Xeikon announces passing of founder Lucien De Schamphelaere

Xeikon has announced the death of its founder, Lucien De Schamphelaere, on January 20. He was 85.

After a 40-year career with Agfa-Gevaert, where he was instrumental in forming the company’s Electronic Imaging System Department, De Schamphelaere wanted a new challenge. In August 1988 he established the limited liability company, Ellith NV, which started with just five employees. That name would soon be changed into Xeikon NV, the composition of the Greek words “xeros” (dry) and “eikon” (image).

At Ipex 1993, the company unveiled its prototype of the DCP-1. The digital colour press provided the basis for the company’s full-scale product line. In November 1994, the company introduced its Variable Data System, which allowed single-pass personalising of individual pages.

Xeikon went public in March 1996 by listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange. It was only the second Flemish company to do so. Less than six months later it launched the Xeikon DCP/32D digital colour press. The introduction of the Xeikon second generation helped net profits to reach more than $1.8 million.

In 1997, Xeikon introduced the DCP/50D, the first digital colour press capable of printing B2. Now with 340 employees, the company also moved to new, larger, premises in Antwerp.

1998 saw the sale of its 1,000th digital colour press and a fifth colour unit was introduced to its presses, as well as an opaque white toner. The same year De Schamphelaere went on to found Triakon NV, a digital printing company specialising in point-of-sale.

Xeikon was acquired by Flint Group on 2015. It also launched the Xeikon CX3 digital label press and the Xeikon 9800 dry toner digital colour press. A year later in introduced Trillium One to take digital print production to a new level of quality and productivity.

Wim Maes, Xeikon CEO, commented: “We were so saddened to hear the news of Lucien’s death. He had an amazing passion for digital printing and unstoppable drive that lead him to achieve such an incredible amount in his lifetime. His dedication and pioneering approach remains a key cornerstone of Xeikon today.”

Lucien De Schamphelaere was born on April 3, 1931 in Gijzenzele, Belgium. He graduated in 1952 as an engineer in electronics and started working that same year for the N.V. Gevaert Photo-Products physics lab. In 1958, he transferred to instrumentation, a young department that had been created to automate machines and workflows at Gevaert.

In the 1970’s, De Schamphelaere became more and more convinced that traditional photochemistry would irreversibly be replaced by electronic imaging, and he quietly started working on an electronic printing machine with a group of close associates. In 1979, he started a new department, ‘Electronical Imaging Systems’, with the support of former company executives André Leysen and Etienne De Wolf. Three years later the small team presented the P400, its first digital black and white printing press.

In 1988, De Schamphelaere was awarded the Otto-Bayer Medal, the first in a series of international prizes he would receive over the years for his contribution to digital imaging.

The continuous search for new challenges was a constant in his career. “Once a project gets rolling, I tend to lose interest. I’m happiest at the start of it, when I can develop what doesn’t yet exist,” he said in an interview with a newspaper.

De Schamphelaere received multiple distinctions for his pioneering work in the graphics industry, including the GATF-award, the IS&T Award and the prestigious Cary Award (1997). Over his whole career, he remained very socially engaged; he was involved in his local parish and supported charities such as the ‘Rijsactie’ to help local missionaries.