By Patricia Ames – Early last year, Muratec America, a traditionally office-equipment-centric division of Japan’s Murata Machinery Ltd., announced its entry into the label printer market. We suspected then the firm may have found an interesting new market to explore, and have kept an eye on the venture. A little over a year after that initial launch, we caught up with Muratec America President Jim D’Emidio.
How did Muratec get involved with label printing?
We were introduced by a Japanese company that was trying to get into the U.S. market. We started studying it after being introduced to the concept by them and realized that this market is very similar to the market for color copiers 25 years ago. Back then, if you wanted a color copy of something, there wasn’t actually such a thing as a color copier, so you went to a print shop. They would have Heidelberg presses, and they were generally analog products, and you had to buy a large enough quantity to get the price down for it to make sense.
That is how the label market is right now. Over 90 percent of all the labels in North America are printed by printers; they are called “label converters.” Typical customers would be breweries, food producers, chemical manufacturers, etc. They are offset flexography printers and the client needs to order a large quantity for the pricing to make sense. If they don’t use them for whatever reason, they have to throw the remainder away. There’s a lot of natural waste. We have found that short-run digital color label presses that allow the end user to print their own labels instead of depending on a print shop presents a great market niche. They have only been on the market for three or four years and represent a lot of opportunity.