The full Q&A article with Jay Mandarino can be found in PrintAction January 2015It is hard to argue against stating Jay Mandarino, President and Founder of the C.J. Group of Companies, is the most-visible personality in Canada’s printing industry. By being so engaged in the community, particularly in the hypercompetitive environment of Toronto, he is as much a sounding board for insight as a lightning rod for criticism.
BELLWYCK on September 2 announced the opening of its Center for Innovation & Design at its newest location in Long Island, New York, to introduce emerging packaging applications to clients in the North East. “New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, technology, and art – something we absorb and apply in our innovations to help companies not only grow their business but present their packaging in a luxurious and high-quality manner,” said Greg Keizer, BELLWYCK’s Executive VP, Business Development & Innovation.
An open house was held last week at the 50,000-square-foot Mississauga facility of 4over to celebrate the installation of a 40-inch Komori press. The online-focused trade printer began operating out of its Canadian plant in late 2011.
Ingersoll Paper Box, a folding-carton manufacturer headquartered in Ingersoll, Ontario, held on open house to highlight its new KBA Rapida 106 sheetfed press, among other recent investments.
PointOne Graphics of Etobicoke, Ontario, continues to expand its technological base with a range of new installations like a perfecting Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106, two Suprasetters, a Ricoh Pro C901S, Vivid UV coater and a new MIS.
Jim Colter, Chairman of the Board for Colter & Peterson, has retired from the U.S.-based distribution company after a career that began in 1955. Upon completing high school, Cotler began working for his father’s company, Roy Colter Cutting Services.
Chris Pereira, founder and President of C17 Group Inc., was recognized as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce. He received the award on March 5 during a gala event at the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts.
The printing plant producing the Beijing Daily newspaper has installed China’s first Goss M-800 web press, which the operation’s parent company plans to leverage to compete in the region’s commercial printing market.
Moveable Inc., which was founded as Moveable Type in 1983 as a small typesetting shop in Toronto, celebrated its 30th anniversary this past October, reflecting on enormous change over the past three decades.
This week marks the 75th anniversary of the first xerographic image created by Chester Carlson. The technology is the basis of toner printing and copying technology.
Van Son Holland Ink Corporation is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year. The company will commemorate the milestone with a new software program and a new logo.“We are very proud to have recently celebrated our 140th year in business under the original family ownership. We look forward to continuing this rare story of producing high quality printing ink products into future generations," stated Joseph Bendowski, CEO of Van Son Holland Ink Corporation of America. Van Son was founded in 1873 by Philip Van Son and is now led by his great grand-son, Maurits Van Son. In the 140 years since, it has grown from a modest ink-making business to an international name in ink production. The company has offices in the Netherlands, U.S., England, China and Korea.
Chicago-based Schawk celebrated its 60th anniversary by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange last week.
Sihl has introduced a new fabric substrate called QuickSTICK AQ 3209 for use on aqueous wide-format inkjet systems. The new substrates builds on Sihl’s existing QuickSTICK 3208 for solvent, latex, and UV platforms. Sihl describes the new QuickSTICK AQ 3209 as a printable, repositionable, woven PET that is also recyclable. The company describes it as an all-around solution for producing indoor graphics.Sihl explains QuickSTICK AQ also allows companies to produce work without having the toxic smell associated with competitive vinyl based media. The new substrate is available in 36- and 50-inch roll sizes with 100-foot length and 2-inch cores.
Adobe releases a new white paper, called Connect and Unified Communications, describing how to leverage Connect to maximize investments in infrastructure through a best-of-breed approach to unified communications.http://wwwimages.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/products/adobeconnect/pdfs/web-conferencing/universal-voice-wp-final.pdf
Objectif Lune of Montreal has launched PlanetPress Connect for aiding the flow of digital transactional communications, through existing PlanetPress software, while also enhancing printed output. PlanetPress Connect provides what Objectif Lune describes as a toolbox to produce and send highly personalized communications, regardless of the distribution mode, print, web, email or SMS. The software creates communications directly in HTML. PlanetPress Connect also allows users to personalize printed outputs with advanced page layout capabilities and dynamic tools creation, such as tables and charts. It is also possible to connect to mass-mailing applications and add scan marks. The modules making up the toolbox includes The DataMapper, for developing data models extraction and creation, as well as The Designer to create HTML communications that can be used in digital format or for printing. The Designer tool allows alternating from one communication format to another, such as print and email, and sharing content and images, so that the work is done only once. The Workflow tool, well known by existing PlanetPress users, allows for the automation of any process related to transactional communications.
Quark Software Inc. in March of 2015 plans to make available QuarkXPress 2015, the next major version of Quark’s design and layout tool, with what the company describes as the 10 most-requested enhancements from its user community. This is to include new 64-bit architecture and support for PDF/X-4 output. The exported PDF/X-4 files are certified with the same technology used inside Adobe Acrobat. With this latest standard, Quark explains designers can preserve transparency to enable faster output, smaller files and higher quality print output. QuarkXPress 2015 will also continue to be sold as a perpetual license. Along with PDF/X-4 support, QuarkXPress 2015 will include the following enhancements: 64-bit Performance4x Larger Page SizesDedicated Orthogonal Line ToolFixed Layout Interactive eBooksCustom Paper SizesRelink Any Picture in the Usage DialogueCollect for Output for Complete ProjectUser-definable Shortcut Keys on MacNew Table StylesFormat PainterFootnotes and EndnotesFootnotes from WordSearch in PalettesSmart GuidesContent VariablesYosemite OS X SupportTool Palette, Measurement Palette and Palette Group Docking on Windows
Canon U.S.A. released PRISMAsync Remote Manager, which the company describes as a multi-engine scheduler and remote management console for expanded control on a customer's fleet of PRISMAsync controller-driven digital presses. This Web-based tool is designed to help shop floor managers and operators handle a high-performing printing operation by providing insight into their production schedules with the ability to upload jobs, edit job properties and manipulate digital press queues from a remote location or workstation. “One way to ensure deadlines are met is to have idle machines ready to produce work at a moment's notice. Another is to effectively manage your presses to run as continuously as possible with properly prioritized work,” said Greg Cholmondeley from Caslon. “Being able to easily and remotely do this for multiple presses and across multiple sites is essential for many digital printing operations.” "With installations of PRISMAsync-driven digital presses surpassing 11,000 worldwide, Canon has built upon the success of this technology and introduced the PRISMAsync Remote Manager to meet the needs of the market,” said Junichi Yoshitake, Senior VP and GM, Business Imaging Solutions Group, Canon U.S.A. “By providing a single point of control for multiple presses, the launch of the new PRISMAsync Remote Manager fosters a more efficient workflow, which will help increase the productivity of our customers.” PRISMAsync Scheduler provides a visual guide of the jobs scheduled for up to five presses, which allows operators to plan production schedules one shift ahead. At a glance, print shop managers and operators can see the 'time to completion' for jobs, based on relevant job settings and process parameters. And, to help achieve non-stop productivity, upcoming interventions are colour coded so operators can load media and toner and unload print output before a press stops. PRISMAsync Remote Manager allows production staff to submit jobs of print-ready PDF, PostScript and PCL files via file import or drag-and-drop functionality. Remote Manager also allows users to edit job properties remotely. It gives an operator full control over job settings, including page level editing if page programming functionality is enabled. Operators can actively manage and prioritize the print jobs in the queues or PRISMAsync DocBoxes with the ability to reroute jobs from one digital press to another directly from PRISMAsync Remote Manager. It allows users to remotely changing job priorities, holding, reprinting or rerouting print job. Operators and shop managers can now check the status of loaded media and other consumables remotely to help ensure the press is prepared to support the projects in its queue. Advanced system, media and workflow settings of each connected press can be directly accessed from PRISMAsync Remote Manager. The Web-based tool is available on an HTML5 compliant browser on Microsoft Windows and Apple iOS with no additional software installation required on a workstation.
Flint of Plymouth, Michigan, has released its new dayGraphica 4600 heatset blanket, which the company describes as addressing three main challenges that directly affect press uptime: gauge loss, smashes, and blanket memory. “Flint Group’s technology team addressed all three concerns,” said Bill Branson, Flint Group’s Business Director, North American Blankets. “The effort involved substantial research, development and testing, and resulted in the new dayGraphica 4600 heatset blanket.” Joe Byers, Global VP Technology for Flint’s Transfer Media Division, continues to say the key to the new blanket product was designing three new elements and combining them into one product. “Built with a re-engineered carcass design, compressible layer and face rubber compound formulation," he explained, "The dayGraphica 4600 heatset blanket significantly decreases the frequency and severity of the major blanket challenges in today’s pressrooms."
X-Rite Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has introduced an updated PANTONE Certified Printer Program for commercial printers and packaging converters to address new industry standards. The PANTONE Certified Printer Program reviews and analyzes a range of colour operations from preflight, file preparation and proofing to ink formulation and mixing, and process control in the pressroom. The process begins with a PANTONE Certified Printer Audit conducted by an X-Rite specialist. The audit process isolates issues that compromise colour accuracy and is the basis for the implementation of standards-based procedures so that operators can produce consistent colour. “The PANTONE Certified Printer Program closes the gap that exists between the many other certification programs available today which cover only part of the workflow, or simply a press or a proofer,” said Mark Gundlach, Training Development Manager at X-Rite. “This program is unique in that it ties all areas of production together, from prepress and ink formulation to the pressroom with a focus on both process colour and spot colour reproduction. This applies to digital, flexo, litho and even grand format print production.” PANTONE Certified Printers follow standard operating procedures throughout the production operation when specifying CMYK colours based on their print standards. PANTONE colours are specified and formulated using spectral data from the PantoneLIVE digital libraries. Packaging converters and printers that earn certification are then able to use the PANTONE Certified Printer logo in sales and marketing efforts.
Backlit film from Drytac is to be sold under a new brand name, Reveal, which the company describes as directly relating to its key selling features. The 7-mil printable matte PET film, according to Drytac, is comparable to a true durable transparency. With Reveal backlit film, Drytac explains light is dispersed evenly and consistently and its white point yields strong colour saturation, tonal rendition and contrast. The substrate can also work with UV and latex inks. Drytac explains Reveal can also be cut on automated cutting machines. Reveal is designed with anti-slip, anti-static treatment on the back of the film, making it suitable for indoor and outdoor backlit graphic displays. Reveal is sold in 54-, 60- and 72-inch wide rolls, while 86-inch width is available by special order.
Agfa Graphics today announced the worldwide launch of its new Azura TE plate, described by the Belgian imaging giant as a chemistry-free, direct-on-press product aimed at commercial sheetfed applications. As the Azura TE plates are cleaned out on-press, Agfa explains the system requires no processor, no chemistry and no water. The company continues to explain its Azura TE product behaves very similarly to a traditionally processed or chemistry-free plate, limiting the variables in pressroom operations, including immediate ink acceptance. “In fact, a direct-on-press plate is ready for use after exposing on the platesetter. On top, Azura TE shows an outstanding image contrast thanks to our patented Thermochromic Dye technology,” said Guy Desmet, Head of Prepress Marketing for Agfa Graphics. “That makes visual inspection easy and means that dot measurements or plate detection can be done with standard devices. In addition, Azura TE has an excellent daylight stability, which comes in handy if the plates cannot be mounted on the press immediately.” As with other ThermoFuse products in the Azura plate line, Azura TE support up to 240 lines per inch with Sublima screening. Launched in 2004, ThermoFuse technology works with a single-layer water-based coating, containing ink-accepting latex pearls, which allow for sharp highlight reproduction.
SmartSoft of California, which develops workflow solutions for the printing, postal and data quality markets, announced the Canadian launch of its PressWise print management platform. PressWise is a cloud-based MIS and print automation platform that includes Web-to-print Storefronts, Estimating, Order Management, Production Automation, Shipping and Fulfillment, and Mail Processing. This is the first time that the service has been launched outside of the United States. “Expanding your offering into other countries can take a lot of resources, both in planning and execution, whereas our focus has been on developing and refining the core PressWise product itself...,” said Eric Wold, VP of SmartSoft. “We have been following a clear product roadmap over the past few years, building our team and enhancing the service we offer. “We have now reached the point where we are looking at other markets that PressWise can serve and Canada is the next logical step for us. We already have a Canadian office, and have been selling and distributing our mailing software and address quality products there for many years, so are familiar with the market.” The latest version of PressWise includes a new Reporting Engine for designing reports within a browser, in addition to a suite of pre-built standard reports, as well as new drag-and-drop Job Scheduling functionality. Automatic Scheduling provides insight into Resource Constraints that sales teams require. SmartSoft also recently introduced SmartAddresser version 5 as a list management and postal software solution, first developed in 2008. It includes Address Correction and Postal Presorting, and options like Change-of-Address processing, Geocoding, Mail Tracking and more. Updates for SmartAddresser 5 include the Mail Tracking capabilities in its MailSpotter module.
Agfa Graphics has introduced version 8 of its Fortuna printing design software used to secure and prevent counterfeiting and theft. It is designed for use in the highest security printing applications, such as passports, ID cards, official documents, certificates and tax labeling, as well as design vouchers, lottery or event tickets. Fortuna 8, which was developed in close cooperation with the security industry, includes numerous improvements that facilitate the creation of fraud-deterrent security designs. By streamlining the PDF file generation in Fortuna 8, its compliancy with prepress workflows is increased. This in turn results in further automation of the production process. “With this new version Agfa Graphics strengthens its position as a reliable partner to many government institutions and private industries worldwide,” said Andy Grant, head of Software at Agfa Graphics. “We provide innovative security design tools that help them stay ahead of counterfeiters.” Fortuna software features different levels of verification tools, both for the expert and for non-qualified end users who can determine a true product from a fake one. The software includes a graphical base editor, with integrated security features. The software is based on a modular architecture for upgrading.
Drytac, during the SGIA exposition in Las Vegas, introduced its new ChalkMate specialty chalkboard film, which is a 5-mil UV printable PVC with a traditional black chalkboard finish. Designed for use with standard chalk or liquid chalk markers, ChalkMate, which is available as either a permanent or removable adhesive (in roll widths up to 61 inches), can be installed on most smooth surfaces. The removable adhesive is built on Drytac’s ReTac technology. Also during SGIA, Drytac featured its redesigned JetMounter Fuzion XD roll laminator, which sells for $7,595 (US pricing). Available in a 63-inch laminating width, the JetMounter Fuzion XD features interchangeable, large-diameter non-stick silicone rollers; a heat-assist top roller with digital display for Celsius/Fahrenheit; a heavy-duty lift mechanism for precise; adjustable speed control up to 20 feet per minute; and four auto-grip supply or take-up shafts with adjustable brake tension on the operator side for roll-to-roll lamination. Additional features on the JetMounter Fuzion XD include a centre release, fold down feed table with a lay-flat paper in-feed guide; latching storage compartment on each side of the stand; maximum nip opening of one inch; and heavy-duty lockable casters for greater stability and maneuverability. The model can also accommodate 10-inch diameter rolled material and is cTUVus and CE-certified.
Xeikon demonstrated its new Xeikon 9800 dry-toner press for the first time during Hunkeler Innovationdays, which ends today Switzerland. Designed to replace Xeikon’s 8800 press, while adding to the continuing 8500 and 8600 models, the 9800 press is scheduled for a September 2015 commerical launch.The 9800 press uses Xeikon’s new QA-CD toner and reaches speeds of up to 21.5 metres per minute. It is designed to print on a range of untreated substrates ranging from lightweight 40 gsm to 300 gsm. Leveraging the Xeikon X-800 front-end and new QA-CD toner, the Xeikon 9800 is rated to produce a print resolution of 1,200 x 3,600 dpi, with variable dot density. The company states the 9800, described as its most-productive colour press, with 5/5 single-pass duplex printing, is ideally suited for high-end direct-marketing work.Available QA-CD toners include CMYK, Red, Green, Blue, Extra Magenta and SuperBlack as well as White and Clear (UV reflecting) toner. Upon request, Xeikon can also provide special colours when specified by printing operations.During Hunkeler Innovationdays, which has become a prominent annual industry event for technology introductions, the Xeikon 9800 is equipped with a Hunkeler Unwinder, a Web Finishing module that protects against damage in the converting device; a Hunkeler cutter that cuts to clean sheets; and a GUK folding device, a single conveyor belt that stacks the leaflets.
Xerox today introduced its new roll-to-cut-sheet, narrow-web inkjet press called the Rialto 900, which the company describes as a machine that will carve out a new space within the production inkjet segment. The Rialto 900 is the first product jointly developed and launched by Xerox and Impika, two years after the former purchased the latter.The full-colour Rialto 900 is designed for producing 1.5- to 5-million impressions per month. Xerox also states the Rialto 900 has the smallest footprint of any inkjet press on the market, measuring 11.9 x 5.1 feet (3.58 x 1.55 metres), including the press tower. Rialto 900 features what Xerox describes as an all-in-one design, meaning the front-end controller, paper roll and finishing components are housed within the machine.In addition to duplex printing, the company also explains Rialto has the smallest, narrow web on the market, measuring 9.84 inches (250 millimeters). These smaller-scale production factors for an inkjet web press provide for a lower cost of entry into inkjet web printing.“We are creating a new, disruptive inkjet market segment with the Rialto 900 and there’s room for everyone,” said Paul Morgavi, COO, Inkjet Division, Xerox, and general manager, Impika. “The Rialto 900 changes the playing field by merging the cut sheet, inkjet and offset worlds...” Running Xerox’ water-based pigment HD ink, the Rialto 900 is rated to produce a 1,000 x 1,000-dpi apparent resolution. The Xerox Rialto 900 press is now available.
Canon unveiled the Océ ColorWave 700 wide-format printer, scheduled for a March 2015 commercial release, which is described as an entry-level system aimed at reprographers and in-plant shops. The printer is suited for applications like posters, pop-up banners and wallpaper, while also handling CAD and GIS documents.The Océ ColorWave 700 uses Océ MediaSense technology, providing the ability to print on thicker media of up to 32-mil. Canon explains the system is rated to print up to 640 posters or 1,800 A1/D-size CAD drawings per working day.In line with its versatility tag, the system allows for up to six different rolls of media to be loaded simultaneously. With an optional Take-Up Module, users can choose between roll-to-finished sheet or roll-to-roll printing. The ColorWave 700 also includes the Océ ClearConnect multi-touch user panel, which works like a tablet to ease an operator’s learning curve. ColorWave 700 allows for printing from a desktop via Océ Publisher Select software, with embedded Adobe PDF Print Engine (APPE) architecture. Optional ONYX Thrive software provides pre-flighting and colour management tools.Patented Océ CrystalPoint technology produces what Canon describes as water-fast prints with sharp lines, high readability of fine details and smooth, even area fills.
Domino Printing Sciences states it has entered into the transactional, direct mail and book printing markets with the launch of the K630i monochrome printing press. The machine is being introduced at Hunkeler Innovation Days, running from February 23 to 26 in Lucerne, Switzerland.“The K630i is a natural progression in digital printing for Domino after launching the K600i digital module in 2010, and the four colour N600i digital label press in 2012, now available as the N610i in up to seven colours,” said Philip Easton, Director of Domino’s Digital Printing Solutions Division. “The K630i is based on the same proven technology that has seen both these products take leadership positions in their respective markets.”A continuous-feed production printer, the K630i is configured to run at 75 metres per minute (246 feet) or 150 metres per minute (492 feet) with three print widths of 333, 445 or 558 mm and with simplex or duplex options in the same frame.The K630i is evolution of the Graph Tech AG MonoCube product that was first released in 2012, just before Domino, already a shareholder, acquired the remaining shares of the company. There are currently four installations in Europe and North America, each running between 2- to 12-million A4 impressions per month. Domino states a further five K630i presses are now on order.
Inca Digital launches the Inca Onset R40LT wide-format, flatbed UV printer, sold exclusively by Fujifilm. The printer is positioned as a standard mid-range machine that carries the full-width array of print heads used on higher end Onset systems.The field upgradable Onset R40LT base model starts as a manual 3.14 x 1.6-metre (123.6 x 63 inches) flatbed printer in a choice of four, five or six colours. It can eventually reach up to eight colours through upgrades. The Onset R40LT is rated to reach speeds of up 265 m2/hr on substrates up to 50 mm (two inches) thick, which Inca describes as being equivalent to producing 40 full-beds sheets per hour. The Onset R40LT printer has all the design features of the existing Onset R40i, including 14 picolitre Fujifilm Dimatix Spectra printheads, a 15-zone vacuum table, a UV sensor system and mechanical substrate height detectors. Based on the Onset Scaleable Architecture platform, the Onset Series now features a choice of 18 different models and three different handling systems.The first R40LT units are currently being installed at Imperial in New Berlin, United States, and at Daelprinting in Ypres, Belgium.
HP is launching its new High Definition Nozzle Architecture for print heads to be held within its T Series of inkjet web presses. The new technology doubles the native print resolution of current HP inkjet print heads from 10,560 to 21,120 nozzles, delivering 2,400 nozzles per inch. The HD Nozzle Architecture, with built-in redundancy, also supports dual drop weight per colour for what HP describes as sharp text, fine lines, accurate skin tones, smooth gray and colour transitions, and enhanced highlight and shadow detail. It also allows HP to offer a new quality mode on the T Series machines. The high-end HP T400 press, with a web width of up to 42 inches, can run with a printing speed of up to 800 feet (244 metres) per minute in monochrome or at up to 400 feet (122 metres) per minute in colour. High Definition Nozzle Architecture technology will be incorporated into all HP Inkjet Web Press platforms, including the HP T200, T300 and T400 systems. Current customers can upgrade to the new technology. HP reports that its T200, T300 and T400 series customers have printed more than 90 billion A4 equivalent pages since 2009. “High Definition Nozzle Architecture technology enables our HP Inkjet Web Press customers to address a broader range of applications from general commercial printing to production mail to publishing by resetting the bar for inkjet quality and performance,” said Aurelio Maruggi, VP and GM, Inkjet High-speed Production Solutions, HP. HP also introduced a cloud-based inventory management system designed to help HP Inkjet Web Press customers to improve uptime and productivity. The HP Smart Uptime Kit for HP Inkjet Web Presses enables customers to manage parts, track usage and extract reports.
Kornit Digital, which focuses on the development of textile printing technology, has launched a new-generation discharge ink for the Kornit Avalanche DC Pro direct-to-garment printing system. The technology creates what Kornit describes as unique digitally printed garments that have a natural feel. The company believes this technology allows garment decorators to expand into new fashion markets and achieve higher revenues and margins. “Textile printing businesses seeking to enter the fashion industry can now print on dark garments without a white layer base, thereby creating a soft, natural feel on the garment,” said Kobi Mann, Director of Application and Consumables Products, Kornit Digital. The company leveraged more than 10 years experience in developing hardware, software and NeoPigment inks for garment decorators to arrive at its new solution. “By drastically reducing the amount of white ink and eliminating the need for pre-treatment fluids, the Avalanche DC Pro expands printing capabilities and creates a competitive advantage in today’s demanding fashion-oriented market.” The new discharge ink is described by Kornit as an improved, ready-to-use version that does not require special handling or mixing, and remains stable in print-heads for up to a year. The Kornit Avalanche DC Pro has two additional print-heads by which the new discharge ink is applied to bleach the dye molecules of the dark garment, providing a base for CMYK printing, creating a great natural feel for the finished product. In combination with the discharge ink, the system can apply flexible amounts of white ink for full opacity control. Support for the new ink will also be available as an upgrade kit for Kornit Avalanche systems with Spectra Nova heads. Kornit states its Avalanche DC Pro is the only industrial textile system that provides an array of discharge and white options: it can print CMYK over discharge, CMYK over white, or CMYK over a discharge and white combination.
Hewlett Packard has released a new 100 percent knitted polyester fabric for its Latex wide-format printing systems. The substrate, called HP Light Fabric, is described as being wrinkle-resistant, rub- and scratch-resistant, and soft to the touch for producing high-profile display applications. HP explains the new Light Fabric has been tested for harmful substances and is certified according to the Oeko-Tex Standard 1001, and is REACH-compliant2, which means the material poses no health risks when used as intended. It is also fabric flame-retardant to B1, M1, and NFPA 701 standards3. It is designed to allow printing companies to produce lightweight, high-quality banners and display for special events, retail displays and exhibits, among other applications. It is suitable for pack and ship work. HP describes the materials as presenting an alternative to PVC for banners and displays. HP Light Fabric is available in 42-, 54-, and 60-inch widths.
AccuWeb announced a technology partnership for integrating its EVO 150 controller on the new Colordyne Technologies’ 3600 series of printing systems, primarily aimed at tag or label runs. The Colordyne Technologies’ 3600 series reaches a resolution of 1,600 x 1,375-dpi running at 225 feet per minute, which the company explains as requiring precise web guiding to maintain registration for both its CMYK plus spot colour printing and integrated laser die cutting. AccuWeb web guides are positioned before the print engine and the laser die cutter for consistent web travel. The AccuWeb EVO 150 controller allows press operators to fine-tune web guide performance using a switch-pad or touch-screen interface. The EVO 150 web guide controller combines 150 watts of power and 24 VDC with the ability to control brushed and brushless actuator motors. “The modular CDT 3600 press can be configured with multiple processes, many of which may require a web guide,” said Ron Brown, Technical Director at CDT. “The new EVO 150 web guide controller elegantly integrates a single user interface system capable of controlling multiple web guides with consistent accuracy and reliability.”
Agfa Graphics, to extend its portfolio in signage and display markets, has added an automatic cutting plotter for use with its Anapurna and Jeti wide-format printing systems. “Delivering POP/POS materials is more than just printing on the right substrate,” said Dominiek Arnout, VP for Inkjet at Agfa Graphics. “We are developing and all-integrated approach in which our customers can add an extra in-house finishing step, all driven from Asanti.” Acorta is designed to finish both rigid and flexible sheet media. The company points to the system's auto recognition system, which automatically localizes the printed objects and the position of the reference points on the cutting table, as well as the substrate’s height. Acorta features cutting speeds of up to 102 metres per minute with maximum automation and minimum operator intervention. Its 40 vacuum zones are automatically activated where and when needed. Acorta is available now and will make its worldwide debut at the SGI 2015 tradeshow in Dubai from January 11-13, 2015.
RISO Inc. has launched its new high-speed digital duplicator, the SE9480, into both Canada and the United States. The company describes the SE9480 as the fastest cut-sheet digital duplicator on the market, producing documents at a speed of up to 185 sheets per minute. It is engineered, Riso explains, for use in a range of printing environments, such as corporate, manufacturing and educational settings, requiring high-volume, low-cost document reproduction. User can employ the system’s optional Letter Cylinder for more efficiency, as well as optional colour cylinders, including metallic. The SE9480 scans and prints images at a true 600 dpi based on new imaging technology designed for producing clean, uniform imaging of solids and fine text at high printing speeds. It includes multiple image modes and the RISO i Quality System for print quality and supply management. RISO’s SE9480 is also ENERGY STAR compliant.
SPGPrints demonstrated a prototype of its new single-pass textile printer, called Pike, scheduled for launch at ITMA 2015 in Milan, this coming November. The company showcased Pike over a 2-week period at its headquarters in Boxmeer, Netherlands. Pike is based on a full-width array of Fujifilm Samba print heads, which have been modified for textile printing. The heads are incorporated in what SPGPrints describes as a user-friendly print-bar technology, called Archer. SPGPrints explains one key advantage of Archer technology is that it can accurately jet inks across a distance greater than print heads used in most current textile-printing systems. The head plates in the Archer array are typically 4-mm away from the surface of the substrate, compared with the traditional 1.5-mm distance of other print heads. SPGPrints has also developed Pike Reactive inks as a formula that helps to eliminate misting problems that might have arisen with Archer’s greater firing distance. The first Pike printer will be a 6-colour machine in which each colour is represented by an Archer print bar containing 43 print heads, resulting in a printing width of 1,850 mm. The print bar has a native resolution of 1,200 x 1,200 dpi, variable drop sizes from two to 10 picolitres and a jetting frequency of 32 kHz. These firing specifications together deliver typical productivity of 40 linear metres per minute (mpm), with a maximum of around 75 mpm. The modular construction of Pike will allow models with up to nine colours. Wider versions of Pike, up to 3,200 mm, are also planned. The Archer print bar, explains SPGPrints, has been designed to retract fully for easy maintenance, whereby heads can be purged in narrow segments and a faulty head can be replaced by users in less than an hour – with no need for manual alignment. SPGPrints initially plans to provide customers with a number of spare heads and any faulty heads returned will be replaced free of charge. “We researched what users want in the next generation of digital textile printing technology and discovered that the essentials include solid blotches, fine geometrics and – above all – a robust industrial solution,” said Jos Notermans, SPGPrints’ commercial manager for digital textiles. “That’s what the Pike delivers, at high speed and with low, predictable costs.” Pike’s fabric-infeed system is by Erhardt + Leimer and the transport blanket has been designed in conjunction with Habasit. The in-line dryer has extra capacity to handle disperse inks, which – along with acid inks – are in development and scheduled for launch in 2016.
Featured in PrintAction magazine's February 2015 issue, now available online, Vic Stalam describes his new role as President of Highcon Americas and why the company's unique Euclid cutting and creasing technology can disrupt one of printing’s most enduring long-run sectors. The full article is available in the print edition or via PrintAction's digital archive. How is Highcon’s Direct to Pack technology unique?Vic Stalam: Nothing else exists today in terms of what we have to offer… Highcon is the first to offer a totally digital Direct to Pack solution to the folding-carton market. It also handles both [worlds]. It doesn’t have to be digitally printed, it can also be analogue. Truth be told, most of the volume is still analogue and we need to support that. So, in this sense, it is not only the technology that is unique, but also the fact that we support both digital and analogue.What stands out most about Highcon’s DART technology?VS: The paper movement is right to left and, in stage one, once the paper is registered… the polymer is UV-cured and then it produces the creasing lines. It is very unique in that sense. Because it can address any point on the paper, you have opportunities to create very, very unique applications. Once the line is creased – and it is folded through the creasing lines – the next major stage is the laser, which does the actual cutting.What’s unique about our technology is, not only DART and the way the polymer is laid, but also the way it is creased and then how it is registered for the laser to cut it. Typically when you use a high-powered laser you can burn all kinds of other things like paper or folding carton. Our technology takes care of [this challenge] so that you do not see any of that. It is a very clean process.How are Euclid’s digital optics important to the laser-writing process? VS: With the optics you not only have edge registration, which is mechanical, but we also have optical registration. With traditional die cutting, you just do not have the precision of a laser, so everything you see [off the Euclid] is going to be a higher quality product, as it relates to registration and the quality of the cut itself.What advantage does Highcon, relative to printing’s historic postpress players, have when it comes to developing new approaches for finishing folding-carton work?VS: I always think of the great Canadian Wayne Gretzky and a famous quote. Somebody in the press asked him, “You are not a big guy, what makes you great?” He said, which always sticks in my mind, “I always try to be one step ahead. I always try to get to where the puck is going to be next and I do not worry about where the puck is now.” I think that is where Highcon is going… positioning ourselves as customers move to digital – how is it going to help them in the future?How would you compare Highcon’s potential impact to another stage of printing evolution, such as when film was eliminated in prepress?VS: The world is going to be very different in just a few years – I guarantee you that. This is the disruption and we are going to be a big part of that on the finishing side. Remember how we used to have these film-based companies called trade shops – absolutely, same analogy. Trade finishers have an opportunity to embrace this new technology and grow or else they are going to fall by the wayside. How can a technology like Euclid ease the ability for commercial printers to get into packaging?VS: Having spent a lot of my life in both commercial printing and packaging, 70 percent of what commercial printers do is the same as what packaging printers do… There are differences. One is the language they speak. Commercial printers talk about pages and packaging printers obviously do not. There is an issue around substrates. Then there is an issue around specialty colours. Commercial printers now do six, seven colours. With packaging customers it is not unusual to see 10, 12, 14 with all of the varnishes, all of the metallics. But when it comes to digital technology, the one thing I like about commercial printers is that they are trying hard to get digital right. I think they are probably five to 10 years ahead of packaging printers as far as digitization is concerned. I give them credit for that. Given their experience with digital technology, given their desire to get into packaging, I think solutions like Euclid will help. How does Highcon benefit from the growth in digital press development for packaging?VS: We are in constant dialogue with all of these digital press companies, whether it is HP, Xerox, Xeikon, Landa or Kodak, whoever, because the nature of the relationship between us is very symbiotic. We need each other, because if we can get a lot of short-run jobs printed with digital that will make the Euclid system very successful. They need us because they can do all of the digital printing, but it comes to a screeching halt if they have to depend on an analogue process for finishing. We are the missing link to complete that whole digitization process for end customers.What type of printing company should be looking at Euclid?VS: We are looking for companies who are very progressive and innovative, who want to look at new technology. That is one vector. The second one is we are looking for companies who either have digital or, more importantly, they are in the process of moving toward digital. We have a few customers who do not have any digital and are just putting it in now, after they put in the Euclid, because it also supports analogue. The third vector we are looking for is customers who want to grow with new applications, who are willing to work with their customers, the brand owners, to help them grow. What type of industry sectors are being targeted for Euclid as a starting point?VS: There are about three major sectors. One is clearly commercial printers who are doing folding carton. This is going to be key. Two is packaging printers who are doing a lot of the other stuff like labels. And the third sector is trade finishers, the prepress houses of the finishing business. Those are the three big ones as we move ahead. There are also some very creative design applications to take advantage and we will build on that as we go forward in time. How much investment is needed to add Euclid in your facility?VS: Just as a ballpark, the entry-level product is around $690,000. That is where it starts and then you can add things to it. What savings can be realized through Euclid, specifically by eliminating traditional die-cutting processes?VS: It takes about 15 minutes to set up a job in terms of the Euclid. In the case of die cutting, first of all, probably you have to send the job outside. You have to schedule it and then it takes typically anywhere from one to three days. The actual set up time is between four to eight hours on the die-cutting side depending on the complexity of the job versus 15 minutes, so there is a huge difference in the set-up times. In the case of die cutting, they will have to store [a new die] in the event that they may have to reuse it at some point, which means they need a huge inventory management system and storage space. Think of the old days of film; how you had to store film and then go find it when needed. It is just a mess. Go back to the days of stripping a piece of film on a light table. And it also depends on the experience of the operator. How many Euclid systems are currently installed in North America?VS: We have four in North America right now, with one currently going in. We just launched the product in North America at Graph Expo [September 2014]. Do you have projections for how many Euclid systems should be installed on an annual basis?VS: No, it is too early to tell. One of my jobs is to size the market, how big the opportunity is. As the new guy, I am going to go look at it with a fresh set of eyes. Ask me in three months.How is Euclid’s consumables opportunity attractive to Highcon?VS: There are three consumables that go with the system. The first one is the polymer. And this is the polymer I talked about earlier, which creates the creasing line. The polymer is first put on the foil and then it is UV hardened and then it creates a creasing line on the substrate. The second one is the foil onto which the crease lines are written. And those two are one to one. For every job, you need a polymer and you need a foil. And the last consumable is called the counter substrate, which supports the high-quality creasing. It is replaced approximately every 120 jobs on average, so that is probably once every two months, depending on how many jobs you run.Is the foil and polymer developed by Highcon or a third-party?VS: Highcon develops it all. It is optimized to run – absolutely. What hidden costs should printers consider before investing in Euclid?VS: There are two things. The power requirement. Make sure they have enough power in the plant. And two is the chilling unit. Make sure there is enough accommodation for the chilling unit. How does Euclid deal with waste material?VS: This is a very important point. We are also unique in terms of how we automatically strip off all of the waste materials into a collection bin, which is totally automated. You cannot do that with traditional die cutting. It is a mess when you look at a traditional die-cutting machine – carton board is all over the place. How will Highcon reach the market in the Americas, particularly here in Canada?VS: Today, we have an agent out of Winnipeg called Canadian Printing Equipment. I’m going to be coming up in the next few weeks and doing an assessment on what do we need. At the same time, we continue to work with digital press partners. But right now it is definitely a dealer model for Canada, given how big the country is and what we need to do. What technology challenges does Euclid still face?VS: We continue to listen and learn from cutomers and we will not be a one-trick pony. We are committed to being an R&D powerhouse in this space and we are building a portfolio of products. One of the reasons why I joined the company is because of its strong commitment to R&D and the desire to listen and continue to iterate on the product. In my experience, with new products, that is the only way to do it. What struck you most on your recent tour of Highcon’s facility in Israel?VS: I believe in the technology. I believe in the value of what it will do for our customers and their customers. I have had the opportunity over the years to work with several Israeli companies. Their passion in terms of technology and their hard-work ethic is just incredible. I was there for four days. I was trying to cram in as much as possible. I was there every day from 8 o’clock to 8 o’clock, before we went for dinner, and I saw almost the whole team working. That is passion in terms of new technology. What excites you most about Highcon’s technology and its potential impact?VS: The single biggest thing that I am excited about is the fact that for brand owners, especially for folding-carton end customers, it means that now they can push for short runs without a lot of additional cost, at a very affordable rate. Today short run [folding carton] is not affordable because the finishing is very, very expensive. We are going to bring a lot of value to brand owners in terms of helping them grow their brand. I think that is going to have a major impact. It is also going to cut down on the amount of time they need to bring a new product out. Brand owners take months and months when they have a new product to get on the shelf, so every day counts. Also new applications, which you could never produce with traditional die cutting.What is your most important message to PrintAction’s readers?VS: There is a major shift going on within the folding-carton market, to go digital. And we are going to be a major part of it. We are going to make it happen because it brings value to our customers and their customers. There is going to be a seismic shift even if today a lot of the volume is still traditionally printed. It is just a matter of time before the shift happens.
Sydney Stone, the exclusive Canadian distributor of Morgana’s line of creasing, folding, numbering and booklet-making equipment, plans to launch the new Morgana BM 350 and BM 500 offline and near-line booklet makers at Graphics Canada, taking place in Mississauga from April 16 to 18. This will be the first time the Morgana BM 350 and BM 500 booklet makers will be shown at a North American trade show, which is to include demonstrations of the new products. Sydney Stone explains the Morgana BM 350 and BM 500 booklet makers have been offered for more than a year as inline systems by Xerox and Ricoh, but are now available as both near-line and offline versions. Sydney Stone also states these higher capacity booklet makers (35 and 50 sheet capacity) enable printers to finish work that is increasingly printed on higher quality coated and art papers without over taxing the booklet maker. The near-line Morgana solution includes a 21-inch high capacity dual bin sheet feeder, while the off line solution is a handfed booklet maker with optional square spine press and face trimming.
During its annual Packaging Days event in Germany, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG showcased its new Promatrix 106 CS die cutter and the new Diana Smart 55 and Diana Smart 80 folding-carton gluing machines. These machines are primarily aimed at companies that manufacture folding cartons. More than 200 printing professionals attended the equipment demonstration, producing products like invitation cards, stand-up displays, posters, folding cartons, and CD jackets in Heidelberg’s Hall 11 at the Wiesloch-Walldorf plant. The Promatrix 106 CS die cutter is designed for short to medium production volumes and performs die cutting and embossing at a speed of 8,000 sheets per hour. Heidelberg’s Diana Smart 55 and Diana Smart 80 folding-carton gluing machines are comprise a new platform for medium volumes in the production of straight-line and lock-bottom cartons. The company states these products require less space than traditional systems and feature a modular design that can be adapted to suit specific customer requirements. “In the medium term, we are going to continue to expand the product portfolio in die cutting and folding carton gluing machines,” said Dr. Frank Schaum, who now has overall responsibility for Postpress at Heidelberg, both commerical and packaging printing.
Israel-based Highcon, which develops unique digital cutting and creasing technologies for the printing industry, is expanding into North America with the appointment of Vic Stalam as President of Highcon Americas. Founded in 2009 by Aviv Ratzman and Michael Zimmer, Highcon is best known for its Euclid finishing system, unveiled at drupa 2012, and described by the company as the first fully digital cutting and creasing machine for converting paper, labels, folding carton and microflute. The Euclid incorporates Highcon’s patented Digital Adhesive Rule Technology (DART) to produce creases, as well as high-speed laser optics to cut a range of substrates. This process eliminates the conventional die-making step. The Euclid is installed at customer sites in the United States, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Stalam previously served as Senior Vice President of Sales at X-Rite, where he worked from 2011 to 2013, and as Vice President of Commercial sales at Kodak, where he worked from 2009 to 2011. Before joined Highcon, Stalam provided C- Level consulting for private equity and venture capital companies. He will lead Highcon's team in Canada, North and South America and building the American operations. “I am excited to be joining Highcon at this particular stage of the company's growth. The introduction of digital technology into the post-print and packaging market completes the missing link in the digital printing workflow,” said Stalam. “I believe in Highcon’s vision of transforming finishing into a value adding process…”
Drytac is introducing its next generation of JetMounter roller laminators. The new JetMounter Fuzion XD is a heavy-duty wide format roller laminator with a metal construction. Available in a 63-inch laminating width, the JetMounter Fuzion XD features interchangeable, large diameter non-stick silicone rollers; a heat-assist top roller with digital display for Celsius/Fahrenheit; a heavy-duty lift mechanism for precise, calibrated pressure control; adjustable speed control up to 20 feet per minute; and four auto-grip supply or take-up shafts with adjustable brake tension on the operator side for roll-to-roll lamination. Additional features on the JetMounter Fuzion XD include a centre release, fold down feed table with a lay-flat paper in-feed guide; latching storage compartment on each side of the stand; maximum nip opening of one inch; and heavy-duty lockable casters for greater stability and maneuverability. The model can also accommodate 10-inch diameter rolled material and is cTUVus and CE-certified.
Sydney Stone, a Mississauga firm specializing in finising for short-run print production, has reached a distribution agreement to sell MultiLoft products in Canada. MultiLoft, according to Sydney Stone, allows for producing materials up to 64-pt thickness in forms like business cards and post cards. Working with print from toner press, MultiLoft allows front and back cover sheets to assembled back to back, and insert sheets to be added to increase thickness. Pressure from the trimming clamp then seals the sheets together. After assembly, the sheets can also be die-cut into specialty shaped cards.
Highcon plans to launch the Highcon Euclid II series of digital cutting and creasing machines at Graph Expo 14 in late September. The company's second generation of Euclid machines incorporates a range of new features, including, perhaps most prominently, the Integrated Digital Stripping Unit (IDSU). The built-in IDSU stripping mechanism automatically removes waste from internal cutouts, eliminating the need to buy, setup or store a separate stripping tool. Euclid II also now includes optical registration of the sheets, as opposed to mechanical only, which adds the ability to align creasing and cutting to the image. New software for the Euclid II, described as the Fine Cutting Accelerator, is designed to provide more flexibility and speed for laser cutting and marking. At Graph Expo, Highcon will also demonstrate new Web-to-pack software that can be combined with the digital cutting and creasing of Euclid II. The Euclid II also includes a new substrate handling system to work with substrates like paper, folding carton, labels and micro-flute. The system includes additional sensors for registration accuracy and sheet flow. Highcon, founded in 2009 by Aviv Ratzman and Michael Zimmer, states it has also enhanced the quality of the crease line by developing a new polymer formula and implementing optimized rule geometry, which provides a new ability to produce curved lines. Cutting algorithms for laser power control have also been improved for Euclid II.
Multiple reports from sources covering the activities of the United States’ Federal government, including Federal Times and The Hill, report politicians are paying more attention to the plight of the United States Postal Service (USPS), which continues to forge ahead with massive cuts. Lawmakers, according to Federal Times, are currently trying to limit postal-service cuts, but the USPS still plans to reduce its workforce by up to 15,000 more employees and close up to 82 more processing centres over the next year. USPS, which closed 141 processing facilities in 2012 and 2013, estimates it could save $750 million annually from its new round of planned cuts. The Hill, meanwhile, reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a democrat from Nevada, joined the effort to block the USPS from making its next round of large-scale cuts. The Hill suggests Reid’s involvement increases the odds of a congressional debate over postal reform sometime this month. In mid-August, USPS reported its third quarter results (ended the June 30, 2014) with a net loss of US$2 billion, compared to a net loss of US$740 million for the same period last year. The USPS has recorded a loss in 21 of the last 23 quarters — the excepted quarters being the two in which Congress rescheduled the Retiree Health Benefits prefunding payments. Third-quarter revenue improved, according the USPS, as a result of its January mail price increase, sales and marketing initiatives, and a growing package business. Total operating revenue for the third quarter of US$16.5 billion increased by US$327 million, or two percent. USPS’ shipping and package revenue was up 6.6 percent for the third quarter, while Standard Mail revenue was up 5.1 percent, driven by a 0.9 percent increase in volume and the January 2014 price increase. First-Class Mail volume was down 1.4 percent. Joseph Corbett, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of the USPS, stated the organization will be unable to make the required US$5.7 billion retiree health benefit prefunding payment to the U.S. Treasury, due by September 30, 2014. “Due to continued losses and low levels of liquidity, we’ve been extremely conservative with our capital, spending only what is deemed essential to maintain existing infrastructure,” said Corbett. “To continue to provide world-class service and remain competitive, we must invest up to $10 billion to replace our aging vehicle fleet, purchase additional package sorting equipment, and make necessary upgrades to our infrastructure.”Federal Times articleThe Hill article
Standard Horizon plans to debut two finishing systems at the upcoming Graph Expo 2014 tradeshow, taking place from September 28 to October 1 in Chicago. Standard plans to launch the new CRA-36 Creaser (to be available September 2014) with automated feeding. The system can crease or perforate up to 5,000 sheets per hour, while also performing up or down creasing, as well as spine, hinge and flap creasing for perfect-bound book covers. Up to 10 creasing lines can be created in one pass. The CRA-36 accepts coated, uncoated or laminated stock from 24-lb bond up to 18 points, on sheets of up to 14.3 x 34 inches. At Graph Expo, Standard is also debuting the TBC-200L three-knife top and bottom trimmer (to be available September 2014), which can be connected inline to Horizon SPF-20/20A/200A/200L booklet-making systems. The TBC-200L is also available as an off-line version. It reaches speeds of up to 4,000 trimmed booklets per hour, at thicknesses up to 0.195 inches. It accepts untrimmed booklets up to 14 x 12 inches down to 4.725 x 3.55 inches. In addition to these two new systems, Standard is exhibiting the RD-4055 and RD-3346 rotary die cutters for short-run work. The systems can die cut, crease, perforate, slit, hole punch, and round corner in one process for both toner and offset sheets. The RD-4055 feeds, die-cuts, and separates waste in one pass at up to 6,000 cycles per hour and accepts sheet sizes up to 15.74 x 21.65 inches, at a thickness of up to 0.5mm (0.019 inches). Creasing is also available for applications that require additional folding after die-cutting, such as boxes, pocket folders, and greeting cards. The RD-3346 runs at 3,000 cycles per hour on sheet sizes up to 13 x 18 inches at .35 mm (0.013 inches) thick.
At the recent ExpoPrint 2014 in Brazil, Bobst launched its new Novacut 106 ER blank separating die-cutter, while also showcasing its folder-gluer line with Braille embossing capable of producing up to 115,000 boxes per hour. The Novacut 106 ER system provides inline blank separation, for producing stacked bundles of blanks ready for downstream processing without a need for breaking out by hand. This system leverages the company’s Angle Lock blanking tool, which can either be supplied directly by Bobst or made in-plant using standard components. Novacut 106 ER allows users to build up a portfolio of blank separating work as they run un-blanked jobs that are simply die-cut and stripped. The machine’s delivery section can be converted from single/double cut blank separating to full sheet delivery, and back, within what the company describes as a few seconds. At ExpoPrint 2014, Bobst is also highlighting its Exportfold line with the newest generation Accubraille GT Braille embossing unit and a Cartonpack GT automatic packer. This configuration, which is particularly suited to pharmaceutical packaging manufacturing, can produce folded, glued and Braille embossed boxes at speeds of up to 115,000 per hour.
MGI Digital Graphic Technology installed the new iFOIL hot-foil-stamping system into its Florida headquarters for demonstration purposes with North American printers. iFOIL operates inline with MGI’s JETvarnish 3D UV spot coater to produce on-demand – and personalized – embossing, debossing and hot foil work. MGI points to applications like magazine covers, books, brochures, labels, invitations and packaging. In addition to foil on foil work, iFOIL can apply up to three foils in one pass. It runs up to 1,700 B2 size sheets per hour, which equates to 25 metres per minute. Using market standard foil rolls, the inline configuration handles sizes ranging from A4 format (21 x 30 cm) to 52 x 105cm and on paper substrates ranging from 150 to 700 microns. User can also produce hot stamping with iFOIL with output from offset and toner presses, including MGI’s Meteor series.
Less than a week after launching its new DC-616 machine, Duplo has released the UD-300 On Demand Die Cutter with a new separator and conveyor unit option. The UD-300 Die Cutter produces a variety of toner-based print and packaging products, such as custom-shaped brochures and direct mailers, stationery, retail packages, labels and folded boxes in quantities as low as one. Designed for use with flexible dies, the UD-300 performs multiple cuts, slits, slit-scores, kiss cuts, perforations, and window punches for single and multiple-up pieces on a range of paper stock of up to 14 x 20 inches at 3,000 sheets per hour. The UD-300 comes standard with an exit tray and users can install the optional separator and conveyor unit, in place of the tray, to automatically remove the waste of each sheet as it is delivered. The photo-eye sensor is used to ensure only the finished pieces are neatly stacked onto the conveyor for more productivity.
Asia Pulp & Paper states it engaged the Rainforest Alliance to provide an independent evaluation of its Forest Conservation Policy, which was first announced in February 2013. Rainforest Alliance’s evaluation, released last week, concludes that the company has made moderate progress towards meeting its commitments. Asia Pulp & Paper’s (APP) 2013 Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) included plans to put an immediate end to sourcing pulpwood materials from suppliers involved with natural forest clearance, among a range of large-scale initiatives. Asia Pulp & Paper Group is the trade name for a group of pulp and paper manufacturing companies in Indonesia and China. Started in 1972 with Tjiwi Kimia producing caustic soda, APP now runs operations across Indonesia and China with an annual combined pulp, paper, packaging product and converting capacity of over 19 million tons per year. “The FCP is an unprecedented initiative developed by APP, TFT and Greenpeace to define a new standard and a new business model for achieving zero deforestation in the supply chain,” said Aida Greenbury, APP’s Managing Director of Sustainability. “We’re pleased that the Rainforest Alliance has recognized the progress we are making. We believe today’s report shows that our efforts to achieve Zero Deforestation are on the right track.” Greenbury continues to state APP’s implementation measures of its FCP will evolve with experience and that the report has highlighted a number of areas that require additional focus. “We also believe that an evaluation like this puts a global spotlight on the issues currently at play in Indonesia’s forests,” said Greenbury. “We have been calling for other stakeholders to support us with our Zero Deforestation Policy because forest continues to be lost due to factors that, despite our efforts, we cannot completely control, such as encroachment, forest fires and illegal activities.” APP states it engaged the Rainforest Alliance to evaluate its FCP progress to provide credibility and transparency. Rainforest Alliance’s evaluation report assesses a period between February 2013 and August 2014. “In 2013 APP set out an ambitious program for change. The Rainforest Alliance has found that APP has made moderate progress to implement the many commitments embedded in its FCP during the 18-month period we evaluated,” stated Richard Donovan, Rainforest Alliance Senior VP of Forestry. “Key steps have been taken, such as halting the clearance of natural forest by its suppliers. As with any major change initiative there remains work to be done to put the policies and procedures that have been developed into action in the field. Rainforest Alliance encourages APP to continue on the path set out in the FCP.” APP’s new FCP Implementation Plan, also introduced last week, draws upon some of Rainforest Alliance’s most significant findings relating to third-party forest clearance, peatland best management practices, as well as FPIC and social conflict resolution. The additional areas covered in the Implementation Plan are: Wildfire prevention and management; HCV Management and protection; Workers’ rights and welfare; Sustainable wood supply; Landscape conservation initiative; and Internal engagement.
One year ago, three North American printing associations, Association of Marketing Service Providers, National Association for Printing Leadership, and National Association of Quick Printers, merged under a convoluted name using their acronyms, AMSP/NAPL/NAQP. The group, during yesterday’s Executive Leadership Summit at The Wynn Las Vegas, announced is to now be called Epicomm, following a survey – by a third-party organization – of more than 200 members from all industry segments. “AMSP, NAPL, and NAQP have a long and distinguished history of service to the printing and mailing industry, but that industry is changing and we recognize that, if we are to serve our members’ evolving needs at the highest level, our association must change as well,” said Tom Duchene, Chairman of the association’s Board of Trustees. Duchene continued to say the not-for-profit group is launching a new organization with its name change to Epicomm, which is “representative of the epic communications industry we serve.” Ken Garner, who was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the combined organization in October 2014, indicated Epicomm plans to launch new member-focused initiatives, including an in-depth member survey that will be used to find what issues matter most. Garner continued to explain Epicomm is also using a new tagline, Association for Leaders in Print, Mail, Fulfillment, and Marketing Services.
TTP, a UK-based research and development company, has introduced its new Vista Inkjet process, which the company believes can one day revolutionize the manufacturing of cars, planes and appliances, amongst other industrially produced products. The Vista Inkjet process developed by TTP is capable of printing with standard industrial paints. TTP states it has already tested Vista Inkjet successfully with cellulose and two-part part polyurethane paints used for car and aircraft body manufacturing. After testing such high-end uses, the company explains this opens up many other possible applications including the use of thermoplastic fluoropolymer paints like Kynar for decorative finishes on architectural metallic structures. TTP states it is also exploring the printing of low cost and high functionality materials for ceramics, textiles, security and brand protection along with high conductivity patterns and 3D printing. TTP’s patented print head design overcomes what the company describes as the limitations of existing inkjet printing processes, restricted by ink formulations and the use of closed chambers and narrow channels. Instead, Vista Inkjet is based on a planar construction that allows free-flowing ink circulation and accurately controls the movement of the nozzle plate to eject droplets, from 0.5pl (pico litres) to over 1nl (nano litre). TTP explains this means that fluids with large particulates and high viscosities can be used along with aqueous pigmented inks and a range of solvent inks such as alcohol based fluids, ethyl acetate, MEK and Dowanol. Motion of the nozzle plate is controlled by customized electrical drive signals to eject droplets on-demand or on a continuous basis. TTP reports its prototype array of 128 Vista nozzles has delivered drop placement accuracy with a standard deviation of just +/- 3 milli-rads. Print heads can also be designed with specific nozzle diameters, pitch and number of rows for different inks, paints and applications. And with the inertial transfer mechanism and fluid recirculation, the ejector system features priming, self-cleaning and refill attributes. “We have taken the principles of inkjet printing and re-invented the ejection mechanism and print head to create a potentially disruptive technology for digitally printing industrial paints, opening up exciting new opportunities from customizing car and aircraft bodies to creating architectural finishes and printed electronics,” said Dr. David Smith, head of business development for Vista Inkjet at TTP. “As well as providing greater flexibility, the process also saves time and money and reduces waste.” TTP is currently looking for partners to commercialize the technology.
The Netherlands-based parent company of Vistaprint has changed its name to Cimpress N.V. In conjunction with the rebrand, Cimpress plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years to build what it calls a shared mass customization platform. The Cimpress mass customization platform (MCP), combining proprietary software and production technology, will aggregate the printing infrastructure of the Cimpress portfolio of brands. It will also bring the company’s growing portfolio of purchased assets under the same fold, including well-known Web-to-print names like Vistaprint, Drukwerkdeal, AlbelliOpens and Pixartprinting. The company states the MCP will increase its ability to mass customize personalized and unique physical products in small quantities at an affordable price. “We have a two decade history during which we have started a major market transformation, yet the next 20 years promise to be even more exciting,” said Robert Keane, President and CEO, Cimpress. “Businesses and consumers are still too often forced to choose between the ease and flexibility of digital communications and a more enduring tangible connection with their audience. We are changing that…” Founded as Vistaprint by Keane in January 1995, Cimpress and its subsidiaries have focused on redefining the online purchase of printed apparel, marketing products and photo merchandise. The company states its foundation is based on the belief that software and production technology can be harnessed to aggregate enormous numbers of small orders into a high-volume production flow. Cimpress today employs over 400 software and manufacturing engineers and more than 5,300 total employees in 16 countries. Cimpress claims that every year since 1999 it has invested at least 10 percent of its revenues into technology and development, including $176 million in its last fiscal year. Over the past decade, the company states it has invested over $1.3 billion in technology, development and capital investments. The company also announced that it has named Don Nelson as COO for Cimpress. In this role, Nelson will be directly responsible for building and advancing the mass customization platform. “The future of mass customization is very promising for those companies that can combine world class capabilities in software and manufacturing,” stated Nelson. “The key is to have massive scale, yet produce in small quantities. The old paradigm of job-shop production of orders one at a time simply is not able to compete with technology-driven mass customization.”
A new association focused on printable electronics has started operations out of Ottawa, Ontario. The new group called the Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association (CPEIA) is to be led by Executive Director Peter Kallai. The CPEIA states its mandate is to bring together key Canadian and international players in industry, academia and government to build a strong domestic printable electronics (PE) sector. The association plans to facilitate growth through networking, stimulate R&D and investment, build a strong PE supply chain and drive the broad adoption of PE by end customers. CPEIA states close to 50 Canadian companies have expressed a business interest in PE, following an effort that began three years ago by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), which created a PE research program. It also led the creation of the PE Consortium with 14 industry partners. The CPEIA is joining and promoting a delegation of Canadian companies with the NRC that will be exhibiting at Printed Electronics USA 2014. This conference, the largest of its kind dedicated to PE, runs November 19 and 20, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, CA. “A few years ago, many PE applications would have been considered science fiction,” said Kallai, who is billed as a former senior high-tech executive and management consultant that has worked with more than 100 government organizations and growth-stage companies across Canada. “But not anymore. Government organizations, startups, OEMs and systems integrators around the world are investing billions of dollars in R&D to revolutionize existing products and create new ones with PE. It’s time for Canada to step up and stake its claim in this exciting emerging market.” According to research firm IDTechEx, the global market for printed and potentially printable electronics will rise from around $24 billion in 2014 to $340 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent. The Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association also launched a Website www.cpeia-acei.ca.
Colour Innovations welcomed more than 150 people to its launch event for the inaugural issue of RE:flex, a large-format magazine highlighting the use of specialty printing techniques on high-end design and photography. This inaugural issue of RE:flex centred around applying Colour Innovations’ CIX MetalFX print technology to the digital collages of designer, artist and illustrator Louis Fishauf, who has won more than 60 Gold and Silver ADCC (Advertising & Design Club of Canada) Awards, Gold and Silver National Magazine Awards, and the ADCC Les Usherwood Award. Fishauf was the co-founder and Creative Director of Reactor Art & Design; served as Editorial Art Director for Chatelaine, City Woman, The City, Saturday Night and Toronto Life magazines; was the Senior Design Consultant for Sympatico Internet Service; and is an Apple Computer Applemaster. He currently serves as a Sessional Instructor at OCAD University. Over the past few years, Fishauf has been creating digital collages using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and as an early adopter and enthusiastic proponent of digital imaging. Colour Innovations describes his work is an ideal medium for the application of CIX MetalFX technology. The CIX MetalFX process uses Photoshop channels and proprietary software to combine a gold, silver or bronze base with the 4-colour CMYK process to create thousands of metallic shades and hues from only five colours. The process fit Fishauf’s approach of creating digital collages using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. “I took the opportunity to not only experiment with retrofitting my existing pieces, but also to create a number of new collages and the facing pattern pages, with the metallic ink process specifically in mind,” stated Fishauf. “This required developing a workflow in Adobe Photoshop which attempted to approximate on my computer monitor how the metallic colours would appear in print.” RE:flex’ inaugural is a large-format 24-page publication printed on Sappi HannoArt gloss cover and text, provided by Ariva, with Metalstar Pantone silver ink, provided by Eckart Effect Pigments.
Hostmann-Steinberg North America, Canada’s long-standing ink manufacturer, completed its rebrand to hubergroup Canada Ltd., taking on the name of its powerful parent company – one of the world’s largest ink producers and chemical companies. As part of its rebranding efforts, Hubergroup Canada launched a new Website, Hubergroup.ca, complete with a revamped product selection guide. In addition to inks, hubergroup produces and markets printing varnishes, coatings, dampening solutions, additives and printing auxiliaries. hubergroup is an international holding group comprised of 40 companies, which amounts to 150 branch offices, sales offices, distributing warehouses and representatives worldwide. It has been a privately held company for over 240 years, with the founding family still involved. More than 3,600 employees contribute to hubergroup’s annual production capacity of over 340,000 tonnes of products.
The Canadian Printing Industries Scholarship Trust Fund (CPISTF) is awarding $52,500 in scholarships to post-secondary students pursuing graphic communications education for the current school year. A total of $15,000 was awarded to nine new students enrolled in the first year of an approved course of study. A further $37,500 was provided to 30 continuing students already enrolled in the scholarship program. The majority of each annual scholarship is $1,250, while the $5,000 Warren Wilkins Prestige Scholarship has been awarded to Samantha Tully, who is attending Ryerson University’s School of Graphic Communications Management program. “Every year the Board of Trustees is challenged to select the best and brightest as recipients of our scholarships and this year was no exception,” said Don Gain, Chairman of the fund. “We are pleased to be able to support 39 students in their pursuit of a career in the graphic communications industry.” CPISTF was initiated in 1971 and has since generated over a million dollars of funding.
Domtar Corp. of Montreal sold its five millionth tonne of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified uncoated fine paper, branded as EarthChoice, a first for the North American market. Domtar also became the first company in North America to offer FSC-certified copy paper in 2005 and continued to develop partnerships with environmental organizations like Rainforest Alliance and World Wildlife Fund. “The Rainforest Alliance Certified seal and the FSC logo featured on EarthChoice products assure consumers they are supporting healthy forests – crucial for clean air and water, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat,” said Tensie Whelan, President of Rainforest Alliance. “With over five million tons of EarthChoice product sold, this is a prime example of sustainability making good business sense." EarthChoice now accounts for more than 20 percent of Domtar's total paper sales, covering printing sectors like publishing, converting, commercial and specialty uses. “We are losing forests at a rate of eight football fields every 10 seconds,” said Linda Walker, Director, Global Forest & Trade Network-North America, World Wildlife Fund. “One of the best things that can be done to address this dramatic statistic is to put FSC products on the shelves. Domtar is a leader in this."
Cascades Inc. of Montreal, which manufacturers packaging and tissue products, is being applauded by Vancouver-based Canopy, a not-for-profit environmental organization focused on the paper supply chain, for new initiatives. Cascades, founded in 1964, has been one of Canada’s leading recyclers of commercial products for decades, particularly around the use of recycled fibres. The company has now released a new procurement policy, stating “[It] will not purchase fibres that come from old growth forests, forests in danger, or wooded areas that are home to rare or at-risk species and ecosystems. To do this, priority will be given to fibre suppliers certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.” “With its bold preferential focus on using post-consumer recycled fibre, commitment to FSC and the avoidance of contentious sources of fibre, Cascades is affirming that sustainability is a core value for the company,” stated Nicole Rycroft, Canopy’s Executive Director. “This proactive approach to reducing the environmental impacts of its raw fibre, combined with its continued track record of cutting edge eco-paper development place Cascades at the forefront of the pulp and paper industry.” Canopy explains Cascades is also committing to work collaboratively with suppliers to ensure the company’s fibre needs are met within a set of strict ecological criteria. Canopy has worked with Cascades for several years, including the development of its game-changing 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper to print the Canadian edition of Harry Potter in 2003 to 2005. Canopy and Cascades worked together again in 2011 to develop straw paper made from agricultural residues. The straw-based paper was used to print a special edition of Margaret Atwood’s book, In Other Worlds – a North American first. In July 2014, H.I.G. Capital of Miami purchased Cascades Fine Papers Group, owned by Cascades Inc. The resulting company, which includes investment from the current management team, is to be re-named Rolland Enterprises, resembling a prior identity for the historic paper maker headquartered in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec.
Canopy, a Vancouver-based non-profit organization focused on the progressive paper supply, has launched its 2014 Ancient Forest Friendly (AFF) Awards program. The program is built around a Green Print Leadership (GPL) survey, which is shorter for 2014, for interested companies to begin their association with the AFF Awards. Printers that have policies with Canopy and have already completed the GPL survey will automatically be entered in the AFF Awards. The GPL survey is open until August 30, 2014, and awards will be announced in early November 2014. The 2014 AFF Awards categories currently include Ancient Forest Friendly Gold, Best In Class, Conservation Supporter and Most Improved.
The Printing Industries of America announced the winners of the 2014 InterTech Technology Awards, a program that began in 1978 to recognize technologies predicted to have a major impact on the graphic arts and related industries. More than 80 percent of technologies that receive an InterTech Award, according to Printing Industries of America, experience continued commercial success in the marketplace. Below are the 11 InterTech Technology Awards winners for 2014: Company: Creative Edge SoftwareTechnology: IC3D Suite Company: EFI Technology: iQuote Company: EskoTechnology: Equinox Extended Gamut Printing Company: EskoTechnology: Full HD Flexo Company: Goss InternationalTechnology: Vpak Packaging Presses Company: Heidelberg USATechnology: Stahlfolder PFX Feeder Technology Company: Hinterkopf GmbHTechnology: Hinterkopf Digital Printer D240 Company: HPTechnology: Indigo 20000 Digital Press Company: Just NormlichtTechnology: GL Spectis 1.0 Series Company: TKSTechnology: Jetleader 1500 Digital Inkjet Press Company: XeikonTechnology: ICE Toner
“Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end…” The song popularized by Mary Hopkin in 1968 waxed over youth, lost opportunities, passions and a life now well past it’s prime. Cycles of every form have a beginning as well as an end. Technology breeds new revenues and fills scrapyards with redundancy. For the printing machinery industry there is a lot of reminiscing about good times back in the day. The great period of litho printing press sales, what almost became an annuity business for press makers, is long over and will not return. Oh how painful it is to say that. It seems like only a few years ago we were so excited to embrace a device that, either by violet or thermal laser, entirely eliminated a labourious step of the production cycle and make offset plates perfectly, without fit issues, and at incredibly fast speeds as lasers advanced by the month. Digital technology was our friend. Prior to CTP, the Macintosh computer also eliminated a huge chunk of the typesetting industry by letting us do it all ourselves. Fantastic new devices were going to rid us of waxers, light tables, film, cameras, plate-makers and a great deal of expensive labour. Everybody knew that strippers and other prepress employees commanded large paychecks. Wasn’t this future fabulous? As I look back at some of the projects we were involved with at Howard Graphic Equipment, I find that no one really had any idea of where mobile computing, particularly the smartphone and tablet, would take communications. We once had a customer who had a rather simple contract to print a 10-point cover and then stitch it onto popular magazines. It was for a now-defunct airline, to be used on the aircraft. The airline wanted to ensure these magazines were returned and so had produced the magazine with its logo emblazoned on the false cover. In time, the costs proved too high and the airline asked instead for a sticker to be tipped onto the cover. Finally, the magazines as a cost were dropped altogether. Another customer produced a weekly sports betting card. These were perfected one over one and printed in the millions. Again costs and technology overtook print and now all the betting is online, no day-changing betting cards, just a receipt with the details. In the early 1980s, we did quite a lot of business with an accounting publisher. Every time there was a change in Canada’s revenue act new sections had to be printed. Even then hot metal Linotypes were used to make copy. It was proofed and then film and plates were made to run on a web. The bindery was enormous to handle the accounting publisher’s work. It had separate lines for side stitching, hole punching and perfect binding. The annual tax-code book was almost two inches thick and expensive. Accountants, who were members, bought special binders for all of the inserts of changes that would occur each year. The Internet almost overnight eliminated all of this mechanical work and hundreds of jobs.Many printers found themselves in the same situation with legal books and court decisions. Changes in the law created a great deal of print and case-bound work. Think of the law offices up until recently, where huge libraries stored the requisite purchases for dozens of sets of law books. If not annually mandatory, dozens of new thick books spoke to a law office’s prestige Automotive manuals and parts books were a staple of a few of our customers, too. In the turn of just a few years, almost all are now out of print entirely. In the early 1990s, my company Howard Graphic Equipment purchased a Miller perfector from a printing company in the east of England. This firm had a long history. They were ensconced in what had been a carriage house, even had an 1800s workable water closet. The biggest piece of business for this printer was railway timetables. Almost all of it is now redundant. A smartphone can look-up the schedule and buy a ticket to ride without any paper being expended.Wondering where all of the presses have gone is an intriguing question. In a commendable open manner, KBA in its latest annual financial statements for 2013 approached this difficult subject. KBA commented that group sales had slumped 35 percent since 2006. Since KBA is heavily involved in both sheetfed, web and special presses (currency and metal decorating), it has an almost split revenue business at €571.9 million for sheetfed and €527.8 million for web and special presses. KBA also acknowledges that since 2006 its Web sales have fallen 70 percent and sheetfed almost 50 percent. The statements also comment that the Web business will continue seeing retraction in the coming years. Should we assume KBA, although heavily diversified, is an example of what all major press makers are going through? The answer is yes. Competitors to KBA may argue that the business of newspaper printing (long a staple of KBA) exacerbates the drop in sales. They may also suggest that perhaps KBA had a smaller commercial and publication customer base, or that what KBA produced was not as suitable? But KBA is a major supplier in both fields. On the sheetfed side, KBA owns a major position in packaging and Very Large Format sheetfed printing. New in-roads in technology have been poured into the Rapida 106 and 145 platforms. One surmises with its packaging strength KBA’s only real rivals are Heidelberg when it comes to imaginative, multi-purpose machinery for the carton industry. Komori and Manroland also compete in this segment with Manroland running a close third to KBA and Heidelberg in press variants.We as a machinery segment are a reflection of you the printer just as you are a reflection of your clients. Therefore. we must assume printers cannot make the math work when calculating return costs for a large piece of machinery. Presses that cost a million dollars plus are no longer the prime piece of manufacturing gear in a printing business. They may never be again. There are exceptions of course. Trade printers who do it cheaper, not better, may consider new machines. Packaging printers will because the business is stable. Smaller commercial printers, however, will not. They may buy used, but its doubtful that a majority of shops can draw enough profitable work to pay for today’s engineered marvels.Data was once the exclusive domain of the printer and publisher. The only way any kind of data could be distributed was through a printing press. Google et al changed all that.David Carr, writer for The New York Times, does a masterful job explaining how the trend from a physical method (newspapers) to online is humbling. During a recent speech in Vancouver, Carr eluded to this fact when explaining the state of his employing newspaper. It was as much funny as it was sad for those of us in the business. He explained newspapers are offices where everyday information comes in and is collected. Then a bell goes off and everyone stops collecting news and starts to write down what came in that day. They send the copy to a giant press where it’s printed, rolled up and eventually thrown onto your front lawn. Carr accepts the inadequacies of news distribution via print while at the same time considering that large dailies like The New York Times seem to be weathering the storm and seeing growth via online pay-walls. Carr hastens to add that it’s the medium-size papers suffering the worst, while small local papers, for the most part, continue to do well in the communities they serve. News is data and so is almost every piece of information we need, which used to be mailed to us. First Gutenberg and now the colloquial Google has changed our world again. Despite the odd period of increased new machinery order intake that prevailed in late 2013, the industry at large will not go shopping for new litho machines again. While I have a vested interest, few press makers would argue the second-hand press business becomes more important to lessen a printer’s investment risk. It is not coincidence that used machines now are a much bigger piece of the machinery trading pie than ever before in the history of printing or that most press makers now have full-scale used press operations.The 50 percent machinery sales shrinkage in seven years, as reported by KBA, is reality for every litho press maker. Postal rates and other fixed costs are impediments that cannot be overridden with faster machinery costing millions of dollars. Where have all the presses gone? Nowhere it seems.
During the first week of November, Manroland Sheetfed proudly unveiled its new Roland 700 Evolution press to over 450 curious guests at its corporate headquarters in Offenbach, Germany. The machine is Manroland’s first new press in four years and follows the company’s 2012 acquisition in insolvency and restructuring by Langley Holdings PLC, a UK-based engineering group and global provider of highly diverse capital equipment. The company reports that its new Evolution press is designed with a sleek, futuristic look and many new technological developments aimed to give printers unprecedented levels of efficiency, productivity, operation and quality. These improvements are consistent with the research-and-development targets Manroland Sheetfed CEO Rafael Penuela Torres outlined to PrintAction when describing his company’s restructuring (August 2014, The New Press Builder), including increased user-friendliness, maximum machine performance and maximum uptime for printers. Specific new features highlighted through demonstrations at the Offenbach unveiling and in the company’s prospectus for the Evolution press include:• Completely redesigned cylinder-roller bearings with separate bearings for radial and axial rotation to provide better absorption of vibrations, fewer doubling effects, longer bearing life, and improved print quality;• A newly designed central console that replaces buttons with touchscreen panels, provides more detailed graphical information, and offers comfort adjustments for left- and right-handed users and operators of different body heights;• A mobile app that allows printers to see the press’ production while they are on the move;• A new feeder pile transport designed to provide a smooth upward motion of the pile-carrying plate and improved sheet travel from the feeder to delivery, resulting in fewer interruptions, less start-up waste, and reduced walking distances to the feeder;• Solid fixing of the suction head to reduce vibration and wear, while ensuring safer sheet separation and higher average printing speeds;• All-new dampening units for greater solidity and fewer roller vibrations during passing of the plate cylinder channel and fewer stripes;• Software for practice-oriented roller washing cycles that reduces downtime with more precise dosage of the dampening solution over the entire width, reducing the possibility of skewing the dampening dosage roller;• A new three-phase AC motor providing high power output with lower energy consumption;• A new chambered doctor blade system for producing gloss effects. With additional options, this system provides higher solidity over the entire width of the doctor blade and a more even varnish application. It also provides improved absorption of vibrations of the Anilox roller and doctor blade, caused by passing the coating form cylinder, and results in fewer stripes, especially in combination with pigmented varnish; and• Newly developed suction belt sheet brake technology provides higher printing speeds combined with improved sheet alignment and tail edge stabilization, resulting in a more even pile contour and reduced risk of misaligned sheets in the delivery pile.Practical demonstrations of the Evolution press were provided in the company’s Print Technology Center in German, with simultaneous translation available in half a dozen languages via ear sets for guests from all over Europe and Russia, as well as Canada. A further highlight was a tour of the company’s impressive press-building facilities, where the workers’ high skill levels were obvious. Hans Hassold, Head of Regional Sales, explained how Germany’s apprenticeship system helps ensure that Manroland Sheetfed’s foundry and factory workers are well qualified both in terms of their skill sets and their understanding of the practical requirements of industry. He said over half of German students aged about 16 to 18 opt into what is called a dual education system because it splits training between the classroom and the workplace. These students apply for training contracts with employers and, if accepted, spend two to four years training with a company while also receiving a taxpayer-subsidized education designed to meet industry needs. In fact, most dual-system students are hired upon completion of their training, contributing to a youth unemployment rate in Germany of eight percent (versus 14 percent in Canada.) The dual system requires employers to work co-operatively rather than adversarially with government and unions and to effect a certain amount of compromise with these third parties in their operations. In exchange, they receive a consistent supply of new workers who are equipped with precisely the skills and knowledge their companies need.Although the German apprenticeship system is not perfect and is under review, it is cited as a factor in the success of Germany’s economy being able to keep its manufacturing base, instead of relying on just providing services, and at retaining its manufacturing jobs for nationals instead of farming them out to workers in foreign countries with lower labour costs like China. Thus the apprenticeship system has also been credited with contributing to Germany’s unemployment rate of 5.2 percent, less than half that of Europe as a whole. By contrast, Canada’s unemployment rate is 7.2 percent, and studies indicate that only about half of the more than 400,000 registered Canadian apprentices actually complete their programs for reasons ranging from the high cost of classroom training for students who are not being paid to concerns about job prospects when they graduate. And although it is becoming increasingly difficult for Canadian employers to find enough skilled workers, only about 20 percent of Canadian skilled-trade employers are actually hiring and training apprentices, while investment in employee training among Canadian companies has fallen nearly 40 percent since 1993. The Roland 700 Evolution unveiling also included a video testimonial from Samson Druck GmbH, a general commercial printer in Austria and the first Evolution press owner. Samson Druck has invested in Manroland press technology for 22 years and currently has four presses with a total of 34 printing units. Founded in 1978 by Erich Aichhorn, the family company is also one of the largest employers in the area with 100 staff members.Tony Langley, Chairman and CEO of Langley Holdings, was present to provide a closing summary to guests. Langley first established his engineering group in 1975. Today, Langley Holdings comprises five principal operating divisions located in Germany, France, and the UK; more than 70 subsidiaries in the Americas, Europe, The Far East, and Australasia; and over 4,000 employees worldwide.Langley Holdings’ products run an extremely wide gamut from food-packaging equipment to electrical systems for data centres, machinery for cement plants, automotive welding equipment, and house construction. The group operates free of debt with substantial cash reserves, typically grows by acquiring under-performing businesses, and takes pride in never having sold a company it acquired. In 2013 it posted a profit before tax of €91 million.The fact that Langley maintains a relatively low profile contrasts with his colourful presence. He is 6 feet 5 inches tall, largely self-taught in engineering, and pilots his own airplane, helicopter and racing yacht, Gladiator. (In this fall’s Les Voiles de St Tropez regatta, Gladiator came in second to the Enfant Terrible helmed by HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.) Accompanying Langley to Offenbach was his eldest son, Bernard Langley, who joined Langley Holdings in 2012 to become the fifth generation of the family to come into the engineering business.The same week as the unveiling, Langley Holdings entered into an agreement to acquire the German print chemicals group DruckChemie, which had gone into administration for insolvency in September. DruckChemie is one of Europe’s leading producers of print chemicals, accessories, and waste reprocessing and recycling services, with sites throughout Europe, as well as in Brazil, Dubai and Mexico.Michael Mugavero, Managing Director and CEO of Manroland North America, commented in an e-mail, after the 700 Evolution unveiling: “Integral in what we hope visitors come to identify with while touring our home in Germany, is the competency Manroland has to develop and deliver tangible value for our customers.”
After switching to InDesign in 2002, Zac Bolan takes QuarkXPress 10.4 for a test drive to see if you can go home again On Friday, November 8th, 2002, I made the switch to Adobe InDesign. After spending a week building a print flyer for a local drugstore chain in QuarkXPress 5, I sat down to export a press-ready PDF. Three frustrating hours later I still hadn’t managed to squeeze a PDF, or even a usable postscript file, out of the buggy XPress release. I threw up my hands in despair and at that moment decided to spend the weekend learning InDesign and rebuilding my job.That decision was not made lightly, as I had been a stalwart XPress user since 1988. With the release of XPress 5 in January 2002, however, Quark faced a barrage of criticism from its dedicated Mac users. After all, launched only days before XPress 5, InDesign 2 was OS X native – something Quark had failed to accomplish with its release. Like many in the design and prepress community, I resented being denied the benefits of Apple’s new operating system. At the time, Quark’s dominance of the Mac desktop publishing market was such that Apple Computer actually cited XPress 5 as a factor slowing adoption of OS X within the design community.It’s been more than a decade since I (and many others) made the switch. During that time InDesign matured into a leading desktop publishing solution while QuarkXPress quietly persevered – after a painful transition to OS X, XPress gradually improved. Following iterations empowered the faithful while adding features to entice users to return. But for many the draw of Adobe’s Creative Suite seemed to say ‘you can’t go home again’, that is, until the advent of Creative Cloud and Adobe’s software as a service (SaaS) business model. Now designers seeking to own their workflow are taking a second look at QuarkXPress, and with version 10.2 they will find a stable, capable and fully-featured page layout application.New XPress tricks and tipsI won’t try to summarize five full upgrade cycles in a few hundred words, but some key enhancements in recent XPress versions are worth mentioning. When I reviewed XPress 8 for PrintAction (August 2008) Quark had significantly overhauled its Graphical User Interface (GUI), vastly improving user efficiency while removing workspace clutter. Additionally, XPress 8 offered in-app image manipulation, built-in Flash authoring, as well as support for Asian fonts. In a nod to the changing publishing landscape, XPress 9 added: ePub and Kindle export; App Studio for tablet publishing; numerous new layout features like anchored callouts; a shape wizard; and enhanced bullets/numbering.Then in October 2013 Quark made an ambitious leap forward with the release of XPress 10 (recently updated to 10.2.1), the first version developed as a native Cocoa application. Cocoa is the Application Programming Interface (API) for Apple’s OS X operating system. In most cases, software produced with Cocoa development tools has a distinct and familiar feel to Mac users, as the application will automatically comply with Apple’s human interface guidelines. From the developer’s perspective, being Cocoa native ensures the ability to leverage the latest OS X features, maximize performance and fast-track support for new OS X versions. For example, while not officially supported on Apple’s recently launched OS X 10.10 Yosemite, based on my initial trials QuarkXPress 10.2.1 appears to run quite well. Quark will be releasing XPress 10.5 with full Yosemite support in early November.This formidable undertaking required Quark engineers to update more than 500,000 lines of code in addition to writing 350,000 new lines. To fully leverage Apple’s latest hardware enhancements, developers had to create more than 500 dialogues and palettes in multiple languages as well as incorporating 1,300 new icons enabling Retina Display resolutions. Besides going Cocoa, Quark engineered a completely new graphics engine for QuarkXPress 10 that will ultimately be implemented across a wide range of Quark products. The new Xenon Graphics Engine enables users to see stunning high-resolution renderings of imported raster and vector files on screen, including rich PDF, Photoshop and Illustrator files to name a few. Using Quark’s Adaptive Resolution technology, graphics can be rendered instantly to the resolution required for professional image zoom (up to 8,000 percent). Being able to zoom into high-resolution graphics onscreen while creating page layouts is a real advantage to visually oriented designers like myself. Additionally, the Xenon Graphics Engine seems to really improve overall screen re-drawing times.In addition to optimization for HiDPI and Retina Displays, XPress 10.2 features Advanced Image Control enabling users to control several aspects of embedded PDF, PSD and TIFF files, such as layers, channels and clipping paths without bouncing out to Photoshop. With advanced illustration tools XPress users can now accomplish quite a few basic image editing and vector drawing tasks without Adobe’s help – saving time and reducing reliance on the Creative Cloud. These features combined with multiple simultaneous document views, robust shortcut and palette management, make XPress 10 an attractive alternative to renting page layout software.Perhaps the most significant tool Quark brings to the publishing market is not actually a QuarkXPress feature at all. App Studio is a standalone cloud-based service for converting publications to digital editions for tablets and smartphones. While initially limited to producing Apps based on QuarkXPress documents, App Studio now creates rich and interactive HTML 5 publications from a variety of sources including InDesign and XML. Making the jumpWith the refined and polished GUI of QuarkXPress 10, anyone familiar with InDesign or other page-layout applications should be able start building pages in fairly short order. By default, the XPress toolbar displays the most commonly used tools but can be configured to access a variety of other functions such as Grid Styles and Advanced Image Control. The Measurements palette along the bottom of the default workspace provides access to content-specific functions in one convenient location. For example, when selecting a text frame, the user can tab between controls for text box, frame, runaround, space/align and drop shadow. As a former XPress jockey, I found I still recalled many of the old keyboard shortcuts and was zipping between XPress functions within a few minutes of starting a doc- ument. However, those used to InDesign keyboard shortcuts will have some relearning to do. Within InDesign, for example, Command D conjures the Place dialogue – while in XPress Command D duplicates any selected element. For many considering QuarkXPress, the next question will invariably be, ‘What about my legacy InDesign documents?’ While Quark does not offer direct access to .indd format files within XPress, a third-party plug-in is available enabling InDesign document import. Well known in the prepress world, Markzware made its name with the popular Flightcheck document preflight application. Additionally, Markzware produces a number of plug-ins for importing various file formats into both XPress and InDesign. While working with XPress 10.2 I tested ID2Q, the Markzware XTension for converting InDesign files to QuarkXPress file format. Once installed, ID2Q can be launched from the newly added Markzware submenu in the QuarkXPress menu bar. The process is quite simple: The user navigates to the InDesign document they wish to open in XPress, selects the appropriate conversion options and clicks OK. Depending on InDesign file size and complexity, conversion time can vary between seconds and minutes before the document opens in QuarkXPress. While ID2Q has little trouble getting your InDesign file into XPress, it is important to remember that the two page layout applications do not always handle things the same way. For this reason, your imported .indd file will need some work in QuarkXPress before going to print, ePub or tablet. Layout grids created with InDesign, for example, do not survive the transition to QuarkXPress. Similarly, InDesign offers a few page layout options not found in XPress, such as a maximum page dimension of 216 inches and support for multiple page sizes within a single document. Having said that, most users will likely be using this XTension to move legacy documents over to QuarkXPress as a template for new projects rather than starting from scratch. For that, ID2Q is the perfect solution. Listening to usersQuark recently unveiled QuarkXPress 2015, due for release in Q1 2015. According to Quark, this iteration will deliver increased performance from a new 64-bit architecture in addition to a bevy of enhancements based on user feedback. New features will include support for larger page sizes, a format painter, user definable shortcut keys and table styles. Also, several Designer-Controlled Automation improvements for long documents will debut including: automated footnotes and end notes; a new table tool with improved Excel integration; and text variables for automatically populating reoccurring fields such as running headers. And bucking the SaaS trend, QuarkXPress 2015 will continue to be sold as a perpetual license or as a paid upgrade. New retail users who purchased QuarkXPress 10 after October 1, 2014 will receive the 2015 release as a free upgrade. Going back homeIf you asked me a few years ago whether I felt Quark could stage a return to dominance in the desktop publishing space, I would have expressed serious doubts. Despite the fact that Quark has evolved to equal or best InDesign in many ways, Adobe has done a remarkable job of embracing the ecosystem approach with its wildly successful Creative Suite. And while reliable metrics of InDesign versus QuarkXPress usage do not exist, your prepress manager will likely tell you that the majority of client files these days are built with InDesign rather than QuarkXPress.With the arrival of Creative Cloud, however, that could easily change as not everyone will want to rent software from Adobe. Also, given the maturity of QuarkXPress in addition to Quark’s focus on dynamic publishing and the enterprise, many may see XPress as a preferred option, rather than just an alternative to InDesign. And for old Quark refugees like myself, it looks like you really can go home again!
In late-July, I had the opportunity to interview Rafael Peñuela Torres, Chief Executive Officer of Manroland Sheetfed GmbH in Offenbach, Germany. A polyglot born in Spain, educated in Economics in Germany, and employed in the printing industry since 1992, Peñuela took charge of Manroland’s Spanish organization in 1999. By 2003, he was managing the company’s Western European market and by 2006 Manroland Sheetfed sales worldwide. Following Manroland Sheetfed’s takeover by an British industrial conglomerate controlled by Tony Langley, Peñuela Torres temporarily shared the role of Managing Director of Service and Sales with a colleague until 2013, when he became Manroland Sheetfed’s sole CEO.In our interview, Peñuela Torres, 54, candidly discusses Manroland’s change of direction after its 2011 insolvency and 2012 acquisition by Langley Holdings PLC. He describes several aspects of the company’s restructuring efforts, working through Germany’s tough labour laws.Peñuela Torres offers analyses of how dramatically the offset equipment and printing markets have changed since being hard hit by the global financial crisis of 2008. He also divulges how Manroland Sheetfed’s research-and-development division is currently adapting its printing machines to meet a whole new set of customer needs and expectations. Victoria Gaitskell: What do you consider to be the most important sheetfed-offset technology your company has introduced over the past five years or so – and why?Peñuela Torres: For decades, Manroland has been leading the development of new technologies for offset printing – although not all these developments have been commercially successful. For example, in 2000 we launched the DICOweb plateless press, enabling a digital changeover from job to job in less than 10 minutes. It was amazing technology for the time, but it was not a commercial success, because the cost was much too high. In 2009, we developed the world’s largest perfector, the Roland 900 XXL, to serve the demand for high-volume book printing. It allowed offset printers to produce 64 A4 pages in one pass, enabling them to compete with web process productivity. But after commercial and editorial printers took a hit in the 2008 financial crisis, the demand for this technology was greatly reduced. Press productivity is only important if customers have jobs for it. So some of our new developments did not succeed because of the wrong timing or costs. But many others were successful because they were exactly what our customers wanted: In 2003, for example, we built the Roland 500, the first press to print 18,000 sheets per hour; and time has proven that this innovation in speed was the right trend for our market. We also launched an InlineFoiler that can print cold foil in one pass on a conventional press. Although at first it proved popular, it generated complaints that the process wasted too much very expensive foil; so later we developed an indexing function to reduce waste in the inline process by up to 50 percent. This is an example of how we are trying increasingly to generate value for our customers by our technology. Our innovations have not only taken the form of heavy metal, but also the integration of software processes into a single electronic workflow, as we achieved in our Printnet network management system.In 2006, we launched the Roland 700 DirectDrive. The DirectDrive technology allowed customers to change plates simultaneously while the press is washing the cylinders, allowing for zero plate-changing time. Since then many of our competitors have introduced similar technology, and so far it forms the biggest step towards a significant reduction of make-ready time. Peñuela Torres continues to discuss R&D…PT: Among these successful technologies, I can’t identify one single development as the most important; but I can say that many of our recent developments have focused on increasing automation and reducing make-ready time, rather than on increasing press speed. One reason is that in today’s world we have discovered that speed is not the issue for our customers. The general trend is that run lengths are becoming shorter, so increasing press speed does not really help. A precondition for the improvements we introduce now is not just that they satisfy our R&D people but that they satisfy our customers.Since 2008, it has been increasingly difficult for Manroland and our competitors to sell the same amount of equipment we used to sell. The market has shrunk by 50 percent because print shops are disappearing or merging, so less demand for machinery exists.Customers are also running machinery for longer than planned. The average age of a press now is 13 years, and our customers’ requirements and business models are changing rapidly; so we are developing new technology like the InlineFoiler in a way that allows customers to add it on through upgrades or retrofits to get different or better value out of their existing press. In addition to shortening make-ready, another of our R&D goals is to make it easier to handle a press by creating an easier interface with the user. Our customers are finding it more and more difficult to obtain highly skilled operators to run presses, because fewer of these operators are available; so we are spending a lot of brainpower and resources to make it easier to operate our technology. Especially because runs are becoming shorter, automation plays a tremendous role. Since skilled labour is critical to the manufacture of high-performance presses: What was the size of the labour force in your three manufacturing plants before restructuring and what is it now in your single plant after restructuring? PT: You are correct – Skilled labour is crucial for press manufacturers. Manroland decided years ago and confirmed under Langley its plan not to do any manufacturing outside of Germany. One reason is that, although we realize many skilled people work outside of Germany, in other countries we find it more difficult to find the right number of them with expertise in all the different disciplines we need to build a press.In the insolvency, we lost 50 percent of our workforce. Beforehand we had roughly 4,300 employees and we have 1,800 today. Of these, 900 work in the German factory and the other 900 take care of our markets and aftermarket services in various parts of the world. How did you select which workers to keep and which to downsize?PT: I don’t know if you are aware of it, but German labour laws require a company undergoing massive restructuring to apply for approval on who goes and stays via a so-called social plan.The government works with unions to establish criteria for this process. Workers are assigned points based on factors like seniority, age and family situation. Adding up the points results in a pre-selection of employees who have to leave the company. Because the point system gives preference to older workers with seniority and families, normally you have to ask younger people, sometimes with promising talent, to leave the company – which happened in our case. Sometimes, if you have certain workers with critical expertise, you can offer a successful argument here and there to avoid the social plan and keep them on board. But we had only a short time to discuss the plan with the union and workers council during the last week of insolvency. I don’t know if the results were right or wrong, but we tried to do our best. With a reduced workforce, how are you ensuring your machinery continues to be of high quality?PT: We are still continuing to fine tune our human resources management strategy after restructuring. Langley was convinced that with our remaining capabilities we are still able to keep our whole production portfolio. Not one press was eliminated. This challenge has required us to cross-train people who were specialists before. For example, experts on 700 perfectors have also become qualified to handle 500 perfectors. It was quite a challenge, especially for the first six months of 2012; but now we have a more flexible workforce of people who can change from one model to another on the production line and still maintain high-quality standards. The employees say they are happy with the new system, because they have acquired more skills and are doing work that is more challenging and less routine. In 2012, I was concerned that we would not be able to manage the whole portfolio with a reduced workforce; but in fact the presses we ship out today are costing less overall after delivery. This fact proves that we have been able to manage with half our original workforce and achieve an even better result in terms of quality. With restructuring behind you, what is the biggest challenge facing your company today?PT: After the Langley takeover, our immediate challenge was to serve customers as well as before, or even better, despite having reduced resources. Even before then, the company had experienced different phases of restructuring, but it was only because of the insolvency that we became aware that our old culture and huge-corporation mentality were responsible for the insolvency itself. We had become too heavy, too bureaucratic, too self-confident that we couldn’t fail, and too slow in managing, reacting to the market, and responding to our customers. Our new shareholder Tony Langley knew we needed to change our attitude first. During the first year, he spent three days a week helping to transform us into a mittelstand [German for middle-sized] company with a hands-on attitude and quicker response times.Now the biggest challenge is to keep this new culture as part of our daily business and avoid falling back into the old ways. Especially in the last two years, when profits have been better than expected, it creates the expectation of going back to the good old days when salaries were higher and expenses less controlled. It’s an issue I need to keep an eye on. Why should new sheetfed-offset presses continue to interest commercial printers in North America, one of the world’s most mature printing markets?PT: Commercial printers in industrialized Western countries are in a different position than commercial printers in China, India, and Latin America, where other electronic media are still less widespread and print is still the main transmitter of commercial messages. In North America and other Western economies, the commercial sheetfed-offset print segment has suffered more since the 2008 financial crisis because it must defend its position against electronic media and digital print.But after 20 years, digital printing is still far from dominating the market. It still represents one single digit of total printed volume, although the marketing noise is very loud and gives the impression that digital is dominating. In reality it will take years for digital to achieve a bigger percentage than what they have today, because the cost per copy is high for digital and many enhancements, such as UV and foil coating, are not available in digital. I think for many, many years sheetfed offset will remain the dominating technology. It may be less loud and less sexy, but for sure it is the best way to print massive volumes of sheets of cardboard or paper for packaging or commercial print.When it comes to cost-per-copy for industrial volumes, no method is cheaper. Today, we see Western commercial printers finding new business models to stay in the market or even grow by adding value to commercial print and escape from the commodity print market. We see more and more commercial sheetfed-offset printers who have managed to find their own niche by focusing on a specific application, or way of adding value, or way of servicing customers.For example, sheetfed offset is still the most used method to print business cards, and it also lets printers develop workflows to produce simple products for customers on 24-hours’ demand. So today’s successful business models include Web-to-print production of business cards and other simple products, printed with the highest efficiency at an unbeatable price. What is the best advice you can share with the many small- to mid-sized commercial printers in Canada who continue to rely on sheetfed offset as their primary production process?PT: I’m not the guy to give advice to printers. They are professionals who know best what they have to do.But one thing I know from observation is that it is crucial for printers to identify and follow the right model for their business. They need know what they can do better than others. Basically they have a choice between two ways of moving forward: One is to find a way to be different from their competitors with a different product or a different approach to customers through their services, response time, flexibility of workflow, or other factors. The second way is to achieve excellence by increasing productivity and reducing the cost per copy; for example, by using a large commercial press to produce large volumes with good or good-enough quality. The right business model can be either mass productivity or differentiation.
In the early 1980s, a local garden hose manufacturer called our small press-sales office because he had a printing problem. The round cardboard discs, used for product branding within the the hose-reel, were missing their Made in Canada. Somehow its inclusion overlooked by everyone involved in the printing process. The garden hose manufacturer now had thousands of printed and die-cut pieces of cardboard he could not use. “Any suggestions?” he asked.It took a split second to solve his problem: The Heidelberg platen! Certainly there were other possibilities. Machines from Kluge, Victoria or Chandler & Price (with feeder) could do it, but there was an easier, obvious solution with the Heidelberg – problem solved. The T platen, or Tiegel platen as the German’s called their brilliant little press, can feed and deliver virtually anything. From one-up business cards to folded signatures, thin stitched booklets, odd-shaped labels and – yes – even round Made in Canada cardboard wrappers for garden hoses. The platen quite literally came with everything; initially, there were no options one could buy. It came standard with two chases, small-size kit, two-up kit, odd-shape kit, die-cutting plate and ink knife.Since the creation of metal type there has never been such a successful printing machine as the Heidelberg T platen. Even today, you would have a tough time finding a commercial printer without one of these versatile, solid machines still working away in their pressroom.Birthing the TiegelSchnellpresse, as Heidelberg was called in the early days, truly began building its now massive business around the Tiegel platen when it was born in 1912. T platens were sold all over the world and by the time mass production stopped, in 1985, more than 165,000 had been sold. There was of course, competition. The British Thompson was a close facsimile of the Heidelberg machine, especially before WWII when Thompson used the same rotary gripper system. A few years after WWII, the Czechoslovak Grafopress appeared as an almost identical T platen clone. Many suggest this was the driving force behind why Heidelberg began to use the branding term Original Heidelberg, as the German press maker tried to separate its products from Iron Curtain machines impervious to litigation. I have doubts about this connection, however. German manufacturers regularly employed the word Original and Schnellpresse mostly likely used it well before the Czech clone arrived.We called the Grafopress the Scrap-o-Press, because it was such an inferior printing machine to the T platen. Grafopress, however, did have one key feature incorporated into the Heidelberg machine by Drupa 1967: The ability to lock out form rollers. Both the Soviet Union and China also made knock-offs of the Heidelberg T platen, but they were terrible machines.Over the years at Howard Graphic Equipment, which primarily sells and reconditions used printing machinery, we have hauled Heidelberg platens out of and into basements, garages, through windows, and often stripped down in order to fit through narrow doorways, as if the old building itself had been built around the press. It seems no place existed where a Heidelberg platen could not go. I lost track years ago of how many platens our company has overhauled and sold.When crash numbering reached its apex, it was not uncommon to see one operator in control of four presses. The operator could keep track of each machine’s progress by listening to its click-clack as they hurried the loading and unloading of feeders and deliveries. The Heidelberg platen faced many challenges as safety concerns increased when unionization returned to manufacturing plants. Some Ts were encapsulated by Plexiglas and wire mesh to keep the inspectors at bay. Eventually it became impossible to operate these presses in such situations. Greeting-card companies, with an ideal T platen application, might have had more than 10 machines and discarded them all for fear of injuring workers.This amazing and still relevant printing machine was born when Schnellpressenfabrik Heidelberg purchased the patents from a Köln print shop owner and tinkerer named Karl Gilke. Not much is known about Gilke, but his platen with the “propeller-gripper” changed the world. Previously, essentially all platen presses required intensive labour for both feeding and delivering each sheet by hand. It was incredibly slow production amid a new world of industrialization.Growing the TiegelGilke forever changed the efficiency of platens by using the favoured Boston Principle, which equates to a platen with a stationary bed, and incorporating both feeder and delivery into it. Back in 1896, the Harris Brothers of Niles, Ohio, developed a similar game-changing machine in the EI rotary card press. It had a unique shuttle feeder and could run at an astounding 15,000 sheets per hour. Because the E1 was rotary, however, it required a stereo plate, which is a curved lead cast plate common on letterpress newspaper presses. This lead cast plate was its Achilles Heel and why the Harris E1 failed to make nearly as much impact as Heidelberg’s T. Small print shops used type and printers could not afford the cost of making stereos needed by the E1.In 1921, American Robert Miehle came out with his revolutionary Vertical Miehle. This press was later called the V-36 for its high running speeds of 3,600 sheets per hour. It employed a cylinder in a vertical incline – a very unique press design. The Vertical Miehle was well received and had a bigger sheet size of 14 x 20 inches, as compared to Schnellpress’ 10 x 15-inch size. But the Vertical was also a harder press to run, particularly when it came to make-ready. The Heidelberg platen was so quick to set up and feed that it ran circles around the Vertical. Only when run lengths were bigger, and the sheet size increased, did the Platen begin to lose some of its advantage. Before WWII, it was common to see both a Vertical and a Tiegel in the same shop. One’s weakness was the other’s strength and this environment remained throughout the letterpress era. Schnellpressenfabrik Heidelberg has roots going back to 1850, before Andreas Hamm and Andreas Albert joined forces in 1863. Hamm owned an iron foundry specializing in bells. Albert was a foreman at C. Reichenbach’s Press Works in Augsburg (later to become MAN). But the two partners had a falling out and Hamm continued on with the company. Albert, on the other hand, formed a new company called Albert & Cie, which grew exponentially. After Hamm’s passing in 1894, his son sold the company to Wilhelm Müller. Not much happened at Schnellpress during the years 1873 to 1912, when press building gave rise to powerful players. VOMAG, Koenig & Bauer, MAN, Maschinenfabrik Johannisberg-Geisenheim (MJG), Dresdner Schnellpressenfabrik Coswig (Planeta) and Hamm’s former partner, Albert & Cie. all became major makers of mostly cylinder presses. Tiny Schnellpress made facsimiles of the standard German stop cylinder press, as well. Although Schnellpress released the Exquisit cylinder, in 1921, there was no magic in this press.Gilke’s design was the one and only watershed moment for Schnellpress. German platen presses were all mostly knock-offs of the American Gally parallel impression design. At least 20 companies were making very good versions of this press; Victoria being the best known. Any developments to automate feeding and delivery were all Band-Aid approaches with discombobulated devices affixed to an already mature handfed platen design. Schnellpress understood if they could make its little platen work, it would rip apart the whole industry. Even back in the early twentieth century, the majority of printers were small shops. Not everyone wanted or could afford large cylinder presses. Jobs were mostly handled 1- or 2-up on smaller handfed platens. If Heidelberg could make a press that would feed and deliver easily then the printing world would come calling.By the end of WWI Heidelberg had such a press. Although the company faced management issues and very difficult times, Schnellpress had one more vital ingredient. It had a foundry. Richard Kahn, the owner at the time, also owned Maschinenfabrik Geislingen (MAG) and this allowed Schnellpresse to work completely autonomously on its design. Heidelberg castings are unique. When I was a young kid I could see even then the quality differences between a Heidelberg and any other machine – German, English, or American. There was a special quality to a Heidelberg. Whatever notions one had prior to the Heidelberg platen, these were tossed aside because not only was the feed/delivery unique, so was the inker and adjustable bearers. Having a windmill, as the platen was also often referred to, in your shop almost guaranteed success, because you could obliterate any competitors who were still hand-feeding work or trying to make the crude add-on feeders work. Heidelberg’s innovation to build the T platen on Germany’s first mechanical assembly line brought the prices down so that every printer could afford one. The small jobbing printer was the key customer for Heidelberg and its new machine was priced accordingly. Along with its small footprint, the T platen required nothing more than a drive motor or belt driven from a driveshaft. Leveraging the TiegelWhy then was Heidelberg able to eclipse much larger companies in Germany, such as VOMAG, MAN and Koenig & Bauer, the latter of which is recognized as the founder of printing machinery manufacturing. Heidelberg also faced stiff competition from Albert Frankenthal and Faber & Schleicher. All of these firms, however, were focused on making innovative but complicated cylinder sheetfed machines, Web presses and even offset machines in the early 1920s. So much that they all failed to notice a big hole in jobbing presses which is exactly what Schnellpresse filled. Another major reason for Heidelberg’s meteoric rise was its unique sales approach. Instead of staying close to home, as many of the German builders did, Heidelberg sought out new markets and customers in America, Britain and around the entire globe. The early vision of globalization among Heidelberg’s leaders is a fundamental reason why its T platens, and the company itself, became so successful. At the Bugra trade fair of 1914, Heidelberg displayed the first prototype T platen to the world. This early press, known as the Express, would be altered several times before it finally became legend. 1914 was also the year The Great War began and very little development or production materialized on the T platen until 1921. By 1927, the press had another facelift. The gripper mechanism was vastly improved and remained remarkably similar to the last version of 1985. Impression throw-off and micro adjust was really easy. Changing packing was just as simple as on a Gordon. The use of a Geneva motion or Maltese cross allowed for better registration and more stable movement of the grippers. This feature alone was an incredible advancement for its time.World crisis in the first half of the twentieth century had an impact not just on Schnellpress but every manufacturer. The crash of 1929 was a worldwide financial epidemic and Germany faced hyperinflation and eventually the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s. Loving the TiegelWhy then does this little press mean so much to so many? History shows there was ample press competition and, certainly, for work like heavy embossing one must give the Parallel machine or Kluge a leg up. Why then? Heidelberg was very clever. The company designed its press to be the easiest to run. Feeding was easy, clean up, running difficult materials – even printing on paper bags is possible. Watching a Heidelberg run is precision in motion, exact and measured in its movements. Even when compared to a high-end Gordon platen, it is actually frightening how much better the Tiegel was. It worked in harmony with the operator. I remember my father showing me how to run the press, never forcing its workings and making it sing. The better the pressman, the easier the work. My memories of the Heidelberg platen trump everything else. Its sound, its strength, the fact it was almost indestructible are fond recollections. Heidelberg built its company on the T platen, later followed by the GT (larger size) and the OHC (cylinder). What Heidelberg learned with the T platen can be seen still today. Its unique suction feeder was used on the cylinder S and K models, as well as the K, M and GTO offset presses. In fact, the unique hardware first used on the T can be seen on the Speedmaster as late as 1994. The wonderful T platen made it possible for Heidelberg to move past all of the German press makers and stay on an incredible roll right up to its flagship Speedmaster line. Heidelberg owes everything to the platen. It took the unique machine-building genius of Heidelberg to refine and build it in their personal style. Perhaps this affection has been lost on many of the greybeards in the industry, but to the new generation of letterpress artisans, the Tiegel is making them fall in love with printing all over again. Today, Heidelberg makes some of the finest printing machines in the world. Look at the XL 106 or XL 162 – amazing technology. The lithographic world is changing very fast. It’s fighting to keep digital devices away from their offset pages. I doubt there will ever be another printing machine that is truly loved like the Heidelberg platen. I remain in love my Heidelberg platens. We have a 1928 and 1985 in our collection.In 1975, a Dutch artist created a musical about his Heidelberg T, running it on stages across Holland. One of Japan’s largest printers has a T monument ensconced in glass. Loved by so many, the Tiegel transcends printing. It was Heidelberg’s gift to the printing world.
Strategic brainstorming, change management and printing awards at CUPMAC’s 47th annual conference CUPMAC stands for College and University Print Management Association of Canada. Its approximately 80 members, who are all managers or other key personnel of in-plant printing operations in Canadian institutions of higher learning, do not necessarily follow the same protocols that spell success in the business world. Rather, they operate in ways uniquely geared to effectively serve the specific needs of their own academic institutions and customers. At the same time, their day-to-day routines accomplish many of the same goals that have always been among printing’s loftiest – education, freedom of thought and speech, free access to information and the progress of the arts, sciences, and technology.Another remarkable aspect about CUPMAC members is that they are regularly required to devise sophisticated practical solutions to meet the unique challenges of their work. Invariably, when I speak with members, I am fascinated to learn about the latest solutions they have uncovered for printing dilemmas I’ve never even heard of before. For this reason, I was excited to facilitate a 90-minute interactive brainstorming session on the latest challenges, successes and growth strategies for academic in-plants at CUPMAC’s 47th Annual Conference, held in early June in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The conference’s relatively small size of about 40 participants enabled shop talk that was satisfyingly intense and detailed, and gave all of us an opportunity to get to know each other over the information-packed three-and-a-half-day event. Change or dieThe conference theme, The Change Imperative, emphasized CUPMAC’s focus on supporting its members at a time when print and education environments are both changing rapidly. To survive this volatility, academic in-plants must quickly keep forging new paths to ensure their products and services stay relevant, while also ensuring their printing platforms remain efficient in the face of tightening budget constraints. Among the conference’s eye-openers on managing change was a workshop called Change or Die by Scott Comber, Assistant Professor at the Rowe School of Business at Halifax’s Dalhousie University. Comber is also a leadership coach, who works with organizations to help them manage change and improve the effectiveness of their leaders, conflict resolution, ethical decision-making, and the overall quality of work life.Comber’s thesis for his Change or Die sessions derives from studies in the health-care field involving patients with heart disease who undergo bypass surgery and afterwards need to change to a healthier lifestyle for their own survival. Yet statistics show that 90 percent of these patients choose not to change. Comber believes the reason is that, although they can understand rationally and intellectually why change is necessary, they fail to grasp the need for change on an emotional level and, therefore, fail to do so.“In business, change management usually refers to new sites, new bosses, new organizational charts, new technology, new policies, or other practical measures,” explains Comber. “Most management approaches to change focus only on these externals and their results." But most managers neglect what he calls transition: The internal psychological experience of the people involved in change as they come to terms with the new situation. “Unless transition occurs, change will not be successful,” says Comber, pointing to research showing that a full 75 percent of corporate change initiatives fail.“Since research also confirms that the largest catalyst for behavioural change is emotion, you must understand that change is emotionally driven and that managing people’s internal experience is the most critical part of change leadership,” says Comber. “Accordingly, you must integrate emotion into the way you communicate with others about change to make your communications effective in engaging people and changing their behaviours.” He suggests that connecting with people on a human level right at the beginning of the change process is the most-important single thing you should do – even before addressing the subject of how the change will proceed. “All you have to lead people through the change is your relationship with them,” he advises. He also recommends that leaders’ initial communications about change should identify the brutal facts – meaning what needs to be different – or else the change will not proceed successfully, either. Aiding transitionSince change – especially endings – can often give rise to people’s negative emotions like fear, denial, frustration and anger, Comber advises leaders to acknowledge (but do not necessarily judge) any endings that must occur, including any associated conflict and emotions.Support people in dealing with their feelings about the change and recognize that some people will take longer to adjust. Only after these preliminaries is it advisable to move on to discussions identifying best practices and creating an action plan for external changes.At this stage, one of the best ways to aid someone’s transition is to empower them to become part of the decision-making process through engaging them in dialogue, answering their questions, and listening to their feedback. “Help them decide on their own parts,” advises Comber. “In most situations you can include others in this way and avoid the common mistake of not holding other people capable and assuming they won’t be able to handle it.” Once an action plan for change is determined, Comber advises it is best to move quickly and energetically to implement it, because research shows that fast, large movement actually helps people adjust better than small, gradual changes.Another effective leadership technique is to tell a story about the road to change and new beginnings in a way that gives people meaning, purpose and validation. An excellent way for leaders to achieve all these ends is by communicating progress in a way that speaks to people’s emotions by instilling hope or even joy – emotions that are far more powerful motivators than logic, facts or fear.Communicating appreciationComber says another important part of communicating about change is appreciation: “Focus on what you want more of, give energy to it, and it will grow. In other words find it, track it and fan it.“Conversely, do not focus on problems, because if you focus on the negative, it will actually grow. Instead think in terms of the changes you want to see. As a small example, if employee lateness is a problem, track people who arrive on time and appreciate them. Rather than focusing on the problem, get people galvanized on a positive future marked by early arrivals.”Your expression of appreciation should be timely, convey thanks and include an all-important impact statement explaining the positive results of what you are appreciating. “It’s the impact message that actually changes behaviours by helping people understand how their contribution counts,” Comber explains. “During change people must do things they normally don’t have to do, so it’s important to appreciate their extra efforts.” It is not necessary to acknowledge each person individually, however. You can also do it through collective events like awards presentations or ice cream days.Comber adds that effective change leaders also need to cultivate their own skills at communicating with others about the ambiguity and volatility of information and situations. Likely, as plans progress, they will need to find constructive ways to address such unforeseen developments as delays and unanticipated consequences. Adding local colour and national awardsHalifax is one of Canada’s most-historic cities when it comes to printing. The country’s first newspaper, the Halifax Gazette, was first published there in 1752. The city also became home to Margaret Draper, a Loyalist from Boston, Massachusetts, considered Canada’s first female printer, who arrived in Halifax at the start of the American Revolution with her business partner John Howe, dragging a wooden printing press along with them.With a population today of 413,710, six universities and three colleges, Halifax seems to be experiencing a building boom, to judge by the number of cranes and construction sites in evidence in June. The CUPMAC conference took full advantage of local tourism by offering attendees optional nearby sightseeing on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, including visits to the famously scenic fishing villages of Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg (the latter being one of only two North American UNESCO Heritage Sites). The fact that modern Halifax has become a gastronomic wonderland was reflected both in excellent meals at the conference hotel and several supplier-sponsored dinner outings to fine local restaurants.The awards dinner at the conference was memorable for its impressive venue: The Garrison Room in the North Magazine of the Halifax Citadel, a British fort established in 1749 and Canada’s most visited National Historic Site, according to Fodors.com. The occasion marked the first ever presentation of the annual CUPMAC Awards, a new source of lifeblood for members, who depend for their existence on the acknowledgement of their value by the bureaucracy and teaching departments of the institutions they serve. This clientele, consisting of administrators and academics, may have no concept of the expertise and benefits provided by their school’s printing in-plant and may in fact find it easier to farm the whole operation out to an external facility-management supplier if they seriously fail to understand its importance. Hence the requirement on all CUPMAC members to keep their institutions constantly aware of the unique and valuable services their in-plant provides.The newly created awards program gives members a way to generate just this kind of vital internal recognition and marketing, explains Sean Kehler, Supervisor, Print & Logistics Services, Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, British Columbia. He laughs when recounting that his appointment to the Awards Committee of one, charged with implementing the program, came while he was taking a break from the room where CUPMAC’s 2013 annual meeting was being held in conjunction with the association’s 2013 conference in Whistler, British Columbia. (He was present, however, when he was elected the association’s new President at CUPMAC’s 2014 annual meeting in Halifax.)In organizing the awards, Kehler elected to incorporate a number of distinctive features; for instance, wall plaques are awarded as prizes instead of trophies to save space on desks and shelves. The plaques are made in the city hosting both the annual conference and awards presentation ceremony to further involve the locale in the awards. All samples entered in CUPMAC’s five categories of Production Awards are displayed at the annual conference and judged by all members in attendance. A further five categories, called Impression Awards, are determined by CUPMAC’s executive team to recognize special achievements. The Impression Awards include: Collaborative Service, working with another unit to achieve a goal; Green Service, changes in operations impacting recyclable, renewable and sustainable environmental resources or communicating the in-plant’s green efforts to customers; Accelerated Service, an extreme production deadline; Distinctive Service, continuing daily production while achieving innovative goals for growth through such drastic measures as new equipment installs, plant moves or reorganization; and Hall of Fame induction, exemplifying the highest standards of service to an institution along with contributions to CUPMAC and the in-plant community as a whole.Although printing in-plants in institutions of higher learning vary greatly in size and complexity, Kehler explains the Impression Awards make it possible for even CUPMAC’s smallest members with only one or two staff to gain recognition: “Impression Awards are for something you accomplished in the trenches without ever necessarily producing a showy printed piece. Everyone can enter a good story or two about how they overcame a difficult challenge to achieve a special accomplishment.”During judging, CUPMAC’s members and executive assess entries following detailed criteria set out on a judging sheet compiled by Kehler, then cast their votes accordingly. Another friendly, collaborative touch is that, after receiving an award, each winner then turns around and acts as the presenter for the next one.
Scores of established and start-up 3D printer and scanner manufacturers clamoured for the attention of the curious wandering the Las Vegas Convention Centre at International CES 2014 this past January. With the explosive growth of 3D printing at CES 2014, it is clear the technology – also referred to as additive layer manufacturing – is evolving well beyond its engineering roots. While continuing to deliver high-end 3D printers for prototyping and parts-on-demand applications, established players like Stratasys and 3Dsystems are now vying for dominance in the consumer arena. And in the wings, crowd-funded entrepreneurs and start-ups are bringing innovative products to a market eager for inexpensive 3D printing and scanning solutions. In much the same manner of how Apple and Adobe democratized the graphic arts through desktop publishing, the 3D printing movement promises to change the way products are designed, manufactured, purchased and consumed. With basic printers selling for less than $1,000, 3D printing is no longer the exclusive domain of industrial designers. Soon school kids and hobbyists will have the ability to produce surprisingly detailed models made from nothing more than imagination and inexpensive plastic filament. And if industry leaders have their way, the lady of the house will one day download designs and 3D print bracelets and earrings to match an outfit! The potential consumer rush to 3D printing is certainly the driving force behind Amazon’s late-July introduction of its 3D Printed Products online marketplace. Tea – Earl Grey, hotThe replicator seen in Star Trek can make virtually anything magically appear on command, including a hot cup of tea, but today’s 3D printing technology is limited to producing solid objects based on computer-aided design (CAD) files. The design of most 3D printers is based on the 2D plotter with threaded rods guiding the print head horizontally in the X/Y axes. The 3D print head deposits malleable media in very thin layers to build an object before moving upward along the vertical axis and starting the next layer. Layer thickness determines the resolution of the 3D object in the same way pixel density affects how images look on a printing plate – a thin layer means a smoother, more detailed object is produced. While most 3D printers use various forms of plastic filament to produce objects, industry-specific printers can print with a wide variety of media including resins, chocolate and metal.If the additive layer manufacturing process sounds labourious and sluggish, it’s because it is; high-resolution printing of complex 3D objects can take hours or even days depending on size and media used. On the other hand, complex 3D objects such as gear sets and flexible chains emerge from the printer fully functional with no further assembly required, saving considerable time for the user.Entry-level 3D printers are relatively inexpensive, but price quickly scales upward with higher resolution, larger build volume and diversity of print media. If you have read this far, you must be wondering if a conventional ink-on-paper printing company can stake a claim in this 3D printing gold rush – after all, you adapted to digital print, right? Can 3D printing be that different?Testing 3D watersBased in the city of Cranbrook, BC, Rocky Mountain Print Solutions (RMPS) has been serving the East Kootenays for more than 40 years. Owner/proprietor Don Wik and his team have navigated the turbulent waters of print evolution by taking their business into new directions. Two years ago, RMPS became the regional Konica Minolta dealer and now sells copiers to many of its clients in addition to print. And recently RMPS added 3D printing to the mix with the installation of a MakerBot Replicator capable of printing high-resolution objects with a build volume of roughly 10 x 8 x 6 inches.“We’d been looking around for other business models and noticed a lot of industry talk about 3D printing. While we didn’t think there was a business case for a small printer to have a 3D printer, the idea of offering local manufacturing ability to our clients was appealing,” explains Wik. “We wanted to offer 3D printing so our clients could use it within their business, and create a buzz in the marketplace.“The buzz generated by 3D printing is much cheaper than advertising, and we’ve noticed a substantial increase in support from our clients,” continues Wik. “We’ll bring clients in, expose them to 3D printing, and let them think about how they can use it within their own businesses, and that really is the value to our company.” Wik is not yet prepared to directly credit 3D printing for an increase in RMPS sales, but he has definitely seen more business since introducing the MakerBot to the Cranbrook market.“We’re amazed by some of the objects we print for our clients, we often wonder why would anyone manufacture this way – it’s so slow,” bemuses Wik. “So while 3D printing has great potential, I find I’m more impressed with those who create and share files within the 3D community – the makers.”The makers are an informal coalition of enthusiasts who design objects and create the necessary CAD files for 3D printing, many of which are freely available to the general public. Additionally, many 3D printer manufacturers host sites offering free or inexpensive CAD files for users to purchase, download and print. In the early days of the 3D printing movement, MakerBot (the consumer brand of Stratasys) launched www.thingiverse.com, an online portal for things designed by the maker community. Through the site, users can download free Creative Commons licensed files to produce anything from a bearing clamp or a model of the Taj Mahal to a personalized doggy bowl. At CES 2014, MakerBot launched its Digital Store service to sell high-quality CAD files of toys and educational models aimed at a kids – another sign 3D printing for home and school is imminent. Think global, 3D print localAlthough most of the interest in RMPS’ MakerBot 3D printer originates in the Cranbrook region, the company has received commissions to print objects through www.3dhubs.com, a Netherlands-based service bureau service aggregator that enables 3D printer owners to register their device and offer printing services to the public.“Through the MakerBot site, a designer in Calgary discovered RMPS is a supplier for the 3D Hub,” reveals Wik. “He was designing what looked like a case for a prototype of an instrument, a special instrument. We made the case and then shipped it to his home. Now did we make any money off it? Probably not, but I think as the technology gets more sophisticated and faster you could make a service bureau business case.” POD, parts on demand“We recently installed a new CTP device that punches the printing plates after imaging. We also use an external punch so the plates will properly fit on our press. Well, the external punch wouldn’t work with the new plates because one of the small guides wouldn’t accommodate the CTP punch holes,” explains Wik. “We had someone build a CAD file for a part modification that would enable the punch to work with our new plates.” RMPS then printed the new part on its MakerBot, replaced it on the punch, and could actually use the machine again.“After making the part, we talked to the supplier of the equipment, and will send them a copy of the modified part so they know what they need to do if they want to improve their punch,” says Wik. “With the 3D printer, we’re able to be part of the problem-solving process for graphics equipment, which we think is pretty unique." From letterpress to 3DWik and the RMPS team recognized an opportunity to showcase the company’s technology – both old and new – during Sam Steele Days, a major community festival hosted annually in Cranbrook. Outside the RMPS front door sits a cast-iron printing press manufactured in the 1890s, and just a metre away the company’s 3D printer sits inside the front window. As the Sam Steele parade passed RMPS’ front door, both presses were running for the inquisitive crowds.“Everyone was quite impressed to see the juxtaposition of the two technologies running together,” explains Wik. “We’ve kept our old collection of movable type, so we have about 200 drawers of lead and wooden type. Although we were able to manufacture some movable type on the 3D printer we didn’t use it, as we didn’t have time to perfect the plastic fonts. But I believe with a bit of experimenting we could actually use the type from the 3D printer to print on the letterpress.“You could probably use a 3D printer to produce a die for blind embossing on a letterpress if the right 3D print media is used,” envisions Wik. “Most small printers have gotten away from that kind of work because it’s too difficult and expensive to make the die. I believe we will be experimenting with that in the future.”MakerBot parent company Stratasys already manufactures high-end 3D printers that use ABS polymer (the same plastic used to make Lego bricks) to make very hard objects such as the dies used for bending sheet metal for car parts. As 3D printers gain in function and replicate with a wider variety of media the Parts On Demand market is expected to grow exponentially – further strengthening a business case for 3D service bureaus. Almost ready for primetimeFor the commercial printer that makes a living replicating thousands of copies of a customers’ 2D images in the shortest possible timeframe, the sluggish process of producing one-off 3D models currently makes little economic sense from a manufacturing perspective. When considering the innovative ways Rocky Mountain Print Solutions has leveraged its relatively small 3D printer investment, however, it’s easy to see why Don Wik and his team are excited about the future.“The real value in diving into 3D printing is gaining an understanding of the new technology,” says Wik. “Implementing 3D printing is affordable and a good way to see what’s out there for your business: that’s the real payback at the present time.” Zac Bolan’s blog: blog.softcircus.com
Imagine if you dare a world without Photoshop – a barren image editing wasteland offering little to comfort those longing to adjust a photo’s hue, or straighten and crop a wayward picture. How would you apply effects to your pictures, convert to black and white or resize low-resolution images without Adobe? Sounds like a pretty bleak existence, doesn’t it? Thankfully it doesn’t have to be.Photoshop remains at the heart of most serious image-editing workflows, but there are options on the market. These days, savvy software consumers can save a few dollars and still fulfill a surprising percentage of their image editing needs. While there are a number of open source and share-ware image-editing alternatives on the market, a couple of the early Photoshop challengers have matured into significant contenders in the pixel-pushing arena. Tested: Pixelmator 3.2 (Mac OS X), pixelmator.com, Apple App Store $29.95 I first discovered this powerful yet unassuming app shortly after returning from drupa years ago and wrote about version 1 in PrintAction magazine (July 2008). At the time, I was impressed with the versatility of the inexpensive image editor and it soon became my go-to tool for quick image adjustments when away from my Photoshop workstation.Over the years, Pixelmator matured with each successive release, bringing it ever closer to Photoshop functionality while remaining a fraction of the price. Within an intuitive and stylish interface, Pixelmator delivers most of the features you would expect in an image editor. The Tools palette will feel immediately familiar to anyone with a working knowledge of Photoshop. Pixelmator is replete with a full range of tools covering everything from selection; cropping; cloning; erasing; drawing; painting; shapes; and blurring to typography and effects.And like that other image editor, Pixelmator supports layers – in fact, you can even open your layered .PSD files, edit them and export the file back to .PSD, or any one of several common image formats. I use the term ‘export’ because Pixelmator can only save images in its own proprietary format. This might not be such a bad thing because, on cursory inspection, Pixelmator appears to produce a smaller file size than .PSD for the same image. Pixelmator also features a number of tools geared toward those combining or creating new images, such as Alignment Guides and Relative Spacing Guides, which are much like the smart guides found in Creative Suite apps. The latest release, Pixelmator 3.2, brings some new advanced editing features to the table including a completely re-engineered Repair Tool. The Repair Tool can be used for anything from simple dust and scratch removal to difficult repairs such as large image removal from a complex background. Pixelmator ‘patches’ the areas removed with colour-corrected pieces from the image surrounding it. Even if the object to be removed was not selected precisely, the Repair Tool builds a smooth transition area and matches the structure of the background. The results are often quite impressive.Other new Pixelmator features include support for 16-bit colour, lockable layers and a cool little feature that apparently converts any selection into a shape for editing. I say ‘apparently’ because I cannot actually figure out how to do it, which highlights one of the few flaws of the application – the lack of a manual! There is, however, a fairly comprehensive help file and quite a few online tutorials to get new users up to speed. Also, because Pixelmator restricts users to living in an RGB world, it will not unseat Photoshop for heavy-duty prepress use anytime soon. Having said that, Pixelmator is a robust, fun and surprisingly fully featured image editor for a very, very good price! Tested: Perfect Photo Suite 8.5 (Mac OS X, Windows 7 & 8), onOnesoftware.com, Starting at $79.95 Another blast from my image-editing past, Perfect Photo Suite began its life as a collection of high-priced plug-ins for Photoshop. When I last reviewed the product (version 5 in PrintAction, August 2010), Perfect Photo Suite cashed out at a hefty $499 for the full assemblage of plug-ins. At the time, each of the plug-ins was also available as an independent product, so users could buy just the tools or effects they wanted.onOne Software has since taken the collection in the opposite direction and combined Perfect Photo Suite into a fully featured standalone application containing all of the functionality of the individual plug-ins. As a result, Perfect Photo Suite 8.5 has evolved into a surprisingly comprehensive image-editing workflow well suited for the artistic image manipulator and premedia pro alike.When launching any Perfect Photo Suite plug-in from Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture, the net result is the same: The full suite opens outside of the host application with the image and the selected functions active. From there, users can access any of the other Suite tools encompassing a wide range of image-editing chores.The Enhance tool provides everything an image geek needs to improve brightness, contrast or hue, as well as play with focus or remove offending spots and elements in the style of Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill. Enhance provides loads of presets for the novice and a complete set of finicky adjustments for the pro. Once you make your perfect enhancement, save it as a preset for other images, or even batch processing.As its name implies, Effects is the Suite tool for stylizing images. As with Enhance, this function comes with both a full catalogue of photographic effects and plenty of adjustable filter options to create entirely unique looks. Additionally, Effects filters can be stacked to create masterpieces or abhorrent messes, depending on the skill of the user.Portrait provides both presets and manual tools to make short work of tedious portrait re-touching tasks like removing blemishes, shine and wrinkles. Portrait also has specific adjustments for eyes and mouths, including red-eye removal and teeth whitening – cheaper than a trip to the ophthalmologist or the dentist!But for me the big draw to Perfect Photo Suite has always been its excellent Resize and Mask functions. Resize started life as a very pricey Photoshop plug-in called Genuine Fractals and over its nearly 20-year life has matured into the very best software to scale a lower resolution image to a large print size. Able to make sharp enlargements up to 1,000 percent, Resize is well equipped with presets optimized to a wide range of large-format-inkjet printers and media in addition to a full range of user-adjustable parameters to get your enlargement just right. Personally, I often use Resize to bring low-quality customer-supplied images up to prepress standards for print. And Mask has only improved with age – with a little practice, most users can easily mask around soft-edged image elements such as clouds or hair.Perfect Photo Suite, however, is not the perfect way to kick the Photoshop habit. Like Pixelmator, the Suite only works with RGB images. Also, I found the application stuttered a bit with very large images on my 11-inch Macbook Air – the Suite seemed to want more RAM than I could muster. Working with the same images in Photoshop was no problem, suggesting there is room for improvement in the Perfect Photo Suite memory management department. But, considering Genuine Fractals alone used to sell for more than $200, the entire Perfect Photo Suite is a steal starting at $79. Can you live without PhotoshopIf you wrangle images for a living, the short answer is no. There is a good reason Photoshop has been the tool of choice for pixel wranglers for decades, and likely for the foreseeable future. However, given Adobe’s subscription model not everyone will want to shell out for the Creative Cloud just to straighten a few images, downsize some photos for a blog or play with bokeh at home. Also, each of these innovative applications has unique strengths that can enhance any pro image editing workflow for a relatively small investment. Having alternatives is a great thing for users, and hopefully having some competition will keep the engineers at Adobe on its toes. Zac Bolan’s blog: blog.softcircus.com
Measures to protect your business from employee fraud The printing industry is continually plagued by cases of employee fraud. During the five years I managed the Ontario Association of Quick Printers, I was surprised by the number of small business owners who confided that at some point their company had been defrauded out of ruinous sums by staff – often a long-term employee whom they thought they knew well and trusted... Cases of staff fraud at printing companies reported in just the past 12 months, include: Michael Britt, 31, charged with 13 counts of forgery occurring over more than five years and resulting in the theft of over $1 million from Gene-Del Printing, the Brentwood, Missouri company co-owned by Britt’s mother and three partners. Britt allegedly wrote at least 166 unauthorized cheques to himself using forged signatures of two of the company’s owners, fabricated fraudulent invoices for the cheques, and made at least $25,000 in unauthorized purchases on a company credit card.Christina and Brian Russo, a married couple, both in their 50s, charged with stealing more than $657,000 from Harmony Press of Easton, Pennsylvania. Christina Russo allegedly wrote hundreds of unauthorized cheques to her husband and herself using a rubber stamp with the owner’s signature.Leona Gebhart, the 70-year-old former comptroller of Henderson’s Printing in Altoona, Pennsylvania, charged with stealing at least $151,130 over 11 years by allegedly writing unauthorized company cheques to herself (including duplicate and triplicate paycheques), manipulating petty cash, and falsifying documents, while allowing the company’s Federal tax payments to become delinquent. With all these past and present horror stories in mind, I spoke to Robert Fowlie and David Malamed, forensic accountants at leading Toronto financial and business advisory firms, and Detective Constable Keith Nakahara of the Halton Regional Police Service Fraud Unit (Commercial Team) to learn what printers can do to protect themselves from devastation by employee fraud. How employee fraud worksNakahara’s region of Ontario, including the towns of Oakville and Milton, has one of the highest per capita incomes and one of the highest rates of fraud in Canada. He observes that business fraudsters have no particular motivations or characteristics in common except that they have too much control with too little supervision – a position that creates overwhelming temptation for some people. “Don’t automatically assume you can trust somebody based on a family connection or the length of time you’ve known them,” he warns. “In business the most common fraud we see is committed by a person in a position of trust with limited oversight, typically a bookkeeper or accountant who has a certain amount of control over what facts get released, so the fraud may go undetected for years.”Both Fowlie, a partner at Deloitte LLP, and Malamed, a partner at Grant Thornton LLP, have long strings of credentials after their names certifying them as fraud experts. Besides investigating alleged cases and preparing financial information for use in court, they also work proactively to establish preventative controls.Both say smaller print shops are more susceptible to fraud than larger companies if their smaller staff count results in less separation of duties. In other words, the person writing the cheques may be the same person reconciling the bank accounts and doing the accounting, so he or she can readily conceal bogus payments to themselves or fictional third parties.In billing fraud, phony vendors may get paid, or an individual working in procurement for a company starts his own business, buys raw materials at cost, marks up the prices exorbitantly, then sells the materials to the company he works for. In payroll fraud, wages may be paid to a fictitious employee or somebody who was terminated still gets paid via deposits to an account controlled by the fraudster. Verify bank and accounting recordsFowlie and Malamed say a good way to detect fraud is for owners to obtain their bank statement directly from the bank and review it monthly (or else delegate the review to an internal third party knowledgeable and reliable) to ensure that each payment and vendor is legitimate. They also recommend comparing your list of vendor and delivery addresses with your employees’ addresses and regularly reviewing the payroll journal that most companies submit to an external third party for processing.“In a recent trial we uncovered that, even after review and approval of payroll information, a clerk was still able to make changes by adding payments to herself and terminated employees to an account she controlled and make accounting entries to cover up these payments,” warns Fowlie. “Our clients thought they were in control when in fact the process was not operating as they intended.”Nakahara suggests that the notes in your company’s year-end financial reporting may also identify specific items of concern: “For example, ledgers that don’t match bank payments and the bookkeeper’s explanation dismissing the discrepancy as a computer glitch may warrant closer investigation.” Expenses, consumables and chequesAnother big area of concern is employee expense accounts, says Malamed: “Expense fraud is epidemic among all organizations. It’s the number-one trend I see.” Fowlie explains: “In today’s tougher economic climate, some families have gone from two to one income or experience no growth in income against growing expenses. Under new financial pressures, some people feel forced to do things they have not done before. Perhaps this is one reason we’re seeing an up-tick in fraudulent employee expense claims involving false documentation or duplicate claims.” He warns that Websites even exist where users can print out receipts for fictitious claims. As a remedy, he says companies must check every detail of expense claims submitted by employees and require each item to be supported not only by legitimate documentation but also within business rationale.“Another form of fraud happens if I cook and sell steaks in the restaurant where I work, then pocket the customer’s money because the owners don’t know they were sold,” says Malamed. “This type of transaction is also possible in the printing world, where press or pre-press operators could be running their own jobs on the side using the owner’s resources.” Since consumables like toner, ink, and paper are expensive and highly transactional, he thinks there could also be a secondary market for them. One preventative measure he suggests owners can take is to project what the company’s sales should be based on consumption of supplies. If either the sales or the supplies in stock fall short, they need to investigate why. “Don’t get carried away with the business and forget to look at the numbers,” he insists. “The numbers tell the story. Perform your own analysis to see if things add up.”Typically, in cheque fraud the names of payees or dollar amounts on cheques are changed, or duplicates are issued of the same cheque. “Usually cheques are numbered sequentially, so if number 005 shows up a few times, it’s a red flag,” says Malamed. (Red flags are warning signals that deviate from correct practice and may point to the presence of fraud.) Fowlie says organized criminals commonly perpetrate a counterfeiting scheme by intercepting a company’s cheque in the mail and taking it to a printer to obtain fake blank copies. Then they write the fake cheques to third parties, who cash them and return some of the proceeds to the organized criminals. “This is the reason why in Europe payment is typically arranged through wires and direct transfers to avoid cheques being intercepted and compromised and counterfeits being written against the account,” explains Fowlie. “Some of my clients have lost millions of dollars through this type of scheme because they didn’t monitor their accounts closely or were unprotected in terms of the way their account was set up.”As a preventative measure, banks operate something called Positive Pay programs in which companies pay the bank a fee (something like 20 cents) per cheque and provide the bank with standard information on cheques they issue like cheque numbers, payees’ names, and dollar amounts. If the information written on a particular cheque differs from their records, the bank will hold the cheque and notify the company. “Some companies think the cost of a Positive Pay program is too expensive; however, if you’re lacking in segregation of duties, it may be the least expensive way to handle the problem of cheque fraud,” says Malamed. Staff and hiring issuesNakahara says before hiring any employee in a position of financial trust it is important to have the person sign a pre-employment contract that clearly delineates the basis and limitations of the job. He explains that fraud is the crime of obtaining money or some other benefit for the perpetrator or someone else by deliberate deception. Thus, to prosecute fraud, police need evidence both of a theft and of the deceit the fraudster used to commit it.He says a lot of cases get thrown out of court because the fraudster claims that the business owner knew about and approved the transactions in question. Without corroborating evidence on either side, the case boils down to the fraudster’s word against the owner’s and is likely to get tossed. Thus the pre-employment contract should specify that: (1) the person will not gain by any transaction without the knowledge and consent of the owner, and (2) the owner’s approval of any transaction must be stated in writing. Additionally, before hiring accounting and payroll personnel, Fowlie advises owners to call their former employers. If, for example, his client’s company had checked on the payroll clerk mentioned earlier in this way, they would have learned she was charged by the RCMP for doing the same thing at a previous employer’s company.But Nakahara says doing systematic police background checks on prospective employees only provide a false sense of security: “The checks only reveal when people are convicted, not charged, and for various reasons conviction rates are low in comparison to the larger number of people who are actually committing fraud. So no amount of front-end due diligence can replace ongoing due diligence in a business operation.”Fowlie says due diligence should include remaining alert to changes in staff’s behaviour and financial well-being, such as someone suddenly living outside their means. Additionally, he says people involved in fraud often do not take vacations to prevent their fraud from being detected; so refusal to take vacations is often a red flag. If you suspect fraudFowlie encourages businesses to review their insurance policy with their broker or insurer to make sure it includes coverage not only for fraud, but also for fees for a forensic accountant to conduct an investigation on their behalf, if necessary.If you suspect someone of fraud, he says it is not prudent to confront the individual straight away. Rather, you should first conduct an investigation and strategize about what is to be done. “I have seen companies accuse and fire longtime employees, only to discover the problem was not fraud but careless accounting,” he cautions.If an investigation substantiates fraud, Nakahara advises owners to be aware that perpetrators usually plan an escape, so that even if they are removed from their job, they can still continue to defraud the company. So the most appropriate course of action is not only to remove the person from the job completely, but also to notify your bank and other financial institutions that the person no longer has the authority to transact business for your company.Nakahara also recommends you let the fraudster know you have gone to the police, which might make them stop robbing you of more money or prompt them into a legally useful verbal response – something police call a “spontaneous utterance” – such as an admission of guilt or an offer to pay you back the stolen money, which you should carefully make note of. As the victim, you can also file a complaint with the police, usually in the district where you work or reside. In fact, to pay out on a crime insurance policy, most insurance companies require police to lay criminal charges to validate that the fraud has occurred with reasonable probable cause. A subsequent criminal conviction on the charges in court gives the perpetrator a police record which may prevent the person from repeating the offence at other companies.Sometimes, if a business is not covered by insurance for fraud, or insurance does not cover the entire loss, the owner may also elect to pursue a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator to try to recover stolen money. In this event, Fowlie says forensic accounts are often enlisted to investigate the fraudster’s assets to determine how much recovery might be possible. Fraud risk assessmentFowlie points to statistics from the global Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) showing that some businesses are defrauded as often as every two to three years. And because prevention costs are generally lower than the cost of a fraud investigation, he urges businesses to become proactive about prevention.Malamed concurs: “Prevention is my key focus. Every dollar you spend on prevention saves $10 or $20 on reaction – not including dollar loss. If there’s one message I want to scream from the top of buildings, it’s ‘Put preventative techniques in place!’”One thing a business can do is hire a forensic accountant to conduct a fraud risk assessment of its operations, which reviews all of the company’s activities to determine the types of fraud it is exposed to and develops preventative internal controls.As with legal fees, you pay for the consultant’s professional expertise, so the cost of a fraud risk assessment can be high. But Fowlie explains: “Like lawyers, most forensic accountants will first meet with you for an hour to understand your business and prepare a quote on how much time and money will be required to assess the entire organization. Some will also help figure out a budget that will work for you, since it is possible to perform the assessment in stages, one division or function at a time. You can start with the most vulnerable area the first year, then assess the rest over time.” Awareness training and whistleblower programsMalamed suggests two more important anti-fraud services available from companies like his, which are affordable to small- and medium-sized companies: fraud awareness training and whistleblower programs. Fraud awareness training educates employees, owners, and stakeholders on how to identify red flags. A whistleblower program enables employees to anonymously point out instances where potential fraud exists.“For example, in one investigation, I asked the employee I was interviewing: ‘Didn’t you find it unusual when the manager asked you to make journal entries on Friday nights and Saturday mornings instead of during regular business hours?’” recalls Malamed. “With awareness training, the employee would have realized this timing was a red flag, and a whistleblower program would have given him a way around his feelings of discomfort about questioning a manager’s orders directly.”Malamed says research by ACFE shows that over 40 percent of fraud is identified by tips. Giving employees a way to report it without worrying about backlash increases the odds of detection. ACFE statistics also show most fraud take about 18 months to identify and result in an average loss of $140,000 over this time. But for companies with controls in place like awareness training and whistleblower programs, detection time goes down from 18 months to nine months and average loss from $140,000 to $77,000.
Protecting your software investment with virtual machines Virtual machines are nothing new, and out of necessity I was an early adopter of the technology. While working in prepress and later in software development a few years back, it was essential for me to have ready access to the Windows environment. Initially, this meant hauling around two laptops in my bulging computer bag, as early operating-system emulators for the Mac were sluggish and limited in function. All that changed when I discovered an early version of Parallels Desktop. With Parallels I was finally able to ditch the ThinkPad and effectively run Windows XP on my MacBook Pro. For the uninitiated, virtual machines (VM) are complete computing environments including operating system, software and user documents/files contained in a single disk image. With a software emulator such as Parallels Desktop, an appropriately configured host computer can run a VM and its applications alongside host-native applications. When I reviewed Parallels Desktop 8 (PrintAction, February 2013), I had just made the transition to a new MacBook Air with a Solid State Drive (SSD). The differences in speed between the SSD and a conventional hard drive is remarkable, making a virtual machine respond just like a hardware-based Windows workstation. Suffice it to say that the SSD completely changed the way I used virtual machines and put Parallels Desktop on my daily use list. Released in September 2013, Parallels Desktop 9 improves an already robust hardware emulator with a host of new features, including: Support for Windows 8; Thunderbolt and Firewire device access; multi-monitor settings remembered; iCloud, SkyDrive and Dropbox sync; and an enhanced wizard making it considerably easier to setup a new virtual machine. The biggest reason to upgrade is speed, however, as Parallels Desktop 9 runs noticeably faster than version 8. Parallels claims up to 40 percent better disk performance in Desktop 9 in addition to faster start-up, shutdown and suspend times. While I often take marketing claims of this nature with a grain of salt, this one seems to stand true. My virtual machines were significantly speedier after migrating to Desktop 9. Of course, your mileage will vary based on the configuration of your host computer. To be effective, virtual machines need to live on a speedy machine such as a late model iMac, MacBook Pro or Air. While the stated memory requirements for Desktop 9 start at 2GB, users will find that more is better in this department, as a sizable block of memory must be assigned to the virtual machine OS. My current MacBook Air has 8GB RAM which is more than adequate for Parallels Desktop 9 – but my next Mac will have at least 16GB RAM or more, if available. Likewise, you do not need an SSD to run Desktop 9, but your user experience will improve dramatically if you do. Fortunately, SSD prices are coming down as more manufacturers include them in new machines and aftermarket upgrade drives become commonplace. Alongside Desktop 9, Parallels launched Parallels Access, an iOS App enabling users to access and run applications from their Mac and VM on an iPad. Parallels Access is available on an annual subscription basis. Why do you need a virtual machine?You would be forgiven to think that the only reason to run a virtual machine on your desktop is to get Windows running on your Mac. After all, Parallel’s Website and packaging both scream “RUN WINDOWS ON YOUR MAC” in large red print. What many do not realize, however, is that Parallels Desktop can accommodate a wide range of 32-bit and 64-bit Guest Operating Systems including Linux, Solaris and every flavour of Windows ever devised, as well as legacy Mac OS X operating systems back to OS X 10.5 Leopard Server. So why would you want to run an older version of Mac OS X as a virtual machine on your Mac? Simple – protecting your legacy software investment. As prepress departments deal with a wide range of clients and an even wider range of source files, it is important to maintain older versions of production critical applications such as Adobe Creative Suite and QuarkXPress. Many prepress pros concurrently keep multiple generations of these applications on their workstations so they can work with customer files in the specific version in which they were created – thus avoiding text reflow and other potential file problems.Also, with each new Mac OS X iteration comes new features and enhancements enticing users to upgrade. These new capabilities often come at a price, however, as older applications may no longer work as effectively – or at all – with the latest Mac OS X. By building a bespoke virtual machine for each major version of the Mac OS users can install and run older applications in the environment they were designed for. For example, I currently run a Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) VM for Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 and an OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) VM for Creative Suite 6. These VMs can either run on the host computer in their own window, in full-screen mode, or in their applications side-by-side with host applications using Parallel’s Coherence mode.Creating a Mac OS X VM is a relatively easy process with Parallels Desktop 9. After launching Desktop 9, select ‘New’ under the File menu and the Wizard will walk you through the steps. Assuming you acquired your Mac OS upgrades through the App Store, your older operating system installers will be available under the ‘Purchases’ menu and available for download. For Mac OS X installs before version 10.6 (Lion), you will need to find your original installer DVD. Once you have created and are running your VM, install and register your legacy software as you would on any Mac.Another major advantage of virtual machines is the ease in which they can be backed up and duplicated. Users need only copy the Parallels disk image to another drive for backup, or to another Mac with Parallels installed to use the virtual machine elsewhere. Considering Adobe’s recent decision to stop selling perpetual Creative Suite licenses it seems prudent to ensure you will always have access to your last ‘owned’ version of Creative Suite should you decide to work outside of the Creative Cloud. Housing your second CS6 install in a Mountain Lion VM, for example, is one way to ensure you will always have access to Photoshop, regardless of how Mac OS and Apple hardware evolve. Zac Bolan’s blog: blog.softcircus.com
Earlier this year, Adobe unleashed the first major upgrade to its Creative Cloud applications since the Suite launched in May 2013. While Photoshop CC enhancements such as support for 3D printing, perspective warp tools and linked smart objects grabbed the spotlight; new features were also added to both Illustrator and InDesign applications.Illustrator has been around forever, at least when measuring time on the digital design and prepress scale. Since version 1.0, Illustrator has nudged virtually all competitors to the sidelines, claiming the de-facto crown of vector editing applications. If you peel away all the fancy Adobe branding, the latest Illustrator iteration stands at version 17.1 – truly venerable in the here-today, gone-tomorrow world of software. So after 16 major upgrades, what could be left for Adobe to improve? Illustrator CCApparently, Adobe can teach an old vector editor a few new tricks! According to Adobe, the latest Illustrator brings new features derived from user feedback and requests. The new Live Corners feature enables designers to significantly alter corners of both paths and closed shapes either by adjusting a Live Corners widget or entering values into the Corners dialogue box.When selecting a corner point with the direct selection tool in Illustrator CC, users now see what looks like a small radio button just below the selected corner. This is the Live Corners widget and when dragged away from the corner adds curvature to the angle. Users can also click and drag over a range of corners or an entire closed shape, click any of the Live Corner widgets and apply curvature to all the selected corners at once. Double-clicking any of the widgets brings up the Corner dialogue where specific corner treatments, rounding styles and radius settings can be entered. The new Live Corner tool works so intuitively and effortlessly that any level Illustrator buff should be able to master it in minutes.Adobe introduces a completely re-vamped Pencil Tool in the latest Illustrator CC that enables freehand sketchers to draw better paths with smooth curves and straight lines using either mouse, track-pad or drawing tablet. First of all, let me say that I’m no artist, but after adjusting the Pencil Tool Options I was able to use a Wacom tablet and stylus to draw smooth two-point curves and trace relatively complex shapes. There are not many settings in the Pencil Tool Options dialogue: Users can adjust a slider to make the Pencil more accurate to the path drawn or smoothed by Illustrator’s graphics engine – that’s it.The Pencil Tool, however, does allow the user to intuitively continue paths by hovering over an endpoint before drawing, or closing a path by drawing near the starting point, then releasing the mouse button. The new Path Segment Reshape tool enables users to easily reshape any path without selecting it first or manipulating Bezier handles. Just choose the Anchor Point Tool (a part of the Pen Tool subset) and hover over any path segment – the Anchor Point cursor becomes the Path Segment Reshape cursor and the user clicks and drags to bend or reshape any path segment. Moreover, Illustrator CC sports perspective-drawing improvements enabling designers to easily adjust the vanishing point and horizon line of a drawing by manipulating the underlying grid.Rounding out the new enhancements, Adobe finally gives designers the ability to build custom tool panels and save a backup copy of preferences, workspaces and presets that can be shared with other Illustrator users within a workgroup – a long-overdue enhancement in my opinion. InDesign CC Many of the aforementioned Illustrator amendments can benefit both print designers and prepress pros, however, virtually all of the updates to InDesign are targeting the ePublisher whether they build EPUB, interactive PDF or Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) projects. For example, InDesign CC offers bespoke tools for creating, editing and managing hyperlinks in an interactive document–to the point of creating character styles to accommodate them! Hyperlinks can be applied to both text and images and validated through the Hyperlinks panel. The new InDesign also supports EPUB 3.0 features such as pop-up footnotes, better hyperlink management and improved multi-lingual support.Another new InDesign function facilitates automatic access to Adobe Typekit fonts – when opening a document using fonts not active in your system, the user is immediately offered the option of accessing fonts from the Typekit collection. While this feature might benefit designers with small font collections, it could cause problems for prepress operators who generally only use fonts provided by their customer when working on files. I have been working with InDesign CC since initial launch and really appreciate the ability to set the interface colour theme to match other CC applications such as Photoshop. However, I’ve noticed a few problems when working with legacy files created in older versions of InDesign. For example, I have seen spot colours created in InDesign CS5.5 mysteriously change their overprint settings when opened with InDesign CC – the result not showing up until inkjet proofing, or worse, on press! Hopefully this and other bugs have been addressed in this latest update. All the rest Adobe augments other Creative Cloud applications in this update including Muse, its approachable Web design tool aimed at Illustrator and InDesign users. Muse differs from Adobe Dreamweaver in that it enables visual designers to build attractive websites within a familiar interface and without learning to write code. This makes Muse invaluable for print designers looking to expand their services; however, the short learning curve Muse provides comes at a price. Sites built with Muse cannot be directly imported into Dreamweaver when more powerful Website architecture is needed.Adobe has done a great job of eliminating the upgrade dilemma for many users because Creative Cloud is only available on a subscription basis. However, while CC customers no longer need to weigh new features against the cost of upgrading, Adobe is leaving many legacy CS6 license owners behind. Not everyone can justify the ongoing expense for a vast suite of software they will never own just to access one or two applications they actually need to generate revenue. I suspect many will stick with the CS6 they own until Adobe offers a wider range of licensing alternatives. Zac Bolan’s blog: blog.softcircus.com
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