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Hewlett-Packard announced on Dec. 10 that it had signed an agreement to acquire NUR Macroprinters, a wide-format inkjet printer company based in Israel. The acquisition, while relatively small at $117.5 million, is just the latest in a series of moves by HP to move more heavily into large-format commercial printing.

NUR’s products include ultraviolet-curable and solvent inkjet printers for display graphics. They are used for sign and billboard production, exhibition and trade show displays, as well as backdrops for television and film.

"The combination of HP and NUR will provide our customers and channel partners with a vastly extended mix of quality and service that is unmatched in the digital graphics printing industry," said David Reis, CEO of NUR, in a prepared statement.

"NUR is one of the big names in the printing industry," said Adam Florek, research analyst at Lyra Research. "Their real specialty is in UV roll-to-roll printers, where they have a leg up on everyone else. They were the first to come to market with those machines and were way out ahead of everyone else, including HP."

Read more here about HP targeting the enterprise printing sector.

NUR’s printers competed directly with those of an earlier HP acquisition, Scitex Vision, which the company acquired in 2005. Reis was previously CEO of Scitex and was brought to NUR by private equity investors in 2005 to turn the company around. "They were just flirting with profitability again when this announcement was made," said Florek.

In September, HP acquired another large-format printer company, MacDermid ColorSpan, which manufactures smaller, less-expensive wide-format UV curable inkjet printers. Both the ColorSpan and NUR acquisitions give HP a significantly larger channel for distribution of their printers—a significant weakness of HP’s business previously, Florek noted.

"It seems that they’re determined to be the major player in digital wide-format printing and beat everyone else into that position of dominance," said Florek. "The segment that NUR makes its printers for, UV Curable printing, is the fastest growing part of the market. So that gives them a great presence in that part of the market."

"The large-format print service provider market is growing rapidly," sad Vyomesh Joshi, the executive vice president of HP’s Imaging and Printing Group. "And with the acquisition of NUR. HP is strategically building an even stronger portfolio of products."

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