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Arizona changes continents, now made in Europe

Canon has announced a major expansion of its manufacturing facility near Munich, Germany as it pushes ahead with plans to transfer the manufacturing of Océ Arizona flatbed printers from Vancouver, Canada. Andy McCourt takes a closer look at the move. 


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Every Canon flatbed printer will now be manufactured in Germany.

The story of the Arizona series of flatbed UV digital inkjet presses is a tale of industry progress itself. It began in 1991 when Vancouver, BC, Canada, company Raster Graphics appointed a mechanical engineering graduate named Rak Kumar as CEO. Back then, Raster Graphics made a 42” wide format machine that used electrostatic imaging – yes toner, just like the now defunct Xerox Versatec! These were mainly engineering plotters but could do CMYK with the right Rip – and at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, most of the large signage was produced on electrostatic plotters.

rak KumarBut Kumar (pictured, left) could see the advantages that inkjet promised and in 1998 Raster Graphics introduced the first Arizona ‘Digital Screen Press’ with six colours of solvent ink at 600dpi. Raster Graphics was acquired by Swiss-based Gretag Imaging, who in turn were acquired by Océ, in 2001. Kumar became CEO of Océ Display Graphics and the company remained in Vancouver. In 2002, the first real flatbed, the Arizona T220, was release although this still used solvent inks. As more Arizona models were developed, the switch to UV-cured inks was made.

Ever the entrepreneur, Kumar moved on in 2004 and started Raster Printers, later sold to EFI who marketed them as the Rastek models. Océ Display Graphics grew and grew, and the Arizona range became a giant in the flatbed UV field – all made in Vancouver. Fujifilm also OEM the Arizonas as 'Acuity' flatbed models.

Océ was acquired by Canon in 2010 and about a year ago staff were informed that the Vancouver plant would close and Arizona manufacturing would be moved to Europe. This came as a great surprise to the Canadians but the strategy was fulfilled in October 2018, with manufacturing shifted to the former Siemens Nixdorf plant at Poing, Germany, which Océ had acquired in 1996 when Siemens decided to exit high speed digital printers.

So now Arizonas are North American in name only and Vancouver’s loss is Poing’s gain. It’s a globalised world we live in and the inks that flow through Arizonas are made in Europe anyway, with the printheads from Japan. It’s still a little sad to see Rak Kumar’s brilliant vision uprooted from its spiritual home, and the 200-odd Canadian jobs disappear.

"By moving all flatbed production to a centralised European facility, we aim to build on our strong market position, cultivate new ideas and fuel innovation,” said Jeppe Frandsen, Canon Europe executive vice president. “This will ensure that the Océ Arizona series continues to play a pivotal role in enabling customers to evolve with an ever-changing market, for example by enhancing their productivity and accessing new application opportunities.”

Canon will expand both the manufacturing workforce at its Poing plant near Munich and the Venlo, Netherlands-based R&D team to support the transfer from Vancouver.

Canon already manufactures Océ Arizona flatbed printers at Poing and aims to increase flatbed production by over 30 percent, completing three Océ Arizona printers a day from October 2018.

“The enhanced production line, which includes special tooling, routing and climate-controlled facilities for the assembly of sensitive components, will be fully operational by the end of September 2018,” Canon said.

“This growth in manufacturing output is supported by upgraded prototyping laboratories and testing facilities in Venlo, and an expanded network of suppliers in Europe and the Americas to extend Canon’s global supply chain for its wide format solutions. The move to Poing will shorten lead times from order to delivery and installation for European customers, as well as harmonising service and support.”

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Canon Océ Arizona 6160 XTS flatbed printer with HFV technology

There are currently 7,000 Océ Arizona printers installed worldwide and around one in four Océ Arizona users is active in the production of applications other than graphics, such as printed interior décor, short-run customised packaging and decorated products. 

“Over the past 16 years, the creativity and dedication of our team in Vancouver has been instrumental in the success of the award-winning Océ Arizona series,” Frandsen said. “Building on this strong heritage in flatbed technology, the concentration of skills, knowledge and manufacturing capabilities in Europe will allow us to evolve our flatbed inkjet offering even further.”