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National Azon

New Standard Evolving to Unify Color Printing

Why Extended Gamut?
As the conversion from analog to digital becomes more widespread in the wide format world, customers are looking to duplicate the colors already in place using current offset/analog systems. Major Brand owners have a vested interest in the precise presentation of their logos and require printers to demonstrate their ability to output to colorimetric standards. Some use colors that are notoriously difficult to output with just CMYK. Dense reds such as the one used in the Coca-ColaTM logo are a well-known challenge to achieve with a traditional CMYK process.

Historically, printers using analog methods such as offset, screen, or pad printing have added spot colors to precisely achieve the results their customers demanded. By contrast, inkjet printers, not having the ability to spontaneously add inks and printheads, have built-up color using custom screening and specialized cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks with spotty results. This allows for a simple printer design, but by using just these four non-standard colors, complicated color management is required and many colors in the visible spectrum are still left unachievable.

Wild West Struggles - XCMYK
XCMYK is an extended-gamut printing method that yields a much wider color gamut than regular 4-color printing. In an effort to bridge the gap between what is possible to print in the press world vs the digital inkjet printer space, inkjet printer manufacturers turned to using specialized dot screening and uniquely vibrant CMYK inks. Using custom printer profiles these digital devices can produce a colorspace larger than traditional 4-color printing (XCMYK). Some have stretched the vibrancy of primary ink colors to the point that they need additional channels of lighter colors. These inks (Lc,Lm,Lk and even Llk) assist in gaining back areas of gamut lost in gradients, light areas and shadows. Of course, this comes at a cost of increased complexity, additional ink
channels, slower print speeds and often needing additional expensive printheads.

The Road to Standardization – ECG with
Gaps and smaller defined missing areas of the deep green, bright orange and violet portions of the color spectrum plague even the most aggressive of
today’s XCMYK print systems. Home Depot® orange, Lowes® purple and Hulu® green are good examples of targets that just can’t be hit. But, by adding three extra primary color inks, Orange Green and Violet, a
broader range of colors becomes available to print via inkjet. Some prominent manufacturers have already explored this print process under the guise of adding ink colors like Red, Green and Blue. Some are adding only a single additional channel like Orange or Red to improve gamut. It is clear that these manufacturers are responding to the increasing demands of print operators responding to the print-buyer needs, but each is doing it their own way without a clear standard to adhere to.

Buy in
If you are trying to organize a game of follow the leader, start by playing “Follow the Money”. Flexo and Litho are the cash kings of the printing world and expanding from CMYK+Spot to CMYKOGV is becoming the standard method of extending the color gamut of printing in that world. Why? Because Manufacturers like Heidelberg, Bobst, Esko, Kodak, Sun Chemical, The Flint Group, Du Pont...are pouring money into the development of processes and equipment capable of consistently reliable ECG output.

Often called extended gamut machines, this new equipment provides several compelling advantages. Its primary advantage is the ability to print many more colors than CMYK+Spot alone. This then allows for much more vivid color designs. Printing with ECG also reduces print costs while at the same time reducing the environmental impact of every piece produced. By NOT using
spot colors, fewer washups and press materials are necessary for each print run leading to less money spent on materials and less hazardous waste produced. Additionally, reducing the number of setups and cleanups improves the all-important print-turnaround time for each project.

Make it Simple and they will come...
All that development money spent has simplified the adoption and more importantly the operation of these new print presses and processes. This has resulted in many master printers spending millions converting their plant operations to this new ECG format. Continuing our game of follow the leader, as early adopters find increasing success working with ECG more and more
competitors must upgrade just to keep up.

With all these advantages and more improvements on the way, it is clear this emerging standard will become the dominant print method designers will embrace. Luckily, it is a standard that can easily translate into the wide format inkjet printing world as well. Unlike in the past, a single standard can span all printing technologies. This unification will lead to unprecedented consistency across all printing tech.

Author Bio
Andrew Brockhaus is a current VP and a long time Color Specialist for National / AZON. He holds a G7 Expert certification along with training and certifications from Xerox, HP, Canon, Mutoh, X-rite, Onyx and others. With experience and focus in wide-format print for over 25 years he continues to pursue new theory and technologies in the fields of color and color printing.

National / AZON Closes 2020 with Best Month on Record for Contex Large Format Scanners

National / AZON Closes 2020 with Best Month on Record for Contex Large Format Scanners

Wide range of scanning solutions meets changing landscape as
home office, specialty, and archiving projects drive sales in 2020; sales for personal large format scanners jump by nearly 70%

Troy, MI — February 18, 2021 — National / AZON, a leading distributor of technology for the reprographic, graphic arts, and sign-making markets, today announces that December 2020 was one of the best sales months ever recorded for Contex large format scanners. The company also reports that sales of Contex scanners remained steady throughout the year despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. National / AZON attributes its success to its dedicated sales team and to Contex’s versatile range of scanning solutions.

Throughout 2020, the market shifted from high-volume production scanners to home-office and portable devices. Sales of the entry-level Contex SD One scanner series grew by nearly 70% over 2019, while reprographic and data management companies, among others, continued to invest in Contex’s mid-range, high-production large format, and specialty scanners — the IQ
Quattro X scanner series, HD Ultra X scanner series, and IQ FLEX flatbed scanner — at a steady pace.

“The collective experience of the team at National / AZON proved invaluable for the company in 2020. They quickly responded to the shift in the market with solutions for new requirements. We congratulate National / AZON for their continued success,” comments Steve Blanken, General Manager, Contex Americas.

“In 2020, we made sure that we went back to basics: connecting with our resellers and the scanning community. We saw an increase in specialty scanning and archiving projects as organizations took advantage of downtime. Reprographic shops were also looking for a more productive set of input devices for the coming year,” comments Rich Gigl, Senior Vice President,
National / AZON.

In Q4 2020, National / AZON started offering webinars, which helped the scanning community connect with experts for their remote projects.

Contex has a strong R&D department driven by customer and market feedback. Its scanners are suitable for a wide range of applications including CAD and engineering, document archiving, maps and GIS, artwork and photo, book scanning, and more.

For more information, visit

About National / AZON
National / AZON i s a l eading distributor of hardware and software products, with a special focus on the reprographic, graphic arts, and sign-making markets. Sales and distribution points across North America allow National / AZON to continuously expand and innovate to meet the ever-changing needs of l arge format printing and scanning professionals. With an intense focus
on customer satisfaction, National / AZON has gained a nationwide presence in the marketplace and will continue to provide products and services that enable success and profitability in the print-for-pay and graphics industries. For more i nformation, visit

Vickie Connor
National / AZON
800-260-0839 ext. 107

Contex, National / AZON to Premiere the Zero Turn Productivity Center with IQ Quattro X in Upcoming Webinar

Contex, National / AZON to Premiere the Zero Turn Productivity Center with IQ Quattro X in Upcoming Webinar

Contex and National / AZON will premiere the Zero Turn Productivity Center with the Contex IQ Quattro X large format scanner in an upcoming webinar to be held February 24th at 11 AM Eastern. Designed by National / AZON exclusively for Contex scanners, Zero Turn is a single-footprint holding table for documents that are waiting to be scanned. The IQ Quattro X is the market's fastest CIS scanner, capturing large format documents up to 17.8 inches per second. The combined solution delivers the most productive large format scanning solution available in the industry today.

Click here to register.

For more information, call 877-226-6839 or send email to

City of Houston Rebuilds with Contex Large-Format Scanners

City of Houston uses Contex large-format scanner to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey

2017’s Hurricane Harvey was one of the costliest tropical storms ever to hit the U.S. But the city of Houston is rebuilding, and like every city and small town across the U.S., the Houston Permitting Center plays an important role in building safety and infrastructure planning. With each new rebuild or remodel, city staff reviews the project drawings and maps — submitted by landowners, architects, engineers, and contractors — to ensure the projects meet the city’s building code regulations and infrastructure design requirements.


What makes the city of Houston different from most cities is its sheer size, scope, and diversity. Houston is the 4th largest city in the United States by population, the eighth largest in miles, and the most culturally rich with more than 140 spoken languages. The city’s Permitting Center was already one of the busiest in the nation. Now in disaster recovery, the city is processing building permits at rates never before imagined.

On average, the Permitting Center’s imaging team receives around 40-50 building construction projects per day and about 30 infrastructure projects per week, each of which can include anywhere from 2 to more than 1500 drawings and maps, depending on the size and scope of the build. Unlike the building projects, which are on paper, the infrastructure projects are on mylar.


As the city of Houston rebuilds, homeowners and developers must get their plans approved before commencing any new project, large or small.

The city of Houston implemented a Contex IQ Quattro large-format scanner to scan maps and drawings up to 44” wide. Its speed, quality, and reliability enable the staffers to process the high volume of documents that come into the Center. Expedited projects are easily facilitated thanks to the IQ Quattro’s four-second scanning, and CIS technologies, which deliver high-quality results. The Nextimage scanning software also gives a boost to productivity by automatically removing shadows caused by creases and folds. If a document is old or faded, the Center staffers can easily manipulate settings as needed to further improve imaging results.

The Center processes mostly 24”×36” documents. Occasionally, staffers may receive documents that are 18”×24” or 36”×40”. These plans are easily accommodated, simply by changing the orientation of the documents.


Although the city of Houston accepts online plan submissions, most customers submit hard-copy plans to the Permitting Center. Two sets of plans are required for the review process. Once the plans are approved and stamped, one set is kept by the city to be archived and the other set is returned to the customer to be kept on the job site for inspections.

As the city of Houston rebuilds itself, the Contex scanner is a vital tool to speeding the recovery. The Contex IQ Quattro large-format scanner is an investment that the city of Houston can benefit from for years to come. From speed and reliability to image quality and performance, the IQ Quattro exceeds expectations.

Source: Contex

The Top Five Reasons to go CCD vs. CIS Wide Format Scanning

Wide Format Scanning Whitepaper

Whether you are replacing a current wide format scanner or purchasing for the very first time, it’s important to consider the two basic technologies currently in use for wide format image capture and how these technologies fit into the workflow and business model of your scanning needs.

Wide format scanners today use either a Charge Coupled Device (CCD) or a Contact Image Sensor (CIS) to capture data. Information enters into the scanner through a lens system and a light source that is reflected from the document and captured by the photo sensors.

Overview of CIS Technology: CIS or (Contact Image Sensor) technology was originally developed for small format devices and has been in use for many years on fax machines, check readers and ATM card readers. The technology uses multiple CIS modules that contain lenses and lighting within each module. The modules are placed side by side just under the scanning glass. The self-contained modules typically use low power light emitting diodes (LED) of red green and blue to light up the document. The light is then reflected by the document and captured by a glass rod lens, directing the light towards the image sensors which capture the pixel.


Overview of CCD Technology: CCD or (Charged Coupled Device) technology, commonly referred to as camera technology, has been designed for all types of digital imaging including scanners, video cameras, security systems, as well as, equipment for industrial testing, monitoring and measurement. This technology has been in use for years. Most synonymous with high quality scanning, camera technology employs a linear array of CCD’s or cameras and a sophisticated lighting system to illuminate the image to be scanned. The more advanced systems utilize 4-channel RGB cameras- red, green, blue and panchromatic mono channels that deliver 48-bit color depth at 16 bits per channel.


Now that you have a basic idea of the technology, lets examine our top 5 reasons why we recommend camera over contact image sensor technology.

1) Image Quality and Flexibility: CCD scanning technology produces quality scans for virtually any type of document that will fit through a roll fed scanner. Whether your originals are hand drawn engineering drawings, B&W photos, or maps, CCD scanning technology will capture 16-bit grayscale (64,000 shades of grey) using a dedicated panchromatic monochrome channel for a much sharper clearer image. CIS scanners deliver only 8-bit grayscale (256 shades) and green capture only and have restrictions in some document classes like full bleed graphics and copying to 8 and 12 color printers. If you need to run
GIS maps, blueprints with stiff edges, newspaper, delicate documents or mylars a Contex CCD scanner is highly recommended over CIS technology.

2) Productivity: CCD scanners (Contex only) scan with originals face down. Some might argue that face up scanning allows for better quality control but assuming sheets only take 3 to 4 seconds to scan, quality control is better performed at the software level using Line of Sight Scanning techniques like the National /AZON Zero Turn system. CIS scanners and most non-Contex brand CCD scanners employ face up scanning which requires operators to “double handle” every document to keep them in their original order. Face
down scanning allows for true scan and drop capability which offers the most efficient way to handle documents. In addition to face down scanning, CCD scanning software, coupled with the latest developments in media sensing technology, reads the input media size much faster and more accurately, reducing post scan error correction.

File transfer is another serious productivity feature in Contex CCD scanners. The enhanced utilization of USB 3.0 for file transfer guarantees a much higher degree of productivity as operators will experience virtually zero wait time for file transfer between images. Side by side productivity tests generate a minimum of a 2 to 1 speed increase for
CCD vs. CIS scanning.

3) Color Fidelity when close isn’t good enough: Due to the inherent technical advantage of camera-based technology, the color gamut is much wider, color fidelity is greater and image noise is reduced. Since cameras capture up to 48-bit color, printing and copying to 8 or 12 color printers produces significantly better results than CIS. Color depth and the ability to recognize the nuances of gradients is superior on CCD scanners.

4) Thick Document and folded document Scanning: Scans of mounted originals up to .60” thickness can be done with CCD scanners but not with (most) CIS scanners. The reason is that the lighting system and focal point of the CIS technology does not lend itself well to raised or uneven surfaces. If your document archives consist of a good percentage of any of these two documents, go with CCD. In addition, if you are a print service provider
(PSP) and are at the will of your customer, go with CCD to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction and business retention.

5) Optical Calibration/Stitching: Contex CCD scanners come equipped with 4 to 7 Quad linear CCD’s. These CCD’s are each controlled by an adjustment motor that sets height and width and are accurate to 1/400th of an inch when stitching between cameras. CIS elements are fixed in place or in some cases have a single element across scan widths. Contex CCD scanners offer the only “self-correcting” optics available without a technician being required for adjustment or having an operator physically turning screws inside the scanner.

This factors in when using Closed Loop Calibration which performs the function of printing a wide color target to a customer’s scanner, then scanning that target with a CCD scanner to provide Nextimage Repro copy software with an accurate reading of how the printer is delivering defined colors in its output.

In summary, CIS scanners hold a significant market space and are very well suited to scanning CAD/GIS generated images as well as AEC markups and building plans, they are more portable and lightweight and generally less expensive than CCD based scanners. However, if your outputquality is of utmost importance, if you are a print service provider, if you have an archive full of varied originals, if you plan to scan color graphics, maps photos or thick originals a Contex CCD scanner is best suited to your needs.

Visit for more information.

Wide Format Technology Update -The New Canon TM Series Wide Format Technical Series

Wide Format Technology Update -The New Canon TM Series Wide Format Technical Series

National Azon logo

Having just completed one of our most successful quarters ever, I can confidently say that one of the main reasons for our sales success in Q4 was the new Canon TM Series printers and MFP systems.  This series was introduced by Canon to replace the very successful 78x series which had anchored the Canon iPF wide format line for the last number of years.  The 78x series was overdue to be replaced and the resellers were anxiously waiting for the TM units to be introduced.  Our sales success in Q4 was not surprising, as the resellers had finally reduced their inventory of 78x series, the TM units were available in good supply and Canon provided an excellent series of product promotions aimed at the reseller channel. 

With the sales foundation fully in place, lets take a closer look under the hood of the TM Series model offerings and feature set.  There are three models available ranging from a single 24” model and two 36” models; all single roll units.  The two 36” units (TM 300 and TM 305) are differentiated by upgraded stacking capability and direct USB support on the TM 305. Canon engineers took the time to focus on blending the finest of features from the newly developed PRO and TX Series printers and MFP units in their design of the TM Series.  For instance, the TM series shares these important features between the PRO and TX:

  1. Upgraded frame design – a sturdy frame allows dots to be placed more accurately.
  2. The amazing Canon PF-06 print head with over 15,000 nozzles that generates a 5 picolitre dot.
  3. Pigment based Canon Lucia ink.
  4. Direct USB support (on TM 305).
  5. Enhanced security features.
  6. Tremendously simple media loading.
  7. Canon Software Suite: Canon has invested in the simplification of printing.

A new feature in the TM Series that I believe will make a major difference in a competitive sense is the inclusion of noise cancelling technology which makes the TM Series 60% quieter than previous models.  During our first product demonstration, I didn’t realize the TM was printing it was so incredibly quiet.  This will offer the opportunity to place the TM Series directly into workgroups, small offices and trailers without offending the staff. 

The TM has been worth the wait and completes the major upgrade of the entire Canon wide format product line within a 2-year period.  It is very clear to see the vision that Canon has provided to the market with these three strong product lines. 

The increased image quality, high reliability, small footprint, ease of use, low cost of operation and the most amazing software utilities (included free of charge) redefine what is possible for a large format printer.  Whether the application is mapping GIS, poster printing, graphic arts, fine art reproduction, technical and AEC printing or standard office environments the Canon Wide Format solutions group has a model to fit. 

For more information, contact us directly  

Wide Format Technology Update- The Canon TX Series printers and MFP Systems

Just about a year ago, Canon USA released their new TX Series of Wide Format inkjet printers and MFP Systems. Canon has positioned the TX Series as a higher volume solution to capture opportunities on the production side of the aqueous inkjet technical documents market. There are two basic TX Series models available, the TX 3000 and TX 4000. The difference in these models is their supported print width, the 3000 being a 36” printer and the 4000 is a 44” printer. Both TX printers are single roll units with the option of a second roll that is easily field upgradable. In addition, Canon also launched their new T36 scanner with these units for configuration as a full MFP unit. So, the result is a very flexible configurable higher volume lineup of 8 printer and MFP models. Fully loaded, the two-roll 4000 MFP unit lists at $9,495.

Canon designed these models to fit a variety of technical print markets including standard architecture, engineering, construction and something they are calling “office document enlargements”. I believe this last item is the ability for departmental workgroups to use the supplied MS Office plug-in to produce large format timelines, PPT presentations and Excel graphs and spreadsheets. For ease of understanding lets just call the “office document enlargement market” (where do they come up with these terms?) what it really is…and that would be POSTER PRINTING.

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So, the product was launched with great fanfare and special incentives a year ago. Sales went well, despite limited inventory, but over the last six months we have seen a very interesting trend emerge with the imagePROGRAF TX Series. Sales of the product to corporate America are increasing month over month and quarter over quarter. What is the reason you may ask??? Well for starters, there is virtually nothing to not like about this product, it’s got everything you would expect plus much more. I won’t bore you with a full list but some of the more outstanding features of the TX Series include:

  • Fast print speeds – up to 3 D-size prints per minute.
  • Increased print quality – new Canon high density, high precision print head design with over 15,000 nozzles (Canon’s head technology is by far superior to anything in the market) lays down 5 picoliter-size ink droplets at 2400 x 1200 dpi.  
  • Optional second roll unit for up to 3,900 sq. feet of uninterrupted printing. The roll units can also double as a take up reel.
  • Automatic media loading- The printer detects the roll and automatically feeds it through. No manual feed required.
  • Direct USB thumb drive printing.
  • Enhanced security features including a self-encrypting hard disk and secure disk and file erase.
  • TX Series stacker- increased flexibility and document handling with mixed sized prints up to 100 sheets.

I could go on and on but for a sub 10k price point, the Canon TX Series includes features that may not be available in units twice their price. There are several other key features that have emerged as the true drivers behind the growing success of the TX Series and they are ….

Reliability- Canon tried something new with the TX Series and that was to offer the product with a 90-day warranty instead of the standard one- year. This move was based on requests from the reseller channel to allow the service and support revenue stream to begin earlier in the life cycle of the product allowing them to capture revenue faster. Now this only works if the product is reliable and what we are seeing in the field has shattered expectations. The TX is truly exceeding the metrics provided by the manufacturer. We know of placements doing 10-20k per month without a problem.

New LUCIA TD Pigment Ink Set- The TX series features a pigment-based ink set which produces fine text and lines on both inkjet and non-inkjet plain paper. The addition of the new LUCIA water resistant pigment-based set opens more usage for the option to print posters, maps, signs and displays. This capitalizes on the trend that the technical print market is experiencing which is the cross-over from standard black and white technical prints to graphic arts or poster printing.

Canon software suite- Newly developed for the TX Series are a series of industry leading software utilities designed to help the users print, a trend Canon calls an “investment in the simplification of printing”. The included software suite includes Free Layout Plus, Poster Artist Lite, Direct Print & Share, Accounting manager, Unified print drivers, AutoCAD optimized print driver, Print Plug-in for MS Office, Apple AirPrint etc. A space limitation keeps me from a full explanation of each of these utilities but please take a few moments to peruse and enter any of the above names into the search field. Or click this link for a software suite list:

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Summary- Whether you are currently invested in wide format sales and support, or just beginning the process, the Canon TX Series is a product worthy of very strong consideration. From the excellent print quality to the ease of service, the high-quality scan/copy/print, low cost of operation, poster printing, media offerings, pigment ink, and included software utilities the TX Series is the first truly hybrid printer designed to help you capture the move from B/W technical to Color technical, poster printing and beyond.

-= Good Selling=-

Where to Find Leads for the Contex IQ Flex Flatbed Scanner

There's a tremendous amount of data that you can consume from a brochure. Sure, the brochure will give the specs, the data and a nice glossy photo.  You'll get to read about the speed of the device, all of the awesome technology that's packed into the IQ Flex color wide format scanner. That's all useful data when you have the conversation with the decision maker and or the IT person.

What the brochure won't tell you is what type of accounts may have the need for the IQ Flex wide format color flatbed scanner.  I thought I'd put together a few verticals that would have the need for the Contex IQ Flex color scanner.

Colleges & Universities:  With a quick web search I was able to find five Colleges and Universities that offer services for wide format scanning services on the first page of Google.   Old maps, and posters and frail legacy documents were mention on multiple sites and multiple times. Most of those old legacy documents can't be placed through a conventional wide format scanner because the paper feed roller could tear original legacy documents. Below are a few of the departments that were listed as having wide format scanners.

  • Science 
  • Humanities
  • Print Room
  • Engineering
  • Art
  • Library
  • Facilities

Print4Pay:  Especially, any print4pay that offers black line and color wide format printing and copying.  A shop that I know of has a few artists in the area that want their paintings scanned, in addition to others that want to scan oversized objects. You can sell this as an additional profit center for the Print4Pay client that does not have a flatbed scanner.  Also don't over look any repro facilities that just print wide format documents.

Municipalities, Cities, County, State:  We don't think about them much, but many of the larger Municipalities have the need for a flatbed color scanner.  Maps, surveys, renderings, and many legacy documents will not feed in a conventional wide format scanner.

Libraries:  Larger libraries most those that are located in larger cities and in most cases just the main branch.

Seeding accounts with the Contex IQ Flex scanner will enable you to get in the door and then grow your business with replacing many of the old wide format scanners that are still in the field. 

Maybe take a day and don't cold call for copiers and do some cold calls for flatbed wide format color scanners.  It's different, it's unique and offers a different talk track from your peers. 

If you're looking for an Authorized reseller, my recommendation is National Azon (they are a sponsor of this site). Tell them you saw them here.

You can get more info on the Contex IQ Flex here.

-=Good Selling=-