At the age of 17, Vinay Tewathia, after a high-school co-op placement with a local print brokerage, began to build a printing business in the basement of his family’s home. He initially designed and brokered print, developing a business model around the high-impact possibilities of modern production technology. By 2004, Tewathia founded New Era Print Solutions and focused on adding value to print through special finishing treatments. He acquired New Era’s first major press in 2012 with a Heidelberg DI. This August, as he was in the process of doubling his shop’s space from 3,200 to 6,400 square feet, to accommodate a 29-inch, 5-colour Heidelberg press with coater, PrintAction spoke with Tewathia about his passion for print.   View the embedded image gallery online at: http://www.printaction.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleria2a4391081a This article originally appeared in PrintAction's September 2015 issue.Why have you invested in a 29-inch press?VT: We already have one Heidelberg machine. We have windmills and letterpresses where we do all of the finishing, from foil stamping, embossing, offline UV, and the OPP laminations and more of the specialty stuff. So we are just expanding more on the production side… we are known as higher-end printers within our local community. So the whole point of us acquiring the machine is so we can take on more and more, not outsource as much and be cost effective for the current brokers that we are dealing with.Why focus on high-end print?VT: Everybody knows how to get a quick postcard, business card or flyer done, but a lot of people get stumped or have questions when it comes to creating something with a foil stamp or adding a finish or some sort of elegance to the job.Starting from the age of 17 and coming up in this industry, you are young and see how traditional technologies can be married with new technologies, so you just try to create something different and use new looks and feels.Why print instead of digital media?VT: We are in both. Print has been the stronger revenue for me. It is kind of where I started… I did a lot of the design for free [in the beginning] just to get the work flowing, incorporating it into my print price. What I find today is that digital is becoming more and more over-saturated and people want that tangible good in their hands and that is why we went the route of specialty and high-end finishing versus just everyday print production. How significant was the DI press purchase?VT: Purchasing the DI was probably the best move we have ever made… it is probably why we are in the position to now acquire the 5-colour Heidelberg. Without the DI, I just had a digital machine and we were outsourcing so I would always have to gang things up on a bigger sheet. It was very tough to offer different stocks and types of jobs, outside of just ganging things up and trying to make a profit.How will the 29-inch format help New Era?VT: A lot of the work I outsource now is to 40-inch machines and I find this is a happy medium to bridge the gap between outsourcing jobs and keeping them in-house. I am hoping the Speedmaster will allow us to do pretty much 95 percent of our work in-house... we definitely anticipate becoming a lot more profitable.How will the facility expansion help?VT: Right now in our one side we have the DI, three letterpresses, offline UV coater, OPP laminator, a folder and our cutter, with a whole bunch of skids and paper on the floor. We are now putting the press on the other [newly expanded] side with all of the paper, which will give us an easier workflow and customer-pick up area on the  current side.Why do you have such optimism for print?VT: Everybody has new challenges and new things they want to do and I always feel like we are helping them out. Sure, printing is a tangible good, but I also feel like it is a service industry because you are serving people who have needs on a daily and weekly basis… to be honest that is what drives me all of the time… driving for success, trying to get bigger and better companies through our door.What key print challenges are you finding?VT: A lot of the market is underselling and undercutting each other and the truth is if the bigger companies put their heads together and stabilize costing I think it would really revive where print can go in the next five to 10 years. I think print is being undervalued and that is a  significant challenge. What is the risk with this new press?VT: It is just over a half-million-dollar investment… the biggest one we have made thus far. It is the most critical time, being at an age where I am, but I feel it is going to get us over the next hump in business.Why invest in offset, and not digital toner? VT: Offset is traditionally what I have been dealing with for the last 14 years… I still feel like it is going to be almost impossible to replace conventional offset machines. There is still going to be a need for bulk work and specialty work; and you are still very limited when it comes to digital machines. The investment on a brand new digital machine to me is too risky... I know what I can produce, create and generate with this offset machine.
Craig Riethmacher grew up surrounded by the business of large-format printing, with his father being one of the founding shareholders of Middleton Group back in 1952. Middleton today is a unique printing operation in Canada, based on its move into merchandising more than a decade ago and a continuing drive to deliver the rich quality of screen printing through two massive, 4-colour, UV-enabled inline presses, and four single colours.Middleton was also among the country’s first screen printers to dive into inkjet printing, taking on a 4-bed-per-hour Inca Eagle 44 press in 2005, followed three years later by a 10-bed-per-hour Columbia Turbo. In late-2010, Riethmacher led Middleton’s purchase of a massive Agfa M-Press Tiger press, which produces up to 170 beds per hour.In March of this year, Middleton replaced its Columbia Turbo, after running it for seven years, with Canada’s first Inca Onset R40-LT UV inkjet press. Before touring the company’s impressive 50,000-square-foot printing plant, Riethmacher sat down with PrintAction to discuss the growth and direction of Middleton Group. The following article was originally published in PrintAction June 2015 issue.Historically, what was the largest technology jump for Middleton?CR: When I worked on the presses we switched from solvent-based inks to UV inks. That was a really big jump, because it just changed everything. It changed all of our equipment and all of our processes.What were the early days of digital like?CR: The speed was horrible compared to screen-printing, so it was really limited in the beginning... But it was beautiful when it came out – just so slow. The biggest bonus was the lack of prepress compared to screen. Why did you invest in the new Inca?CR: The Inca is so good for us because of the type of work that we do; having to do those thick substrates and edge-to-edge printing and now we can do whites and spot gloss clears, so it is a really good press and it fits our shop.How much has printing white advanced?CR: It is great. We are screen printers so we have had that luxury of doing digital and putting a screen ink on the back or vice versa, but you still run into some weird curing issues... We went through a good amount of R&D on that, so to be able to just send in a sheet and have it come out with white on is great.Will digital inkjet replace screen?CR: Ten years from now if they keep going as they have in the last 10 years, we are going to be running some pretty speedy digital presses. I don’t think you will ever replace screen 100 percent, but it will get close. I do feel there will always be a place for screen.What percentage of your work is screen versus inkjet?CR: We do more digital. I would say probably 60/40. It is very much quantity related too. Larger jobs that are over 500-plus sheets tend to go screen – depending on what the job looks like. Sometimes we will look at the artwork and realize it is going to be very difficult to produce screen, like some jobs with fine light colours that have really low percentage tones where we are going to pull our hair out trying to achieve colour, so we just put them on the digital press. How important is print today at Middleton?CR: We are definitely not just a printer anymore with all the permanent display work we do, but we still like to boast that we are a pretty darn good printer. We always have been and I think we always will be about quality. We will take the extra step to make sure our quality is well above average before it goes out the door.Do you feel the competition of commercial printers getting into wide-format inkjet? CR: Yes – when we were just screen-printing, it was just us and three or four other big competitors. That became five or six as digital started and now there are people with [digital] in their garages, nipping away at things. There are so many types of digital. So, what we tried to do here was not become a so-called digital shop where we have other processes like roll-to-roll. We buy digital equipment that compliments our screen print and it makes us a better large-format printer – better at what we do best and what we sell best.Will you scale up the R40-LT over time?CR: We have the M-Press, which really pounds out the prints and it wasn’t that we were looking for another print pounder… The LT was perfect for us because it is four times faster than the Turbo. Even at the base model and quality is exactly the same whether you have the full R40 or not. We will definitely be looking to scale up the press moving forward.How much of your sales is from merchandising versus print?CR: I would say about a 60/40 split with printing still being higher… Print is very competitive. We are going to get what we can, but if we really want to grow our business we have to grow it on the merchandising side, while still being a great print provider. That is really where our focus is... helping the bottom line.
The following article was originally published in PrintAction's May 2015 issue.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.”
Friesens of Altona, Manitoba, began to install its new 73-inch manroland R900 HiPrint XXL perfecting press in March on its way to building one of the world’s most-efficient pressrooms (originally published in PrintAction September 2015).   View the embedded image gallery online at: http://www.printaction.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleriaa9a9f6802c The town of Altona in southern Manitoba holds slightly more than 4,000 people in an economic landscape primarily driven by farming- and agriculture-based businesses, as well as the manufacture of books. In early March, the town became home to one of the world’s three 8-colour, 73-inch manroland R900 HiPrint XXL perfecting presses, which Friesens Corporation is leveraging for short-run book work. Most presses of this size are saved for the packaging sector, where perfecting is usually not needed to print on both sides of the substrate. Of course, Friesens’ press also required significant inline colour management tools to deal with a massive sheet that will often hold 64 unique and different pages at one time. The company is well known by other printers for its near-spotless pressroom and by North American publishers for its ability to print short-run, colour-intensive works of art.“I never want to lose the underdog mentality that has existed as part of the fabric of this company for 107 years. We are in the middle of nowhere, but that just breeds ingenuity and hard work,” says Curwin Friesen, CEO of Friesens Corp., which provides an ownership model for its approximate 600 employees, tying the highly respected book manufacturer even closer to the community.When the R900 arrived in Altona by dozens of tractor-trailers, it was too large for Friesens’ shipping bays and the company needed cut a massive hole into the side of the building for direct entry into what would become a newly configured pressroom. Installed, the press is  approximately 100 feet long and weighs half a million pounds. Before commissioning the press in July, celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with hundreds of staff members and around 75 dignitaries, Friesens conducted three and half months of set up and testing.Form efficiencyThe decision to go with the R900 was made a little more than a year ago, after first discussing the possibilities of moving to very large format technology at the drupa 2012 trade show in Germany. It would be a challenge to handle such a large sheet and perfect it without marking, which can be a technical struggle even with 40-inch perfectors.“It is very much an efficiency play and a progression from where we have moved in our history,” says Friesen. The company began working 8-page signatures, four pages on each side of a sheet sent through the press twice, drying twice before folding. When press technology improved the crew moved to a machine printing 16-page signatures, again twice through. “In the late-80s, we went to 50-inch format when others were on 40-inch format and that allowed us to go to a 32-page, 8 ½ x 11 signature.” The press sheets still traveled twice through the press, but the company’s 50-inch machines were printing a 64-page children’s book with just two sheets and four make-readies. The new 8-colour, 73-inch manroland R900 perfector allows Friesens to print a 64-page children’s book with one sheet and one make-ready. The relative efficiency of the new press, over the 50-inch machines, is increased by anywhere from 300 to 400 percent, with a more precise number expected after more time with the R900 reveals figures like wastage, press speed, and finely-tuned make-ready – with the latter number ending up slightly more than a quarter of 50-inch machine make-ready. “There are hardly any book manufactures in North America who are running 50s and almost none overseas. It is basically a 40-inch world and we live in the 50-inch world and now we are trying to live in the 73-inch world,” says Friesen. “Is it more efficient – absolutely. Are we excited about the productivity numbers we are starting to see – you bet we are. Since the ribbon cutting, every week is getting better and our crews are getting more familiar with it, more comfortable.”Pressroom buildThe multi-million-dollar technology investment included the purchase of a massive Maxson Automatic Machinery Co. precision sheeter, because Friesens has traditionally converted its own stock, which now sits about 15 feet in front of the press. A new large-format platesetter – about 65 feet long in its own controlled positive air space – is also close by and integrated with robotics to move the massive 73 x 50-inch plates – in addition to 50-inch plates – through the imaging process, before a specialized conveyor is wheeled about 10 feet to modified catwalk rails where crews finally touch the plates for mounting on the R900.The manroland R900 configuration is also unique because Friesens’ management decided to maintain its bindery set-up for 32-page signatures, resulting in an inline slitter system integrated with the new press, as well as the continuing interest in 50-inch machines. “One of the other things unique about this press is that we put an engineered pit underneath it, so we have better access and that is not done anywhere else in the world,” says Friesen, noting how much the company’s mechanics were involved in the R900 investment project.“The beauty of it is that we were starting from scratch and our goal was to create the most-efficient pressroom in the world and everything mirrors this mindset,” says Friesen. Market mattersDespite its massive size, the efficiency of the press and pressroom allows for incredibly short runs of around 4,000 books and up, with an ideal range at around 10,000. “We are a short-run book manufacturer that is what we specialize in within our book division,” says Friesen. The company already produces long runs that may measure around 100,000, but the R900 also presents a new opportunity to provide sheetfed press quality on some lower-end Web offset press speeds.“Books are not DVDs. Books are not music. Books are different. As we see with business cards, some players in the market believe that business cards are going to be around forever and they certainly do not seem like they are going away,” says Friesen. “One large player has also used large format on short-run business cards to change the game.” Friesens generates approximately 55 percent of its revenue from the U.S., which Friesen has noticed picking up because of the lower dollar, and 45 percent domestically. Based on various avenues of research, he notes the book market has been very stable for the past five years, to the point where independent bookstores are growing for the first time in a decade. Friesen explains it appears the concentration of e-readers has hit a saturation point in North America. “E-books have their niche and have an important role in the book business, but not the only role,” he says. “Publishers see that sales are bearing that out and so we continue to believe there is a strong future for books.”Friesen describes one recent report from Deloitte based on polling a sample of 18 to 24 year olds who exhibited a strong propensity toward printed books. “Despite the fact that they live in a digital world they still like print for a bunch of reasons.” Friesen is also noticing more on-shoring of book printing, relating that many publishers are returning to North American printers instead of having the work done in China. The trend is driven by much busier Chinese ports and the need for shorter turnaround times, as well as more preference to print lower run totals; for example, two 5,000 jobs instead of 10,000 at once. Friesen explains it is not in a printer’s best interest to print 10,000 books and have the publisher only sell 2,000. “Is China still going to be a big printing force – absolutely – but if five percent of that business returns, or 10 percent, on a billion-dollar industry, that is significant.”In addition to its strong roots in yearbook production, typically with runs measured in the hundreds, self publishing is a growing sector for Friesens, through its FriesenPress division that sells packages – potentially with editing, copywriting, designing and proofreading services in addition to printing – that might cost around $3,500 run on digital presses instead of $15,000 via litho.“We believe that we are going to be in books for a long, long time and if we are going to be in books then we better be geared up for it and not just dabbling,” says Friesen, projecting a relatively stable market for at least the next decade. A little more than five years ago, however, Friesens’ managers were tasked with expanding the company’s interest in packaging, which resulted in think4D, consisting of around 40 employees.After purchasing a Toronto company and related patents, and investing a few million into R&D, think4D is a unique operation in the world that marries thermoforming and printing.  “We found thermoforming and print were two different worlds,” says Friesen. “With some of the technologies we were researching, we thought that we could combine those worlds. Why not print on the plastic and then thermoform that piece out of the plastic already printed.”This innovation in packaging is built from a culture that developed over decades by leveraging technology to innovate the process of manufacturing books. “It isn’t always just the numbers we paint on press at times. There are efficiencies and robotics and workflow… yet the product we are producing is an art piece, often at the end of a creative chain.”
Five years ago, Webcom Inc., one of Canada’s preeminent book manufacturers for three decades, began building a true evolutionary printing platform around HP’s new T300 Inkjet Web Press. Webcom’s paradigm shift, a fundamental change in the basic concept of book printing, now represents an investment of $30 million and a 2.1-billion pages-per-year digital inkjet manufacturing capacity the Toronto company.In October 2015, Webcom continued to illustrate its intent on shaking up the book-publishing world by installing a new HP Indigo 10000 press. PrintAction spoke with Mike Collinge to learn more about the direction of a Canada-first platform.What key advantages does the Indigo 10000’s 29-inch format size provide?Mike Collinge: It allows us to do larger-format products that you cannot do on smaller systems, whether it is a [traditional] Indigo, NexPress or iGen, basically they all are suited to 11 x 17-type products and, in books, that limits you with spines on books and jackets and oversize book products. It also allows us to double our throughput, so we are able to respond much quicker in peak periods, which publishing has. Third, it allows us to cut a lot of the processing and labour expenses in half because we are producing at least twice as much as we could before every hour.How does the 10000 fit with Webcom’s existing HP Inkjet Web Presses?MC: With digital inkjet and an HP Indigo 10000, we are able to offer our customers cost-efficient, offset-quality, short book runs of tens, hundreds or a few thousand books at North American – if not globally – competitive rates… all very, very efficiently. How does this platform best help clients?MC: The unique solutions we offer help a publisher pull their capital investment out of keeping inventories and redeploy that [capital] so it is not stagnant in a warehouse… It also helps them customize books for small markets… or, with a backlist title on the end of its lifecycle, our technology allows a publisher to keep products alive.What growth is available for web inkjet?MC: Inkjet still has a really positive outlook for the next five years. The industry studies say over 20 percent CAGR in digital inkjet and one of the top two drivers of that growth rate is targeted to be books. So it is a high growth part of the book manufacturing business. It is not all necessarily new business for a manufacturer or publisher… but it is definitely a fast-paced, high-growth segment for the publishing industry.How difficult is it realize enough margin for large digital-printing investments?MC: It is not just about printing a physical book and shipping it to the door. We are addressing supply-chain and inventory-management needs and customer integration. We have a lot of investment in systems, people and process… rationalizing and automating our customers’ order entry processes is part of our solution.Has Webcom moved from unit-cost print?MC: It is a total cost of ownership model that we take to our publishers and they need to look at more than just a print and bind… we are not quote-and-produce vendors for them. We are business partners.How does Webcom leverage inkjet colour?MC: Inkjet technology is so flexible that you can put colour on two pages in a 400-page book and not have to make sure that it is on a certain form or signature… When a publisher is looking at how to differentiate their product in a very competitive marketplace, whether an educational publisher or trade, colour is an underutilized capability because the print community has made it expensive and awkward. Inkjet really addresses that for short run products. What is the outlook for printed books?MC:[At November’s BMI conference] Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, said, “Our basic strategic assumption is that print will  always be important, always – not in 50 years or 100 years – always.” So the Amazon forecast of the demise of the printed book was, and I still believe is, premature and inaccurate. Digital headlines do not match the reality of the publishing world or what their consumers are choosing for preferred book format. I am happy that our publishers are still successful and sustaining their businesses, but I think Webcom’s solutions are much better valued if there is urgency on them not to patronize old publishing models. How does Webcom provide sustainability?MC: Depending on the product, somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of books printed in the past have gone to obsolescence or recycling. Our technology makes it reasonable for a publisher to print only what they need, only what they have back ordered, without significant premiums… We are buying world-class technologies that have sustainability underpinning them.How do you qualify the risk of being first with new technologies?MC: We have a very succinct vision of what we can deliver for book publishers in North America. We have fantastic ownership and a strong financial position to be able to make these investments. I would call them investments, as opposed to risks. Whether it is in technology, process or people, these investments are the building blocks to help us deliver us on that vision for our book-publishing customers.
After new ownership was established in 2006, Marquis Book Printing of Montmagny, Quebec, has invested millions in acquisitions and new technologies to become one of Canada’s largest printers. Serge Loubier, President of Marquis (photo by Anny Lecault). Serge Loubier, President of Marquis (photo by Anny Lecault). Marquis' Kolbus KM 600 in Montmagny. Marquis' Kolbus KM 600 in Montmagny. Marquis' Timson ZMR in Louiseville. Marquis' Timson ZMR in Louiseville.   View the embedded image gallery online at: http://www.printaction.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleria13aeb7fec4 Marquis Book Printing over the past three years has more than doubled its annual revenue through consolidation, beginning in mid-2012 when the company, headquartered in Montmagny, Quebec, acquired two manufacturing plants from TC Transcontinental. The purchase of Transcontinental Gagné in Louiseville and Transcontinental Métrolitho in Sherbrooke added just over $35 million to Marquis’ revenue base, which was around $20 million before the purchase. The company’s employee count went from approximately 125 to 350 people.Just over a year later, in late-2014, Marquis’ management team reaffirmed its confidence in the book-printing sector by acquiring certain assets of Imprimeur Lebonfon, a former Quebecor plant in northern Quebec, which included bringing over members of Lebonfon’s sales team who were generating about $10 million in business. Today, Marquis Book Printing is generating more than $60 million in annual revenue as one of Canada’s largest independent printing operations.As Canada’s biggest monochrome printer, running six massive, highly automated Timson web presses in Louiseville, Marquis is also beginning to shift into more colour work to move with the book market. In October, the company’s future outlook for book manufacturing also materialized in an exclusive partnership with SoBooks of France to create a transatlantic technology bridge for on-demand book publishing. The most unique strategy currently being employed by Marquis, however, revolves around a yearlong project to build its own UV-enabled web-offset press, scheduled to start-up this December.Printing platformMaurice Marquis founded Marquis Imprimeur in 1937 and quickly began to focus on book-printing capacity after acquiring some rights from European publishers, because books were no longer being shipped overseas during World War II. He even built what was called the Bibliobus, travelling from town to town to sell books printed by Marquis. The company never lost sight of its core competency to manufacture books, a position that was embraced in 2006 through a management buyout by Serge Loubier, who now serves as President of Marquis, Pierre Fréchette, Vice President of Sales, and Marc Delisle, who remains involved as an advisor.“Five years after the management buyout, we were where we said we were going to be,” says Loubier. “ Then we went all in with the [TC Transcontinental] deal. We pushed all of the chips into the middle.” At the time, Transcontinental, which was moving toward a marketing-services platform, was Marquis’ largest competitor in monochrome and two-colour book printing, which remains as the heart of its operation with newer investments like Canada’s first Variquick PC 15 press and an Oce’ Varioprint 6250. The Marquis platform has also been enhanced with a 10-colour Heidelberg (adding to four- and two-col0ur litho presses), a Xerox Versant and iGen150.Over the past several years, Loubier has focused on annual capital expenditures of around $2.5 million to purposely build the platform and to support the more than $15 million invested in Marquis’ market consolidation strategy. Initially, Loubier explains the plan – as presented to the banks – was to shutdown the Louiseville plant acquired from TC, now called Marquis Gagné, and move assets to Montmagny to realize savings, but minds were quickly changed after spending time in the facility. “The employees were like the gold out of the transaction that we made – a really good crew over there,” says Loubier, noting the plant is led by a relatively young workforce that was surprisingly bilingual, being based in a francophone region of Quebec. “The heart couldn’t live with the idea of closing [Louiseville] and we had also miscalculated the space needed to produce big runs of books… we didn’t have enough floor space, in my mind, in Montmagny.” With a potential relocation to Montmagny, Loubier was concerned the skilled Timson operators and well-trained salespeople and CSRs from Louiseville might not join Marquis. This was the case when the Sherbrooke plant purchased from Transcontinental was closed, which also showed Marquis was ultimately going to do what was necessary to succeed in its consolidation plan. He worked with Louiseville’s union to settle on a 15 percent cut and a five-year contract, saving about $1 million per year in costs, and targeted opening up more business in the United States to support the plant. At the time, Marquis was generating about $400,000 in business from the U.S. and the management team set an ambitious growth target to reach $4 million. “In the first year, we managed to bring in $5 million from the U.S.,” recalls Loubier, noting this was at a time when the Canadian dollar was at par with the U.S. greenback. “It has been three years since the deal and we are going to finish this year over $15 million [generated out of the U.S.].”Loubier is now comfortable in stating that the consolidation plan has worked out well. In explaining its success, he points to the stability provided by the Montmagny plant and its unique Marquis Laurentien division based in Quebec City. Purchased about a year prior to the Transcontinental deal, Laurentien was the province’s largest producer of school agendas and number two (behind Marquis) in yearbooks. With the TC Metrolitho deal, Laurentien became number one in both categories. The Laurentien division has about 40 employees focusing on the typesetting and graphic design of books, particularly in the educational sector, including working with more than 1,000 schools. Marquis is now growing its work with schools in other Canadian provinces and again focusing on expansion in the United States.New opportunitiesLargely based on the dollar advantage for Canadian exporters, and a stabilized book-printing market, following a few years of uncertainly around the potential impact of electronic publishing, Marquis is now shifting toward more organic growth for its printing platform. “For the next three to five years, our plan is to double that capital investment,” says Loubier, hinting this will likely point toward putting more sheetfed power into the platform, integrated finishing, and also new inkjet web press technology currently being investigated.“We need [inkjet] technology that will accommodate monochrome with a click charge that we can then switch to a colour click charge,” says Loubier, noting Marquis’ unique need to maintain high-volume monochrome production as it looks to the future with colour. “I also want to be able to choose my paper, to change it, and I want to print like offset… I thought [press makers] would never achieve it, but they are starting to show me things.”Loubier also remains intent on running what Marquis knows best – “a big press is hard to beat” – and the company’s vital litho systems are highly automated. “My average run at Marquis has to be 3,800 to 4,000, so my big concern is not the speed of the press when it is running. It is how long it is stopped for,” he says, describing a recent run of 1,500 books with 144 6 x 9-inch pages that took just under 15 minutes to print. “We have Timsons in Louiseville with zero makeready. We do not stop to change the plates.”In the more immediate future, however, Loubier is eager to start up the web press invented by Marquis. The eight-month project has been led by Alain Roberge, former owner and Director of Lebonfon, because of his engineering background and years of experience in web-offset production. An outside firm provided schematics for the 16-page press as Marquis planned out its interior, including the integration of a brand new closed-loop colour control system. In November, the company was adding folders and preparing to take the press apart for moving and reinstalling in Louiseville. “We wanted a press that would do four-colour without heatset. The ink will be dried by UV lamps, so there will be no emanation and no gas involved in the process. It is going to be the greenest colour web in Canada,” says Loubier. “I like machines, so building my own press was always a dream.”
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.
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.
Xitron, an Ann Arbor, Michigan, developer of RIP and workflow products, has released Navigator Northstar (sold through its worldwide dealer network) aimed at inkjet systems using Memjet Northstar print heads.Navigator Northstar, according to Xitron, improves the colour accuracy of Astrojet M1/M2 printers as well as the Colordyne 1600 (C & S), RTI-Digital Vortex 850/851, Trojan One, and Formax Colormax (among others), all of which use the Memjet Northstar inkjet head. “Digital printing doesn’t have to equate to a lack of colour control,” said Jeffrey Piestrak, Product Manager, Xitron. “The colour adjustment tools built into this workflow make it extremely easy to match a job’s spot colours without impacting the rest of the document.” Designed for the desktop envelope, flyer, and label market, Navigator Northstar includes Navigator RIP version 10.1r2, Navigator Color Matching Workflow, and the Northstar connectivity plug-in developed by Xitron. The system is multi-platform compatible. Piestrak added, “By combining the power of the Navigator Harlequin RIP with Xitron’s colour transform technology, what you see is what you print, consistently.”
Viki Solutions of Victoria, British Columbia, has been purchased by Chicago’s BLUE Software, which develops BLUE-branded software-as-a-service technologies for Brand Lifecycle Management, primarily used within packaging sectors. Viki Solutions develops online proofing and real-time collaboration software. BLUE Software explains the acquisition ties in well with its existing software and opens its products up to more premedia and creative agencies, DAM providers, digital and print publications. Afshin Mirmotahari, former CEO of Viki Solutions, becomes Chief Technology Officer of BLUE Software. The Chicago company currently focuses on consumer products, retail and pharmaceutical industries, stating its SaaS platform is employed by more than 81,000 users and 3,100 companies worldwide.“We are thrilled to welcome Afshin Mirmotahari and the entire Viki team to BLUE,” said Scott Strong, CEO of BLUE Software. “For more than five years we have worked strategically with Viki Solutions as the industry leader in online proofing and real-time visual collaboration. Since our initial engagement with Viki, our clients have been impressed with how technically advanced their solution is at providing the ability to proof and manage large and complex files.”  BLUE Online Proofing module users currently employ Viki Solutions tools to collaborate in real-time on a range of file formats, including document, image, audio, video and 3D – with content accuracy, markup and approval tools, revision comparison and advanced proofing features. The acquisition will add capabilities in the coming months to BLUE including extensions for BLUE’s automated task routing through integration with third party solutions; a colour-matching module that can be added for colour-accurate online proofing; responsive design with touch support for tablets, touch displays and hybrid devices. “I have been in the workflow business for the past 20 years, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that you can count the true experts in the field of collaboration and print-accurate preview on one hand,” said Stephen Kaufman, who moves into a new Chief Product Officer role at BLUE Software. “Afshin is on that hand and his team embodies his passion for excellence and his deep domain expertise. From the time we first integrated their core product all the way through co-developing advanced API-driven automations, the Viki management, development and support teams have always been highly responsive to our needs.”
Software developer Tilia Labs Inc. of Ottawa, Ont., has introduced the new Phoenix Plan Configurator for Enfocus Switch, which the two companies describe as a kick-off to a new integration partnership, aimed at printers active in offset, toner, and large-format markets.Phoenix Plan Configurator, designed to find savings in both materials and time, works by collecting individual orders coming in to Enfocus Switch, along with their associated metadata information like quantities, stock, grain and spacing. The files are then sent to Phoenix, which goes to work searching what Tilia Labs describes as millions of combinations, across available presses and stocks, to find the most cost effective ganged layouts. Once planning has finished, the cheapest cost results are returned to Switch in several different output formats such as imposed PDF, JDF, PDF, XML-based reports, or Phoenix jobs."The primary drivers we often encounter with print service providers are the need for speed and lower material costs," says Sagen de Jonge, CEO and Co-Founder of Tilia Labs, developer of Phoenix, who points to how waste reduction is a major benefit of improved turnaround times. “Reducing waste involves complex ganging calculations which can be very time consuming,” he says. “Phoenix tackles this problem head on using a cost-driven, automated approach, and we are particularly excited about the opportunities for cost savings in the increasingly competitive large format segment.”Enfocus' Director Product Management Bjorn Willems says that large format clients already using Switch technology have been asking for help in scripting imposition algorithms to work with Switch. “The advent of Switch 13 and the Phoenix Configurator for Switch allowed us to put what we believe is an incredibly fast and precise imposition and planning technology,” Willems says.
Pantone, a subsidiary of X-Rite, announced its traditional colour of the year, which, for the first time, includes the blending of two shades, Serenity and Rose Quartz. The company explains its decision was based on today’s consumers who seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to the stress of modern day lives.Pantone continues to explain: “Weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, Serenity (PANTONE 15-3919) comforts with a calming effect, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times. Rose Quartz (PANTONE 13-1520) is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure.Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, said: “With the whole greater than its individual parts, joined together Serenity and Rose Quartz demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.Pantone states the prevalent combination of Serenity and Rose Quartz also challenges some more traditional perceptions around colour association. “In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted colour trends throughout all other areas of design,” said Eiseman. “This more unilateral approach to colour is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumers’ increased comfort with using colour as a form of expression which includes a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged, and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to colour usage.”Serenity and Rose Quartz, explains Pantone, are also a popular choice for jewelry and fashion accessories, including handbags, hats, footwear and wearable technology. The company states it is also an ideal choice for rugs and upholstery, working well in paint and for decorative accessories.For 16 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design. Past selections for Color of the Year include:    PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala (2015)    PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid (2014)    PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald (2013)    PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango (2012)    PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle (2011)    PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise (2010)    PANTONE 14-0848 Mimosa (2009)    PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris (2008)    PANTONE 19-1557 Chili Pepper (2007)    PANTONE 13-1106 Sand Dollar (2006)    PANTONE 15-5217 Blue Turquoise (2005)    PANTONE 17-1456 Tigerlily (2004)    PANTONE 14-4811 Aqua Sky (2003)    PANTONE 19-1664 True Red (2002)    PANTONE 17-2031 Fuchsia Rose (2001)    PANTONE 15-4020 Cerulean (2000)
Flint Group has introduced a new letterpress plate, called nyloprint WF-S, with a softer layer. The water-washable, film-based nyloprint WF-S plate, according to Flint, provides more flexibility and improved ink transfer over previous products.The new nyloprint WF-S plate, developed by Flint Group Flexographic Products, as the global supplier of nyloprint® letterpress printing plates, replaced the nyloprint WF-M printing plate type as of November 2015. Compared to the previous type, the new nyloprint WF-S film-based plate has what Flint describes as a softer plate surface for more varied applications. Flint explains the soft surface provides improved ink transfer resulting in optimal ink lay-down, especially on rough surfaces. The nyloprint WF-S plate, according to Flint, is particularly suitable for special applications like blister pack printing but also for rotary letterpress, coating units and imprinting units. It also provides for fast plate processing, which Flint describes as reproduction being completed within 25 to 35 minutes. Flint also explains the WF-S plate provides a wide exposure latitude combined with high intermediate depths and very good durability for long print runs.The nyloprint WF-S plate is available in thicknesses of 0.70, 0.80, and 0.95 mm. A digital version of the film-based plate with all the advantages of digital processing is also available on request.
callas software, which develops automated PDF quality control and archival solutions, released a version 1.1 update for its pdfChip product line. pdfChip converts HTML into standards-compliant PDF documents. callas explains the pdfChip 1.1 update adds features that were identified in projects customers realized with pdfChip, especially when it was used to create long, dynamic documents.The updated pdfChip 1.1 allows users to control the maximum number of pages in the generated PDF file. That makes it possible, for example, to create single page PDF files in a single operation instead of one PDF file with many pages. Since the destination PDF can now be defined in the Javascript code it is possible to start a new PDF whenever needed.During development it can be critical to understand, explains callas, what errors occur and how to adjust the HTML template. In pdfChip 1.1 error reporting, specifically for Javascript and when placing bar codes, has been improved in order to make it easier to develop complex PDF publishing applications.pdfChip 1.1 also allows for passing command-line variables straight to the HTML template, where Javascript can pick it up and use it to shape the resulting PDF file. callas explains the ability to pass this kind of small information to an HTML template adds more flexibility to PDF publishing; compared to what was already possible with the highly dynamic HTML/Javascript architecture.In pdfChip 1.1, callas implemented the new concept of a “list collector” for long documents that need to include lists of references such as a list of figures, tables or simply a table of contents. This new feature allows content to be marked using CSS and stores information about this content in a JSON (Javascript data) file. This information can then be used to automatically create a table of content with page numbers for the generated PDF document for example.pdfChip 1.1 also adds support for the Device-N colour space, which is essential for content where a number of different spot colours or a combination of CMYK and spot colours are used for page objects like images or vector graphics.callas also explains in pdfChip 1.1 placing of PDF files has been improved. pdfChip provides information about PDF files that are placed in the HTML template, such as their trimbox or bleedbox. This information can then be used in Javascript to modify the placement.The various flavours of pdfChip include S (€ 5,000), pdfChip M (€10,000), pdfChip L (€15 0000) and pdfChip XL/Enterprise (€ 25 000). pdfChip 1.1 is a free update for customers using pdfChip 1.0.
EFI has introduced new version 6.2 upgrades to its Fiery software and Fiery proServer frontends for wide-format inkjet printing, including what the company describes as major improvements in processing speeds for EFI VUTEk printers.EFI states the new Fiery software and Fiery proServer 6.2 provide average speed improvements of over 60 percent for EFI VUTEk users, compared to previous versions. The software upgrade is combined with EFI-developed FAST RIP technology. New printer drivers are also available for Agfa, Canon, EFI, Epson, HP, Mimaki and OKI systems in these latest Fiery product releases, which increases the supported printers in EFI’s Fiery offering to more than 700 wide-format printer models. As well, EFI is noting new finishing enhancements that provide smoother integration for cutters as well as faster and more flexible file processing on jobs that feature cut paths. “Graphics professionals need more than just a RIP to advance their businesses,” said John Henze, VP of Marketing for EFI Fiery, “and the faster processing and automated cut path extraction technologies announced today answer our customers’ need for an integrated, best-in-class workflow.”A bidirectional job definition format (JDF) link included in these upgraded products provides information about the printer status, job status and consumables usage to EFI’s Midmarket Productivity Suite MIS workflow as well as to EFI Digital StoreFront Web-to-print software.
Unisource Canada, a Veritiv Company, has announced the launch of Endurance, a private brand of paper products, for the Eastern Canadian market. “Endurance is a well-known brand in the U.S. commercial print market, and we are now pleased to offer this premier product – known for its performance, quality, reliability, and value – to the Eastern Canada print and paper marketplace,” said Jason Alderman, Regional VP of Unisource Canada..  Exclusive to Veritiv, Endurance is a coated paper brand that the company positions as providing high performance at an affordable price. The brand includes both coated paper and digital categories with matching text and cover and basis weights ranging from 60.8 lb text to 120 lb cover. The Endurance line is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody certified.
Two of the world’s most-dominant document players, Adobe and Dropbox Inc., have entered a technological partnership to integrate their applications and services on mobile devices and the desktop for faster and more seamless access to all of the content stored as PDF files. Claiming to have more than 400-million users, Dropbox is Adobe’s first file sync and share partner.With this partnership, customers of Adobe Acrobat DC and Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is used on more than one billion mobile devices and desktop computers worldwide, can access and take common actions on over 18 billion PDF files stored in Dropbox directly from within the Adobe apps. Currently, users can add their Dropbox account in Acrobat DC or Acrobat Reader on desktop, but iOS integrations between Acrobat Reader and Dropbox will be available in the coming months, with Android and web integrations to follow in 2016.Eventually, all Dropbox users can open, edit, and save changes to PDF documents in the Adobe apps directly from the Dropbox Website, iOS app, or Android app. The integration addresses a strong need, according to the two companies, as PDF is the most common business file type in Dropbox.“As the inventor of PDF, Adobe brings over 20 years of experience with secure digital documents,” said Kevin Lynch, Senior VP and GM of Adobe Document Cloud. “The requirements of our customers have constantly evolved over time; today, mobile has become the rule and people expect to complete work quickly and simply wherever and whenever they need. Our work with Dropbox, as our first file sync and share partner, will help Adobe Document Cloud customers and people around the world be more productive with the documents at the centre of their daily lives.”With the free Acrobat Reader mobile app or Acrobat DC on desktop, users can view and take additional actions on PDF files stored in their Dropbox Basic, Pro and Dropbox for Businessaccounts. Any changes are automatically saved back to Dropbox and, once completed, users can the share the updated file using a Dropbox link or shared folder.With the Adobe apps, users can highlight, annotate or add comments to a document. Acrobat DC users can also complete a range of tasks on the PDF files, including editing text, organizing pages, or converting the documents to their original format. The new version of the file can then be shared with colleagues directly from Dropbox to collaborate further. These capabilities build on existing integration between Adobe eSign services and Dropbox, which enables users to access, track and sign PDF files stored in Dropbox.
Enterprise Print Management Solutions (EPMS), a developer of print MIS, and Montreal’s Ultimate TechnoGraphics Inc., a developer of imposition and finishing software, have reached a technology integration partnership. EPMS’ Gang Run Wizard will now be integrated with Ultimate’s AutoFlow Estimator to plan and produce gang runs, allowing users to access key information when submitting a production work order.“Tools to plan the production gang runs have always been very expensive,” said Joanne David, President and CEO of Ultimate TechnoGraphics. “We felt that a simple, more accessible and automated tool is exactly what was needed.”The Gang Run Wizard developed by EPMS helps a user find common jobs that can potentially run together. The software allows the user to engage definable filters like substrates, inks, finishing requirements, sizes and product type when looking for gang-run work. This module can be extended to also use Ultimate’s AutoFlow Estimator as an added option to determine the Gang Run layout for each group of jobs and lay out different scenarios for a user to make decisions about how to best produce a group of jobs.The AutoFlow Estimator developed by Ultimate is available as standalone software that can be connected as a back engine to a MIS to supply gang run layouts for production and estimation, or as an option for Ultimate Impostrip’s customers to automatically calculate gang runs. Enterprise Print Management System provides a range of MIS modules to printers in North America like quoting, client relationship management, accounting and JDF integrations. “EPMS is excited to interface with the Auto Flow Estimator,” says Mark Andersen, President and CTO of EPMS, “because it provides [an] easy to configure, easy to use, affordable tool to enhancement our Gang Run Wizard module by quickly and automatically calculating Gang Run Layouts that we can then use within our Scheduling, Job Tracking/Data Collecting, and Job Costing modules.”
Electronics For Imaging (EFI) has merged Corrugated Technologies Inc., which develops software for corrugated packaging manufacturing, into its Productivity Software business unit. In recent years, CTI expanded its software range to also include business and management capabilities, aimed at sheet feeders, sheet plants, and corrugated box plants. The existing EFI Enterprise Packaging Productivity Suite is aimed at the folding carton, tag and label, and flexible packaging segments, which EFI explains is now strengthened with the addition of CTI technology and expertise. “We are thrilled to add the CTI team and technologies to our growing portfolio of industry-leading software solutions for the print and packaging industry,” said Gabriel Matsliach, Senior VP and GM, EFI Productivity Software.  CTI will become a part of the EFI Productivity Software business unit, joining a portfolio of MIS, Web-to-Print, Value Added Products and Business Consultancy Services. Headquartered in San Diego, California, CTI brings more than three decades of global experience to EFI with operations in the United States, Latin America and Europe.“EFI has a scale and reach that will enable existing and future customers to benefit from our technology for years to come while being exposed to new growth areas,” said Gordon Hay, President and CEO of CTI. “I look forward to being an active member of this world-class organization and to continuing to help our industry and customers advance and prosper.”
Kodak is expanding its plate portfolio with a new violet offset plate, called LIBRA VP, which the company describes as being compatible with most violet CTP platesetters and plate-line equipment.The LIBRA VP digital plate is designed for both newspaper production and the quality needs of semi-commercial printing applications, while holding what the company describes as a streamlined easy chem setup.Kodak continues to explain that, with LIBRA VP, newspaper printers that process plates in the conventional way can now simplify processing and reduce environmental impact by replacing their traditional developer and replenisher with a single, low-pH clean-out finisher. Using this same finisher, Kodak explains printers can choose an easy chem setup that eliminates the plate prewash and post-rinse steps using a modified conventional processor or a dedicated clean-out unit. Kodak’s LIBRA VP plate provides 150 lpi (60 lines/cm) AM or 180 lpi (70 lines/cm) hybrid (XM) screening capabilities. Newspaper printers can achieve run lengths of up to 350,000 impressions if the plates are processed conventionally or up to 300,000 impressions when easy chem setups are used.“The LIBRA VP digital plate is yet another new Kodak plate that's designed to make production processes more efficient, more profitable, and more environmentally responsible,” said Brad Kruchten, President, Print Systems Division and Senior Vice President, Eastman Kodak Company. “What's more, this latest addition to our portfolio offers newspaper and semi-commercial printers unprecedented flexibility: they can choose the processing method which best meets their printing needs.”
Mohawk, described as North America’s largest privately-owned manufacturer of fine papers, envelopes and specialty substrates for commercial printing, announced a major expansion of its wide format inkjet portfolio.The Mohawk Wide Format Inkjet portfolio, which previously consisted of six items, expands to 112 items, featuring 32 different product lines, such as backlit, lightblock, black polyester, adhesive, Dupont Tyvek, and tear-resistant fabric.Mohawk explains items in the expanded portfolio are optimized for Aqueous inks, Memjet inks, Solvent/Eco-Solvent inks, Latex inks and UV-Cured inks, and many products are compatible across multiple ink types.“With our expanded offering of wide format inkjet media, Mohawk is truly a one-stop shop for the broadest range of digital papers and substrates, including dry toner products, HP Indigo-compatible products, and now wide format inkjet products,” said Mike Madura, Vice President, Digital, Mohawk. 
Mohawk, described as North America’s largest privately-owned manufacturer of fine papers, envelopes and specialty substrates for commercial printing, announced a major expansion of its wide format inkjet portfolio.The Mohawk Wide Format Inkjet portfolio, which previously consisted of six items, expands to 112 items, featuring 32 different product lines, such as backlit, lightblock, black polyester, adhesive, Dupont Tyvek, and tear-resistant fabric.Mohawk explains items in the expanded portfolio are optimized for Aqueous inks, Memjet inks, Solvent/Eco-Solvent inks, Latex inks and UV-Cured inks, and many products are compatible across multiple ink types.“With our expanded offering of wide format inkjet media, Mohawk is truly a one-stop shop for the broadest range of digital papers and substrates, including dry toner products, HP Indigo-compatible products, and now wide format inkjet products,” said Mike Madura, Vice President, Digital, Mohawk. 
Canon announced the global launch of the 4th generation of the Océ Arizona Series UV flatbed printer for mid-volume print producers. Since the launch of the Océ Arizona 250 GT in 2007, more than 5,000 Océ Arizona printers have been sold by the Canon Group companies worldwide. Canon explains the new series of printers have been designed for sign and display graphics printers and is developed to support a range of rigid and flexible media applications. The series, delivering work on rigid media and objects up to two inches thick and as large as 8 x 10 feet, also features Océ VariaDot grayscale piezoelectric printing technology.The new printers, now commercially available, are offered in three different configurations and two different size formats, including four, six or eight colour channels in small or large table formats, as follows: Océ Arizona 1240 GT, Arizona 1240 XT, Arizona 1260 GT, Arizona 1260 XT, Arizona 1280 and GT Océ Arizona 1280 XT.
In January at the Heimtextil exposition in Germany, HP Inc. introduced its next generation HP WallArt Suite as a Web-to-print tool designed to help small- to medium-sized printing companies involved in the decoration space. The WallArt technology was created exclusively for HP’s line of Latex printers. It features what HP describes as an improved interface, updated dashboard design to better manage customer orders, easier Web integration, four free HP Wall decoration Web apps, and access to different content sources like Fotolia, Pattern Design, Instagram and Dropbox. The HP Latex 310 and Latex 360 printers include third-generation HP Latex technology for proofing interior decoration applications like home textiles, while the recently introduced HP Latex 3500 Printer allows for unattended operation with heavy-duty roll-handling and 10-liter ink cartridges.“Our PSP customers have told us they want easy-to-use, affordable, intuitive software that makes printing and communication with their customers easier,” said Joan Perez Pericot, Worldwide Marketing Director, HP Inc. “With the new HP WallArt Suite, PSPs and their customers can manage everything from design to order information in real-time online.”
Roland DGA has introduced the new and larger VersaUV LEF-300 to its line of benchtop UV-LED flatbed printers, which also includes the existing LEF-12 and LEF-20 models.“The LEF-300 was developed in response to customer demand within the personalization and custom printing markets for an LEF printer with significantly increased production capabilities,” said Daniel Valade, Roland DGA’s product manager for the VersaUV LEF Series.To accommodate greater quantities and larger-sized items, the LEF-300’s printing area has been expanded to 30 inches wide by 13 inches long, which equates to an imaging area 50 percent larger than the LEF-20. With four print heads and two UV-LED lamps, the LEF-300 enables bidirectional printing approximately 60 percent faster than the LEF-20. As well, the number of LEF-300 White and Clear (gloss) ink nozzles have been doubled for faster printing, increased density and opacity, and faster build-up of multiple layers for three-dimensional textures. A new draft print mode improves overall efficiency for users in need of quick prototype prints.Users can print on a range of substrates like PET, ABS and polycarbonate, soft materials such as TPU and leather, as well as three-dimensional items ranging from smart phone cases and laptop covers to signs, giftware and promotional items. Roland explains the LEF-300’s built-in vacuum table helps hold thin and soft materials in place, allowing for easier job setup and eliminating errors. The system also includes the BOFA air filtration system, which provides for ventilation while also serving as a stand and storage unit for fixtures and supplies.The LEF-300 comes equipped with Roland’s new VersaWorks Dual software RIP, which supports native PostScript and PDF files. VersaWorks Dual features such as offset, positioning, rotation, registration of ink layers, and automatic creation of White and Clear ink effects can also be handled directly in the RIP.The LEF-300 uses new EUV4 ink, which is Roland’s proprietary CYMK, White and Clear ECO-UV inks, which are said to reduce odour and the shrinking of thin film materials like BOPP, PE and PET when curing. “The market for on-demand printing onto various articles is high, and we expect to see this growth continue in the years to come,” said Valade. “More and more businesses are providing custom printing services for smartphone cases and accessories. Kiosks offering on-site printing of photos taken by customers onto blank goods are also popping up at shopping malls around the world. These are all ideal markets for the LEF-300.”
After announcing plans to develop a new inkjet-based Web press more than a year ago, HP Inc., in a co-development project with KBA, has unveiled the much-anticipated HP PageWide Web Press T1100S. The system features a 2.8-metre (110-inch) width. HP describes the new press as being ready to reinvent corrugated packaging printing for high-volume, pre-print applications. HP continues to explain that digital printing is the fastest growing segment in packaging with a projected annual growth rate of 17 percent in a market expected to be worth $19 billion by 2019. The company states the HP PageWide Web Press T1100S, with Multi-lane Print Architecture (MLPA), creates a paradigm shift in the production of corrugated board.“Converters and brands alike need to create more targeted, effective packaging while reducing costs,” said Eric Wiesner, General Manager of HP Inc.’s PageWide Web Press division. “HP Inc. and KBA have combined forces to bring the world’s most productive press to market, offering more value to high-end converters with the efficiencies of pre-print and digital in one press.”HP explains its MLPA technology splits the web into multiple print lanes, so different jobs, with different box sizes and run lengths, can be printed in the individual lanes. Multiple ultra-short or short runs can be queued and printed together, with no make-ready in between jobs, continues HP, while a long run is printed in another lane. In essence MLPA technology, coupled with all the advantages of inkjet printing, allows cost-effective customization and personalization of corrugated packaging.Packaging giant DS Smith Packaging, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, has been announced as the first company to install the HP PageWide Web Press T1100S. “We selected the new HP PageWide Web Press T1100S as the next step in our ground-breaking digital PrePrint programme,” said Stefano Rossi, CEO of DS Smith Packaging Division. “Our co-development with HP has resulted in the first digital machine able to print at the speed and width we need for high-volume corrugated production. It will provide our customers with unprecedented short-run flexibility and quality consistency.” DS Smith sold over six billion boxes in its 2014/2015 fiscal year.The HP PageWide Web Press prints at speeds of up to 183 linear metres (600 linear feet) per minute and 30,600 square metres (330,000 square feet) per hour. The inking system of the press a combination of HP Bonding Agent, HP Priming Agent and four-colour HP A50 aqueous pigmented CMYK inks. HP explains this allows users to print on standard uncoated and coated liners from 80-400 grams per square meter (GSM).Optional configuration features include an auto-splice/turret rewind, primer and over-print varnish coating solutions, as well as the KBA PATRAS Automated Paper Logistics System.
Xaar plc, a developer of industrial inkjet technology, has introduced a new family of piezoelectric printheads for printer manufacturers (OEMs) developing machines for coding and marking applications. The new family of printheads, the first of which is to be available in late 2016, will all have a 17-mm print swathe, which the company describes as being an ideal width for high-resolution coding and marking applications like printing barcodes, best before dates and other product identification codes onto a range of packaging. The new family of printheads will be manufactured in Xaar’s factory in Huntingdon, UK.“We have set out a development roadmap of new 17-mm printheads to support our coding and marking OEM customers over the coming years,” said Richard Barham, Chief Customer Officer at Xaar. “The first of the new products, which we will launch towards the end of next year, will sit alongside the Xaar 128 and will also have 128 nozzles. This is an important market sector for Xaar, so we are delighted to announce a new range of printheads which underline our ongoing commitment to this sector.” Xaar, celebrating its 25th year of inkjet development this year, initially established itself through a number of printheads designed for coding and marking applications. The company explains the new print head will allow it continue to add value for the foreseeable future to manufacturers who are required to print product identification information onto their products during the production process.
IST METZ GmbH of Nürtingen, Germany, is repositioning itself to take advantage of the growing business in LED UV systems. In May 2015, the company acquired the majority interest of Integration Technology Ltd., which develops such systems, and IST METZ has now reorganized its management board.The UV market is changing: Besides the classic UV medium pressure lamps, in recent years the curing of inks and varnishes by means of UV LEDs has been established. This has even opened up whole new business areas, e.g. in the industrial joining technology. Offering both types of UV systems, IST METZ GmbH has even further expanded the LED business this year. Apart from the successful market launch of its own high-performance LED products, the acquisition of the majority interest in the British UV systems manufacturer Integration Technology Ltd. in May brought an additional gain in expertise in this field.Christian-Marius Metz, grandson of deceased company founder Gerhard Metz and previous Head of the Central Area Operations & Services, becomes Chief Executive Officer of IST METZ. Holger Kühn was named Managing Director Sales. He has been part of the company for 17 years in various functions in sales, most recently as Head of the Central Area Sales. Dr. Robert Sänger will complete the management board at the beginning of next year as Managing Director Technology. Having been Head of Development at the subsidiary eta plus electronic GmbH, he will now join the parent company. Dirk Jägers, previous Managing Director of IST METZ GmbH, left the company.“We are looking forward to running the company in the spirit of my grandfather”, said Christian-Marius Metz. “We are leading in the industry in terms of know-how in UV technology, and we will know how to make the most of it.”
Goss has launched a colour control upgrade for the 16-page M-600 press, which the company describes as a way to help eliminate potential obsolescence issues for the press model.The benefits of the new automated Omnicolor II press controls, according to Goss, include start-up waste lowered by anywhere from 20 up to 50 percent, as well as significant reductions in turnaround time.“Customers can see the potential pay-off, whatever their current production model may be,” said Rutger Jansen, head of customer service, Goss International Europe. “Together, we plot in their average number of jobs and current makeready figures against the investment cost and the new figures they can reliably expect. I can't claim that the calculation methodology is groundbreaking, but it certainly helps convince our customers that the Omnicolor II upgrade is.”Features of the Omnicolor II upgrade include the ability to automate press setting direct from CIP3 data to reduce what Goss describes as a three-stage process down to a single step, which also helps eliminate error potential.More waste reduction improvements include what the company explains as quicker reaction of the ink keys and repetitive positioning; an ability to move all ink keys simultaneously; and the selection of up to 10 papers and inks, to optimize the presetting.New functionality like Ink Tracking and Color Boost are designed to enable the fastest possible process to achieve good copies. New auto learning, by saving all running job settings, job after job, allows Omnicolor II to fine tune the presetting by taking into account ink, paper and coverage specifications for optimum results.Following a one-day press audit, Goss engineers require full press access for between two and four days to install the upgrade on existing M-600 systems.
Roland DGA has introduced the RotaPrint attachment, priced at US$3,195, for the company’s VersaUV LEF-20 flatbed printer for printing directly on bottles and other cylindrical objects. The RotaPrint utilizes the LEF-20’s existing feed system, which, according to the company, enables it to print cleanly and precisely onto glass, plastic, metal or ceramic objects with a diameter between 1.6 to three inches. Developed exclusively for use with Roland’s LEF-20 by DigiGraphics, the lightweight RotaPrint attaches to the printer via a series of magnets. Roland explains the RotaPrint is also unique in that it does not feature any motors or electrical connections. It is powered solely by the motion of the LEF-20. “The RotaPrint further expands the already impressive capabilities of Roland’s VersaUV LEF-20 benchtop flatbed printer,” said Daniel Valade, Roland DGA’s product manager, VersaStudio, VersaUV & vinyl cutters. “This incredible attachment works seamlessly with the LEF-20, allowing users to quickly print vibrant, detailed graphics on large areas of cylindrical objects with ease and precision.”
Ultimaker, a 3D printer manufacturer in The Netherlands, signed a sales and service agreement with Shop3D to distribute its technologies in Canada. Shop3D offers the Canadian technology market a selection of products for sale, as well as personalized design and printing services. Online purchases can now be made in the official Canadian Ultimaker Web store and consumers can also visit the Shop3D showroom in Brampton, Ontario, where consumers can purchase the Ultimaker Original+, Ultimaker 2, Ultimaker 2 Go, Ultimaker 2 Extended, Ultimaker Filaments, Add-Ons and Spare Parts from Shop3D.“With the growing interest in 3D printing in Canada we realize more and more how suitable our 3D printing is for this territory – great service and local support are of the utmost importance here,” said Siert Wijnia, founder and CTO of Ultimaker. “It is therefore important that we select the right local partners. We have full confidence that, together with Shop3D, we will be very successful in Canada.”Ultimaker focuses on producing products that make 3D printing accessible to all, with desktop printer models that based on open source programming. “Canada has always been a central hub for creativity and avant garde thinking. A mentality that fits perfectly with the Ultimaker community,” said Kenneth Wan, CEO of Shop3D. “As such, Shop3D is delighted to form this new partnership with Ultimaker so that Canadian engineers, designers and makers have access to the best 3D printers on the market paired with unbeatable local support without cross border hassle.”
EFI, at the first dedicated textile exhibition since the mid-2015 acquisition to form EFI Reggiani, will showcase new technological solutions and processes for what the company describes as the new era of green textile factory production.At ITMA 2015, running from November 12-19 in Milan, Italy, EFI Reggiani will highlight textile manufacturing with reduced energy and water consumption for greater efficiency and a lower environmental impact. The TOP printer, available in both 1.8- and 2.88-metre widths, is a heavy-duty, flexible machine to be demonstrated with reactive dyes printing direct to cottons. The machine can also be used with acid, disperse, sublimation and pigmented inks, providing versatility and speed.The Essetex 2-metre-wide washing box is a system suited for knitted and light fabrics, particularly where print washing is beneficial for delicate textiles and for post-dyeing of printed cloth.The new entry-level ReNOIR NEXT printer is described as a versatile product that prints onto fabrics and papers using the same ink set with a 1.8-metre beltless printing system. It joins the Reggiani line-up of textile printing solutions and offers what EFI describes as simplified material handling, a compact footprint and lower acquisition cost.All of these inkjet digital textile systems are based on new eco-chemistry, using water-based inks that, together with automation, provide what EFI Reggiani describes as a total solution for textile businesses. The water-based inks are developed to be eco-friendly by significantly reducing pollution without compromising quality and speed. Also making their debut at the show are new Artistri PK2600 inks developed by DuPont for cotton textile roll-to-roll printing on EFI Reggiani printers.
The JM55 Force is a new JetMounter model to be added to Drytac’s line up of wide-format roller laminators. Described as a heavy-duty, entry-level laminator, the JM55 Force is designed for users who require durability and functionality over the long-term.  The JM55 Force has a maximum laminating width of 55 inches (1,397 mm) and is described as being well suited for mounting, laminating and decaling pressure sensitive materials. It features large 4.7 inch (119.4 mm) diameter non-stick rollers; speed control up to 20 feet (six metres) per minute; a maximum nip opening of 1 inch (25 mm); top and bottom auto-grip supply shafts with brake tension control on the operator side; single mechanical height/pressure adjustment; and an interchangeable 110V or 220V electrical configuration.“The Force is an excellent option for shops that need the versatility of a heavy-duty machine but want one with a smaller price tag,” said Nate Goodman, Drytac Product Manager. “There is no doubt that the well-built Force will provide many years of service.”
Rotoflex, which manufacturers inspection, slitting, rewinding and die cutting equipment, has released the new HSI slitter rewinder designed for high volume label slitting, inspection and rewinding. It is built with, according to Rotoflex, the same architecture as the company’s flagship VSI vertical design series. Rotoflex explains features of the new HSI include 330 and 440mm web widths, 1,000 fpm running speed, extra-large inspection table, ergonomic 37 inch (940 mm) high editing area, easily accessible slitting module, a straightforward web path and conveniently located finished roll rewind location. With end-to-end servo control design, the HSI also features the Rotoflex URC 2.0 proprietary control system with simple menus and an intuitive interface, giving operators the ability to monitor all functions from a single screen. The small footprint HSI is configurable for a range of vision inspection solutions and offers options like the new biometric (fingerprint) authentication for operator access and the Rotoflex exclusive Report Management System (RMS). With the RMS tool, real-time production data is collected from multiple finishing machines to a single interface, which can be accessed remotely via computer or handheld device. RMS generates a variety of detailed, customizable reports on performance variables such as run time, defects, production volume and scrap generation, as well as compares outputs of multiple machines. “Designed with the proven robust construction of our successful VSI series, the HSI is an advantageous solution for converters preferring a horizontal slitting inspection configuration in their off-line finishing machines,” said Manohar Dhugga, Rotoflex director of engineering and service. “The HSI is one of many new Business Responsive Technologies to be unveiled in the next few months, supporting our commitment to deliver high quality, innovative solutions that drive customer profitability."
Goss is launching six new unwinder/splicers and rewinders for its Contiweb product lines to be used with inkjet web presses. Both the unwinder and rewinder series products are engineered to be entirely modular, providing customers the ability to add automation at either end of the press line.Developed at the Goss Contiweb facility in the Netherlands, which has been producing splicers and dryers for web offset printers for almost 40 years, Goss states the new product lines have been designed to equal its Contiweb splice performance of 99.7 percent but for digital webs.“After many years refining and perfecting product design to ensure efficiency and repeatable high quality for web offset printers, we’re now seeing a similar need within the digital web community,” said Bert Schoonderbeek, Managing Director at Goss Contiweb. “The increasing variety of installations and applications is creating a relentless demand from print service providers for technologies that advance their competitive edge. The ability to master web tension and to continually improve productivity is rapidly becoming critical to success.”Available in two web widths, 770 mm (30 inches) and 1100 mm (42 inches), the CD range of splicer/unwinders and the CR range of rewinders share features that facilitate set-up, integration and day-to-day operation. These include floor-level loading and unloading of paper reels; unwinding/rewinding in either direction; and motorized reel side-lay adjustment; all of which can be monitored throughout via an HMI screen on the unit.Each model is shaftless and uses pneumatically expanding core chucks driven by low-noise electric motors, which provides an added element of sustainability, explains Goss, since energy generated feeds back into the electrical circuit.The Goss Contiweb CD series of unwinder/splicers are availble with a range of options for additional levels of infeed control, web guidance, remote operation through the central control system, and remote diagnosis via VPN. The Goss Contiweb CR Series of rewinders allow for transfer between reels of different width and paper thickness, and repeated transfers from first to second position, and vice versa.
Sydney Stone is to begin distributing and servicing MOHR paper cutters, made in Germany by Adolf Mohr Maschinenfabrik GmbH, in Canada. The models carried by Sydney Stone include the MOHR 56, MOHR 66 and MOHR 80 cutters with all units available in the ECO and NET models. Sydney Stone will also be distributing the MOHR BC-330 three-side trimmer, as well as the new DigiCut laser cutter introduced by MOHR earlier this year.“We pride ourselves on being paper cutter experts for our segment, having supplied for decades the EBA and Challenge brands,” said Michael Steele Director with Sydney Stone, which also distributes Morgana and Duplo technology. “Adding the MOHR line ensures our customers can continue to use us as their businesses grow and evolve."Sydney Stone is also carrying MOHR parts and supporting the equipment through its technical services team. “We are looking forward working with Sydney Stone on the Canadian market,” said Peder Rejmers, Business Development Manager of Adolf Mohr Maschinenfabrik GmbH. “Their nationwide structure and experience within cutters will certainly benefit both new and old customers.”
Heidelberg’s Promatrix 106 CS die cutter will make its North American debut at Graph Expo in Chicago next month. The system will be showcased on Masterwork Machinery’s exhibit. In August 2014, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG announced it was restructuring its postpress equipment manufacturing through a new OEM partnership with Masterwork Machinery Co. headquartered in Tianjin, China. The move excluded Heidelberg’s production of folding machines at its Ludwigsburg site, a city in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.“Heidelberg offers a value proposition that is unique in the industry,” said Joerg Daehnhardt, Vice President, Postpress, Heidelberg USA. “Our strategic partnership with Masterwork enables Heidelberg to offer a broader portfolio than ever before to the converting market.”The Promatrix 106 CS is designed to handle substrates from 65-pound text to 48-point board. It outputs 8,000 sheets per hour, and has a maximum sheet size of 29.92 x 41.7 inches, matching the format of Heidelberg’s flagship Speedmaster XL 106 press. The Promatrix 106 CS is the first Heidelberg product manufactured by Masterwork, while the German company retains sales and support responsibilities for its postpress lines. The Promatrix CS 106 is a further development of an existing Masterwork platform, along with additional improvements and certifications (such as “GS,” a German seal denoting safe operation). 
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.
APP of Jakarta, on the three-year anniversary of its Forest Conservation Policy, provided an update of its progress and also launched its Belantara Foundation, an initiative to fund conservation projects in Indonesia. The paper maker also noted progress with its Peatland Best Practice Management Project and a new Integrated Fire Management program involving training from Canadians.“On the third anniversary of our Forest Conservation Policy launch we are pleased to report that our continued work to implement the policy, together with efforts to align our ambitions with those of other actors in Indonesia’s forests have resulted in tangible progress,” said Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement at APP. “We now have the building blocks for a sustainable model of forest and pulp and paper operations whereby forests are protected, communities empowered and our supply chains strengthened.”The APP Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), launched in February 2013, is what APP describes as its commitment to immediately end deforestation in its supply chain and bring sustainability to the forefront of the company’s operations. Policy commitments by the company include the ending of natural forest conversion throughout its supply chain, best practice in peatland management, and adopting a collaborative approach to resolving social issues.The company’s previously announced work to block over 3,500 perimeter canals to increase water levels in APP suppliers’ concessions located on peatland has recently been completed, with a total target of 7,000 dams to be built by the end of the first quarter of 2016. This is in addition to the retirement of 7,000 hectares of commercial plantation areas in Riau and South Sumatra, announced by APP in August 2015. In total, APP and its suppliers have allocated approximately 600,000 hectares for forest conservation and ecosystem restoration within its suppliers' concessions. Peatland areas are particularly vulnerable to forest fires, explains the company, and these initiatives to manage and protect them are part of APP’s new Integrated Fire Management (IFM) strategy. Fire management experts TREK Wildland Services from Canada and Working on Fire (WOF) from South Africa will provide 400 APP staff members and their suppliers with Incident Command System (ICS) fire training. Two new aircraft with state-of-the-art thermal imaging cameras will help gather hotspot data with far greater accuracy than satellite imaging, explains APP. Information will be distributed in near real time to APP’s in-house Geographic Information System (GIS) and distributed to field staff within 15 minutes, allowing rapid response to emerging fire threats.Another forest protection initiative is the Integrated Forestry and Farming System Program launched by APP during COP21 in Paris. The program aims to help local communities develop alternative livelihoods to achieve economic development while also keeping Indonesia’s forests intact.As a first step in its implementation, community members will be given equipment and support in the form of microfinance or revolving funds to help kick start local businesses. Horticultural training will also be given to help improve community capacity in managing fruit and vegetable crops using the agroforestry system. The program will include 500 villages across the APP supply chain with up to $10 million invested over the next five years.Since committing to a landscape approach in 2015, the company has worked to establish a platform to help manage and fund landscape conservation programs in Indonesia. As a result of these efforts, APP has initiated the Belantara Foundation. Today we announce the newly appointed Advisory Board, consisting of widely respected individuals drawn from the government, non-profit and corporate sectors. With the Foundation’s personnel, full working remit and due diligence processes in place, Belantara is now ready to work together with other key stakeholders in the landscape to help support the protection and restoration of Indonesia’s forests.Belantara Foundation will work with communities, civil society, government and businesses to help ensure a careful balance is found between economic development, the livelihoods of people in local communities and environmental conservation. This involves overseeing natural forest restoration and endangered species protection and conducting studies to strengthen sustainable landscape management.
Asia Pulp & Paper Group announced a new commitment to support the economic development of 500 villages in what the company describes as the landscapes surrounding APP’s supply chain. The aim of the program, explains APP, is to demonstrate that economic development can be pursued in a sustainable way that supports rather than undermines the protection of Indonesia’s forests. APP’s announced this sustainable development commitment at the recent UN Climate Conference in Paris, COP21. The announcement was made after APP presented details of its forest and peatland protection initiatives, which support Indonesia’s ambitions to achieve a 29 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030. Since the launch of its Forest Conservation Policy in February 2013, APP explains it has implemented initiatives to help communities develop alternative livelihoods, to reduce the risk of fires and achieve economic development while keeping Indonesia’s forests intact. This new commitment to Indonesia’s communities is in addition to APP’s existing pledge to support the protection and restoration of 1 million hectares of forest landscapes and to channel and coordinate US$10 million per year of in-kind and financial support into forest conservation across Indonesia, announced in 2014. APP’s commitment will be delivered through what the company describes as a series of pilot community agroforestry programs, which might include the sharing of: rearing initiatives for livestock; sustainable fruit and vegetable farming techniques; and forestry and business skills to enable alternative livelihoods that do not require the clearance of natural forest for further economic development.“A key theme of COP21 is to ensure that economic development goes hand-in-hand with environmental protection,” said Aida Greenbury, Managing Director, Sustainability, APP. “We believe that this new agroforestry program will help communities to achieve economic development while protecting Indonesia’s forests. The issues facing Indonesia’s forests need to be managed at the landscape level, and local communities have a very important stake in the forest. Whilst these program are at an early pilot stage, we will be working to help introduce and spread sustainable farming techniques that are compatible with forest protection.”APP explains the programs will be designed to help reduce instances of conflict over land by providing less land-intensive development options and will help to reduce instances of land encroachment and slash and burn activities.
Printing Industries of America (PIA) released the election results to name its 2016 Officers and Board of Directors, which took place on November 15, 2015, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.Canadians joining the 2016 Board of Directors include Richard Kouwenhoven of Hemlock Printers, who is representing the British Columbia Printing Industries Association, and David Potje of Twin City Dwyer Printing Co. Ltd., who is representing the Ontario Printing Industries Association.Bradley Thompson of Inland Press in Detroit, Michigan, becomes Chairman of the Board. He is the immediate past Chairman of the Government Affairs and Labor Policy Committee of PIA and a former Chairman of Printing Industries of Michigan. Thompson, a fifth-generation printer, is a member of the Board of Directors of the Michigan Press Association and serves as Government Affairs Chair of the American Court and Commercial Newspaper Association. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan.  Curt Kreisler of Gold Star Printers in Miami Beach, Florida, becomes First Vice Chairman for the PIA. He has served on PIA’s Board of Directors since 2009. He is currently the Association Relations Committee Chairman and a member of its Finance and Investment Committees. Bryan Hall of Graphic Visual Solutions in Greensboro, North Carolina, becomes Second Vice Chairman. He served on Printing Industries of America’s Board of Directors for a number of years as Chairman of the Education Committee and as a member of the Finance Committee. Hall also served on the Board of Directors of his local affiliate – Printing Industry of the Carolinas – for nearly 10 years. Michael Wurst of Henry Wurst in Kansas City, MO, becomes Secretary to the Board/Treasurer. He has served many years as a PIA Association Relations Committee member. Wurst is also actively involved in his local affiliate, Printing & Imaging Association of MidAmerica, serving on the Executive Committee for four years, including one year as Chair. He is the CEO of Henry Wurst, Inc., a 75-year-old family-owned commercial printing company. David Olberding of Phototype in Columbus, Ohio, becomes Immediate Past Chair.He was appointed as the association representative to PIA in 2006. He has served PIA as Chairman of the Board, First Vice Chairman, Second Vice Chairman, Executive Finance Committee member, Secretary to the Board, and as Marketing Committee Chairman. Olberding served as Chairman of the Board, Treasurer, and Chair of the Education Committee of Printing Industries of Ohio and Northern Kentucky.Also joining the Board of Directors in 2016 are: Peter Jacobson, Daily Printing, representing Printing Industry Midwest; Timothy R. Suraud, Print Media Association, representing the affiliate managers; Adam G. Avrick, Design Distributors, Inc., representing Printing Industries Alliance; David Wigfield, Xerox, representing the vendor community; Richard Kouwenhoven, Hemlock Printers, representing BCPIA; Norm Pegram, representing Printing Industries of the Gulf Coast; Justin Pallis, DS Graphics, representing PINE; and Dave Potje, Twin City Dwyer Printing Co. Ltd., representing OPIA.
Rolland Enterprises Inc. of St-Jérôme, Quebec, has created a new policy, developed in cooperation with Vancouver not-for-profit Canopy, to advance the protection of endangered forests, engage in the research and development of alternatives to tree fibre, and to avoid all controversial forest fibre sources. “Rolland has a track record of setting the pace for eco-paper development and post-consumer recycling,” said Nicole Rycroft, Canopy's Executive Director. “By expanding their vision to avoid controversial fibre and sourcing from endangered forests such as the Boreal, Rolland stands out as a sustainability leader at the vanguard of change in the North American pulp and paper industry.” Rolland Enterprises, which has been providing recycled fibres for decades, advanced its existing policy with the following new specific commitments:- End the use of wood fibre sourced from endangered forests and controversial suppliers;-  Avoid fibre sourced from Intact Forest Landscapes, such as the intact forests of the Boreal; - Play an active role in the research, development and commercial scale production of pulp and paper from alternative fibre sources such as straw;- Support visionary solutions that protect endangered forests in the Coastal Temperate Rainforests of Vancouver Island and North America's Great Bear Rainforest, Canada's Boreal Forests, and Indonesia's Rainforests; and- Continue producing papers with 30 to 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled content.  “These commitments are an integral part of Rolland's plans to remain a competitive player in the challenging North American paper industry,” said Rolland CEO, Philip Rundle. "Rolland is excited to remain at the forefront of meeting customers' growing needs for sustainable products into the future.” Canopy has worked closely with Rolland's St-Jérôme mill over the past 13 years to advance solutions, including the development of the paper company’s partipcation in the initiative to use 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper in the printing of the Canadian edition of Harry Potter in 2003 and 2005. In 2011, Canopy and Rolland again collaborated in another groundbreaking initiative – a North American first – with the production of straw paper made from agricultural residues. This limited edition paper was used to print a special edition of Margaret Atwood's book, In Other Worlds, and Alice Munro's, Dear Life.
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.”
With the introduction of the M measurement modes, the past couple of years have brought a range of incredible new measurement devices that can change the way any commercial printer approaches their pressroom (originally publshed in PrintAction's October 2015 issue).(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a relatively long, highly important technical article produced from original research by Ryerson University's Dr. Martin Habekost and Dr. Abhay Sharma, with contributions from fourth-year student Alyssa Andino. If preferred, a PDF version of the article is available for printing in PrintAction's archives.)   View the embedded image gallery online at: http://www.printaction.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleria0703a5b166 There are some exciting new developments in the world of measuring instruments that tackle the perennial issues of measuring wet and dry press sheets, measurement of papers with optical brighteners, doing a press check with metallic inks or trying to match a press sheet to a proof – new standards and new instruments are now available that eradicate many of these practical colour issues. The Barbieri SpectroPad2, the Techkon SpectroDens and the X-Rite eXact have been tested and evaluated in Ryerson University’s pressroom in different applications from inkjet photo papers to metallic PANTONE inks on press. Spectrophotometers are routinely used for colour measurement and colour management in many commercial printing and proofing workflows. In the case of media containing optical brightening agents, UV-induced fluorescence has lead to poor levels of agreement between models from different manufacturers, or different models from the same manufacturer. If instruments produce different readings, then problems with colour matching can occur when colour management is done in prepress with one instrument, but a different instrument is used to do spot checks at press-side. A major contributor to inter-model differences is the amount of ultraviolet (UV) energy in the instrument. When a paper contains brightening agents, instruments have reported different measurements for the same sample. The new standard ISO 13655 now clearly defines four measurement modes: M0, M1, M2 and M3. In broad terms, M0 is a legacy mode for all devices prior to the implementation of the new measurement modes, while M1 and M2 are UV-included and UV-excluded modes, respectively. The M3 mode is a polarizing mode for use in ink dry-back on press or for measuring metallic inks and other special effect inks. New ISO 13655 measurementThe problem to date has been that there was no clear specification for handheld spectrophotometers for prepress and pressroom use. The new ISO 13655 standard provides much more clarity for the instrument measuring conditions, which has brought instruments from different suppliers into closer agreement. The instruments evaluated here are new instruments that meet this standard. We provide an explanation for ISO 13655 and its implementation for the general user. The legacy mode M0 represents the majority of measuring instruments used in the field today. The X-Rite 530, i1Pro and iSis are all M0 instruments. M0 is directed to instruments that use a tungsten lamp to illuminate the specimen being measured. The tungsten bulb based device used to be the primary type of device on the market. It should be noted that the UV component can be very weak in these instruments as they have very low energy in the 300-400 nm range.An M0 instrument can safely be used for process control applications where it is adequate to make repeatable measurements, it can be used in situations where it is not necessary to know the “absolute” measurement value and there is no exchange of information or correlation with other measurement scenarios. In general, the M0 mode exists as a catch-all mode so that we have within the new ISO standard a category for legacy devices. The M0 mode enables older devices to have a place within the new standard.M1 is known as the “D50 mode” or “UV included mode”  – devices can use two different methods to achieve this mode. The light source in the instrument must create the effect of CIE Illuminant, D50. A major difference (and improvement) over earlier specifications is that in this mode the spectral power distribution of the illuminant should approximate D50, thus the relative amount  of UV and visible wavelengths is now clearly and unambiguously specified.The clarification for spectral power distribution in measuring instruments, ISO 13655, is accompanied by a similar clarification in the standard for viewing booths ISO 3664. Via updated standard ISO 3664, emphasis has turned to requiring a closer simulation of Illuminant D50 thus clarifying the amount of UV illumination in the viewing booth. In the current context, ISO 3664 has called for tighter tolerances on the quality of the light source to ensure that it closely matches the D50 (M1) curve especially in the UV part of the spectrum. We may say that M1 is, in fact, nothing more than an ISO 3664 source in the instrument. By implementation of these two ISO standards, we arrive for the first time at a situation where instrument reported values are in agreement with what is observed visually in a viewing booth. D50, one of the standard viewing booth modes, is the basis for the Profile Connection Space in the ICC architecture. M1 mode within instruments corresponds to ISO 3664 for viewing booths, all of which make M1 the most desirable mode for today’s colour measurement and colour management systems. Instruments that offer M1 mode are devices such as X-Rite’s i1Pro2 and iSis2 – note the “2” in the model name, indicating they are second generation instruments for the new ISO standard.M2, defined as a “UV-cut” mode, removes all UV light from the measurement system, below 400 nm. ISO 13655 states, “The spectral power distribution of the measurement source… shall only contain substantial radiation power in the wavelength range above 400 nm...” M2 is thus a UV-cut mode, filtering out any UV component below 400 nm, in the instrument’s light source. How is this mode used in practice? There will be times when a customer will request a print to be measured using M2 because the lighting used to display the job is expected to be free of UV content. A museum is an example of one such place that may use UV-free lighting. In colour management circles there may be instances that require removing UV light from the measurement system. With the new standard there is a specific definition for “UV-cut” and the wavelength at which it occurs.M3 is a polarizing mode (for measurement of wet offset press sheets) and consists of UV-cut, up until 400 nm and then a polarizing filter is applied to the remaining wavelengths. The main use of M3 is to limit or completely remove surface reflections. In the offset printing sector, the customer pays for the final dry product. One of the main concerns is that the press sheets come off the press wet and as they dry the density of the ink drops. The M3 mode can aid printers in cutting the surface gloss from wet inks, and if drying is primarily represented by a change in surface gloss, then by removing the gloss, we may have a better prediction of the final expected dry density. It is generally agreed that a polarization filter can give less difference in density readings between a wet and a dried-back press sheet, so the use of a polarizing filter can provide a better predictor of dry density from wet density readings.There is considerable debate around the use of polarization filters for density measurements and for use in metallic inks. The use of polarization filters is somewhat controversial since the effect is not controllable and each situation will produce different results, until now there have been no published standards for the use of polarization filters. The situation was akin to the use of UV light in the instrument, it was not stipulated or clearly defined. ISO 13655 now clarifies the situation for the response of the polarizing filter. The M3 mode is examined in the present study for use in measurement of metallic inks – an area that has been a thorny issue for measurement and control of metallic inks on press. Practical testing using the Techkon SpectroDens and X-Rite eXact show that the M3 mode provides huge improvements when controlling metallic inks on press.Barbieri SpectroPad2New in the market today, from different companies, are instruments that meet the ISO 13655 standard. The Barbieri SpectroPad2 spectrophotometer was evaluated at Ryerson GCM for use in photo papers containing high amounts of optical brighteners. The SpectroPad2 has a novel upright design with a large, clear panel. To measure, the head moves along for a small distance until a small beep reports the measurement in the touch-screen LCD panel. The device connects directly to a laptop or other computer via Barbieri Gateway software using USB or WiFi, or at press-side the LCD panel can be set to immediately report a pass or fail colour test. Importantly, the SpectroPad2 is compliant with the M0, M1 and M2 measurement modes – it is highly recommended that a press shop should only buy a device that complies with these standards. The white calibration tile is neatly hidden and is unlocked when white calibration is done by the user. The device is clean, simple, elegant and a charm to use, and has applications in offset printing as well as all digital applications such as large-format inkjet. Barbieri is an Italian company, run by brothers Stefan and Markus Barbieri, supplying a range of spectrophotometers with a wide European user base, and support here in Toronto.Techkon SpectroDensThe Techkon SpectroDens is a sophisticated German instrument in which we focused on the use of the M3 measurement mode. The SpectroDens also has a neatly hidden calibration tile in the charging base for the instrument. The SpectroDens can also be used to see if a press sheet is in compliance with the G7 process. The latest model even offers a hand-scanning mode for the measurement of the G7 target. In the current evaluation we focused on the M3 mode, which can be used for measuring metallic inks and other special effect inks. The M3 measurement mode describes the use of two polarizing filters before the reflected light from the sample hits the sensor.In the test, we measured wet and dry metallic inks to see how well the new M3 measurement mode works when it comes to measuring such inks. Ten metallic inks with PANTONE P877 silver or P874 gold as base metallic ink were printed on a Prüfbau printability tester and measured. The reference point was the printed metallic ink in the PANTONE metallic book. A range of samples with declining ink amounts were printed. The Techkon SpectroDens was used to measure L*a*b* values and the density of the samples.The colour data and the density were recorded using the SpectroDrive software from Techkon, which can be downloaded for free. The software can connect to the instrument over WiFi, if both devices are on the same wireless network. The other option is to connect the instrument with the supplied USB cable to a USB port of your computer. With help of the software a colour standard can be set and then measurements can be taken of the samples and compared to the standard. The colour difference between standard and sample can be calculated in various colour differencing equations. For the evaluation of the M3 measurement mode, we used the DE2000 equation because the calculated DE2000 values correspond quite well with how we, as human observers, perceive colour differences.Since the SpectroDens, and all other modern spectrophotometers measure the light spectrum that is reflected back from the sample, they do not calculate density in the same way as traditional filter-based densitometers. In spectral-based densitometers, the reflected light spectrum is used from which to calculate density. This is the reason why the measuring device is capable of giving L*a*b* values and printed ink density at the same time.Press run with silver and gold metallic inksAfter printing 10 different metallic inks on the Prüfbau printability tester, six colours were chosen for a pressrun on our 2-colour Heidelberg Quickmaster QM46. Again, we used the printed ink density from the PANTONE metallic book as a yardstick. After a proper set up and achieving the target ink density, we turned the ink ductor off and ran 200 consecutive prints. For the analysis, a press sheet was measured every 10 sheets and the results collected with the SpectroDrive software and recorded in Excel. The results from the prints on the Prüfbau printability tester and the QM46 press run aligned quite well in regards to which metric can be used for controlling metallic inks on press.For the metallic ink project we also used an X-Rite eXact which has been switched into M3 measurement mode. The same samples (Prüfbau and QM46) that were measured with the SpectroDens were also measured with the eXact. X-Rite offers the DataCatcher software which can connect via Bluetooth or USB-cable with instrument. The data can also be stored directly into an Excel spreadsheet.Very important and relevant findings show that the M3 mode can be used to measure spectral density and the density relates well to ink film thickness of metallic ink. When we increase or decrease the amount of metallic ink, the density reading increases or decreases accordingly, thus we have an instrument and metric to control metallic ink on press. The other critical result here is that two different instruments – the Techkon SpectroDens and the X-Rite eXact agree in their measurements of the same sample. A main result from this project is that there is close agreement in terms of density between the Techkon SpectroDens and the X-Rite eXact for the metallic colours. The density function on both measurement devices allows to easily track the printed ink density on press. Differences start to show up when thick ink films are being printed, when one tries to print a real intense or dense colour. At this point, the measurement values start to drift, but you have to keep in mind that at a heavy ink film and high ink densities very little light reaches the light sensor and, therefore, the calculated L*a*b* values and ink densities can start to be slightly different. Another option would be to track the L*-value of the printed ink. L* is a lightness measurement. So, if the L* value is below the target L*-value than the ink is too dark and too much ink is applied on press. If the L* value is above the target value then the ink is too light and a little bit more ink has to be printed. Our results clearly show that the recorded density values decrease as the printed ink film thickness decrease. A decreasing ink film thickness means that the print gets lighter, which in return, in shown in the increasing L*-values. A higher L*-value means, that the colour is less intense than the desired colour and a thicker ink film has to be printed on press by either opening the ink keys more, or by increasing the ink dwell in the ink fountain.More than hypeIn many print shops there are different devices used in prepress and press, or a printer may have a Toronto and Ottawa location with an instrument in each facility. The new ISO 13655 standard brings all these different instruments into close alignment. Further, the ISO 13655 enables different measurement modes for UV-included and UV-excluded measurements and also the M3 mode for measurement of metallic inks. Together these changes provide huge advantages to practical colour measurement and colour matching at press-side.It is not marketing hype, press shops should genuinely seek to upgrade their instrumentation and in this work we evaluated the Barbieri SpectroPad2, Techkon SpectroDens and X-Rite eXact – these all meet the new ISO standards and are all easy to use, software-driven devices. Specifically in this testing, the Techkon SpectroDens and the X-Rite eXact can both be used to measure metallic inks on press, using the M3 measurement mode. A relatively easy to understand metric for on press control is the printed ink density that both instruments can show in their LCD displays. Using the printed ink density allows press operators to measure and control metallic inks like they are controlling four process colours!
An in-depth test review of Affinity Photo v1.3.5 (available from the Mac Store for $57.99 or as a free trial) to better understand if Serif Software can continue to shake up the graphics software market with its inexpensive applications.Within a span of 12 short months, UK-based Serif Software has turned the Mac graphics software market on its ear! Its first salvo – Affinity Designer – was released in October 2014 (reviewed in PrintAction February 2015) and cut a broad swath into the design, pre-media and prepress software market with powerful and useful features aimed squarely at graphic arts professionals. And instead of exacting a monthly toll from its users, Serif chose to sell perpetual licenses of Affinity Designer through Apple’s online store for a fraction the cost of competing applications.Now Serif is poised to disrupt the image-editing and photography market with its next product for graphics professionals and amateurs alike – Affinity Photo. As with Designer, Serif has engineered Affinity Photo as a Mac application from the first line of code instead of porting their popular PhotoPlus application from the Windows side of its business. And based on my initial impressions and early industry buzz, Affinity Photo is a strong sophomore effort for the company as it courts the Mac design, photo and graphics pro.Personas for the peopleWhen first launching Affinity Photo (AP) the default user interface opens in an application window and presents a familiar looking array of image-editing tools and panels that are relatively easy to navigate for both experienced image pros and amateurs. As with Designer, Affinity Photo groups tools and functions into task specific workspaces called Personas – good for those keen to organize their workflow. Initially, Photo opens with the Photo Persona active, presenting a familiar looking Tool Dock on the left chock full of the usual (image-editing) suspects including: Move Tool; Selection Brush; Cropping; various paint brush and fill tools; dodging and cloning tools; as well as a few mystery tools. Mystery tool #1: The AP Flood Select tool enables users to select pixels by colour similarity. As you drag the tool across a range of pixels, the selection size grows to encompass a wider range of colour. Flood Select is especially useful in isolating shadow areas in high contrast images. Mystery tool #2 is the Inpainting Brush, another tool unique to AP that can be used to identify damaged areas within an image, and then used to paint over the missing data with new pixels reconstructed based on image information from the surrounding pixels. It sounds complex, but is really just a new and innovative approach to content-aware restoration.The toolbar running horizontally along top of the Photo Persona application window houses auto levels, contrast, colour and white balance buttons in addition to selection and quick mask tools. In particular, AP’s Quick Mask feature enables users to easily build masks to isolate key elements within their images, then toggle how the selection is displayed. Other toolbar inhabitants include a nifty Force Pixel Alignment tool that will snap vector objects or pixel selections to full pixels – very useful for Web graphics – as well as a full range of arrange, insert and alignment functions. A full range of filters can be found in the Photo Persona menubar, including the varied flavours of Blur; Sharpen; Distort; Noise; Edge Detection; Shadows/Highlights and so on. When launched each Filter pops up in its own window with all the appropriate controls and parameters for the user to adjust. Split Screen, a feature borrowed from Designer, is built into the filter window and enables users to view images in full screen, split screen or mirrored screen to preview the effect alongside the original image in real-time.As you might expect, the right side of the default AP workspace contains a familiar set of panels relevant to the Persona that the user is working in. For example, the Photo Persona includes essential panels such as Layers; Effects; Swatches; Brushes; Histogram; Navigator; and so on. All panels can be rearranged to suit individual preferences within the application window to create a customized workspace. The chaotically minded can opt to do away with the window altogether by choosing to work in Separated Mode, which breaks all the aforementioned toolbars and panels into free-floating elements that can be placed anywhere on your screen.Using Layers, AP provides a comprehensive non-destructive editing workflow allowing users to apply any adjustment or effect to underlying Layers. Colour images can be converted to greyscale using a B+W adjustment layer similar to a channel mixer you might find in other photo-editing applications. Unique to Affinity Photo, Live Filter Layers can be applied to any layer and modified in real-time. Portrait photographers and prepress techs dealing with a lot of headshots will appreciate AP’s Frequency Separation filter which enables users to correct texture and colour independently – great for blemish removal and smoothing coarse skin textures without affecting skin tone.Liquify & DevelopAffinity Photo includes three additional Personas for users: Liquify; Develop; and Export. As the name implies, Liquify Persona is the workspace for distorting pixels in images. When switching to the Liquify workspace, a grid is immediately applied to your image showing brush size and distortion effect. The Toolbar displays a selection of distortion tools, such as Twirl; Pinch; Liquify Turbulence Tool; as well as a Freeze Tool that creates a mask to protect an area in your image from distortion, and a Thaw Tool to remove it.Opening a Camera RAW file in Affinity Photo automatically defaults to the Develop Persona – AP’s robust RAW editing workspace. In addition to RAW, the Develop Persona works with other standard image formats and Photo’s tabbed UI means that users can work with RAW images alongside other files. Develop enables users to apply multiple adjustments to images encompassing exposure; white balance; and black point along with a variety of other professional-grade adjustments. The AP Scope panel shows users the distribution of chrominance and luminance within their image – a capability I have not previously seen in an image-editing application.I was particularly impressed with the powerful lens correction features in the AP Develop Persona, including notable noise reduction for high ISO images. That said: Affinity Photo has the ability to create and save presets for rectifying lens distortion, but this version does not appear to include profiles for specific lenses. Hopefully, some popular lens profiles will show up in a future version. When finished perfecting your RAW image, Affinity Photo prompts you to ‘Develop’ before changing Personas in a nod to the analog roots of darkroom wizardry. The Export Persona affords users very precise control over getting an image out of Affinity Photo in a variety of formats. At this point, I should mention that AP has its own propriety file structure for saving files you are actively working with. The .afphoto file type contains all layer, filter, mask and effect information in addition to the pixels in your image. Although this format is both efficient and convenient, users will still need to export more common image formats for prepress use. Fortunately, the Export Persona makes short work of this task with all the options necessary to export SVG, JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, EPS and PDF available in one convenient workspace. Interestingly, I saved the same test image in Photoshop and Affinity Photo –  the Affinity Photo file was about 70 percent smaller while maintaining the same pixel density.Under the hoodIt is easy to get wrapped up in all the bells and whistles Affinity Photo provides for image-editing pros and overlook a few other pretty remarkable attributes. Under the hood, AP uses a 64-bit architecture and harnesses every graphics advantage the Mac ecosystem has to offer, such as: Support for Open GL; Grand Central Dispatch; Core Graphics; and the Retina display UI. In plain English this translates to fast, live processing and instantaneous previews of a huge range of high-end filters and effects; masking effects and advanced adjustment layers as well as live blending modes. Affinity Photo is very fast, even on modestly configured equipment such as my aging 2012 Macbook Air.Prepress pros will be glad to hear that in addition to support for RGB, Greyscale and LAB colour spaces (both 8- and 16-bit), AP provides users with a start-to-finish CMYK workflow, something of a rarity in image-editing applications within this price range. Add to that a multi-document tabbed interface, support for unlimited layers and impressive live preview performance even when applying effects to massive layered images and its pretty tough to see a downside to working in Affinity Photo!That’s not to suggest Affinity Photo provides everything a photographer, designer or prepress pro wants or needs. A few useful production capabilities are missing in action with this version, including support for scripts, HDR image compositing and panorama stitching. Also, minor conveniences such as the application recognizing the pixel dimensions of an image in the clipboard when creating a new file have been overlooked – in this version at least. The good in Affinity Photo’s imperfections is that Serif has fodder for future updates – something they have established a good reputation for with Affinity Designer.Elephant in the prepress department“Gee, Affinity Photo sounds an awful lot like Photoshop! How does it compare?” Google “Affinity Photo” and you will see “Photoshop Alternative” or “Photoshop Challenger” as the headline or opening stanza in dozens of articles. When assessing Affinity Photo, I tried to put more than two decades of Photoshop experience on the back burner and take an unbiased look at this new application instead comparing the two programs feature-by-feature. As a result, I have concluded that Affinity Photo is the first image-editing application I’ve worked with that can meet the day-to-day production needs of most designers, photographers and image-editing specialists that didn’t have an Adobe logo on its welcome screen. This application provides all tools needed to work with CMYK images with full Photoshop import (.PSD and .PSB) and export capability (.PSD) while maintaining layers and effects.Does Affinity Photo do everything Photoshop does? Of course not! Photoshop benefits from more than 25 years of development and includes arcane features such ad-hoc video editing and 3D model rendering and printing – neither which might be relevant to many designers, premedia and prepress specialists.And if, like myself, you have been working with Photoshop on a professional level for more than 20 years you have also likely memorized plenty of key commands and know where to access every single function with a flick of the wrist. With that level of muscle memory dedicated to working in Photoshop, you will have some re-learning to do before becoming as effective in Affinity Photo. The key takeaway here is that in most cases you can eventually be as effective once you are on the downhill side of the Affinity Photo learning curve… a pretty big accomplishment for Serif’s new kid on the image-editing block.Zac Bolan can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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.

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