After 15 years of managing data, Prime Data moves deeper into full marketing automation by leveraging print with one of the world’s first Canadian-built Delphax Elan inkjet presses. Featured in the August 2015 issue of PrintAction magazine.In early 2015, Prime Data of Aurora, Ont., became the third company in North America to install a Delphax Technologies Elan 500 press, built in nearby Mississauga using a sheetfed inkjet architecture with Memjet Waterfall print heads and a transparent Mylar substrate transport system. Supplying data-driven marketing services for more than 15 years, Prime Data’s initial goal with the Delphax system was to reduce inefficiencies associated with printing offset shells for post variable imaging.Prime Data’s Elan 500 installation is unique because it is producing variable colour marketing materials, whereas the other two Elan systems are primarily printing monochrome collection notices (California) and government forms (Quebec). With its world-first printing position, Prime Data has been transforming itself to operate more like a tech startup to mirror a growing shift toward marketing automation. “We have a mantra around here, everything is always in beta… to have a tech startup mentality and keep that in the place to make everyone feel comfortable with change,” says Steve Falk, owner and President of Prime Data.Over the past couple of years, Falk has instituted several initiatives to embrace print, which currently accounts for approximately 30 percent of his company’s revenues. These strategies range from investing tens of thousands of dollars in security measures to new CSR tools and from cross-media consulting to variable full colour printing with sheefed inkjet.Inkjet innovation The Memjet print heads employed by the Elan have 70,400 jets that fire up to 700-million drops of ink per second, hitting resolutions of up to 1,600 dpi, on a range of coated and uncoated substrates with weights from 60 to 350 gsm and format sizes from 8 x 8 to 18 x 25.2 inches. This translates into printing up to 500 A4 images per minute.“The biggest thing [the Elan] did was simplify the process of doing batch-run direct mail, so we did not have to worry about offset shells… being able to roll it into one process where you go straight to colour imaging at an affordable price,” says Falk. Prime Data continues to leverage both colour and monochrome Konica Minolta systems for shorter-run applications. Falk explains, however, today’s highest-end toner presses produce upwards of 150 colour sheets per minute in simplex mode and are not fast enough for Prime Data’s larger variable runs. It would require multiple million-dollar toner machines to eliminate offset shells.“There is only one sheetfed inkjet printer right now and it is the Canadian-made Delphax Elan,” says Falk, noting roll-fed inkjet options from companies like Canon Océ and Ricoh do not fit with his current client base. “For our marketplace, [with a need] to change stocks and sizes several times a day, for the run sizes, sheetfed inkjet is perfect.” Falk explains the Elan produces full variable colour at around the same price as printing offset shells for variable imaging; while also reducing workflow issues by a factor of days. “This business is also big on testing,” he says, which is cost prohibitive when printing offset shells to reach segmentations of 1,000 households. The ability for Prime Data to leverage data expertise through responsive print helps mitigate the risk of being the world’s first Elan user for variable colour DM. “You should not be looking only at print quality, which is what people once cared about, but you should be focusing on the quality of the print message and how it is responding to [consumers],” Falk says. “The quality of responsiveness to the person you are talking with is what gets you better sales.”Handling dataPrime Data has developed proprietary tables and subroutines for cleaning up client data, sweeping vast fields to find potential VDP campaign disasters. “Data can be a nightmare and it can be a relationship killer if you do it wrong.” Falk estimates Prime Data might spend as much as four times the effort relative to competitors when working with customer information – and charges accordingly. The data-sensitive marketplace led Falk to make large investments in securing Prime Data’s processes over the past two years. This involves measures like building and testing firewall security, entrance swipe cards, non-disclosure agreements, destroying computer and printer hard drives, and chain-of-custody procedures for overprint and setup sheets. The growth in marketing automation also relies on securing data transfers with tech-savvy clientele.“What you want to do if you are a [printer] is think about how you can interact with how your clients are saving their data,” says Falk, “so communications back and forth, grabbing data at certain milestones in its lifetime.” This environment also pushed Prime Data to establish a CSR-driven customer tracking system to respond to issues immediately, which also helps to drive the company’s always-in-beta mentality. Employees are always improving their internal systems.Falk feels the new emphasis on online data collection has hurt print, as agencies try to hold on to as much marketing budget as possible, running email and social media campaigns. “Even though this sector has been active for over a decade online, and tried all kinds of things, they can only close 10 percent of their deals online.” He is seeing more interplay of print and online marketing automation.“For the first time, I had a couple of people come to us and say, ‘We are missing part of the puzzle and it looks like you guys can help us. You can talk our language, take our digital world and add a print piece to it,’” says Falk, stressing the fit of the Elan press. “We are going to grow with this new piece of equipment. We would like to see two of these in here. With the trajectory we are on right now, we will probably make that happen pretty fast.”
Alain Paquette, together with a silent partner, purchased Artcraft Label three years ago and set out to modernize the Burlington operation, leveraging its experienced team and position as a producer of high-quality pressure-sensitive labels. Founded in 1977, Paquette took over the operation from John and Edna Robinson, who grew Artcraft from a sticker business to an award-winning prime-label manufacturer.Stepping away from his established career with technology suppliers, Paquette saw huge potential in Artcraft’s strong market position to institute significant operational changes to drive out costs. With his own background in lean manufacturing, investments were made to improve all aspects of the business, from the shop floor to the entire IT system. Paquette focused heavily in establishing Artcraft’s prepress department, through Esko’s HD Flexo system, including a CDI imager and powerful new imaging software. The move adds more control over Artcraft’s high-quality printing platform housed within a 20,000-square-foot facility. The plant is meticulous in its cleanliness and order and primed for the future, which is likely to include contracting out prepress work, which currently accounts for a very small percentage of Artcraft’s revenue.What potential did you see in Artcraft?AP: I realized the market was changing so we came up with a plan to really optimize it… everything top to bottom… all of the software, computers, everything was all redone. We reinvented the whole ERP system. All of our stock is barcoded, for example.How much cost have you driven out of Artcraft?AP: We have managed to drop our operating costs substantially by optimizing. Of course, we now have a little less staff... and as a result, we crossed trained a lot of staff to be interchangeable.How was Artcraft’s print work when you bought it?AP: The knowledge, the quality, everything was already in top shape. There was really not much work to do there. Those improvements come with time.What has surprised you most getting into this market?AP: I saw quality from a manufacturing eye, not from a printer’s eye... there is a lot more that goes into this. [It] was a big eye opener.Are prime label clients overly demanding?AP: We search for the ones who are the most particular. It is not just for the margins, but you protect your space a lot better… where not many others can follow.What is the shape of Canadian flexo?AP: The funnel comes down very, very fast and we are all sitting at that same size. I call them the single-owner type. There is going to have to be some consolidation at some point, if you want to get efficiencies up. We are at the point where we are starting to eye the market to see who can we work with to create growth.What are your plans in terms of M&A?AP: We are looking to acquire… We have set up Artcraft so you can take our installation, especially with what we have done in prepress, and easily double or triple it without that much strain. How did you revamp prepress?AP: We installed Esko Flexo HD. We are noticing with recent demands and SKUs that you really have to push the quality. We do not have offset presses, but you have to get yourself there and basically we are now.Do you plan on offering prepress services?AP: We actually do plates for a few other label printers, primarily out of province. With the locals, there is always [a] trust issue, but we are not out to take business.What applications are you focused on?AP: We are a good player in specialized high-quality segments. Our focus is local and regional – a 200-kilometer radius.Beyond prepress, where else have you invested in technology?AP: In finishing – our flexo can run silk-screen inline, which not many can do in the area. We are present in health and beauty where there are a lot of the requirements to have more than one screen… We found with HD Flexo that we are eliminating some screens now.Are you planning to invest in digital print?AP: We have small digital capabilities right now. We call them our helpers. For us, we just really haven’t seen the value. I know there is payback, but the volumes needed to sustain a million-dollar investment is no walk in the park. There are still a lot of limitations in digital technology. What future goals do you have for Artcraft?AP: We want to see growth as a good mid-level shop and we are going to get there. It does take time and we are probalby looking at anywhere between a 5- and 10-year window, but right now the architecture is done. We have a team in place that can transfer knowledge and we will start growing from there.
Cenveo McLaren Morris & Todd is home to some of the most knowledgeable technicians, managers and salespeople in Canada’s printing industry. Nearly three years ago, one of these key assets, Steve Hanley, set out on a career-defining journey with one of his key sales clients aiming to mass-produce a groundbreaking baby-formula label.After months of collaborating with the client, testing inks and coatings in Germany, covering financial plans with corporate, Hanley and Cenveo MM&T’s journey materialized in late-2013 with the installation of a 14-unit Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106 sheetfed press. The more than $6 million investment, unique in its printing configuration and automation, is rivaled in approximation by only a handful of such high-end presses in North America.Holding one of the most interesting histories in Canada’s printing industry, from its origins of producing Hallmark Cards to its role in establishing the worldwide phenomenon of the Trivial Pursuit board game, the new 14-unit Heidelberg press is pushing Cenveo MM&T along an impressive growth path in pharmaceuticals, where packaging is often as important as the formula.Hallmark and PursuitMM&T was acquired by Cenveo, then operating as Mail-Well, 17 years ago, adding yet another important marker to its 59-year history in the Canadian printing industry. Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, Cenveo is a $2-billion company operating in the management and distribution of print and related offerings. The company is overseen by one of modern printing’s most dynamic businessman, Robert Burton Sr., who has been Cenveo’s Chairman and CEO since September 2005 – with sons Mike Burton serving as Cenveo’s COO (June 2014) and Rob Burton as President.Cenveo encompasses more than two-dozen entities in over 100 facilities. It employs more than 270 sales associates in North America, with additional entities in the Dominican Republic, India and Thailand – 8,100 employees in total. It acquired a Canadian printing gem with the acquisition of McLaren Morris & Todd, co-founded in 1958. One of those original builders, John McLaren (in association with Harry Morris and Art McLaren), secured greeting-card producer Hallmark as a massive customer for its sheetfed presses. Greeting-card production would come to represent 25 percent of total company revenues by the early 1960s.After being purchased by Southam in 1967, which brought in web-offset presses for direct-mail and advertising work, MM&T would soon enter the spotlight by working closely with the creators of Trivial Pursuit, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, to manufacture their world-record board game. (Today, more than 100 million copies of the game have been sold in 26 countries.) The original Trivial Pursuit had 6,000 questions on 1,000 cards – a printing risk with a world of potential benefit. MM&T’s early involvement with Trivial Pursuit led to an expansion of the facility to a total of 115,000 square feet. Building on its greeting- and Trivial Pursuit-card knowledge, and moving with the 1980s boom in collector cards, MM&T shifted its expertise into label work. This application direction was emphasized after John Morris and Alan George purchased MM&T from Southam in 1995. In 1998, they sold their company to Mail-Well, which, after combining with acquisitions led by Robert Burton Sr., became Cenveo in 2004 – resulting in Cenveo MM&T (CMM&T).A year later, CMM&T installed its first 10-colour flexographic press to dive deeper into label printing. This was soon followed by the installation of a 7-colour full web Goss press. The newest direction for the facility is positioned squarely at feet of the Heidelberg XL 106.Research and testingBefore the Heidelberg XL 106 was purchased, Hanley visited Germany on three separate occasions to test out the printing units, twice with Heidelberg and once with KBA. The CMM&T team sent over specific inks and did thorough press testing on behalf of their client before pulling the trigger. “Part of the testing in Germany was to prove it to Cenveo’s corporate leadership, ‘Here is where the client wants to go, here is where I got them, and this is the press that is going to do it,’” Hanley recalls. Hanley himself established the protocols for how the files should be tested, which took place on three different substrates in each of two main application categories, cartons and labels. “Heidelberg was very excited about the project too, because it highlights what they do.“KBA is a very capable press as well,” explains Hanley, who was impressed with both high-tech factories, but the XL 106 better fit CMM&T’s application and long-standing experience with Heidelberg machines.The purchase of the press was based on the baby formula producer signing a 5-year printing contract with CMM&T. It was the first such press configuration that Heidelberg has produced. “It is a duo press with flexo and offset capabilities, 14 units, all UV capable, extended dryer. It is a very unique packaging press in the world,” says Hanley. “We had faith in Heidelberg to deliver the product.” The Heidelberg press arrived in Mississauga literally by 17 tractor-trailer loads. “Heidelberg knows what they are doing, so there were no issues with it at all,” says Peter Zamos, who has been with MM&T for 31 years and led the technical implementation of the press into the plant. Leaving the feeder, sheets first travel into a flexo unit where a premium liquid silver foil is applied, which is key to reaching the client’s graphic goals for its new baby-formula label design. “The advantage of putting it on in the first unit is then you can tint it and it will look like foiling.”This immediately raises technical challenges in a press run, but the liquid foil is a highly efficient route for long-run label production, as opposed to applying traditional mylar (metallized polyester film) or other forms of foil. The baby-formula work is now produced in a single pass at very high speeds. “There is an unknown factor with a raised plate when you are trying to marry it to a lithographic plate in the next units,” explains Zamos, describing fit and trapping issues when breaking from the conventional wisdom of putting the opaque colour down last.Zamos feels the capabilities of the Heidelberg press are almost like a return to the craft of printing, including the file preparation of Autumn Graphics, a specialized flexographic prepress house from London, Ontario. Autumn Graphics has been working with CMM&T and this client for approximately 20 years. “You are trying to fit transparent ink around an opaque shell without having a visual problem,” he says. “From a client’s perspective, there is a craft to that.”Leaving the flexo unit, sheets travel through two drying stubs before reaching the offset units, coating and drying units. Karl Cox, who took over as the lead of CMM&T’s facility at the beginning of 2015, agrees with the artistic value that the new press brings. “The art aspect of it is not only in how we look at the colour and how we get to the quality, but how we run the press efficiency at its maximum speeds,” he says, continuing to point to how business flows into the press, scheduling its run and labour to meet the expectations and needs of the facility.During his early research, Hanley also had to consider how the printed labels would fit into the client’s packaging line. “A key challenge is to run at high speeds and to reach the proper coating gloss levels to have it run smoothly through the customer’s lines at high speed,” he explains. The production team is targeting a superior gloss level of 90 and is currently just below this high standard, while also committing to run with a delta E of two or less (well below the normal standard of delta E 3).“This was Steve’s passion. He believed this is what this organization needed and went for it – the proof is that he got it right,” says Cox, Regional Vice President, Sales and Operations at CMM&T. “It is exceeding the ROI that we positioned for the press when we brought it in. We are ahead of schedule. It has been a massive success for us as an organization.” Cox explains the press has already attracted new clients and he expects more. “We first wanted to perfect our art as a business with the press, before taking it to market for new opportunities. We are really at that point now.” This strategy fits well with CMM&T’s historic approach of working with high-end, demanding clients. “We used to print for Hallmark Greeting Cards. It was our first account and Hallmark has always been a very quality-oriented company,” says Zamos. “If you are going to buy a card for $6 you want it to be perfect and their quality levels are almost at pharmaceutical levels... Really, it is nothing new for us.”In addition to closed-loop colour, the Heidelberg XL 106 includes auto inspection cameras with pharmaceutical-specific PDF architecture to capture an image of each sheet – and dreaded hickeys – at press speed, to mark and pull errors from the run.Printing and mailingCox joined Cenveo in January 2014 to implement structural change at the Clixx Direct Marketing facility in Scarborough, which Cenveo purchased in 2010. After more than a decade of Cenveo’s growth through acquisition, Cox is tasked with consolidating processes and to capitalize on individual assets at CMM&T. Cenveo is divided into three groups: Packaging, which includes CMM&T; commercial print; and the envelope group, as a result of the Mail-Well acquisition. After acquiring the assets of National Envelope in 2010, Cenveo became the largest envelope manufacturer in North America.“We are starting to see an improvement in mailing,” Cox says. “That provides us with huge opportunities... We can essentially print in this facility and then add variable aspects at the Clixx facility. The two facilities work very well together.”One of Cox’ first moves at CMM&T was to bring in a lean manufacturing black belt to drive further efficiencies. The facility has been deeply involved with both external and internal auditing processes since 1996, when a client’s new Request For Proposal approach required partners to be Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified.“We took it on very aggressively… and we passed every audit they could throw at us,” says Hanley, noting the baby-formula market has higher standards than most pharmaceutical sectors. “It really highlights the importance in the quality of printing and in every aspect of the quality of that product.” Concern for quality control in the sector came to a head about five years ago when several infant deaths in China were tied to contaminated baby formula products of the country’s domestic suppliers.“We have a platform that we can grow with a lot of different products and services that meet the needs of our customers,” says Cox. “That is what really impressed me [about CMM&T]. We have a great team here.”Hanley is one of the top salespeople in the Canadian printing market and he sees an enormous opportunity ahead, because of the new 14-unit Heidelberg press. “This is the defining moment of my whole career,” he says. The packaging industry is still largely comprised of small entrepreneurial businesses and Hanley expects many mergers and acquisitions are ahead, mirroring the past decade in commercial printing.“There are some challenges on the commercial side from a margin perspective and there are different types of challenges in packaging,” says Cox. “We have opportunities for margin and growth potential through the development of new products, the installation of new presses, and in the innovation that we have brought to market with this press. That is where we see opportunity.”
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.
EFI of Fremont, California, has made significant enhancements to PrintSmith Vision with the release of version 3. The browser-based MIS software is designed for small-sized printing companies, with estimating, point-of-sale, account management, production management, receivables and sales analysis tools.The updated version of EFI PrintSmith Vision includes new mobile views in the software for users to check work-in-process, view job statuses or check arriving shipments remotely. New dashboards in the software, explains EFI, provide users with faster access to needed information, including specifics to the logged-in user, such as orders entered by that user and a list of pending estimates that can be opened from the dashboard and converted into orders.Focusing more on mobile access, EFI explains users can view a range of customer and estimate history details using an HTML5 mobile interface. Data security is another key improvement, according to the company, with new tools to schedule automatic backups of the MIS software's database. EFI also points to PrintSmith Vision’s new flexibility in logging customer interactions, whereby users can access a new feature for logging follow ups, meeting reminders, issues and questions from a variety of windows. Logged entries are listed chronologically in the software’s dashboard.With PrintSmith Vision, users can manage and automate their printing workflow based on integration with EFI Fiery Central and Fiery digital print servers with Command WorkStation, as well as with EFI Digital StoreFront Web-to-print software. EFI explains Digital StoreFront integration provides real-time, bidirectional status updates for immediate communication to both operators and customers.In terms of purchase order generation, users can create and manage purchase orders for paper, charges, jobs and invoices. They can also create generic POs to track other purchased items. Version 3 of PrintSmith Vision features several email enhancements, according to EFI, including the ability to email purchase orders, integration with Microsoft Outlook Exchange Server, and HTML email templates. The software’s digital assets window now includes a “show preview” button for previewing PDF, JPG and PNG files, saving users time in job preparation and customer service tasks. With PrintSmith Vision version 3, users can perform enhanced scheduling and job tracking with data collection in a new scheduling offering, which includes a direct link to the MIS software’s tracker module.
Avanti Computer Systems Limited of Toronto, which develops Print MIS software, unveiled details about feature enhancements that have been made to its Avanti Slingshot MIS platform, which will be released this September at Graph Expo 15. “It’s really our customers who were the driving force as we developed these new capabilities,” said Josh Perkins, Avanti Slingshot Product Manager. “Their input helped us make some of our best-selling modules even better, further solidifying Avanti Slingshot as a leader in Print MIS.”One of the new Avanti Slingshot features includes Grand Format Estimating, which leverages complex algorithms to consider unique imposition/layouts (number across/number along), material requirements, edge sealing, grommet placement, ink coverage, square inch/feet calculations, and substrate utilization to optimize workflow. The company continues to explain the software feature accounts for all aspects of the process, including tiling, handling multiple rolls across the bed, ganging, as well as logistics like finishing, assembly, installation, and multi-location shipping. The upcoming Slingshot release is to also include enhanced Gang Run Tools using Avanti’s rules-based Automated Press Sheet Optimizer that automatically processes ganging criteria and calculates the optimal layout for an estimate and sales order. Avanti explains its Gang Run Tools take into account specifications of the press and substrate, as details for the gang run (plates, ink, substrate, and press calculations) are determined. Handling all of the complexities of single form/multi form, versioning and combo jobs, Avanti Slingshot calculates and displays the number up of each item on the gang sheet and then shares that information throughout the entire Avanti Slingshot system, driving production planning, scheduling and job costing.For its upcoming Slingshot release, Avanti also points to the Automated Purchasing feature, which allows users to manage purchases to proactively control stock levels, costs and suppliers. Avanti Slingshot’s Automated Purchasing is described as providing real-time visibility into all supplier transactions and supplier performance over time, and helps maintain relevant levels of inventory by generating a rules-based purchasing plan, based on the shop’s pre-set criteria.Leveraging Avanti’s enhanced Slingshot Touchless Workflow tools, jobs are automatically created in Slingshot’s Sales Order Module via integration into a range of Web-to-print platforms. Avanti Slingshot is also fully integrated with production systems like Xerox FreeFlow Digital Workflow Collection, Ricoh TotalFlow and HP’s SmartStream portfolio. On Thursday, September 10, Avanti will host a Webinar featuring the latest version of Avanti Slingshot, in advance of its full unveiling at Graph Expo 15.
The hubergroup USA Inc. and GFI Innovations, after an existing 10-year business relationship, have entered into a dealer agreement aimed at hubergroup’s offset- and flexographic-ink customers in the U.S. and Canada.hubergroup provides a range of products, including ink-mixing systems, for commercial, news and package printing applications. The company has a global sales network of over 150 offices and 40 regionally operated ink-manufacturing companies.“Our relationship with GFI Innovations extends more than 10 years. Recently we have been very successful in the packaging inks market in the USA and Canada,” said Martin Weber, Group Managing Director for hubergroup USA Inc. “Especially in this market segment, we see strong potential for our cooperative efforts with GFI by offering printers integrated solutions for in-house colour mixing. Our business has also been more active on the flexo ink side and the market is growing.”hubergroup uses GFI’s AccuBlend-HV for offset litho inks and the new AccuBlend-LV for flexo applications. Both systems provide hardware and software designed to improve control over the ink mixing process, schedules and workflow.
INX International Ink Co. on July 29 held a grand opening ceremony for its new 63,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Lebanon, Ohio. The plant is expected to produce 37-million pounds of solvent ink for packaging annually and employs 38 people. It occupies 11 acres in the Lebanon Commerce Center Business Park northeast of Cincinnati.The building includes manufacturing space, a lab for colour management and development, and quality control and testing areas. Designed to also manufacture some other INX product lines as well, the new building is expandable to 90,000 square feet for future growth.“Our business has been growing in the liquid ink division over the past several years, so we are extremely excited about this new facility,” said Rick Clendenning, President & CEO of INX International, when addressing the Open House guests. “It will help us support our loyal existing customers while we continue our growth trend this year and in the future.”Clendenning continued to explain the location of the Lebanon, Ohio, facility will support INX' interests in the Southern United States and Mexico. John Hrdlick, INX Chief Operating Officer who was responsible for managing the project, explains planning to expand the company's solvent ink capabilities initially began in 2011, and the decision to build a new complex was made in 2012.“We went to great lengths to design and build a solvent manufacturing plant with the very best safeguards for a safe working environment,” said Hrdlick. “Safety is a global top priority for Sakata INX. There is always the human factor that requires constant vigilance and safety training, however, we are very proud with the high level of safety built into this facility.”INX International Ink Co. is the third largest producer of inks in North America with over 15 facilities in the U.S. and Canada, and is a global supplier as part of Sakata INX worldwide operations.
In addition to announcing the availability of the Pro C7100 press line earlier this month, Ricoh has introduced enhancements to ProcessDirector and InfoPrint Manager software, which fit into the company’s Critical Communications portfolio. ProcessDirector can now integrate multi-channel capabilities, such as email and electronic presentment, while InfoPrint Manager adds Linux support. ProcessDirector users can send customers all or part of a job’s documents via email. Emailed documents can be set to dynamically pull key information into subject lines, arranging the message in the manner most useful to the reader.With the updated software, users can set separate versions for different audiences, such as internal help desk and external customers, with different kinds of information available. The system utilizes preset AFP forms that are dynamically filled in at time of printing, so users no longer have to store preprinted forms.Ricoh, in July, also announced the availability of the Pro C7100 press line, which was unveiled in September 2014. The four-colour Pro C7100, available in both printer/scanner and printer-only configurations, features an AC-transfer system and elastic fusing belt technology to enhance output on heavily textured media like vellum and linen, explains the company. The press reaches speeds of up to 90 pages per minute, handling a maximum sheet size of 13 x 19.2 inches, with a monthly volume of 240,000 based on A4. Using Ricoh’s new vacuum feed LCT, the press has an option for oversized prints of up to 27.5 inches in length.The press also features a sheet-to-sheet mechanical registration system that squares the sheet prior to imaging, adjustable from the user interface. It also holds a media library that allows users to adjust and associate different parameters per substrate to help ensure IQ and reliability. A self-contained liquid cooling system keeps the developer at a constant temperature and minimizes disruptions in extended production runs.
Sun Chemical expands its Streamline line of OEM-compatible solvent-based inkjet inks, first introduced into the market here in 2014, with the launch of new low-odour inks for North American printers.The new Streamline ESL HPQ inks are the first inkjet products to leverage Sun Chemical’s recently developed low-odour chemistry. The inks have been developed for the Roland Soljet Pro 2, Pro 3 and VersaCAMM printers, explains the company, and are also described as being compatible with Mutoh ValueJet printers along with other eco-solvent inkjet printers using Epson DX 4 through to DX 7 piezo inkjet print heads.“The industry is seeing a boom in entrepreneurial start-up companies using wide format printers and these companies tend to occupy smaller offices,” said Penny Holland, Vice President Marketing, North American Inks, Sun Chemical. “Because many of our customers now work in closer proximity to the printer, they really need low-odour inkjet ink cartridges installed in the printer.”Sun Chemical explains customers who already use Streamline ESL HPQ inks can switch to the new low-odour versions without flushing out their machines. The ESL HPQ inks are available in CMYK, light cyan and light magenta colours along with a flush solution. They will be available in 440ml cartridges and one liter bottles for use with bulk ink supply systems, throughout North America.
Agfa Graphics updated its Cloud-based Web-to-print Storefront software to Version 3.0 to focus on what the company describes as simpler online creation and management. StoreFront 3.0 is designed for integrating with Apogee (commercial printing) and Asanti (display and signage) software. “At the moment our largest StoreFront account is a print service provider who is running 51 B2B stores for different clientele,” said Andy Grant, Head of Software, Agfa Graphics. “Today StoreFront serves more than 1,000,000 pages per month, a number that very well illustrates the potential of this market."One of the new StoreFront 3.0 features is designed for the use of animated carousel banners and custom footer function on store pages. This provides the capability for shop owners to leverage the technology for marketing, providing information to shoppers or promote specific products or services. Agfa explains the HTML5 banners are easy to set up and properly display on mobile devices. The footer function can be used to add contact data or payment and shipping information on store pages.StoreFront 3.0 now also supports price rounding either per item or for the total order value. With the updated software, Agfa explains business customers with stores aimed at international visitors have better control over international value-added taxes (VAT). In countries where it is customary to add a surcharge for credit card payments, such fees can now be added to the order total.“From the start, our StoreFront solution was developed with automation in mind,” continued Grant. “The tight integration with the Apogee or Asanti workflow is extremely powerful and saves printers a lot of time because incoming orders are automatically processed."
Esko has launched version 14.1 of its Software Suite primarily aimed at the packaging industry. The new software version is to include Software as a Service (SaaS) and subscription options, in addition to continuing perpetual software licenses.“SaaS and Subscription models for software are becoming the de facto standard in the software industry,” said Bernard Zwaenepoel, Esko’s SVP Software Business. “Esko has worked hard to keep pace with customer needs and industry trends, and to bring more value to customers with our Suite 14.1 release. While we have been offering a subscription model for some time for certain software modules, this release broadens the scope of that effort across more Suite 14.1 modules.”In addition to a broader availability of SaaS and subscription resources, Esko explains Suite 14.1 also includes a range of across-the-board enhancements. WebCenter upgrades include a new 2D and 3D viewer, based on the HTML5 Web standard, which also improves the WebCenter user experience on mobile devices, tablets and smartphones.Besides connecting with Automation Engine, WebCenter now connects with other WebCenter and/or Automation Engine instances. Esko explains this is a key enabler to develop and monitor multi-site automated workflows in a global environment. As well, DeskPack, i-cut Suite, Studio and Cape are now available in Suite 14.1 as bundles with different levels of functionality and pricing based on user needs, including Essentials and Advanced.
Serif Software, after five years of development, launched its Affinity Photo image-editing application on the Mac App Store. This is the second application in an all-new suite of professional creative software for the Mac being developed by Serif. The first, Affinity Designer, was launched in October last year (reviewed by Zac Bolan in PrintAction’s February 2015 issue, More Vector, Less Money).Affinity Photo was originally launched as a public beta in February (culminating in over 230,000 downloads), including capabilities such as RAW processing, PSD import and export, 16-bits per channel editing, and ICC colour management. The release version of the app features a full set of tools for professional processing, including camera lens and exposure corrections, accurate adjustments, live filter layers, controls for channels and masks, advanced layer handling, and built-in frequency separation editing. Serif also promotes its speed, explaining whether working on a 100-megapixel image or a complex composition with thousands of layers, a user can still pan and zoom at 60 fps and see live views of all adjustments, brushes, blend modes and filters with no compromise.
The new StoreFlow Cloud (released July 2015) form XMpie, a division of Xerox, is subscription-based, SaaS technology for creating Web-to-print portals. The company explains StoreFlow Cloud is designed for needing little or no IT investment (subscription plans start at $799 per month), lowering the barriers to entry for deploying Web-to-print.StoreFlow Cloud is compatible with XMPie’s suite of tools for personalization and multichannel communications, and it opens doors to the world of higher-value services, such as creating and managing marketing portals.“As an entry level Cloud-based solution, StoreFlow Cloud gives Print and Marketing service providers a convenient way to participate in a fast growing segment of services,” said Jacob Aizikowitz, President of XMPie. “At the same time, customers of StoreFlow Cloud will be able to jumpstart their journey towards transforming their businesses to become full-fledged, high-value multichannel service providers.”StoreFlow Cloud allows visitors to upload their documents, or select a template from a catalogue and customize/personalize it, price the job, and submit it for processing and handling. StoreFlow Cloud leverages Xerox FreeFlow Core technology to streamline and automate prepress functions and other print fulfillment workflows.Key features of StoreFlow Cloud include having an unlimited number of static, customizable and variable documents; Adobe workflow for InDesign template creation and editing; Automated predefined prepress workflows powered by Xerox FreeFlow Core; customizable, mobile-friendly storefronts with intuitive shopping experience; and integration with common payment gateways and shipping providers.
Xitron, an independent developer of RIP and printing workflow software, launches version 6.5 of its Xenith Sierra prepress workflow.“Sierra 6.5 has been highly anticipated due to the addition of APPE 3.6, Adobe’s next-generation rendering engine,” said Eric Nelsen, Xitron’s VP of Product Development. “The difference in speed and interpretive accuracy, especially with live transparency, is remarkable.”Nelsen explains version 6.5 of Sierra, by taking advantage of 64-bit processing and large addressable memory space, equates to a nearly 15 percent increase in performance over previous versions of the software.Xitron explains the new Sierra architecture also provides the framework for driving any high-speed toner press at its full rated speed, which is designed to help coordinate workflows for companies also running offset printing equipment. “It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” said Nelsen. “Nor does the addition of a digital press mean two separate workflows. With Sierra 6.5, all jobs come through this central engine and are rendered appropriately.”Xitron has more than 300 Xenith installations across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Latin America. Sierra is capable of driving over 200 different output devices from Screen, Agfa, Heidelberg, FujiFilm, Presstek, Esko, and others.
Agfa Graphics launched its new Advantage N-TR VHS platesetter designed for high-volume newspaper printers. The CTP system hits speeds of up to 400 plates per hour, which is 50 plates faster than the Advantage N TR HS system. Agfa explains the high-speed of the new system allows newspaper publishers to work with sharper production deadlines.The Advantage’s N-TR VHS nomenclature stands for Trolley Load, Very High-Speed. The trolley is designed to transport plates from safelight environment to the platesetter. This gives operators the flexibility to load the plates in a separate yellow safelight environment more efficiently, Agfa explains, in case switching to yellow safelight conditions is not possible in the room where the CTP device is installed. “With these new systems, Agfa Graphics again shows its commitment to the newspaper industry by offering state-of-the-art CTP technology that meets the requirements of the premium level segment in the newspaper market,” said Emiel Sweevers, Marketing Manager for Newspaper Engines, Agfa Graphics.
At Graph Expo 2015 in Chicago, Xerox plans to focus on three recently introduced technologies, including the new iGen 5 press platform, Rialto 900 inkjet system, and XMPie StoreFlow Cloud.Introduced in July 2015, the iGen 5 press is Xerox’ next-generation platform of the iGen family with offerings at three print speeds: 90 pages per minute (ppm_, 120 ppm and 150 ppm. The press features an optional fifth colour unit to match a larger amount of Pantone colours or unknown spot colours. The current options of orange, green or blue supplement CMYK and can accurately hit distinctive brand colors without moving short runs to offset. While the iGen 5 150 Press and EFI Print Server were available in July, the iGen 5 120 Press, iGen 5 90 Press and FreeFlow Print Server will be available in September.Introduced in February 2015, 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). Launched in July 2015, XMPie StoreFlow Cloud is a subscription-based solution for creating Web-to-print portals. With little or no IT investment required, StoreFlow Cloud lowers the barriers to entry for practicing Web-to-print. StoreFlow Cloud offers a cost-effective way to create and manage e-commerce websites that enable visitors to upload their documents, or select a template from a catalog and personalize it, price the job, and submit it for processing and handling.
Komori, at Graph Expo 2015 in Chicago, plans to focus on its recently introduced Lithrone GLX sheetfed press, IS 29 inkjet press and the PQA-S system for offset printing.Launched worldwide at the beginning of 2015, the Komori Lithrone GLX sheetfed press features a fully automatic, non-stop feeder and delivery, camera inspection and inline colour control. The GLX’ A-APC plate changers can change plates in one minute regardless of number of printing units. The company also points toward how the press runs on vegetable-based greases and oils. The new Komori GLX is rated at 18,000 impressions per hour, and although focused for the carton market, is described as a versatile machine is also suitable for the high-end or ultra-quick make-ready commercial market, as well as printers with long runs. Scheduled for a launch after Graph Expo 2015, the Komori IS 29 is a B2-format sheetfed UV inkjet press that can operate in perfecting or straight mode, printing on up to 18 point board substrates. It runs at 3,300 sheets per hour in straight mode. The IS 29 is a 20-inch web-fed machine that prints at up to 150 meters per second. According to Komori, this machine will be available as a roll-to-roll, roll-to-sheet, roll-to-saddle stitching or roll-to-perfecting binding configurations.PQA-S, introduced in 2014 for Komori press integration, is an external camera inspection system designed to detect defects like hickies, scratches, dry-up, lost image, oil drops, that can occur during printing. In addition to detecting colour changes, PQA-S automatically corrects them. The system is focused through a narrow slit in the catwalk to the last impression cylinder. It photographs each sheet at press speed for comparing to master sheet.
KBA, at Graph Expo, will focus on the new Rapida 105 PRO press, as well as the growth in LED-UV printing with VariDry technology, and the RotaJET series of inkjet printing presses.Launched in June 2015, the Rapida 105 PRO is a new medium-format sheetfed offset press. At 17,000 sph, the press delivers a slightly higher level of performance in terms of production, a larger standard sheet format of 740 x 1,050 mm, shorter makeready times based on more automation and a new operating concept. KBA explains it also offers more equipment flexibility and greater scope for customization. One of the Rapida 105 PRO’s key features, according to KBA, is the full preset capabilities from the feeder through the printing units to delivery. All of the settings at the feeder and delivery can be stored according to job type, which can be leveraged with repeat jobs or orders printed on the same substrate.The interest in LED-UV technology has grown substantially over the past couple years, particularly for the its use on sheetfed offset perfecting presses. Introduced in summer 2014, KBA’s VariDry LED-UV system is designed for commercial and packaging printers from small to large format. The instant cure-to-print system offers low energy costs to power LED-UV, flexibility to easily move LED-UV lamps interchangeably on press, as well as environmental and safety benefits. Introduced in January 2015, the RotaJET L and VL inkjet presses serve a range of applications for book, advertising and publications printing as well as additional industrial application fields, like decorative and packaging printing. At Graph Expo the company will be focused on its RotaJET 130 L and RotaJET 168 VL digital inkjet models.RotaJET presses, explains KBA, feature a web guidance system over two large cylinders without turner bars, which result in optimum web tension and a high print and register quality even on thin paper. The modular RotaJET L platform is available in five different web widths from 35.2 to 51.1 inches and can be upgraded to the maximum printing width and colour content or configured to suit all fundamental application areas in the high-volume digital printing segment. Retrofitting future generations of printing heads is also possible allowing users to react quickly and economically to changing demands.
The new Epson SureColor F9200 is a 64-inch production dye-sublimation transfer printer designed for the roll-to-roll digital textile market, which will be a highlight at the company’s Graph Expo booth this September in Chicago.The SureColor F9200 is aimed at medium- to-large volume transfer printing, reaching speeds of up to 1,044 square feet per hour. Leveraging a dual Epson PrecisionCore TFP print head and Epson UltraChrome DS ink system with high density black ink, the SureColor F9200 is described by Epson as providing quality output with improved ink efficiency and black density for roll-to roll fabric production, as well as customized promotional production, soft signage, sports apparel, and home décor markets.During Graph Expo, Epson also plans on highlighting its recently introduced SureColor P800 (released in July 2015), which the company describes as a 17-inch professional photo printer as representing a new benchmark in photographic print quality. The SureColor P800 leverages Epson MicroPiezo AMC print head technology and a new Epson UltraChrome HD eight-colour pigment ink. It features advanced media handling, including a sheet feeder for photo or matte media, and a front-in and front-out paper path, it handles printing on thicker fine art papers and poster board to produce exhibition-quality prints. Released in June 2015, Epson will also highlight the SureColor S70675, part of Epson’s recently introduced S-Series line of 64-inch solvent printers, at Graph Expo. The SureColor S70675 is built to produce photographic signage output at production speeds of up to 190 square feet per hour. Equipped with UltraChrome GSX inks, a dual Epson PrecisionCore TFP print head, the SureColor S70675 is designed for the signage, vehicle graphics, fine art, and packaging markets.
Canon Canada Inc. launched three new 44-inch, high volume, large format inkjet printers aimed at the architecture, engineering and construction, and Computer Aided Design markets. The five-colour technical document printers feature 15,360 nozzles for intricate full-colour renderings, technical drawings and maps.In addition to a two-media-roll system, featured in both the imagePROGRAF iPF850 and imagePROGRAF iPF840, the imagePROGRAF iPF850 model features a high-capacity stacker that can hold up-to 100 sheets of different-sized paper (up to A0). Canon explains the stacker neatly gathers newly printed documents to help prevent paper curling and allow users to quickly collect newly printed documents. The two-media-roll system featured in the imagePROGRAF iPF840 and iPF850 models enable automatic paper switching between rolls to allow for continuous high-production printing. It can simultaneously handle different types and varying widths of paper up to 44 inches. The new printers feature a 320 GB hard drive, a high chroma magenta ink and Gigabit Ethernet. They also allow users to replace the available high-capacity 700-ml ink tanks during print jobs without pausing production.The imagePROGRAF iPF840 and iPF830 models are also available as multi-function devices with full scan-to-print, file, and share solutions, and the capability to scan documents up-to-two mm thick. The MFP model includes a Contex scanner, Nextimage MFP software, a computer, touch screen monitor and MFP stand to help meet a variety of office needs.The printers are also available with PosterArtist Lite and Direct Print & Share cloud portal software (at no cost), which includes a shortcut feature for batch printing and allows files to be dragged and dropped into hot folders on the desktop. The models are also compatible with the imagePROGRAF Print Utility app, allowing print jobs to be managed from mobile devices.The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the iPF850, iPF840 and iPF830 printers are $10,295, $8,395 and $6,995, respectively. The MFP Contex model MSRP is $17,955 for the iPF840 MFP and $16,495 for the iPF830 MFP.
Nilpeter plans to introduce a new inkjet press platform called PANORAMA, focused on packaging, at the upcoming LabelExpo 2015 tradeshow, running from September 29 to October 1 in Brussels, Belgium. The first new press in the PANORAMA line to be highlighted will be the 5-colour DP-3 UV-inkjet press designed for single-pass printing, while the company is also preparing to unveil the FA-4 flexo press. Nilpeter explains the PANORAMA product-line is designed to produce a range of label jobs in short- to medium-run lengths with minimum wastage. The company continues to explain, in developing PANORAMA, it has adapted several of its inline finishing modules to digital production. This includes a web in-feed, varnishing unit, the QC-Die-cutting system, smart matrix stripping, length slitting, varnishing unit, and small-roll dual rewinds. A mark sensor used by PANORAMA technology allows for precision re-inserting of webs for reverse printing, or overprinting of pre-printed webs, including variable data. The PANORAMA product-line has a maximum printing width of 322 mm (12.67 inches) on up to 350 mm wide webs. It prints up to 50 metres per minute (164 ft/min) using paper or filmic label laminates from 90 to 350 microns. In addition to CMYK UV-inks, PANORAMA features an opaque white ink as standard for printing transparent films and metallic foils. The PANORAMA DP-3 print engine uses single-pass 600-dpi piezo print heads with 4-level greyscale imaging. A minimum droplet size of three picolitres allows small-dot halftones for hitting flesh tones and fine vignettes. The digital front-end includes what the company describes as strong typeface optimization and automated step- and-repeat functions. Expanded options for vivid colour reproduction is also available.
Konica Minolta has introduced the new bizhub PRESS C71hc toner-based press aimed at providing vibrant colour for corporate and marketing collaterals.bizhub PRESS C71hc uses what the company describes as High Chroma toner with the capability to reproduce a wider range of sRGB gamut, relating to colours seen on monitors. The High Chroma toner is derived from Konica Minolta's proprietary Simitri HD E toner technology.In addition to running at speeds of up to 71 colour pages per minute, the bizhub PRESS C71hc features automatic duplex printing of up to 300 gsm, and producing printed materials up to 1,200 mm for simplex printing. The printing system comes with what the company describes as an all-in-one finisher (FS-532), Saddle Stitcher (SD-506), Stapling Finisher (Fs-531/ FS-612), Multi-folding Unit (FD-503), and Perfect Binder (PB-503).
Xerox today debuted its iGen 5 press platform, highlighting key features like a fifth-colour option, improved press uptime and multiple speed choices. The new platform includes the 150 press (150 ppm), iGen 5 120 press (120 ppm) and iGen 5 90 press (90 ppm). The company is also introducing a new scalable press architecture, which allows users to upgrade iGen 5 speeds.The iGen 5 150 and EFI Print Server are available immediately worldwide, while the iGen 5 120, iGen 5 90 and FreeFlow Print Server will be available in September. Xerox released U.S. list prices for the machines, including the iGen 5 150 four-colour base configuration starting at $752,000 and the iGen 5 150 five-colour base configuration with a price of $849,000.“We launched a digital colour revolution when we introduced the iGen platform in 2002,” said Andrew Copley, President, Global Graphic Communications Operations, Xerox Technology. “And we continue to anticipate change and respond with new ways to convert pages from offset. The iGen 5 is fully customizable to meet page volume, application type and colour needs – all while delivering market-leading press uptime.” The iGen 5 platform provides 2,400 x 2,400-dpi imaging, as well as what the company labels as Object Oriented Halftoning, Xerox Confident Colour and Auto Density Control. For the optional fifth colour unit, providing a larger gamut of Pantone colours or unknown spot colours, orange, green or blue options supplement the standard CMYK model. The iGen 5 line also offers gloss or matte dry ink options and a 26-inch sheet size option to enable applications like six-panel brochures, gatefold pamphlets, pocket folders and direct-mail campaigns.
Tips on entering the dynamic vehicle graphics printing marketThe commercialization of wide-format-inkjet printing in the 1990s signaled the beginnings of a technological evolution into what is today one of the printing industry’s most intriguing and fastest- growing applications, vehicle graphics. Inkjet printing shifted the production of these mobile billboards away from laborious screen-printing techniques reserved for large vehicle fleets, as well as specialized one-off lettering jobs.Leveraging the maturation of inkjet systems and inks, materials science is now the key driver of the vehicle graphics market, pushing incredible and effective new applications and business models. Printing professionals who were in Miami Beach in late-February for the Graphics of the Americas trade show surely noticed the dozens of ATV-like taxis running people around through the night. “They were all lit up on the sides with a material that was backlit and printed,” recalls Brian Phipps, Vice President and General Manager of Mutoh America.Phipps continues to describe the growing use of OLED technology applied to thin vehicle films, a boom in paint replacement with pure coloured vinyl holding a metallic flake feel, and car dealerships running inkjet systems in-house by adding the cost of graphics into the leasing of van fleets. Ford recently bought one of Mutoh’s printing systems to apply its logo to corporate semi-trailers.“[This sector] is more around doing commercial graphics for fleet vehicles and panel trucks, potentially cars too, but it is more about the commercial side… the bigger side of the market,” says David Hawkes, Group Product Manager, Sign Products and Textile Printers, Roland DGA. Marketers and businesses alike are realizing vehicle graphics rule the economics of out-of-home advertising, which is no longer solely pegged to static billboards, as determined by the Cost Per Thousand (CPM) metric relating large-format- advertisement location to eyeballs.“Vehicle wraps, whether it is on the side of a truck or a car, are the lowest cost form of advertising available,” says Jeffrey Uzbalis, National Distribution Accounts, 3M Commercial Graphics. “Its CPM is around 50 cents versus 20 bucks [for prime TV advertising]. It is cheaper than Internet banner ads.” The advances in wide-format technologies have developed the out-of-home playing field for the betterment of print. Uzbalis explains this is why 3M films are used to display Smirnoff ads on the brick and concrete walls around Toronto’s BMO soccer pitch, where hard-drinking 19- to 34-year-old males congregate.“Everybody is so focused on social media and mobile that what they often overlook is physical graphics actually get results,” says Uzbalis. “If you put a floor graphic in a supermarket that say Chips Ahoy! you can actually influence consumer behaviour at the point of decision making.” He explains 3M now commissions audited studies to generate hard data points to illustrate the cost effectiveness of printed wraps to marketers. It is part of the company’s massive R&D investment in the sector to tap deeper into one of the strongest printing opportunities.“People shouldn’t think this is a mature market or that it is too late – it is not. It is growing and there are a million things to do,” says Phipps. “The media companies are driving this a lot with the different materials that are coming out.”Mastering materialsAn 18-year veteran with 3M’s Commercial Graphics division, Uzbalis is a true subject-matter expert on wide-format printing and specifically vehicle graphics. He has seen the wrap-materials evolution mirror the digital revolution from his position with arguably the world’s most-powerful adhesives company, which generated revenues of $32 billion in its most recent fiscal year with some 90,000 employees.With its Canadian headquarters based in London, Ontario, 3M’s introduction of Controltac graphic film approximately 20 years ago marked a significant step forward for vehicle graphics application. Labeled by 3M as adhesive performance, Controltac allowed users to move away from heavy permanent adhesive that was slow and expensive to use. “Controltac really revolutionized the industry because the adhesive wouldn’t stick immediately,” explains Uzbalis. “You could move it around, slide it around, position it and then apply it with a squeegee.” 3M’s second major wrap innovation came around a decade ago with the introduction of Comply air-release technology, based on micro-replication science that was developed to make better stamp paper. The technology was applied to wrap material to make a special liner with a series of ridges. When the liner is pulled away from the back of Comply film it leaves impressions in the adhesive, which provide routes for the air to escape ahead of an application squeegee – preventing the formation of bubbles. 3M’s newest film advancement, called Envision, adds material stretch and a wider operating temperature to the innovations of Comply and Controltac.“Really, for [commercial printers] it should be about wrapping in general, whether it is the side of a building or a glass curtain wall or the windows and floors, in addition to vehicle wraps, because there is a well-established vehicle wrap business out there,” says Uzbalis.Images of the amazing artistic work of vehicle-wrap specialists can be seen across every social media platform, which is intimidating for commercial printers thinking about entering the sector. This is compounded by the fact that print is not the most significant component of such projects. “It is not just a printer, it is a department,” says Uzbalis. “With wide-format printing, once you have printed [the job] it is only the beginning. Now that graphic has a second life… it has to be applied to somebody else’s private or public property. It has adhesive on the back of it and this is a key difference – it often has to be removed.” Investing wiselyCommercial printers, however, are becoming more accustomed to value-add business models, where print is not the sole revenue source for a communications project, whether this means data management, specialty finishing or some other tangible expertise.“There is certainly an art to both the design and the application if you are doing a full vehicle wrap,” says Hawkes. “There are plenty of third-party providers out there who would be more than happy to wrap vehicles for you; and do it under your name… there are ways to put your toe in that market to see if there is interest in your customer base.” Hawkes emphasizes vehicle wraps are often just a component of a client’s overall promotional needs, which may also include out-of-home products like signage, apparel or more standard collateral work.Commercial printers thinking about entering the wrap sector, therefore, must consider their most viable investment route. “The good news for commercial printers is that they are used to spending a million or half a million dollars and they see our printer for $15,000 or down as low as $6,800,” says Phipps. Mutoh’s proclaimed “Wrapper’s Choice” printing system costs US$18,995 list. “So, at least it is not a shock from the cost standpoint. It may be from the learning curve.”Uzbalis recalls, when he started out in the wrap sector 18 years ago, it cost around half a million dollars to get into the business. Today, a printer in theory can get into vehicle wraps without spending a dime based on outsourcing, instead focusing on sales. Commercial printers, however, do have specialized colour and production management skills they can leverage with relatively inexpensive equipment, while outsourcing installation.“A large percentage of the installers do not do any printing at all,” explains Phipps. “They either come to your place if you have a bay, or you can have it done at their place.”Roland, which builds its expertise in the wrap sector through print-and-cut technology, also focuses on producing decals, smaller format vehicle graphics instead of full wraps. “There is also something called partial wraps,” says Hawkes. “Some companies getting into it will just do tailgates on trucks or maybe back windows with perforated – things that are easy, decals for the door of a plumbing truck. That is a whole business on its own.”Producing partial graphics can also lower equipment investment needs, in terms of printing system width. However, Hawkes, Phipps and Uzbalis all suggest focusing on investing in 60- to 64-inch printers, again relating to the relatively low cost and available network of installers. “It doesn’t have to be a $70,000 printer that you bring in in order to do this stuff. We have our 640 RF printer and that can handle it,” says Hawkes. “It is print only, but you can do a full vinyl wrap job with it and people do that all the time and that printer is less than $20,000.”“Sixty-four inch is the magic size,” says Phipps. “Most of the media you are going to use in the wrap business is 60 inches.” This size, explains Phipps, can produce work for a lot of different parts of a vehicle, such as one-piece hoods and tailgates. “You want to shy away from having a seam down the middle if you can. It is becoming less and less acceptable especially when you are getting into higher-end wraps.”Phipps also explains 60-inch media is the ideal size for a single operator to handle during installation, avoiding the costly need for a second installer. “From an application standpoint one person can handle 60 inches,” he explains, “and secondly it will cover most vehicles in one piece.”If a commercial printer does decide to enter the sector by purchasing a wide-format system engine, they will also require a laminator, which might cost as little as $5,000. Phipps explains a laminator will typically outlast all of the other wrap equipment by at least two or three times. He warns, however, that it is vital to purchase a good-quality laminator, because an inexpensive machine is likely to lose its pinching ability over time, for applying an even, crinkle-free laminate. “There is nothing worse than spending the time designing the file, then printing it on expensive vinyl… and having it crinkle up and then having to start all over.”Making marginsAfter the initial capital outlay for the printing engine and laminator, the ongoing investment concern revolves around media costs, particularly given the current advances in the technology. Printers have the natural tendency to look at these expensive films as a means to control margins on their jobs, but, unlike specifying papers for commercial work, the wrong substrates can turn into very costly mistakes.This often relates to specialized adhesives and to the use of calendared or cast vinyl, the latter being more expensive. “Calendared vinyl is basically when you take a big lump of heated vinyl [and] roll it flat and then cut it off to get the piece that you want. Well, the problem is that it has memory and over time those corners peel up,” explains Hawkes. “A cast vinyl is just what it sounds like: You are pouring into a mould and so it doesn’t have memory. You always want to print with a cast vinyl, but at the same time there are so many inexpensive places to buy vinyl these days.” Calendared vinyl is also a thicker film, usually 3 1/2 to 4 mils, relative to cast materials.Uzbalis warns it may be tempting to save $500 on the front end to purchase a vinyl that is cheaper because of its adhesive, which may not be engineered for a specific application. “Profit can quickly turn into a loss when a $2,000 invoice shows up for broken storefront windows,” he says. “Worse, what is my reputation now with that client?”One of the more important aspects of working with wrap materials is to ensure the production team has the ability to properly estimate the job, which is certainly a strength of commercial printers. “Measuring and estimating the job is one of the more important parts,” says Hawkes, “because if you have to print another 10 feet of vinyl and apply another 10 feet of vinyl, because you forgot the back of a truck or something, that is a big expense in product and time.”At the same time, Phipps explains the amount of work involved in producing wraps, from design and printing to laminating and installation, provides substantial revenue avenues for printers. “There is a lot of opportunity to show value to the customer. You are not just selling a piece of paper. There is a lot more involved,” he says.Uzbalis emphasizes revenue potential goes hand in hand with a dynamic market that is constantly presenting new applications. “It is a market that has relatively better margins than ink on paper so it is very attractive to commercial printers,” he says. While it is easy enough to throw calendared vinyl on a piece of Coroplast, which does happen often for short term installations, commercial printers can also leverage their craft-based abilities to add value to what is becoming a powerful and cost-effective form of advertising.“It is the same with all types of printing. You can find people who are willing to do this for a song and make next-to-no margin,” says Hawkes. “I never really understood the thought process behind that. Or you can find the people who turn around and say, ‘I have the ability to do quality graphics. I use quality materials and I stand behind what I wrap.’ Those are the people who make the margins. It doesn’t happen overnight necessarily, but those are the people who do the best long term.”
Xeikon is introducing two new toners, MatteSilver and PalladiumSilver, for use with its presses, primarily aimed at label and packaging applications. The two silver metallic toner colours are the first products in the new Xeikon Creative Colors toner group, which focuses on providing special effects for label and packaging print, especially in the consumer products arena.MatteSilver, explains Xeikon, offers a rich metal finish to the print substrate and PalladiumSilver features a speckled silver sparkle for extra textural interest. The new toners will be commercially available as of Labelexpo Europe 2015, taking place in Brussels, September 29 to October 2.“With this new Creative Colors toner line, Xeikon is mirroring the capabilities of flexo and offset inks. We are giving label and packaging printers and converters the opportunity to offer brand owners added-value haptic and optic qualities with the Xeikon digital print process,” explained Jeroen Van Bauwel, Director Product Management at Xeikon.
Domino is introducing its first digital cold foil solution based around its K600i inkjet print module. The cold foiling technology uses the K600i to print an adhesive and create the image area prior to UV-curing and delamination.Unlike some other inkjet systems that print metallic ink to provide a foil-like effect, Domino explains its cold foil technology is based on real conventional metallic foil to provide a higher quality finish. The company’s solution also allows for the application of security and decorative holographic images within the foil. Domino’s cold foil technology can operate at speeds up to 75 metres per minute (246 ft/min) and can be supplied as a standalone unit or be retrofitted to an existing foiling station. It is offered in up to seven different foiling widths ranging from 108 mm (4.25 inches) up to 782 mm (30.81 inches). “We have been facing an increasing demand for a digital coil foil solution over the last seven years, so have now combined the latest higher resolution K600i print technology with an advanced adhesive formulation and a web handling solution supplied by AB Graphic International,” said Philip Easton, Director of Domino’s Digital Printing Solutions Division.Since the launch of the K600i monochrome ink jet printer in 2010, Domino has installed over 200 modules in a range of production lines, including label presses for hybrid printing, and finishing and sheet-to-sheet lines. The new K600i cold foiling solution is based on the same technology, but uses a new adhesive.Inkjet-based foiling represents a unique proposition for security applications, explains Domino, by allowing the use of holographic foil with inkjet produced images. This leads to product complexity and makes counterfeiting increasingly difficult to achieve. The K600i foiling technology leverages Domino’s i-Tech products, including the i-Tech ActiFlow ink circulating system to ensure ink is always moving around the print head. i-Tech CleanCap automated print head cleaning and capping technology reduces manual operator intervention. i-Tech StitchLink micro-motor controller technology ensures that all heads are automatically and properly calibrated to print as one.
HP announced plans to begin offering fully warranted and reconditioned Indigo 7000 presses, under new Indigo 7r branding. Remanufactured on a dedicated production line, HP explains the presses undergo the same complete integration process and testing as new HP Indigo presses.HP Indigo 7r presses can also be upgraded to include capabilities currently only available on HP Indigo 7800 Digital Presses, such as One Shot Color technology, automated on-press colour management aided by an in-line spectrophotometer and Smart Scheduling. In addition, the base configuration of HP Indigo 7r presses can be upgraded to include additional ink stations for up to seven colours, including white ink, and on-press special effects capabilities.“Backed by HP’s support, HP Indigo 7r digital presses offer a wider range of PSPs the opportunity to seize new revenue streams within the profitable digital printing market with less capital investment,” said Alon Bar-Shany, GM, Indigo Digital Press Division, HP. Driven by the HP SmartStream Production Pro v.5.1 Print Server, Indigo 7r presses can print up to 120 full-colour pages per minute or 160 pages in EPM mode by knocking out the black channel. They are rated to produce up to 4-million pages per month. The Indigo 7r presses also provide access to HP Indigo Print Care for automatic issue diagnosis and troubleshooting and are eligible for HP Indigo support programs.
Duplo introduced the 600i system as its new high-end collating and booklet-making equipment. The 600i integrates the fully automatic DBM-600 Bookletmaker with high-speed DSC-10/60i suction collators, producing saddle, side, or corner-stitched booklets, as well as letter landscape applications.The 600i Booklet System can produce up to 5,200 booklets per hour or collate up to 10,000 sets per hour into a stacker. It features PC Controller software, which enables users to operate the entire system from a PC as well as create and save a large number of jobs onto the hard drive for faster changeovers.“The new 600i Booklet System is our best flat sheet booklet system to date,” said Si Nguyen, VP of Sales at Duplo USA. “Our Duplo engineers went above and beyond to make our flagship booklet system even more reliable while equipped with several new features and technology.”Duplo explains, by using the standard Intelligent Multi-Bin Feeding (IMBF) feature in the PC Controller software, custom feed applications can be performed and a variety of unique job requirements can be fulfilled. Users can also customize the 600i system with a variety of options like the DKT-200 two-knife trimmer and gutter cutter for three-side trimming capabilities and 2-up processing.
Duplo released the 600i Booklet System, described by the company as its high-end collating and booklet-making equipment. The 600i integrates the fully automatic DBM-600 Bookletmaker with high-speed DSC-10/60i suction collators, producing saddle, side, or corner-stitched booklets, as well as letter landscape applications.The 600i can produce up to 5,200 booklets per hour or collate up to 10,000 sets per hour into a stacker. It features PC Controller software, which enables users to operate the entire system from a PC, as well as create and save a large number of jobs onto the hard drive for faster changeovers.“The new 600i Booklet System is our best flat sheet booklet system to date,” said Si Nguyen, VP of Sales at Duplo USA. “Our Duplo engineers went above and beyond to make our flagship booklet system even more reliable while equipped with several new features and technology.”Duplo explains, by using the standard Intelligent Multi-Bin Feeding (IMBF) feature in the PC Controller software, custom feed applications can be performed. Users can also customize the 600i system with a variety of options like the DKT-200 two-knife trimmer and gutter cutter for three-side trimming capabilities and 2-up processing.
Esko has unveiled a new range of Kongsberg tools, on top of the more than 100 existing cutting blades, router bits and accessories. Some of the newest tools include a psaligraphy (paper cutting) knife tool, perforation wheel and braille tool. All three tools are available for usage on the Kongsberg XN, Kongsberg V and Kongsberg XL Series of digital finishing systems. The tables are suitable for packaging, display and signage using a range of substrates like foam, plastics and vinyl to paper, corrugated boards and folding carton.The new Psaligraphy knife tool is designed to cut out fine details in paper and folding carton. The 60 mm Perforation wheel enables users to create tear and crease-assist perforations in corrugated board up to 4-mm thick at a much higher speed than before. This tool is suited for producing POP-materials and a range of packaging. Prior to this wheel becoming available, Esko explains, it took about 40 seconds to do one metre of a 3x3 perforation pattern (3 mm cut and 3 mm space). The Braille tool is loaded with clear acrylic Braille spheres that are inserted into small holes. These holes are milled with a special spindle to create raised dots that are readable with fingertips.
Drytac has introduced the newest model in its line of second generation JetMounter roller laminators. The JM63 Pro XD is a freestanding roller laminator with a 63-inch (1,600 mm) laminating width. It can be used with thermal overlaminates, as well as pressure sensitive overlaminates and adhesives. The system has a top roller with adjustable temperature to 248° F (120° C); large diameter non-stick silicone rollers; adjustable speed control up to 20 feet (6 metres) per minute; a maximum nip opening of 2 inches (50.8 mm); and five auto-grip supply and take-up shafts with brake tension control on the operator side.
Rollem has launched the PB-10 Digital On-Demand drilling system for working with toner-based print products, such as perfect-bound books, stitched books, manuals, coated sheets or plastics. Hole patterns, from a single hole up to a 23 hole Wire-O pattern, are programmed into the PB-10 DOD for recall and job changeovers. Operators can make all needed adjustments using a touch screen panel, including hole pattern, paper size, spine margin, read stroke and spindle speed are that automatically set.“The PB-10 DOD is unrivaled in its compatibility for the digital market with its simple touch controls and ease of operation,” said Allen Hammer, Product Manager for the Durselen line of paper-drilling machines. “It is ideal for short-run drilling with frequent change of hole patterns and/or paper size. There is no other paper drill on the market with this automation and virtually no set up time between jobs.”Rollem explains two individually driven drill heads move automatically to any position and drill any hole pattern. This flexibility is ideal for applications that change regularly and require minimal size runs. Up to 99 programs can be stored. Standard features include stroke and spindle speed control, cooling and lubrication and motorized drill belt. Movements are guided by wear-free linear ball bearing guides, ball bearing lead screws and a cam lever for the stroke.
BDT Media Automation GmbH plans to launch its new Wide Format Autoloader and Stacker at FESPA, running in mid-May in Cologne, Germany. FESPA is a global exhibition for wide format digital, screen and textile print. The Wide Format Autoloader and Stacker (WFL and WFS) incorporate the company’s patented BDT Tornado Technology designed to provide flexibility in the transport and soft handling of media. The WFL and WFS can feed all media from 0.2 mm to 51 mm thickness and up to a maximum format size of 3,200 x 3,200 mm. Feed rate can be up to 100 boards per hour. Demos at FESPA will show BDT’s feeding and transport of wide format media into Bürkle’s UV-Liquid Coating machine and BDT’s stacking as final step.
Segbert GmbH & Co. KG of Ahaus, Germany, reached a milestone with the sale of its 100th layer palletizer robot to a printing company in North America. The order was for an MPA palletizer with the VVS Pre-Sorter and will be installed during the second quarter of 2015. “We are very proud that we have achieved this milestone. I would like to thank our partners in the printing industry as well as all our employees here in Ahaus, we could not have done this without them," said Klaus Segbert, Managing Director of Segbert. “We are aware that the printing business is changing rapidly and while we continuously improve our current products we are also developing new solutions for areas like digital printing and packaging.“ The first-ever Segbert palletizer line in North America was a ZPA that was installed at Quad/Graphics in 2006. Today, Quad/Graphics is the largest Segbert customer worldwide. In addition to Quad/Graphics, Segbert’s variable-height systems have also recently been sold to leading printers like Fry Communications and TC Transcontinental Printing.Segbert palletizers and stackers are used in more than 500 installations in pressrooms and binderies around the globe and can be customized to handle a range of printed products like newspapers, retail inserts, magazines, catalogues, loose signatures, logs of signatures, books and book blocks, and cartons.
TRESU Digital Solutions of Kolding, Denmark, launched a range of proprietary water-based and UV-curable overprinted varnishes (OPVs), called iVarnish, for what the company terms as digitally printed folding-carton applications.The TRESU iVarnish range is specifically formulated for use with TRESU's iCoat and TRESU Pinta flexo coating systems, which offer inline spot and flood varnish applications, following the printing stage. TRESU describes iVarnish properties as providing strong slip angle for easy feeding of the substrate, rub resistance for brand integrity, and viscosity characteristics for optimized curing and drying at speeds of up to 5,000 sheets per hour on board substrates ranging from 180 to 500 gsm.The iVarnish OPV range includes UV-curable and water-based high-gloss, gloss and matte varnishes.
Heidelberg describes its new Stahlfolder CH 56 KT, to be released this April, as holding the industry’s first automated 50 x 70-cm cross-fold unit, which is designed for B2-format short-run production. Heidelberg states the machine is enables users to achieve the best possible folding results for flyers in the 50 x 70-cm format.An operator using the Stahlfolder CH 56 KT enters a new job on the touchscreen for the front edge stop in the cross-fold unit to automatically move into position. The buckle plate and folding rollers are set to the right format and substrate weight. This is significant automation, Heidelberg explains, when setting up small folding jobs.In one hour, Heidelberg states the Stahlfolder CH 56 KT machine can complete five repeat folding jobs of 500 to 1,000 copies each. It can be integrated with options like two types of feeders and four or six buckle plates in the parallel folding unit.
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.
The following article by UK journalist Sean Smyth is part of the drupa Expert Article series to provide industry insight leading up to the drupa tradeshow running from May 31 to June 10, 2016, in Germany.Parents know this refrain well “Are we there yet?” – just as they know the answer, “In a little while.” I spend my working life with printing technology and have heard this for many years. In the case of inkjet, it is a recurring theme. And while we are not there yet, we are getting much closer. Approaching the destinationSome print providers have arrived. A great example is REAL Digital International based in South London. In 2004, the company was founded based on the belief that transactional and direct mail production could be improved using a flexible inkjet solution. They invested heavily in secure premises and powerful workflow with finishing systems to cut, fold, collate and insert almost anything. REAL Digital invented 650-mm-wide high-quality colour duplex web inkjet printing by mounting a pair of single pass inkjet presses on a flexible transport system. Further, the company developed new paper coatings to reach acceptable quality for leading brands, printing personalized carriers, mailers and magazines. The business proved out the belief, winning multiple awards, including the PrintWeek Company of the Year, while inventing new business models as the marketplace matured. They identified inkjet’s potential and went for it, making good money in the process. REAL Digital’s journey continues by upgrading to a pair of Screen Jet520 duplex lines in 2014, but is not stopping there. They continue to monitor the technology to see what the future holds. “Inkjet technology provided the flexibility enabling us to deliver solutions that address latent customer demand and to drive new demand in areas where we have seen further opportunities,” David Laybourne, REAL Digital’s Managing Director, explains. “The technology continues to evolve, and inks are more flexible with increased colour gamut, reducing the need for special substrates whilst increasing productivity. As the ink manufacturers accept more viable pricing models, the proportion of the marketplace that inkjet solutions are able to address will only increase.”Viable ink costs are keyLaybourne’s opinion about viable ink pricing models is informative. Ink cost makes medium to long runs with high ink coverage uneconomical in inkjet, as compared to analogue print. Suppliers want to maximize profit and this disconnect is holding back adoption of inkjet in commercial print, publishing and packaging applications.Printers using analogue presses think the ink is too expensive. There are several supply models for equipment, service and consumables (mostly ink, but cleaning fluids and replacement heads must be considered). High value recurring consumable revenue is attractive to suppliers, but print service providers are not used to this. They buy a litho press and negotiate for plates, inks and support from the established supply base – although some press manufacturers are competing there. Costly ink is turning some potential customers away from inkjet.Substrates also importantAnother historical barrier to wider adoption of inkjet, especially for commercial printing applications, was the need to use specially treated papers and the inability to effectively print on glossy coated stocks. The latest generation of production inkjet presses is rapidly eroding those barriers. “With the latest system introductions of the ImageStream, the reachable range of applications extends even further, due to the printability of offset coated material for matte, silk and glossy applications,” says Peter Wolff, Director of Commercial Printing Group Canon EMEA “With these new capabilities, additional applications like magazine printing, catalogue printing and others are now doable on inkjet with all the benefits in regards of individualization and customer targeted content without additional cost related to special inkjet treated papers. “This offers commercial printers the opportunity to combine a broad range of applications on one digital press with productivity and quality equivalent to offset.”Books leading the wayIt is important to note that the costing of inkjet production is different from that of analogue print. It has lower prepress and set-up cost, but ink – and until recently, paper – is more expensive, often much more expensive. This means long run, high ink coverage inkjet is not cost effective, so there is little appetite for printers to change. In book production, however, there are advantages in combining inkjet with in-line finishing, delivering finished blocks ready for cover application and final trimming. This is particularly true for monochrome books. Publishers and book printers have gone beyond just comparing print costs to considering the total cost of manufacturing, since inkjet can deliver folded, collated and glued blocks for a simple cover application and final trim for books in any format or pagination with minimal waste. The flexibility of inkjet allows book production to be re-engineered with overall cost and service advantages, enabling book publishers to reduce their stocks and their publishing risk. Colour books are quickly following the mono lead.For other products, the benefits of changing manufacturing processes to inkjet are not so clear yet. Well-established analogue methods are meticulously honed to minimize cost while delivering high quality. This will change as more companies install inkjet equipment, learn the capabilities and exploit new opportunities. New inkjet equipment will provide higher return on investment for many print products. Production inkjet: a growth opportunityIn 2015, there are many inkjet early adopters and profitable users. Ricoh is at the forefront of quality with the high speed Pro VC60000 press launched in 2014. It has several early adopters, including HansaPrint in Finland, a €70m turnover firm specializing in retail and publishing. “Prior to experiencing the Ricoh Pro VC60000, I did not believe that there would be a major shift from offset printing to inkjet. But the new press has changed my mind,” says Jukka Saariluoma, HansaPrint Business Unit Director. “Our clients are very excited by the new level in quality and the increased flexibility offered and are moving significant amounts of their work from offset to inkjet.”The print world is certainly changing. All the key analyst organizations predict very high growth continuing for inkjet print volumes and values. Smithers Pira forecasts that the value of inkjet printing output for graphics and packaging more than trebles over 10 years, from €23 billion in 2010 to more than €70 billion in 2020 (in current values), with CAGR forecast of 12.7 percent between 2015 to 2020. HP alone reports that its customers have produced more than 100-billion inkjet pages since its first installation of a production inkjet press in 2009, a clear indicator of overall market trends, with other inkjet press manufacturers reporting rapidly growing volumes as well.Beyond traditional printThe applications for inkjet are many. There is coding and marking, addressing, security numbering and coding, photo-printing, wide-format (sheet, roll-fed and hybrid), flatbed imprinting systems, narrow web, tube and irregular shapes, high-speed wide web and sheetfed, to name a few. Outside of traditional printing and graphics, inkjet has revolutionized ceramic tile printing and it is growing very strongly in textiles and other industrial decoration applications – from pens and memory sticks to architectural glass and laminated decor.“Inkjet has become the preferred decoration process for ceramics and other decorative materials,” explains Jon Harper Smith, Fujifilm Specialty Ink Systems Business Development Manager.Thus, inkjet offers opportunities for expansion into related areas that may not normally be considered by traditional print providers. “Not too long ago, inkjet was praised as an alternative to conventional systems for its ability to offer single-off sheets, short runs and personalized prints. In the meanwhile, the technology is challenged to offer higher speeds and higher volumes to replace some of the conventional systems,” says Paul Adriaensen, Agfa Graphics PR Manager. “But the technology is also introduced in new areas never related to the printing industry before. This creates interesting dynamics in the industry.”Mimaki and other manufacturers are bringing innovative digital inkjet solutions on the market delivering higher speed and productivity to meet demands of the booming textile market.From a technical perspective, inkjet has a major advantage over all other print processes because it is the only non-contact, high quality, high performance process. The advances are primarily in new and better control of print heads, better inks and a much wider selection of readily available and more affordable inkjet treated papers. New applications are developing almost daily. For example, Canon has installed lines in Nigeria to print election ballot papers. Think inkInk manufacturers spend lots of money on developing new inks that perform well in the heads and provide excellent print quality. Such research is not cheap. But the result is that ink properties have improved, with higher density levels that result in more offset-like quality with lower coverage. There are also now more substrates that perform well with inkjet, aided by colour management improvements. There are many routes to market for inkjet inks. Some equipment manufacturers formulate and manufacture their inks; others sell ink that is made under license by ink specialists. In low-end wide-format inkjet, there are independent third-party ink suppliers competing with the OEM. That is probably the healthiest part of the market for end users, with thousands of machines sold each year consuming millions of litres of inks. This is not the case for high performance systems, where the equipment supplier typically provides the ink tailored to optimize performance within the overall system. There are indications, however, that this is changing. Collins Inkjet is an independent inkjet ink manufacturer who sells a range of inkjet inks, innovating in many applications including new electron beam curing. It makes water-based inks for many of the high speed single pass presses. It remains to be seen how effective this company and others will be in establishing itself as a third-party ink provider, in competition – or partnership – with OEMs.“Low consumables costs promote growth and easier adoption. When customers see competitive pricing for the more efficient inkjet technology, it is easier to switch, and they are more willing to change,” says Chris Rogers, Collins’ VP of Sales & Marketing. “Our business model is a traditional ink company; our manufacturing scale allows us to price inks at lower profit margins. This long-term strategy has proven successful over 25 years and it seems that OEMs are now starting to agree. They realize the easiest way to grow market share is to price their consumables fairly and we can help them with that."Driving new market opportunitiesInkjet has been around for some time. Today, a huge amount of money is being spent developing print heads, inks, substrates, control software, transport, drying and turnkey print systems. While these investments have forced changes on the world of print, it is nothing compared to what we expect to occur over the next few years. The inkjet markets today are largely new. As productivity grows, inkjet is becoming greedy, with suppliers now turning toward siphoning volume from analogue print markets for additional growth and offering directly competing solutions. The productivity, quality and economics are pushing inkjet firmly against sheetfed litho and narrow web flexo, and it has larger format flexo and web offset in its sights. While a few inkjet suppliers may be guilty of hyperbole (sorry, they are very guilty of it in some instances!), it is good to see users and customers voting with their feet and their wallets. That being said, we will continue to see enhancements to productivity and boosts to the cost performance of inkjet. Some totally new formats and systems are coming to market. At least a couple of these will be on show at drupa, in new formats and markets. What is also new is that these will be firmly aimed at the heartland of offset and flexo printing. Choice of printing methods changes because of one or more reasons: to reduce cost, to improve quality, to achieve greater levels of service, or to do new things. Inkjet allows printers to do all four – and no doubt there will be other new reasons going forward. Flexibility. Agility. Power. In addition to graphics and packaging, inkjet is making rapid progress in textile printing, ceramics and industrial/architectural decoration. Then there is the new arena of 3D printing, where inkjet is an important enabler. These have the potential of opening huge new opportunities for companies that are smart enough and brave enough to explore the potential and exploit new markets. In technology terms, inkjet is state of the art. In business terms, inkjet is being used to re-engineer supply chains, making money. That certainly is not fiction.
Alliance Printing of Coquitlam, British Columbia, is being highlighted for driving its operation into environmentally progressive printing practices, spearheaded by its 6-year participation in Agfa Graphics’ GreenWorks program.In 2009, Alliance Printing replaced its chemistry-based computer-to-plate system and moved to thermal imaging technology focused around Agfa’s Azura plate, using ThermoFuse graining technology. Today, the BC printer is employing Agfa’s chemistry-free Azura TS plate. Azura TS is a thermal, negative-working plate designed for low- to medium-run volumes. “Our waste was cut significantly and there’s no more chemistry to treat before disposal,” said said Shawn Taghvaei, President and owner of Alliance Printing. “What used to take hours cleaning the processor now only takes minutes, and dumping chemistry every month due to oxidation has become a thing of the past.” Taghvaei continues to explain that the patented graining on the Azura plate allows Alliance Printing to run with much less water, resulting in less ink on the sheets and faster make readies. Alliance Printing, explains Taghvaei, also recycles all of its off-cut papers, cardboard and plates, in addition to using vegetable-based inks for printing and recycling of the company’s toner cartridges.“Commercial printers like Shawn at Alliance Printing are not only doing a service to their customer, but to the planet,” said Deborah Hutcheson, Director of Marketing at Agfa Graphics, North America. “We are fully supportive of endeavors that are eco-friendly, but also improve commercial printers’ end products and relationship with their customers for increased profits and greater success.”
In its continuing efforts to build itself an environmentally progressive paper supplier, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) announced plans to install in excess of 200 mega-watts (MW) of solar power capacity across eight Chinese mills. The move represents an additional 129.5 MW of capacity to be built on the 70.5 MW installed during the previous year.The collective rooftop solar capacity of the eight Chinese mills will generate enough energy to power more than 500,000 homes. It is anticipated to be the largest solar project within the pulp-and-paper industry, and amongst the largest rooftop solar projects anywhere in the world.The solar project will result in the installation of approximately four million square metres of solar panels, the equivalent of 560 football pitches. The panels will be installed at APP operations at Gold East, Gold Hongye, Gold Huasheng, Hainan Jinhai, Yalong, Ningbo Zhonghua, Ningbo Asia and Guangxi Jingui mills in China.The project, being developed by a consortium of Chinese solar manufacturers, forms part of a wider Chinese Government strategy to increase distributed solar power capacity. Energy generated by the project will be supplied into the national power grid. APP in turn will receive discounted electricity from the national grid.“This project means APP will benefit from efficiency savings, while also making an important contribution to the local communities around our mills through the generation of clean and renewable power,” said Bingjian Sun, Communications General Manager for APP-China. “It is a great example of how sustainability can have a positive effect on planet and people as well as profit. It also supports the Chinese Government’s commitment to increase the proportion of renewable energy in China to 20 percent by 2030.“As one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies, we recognize the important role we must play in helping reduce global emissions. Whether through facilitating the growth of renewable energy in China, reducing emissions from peatlands in Indonesia or cutting energy usage in our operations globally, we know we can have a significant impact.” All 200 MW of capacity is expected to be installed within the next three to five years. China is the world’s largest investor in renewable energy, investing more than $89.5 billion in 2014, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In solar power alone, the Chinese Government is committed to the annual development of a minimum of 10 GW of capacity between 2013 and 2015.
3M, the world’s largest adhesives developer, with $32 billion in annual sales and 90,000 employees, announced a significant new pulp-and-paper sourcing policy. The company states the policy is designed to ensure all the virgin wood fibre going into 3M’s paper-based products and packaging comes from sources that protect forests and respect human rights.3M’s new policy does not allow any wood fibre to be linked to deforestation or illegal operations. All paper-based products and packaging suppliers working with the company are required to provide information on the original forest sources of the virgin pulp in 3M’s products, and allow those sources to be assessed against 3M’s policy.Implementation of the policy throughout 3M’s global operations involves more than 70 countries and 5,000 pulp-and-paper suppliers, each with their own manufacturing facilities and supply chains.The policy also requires protection of high carbon stock forests and high conservation values, like intact forest landscapes, peatlands and the habitat of endangered species. 3M’s newly revised policy comes on the heels of a multi-year campaign by ForestEthics challenging the company to strengthen its commitment to protect forests and endangered wildlife, and to support rights of forest-impacted communities. Greenpeace joined the campaign in 2014.“3M had the vision and the commitment back in the 1970s to endeavor to address its climate impact, and they did so with great effect. We knew they had the capacity and the smarts to take the same approach with forests,” said Todd Paglia, Executive Director, ForestEthics. “[The policy] today is industry leading and represents exactly the type of innovation that 3M is known for.”To update its preexisting policy, 3M worked with The Forest Trust (TFT) and Dovetail Partners to learn more about the threats facing forests in its supply chain. 3M and TFT together will map 3M’s supply chains back to source and assess them against the 3M policy.“We are excited to be working with 3M on this important effort to transform the global pulp-and-paper market to be drivers of forest protection, and to clearly send a message that deforestation is unacceptable,” said Scott Poynton, Founder and Executive Director, The Forest Trust.The new 3M policy also sets company standards relating to social concerns, including what 3M describes as respect for workers’ rights and indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior and informed consent to operations on their traditional lands. “We are taking responsibility for making sure our pulp-and-paper suppliers meet the requirements of the policy, and help them to raise their performance if necessary,” said Jean Sweeney, VP, 3M Environmental, Health, Safety and Sustainability Operations.
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.
Earn more business by reducing your prospect’s marketing cost by up to 75% while maintaining maximum marginsMost account executives are facing the same two print sales challenges: How do I differentiate my services when my competitors are capable of supplying the same job and how can I be competitive when there is always someone willing to print the same job for less? Although co-op marketing does not apply to every print sales situation, if your prospect is a neighborhood business that is print marketing collateral then co-op marketing offers a unique solution to this print sales challenge. What is co-op marketing?With summer now in swing, businesses that offer home services like lawn care, carpet cleaning, door and window sales, heating and air conditioning sales, eaves trough installers, roofers, driveway paving, kitchen and bathroom renovators, home improvement contractors and landscapers are getting ready for their summer marketing drive, which usually entails distributing fliers, brochures and door hangers throughout the local neighborhood. This need for marketing collateral presents an excellent opportunity for anyone in the printing industry to grow their sales and earnings.But landing these accounts is not that easy, after all, most of them are already dealing with a printer and the vast majority – a whopping 80 percent – are happy with their existing supplier. So why should any of these companies endure the risk and inconvenience of changing suppliers? Well the fact is that in most cases they won’t, unless:You have something to offer that they can’t get from their existing supplier, You can show them how to get a better ROI, and Your quote is very competitive.Co-op marketing allows you to meet all three of these criteria. Co-op marketing simply means sharing the printing and distribution costs between two or more noncompetitive businesses. CO-OP Marketing advantages 1. It lowers your prospect’s cost For example, the lawn care service provider is ready to invest $3,000 to print and distribute a promotional flier; the roofing company is also planning to send promotional fliers to the same target market; and so is the driveway paving service and the eaves trough installers. If only two of these businesses got together to share the cost of the flier and distribution, they could reduce their marketing costs by up to 50 percent; and if all four got together their savings could be as high as 75 percent. From a print sales perspective creating a co-op marketing program allows you to differentiate your service by telling the prospect that you can reduce their marketing costs by up to 75 percent! 2. It will increase sales For your prospect a reduction in marketing costs means much more than just saving money; it also means an increase in sales and higher profits. For example, take any business person; a real estate agent; the owner of a lawn care service or the owner of the local pizzeria, their success requires marketing. They need to tell everyone in their neighborhood about the service or product and the more often they get their message out, the higher their sales. But small business owners have a limited marketing budget, so although they’d like to advertise more, they cannot afford it. Small business owners will welcome an idea that allows them to promote their services more often for the same cost and co-op marketing provides this opportunity. From a print sales perspective, creating a co-op marketing program allows you to differentiate your service by telling the prospect that you can share an idea that will increase their sales and gain market share.3. It makes your prospect’s marketing material more effective Diversity increases readership. For example, a Healthcare Newsletter that included an article and ad from a dentist, a dermatologist, a chiropractor and a nutritionist would have a much higher readership then a newsletter that only focused on one of these topics. So while sharing the cost of printing and distributing a brochure, flier or door hanger will greatly reduce your prospect’s marketing cost, co-op marketing will also increase readership and, for the prospect, that means generating a higher response. From a print sales perspective, creating a co-op marketing program means that you differentiate your service by telling the prospect that you can share an idea that will increase response and make their marketing collateral more effective.While offering your prospects a co-op marketing opportunity is an extremely effective way to differentiate your services and eliminate price competition, you can maximize your sales and earnings by offering the prospect a marketing campaign instead of a single co-op distribution. For example, if you created a co-op Home Services Newsletter or Door Hanger your promotional package could include printing and distribution to 5-million homes once a month for six months. How to create a co-op marketing package 1. Select the productAny printed material can be turned into a co-op marketing program, a note pad, flier, postcard, calendar, oversized door hangers, or an 11 x 17 sheet can be turned into 4-page newsletter. 2. Select an area for distribution5,000 homes along specified postal routes, all the businesses within a target area3. Pick a theme Again, there are lots of themes to choose from, primarily depending on time of year: Home improvements, real estate, food and entertainment, health and fitness, business services, etc.4. List the different types of business that fit under your themeHome improvements: Carpet cleaning, door and window sale, heating and air conditioning sale, eaves trough installers, roofers, driveway paving, kitchen and bathroom renovators, home improvements contractors, landscapers, lawn care, plumbers and electricians. Food and entertainment: Restaurants, theatres, pubs, country clubs, caterers, wine making outlets, butchers, home delivery, bakers and even farms that sell to the public.Business services: Office cleaning, office supplies, office equipment, business insurance, car leasing, temp services, accounting, bookkeeping and computer services, courier, shipping.5. Create a prospecting listUse the phone directory and Internet to identify all the local businesses on your list. 6. Contact everyone on your listTell them about the benefits. Offer everyone exclusivity by only including one company for each service. For example if your theme was dinning you could make it exclusive by including only one Italian, one Chinese and one Mexican restaurant.
For three days in March, some of the brightest technological minds in print gathered in New Mexico to discuss RFID, Ultra Violet, omni-marketing and colour management The Technical Association of the Graphic Arts held its annual conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in late March. As is tradition, the conference, focusing on the newest technological developments in printing systems kicked off with four high-profile keynote speakers.The first keynote came from Chris Travis of KBA North America. He talked about many advances still being made in press technology, with more sales of complex machines, combining different printing features and more automation. Presses are being ordered with double coaters for spot UV, spot matte and special effect coatings. Sometimes the coating units are before the printing units for laying white down first, to print on foils and for the application of sizing. The goal of all these various press configurations is to get everything done in one pass. Travis also points out that the decision to print a job digitally or offset starts at a relatively low good-copy count. He says any job with more than 191 good print copies is more cost effective when the job is printed offset. UV technology is also changing, as the light tubes change from the standard mercury vapour to iron-doped mercury vapour light tubes. This little change results in higher gloss levels for UV coatings. The coating manufacturers have to adjust the phot0-initiator mix so it will work with the iron-doped UV light tubes and UV LED technology is gaining more of a foothold in the print industry. Travis also points out that flexographic printing is growing and holds the most potential in the print industry. The industry overall is finally growing again even as a lot of mergers and acquisitions take place.The second keynote was given by Patrick Younk from Los Alamos National Lab, introducing conference attendees to some of their incredible work. Many fundamental research projects are carried out by this research institute. Younk talked about the High Altitude Water Cherenkov observatory for the detection of gamma rays originating from the sun. He also talked about an ultra-fast optical ranging measurement system. It is a non-contact position measurement system that works with a 1-micron accuracy and it could be used to measure ink film thickness or colour registration.Michael Van Haren from Quad/Graphics presented the third keynote on omni-channel marketing. He began by describing the differences between multi-channel and omni-channel marketing. Omni-channel marketing is the same message on all media. Print of course is still the main driver of this. Why – because it works. It delivers the right message in the right place at the right time. With the emergence of high-speed inkjet printing it is possible to personalize the message and with full colour inkjet the message to the consumer becomes very personalized. A highly targeted variable data print uses personalized URLs or PURLs. Through QR codes and image recognition apps, the printed piece has some augmented reality to it. For all this technology to work well, data is needed to drive the campaign. The contact strategy needs to be build with print being in sync with digital channels. Any digital tools that interact with the customer need to be tested over and over again to make sure they all work as intended.The fourth keynote was given by Bruce Khan from Clemson University and his topic was printed electronics. He said that print is and will be the manufacturing method of choice in this area, because it is fast and produces the electronic components at a relatively low cost. Khan also says that false hopes had been given by nanotechnology and RFID technology. The most successful printed electronic component is the glucose sensor strip for diabetics. Many obstacles still need to be overcome to successfully print something like flexible hybrid electronics.Colour and optical brightenersOn the second day of the TAGA conference, the series of presentations started with a diverse range of topics. John Anderson from Kodak talked about the Flexcel NX flexographic printing plate that allows the manufacturing of plates with flat top dots. The Flexcel NX plate is coupled with DigiCapNX technology to achieve higher solid ink densities than with conventional plate technology. This technology allows for creating halftones from a 0.4 to a 99.6 percent tint. Through Hyperflex NX technology, the floor of the flexographic printing plate gets extended to support low tint value halftone dots. This presentation was an example of the advances that are currently made in flexography that allow the printing of finer details and more vibrant solids.Don Schroeder from Fujifilm was one of the first speakers to talk about the influence of optical brighteners in papers and that proofing papers have no or very little optical brighteners in them. This discrepancy causes colour differences between press sheet and proof, especially if the paper has a very blueish white colour. The new measurement conditions M1 as outlined in ISO 13655 requires a light source with UV component, so the optical brighteners in the paper get excited and influence the measurement of the printed colours. The standard datasets that many colour management solutions are built upon were created in 2006 and they have been measured under the M0 measurement conditions, which are without a UV component in the light source. The new dataset created in 2013 use measurements taken under the M1 conditions.Many other presenters talked about the new M1 measurement conditions and how they will influence the printing industry, but there is a drawback to this new measurement condition. An extreme example is that two M1 compliant light sources can have 50 and 150 percent of UV component in them and this results in a b* difference of 7. This can be quite significant for the overall colour difference and can result in a pass or fail of a colour. In conjunction with ISO 13655, for the measurement conditions of light booths, ISO 3664 has also been updated, so that the light source in the viewing booths also has a UV component in them. The compliance of a viewing booth with this updated ISO standard can be verified with a measurement device from GL Optics. Overall there were six presentations about the new M1 measurement condition and how it influences measured colours, the proofing stage and also the colour management part of any print job.Although the DE2000 colour difference equation is not (yet) part of an ISO standard, work is being done to develop a colour space that is based on DE2000. John Seymour from QuadTech presented his advances in this project. His goal is to create a colour space with modified L*a*b*-axis that allow for the use the DeltaLab colour difference formula.A presentation was given on the strategies of managing spot colours using traditional metrics and how to predict the colour outcome using simulated colours on screen. Research is also being done regarding working with expanded gamut printing using 7 colours (CMYK plus orange, green and violet). The use GCR and optimized colour sequence (KOVCGMY) are instrumental to more stable and predictable print results.Raia Slivniak-Zorin from HP in Israel talked about the work she and her team did with regard to digitally printed flexible packaging. The work was done on an HP Indigo and the prints were also laminated. One of her main findings is that a primer needs to applied to the flexible substrate first, so the ElectroInk will adhere properly. Also an adhesive has to be applied first, before the printed material can be laminated. A corona treatment of the substrate greatly enhances the bonding of primer and ink.The 2015 TAGA conference was a very high profile conference with many cutting-edge research presentations that will have an influence on the print industry in the coming years. The fact that the M1 measurement condition received so much attention during the conference shows that the new ISO standard requires more investigation.
Makers of electrophoretic ink discuss how technology that began life as an MIT Media Lab research project is transforming information consumptionSimple demographics are one of the biggest threats to the viability of print. Younger generations consume more and more media with little need for the printed page. Digital display companies are keenly focused on the functionality of their user interfaces, but readability remains an allusive metric for most. From consumer reports it seems the tablet reading experience on devices such as Apple’s iPad or Samsung’s Galaxy leaves something to be desired. The tablet’s glossy backlit LCD screen is great for watching videos, but reflections tire the reader’s eye and the words are difficult to read outdoors. Emissive displays also draw a lot of power causing tablet batteries to fade after only a few hours in many cases.On the other hand many avid e-book fans will tell you that a Kindle or Kobo with crisp black type on a paper-white background provides a much better reading experience. Though by no means a replacement for the multi-media friendly tablet, former consumers of the printed page have been increasingly adopting this style of e-reader for ease of reading both indoors and out while enjoying longer battery life. But what makes these e-readers so different from tablets? The answer is E InkE Ink takes its name from its technology – electrophoretic ink – and is the visible component used in Electronic Paper Displays (EPDs). This promising technology began life in 1996 as a research project in the MIT Media Lab before becoming the foundation of E Ink Corporation, which sought to commercialize the digital paper concept as the preferred display for e-readers. E Ink is made of microcapsules about the diameter of a human hair sandwiched between two thin layers of film containing a transparent top electrode, and a bottom electrode. Each microcapsule contains negatively charged black pigment and positively charged white pigment suspended in a clear fluid. When the top electrode charges positive, the black pigment rises to the surface, morphing the microcapsule from white to black. The microcapsules are bi-stable and reflective – meaning the image will remain on the digital page without electricity and requires only ambient light to be visible. That’s why E Ink displays draw very little power.E Ink displays are well suited for viewing static images that change sporadically – simulating book, newspaper or magazine pages for example. Because the display reflects natural light, it much more closely resembles the printed page with readability improving as the light gets brighter – working especially well in full sunlight. E Ink Corporation announced new concepts at CES 2015 and demonstrated E Ink products developed by licensees that evolve the digital paper paradigm beyond the e-reader.New E Ink models“One of the more interesting products we are showing at CES is the Sony DPT S1 business e-reader,” reveals Giovanni Mancini, head of global marketing for E Ink. “Designed for the business user, this device is the size of an A4 sheet of paper, extremely rugged and weighs only about six ounces.“The DPT S1 has touch capability, but it also has an extremely responsive digitizer. This is intended for business users who want to take a large number of documents with them, but don’t want the bulk of the paper,” he continues. “Users can annotate documents with their fingertip while in the field, then have the information captured into the document control system back in the office.”The Sony DPT S1 comes with 4gb storage, capable of carrying thousands of monochrome pages and has a micro SD slot for expansion.Mancini then demonstrates another innovative use for E Ink in the form of a mobile phone display. The Russian-made YotaPhone is an Android mobile phone featuring a standard high-resolution colour display on the front, and a monochrome E Ink display on the back of the handset.“The idea is to attach different information feeds, such as email or text messages, that you want to keep monitoring to the E Ink display on the back,” Mancini explains. “This way you don’t have to constantly turn on the screen on the front of your phone and cycle through the various apps to get the information. This really extends the battery life of the YotaPhone because of the very low power consumption of E Ink displays.“To really conserve power, the user can completely disable the front colour display and get the full Android interface on the E Ink display. You can even use the Kindle App to read books on the back of the YotaPhone! “Another innovative use of an E ink display can be seen on the Sony Smartband Talk – a sports watch and fitness device that pairs up with an Android phone. The Smartband Talk enables you to track your fitness during the day and get information from your smartphone, all displayed on a controllable E Ink display,” explains Mancini.While EPDs are already well established in the retail display category, E Ink Corporation announced and demonstrated innovative new solutions at CES 2015 targeting both the indoor and outdoor signage markets.“These E Ink 32-inch digital displays are great for small businesses such as coffee shops or restaurants, for example, that might want to use them as menu boards,” says Mancini. “They are also well-suited for information displays in public spaces such as bus shelters. Because of low energy requirements, batteries or even solar power can power these E Ink displays without the need to run cables.“Another thing that we announced at CES this year is our E ink Prism product,” Mancini continues. “We’ve taken our E ink technology and encapsulated many different colours of pigments within the same microsphere and laminated them into a colour changing film to incorporate into architectural products.”E Ink Corporation demonstrated a 20-foot wall of colour-shifting Prism tiles at CES. Controlled by a PC, these tiles are designed to change colours, providing a different aesthetic and changing the mood of a hotel lobby or an airport terminal.“Right now this is a concept product for us,” Mancini continues, “created through collaboration with architects and design firms over the past year. We hope to have a public installation of Prism by the end of 2015. We also plan to use Prism in horizontal surfaces such as glass counters or coffee tables.”Nemesis of printFrom the products on display at CES 2015 it’s logical to conclude that E Ink has already done most of the damage it’s going to do to the conventional printed page. After all, e-readers already represent an established market for publishers, and the line has been drawn between those who prefer to read the printed page, and those who choose digital. Instead, the future of E Ink and Electronic Page Displays lies in enabling the next generation of signage, personal document readers, smart devices and wearable technology – where low-power displays and control surfaces are essential to ensure functionality and energy efficiency.
With drupa 2016 a year away, I began thinking about the last time the giant German tradeshow in Düsseldorf took place in 2012 and the crowds at Landa Digital Printing’s exhibition space. Mostly, I remember the blue-and-black futuristic design of Landa’s new Nanographic Printing Presses, including the unique control panel mounted to the side of each press like a giant iPhone. I wondered aloud, “Shouldn’t there be a few presses already installed in print shops by this time?”Providing as much function as form, the control screen GUI appeared to be well designed to meet the needs of a busy operator. There was even a digital microscope that came with each press, which I was immediately impressed with because it allows both operators and customers to look at the details of a printed sheet. Over the first days of the 14-day trade show, heavy iron manufacturers like Heidelberg, manroland and Komori joined Landa’s marketing buzz by announcing Nanographic technology partnerships, albeit a little vague. Benny Landa, who founded the company in 2002, told drupa 2012 visitors the Nanographic presses could reach first adopters by the end of 2013 at the earliest, with initial machines hitting the market during the first months of 2014. I thought to myself: Let’s see if he can keep this deadline.Nanography nutshell The year 2013 came and went without any Landa Digital presses going into potential customers, although there may have well been quiet alpha testing going on inside an eager print shop. In March 2013, I attended the annual TAGA conference in Portland, Oregon, where Gilad Tzori, VP of Product Strategy of Landa Digital Printing gave the event’s third keynote presentation.Tzori provided conference attendees, who primarily serve on the technical side of printing, an overview of how Landa Nanography works and differs from existing printing presses. Emphasis was put on Landa’s jetting of water-based inks which do not soak the paper, so the sheet does not come out wavy at the end of the press run.Many people will have experienced this water-soaking problem when they print a sheet of paper with heavy coverage on their home or office inkjet printer. Tzori explained how the Nanographic printing process first inkjets the image onto a heated transfer belt, and secondly how the ink turns into a semi-solid type material on the transfer belt, which is then transferred onto the paper. Unique properties of Landa’s belt, explained Tzori, ensures a 100 percent transfer of the image onto the paper. He then showed images of a printed dot produced with Nanography and compared it to the same magenta dot printed with different technologies currently on the market. The superior quality of the Nanographic process, in regards to the roundness and sharpness of the printed dot, was then described in Tzori’s marketing presentation. A clear advantage of Nanography indicates the process allows for printing on almost any substrate.Nano pigments deliver a broader colour gamut than standard offset inks. The Landa black has L*a*b*-values of 5.4, 0.7 and 0.05 compared to the ISO standard of 16, -0.1, 0.1. The ink film is 500-nano-meters thick, which is a lot less than that of any other conventional printing process. The printed density for coated and uncoated paper is the same, since the ink does not sink into the uncoated paper but rather sits on top of the paper. De-inkability studies, explained Tzori, have also shown good results. De-inkability is a significant problem with regular inkjet printed sheets.Nanography nicheAfter describing the technical architecture of Nanography, Tzori explained where Landa Digital sees its market niche and how it plans to bridge a gap between short-run digital and longer-run offset jobs. This includes targeting offset sheetfed work with a 40-inch or B1-format press model. Tzori stressed that Landa is not reinventing existing machine technology like paper feeding and delivery, which is why the company is working with traditional press makers, most notably Komori.A key question to come from the conference crowd that day asked about the future availability of these new Nanographic printing presses. A careful answer was given, which I interrupted to mean it would be at the beginning of 2014, while the company’s main challenge was to achieve the desired print quality at the necessary resolution.Year 2014 came and went and, without hearing much more from Landa in terms of press installations, I naturally started wondering if the past two years of Nanographic marketing had been all smoke and mirrors? In February of 2014, Landa Digital and EFI announced a strategic alliance and in June 2014 Altana invested €100 million into Landa Digital, which had also received a number of press down payments from printers wanting to be first in line. It is my guess that Altana will manufacture the Landa inks and EFI will deliver the digital front-end to the presses. On December 9, 2014, Landa Digital made a public statement about its technology development, including its intent to focus on the 40-inch folding-carton market with its S10 press. The press has undergone some radical design changes, including the addition of a coating unit. The operator’s side-mounted touchscreen, as it was seen at drupa 2012, had to be moved to the delivery end – transforming its look more toward a traditional press design. The weight of the press has increased also from 10 tons to 30 tons.Landa Digital explained the S10 operator now has a more ergonomic workplace showing all the required information for running jobs. Personally, I like the video feeds from inside the press to the operator cockpit. The press operator can see if any sheets have been dropped or if they are causing a jam. The presses also have an inline inspection unit from Advanced Vision Technology. Within its online marketing material, Landa Digital writes: “The quality control solution will combine innovative nozzle performance and colour control techniques to maintain print quality and increase press productivity. The quality control system will also control colour-to-colour registration, image placement and front-to-back registration.” The print resolution of the S10 press is now at 1,200 dpi and the press also makes it possible to print on both sides of the carton sheet before entering the coating unit.Nanography 2015In early 2015, I spoke with Tzori on the phone to discuss recent developments at Landa Digital Printing. He indicated the first presses are scheduled to be commercially available in the second half of 2015. Beta machine are currently set up at Landa’s facilities in Israel, where potential customers can see the presses in action. During our phone conversation, Tzori also discussed what kind of drying technology is installed between the coating unit and the delivery end of the press. Depending on what kind of coating the customer wants to use, there will be IR drying lamps installed for water-based coatings and UV-curing lamps for UV coatings. The UV-curing technology can either be UV-mercury vapour lamps or UV-LED.Tzori points out that the IR or UV technology is only necessary for the coatings that are applied to the printed sheets. The sheets printed with the Nanography ink come dry out of the press.Thinking ahead to drupa 2016, which surely will be another important exhibition for Landa Digital technology, I asked Tzori what is to come with regard to the company’s web-fed printing machines. The first web-fed printing machine will be geared towards the flexible packaging market. Landa Digital expects this to make a huge impact on the flexible packaging sector, especially with many of the other digital press manufacturers also developing printing solutions for the short-run flexible packaging market. I have every intention of attending drupa 2016 for a firsthand view of Landa’s developments and I expect they will be as interesting as Nanography’s unveiling three years ago.
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS FEATURED IN PRINTACTION'S FEBRUARY 2015 ISSUEAs in nature, the software ecosystem abhors a vacuum! Introduced for the Mac in 1987, Adobe Illustrator evolved from Adobe’s in-house font development software to become the industry standard line-work editor and has all but dominated the desktop vector graphics market.Twenty-eight years later, Illustrator is so pervasive in the graphic arts few prepress pros would even consider an alternative were one available. While a few innovative Mac applications such as iDraw and Sketch have nipped at Adobe’s heels, to date no application has presented a credible challenge to Illustrator’s dominance on the Mac platform, creating a competitive vacuum. That might be about to change.Though unknown to many Mac users, Serif Software is a dominant player in the lucrative Windows desktop publishing software world. Founded in 1987, Serif’s original mandate was to produce powerful yet cost-effective alternatives to expensive desktop publishing and graphic design applications for the PC. Its critically acclaimed PagePlus, DrawPlus and PhotoPlus applications have garnered a large and loyal following in the Windows world – extending from casual creatives to business and education users. After years of planning and development, Serif stepped across the OS barrier in June 2014 with its first Mac App, Affinity Designer. While still in public beta, Affinity Designer turned heads while generating a great deal of online buzz before the October 2014 launch of version 1.0 on the Mac App Store. Since release, Affinity Designer has raced up the App Store charts and finished the year as Editor’s Choice Best of 2014! But does all that hype make any difference in the prepress and print world? Can a PC software developer give Adobe a run for its money on Adobe’s home turf?Vector contender or pretenderWell, for starters it is pretty clear that Affinity Designer was engineered from the ground up as a production environment for professional-grade vector drawing destined for a variety of output intents, including both print and Web.Where Designer differs from other line-work editors is in its ability to work with raster images and create pixel-based effects and textures within the same file as vector layers. And while Designer has its own file format, the App can import a wide variety of file types including: Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, Photoshop, EPS, JPEG, PDF and SVG. Additionally Designer can export: Photoshop, EPS, GIF, JPEG, PNG, SVG and PDF – although direct export of AI format is not supported. Users wanting to bring their Designer files into Illustrator will have to pass through PDF-land first.When launching Designer for the first time users are presented with a clean, uncluttered user interface that is unique yet somewhat reminiscent of an Adobe Creative Cloud application. As a result, anyone with Illustrator chops should be able to find their way around Affinity Designer in fairly short order. The default application window follows the familiar axiom of toolbar on the left, functions along the top and tabbed palettes on the right hand side of the workspace. Users can also choose to work in Separated Mode meaning the Designer toolbars, workspace and palettes are free floating and can be reconfigured to individual tastes. Designer diverges from other editors by breaking down the workflow into Personas (Draw, Pixel and Export) represented by icons on the upper left side of the workspace. The icon for the active Persona appears in colour and each features tools, functions and palettes specifically configured for the appropriate tasks. The Draw Persona toolbar contains recognizable drawing tools you would expect to find, such as a Move Tool, Vector Brush Tool for creating painted effects and a Pencil Tool for free drawing vector lines, as well as Gradient and Transparency tools. Additionally, the toolbar houses a wide variety of shape tools ranging from standard rectangles and ellipses to diverse polygons, clouds and call-outs. Each shape can be quickly and radically altered either with the Node Tool, or the context-sensitive settings in the Draw Persona tool set. There is even a special hidden Easter Egg feature that enables users to make a cat shape – see if you can find it!The Pixel Persona enables a variety of marquee and selection tools along with essential raster editing tools in the toolbar, such as erase, fill, dodge, burn, blur and sharpen. It is important to remember that while Designer is equipped to create, alter and apply raster effects within a vector file, it is definitely not a replacement for a full image editor such as Photoshop or Pixelmator as there are no tools that I can find for adjusting the contrast, saturation or hue of photographic images.As the name implies, the Export Persona provides a straightforward workflow for getting your image online with several presets, support for ICC profiles as well as layers and image slices. Speaking of online, Designer has a number of features targeting the Web slinger, such as a powerful pixel preview of vector images for both standard and retina displays, as well as instant export of multiple objects – each with independent output settings.Designer also brings back one of my favourite old Illustrator features with a new twist. The Split View divides the image workspace vertically enabling the user to see any combination of Frame, Vector, Pixel or Retina previews and drag the dividing line back and forth across the image – changing the preview instantly.Of course, any mention of ‘instant preview’ inevitably brings up the topic of Designer performance. Whether opening a complex vector graphic or a massive layered Photoshop file, it is immediately apparent that Designer is blazingly fast. This 64-bit application is fully optimized for the latest Mac OS and Retina 5K displays, enabling users to pan and zoom across their images with little perceptible lag as well as apply and view effects in real-time. This is especially impressive when you consider that Designer offers a staggering 1,000,000 percent zoom, as well as super smooth gradients that can be edited in real time at any magnification. For such a young App, Designer offers some impressively mature workflow features like non-destructive editing and robust support for layers, including vector, pixel and adjustment layers. Ready for the big leagueWorking with Affinity Designer is comfortable once you get used to multiple Personas, however, the software is lacking in a few key areas of importance to design and production pros. For example, Designer currently only supports a single page per file, something designers who are used to building multiple art boards will find hard to live with. And what prepress pro has not used Illustrator’s Auto-Trace to quickly build a logo for a job they are working on? Designer will need to implement some sort of raster to vector workflow to really gain print market share.And while Designer seems to be able to import a wide variety of file formats, I have experienced mixed results when opening old EPS files containing complex vector gradients. Mind you, Designer has only been in the field for a few months and to Serif’s credit they’ve already built an active, lively and supportive user community that fuels its development team with bug reports and feature requests. Within just three months of launch, Serif has already revved Designer to v1.1.2 – not only with bug fixes but also significant new user-requested features like iCloud Drive support; critical stroke alignment options; and 5K-display support.The road aheadSerif recently published the first issue of Affinity Review – a quarterly ePUB magazine for their users – containing some very interesting product news in addition designer profiles, interviews and tutorials. According to Serif, the Affinity Designer roadmap includes several professional printing features such as: PDF/X support; PDF image compression; trim, bleed, overprint and mark control; spot, Pantone and registration colours; and advanced transparency features. Designers can look forward to: multiple pages; text on a path; mesh warp and distort tools; and improved text controls… all promised as free updates! Likely many of these new functions will be incorporated into its own Personas. Also in Serif’s 2015 playbook: Affinity Photo and Affinity Desktop (you can see where they are going with this).Is Affinity Designer the answer to all your high-end vector design, editing and production needs? Not yet. Is it worth fifty bucks? You bet! Besides, designers on a budget are already flocking to Designer so it’s only a matter of time before Affinity files start making their way into your prepress department.
“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
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