions creating those devices. In 2009, Canon announced the acquisition of Océ, a printer developer based in the Netherlands. Earlier this year, the integration of Océ and Canon Business Solutions was completed with the formation of a new company, Canon Solutions America, which comprises ESS (Enterprise Services and Solutions), LFS (Large-Format Solutions), and PPS (Production Print Solutions) groups.

Canon is also entering a "new business domain," in Adachi's words, with cutting-edge technologies such as the MR virtual-reality system, a DNA diagnostic system, and an ultrahigh-resolution 8K display — "You see natural 3D; you don't need glasses," Adachi enthused. Canon also has a large-format 3D printing solution under development, but hasn't yet announced a product or timeline.

This expansion into new technological frontiers is likely to continue. As Vice-President and General Manager Sam Yoshida put it, "The history of Canon, the DNA of Canon — it's all about diversification."


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