By Ed Avis
Third party drum maker Hitec-Imaging is halting production of OPC photoconductor drums that replaced Xerox 6204, 6279, and 510 drums and others.
"Hitec will discontinue the production of OPC drums at the end of the second quarter of 2014," says Thomas Schank, Hitec's senior director of business development, North America.
The company announced in October 2013 that it was exiting the business, but now the company is asking customers for blanket orders within the month so they can source materials appropriately.
"Customers can, if they order early, still obtain drums over the summer," Schank says. "However, they should place 'blanket POs' as soon as possible with appropriate delivery dates, so that sufficient material supply can be guaranteed."
Individual customers should place orders with their distributors or other suppliers, not directly with Hitec.
The company that made these drums was originally AEG, a German company that company also made small-format drums.
"They had produced drums for OEMs like Xerox for years," says Carl Byrne, president of Evergreen Technologies, a large-format printer parts and supplies vendor. "In addition, they developed a line of third party drums for all the wide-format OEMs along with many small-format systems."
AEG was acquired by Hitec, also in Germany, in 2012. Hitec is a bigger player in other industries, such as X-ray materials. When Chinese companies began selling the small-format drums at lower cost, Hitec decided to exit the drum business altogether.
"Decreasing print volumes in the document printing segment in combination with a vast amount of overcapacity worldwide for OPC photoconductor drums have led to a continuously increasing price competition," Bart Baessen, Hitec's managing director, wrote in a letter to customers in October. "This evolution and ... anticipated negative outlook for our OPC business in the near future has forced us to reconsider our business options and have led to the decision to step out of the OPC market and discontinue the production of OPC photoconductor drums."
Exit Means Third-Party is Over
Byrne says Hitec's exit from the business means no third-party vendor will be making these drums, leaving only the OEM suppliers.
"I have been told we should place a blanket PO this month if we want to source any drums this year," Byrne says. Consequently, he has asked his customers to place orders now so he can place his final order with Hitech.
It is still possible another company will buy the large-format line from Hitech, but no buyers are currently negotiating, Schank says.