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Alain Paquette, together with a silent partner, purchased Artcraft Label three years ago and set out to modernize the Burlington operation, leveraging its experienced team and position as a producer of high-quality pressure-sensitive labels. Founded in 1977, Paquette took over the operation from John and Edna Robinson, who grew Artcraft from a sticker business to an award-winning prime-label manufacturer.Stepping away from his established career with technology suppliers, Paquette saw huge potential in Artcraft’s strong market position to institute significant operational changes to drive out costs. With his own background in lean manufacturing, investments were made to improve all aspects of the business, from the shop floor to the entire IT system. Paquette focused heavily in establishing Artcraft’s prepress department, through Esko’s HD Flexo system, including a CDI imager and powerful new imaging software. The move adds more control over Artcraft’s high-quality printing platform housed within a 20,000-square-foot facility. The plant is meticulous in its cleanliness and order and primed for the future, which is likely to include contracting out prepress work, which currently accounts for a very small percentage of Artcraft’s revenue.What potential did you see in Artcraft?AP: I realized the market was changing so we came up with a plan to really optimize it… everything top to bottom… all of the software, computers, everything was all redone. We reinvented the whole ERP system. All of our stock is barcoded, for example.How much cost have you driven out of Artcraft?AP: We have managed to drop our operating costs substantially by optimizing. Of course, we now have a little less staff... and as a result, we crossed trained a lot of staff to be interchangeable.How was Artcraft’s print work when you bought it?AP: The knowledge, the quality, everything was already in top shape. There was really not much work to do there. Those improvements come with time.What has surprised you most getting into this market?AP: I saw quality from a manufacturing eye, not from a printer’s eye... there is a lot more that goes into this. [It] was a big eye opener.Are prime label clients overly demanding?AP: We search for the ones who are the most particular. It is not just for the margins, but you protect your space a lot better… where not many others can follow.What is the shape of Canadian flexo?AP: The funnel comes down very, very fast and we are all sitting at that same size. I call them the single-owner type. There is going to have to be some consolidation at some point, if you want to get efficiencies up. We are at the point where we are starting to eye the market to see who can we work with to create growth.What are your plans in terms of M&A?AP: We are looking to acquire… We have set up Artcraft so you can take our installation, especially with what we have done in prepress, and easily double or triple it without that much strain.  How did you revamp prepress?AP: We installed Esko Flexo HD. We are noticing with recent demands and SKUs that you really have to push the quality. We do not have offset presses, but you have to get yourself there and basically we are now.Do you plan on offering prepress services?AP: We actually do plates for a few other label printers, primarily out of province. With the locals, there is always [a] trust issue, but we are not out to take business.What applications are you focused on?AP: We are a good player in specialized high-quality segments. Our focus is local and regional – a 200-kilometer radius.Beyond prepress, where else have you invested in technology?AP: In finishing – our flexo can run silk-screen inline, which not many can do in the area. We are present in health and beauty where there are a lot of the requirements to have more than one screen… We found with HD Flexo that we are eliminating some screens now.Are you planning to invest in digital print?AP: We have small digital capabilities right now. We call them our helpers. For us, we just really haven’t seen the value. I know there is payback, but the volumes needed to sustain a million-dollar investment is no walk in the park. There are still a lot of limitations in digital technology. What future goals do you have for Artcraft?AP: We want to see growth as a good mid-level shop and we are going to get there. It does take time and we are probalby looking at anywhere between a 5- and 10-year window, but right now the architecture is done. We have a team in place that can transfer knowledge and we will start growing from there.
Cenveo McLaren Morris & Todd is home to some of the most knowledgeable technicians, managers and salespeople in Canada’s printing industry. Nearly three years ago, one of these key assets, Steve Hanley, set out on a career-defining journey with one of his key sales clients aiming to mass-produce a groundbreaking baby-formula label.After months of collaborating with the client, testing inks and coatings in Germany, covering financial plans with corporate, Hanley and Cenveo MM&T’s journey materialized in late-2013 with the installation of a 14-unit Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106 sheetfed press. The more than $6 million investment, unique in its printing configuration and automation, is rivaled in approximation by only a handful of such high-end presses in North America.Holding one of the most interesting histories in Canada’s printing industry, from its origins of producing Hallmark Cards to its role in establishing the worldwide phenomenon of the Trivial Pursuit board game, the new 14-unit Heidelberg press is pushing Cenveo MM&T along an impressive growth path in pharmaceuticals, where packaging is often as important as the formula.Hallmark and PursuitMM&T was acquired by Cenveo, then operating as Mail-Well, 17 years ago, adding yet another important marker to its 59-year history in the Canadian printing industry. Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, Cenveo is a $2-billion company operating in the management and distribution of print and related offerings. The company is overseen by one of modern printing’s most dynamic businessman, Robert Burton Sr., who has been Cenveo’s Chairman and CEO since September 2005 – with sons Mike Burton serving as Cenveo’s COO (June 2014) and Rob Burton as President.Cenveo encompasses more than two-dozen entities in over 100 facilities. It employs more than 270 sales associates in North America, with additional entities in the Dominican Republic, India and Thailand – 8,100 employees in total. It acquired a Canadian printing gem with the acquisition of McLaren Morris & Todd, co-founded in 1958. One of those original builders, John McLaren (in association with Harry Morris and Art McLaren), secured greeting-card producer Hallmark as a massive customer for its sheetfed presses. Greeting-card production would come to represent 25 percent of total company revenues by the early 1960s.After being purchased by Southam in 1967, which brought in web-offset presses for direct-mail and advertising work, MM&T would soon enter the spotlight by working closely with the creators of Trivial Pursuit, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, to manufacture their world-record board game. (Today, more than 100 million copies of the game have been sold in 26 countries.) The original Trivial Pursuit had 6,000 questions on 1,000 cards – a printing risk with a world of potential benefit. MM&T’s early involvement with Trivial Pursuit led to an expansion of the facility to a total of 115,000 square feet. Building on its greeting- and Trivial Pursuit-card knowledge, and moving with the 1980s boom in collector cards, MM&T shifted its expertise into label work. This application direction was emphasized after John Morris and Alan George purchased MM&T from Southam in 1995. In 1998, they sold their company to Mail-Well, which, after combining with acquisitions led by Robert Burton Sr., became Cenveo in 2004 – resulting in Cenveo MM&T (CMM&T).A year later, CMM&T installed its first 10-colour flexographic press to dive deeper into label printing. This was soon followed by the installation of a 7-colour full web Goss press. The newest direction for the facility is positioned squarely at feet of the Heidelberg XL 106.Research and testingBefore the Heidelberg XL 106 was purchased, Hanley visited Germany on three separate occasions to test out the printing units, twice with Heidelberg and once with KBA. The CMM&T team sent over specific inks and did thorough press testing on behalf of their client before pulling the trigger. “Part of the testing in Germany was to prove it to Cenveo’s corporate leadership, ‘Here is where the client wants to go, here is where I got them, and this is the press that is going to do it,’” Hanley recalls. Hanley himself established the protocols for how the files should be tested, which took place on three different substrates in each of two main application categories, cartons and labels. “Heidelberg was very excited about the project too, because it highlights what they do.“KBA is a very capable press as well,” explains Hanley, who was impressed with both high-tech factories, but the XL 106 better fit CMM&T’s application and long-standing experience with Heidelberg machines.The purchase of the press was based on the baby formula producer signing a 5-year printing contract with CMM&T. It was the first such press configuration that Heidelberg has produced.  “It is a duo press with flexo and offset capabilities, 14 units, all UV capable, extended dryer. It is a very unique packaging press in the world,” says Hanley. “We had faith in Heidelberg to deliver the product.” The Heidelberg press arrived in Mississauga literally by 17 tractor-trailer loads. “Heidelberg knows what they are doing, so there were no issues with it at all,” says Peter Zamos, who has been with MM&T for 31 years and led the technical implementation of the press into the plant. Leaving the feeder, sheets first travel into a flexo unit where a premium liquid silver foil is applied, which is key to reaching the client’s graphic goals for its new baby-formula label design. “The advantage of putting it on in the first unit is then you can tint it and it will look like foiling.”This immediately raises technical challenges in a press run, but the liquid foil is a highly efficient route for long-run label production, as opposed to applying traditional mylar (metallized polyester film) or other forms of foil. The baby-formula work is now produced in a single pass at very high speeds. “There is an unknown factor with a raised plate when you are trying to marry it to a lithographic plate in the next units,” explains Zamos, describing fit and trapping issues when breaking from the conventional wisdom of putting the opaque colour down last.Zamos feels the capabilities of the Heidelberg press are almost like a return to the craft of printing, including the file preparation of Autumn Graphics, a specialized flexographic prepress house from London, Ontario. Autumn Graphics has been working with CMM&T and this client for approximately 20 years. “You are trying to fit transparent ink around an opaque shell without having a visual problem,” he says. “From a client’s perspective, there is a craft to that.”Leaving the flexo unit, sheets travel through two drying stubs before reaching the offset units, coating and drying units. Karl Cox, who took over as the lead of CMM&T’s facility at the beginning of 2015, agrees with the artistic value that the new press brings. “The art aspect of it is not only in how we look at the colour and how we get to the quality, but how we run the press efficiency at its maximum speeds,” he says, continuing to point to how business flows into the press, scheduling its run and labour to meet the expectations and needs of the facility.During his early research, Hanley also had to consider how the printed labels would fit into the client’s packaging line. “A key challenge is to run at high speeds and to reach the proper coating gloss levels to have it run smoothly through the customer’s lines at high speed,” he explains. The production team is targeting a superior gloss level of 90 and is currently just below this high standard, while also committing to run with a delta E of two or less (well below the normal standard of delta E 3).“This was Steve’s passion. He believed this is what this organization needed and went for it – the proof is that he got it right,” says Cox, Regional Vice President, Sales and Operations at CMM&T. “It is exceeding the ROI that we positioned for the press when we brought it in. We are ahead of schedule. It has been a massive success for us as an organization.” Cox explains the press has already attracted new clients and he expects more. “We first wanted to perfect our art as a business with the press, before taking it to market for new opportunities. We are really at that point now.” This strategy fits well with CMM&T’s historic approach of working with high-end, demanding clients. “We used to print for Hallmark Greeting Cards. It was our first account and Hallmark has always been a very quality-oriented company,” says Zamos. “If you are going to buy a card for $6 you want it to be perfect and their quality levels are almost at pharmaceutical levels... Really, it is nothing new for us.”In addition to closed-loop colour, the Heidelberg XL 106 includes auto inspection cameras with pharmaceutical-specific PDF architecture to capture an image of each sheet – and dreaded hickeys – at press speed, to mark and pull errors from the run.Printing and mailingCox joined Cenveo in January 2014 to implement structural change at the Clixx Direct Marketing facility in Scarborough, which Cenveo purchased in 2010. After more than a decade of Cenveo’s growth through acquisition, Cox is tasked with consolidating processes and to capitalize on individual assets at CMM&T. Cenveo is divided into three groups: Packaging, which includes CMM&T; commercial print; and the envelope group, as a result of the Mail-Well acquisition. After acquiring the assets of National Envelope in 2010, Cenveo became the largest envelope manufacturer in North America.“We are starting to see an  improvement in mailing,” Cox says. “That provides us with huge opportunities... We can essentially print in this facility and then add variable aspects at the Clixx facility. The two facilities work very well together.”One of Cox’ first moves at CMM&T was to bring in a lean manufacturing black belt to drive further efficiencies. The facility has been deeply involved with both external and internal auditing processes since 1996, when a client’s new Request For Proposal approach required partners to be Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified.“We took it on very aggressively… and we passed every audit they could throw at us,” says Hanley, noting the baby-formula market has higher standards than most pharmaceutical sectors. “It really highlights the importance in the quality of printing and in every aspect of the quality of that product.” Concern for quality control in the sector came to a head about five years ago when several infant deaths in China were tied to contaminated baby formula products of the country’s domestic suppliers.“We have a platform that we can grow with a lot of different products and services that meet the needs of our customers,” says Cox.  “That is what really impressed me [about CMM&T]. We have a great team here.”Hanley is one of the top salespeople in the Canadian printing market and he sees an enormous opportunity ahead, because of the new 14-unit Heidelberg press. “This is the defining moment of my whole career,” he says. The packaging industry is still largely comprised of small entrepreneurial businesses and Hanley expects many mergers and acquisitions are ahead, mirroring the past decade in commercial printing.“There are some challenges on the commercial side from a margin perspective and there are different types of challenges in packaging,” says Cox. “We have opportunities for margin and growth potential through the development of new products, the installation of new presses, and in the innovation that we have brought to market with this press. That is where we see opportunity.”
The full Q&A article with Jay Mandarino can be found in PrintAction January 2015It is hard to argue against stating Jay Mandarino, President and Founder of the C.J. Group of Companies, is the most-visible personality in Canada’s printing industry. By being so engaged in the community, particularly in the hypercompetitive environment of Toronto, he is as much a sounding board for insight as a lightning rod for criticism.
BELLWYCK on September 2 announced the opening of its Center for Innovation & Design at its newest location in Long Island, New York, to introduce emerging packaging applications to clients in the North East. “New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, technology, and art – something we absorb and apply in our innovations to help companies not only grow their business but present their packaging in a luxurious and high-quality manner,” said Greg Keizer, BELLWYCK’s Executive VP, Business Development & Innovation.
An open house was held last week at the 50,000-square-foot Mississauga facility of 4over to celebrate the installation of a 40-inch Komori press. The online-focused trade printer began operating out of its Canadian plant in late 2011.
Ingersoll Paper Box, a folding-carton manufacturer headquartered in Ingersoll, Ontario, held on open house to highlight its new KBA Rapida 106 sheetfed press, among other recent investments.
PointOne Graphics of Etobicoke, Ontario, continues to expand its technological base with a range of new installations like a perfecting Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106, two Suprasetters, a Ricoh Pro C901S, Vivid UV coater and a new MIS.
Jim Colter, Chairman of the Board for Colter & Peterson, has retired from the U.S.-based distribution company after a career that began in 1955. Upon completing high school, Cotler began working for his father’s company, Roy Colter Cutting Services.
Chris Pereira, founder and President of C17 Group Inc., was recognized as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce. He received the award on March 5 during a gala event at the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts.
The printing plant producing the Beijing Daily newspaper has installed China’s first Goss M-800 web press, which the operation’s parent company plans to leverage to compete in the region’s commercial printing market.


Moveable Inc., which was founded as Moveable Type in 1983 as a small typesetting shop in Toronto, celebrated its 30th anniversary this past October, reflecting on enormous change over the past three decades.


This week marks the 75th anniversary of the first xerographic image created by Chester Carlson. The technology is the basis of toner printing and copying technology.
Objectif Lune of Montreal introduces its revamped PReS Connect as a toolbox for the high-speed creation and production of large volume personalized business communications. The company describes this product release as the culmination of four years of research and development following its acquisition of PrintSoft. With PReS Connect, PrintSoft states customers will receive improvements like a better Graphical User Interface, performance optimization, and more powerful multichannel communications capabilities.Completely rebuilt, PReS Connect, according to Objectif Lune, focuses on simplifying the delivery of transactional documents through print, Web and email by bridging the gap between systems, departments and hardware. New features of the PReS Connect include:High-volume output of up to 30,000 pages per minute;Ability to receive data and print jobs in any format (PDF, PostScript, PSL, AFP, XML, etc.);Mapping of data from any source into a unified data model;Scalable performance with performance pack options;Simplified wizards;Automated processes designer with GUI;Commingling;Clustering; andMultichannel distribution (HTML, PDF, PCL, Postscript, AFP, IPDS, Text message, Fax, email).
Kornit Digital introduced a new series of digital inks designed for use with all of its direct-to-garment systems. The new NeoPigment Pure formulation, still in development, is designed as an evolution of the company’s existing NeoPigment process, providing what Kornit describes as increased vivacity, an improved hand feel and a more opaque and smooth reproduction of white.The NeoPigment Pure ink set comprises CMYK plus red, green and white and is formulated to supersede the company’s existing ink families by providing colour standards that are closer to ideal LAB values. According to Kornit, improved overall smoothness resulting in an increased gamut of more than 15 percent, is accompanied by a deeper black (K), while the white ink has greater brightness and opacity with greater coverage.The company also explains, with a refined hand feel, NeoPigment Pure ink provides for reduced post-print odour, and is suitable for use on virtually all fabric types with the added benefit of offering 100 percent sustainability and biodegradability. The ink is fully compliant with OekoTex 100 and is GOTS pre-approved.NeoPigment Pure ink has also been designed to increase the performance of the Kornit Digital direct-to-garment systems’ print heads with faster start-up and better reliability. The new ink, according to Kornit, also offers better wash-fastness, a longer shelf life and the likelihood of waste is reduced.“Our new NeoPigment Pure inks respond to customer demand for refined characteristics that we’re able to offer with our NeoPigment process, and we now have the widest colour gamut in the industry, a velvety touch and the ultimate in white ink performance,” said Guy Zimmerman, Kornit’s Executive Vice President of Marketing and Business Development.
Sihl introduced its newest banner material, called 3275 TexBanner Xtrem white 145, which the company describes as an economical alternative to existing high-quality products.TexBanner 3275 is a 100 synthetic non-woven material coated with Sihl’s water-fast matte inkjet formulation. The company explains it holds a high tensile strength and tear resistance. These factors, combined with an ability to be stapled, sewn or used with grommets make, it well suited for both indoor and outdoor banners.Sihl also explains, that although 3275 is optimized for aqueous based inks, it delivers optimal performance with latex and UV inks as well. The 3275 TexBanner Xtrem white product is available in sizes of 36, 42 and 54 x 125 inches, with three inch cores.
Kodak has officially launched its Prinergy Workflow 7 software system, with several new features, for automating the printing process. The company explains its new version focuses on automating core workflow functions like job creation, collaboration, file processing, trapping, proofing, imposition and colour management.One of the new features allows for callas Preflight Profile Integration. Preflight+ allows the integration of callas preflight profiles for improved quality control and reduced manual touch points. “Our goal has always been to develop technology that is reliable, innovative and flexible, all key requirements for automation,” said Dietrich von Seggern, Business Development Manager, callas software. “We believe that the combination of a versatile client server system, Prinergy Workflow and our pdfToolbox technology will be the right answer for many customers.”Prinergy 7 also includes what the company describes as layered PDF versioning enhancements, which provide improved error detection and better control over multiple layers of files.In terms of digital printing enhancements, Prinergy 7 allows for centralized control over digital and conventional presses and equipment to handle the production of all job sizes through Kodak and third-party digital presses and computer-to-plate devices. These new capabilities make it possible for Prinergy 7 to control job ticketing parameters both manually and through Rules Based Automation (RBA) of multiple devices, while monitoring and reporting the status of each alongside CTP devices and proofers.“Workflow software is a driver of efficiency and productivity and Prinergy Workflow 7 takes those to new heights and enables our customers to better compete in a challenging marketplace,” said Jeff Clarke, CEO, Eastman Kodak Company.
Quark Software Inc. today officially launched the newest major release of its graphic design and page layout software, QuarkXPress 2015. The company provided more details about the features of the software, which includes new 64-bit architecture, industry-verified PDF/X-4 output, fixed layout interactive (app-like) eBook production, among other user-requested features.Quark surveyed thousands of QuarkXPress users around the world to discover which features would be most valuable to include in QuarkXPress 2015. The company is also highlighting the fact that QuarkXPress is still being sold as a perpetual license, which means users make a single purchase and are not locked into an ongoing subscription.With its new 64-bit Architecture, QuarkXPress 2015 can now use all the RAM available on a user’s computer to deliver performance improvements across the board from file handling and layout rendering to PDF export. Quark has also added multi-threading to the QuarkXPress text engine to further increase performance.By using this latest standard for PDF/X-4 Output, users can maintain transparency to enable smaller files, faster output and higher quality print output. The exported PDF/X-4 files are certified by the same technology used inside Adobe Acrobat.Increased automation in QuarkXPress 2015 includes: automatic footnotes and endnotes; a new, faster table tool for Excel integration with table styles; text variables for automatically populating reoccurring fields like as running headers.QuarkXPress 2015 combines reflowable eBooks (ePub) with interactive apps for a new digital output format. The company explains users can create HTML5 fixed layout eBooks (using (ePub3 or Amazon’s KF8 formats) without any additional software or costs. Additional features found in QuarkXPress 2015, include: Orthogonal Line Tool, Custom Page Sizes, Relink Any Picture in the Usage Dialog, User-definable Shortcut Keys (Mac only), Collect for Output and Usage for Complete Project, Table Styles, Format Painter, Drag Installer for fast and easy activation (Mac only), Yosemite OS X Support, Tool Palette, Measurement Palette, and Palette Group docking on Windows, and Open PDF after Export.QuarkXPress 2015 is available as a free test drive, which includes a free design template to help users get started. In addition, Quark is currently allowing for upgrades from versions of QuarkXPress dating back to the 1990s (versions 3 – 10). QuarkXPress also offers dual activation, meaning it can be installed on up to two machines and across Mac and Windows platforms.
Finch Paper, during its 150-year anniversary celebration, launched three inkjet product families designed for book, direct mail, and transactional markets. This includes Finch Smartbook Jet and Finch Mailstream for printing high-speed inkjet, which expands on the company’s existing line of Finch Fine iD and Finch Inkjet Pi substrates. Finch explains that paper manufacturers have been challenged with drying issues associated with lighter basis weights being used in the growing inkjet production of books. Finch has engineered new paper with a surface treatment to maximize ink density and absorption, which, according to the company, results in instantaneous drying on its uncoated Smartbook Jet 606 PPI (50 lb text), 750 PPI (45 lb text) and 830 PPI (41 lb text) grades. Finch explains its high pages per inch (PPI) in the new product, combined with strong opacity and NASTA compliance, makes Smartbook Jet a well suited uncoated sheet for high-speed inkjet. The company also explains Smartbook Jet holds a silky-smooth surface for producing the full-colour images sought after by textbook publishers. Finch Smartbook Jet is engineered for pigment ink systems on Canon Colorstream, HP T-series, Kodak Prosper, Ricoh Infoprint, Screen TrueJet production inkjet presses.  Finch Mailstream is designed for transactional and direct mail printing. The Finch Mailstream family of products includes Mailstream DS, a treated inkjet product optimized for both dye- and pigment-based systems (DS refers to dual systems). It is offered in 20 lb/74 gsm to 9 pt. reply/209 gsm, featuring a premium blue-white shade for duplex printing. Its 20-lb bond has a 95 opacity. Finch Mailstream XP96 is surface enhanced for inkjet and laser production environments. This cross-platform (XP) substrate holds a 96-bright blue white shade, well suited for colour logos and graphics. Mailstream XP92 is also surface enhanced as a bright white substrate for more universally compatible graphics. Finch MOCR Laser is an untreated, 92-bright choice that rounds out the company’s new products for the transactional segment. Finch MOCR Laser is available in 20 lb, 24 lb and 28 lb.For direct mail and commercial print inkjet applications, Finch Inkjet Pi is treated for pigment inks (PI) and well suited for what the company refers to as house sheet status. The company states Inkjet Pi does not require any bonding agents. Finch Inkjet Pi is available in a range of basis weights from 45 lb text to 130 lb text and 9 pt reply. It holds a 96-bright balanced Alpine White shade. Finch Inkjet Pi is suited for systems like Canon ColorStream, HP T-series and Kodak Prosper.
EFI released version 8 of its Digital StoreFront Web-to-print and e-commerce application, which fits into the company’s Productivity Suite of workflow tools.The upgraded Digital StoreFront includes new EFI DirectSmile options that extend the types of variable-data and personalized direct-mail campaigns that corporations can create online. With the Web-to-print software’s new Enterprise Model, print providers can subdivide a client’s single Digital StoreFront license into different interfaces to serve different franchises or subsidiaries within client’s organization.Digital StoreFront v8 also includes a new marketplace sales offering that can include content partners like copywriters, photographers and graphic designers, in a single online ordering interface. EFI explains the software also streamlines the Web-to-print ordering process with single sign-on (SSO) authentication for multiple users within the same organization, more-accurate shipping estimating using UPS CONNECT rate look-up tools, and support for online purchasing of e-books or other electronic content.
Epson launches the enhanced SureColor S-Series line of its 64-inch solvent inkjet printers, defined as the SureColor S30675, S50675 and S70675. The systems are now integrated with a new Epson PrecisionCore TFP print head and suitable for a range of applications like signage, vehicle graphics, fine art and packaging.Designed and manufactured by Epson, the SureColor S30675 and 50675 feature Epson UltraChrome GS2 ink with a newly formulated Cyan ink for enhanced durability and performance, while the SureColor S70675 leverages the Epson UltraChrome GSX ink set with newly formulated Cyan and Light Cyan, plus an all-new Orange Plus ink. The SureColor S50675 also features a new Epson micro-weave print mode for higher production speeds.UltraChrome GS2 and GSX inks with newly formulated Cyan, Light Cyan, and Orange Plus inks deliver more expansive colour gamut than previous SureColor S-Series printers. A spindle-less design for roll loading media and take-up reel system allows for easier loading and unloading of heavy roll media. This also provides for standard heavy roll support in rear for up to 90-pound roll with motorized take-in; optional high-capacity roll support for rolls up to 150 pounds. All SureColor S-Series printers include the GamaPrint Pro Rip software from ONYX.
Sappi Speciality Papers introduced atelier as what it describes as a brand-new concept in folding boxboard (FBB), being produced at its Maastricht mill in the Netherlands. Sappi explains the new product broadens its offering in terms of both width and depth of coated virgin fibre carton boards for the packaging market. atelier is a hybrid FBB product that exceeds current market standards, according to Sappi, available in weights from 220 gsm to 350 gsm. atelier is a multi-ply board produced on a single-wire board machine, which the company states is feature that no other paper manufacturer has ever achieved. Sappi also points to the product’s brightness, purity and gloss combined with a silk touch and feel.With a brightness level of 99 percent on its topside, atelier is described as exceeding the market standard in brightness compared to what Sappi states is the industry top value of around 92 percent. On the reverse side, atelier offers a brightness factor of 98 percent to accommodate the increasing demand for printing on both sides of the board. Sappi entered the carton board market 10 years ago with its Algro Design family of SBB carton board.
Quark Software Inc. has set April 28, 2015, as the launch date for its next major version of QuarkXPress, noted as version 2015. The layout tool for print and digital publishing features a new 64-bit architecture among a range of new tools. It will also continue to be sold as a perpetual license.To satisfy its loyal following, Quark, during its development, committed to include the Top 10 most-requested enhancements in the new version of QuarkXPress, based on a voting system. A list of the most prominent features follows. For a more complete preview of what to expect in QuarkXPress 2015, read The Quark Alternative written by PrintAction’s technology columnist Zac Bolan in February.New key features in QuarkXPress 2015 include: 64-bit performance,Verified PDF/X-4 output,Larger page sizes,Dedicated orthogonal line tool, Fixed layout interactive e-books, Custom paper sizes, Relink any picture in the usage dialogue, Collect for output for complete project,User-definable shortcut keys on Mac,Table styles,Format painter,Automatic footnotes and end notesFaster table tool for Excel integration with table styles,Text variables for automatically populating reoccurring fields (running headers),Tool Palette, Measurement Palette and Palette Group Docking on Windows
GMG of Tuebingen, Germany, adds to its unique OpenColor software with the release of version 2.0, which has a new interface, colour correction tools and a test-chart generator. The software's new features are designed to be applied by smaller printing and packaging operations.GMG OpenColor, which tackles the interplay of inks for creating predictive profiles for overprinting, among more common colour management operations, received the InterTech Technology Award, FTA Technical Innovation Award and a Technical Innovation commendation from the European Rotogravure Association.“OpenColor 2.0 is a substantial upgrade to our first release… We feel very confident that we added and optimized features according to our target group's needs and made the software easier to use,” said Victor Asseiceiro, Product Manager for OpenColor. OpenColor 2.0 features a completely redesigned user-centred interface. GMG explains a project-based view provides more flexibility in handling measurement data and creating profiles, while at the same time allowing for more safety in terms of data control and transparency. Each packaging product can be managed via a project folder, which holds all related information in one place.Also new to version 2.0, a centralized data management systems provides for more accurate and consistent results across multiple sites. GMG explains OpenColor 2.0 offers more control in terms of publishing functionality so that only approved data and profiles proceed into production. GMG OpenColor 2.0 also comes with new correction tools for determining potential sources of error, optimizing measurement data and editing profiles. All corrections are visualized in a live preview.The new GMG OpenColor multichannel test chart generator is a tool to create individual test charts for all packaging applications. GMG explains virtually any number of patches can be defined in various overprinting combinations and with full control of the separations. All test charts created with GMG OpenColor can be measured within the application, with the software supporting the most commonly used measuring devices in the industry.
Based on what Drytac describes as an optimized adhesive coat weight and new formulation, the company’s Interlam Pro overlaminating films can now be used on most inkjet printed output, including pigment, (eco) solvent, latex, and UV. Drytac explains the new development provides a strong bond, the elimination of tenting around raised inks and easy flow characteristics that minimize the chance of silvering when applied at room temperature or an optimum temperature of 110°F (43°C).   The technology provides Drytac’s standard finishes of Glossy, Matte, Lustre, and Emerytex (pebble-textured) to enhance colours and provide protection against scuffs and abrasions. UV stabilizers are added, Drytac explains, to prevent discoloration and degradation of both the film and adhesive.Specialty finishes like Interlam Pro Anti-Graffiti allow for spray paint to be cleaned off the film without adverse effect, Drytac explains, making the products suitable for outdoor signage or retail advertising displays.  
Gandy Digital of Mississauga officially launched its new Gladi8tor UV flatbed inkjet printer during the FESPA 2015 trade show in Cologne, Germany. The system features what the company refers to as an inline 8-blade print head configuration, which allows for a double CMYK set-up to deliver twice the speed – up to 240 square metres – relative to the company’s Domin8tor and Pred8tor models.The new Gandy Gladi8tor provides a double white ink capability to address issues of white ink density on transparent or non-white substrates. It also offers a new layered print option for the production of multi-layered colour images and white. Gandy explains the Gladi8tor’s ability to sandwich white or doubled-sided banners with white and black between images, allows for the production of new applications like backlit jobs. The new Gladi8tor, incorporating a vacuum table, is available in two print widths. The Gladi8tor 1224 has a print size of 1.22 x 2.44 metres (4 x 8 feet) and the Gladi8tor 2030 has a print size of 2 x 3.05 metres (6.6 x 10 feet). The Gladi8tor 1224 also comes with a 2.44-metre (8-foot) wide roll-to-roll option.Using 6-piolitre variable dot Ricoh printheads, the Gladi8tor is available in two production settings, with the first using six colours (CMYK&LM&LC) plus double white and the second using eight colours and a double CMYK set-up to deliver twice the speed. With automatic head height adjustment, customers can also print on a range of substrates of up to 50 mm (two inches) thick.
HP unveiled plans to launch three new printing systems, scheduled to hit the market this August, including two Latex 3500 and 3100 wide-format printers and the Scitex 17000 corrugated press.The 3.2-metre (126-inch) HP Latex 3500 and 3100 printers join a portfolio with more than 26,000 Latex printers already installed worldwide. The new systems feature what HP describes as heavy-duty roll handling of 300 kg (660 lb) and 10 litre ink supplies, meaning the systems are capable of unattended, overnight printing. The machines also hold dual-roll split spindles for what HP describes as safer handling of oversized rolls; as well as inline slitters to reduce bottlenecks in finishing; and built-in LED lights to support on-the-fly proofing.HP describes its Latex 3100 printer as being well suited for large sign and display operations that handle a range of work. It prints at indoor quality at speeds of up to 77 m2/hr (830 ft2/hr). The HP Latex 3100 and 3500 printers, and complementary HP Latex mobile app, are expected to be available worldwide in August 2015. A new bright white, FSC-certified HP Premium Poster Paper for use with HP Latex printers will also be available worldwide through licensing partner Brand Management Group (BMG). HP also introduced the new Scitex 17000 corrugated press, driven by the company’s HDR Printing Technology, features the recently introduced HP Scitex Corrugated Grip and HP HDR230 Scitex Inks. Also scheduled for release in August 2015, the Scitex 17000 is designed to reach speeds of up to 1,000 m2/hr (10,764 ft2/hr). Prints made with the HP HDR230 Scitex Inks on a representative coated media, according to HP, have been independently certified as having Good Deinkability. HP is also introducing the HP Smart Uptime Kit for HP Scitex Presses, a cloud-based inventory management system enabling customers to log parts, track usage and extract reports.
Inca Digital introduces the new Inca Onset R50i wide-format, flatbed UV printer, which features 14 picolitre Fujifilm Dimatix Spectra printheads and an eight-channel, dual CMYK configuration.Distributed exclusively by Fujifilm, the new system prints at 600 m2/hr with automation. It is positioned between what Inca describes as the high-quality 400 m2/hr, six-colour Onset R40i and the high-speed 720 m2/hr Onset S50i. The new Onset R50i, Inca explains, is designed for firms who produce a mix of graphics for long and short-distance viewing, as the system provides both quality and speed.“This new Onset ticks all the boxes for many companies because it extends the range of jobs they can handle,” said Heather Kendle, Inca Digital’s Director of Marketing and Product Management. “Plus, its ability to produce both sharp text and smooth block colours with all the added advantages of digital print flexibility will appeal to companies with XXL offset presses.”The full-width array flatbed Onset R50i is supplied with a choice of Caldera or Colorgate RIPs and prints an apparent resolution of 1,000 dpi onto substrate sizes up to 3.14 x 1.6 metres (123.6 x 63 inches) and 50 mm (two inches) thick at a rate of up to 120 full-bed sheets an hour. Depending upon specific job requirements, users can choose between uni-directional, bi-directional and high-quality or high-productivity modes. The Onset R50i is equipped with a 15-zone vacuum table, a UV sensor system and mechanical substrate height detectors.
The Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association and PAC, Packaging Consortium, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore how printable and organic electronics can help Canada’s packaging industry. This is a non-financial commitment between the two organizations to collaborate on a number of initiatives over the next two years.“This partnership with PAC is a tremendous stride forward in our commitment to our members, to forge the linkages that will help them create compelling new products and applications that meet the pressing needs of key end users,” said Peter Kallai, Executive Director of Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association (CPEIA).PAC explains its 2,200 members come from all sectors of the packaging industry, including retailers, consumer brands, package manufacturers and services, waste management and government. The association explains printable and organic electronics are providing new ways to manage inventory, track shipped items, better maintain product freshness, monitor medication usage, identify packing materials for re-cycling, and turn consumer packaging into an interactive platform.PAC continues to explain its collaboration with CPEIA includes a priority to address waste. For example, the association explains, a third of the world’s food goes to waste. The PAC Food Waste initiative is investigating waste in the supply chain and looking at ways to extend product shelf life through innovations in packaging. PAC NEXT, meanwhile, is looking at ways to identify sustainable solutions that can lead to zero packaging waste.“A key aspect of our mandate is to drive progressive change in the packaging value chain through leadership, collaboration and knowledge sharing,” said James D. Downham, President and CEO of PAC. “Intelligent packaging enabled by printable electronics could drive one of the greatest advances to reduce waste in the packaging industry since the widespread adoption of recycling programs.”
Agfa Graphics, during last week’s ISA Sign Expo in Las Vegas, introduced two new large-format inkjet systems in the Jeti Tauro and Jeti Mira, as well as new features in Asanti 2.0 software and new UV inks. The company also introduced the new Anapurna M3200i RTR White and new automation options for Anapurna M2500i.  The 98-inch (2 1/2-metre) Jeti Tauro is positioned as a high-end hybrid UV inkjet press – for both rigid and flexible material – with 32 print heads in a 6-colour system, in addition to an optional white or primer. Jeti Tauro offers optional semi or full media load/unload automation.Jeti Mira is a 6-colour and white UV inkjet flatbed printer with optional varnish or primer. Also aimed at high-end production, it features moving gantry architecture and six vacuum zones with automatic and independent control of the front and back vacuum zones. Jeti Mira is available in two table versions: 2.7 x 1.6 metres and 2.7 x 3.2 metres (8' 9" x 5'2"/10'5"). Agfa explains its Print and Prepare feature makes the Jeti Mira unique for printing on both small objects or larger board sizes. Today, Agfa Graphics’ UV-curable inks deliver large-gamut high-quality prints with the lowest ink consumption per square meter in the industry, thanks to the ‘thin ink layer technology’ in both the Jeti Tauro and the Jeti Mira. The new UV inks, leveraging what Agfa refers to as thin ink layer technology, for Jeti and Anapurna systems target flexible applications, special substrates and outdoor signage printed on polypropylene or styrene based media types and provide image longevity.Asanti v2.0 also features new options for printing white on transparent substrates. The software provides for file handling, colour management and preflighting, while also working with the Asanti StoreFront Web-to-print solution.
German press maker KBA, during last week’s Print China show, unveiled a new medium-format sheetfed offset press model, called the Rapida 105 PRO, scheduled for launch this June. The Rapida 105 PRO, KBA explains, is to be positioned in its top-performance segment between the Rapida 105 and the flagship Rapida 106.Compared to the Rapida 105, which is still available, at 17,000 sph the new press delivers a slightly higher level of performance in terms of production, a larger standard sheet format of 740 x 1,050 mm, shorter makeready times based on more automation and a new operating concept. KBA explains it also offers more equipment flexibility and greater scope for customization. One of the Rapida 105 PRO’s key features, according to KBA, is the full preset capabilities from the feeder through the printing units to delivery. All of the settings at the feeder and delivery can be stored according to job type, which can be leveraged with repeat jobs or orders printed on the same substrate.The Rapida 105 PRO is also available with semi-automatic plate change (change in every printing unit) and automatic plate change (fully automatic change in all units in 2.8 minutes). Optional features include DriveTronic SRW (simultaneous roller wash), CleanTronic Multi (ink changes) and CleanTronic UV. KBA explains its Fast Clean feature enables the high-speed washing of rollers and cuts washing times from four to two minutes.The EasyClean ink duct’s non-stick coating shortens cleaning times when changing inks. In addition, the ink ducts do not have any expendable parts, which need to be replaced frequently. As it is not equipped with a film liner, KBA explains deviations when setting to zero are prevented and ensures that the ink zone settings can be reproduced precisely. In terms of flexibility, the Rapida 105 PRO is available with up to 10 printing units, perfecting, as well as single and multiple coating applications. In addition to its potential position in commercial printing, the press is equipped with a range of features suited to packaging printing. This includes what KBA describes as coating unit function valued by packaging printers when changing coating plates, setting the register at the console and the coater and when automatically cleaning the coating circuit or the hydro-pneumatic adjustable doctor-blade chamber. This is in addition to the option of non-stop systems in the feeder and delivery up to the integration in fully automated pile logistics.Microflute, film and lightweight paper packages or kit for in-mould film are available for special applications. The Rapida 105 PRO covers a range of substrate thicknesses from 0.04 mm to 1.6 mm. KBA explains the press’ gripper systems do not need adjusting even when making extreme substrate changes. It can also be integrated with special components like a reel-to-sheet unit, perforation and numbering unit, iris printing device, or the KBA ColdFoiler.KBA explains a new, intuitive operating concept for the Rapida 105 PRO allows all functions to be controlled via touchscreen with a maximum of two touches of a button. The Rapida 105 PRO’s ErgoTronic console no longer features a data entry keyboard. Icons allow operators to change systems.The new JobAccess program facilitates savings in makeready times of up to 50 percent, according to KBA, and new tools for setting up ink profiles reduce start-up waste. A job list with preview images and optimization functions for determining the sequence of jobs is also featured to speed up production changes. HR and LED drying are also available with the Rapida 105 PRO, including the VariDry Blue drying system.
Heidelberg announced its Speedmaster XL 75 Anicolor press is now also available as a long perfecting press with UV capabilities.At drupa 2012, Heidelberg unveiled the Speedmaster XL 75 with an Anicolor inking unit, following the 2006 introduction of its smaller 13.78 x 19.69-inch Speedmaster with the same Anicolor technology. The Speedmaster SX 52 Anicolor has been available as a perfecting press since 2008 and as a UV press since 2010.The Speedmaster XL 75, running a maximum sheet size of 530 x 750 mm (20.87 x 29.53 inches), reaches production speeds of up to 15,000 sheets per hour.  
manroland Sheetfed’s new Evolution 700 printing press, introduced in November 2014, was named as one of the 2015 winners of the Red Dot Award for Product Design. The German-based product design competition has existed since 1954 and is regarded today as one of the world's leading competitions.This year’s Red Dot Awards program attracted nearly 5,000 entries from 56 countries. Founder and President of Singapore-based Red Dot, Professor Peter Zec, said manroland had showed “uncompromising competency and considerable courage.”The competition’s jury was made up of designers, academics and journalists from 25 countries. manroland’s CEO, Rafael Penuela, said: “We are naturally thrilled to have won this award. Printing presses are not usually recognized for their design. It’s a tribute to our team here in Germany who conceived, developed and launched the Evolution in just two years.”Evolution press designManroland explains the Roland 700 Evolution press is designed from the ground up and incorporates what the company describes as a futuristic look and new technological developments. Its newly designed central console, for example, replaces buttons with touchscreen panels that provide detailed graphical information – with options for left- and right-handed operation, as well as customization for different operator body heights.The Evolution press’ new feeder pile transport is designed to provide an upward motion of the pile-carrying plate and improved sheet travel from the feeder to delivery. This leads to fewer interruptions, according to Manroland, less start-up waste and reduced walking distances to the feeder. The company also explains solid fixing of the suction head reduces vibration and wear, while ensuring safer sheet separation and higher average printing speeds.The press also includes completely redesigned cylinder-roller bearings, while separate bearings for radial and axial rotation provide better absorption of vibrations with fewer doubling effects and, Manroland explains, longer bearing life and significant improvements in print quality.All-new dampening units in the Evolution press bring greater solidity with fewer roller vibrations during passing of the plate cylinder channel and fewer stripes. Manroland also points to new software for practice-oriented roller washing cycles to further reduce downtime with more precise dosage of the dampening solution over the entire width, reducing the possibility of skewing the dampening dosage roller.In terms of environmentally progressive design, the press includes a new three-phase AC motor designed to provide high power output with lower energy consumption.The new press also features a new chambered doctor blade system for producing gloss effects. Manroland explains this system, with additional profile, provides higher solidity over the entire width of the doctor blade, and a more even varnish application. The company states it also features better absorption of vibrations of the Anilox roller and doctor blade caused by passing the coating form cylinder, while also resulting in fewer stripes, especially in combination with pigmented varnish.Newly developed suction belt sheet brake technology offers higher printing speeds combined with improved sheet alignment and tail edge stabilization. Manroland explains this provides a more even pile contour and reduces the risk of misaligned sheets in the delivery pile. For more on the new Evolution 700, read Victoria Gaitskell’s feature article, Evolution of the 700, from PrintAction December 2014.  
Canon is introducing its Poster Designer Plus software for use with the company’s imagePROGRAF product line of inkjet printers. Poster Designer Plus is Web-to-print plug-in software that adds a large-format poster design engine, shopping cart and checkout functionality to an existing Website.  This cloud-hosted printing storefront, explains Canon, gives print service providers tools to take advantage of  industry trend towards the online ordering of wide-format printing. Canon points to a recent study by InfoTrends, which predicts the online print business will double to US$70 billion in online transactions by 2017.Canon Canada plans to highlight Poster Designer Plus software at the upcoming Graphics Canada trade show, taking place from April 16 to 18 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.  
Less than a month after introducing its Rialto 900 narrow-web inkjet press, Xerox unveiled the new Versant 80 press, as well as new capabilities to print gold and silver metallic inks on the Color 800i/1000i series presses.Building from its Versant 2100 press platform introduced in mid-2014, the new Versant 80 reaches speeds of up to 80 pages per minute, handling media weights from 52 GSM to 350 GSM and media sizes up to 13 x 19.2 inches. An optional Performance Package for the press allows it to maintain top speeds of 80 ppm on all stocks up to 350 gsm, along with an inline spectrophotometer for increased colour automation. The Versant 80 also provides users with single-pass duplex scanning at 200 images per minute. Using the same Xerox Ultra HD Resolution imaging platform as the Versant 2100, the new press delivers 1,200 x 1,200 at 10-bit RIP rendering, which Xerox describes as a 2,400 x 2,400 imaging resolution. It can handle a variety of media types with a compact belt-fuser system and Xerox’ EA Low Melt Dry Ink. The Versant has a monthly duty cycle of 460,000 pages. The Color 800i/1000i presses, first launched as 800/1000 models five years ago, now offer what Xerox describes as true Pantone metallic gold or silver specialty dry inks. The newest systems can be purchased with an optional Specialty Dry Ink Station that enhances documents with these metallic gold or silver dry inks or for applying spot or flood creative effects with clear dry ink. Xerox states it is the first in the industry to offer silver dry ink at rated speed.In Canada, the Versant 80 Press and the Color 800i/1000i Presses will be available for install in late April or early May. The Versant 80 optional Performance Package with inline spectrophotometer, as well as  optional upgrades for currently installed Color 800/1000 presses, will be available in June.  
KBA and HP released more details about their plans to develop what is to be called the HP T1100 Simplex Color Inkjet Web Press. The two companies first announced the technology partnership during last year’s Graph Expo show in Chicago.When the HP T1100 is released into the market, the companies explain it is to feature a 110-inch (2.8-metre) format width for the pre-printing of corrugated top liner. The press is projected to print at speeds of up to 600 feet (183 metres) per minute and produce up to 300,000 square feet (30,000 square metres) per hour. At drupa 2008, HP introduced its first Inkjet Web Press, which has now expanded into a portfolio of 10 presses across five web-width platforms.
Xeikon demonstrated its new Xeikon 9800 dry-toner press for the first time during Hunkeler Innovationdays, which ends today Switzerland. Designed to replace Xeikon’s 8800 press, while adding to the continuing 8500 and 8600 models, the 9800 press is scheduled for a September 2015 commerical launch.The 9800 press uses Xeikon’s new QA-CD toner and reaches speeds of up to 21.5 metres per minute. It is designed to print on a range of untreated substrates ranging from lightweight 40 gsm to 300 gsm. Leveraging the Xeikon X-800 front-end and new QA-CD toner, the Xeikon 9800 is rated to produce a print resolution of 1,200 x 3,600 dpi, with variable dot density. The company states the 9800, described as its most-productive colour press, with 5/5 single-pass duplex printing, is ideally suited for high-end direct-marketing work.Available QA-CD toners include CMYK, Red, Green, Blue, Extra Magenta and SuperBlack as well as White and Clear (UV reflecting) toner. Upon request, Xeikon can also provide special colours when specified by printing operations.During Hunkeler Innovationdays, which has become a prominent annual industry event for technology introductions, the Xeikon 9800 is equipped with a Hunkeler Unwinder, a Web Finishing module that protects against damage in the converting device; a Hunkeler cutter that cuts to clean sheets; and a GUK folding device, a single conveyor belt that stacks the leaflets.
Esko has unveiled a new range of Kongsberg tools, on top of the more than 100 existing cutting blades, router bits and accessories. Some of the newest tools include a psaligraphy (paper cutting) knife tool, perforation wheel and braille tool. All three tools are available for usage on the Kongsberg XN, Kongsberg V and Kongsberg XL Series of digital finishing systems. The tables are suitable for packaging, display and signage using a range of substrates like foam, plastics and vinyl to paper, corrugated boards and folding carton.The new Psaligraphy knife tool is designed to cut out fine details in paper and folding carton. The 60 mm Perforation wheel enables users to create tear and crease-assist perforations in corrugated board up to 4-mm thick at a much higher speed than before. This tool is suited for producing POP-materials and a range of packaging. Prior to this wheel becoming available, Esko explains, it took about 40 seconds to do one metre of a 3x3 perforation pattern (3 mm cut and 3 mm space). The Braille tool is loaded with clear acrylic Braille spheres that are inserted into small holes. These holes are milled with a special spindle to create raised dots that are readable with fingertips.
Drytac has introduced the newest model in its line of second generation JetMounter roller laminators. The JM63 Pro XD is a freestanding roller laminator with a 63-inch (1,600 mm) laminating width. It can be used with thermal overlaminates, as well as pressure sensitive overlaminates and adhesives. The system has a top roller with adjustable temperature to 248° F (120° C); large diameter non-stick silicone rollers; adjustable speed control up to 20 feet (6 metres) per minute; a maximum nip opening of 2 inches (50.8 mm); and five auto-grip supply and take-up shafts with brake tension control on the operator side.
Rollem has launched the PB-10 Digital On-Demand drilling system for working with toner-based print products, such as perfect-bound books, stitched books, manuals, coated sheets or plastics. Hole patterns, from a single hole up to a 23 hole Wire-O pattern, are programmed into the PB-10 DOD for recall and job changeovers. Operators can make all needed adjustments using a touch screen panel, including hole pattern, paper size, spine margin, read stroke and spindle speed are that automatically set.“The PB-10 DOD is unrivaled in its compatibility for the digital market with its simple touch controls and ease of operation,” said Allen Hammer, Product Manager for the Durselen line of paper-drilling machines. “It is ideal for short-run drilling with frequent change of hole patterns and/or paper size. There is no other paper drill on the market with this automation and virtually no set up time between jobs.”Rollem explains two individually driven drill heads move automatically to any position and drill any hole pattern. This flexibility is ideal for applications that change regularly and require minimal size runs. Up to 99 programs can be stored. Standard features include stroke and spindle speed control, cooling and lubrication and motorized drill belt. Movements are guided by wear-free linear ball bearing guides, ball bearing lead screws and a cam lever for the stroke.
BDT Media Automation GmbH plans to launch its new Wide Format Autoloader and Stacker at FESPA, running in mid-May in Cologne, Germany. FESPA is a global exhibition for wide format digital, screen and textile print. The Wide Format Autoloader and Stacker (WFL and WFS) incorporate the company’s patented BDT Tornado Technology designed to provide flexibility in the transport and soft handling of media. The WFL and WFS can feed all media from 0.2 mm to 51 mm thickness and up to a maximum format size of 3,200 x 3,200 mm. Feed rate can be up to 100 boards per hour. Demos at FESPA will show BDT’s feeding and transport of wide format media into Bürkle’s UV-Liquid Coating machine and BDT’s stacking as final step.
Segbert GmbH & Co. KG of Ahaus, Germany, reached a milestone with the sale of its 100th layer palletizer robot to a printing company in North America. The order was for an MPA palletizer with the VVS Pre-Sorter and will be installed during the second quarter of 2015. “We are very proud that we have achieved this milestone. I would like to thank our partners in the printing industry as well as all our employees here in Ahaus, we could not have done this without them," said Klaus Segbert, Managing Director of Segbert. “We are aware that the printing business is changing rapidly and while we continuously improve our current products we are also developing new solutions for areas like digital printing and packaging.“  The first-ever Segbert palletizer line in North America was a ZPA that was installed at Quad/Graphics in 2006. Today, Quad/Graphics is the largest Segbert customer worldwide. In addition to Quad/Graphics, Segbert’s variable-height systems have also recently been sold to leading printers like Fry Communications and TC Transcontinental Printing.Segbert palletizers and stackers are used in more than 500 installations in pressrooms and binderies around the globe and can be customized to handle a range of printed products like newspapers, retail inserts, magazines, catalogues, loose signatures, logs of signatures, books and book blocks, and cartons.
TRESU Digital Solutions of Kolding, Denmark, launched a range of proprietary water-based and UV-curable overprinted varnishes (OPVs), called iVarnish, for what the company terms as digitally printed folding-carton applications.The TRESU iVarnish range is specifically formulated for use with TRESU's iCoat and TRESU Pinta flexo coating systems, which offer inline spot and flood varnish applications, following the printing stage. TRESU describes iVarnish properties as providing strong slip angle for easy feeding of the substrate, rub resistance for brand integrity, and viscosity characteristics for optimized curing and drying at speeds of up to 5,000 sheets per hour on board substrates ranging from 180 to 500 gsm.The iVarnish OPV range includes UV-curable and water-based high-gloss, gloss and matte varnishes.
Heidelberg describes its new Stahlfolder CH 56 KT, to be released this April, as holding the industry’s first automated 50 x 70-cm cross-fold unit, which is designed for B2-format short-run production. Heidelberg states the machine is enables users to achieve the best possible folding results for flyers in the 50 x 70-cm format.An operator using the Stahlfolder CH 56 KT enters a new job on the touchscreen for the front edge stop in the cross-fold unit to automatically move into position. The buckle plate and folding rollers are set to the right format and substrate weight. This is significant automation, Heidelberg explains, when setting up small folding jobs.In one hour, Heidelberg states the Stahlfolder CH 56 KT machine can complete five repeat folding jobs of 500 to 1,000 copies each. It can be integrated with options like two types of feeders and four or six buckle plates in the parallel folding unit.  
Featured in PrintAction magazine's February 2015 issue, now available online, Vic Stalam describes his new role as President of Highcon Americas and why the company's unique Euclid cutting and creasing technology can disrupt one of printing’s most enduring long-run sectors. The full article is available in the print edition or via PrintAction's digital archive.   How is Highcon’s Direct to Pack technology unique?Vic Stalam: Nothing else exists today in terms of what we have to offer… Highcon is the first to offer a totally digital Direct to Pack solution to the folding-carton market. It also handles both [worlds]. It doesn’t have to be digitally printed, it can also be analogue. Truth be told, most of the volume is still analogue and we need to support that. So, in this sense, it is not only the technology that is unique, but also the fact that we support both digital and analogue.What stands out most about Highcon’s DART technology?VS: The paper movement is right to left and, in stage one, once the paper is registered… the polymer is UV-cured and then it produces the creasing lines. It is very unique in that sense. Because it can address any point on the paper, you have opportunities to create very, very unique applications. Once the line is creased – and it is folded through the creasing lines – the next major stage is the laser, which does the actual cutting.What’s unique about our technology is, not only DART and the way the polymer is laid, but also the way it is creased and then how it is registered for the laser to cut it. Typically when you use a high-powered laser you can burn all kinds of other things like paper or folding carton. Our technology takes care of [this challenge] so that you do not see any of that. It is a very clean process.How are Euclid’s digital optics important to the laser-writing process? VS: With the optics you not only have edge registration, which is mechanical, but we also have optical registration. With traditional die cutting, you just do not have the precision of a laser, so everything you see [off the Euclid] is going to be a higher quality product, as it relates to registration and the quality of the cut itself.What advantage does Highcon, relative to printing’s historic postpress players, have when it comes to developing new approaches for finishing folding-carton work?VS: I always think of the great Canadian Wayne Gretzky and a famous quote. Somebody in the press asked him, “You are not a big guy, what makes you great?” He said, which always sticks in my mind, “I always try to be one step ahead. I always try to get to where the puck is going to be next and I do not worry about where the puck is now.” I think that is where Highcon is going… positioning ourselves as customers move to digital – how is it going to help them in the future?How would you compare Highcon’s potential impact to another stage of printing evolution, such as when film was eliminated in prepress?VS: The world is going to be very different in just a few years – I guarantee you that. This is the disruption and we are going to be a big part of that on the finishing side. Remember how we used to have these film-based companies called trade shops – absolutely, same analogy. Trade finishers have an opportunity to embrace this new technology and grow or else they are going to fall by the wayside. How can a technology like Euclid ease the ability for commercial printers to get into packaging?VS: Having spent a lot of my life in both commercial printing and packaging, 70 percent of what commercial printers do is the same as what packaging printers do… There are differences. One is the language they speak. Commercial printers talk about pages and packaging printers obviously do not. There is an issue around substrates. Then there is an issue around specialty colours. Commercial printers now do six, seven colours. With packaging customers it is not unusual to see 10, 12, 14 with all of the varnishes, all of the metallics. But when it comes to digital technology, the one thing I like about commercial printers is that they are trying hard to get digital right. I think they are probably five to 10 years ahead of packaging printers as far as digitization is concerned. I give them credit for that. Given their experience with digital technology, given their desire to get into packaging, I think solutions like Euclid will help. How does Highcon benefit from the growth in digital press development for packaging?VS: We are in constant dialogue with all of these digital press companies, whether it is HP, Xerox, Xeikon, Landa or Kodak, whoever, because the nature of the relationship between us is very symbiotic. We need each other, because if we can get a lot of short-run jobs printed with digital that will make the Euclid system very successful. They need us because they can do all of the digital printing, but it comes to a screeching halt if they have to depend on an analogue process for finishing. We are the missing link to complete that whole digitization process for end customers.What type of printing company should be looking at Euclid?VS: We are looking for companies who are very progressive and innovative, who want to look at new technology. That is one vector. The second one is we are looking for companies who either have digital or, more importantly, they are in the process of moving toward digital. We have a few customers who do not have any digital and are just putting it in now, after they put in the Euclid, because it also supports analogue. The third vector we are looking for is customers who want to grow with new applications, who are willing to work with their customers, the brand owners, to help them grow. What type of industry sectors are being targeted for Euclid as a starting point?VS: There are about three major sectors. One is clearly commercial printers who are doing folding carton. This is going to be key. Two is packaging printers who are doing a lot of the other stuff like labels. And the third sector is trade finishers, the prepress houses of the finishing business. Those are the three big ones as we move ahead. There are also some very creative design applications to take advantage and we will build on that as we go forward in time. How much investment is needed to add Euclid in your facility?VS: Just as a ballpark, the entry-level product is around $690,000. That is where it starts and then you can add things to it. What savings can be realized through Euclid, specifically by eliminating traditional die-cutting processes?VS: It takes about 15 minutes to set up a job in terms of the Euclid. In the case of die cutting, first of all, probably you have to send the job outside. You have to schedule it and then it takes typically anywhere from one to three days. The actual set up time is between four to eight hours on the die-cutting side depending on the complexity of the job versus 15 minutes, so there is a huge difference in the set-up times. In the case of die cutting, they will have to store [a new die] in the event that they may have to reuse it at some point, which means they need a huge inventory management system and storage space. Think of the old days of film; how you had to store film and then go find it when needed. It is just a mess. Go back to the days of stripping a piece of film on a light table. And it also depends on the experience of the operator. How many Euclid systems are currently installed in North America?VS: We have four in North America right now, with one currently going in. We just launched the product in North America at Graph Expo [September 2014]. Do you have projections for how many Euclid systems should be installed on an annual basis?VS: No, it is too early to tell. One of my jobs is to size the market, how big the opportunity is. As the new guy, I am going to go look at it with a fresh set of eyes. Ask me in three months.How is Euclid’s consumables opportunity attractive to Highcon?VS: There are three consumables that go with the system. The first one is the polymer. And this is the polymer I talked about earlier, which creates the creasing line. The polymer is first put on the foil and then it is UV hardened and then it creates a creasing line on the substrate. The second one is the foil onto which the crease lines are written. And those two are one to one. For every job, you need a polymer and you need a foil. And the last consumable is called the counter substrate, which supports the high-quality creasing. It is replaced approximately every 120 jobs on average, so that is probably once every two months, depending on how many jobs you run.Is the foil and polymer developed by Highcon or a third-party?VS: Highcon develops it all. It is optimized to run – absolutely. What hidden costs should printers consider before investing in Euclid?VS: There are two things. The power requirement. Make sure they have enough power in the plant. And two is the chilling unit. Make sure there is enough accommodation for the chilling unit. How does Euclid deal with waste material?VS: This is a very important point. We are also unique in terms of how we automatically strip off all of the waste materials into a collection bin, which is totally automated. You cannot do that with traditional die cutting. It is a mess when you look at a traditional die-cutting machine – carton board is all over the place. How will Highcon reach the market in the Americas, particularly here in Canada?VS: Today, we have an agent out of Winnipeg called Canadian Printing Equipment. I’m going to be coming up in the next few weeks and doing an assessment on what do we need. At the same time, we continue to work with digital press partners. But right now it is definitely a dealer model for Canada, given how big the country is and what we need to do. What technology challenges does Euclid still face?VS: We continue to listen and learn from cutomers and we will not be a one-trick pony. We are committed to being an R&D powerhouse in this space and we are building a portfolio of products. One of the reasons why I joined the company is because of its strong commitment to R&D and the desire to listen and continue to iterate on the product. In my experience, with new products, that is the only way to do it. What struck you most on your recent tour of Highcon’s facility in Israel?VS: I believe in the technology. I believe in the value of what it will do for our customers and their customers. I have had the opportunity over the years to work with several Israeli companies. Their passion in terms of technology and their hard-work ethic is just incredible. I was there for four days. I was trying to cram in as much as possible. I was there every day from 8 o’clock to 8 o’clock, before we went for dinner, and I saw almost the whole team working. That is passion in terms of new technology. What excites you most about Highcon’s technology and its potential impact?VS: The single biggest thing that I am excited about is the fact that for brand owners, especially for folding-carton end customers, it means that now they can push for short runs without a lot of additional cost, at a very affordable rate. Today short run [folding carton] is not affordable because the finishing is very, very expensive. We are going to bring a lot of value to brand owners in terms of helping them grow their brand. I think that is going to have a major impact. It is also going to cut down on the amount of time they need to bring a new product out. Brand owners take months and months when they have a new product to get on the shelf, so every day counts. Also new applications, which you could never produce with traditional die cutting.What is your most important message to PrintAction’s readers?VS: There is a major shift going on within the folding-carton market, to go digital. And we are going to be a major part of it. We are going to make it happen because it brings value to our customers and their customers. There is going to be a seismic shift even if today a lot of the volume is still traditionally printed. It is just a matter of time before the shift happens.  
Sydney Stone, the exclusive Canadian distributor of Morgana’s line of creasing, folding, numbering and booklet-making equipment, plans to launch the new Morgana BM 350 and BM 500 offline and near-line booklet makers at Graphics Canada, taking place in Mississauga from April 16 to 18. This will be the first time the Morgana BM 350 and BM 500 booklet makers will be shown at a North American trade show, which is to include demonstrations of the new products. Sydney Stone explains the Morgana BM 350 and BM 500 booklet makers have been offered for more than a year as inline systems by Xerox and Ricoh, but are now available as both near-line and offline versions. Sydney Stone also states these higher capacity booklet makers (35 and 50 sheet capacity) enable printers to finish work that is increasingly printed on higher quality coated and art papers without over taxing the booklet maker. The near-line Morgana solution includes a 21-inch high capacity dual bin sheet feeder, while the off line solution is a handfed booklet maker with optional square spine press and face trimming.
During its annual Packaging Days event in Germany, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG showcased its new Promatrix 106 CS die cutter and the new Diana Smart 55 and Diana Smart 80 folding-carton gluing machines. These machines are primarily aimed at companies that manufacture folding cartons. More than 200 printing professionals attended the equipment demonstration, producing products like invitation cards, stand-up displays, posters, folding cartons, and CD jackets in Heidelberg’s Hall 11 at the Wiesloch-Walldorf plant. The Promatrix 106 CS die cutter is designed for short to medium production volumes and performs die cutting and embossing at a speed of 8,000 sheets per hour. Heidelberg’s Diana Smart 55 and Diana Smart 80 folding-carton gluing machines are comprise a new platform for medium volumes in the production of straight-line and lock-bottom cartons. The company states these products require less space than traditional systems and feature a modular design that can be adapted to suit specific customer requirements. “In the medium term, we are going to continue to expand the product portfolio in die cutting and folding carton gluing machines,” said Dr. Frank Schaum, who now has overall responsibility for Postpress at Heidelberg, both commerical and packaging printing.
Israel-based Highcon, which develops unique digital cutting and creasing technologies for the printing industry, is expanding into North America with the appointment of Vic Stalam as President of Highcon Americas. Founded in 2009 by Aviv Ratzman and Michael Zimmer, Highcon is best known for its Euclid finishing system, unveiled at drupa 2012, and described by the company as the first fully digital cutting and creasing machine for converting paper, labels, folding carton and microflute. The Euclid incorporates Highcon’s patented Digital Adhesive Rule Technology (DART) to produce creases, as well as high-speed laser optics to cut a range of substrates. This process eliminates the conventional die-making step. The Euclid is installed at customer sites in the United States, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Stalam previously served as Senior Vice President of Sales at X-Rite, where he worked from 2011 to 2013, and as Vice President of Commercial sales at Kodak, where he worked from 2009 to 2011. Before joined Highcon, Stalam provided C- Level consulting for private equity and venture capital companies. He will lead Highcon's team in Canada, North and South America and building the American operations. “I am excited to be joining Highcon at this particular stage of the company's growth. The introduction of digital technology into the post-print and packaging market completes the missing link in the digital printing workflow,” said Stalam. “I believe in Highcon’s vision of transforming finishing into a value adding process…”
Drytac is introducing its next generation of JetMounter roller laminators. The new JetMounter Fuzion XD is a heavy-duty wide format roller laminator with a metal construction. Available in a 63-inch laminating width, the JetMounter Fuzion XD features interchangeable, large diameter non-stick silicone rollers; a heat-assist top roller with digital display for Celsius/Fahrenheit; a heavy-duty lift mechanism for precise, calibrated pressure control; adjustable speed control up to 20 feet per minute; and four auto-grip supply or take-up shafts with adjustable brake tension on the operator side for roll-to-roll lamination. Additional features on the JetMounter Fuzion XD include a centre release, fold down feed table with a lay-flat paper in-feed guide; latching storage compartment on each side of the stand; maximum nip opening of one inch; and heavy-duty lockable casters for greater stability and maneuverability. The model can also accommodate 10-inch diameter rolled material and is cTUVus and CE-certified.
Alliance Printing of Coquitlam, British Columbia, is being highlighted for driving its operation into environmentally progressive printing practices, spearheaded by its 6-year participation in Agfa Graphics’ GreenWorks program.In 2009, Alliance Printing replaced its chemistry-based computer-to-plate system and moved to thermal imaging technology focused around Agfa’s Azura plate, using ThermoFuse graining technology. Today, the BC printer is employing Agfa’s chemistry-free Azura TS plate. Azura TS is a thermal, negative-working plate designed for low- to medium-run volumes. “Our waste was cut significantly and there’s no more chemistry to treat before disposal,” said said Shawn Taghvaei, President and owner of Alliance Printing. “What used to take hours cleaning the processor now only takes minutes, and dumping chemistry every month due to oxidation has become a thing of the past.” Taghvaei continues to explain that the patented graining on the Azura plate allows Alliance Printing to run with much less water, resulting in less ink on the sheets and faster make readies. Alliance Printing, explains Taghvaei, also recycles all of its off-cut papers, cardboard and plates, in addition to using vegetable-based inks for printing and recycling of the company’s toner cartridges.“Commercial printers like Shawn at Alliance Printing are not only doing a service to their customer, but to the planet,” said Deborah Hutcheson, Director of Marketing at Agfa Graphics, North America. “We are fully supportive of endeavors that are eco-friendly, but also improve commercial printers’ end products and relationship with their customers for increased profits and greater success.”
In its continuing efforts to build itself an environmentally progressive paper supplier, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) announced plans to install in excess of 200 mega-watts (MW) of solar power capacity across eight Chinese mills. The move represents an additional 129.5 MW of capacity to be built on the 70.5 MW installed during the previous year.The collective rooftop solar capacity of the eight Chinese mills will generate enough energy to power more than 500,000 homes. It is anticipated to be the largest solar project within the pulp-and-paper industry, and amongst the largest rooftop solar projects anywhere in the world.The solar project will result in the installation of approximately four million square metres of solar panels, the equivalent of 560 football pitches. The panels will be installed at APP operations at Gold East, Gold Hongye, Gold Huasheng, Hainan Jinhai, Yalong, Ningbo Zhonghua, Ningbo Asia and Guangxi Jingui mills in China.The project, being developed by a consortium of Chinese solar manufacturers, forms part of a wider Chinese Government strategy to increase distributed solar power capacity. Energy generated by the project will be supplied into the national power grid. APP in turn will receive discounted electricity from the national grid.“This project means APP will benefit from efficiency savings, while also making an important contribution to the local communities around our mills through the generation of clean and renewable power,” said Bingjian Sun, Communications General Manager for APP-China. “It is a great example of how sustainability can have a positive effect on planet and people as well as profit. It also supports the Chinese Government’s commitment to increase the proportion of renewable energy in China to 20 percent by 2030.“As one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies, we recognize the important role we must play in helping reduce global emissions. Whether through facilitating the growth of renewable energy in China, reducing emissions from peatlands in Indonesia or cutting energy usage in our operations globally, we know we can have a significant impact.” All 200 MW of capacity is expected to be installed within the next three to five years. China is the world’s largest investor in renewable energy, investing more than $89.5 billion in 2014, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In solar power alone, the Chinese Government is committed to the annual development of a minimum of 10 GW of capacity between 2013 and 2015.
3M, the world’s largest adhesives developer, with $32 billion in annual sales and 90,000 employees, announced a significant new pulp-and-paper sourcing policy. The company states the policy is designed to ensure all the virgin wood fibre going into 3M’s paper-based products and packaging comes from sources that protect forests and respect human rights.3M’s new policy does not allow any wood fibre to be linked to deforestation or illegal operations. All paper-based products and packaging suppliers working with the company are required to provide information on the original forest sources of the virgin pulp in 3M’s products, and allow those sources to be assessed against 3M’s policy.Implementation of the policy throughout 3M’s global operations involves more than 70 countries and 5,000 pulp-and-paper suppliers, each with their own manufacturing facilities and supply chains.The policy also requires protection of high carbon stock forests and high conservation values, like intact forest landscapes, peatlands and the habitat of endangered species. 3M’s newly revised policy comes on the heels of a multi-year campaign by ForestEthics challenging the company to strengthen its commitment to protect forests and endangered wildlife, and to support rights of forest-impacted communities. Greenpeace joined the campaign in 2014.“3M had the vision and the commitment back in the 1970s to endeavor to address its climate impact, and they did so with great effect. We knew they had the capacity and the smarts to take the same approach with forests,” said Todd Paglia, Executive Director, ForestEthics. “[The policy] today is industry leading and represents exactly the type of innovation that 3M is known for.”To update its preexisting policy, 3M worked with The Forest Trust (TFT) and Dovetail Partners to learn more about the threats facing forests in its supply chain. 3M and TFT together will map 3M’s supply chains back to source and assess them against the 3M policy.“We are excited to be working with 3M on this important effort to transform the global pulp-and-paper market to be drivers of forest protection, and to clearly send a message that deforestation is unacceptable,” said Scott Poynton, Founder and Executive Director, The Forest Trust.The new 3M policy also sets company standards relating to social concerns, including what 3M describes as respect for workers’ rights and indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior and informed consent to operations on their traditional lands. “We are taking responsibility for making sure our pulp-and-paper suppliers meet the requirements of the policy, and help them to raise their performance if necessary,” said Jean Sweeney, VP, 3M Environmental, Health, Safety and Sustainability Operations.
Asia Pulp & Paper states it engaged the Rainforest Alliance to provide an independent evaluation of its Forest Conservation Policy, which was first announced in February 2013. Rainforest Alliance’s evaluation, released last week, concludes that the company has made moderate progress towards meeting its commitments. Asia Pulp & Paper’s (APP) 2013 Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) included plans to put an immediate end to sourcing pulpwood materials from suppliers involved with natural forest clearance, among a range of large-scale initiatives. Asia Pulp & Paper Group is the trade name for a group of pulp and paper manufacturing companies in Indonesia and China. Started in 1972 with Tjiwi Kimia producing caustic soda, APP now runs operations across Indonesia and China with an annual combined pulp, paper, packaging product and converting capacity of over 19 million tons per year. “The FCP is an unprecedented initiative developed by APP, TFT and Greenpeace to define a new standard and a new business model for achieving zero deforestation in the supply chain,” said Aida Greenbury, APP’s Managing Director of Sustainability. “We’re pleased that the Rainforest Alliance has recognized the progress we are making. We believe today’s report shows that our efforts to achieve Zero Deforestation are on the right track.” Greenbury continues to state APP’s implementation measures of its FCP will evolve with experience and that the report has highlighted a number of areas that require additional focus. “We also believe that an evaluation like this puts a global spotlight on the issues currently at play in Indonesia’s forests,” said Greenbury. “We have been calling for other stakeholders to support us with our Zero Deforestation Policy because forest continues to be lost due to factors that, despite our efforts, we cannot completely control, such as encroachment, forest fires and illegal activities.” APP states it engaged the Rainforest Alliance to evaluate its FCP progress to provide credibility and transparency. Rainforest Alliance’s evaluation report assesses a period between February 2013 and August 2014. “In 2013 APP set out an ambitious program for change. The Rainforest Alliance has found that APP has made moderate progress to implement the many commitments embedded in its FCP during the 18-month period we evaluated,” stated Richard Donovan, Rainforest Alliance Senior VP of Forestry. “Key steps have been taken, such as halting the clearance of natural forest by its suppliers. As with any major change initiative there remains work to be done to put the policies and procedures that have been developed into action in the field. Rainforest Alliance encourages APP to continue on the path set out in the FCP.” APP’s new FCP Implementation Plan, also introduced last week, draws upon some of Rainforest Alliance’s most significant findings relating to third-party forest clearance, peatland best management practices, as well as FPIC and social conflict resolution. The additional areas covered in the Implementation Plan are: Wildfire prevention and management; HCV Management and protection; Workers’ rights and welfare; Sustainable wood supply; Landscape conservation initiative; and Internal engagement.
One year ago, three North American printing associations, Association of Marketing Service Providers, National Association for Printing Leadership, and National Association of Quick Printers, merged under a convoluted name using their acronyms, AMSP/NAPL/NAQP. The group, during yesterday’s Executive Leadership Summit at The Wynn Las Vegas, announced is to now be called Epicomm, following a survey – by a third-party organization – of more than 200 members from all industry segments.  “AMSP, NAPL, and NAQP have a long and distinguished history of service to the printing and mailing industry, but that industry is changing and we recognize that, if we are to serve our members’ evolving needs at the highest level, our association must change as well,” said Tom Duchene, Chairman of the association’s Board of Trustees. Duchene continued to say the not-for-profit group is launching a new organization with its name change to Epicomm, which is “representative of the epic communications industry we serve.” Ken Garner, who was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the combined organization in October 2014, indicated Epicomm plans to launch new member-focused initiatives, including an in-depth member survey that will be used to find what issues matter most. Garner continued to explain Epicomm is also using a new tagline, Association for Leaders in Print, Mail, Fulfillment, and Marketing Services.
TTP, a UK-based research and development company, has introduced its new Vista Inkjet process, which the company believes can one day revolutionize the manufacturing of cars, planes and appliances, amongst other industrially produced products. The Vista Inkjet process developed by TTP is capable of printing with standard industrial paints. TTP states it has already tested Vista Inkjet successfully with cellulose and two-part part polyurethane paints used for car and aircraft body manufacturing. After testing such high-end uses, the company explains this opens up many other possible applications including the use of thermoplastic fluoropolymer paints like Kynar for decorative finishes on architectural metallic structures. TTP states it is also exploring the printing of low cost and high functionality materials for ceramics, textiles, security and brand protection along with high conductivity patterns and 3D printing. TTP’s patented print head design overcomes what the company describes as the limitations of existing inkjet printing processes, restricted by ink formulations and the use of closed chambers and narrow channels. Instead, Vista Inkjet is based on a planar construction that allows free-flowing ink circulation and accurately controls the movement of the nozzle plate to eject droplets, from 0.5pl (pico litres) to over 1nl (nano litre). TTP explains this means that fluids with large particulates and high viscosities can be used along with aqueous pigmented inks and a range of solvent inks such as alcohol based fluids, ethyl acetate, MEK and Dowanol. Motion of the nozzle plate is controlled by customized electrical drive signals to eject droplets on-demand or on a continuous basis. TTP reports its prototype array of 128 Vista nozzles has delivered drop placement accuracy with a standard deviation of just +/- 3 milli-rads. Print heads can also be designed with specific nozzle diameters, pitch and number of rows for different inks, paints and applications. And with the inertial transfer mechanism and fluid recirculation, the ejector system features priming, self-cleaning and refill attributes. “We have taken the principles of inkjet printing and re-invented the ejection mechanism and print head to create a potentially disruptive technology for digitally printing industrial paints, opening up exciting new opportunities from customizing car and aircraft bodies to creating architectural finishes and printed electronics,” said Dr. David Smith, head of business development for Vista Inkjet at TTP. “As well as providing greater flexibility, the process also saves time and money and reduces waste.” TTP is currently looking for partners to commercialize the technology.
The Netherlands-based parent company of Vistaprint has changed its name to Cimpress N.V. In conjunction with the rebrand, Cimpress plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years to build what it calls a shared mass customization platform. The Cimpress mass customization platform (MCP), combining proprietary software and production technology, will aggregate the printing infrastructure of the Cimpress portfolio of brands. It will also bring the company’s growing portfolio of purchased assets under the same fold, including well-known Web-to-print names like Vistaprint, Drukwerkdeal, AlbelliOpens and Pixartprinting. The company states the MCP will increase its ability to mass customize personalized and unique physical products in small quantities at an affordable price. “We have a two decade history during which we have started a major market transformation, yet the next 20 years promise to be even more exciting,” said Robert Keane, President and CEO, Cimpress. “Businesses and consumers are still too often forced to choose between the ease and flexibility of digital communications and a more enduring tangible connection with their audience. We are changing that…” Founded as Vistaprint by Keane in January 1995, Cimpress and its subsidiaries have focused on redefining the online purchase of printed apparel, marketing products and photo merchandise. The company states its foundation is based on the belief that software and production technology can be harnessed to aggregate enormous numbers of small orders into a high-volume production flow. Cimpress today employs over 400 software and manufacturing engineers and more than 5,300 total employees in 16 countries. Cimpress claims that every year since 1999 it has invested at least 10 percent of its revenues into technology and development, including $176 million in its last fiscal year. Over the past decade, the company states it has invested over $1.3 billion in technology, development and capital investments. The company also announced that it has named Don Nelson as COO for Cimpress. In this role, Nelson will be directly responsible for building and advancing the mass customization platform. “The future of mass customization is very promising for those companies that can combine world class capabilities in software and manufacturing,” stated Nelson. “The key is to have massive scale, yet produce in small quantities. The old paradigm of job-shop production of orders one at a time simply is not able to compete with technology-driven mass customization.”
A new association focused on printable electronics has started operations out of Ottawa, Ontario. The new group called the Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association (CPEIA) is to be led by Executive Director Peter Kallai. The CPEIA states its mandate is to bring together key Canadian and international players in industry, academia and government to build a strong domestic printable electronics (PE) sector. The association plans to facilitate growth through networking, stimulate R&D and investment, build a strong PE supply chain and drive the broad adoption of PE by end customers. CPEIA states close to 50 Canadian companies have expressed a business interest in PE, following an effort that began three years ago by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), which created a PE research program. It also led the creation of the PE Consortium with 14 industry partners. The CPEIA is joining and promoting a delegation of Canadian companies with the NRC that will be exhibiting at Printed Electronics USA 2014. This conference, the largest of its kind dedicated to PE, runs November 19 and 20, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, CA. “A few years ago, many PE applications would have been considered science fiction,” said Kallai, who is billed as a former senior high-tech executive and management consultant that has worked with more than 100 government organizations and growth-stage companies across Canada. “But not anymore. Government organizations, startups, OEMs and systems integrators around the world are investing billions of dollars in R&D to revolutionize existing products and create new ones with PE. It’s time for Canada to step up and stake its claim in this exciting emerging market.” According to research firm IDTechEx, the global market for printed and potentially printable electronics will rise from around $24 billion in 2014 to $340 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent. The Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association also launched a Website www.cpeia-acei.ca.
Colour Innovations welcomed more than 150 people to its launch event for the inaugural issue of RE:flex, a large-format magazine highlighting the use of specialty printing techniques on high-end design and photography. This inaugural issue of RE:flex centred around applying Colour Innovations’ CIX MetalFX print technology to the digital collages of designer, artist and illustrator Louis Fishauf, who has won more than 60 Gold and Silver ADCC (Advertising & Design Club of Canada) Awards, Gold and Silver National Magazine Awards, and the ADCC Les Usherwood Award. Fishauf was the co-founder and Creative Director of Reactor Art & Design; served as Editorial Art Director for Chatelaine, City Woman, The City, Saturday Night and Toronto Life magazines; was the Senior Design Consultant for Sympatico Internet Service; and is an Apple Computer Applemaster. He currently serves as a Sessional Instructor at OCAD University. Over the past few years, Fishauf has been creating digital collages using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and as an early adopter and enthusiastic proponent of digital imaging. Colour Innovations describes his work is an ideal medium for the application of CIX MetalFX technology. The CIX MetalFX process uses Photoshop channels and proprietary software to combine a gold, silver or bronze base with the 4-colour CMYK process to create thousands of metallic shades and hues from only five colours. The process fit Fishauf’s approach of creating digital collages using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. “I took the opportunity to not only experiment with retrofitting my existing pieces, but also to create a number of new collages and the facing pattern pages, with the metallic ink process specifically in mind,” stated Fishauf. “This required developing a workflow in Adobe Photoshop which attempted to approximate on my computer monitor how the metallic colours would appear in print.” RE:flex’ inaugural is a large-format 24-page publication printed on Sappi HannoArt gloss cover and text, provided by Ariva, with Metalstar Pantone silver ink, provided by Eckart Effect Pigments.
Hostmann-Steinberg North America, Canada’s long-standing ink manufacturer, completed its rebrand to hubergroup Canada Ltd., taking on the name of its powerful parent company – one of the world’s largest ink producers and chemical companies. As part of its rebranding efforts, Hubergroup Canada launched a new Website, Hubergroup.ca, complete with a revamped product selection guide. In addition to inks, hubergroup produces and markets printing varnishes, coatings, dampening solutions, additives and printing auxiliaries. hubergroup is an international holding group comprised of 40 companies, which amounts to 150 branch offices, sales offices, distributing warehouses and representatives worldwide. It has been a privately held company for over 240 years, with the founding family still involved. More than 3,600 employees contribute to hubergroup’s annual production capacity of over 340,000 tonnes of products.
The Canadian Printing Industries Scholarship Trust Fund (CPISTF) is awarding $52,500 in scholarships to post-secondary students pursuing graphic communications education for the current school year. A total of $15,000 was awarded to nine new students enrolled in the first year of an approved course of study. A further $37,500 was provided to 30 continuing students already enrolled in the scholarship program. The majority of each annual scholarship is $1,250, while the $5,000 Warren Wilkins Prestige Scholarship has been awarded to Samantha Tully, who is attending Ryerson University’s School of Graphic Communications Management program. “Every year the Board of Trustees is challenged to select the best and brightest as recipients of our scholarships and this year was no exception,” said Don Gain, Chairman of the fund. “We are pleased to be able to support 39 students in their pursuit of a career in the graphic communications industry.” CPISTF was initiated in 1971 and has since generated over a million dollars of funding.
Domtar Corp. of Montreal sold its five millionth tonne of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified uncoated fine paper, branded as EarthChoice, a first for the North American market. Domtar also became the first company in North America to offer FSC-certified copy paper in 2005 and continued to develop partnerships with environmental organizations like Rainforest Alliance and World Wildlife Fund. “The Rainforest Alliance Certified seal and the FSC logo featured on EarthChoice products assure consumers they are supporting healthy forests – crucial for clean air and water, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat,” said Tensie Whelan, President of Rainforest Alliance. “With over five million tons of EarthChoice product sold, this is a prime example of sustainability making good business sense." EarthChoice now accounts for more than 20 percent of Domtar's total paper sales, covering printing sectors like publishing, converting, commercial and specialty uses. “We are losing forests at a rate of eight football fields every 10 seconds,” said Linda Walker, Director, Global Forest & Trade Network-North America, World Wildlife Fund. “One of the best things that can be done to address this dramatic statistic is to put FSC products on the shelves. Domtar is a leader in this."
With drupa 2016 a year away, I began thinking about the last time the giant German tradeshow in Düsseldorf took place in 2012 and the crowds at Landa Digital Printing’s exhibition space. Mostly, I remember the blue-and-black futuristic design of Landa’s new Nanographic Printing Presses, including the unique control panel mounted to the side of each press like a giant iPhone. I wondered aloud, “Shouldn’t there be a few presses already installed in print shops by this time?”Providing as much function as form, the control screen GUI appeared to be well designed to meet the needs of a busy operator. There was even a digital microscope that came with each press, which I was immediately impressed with because it allows both operators and customers to look at the details of a printed sheet. Over the first days of the 14-day trade show, heavy iron manufacturers like Heidelberg, manroland and Komori joined Landa’s marketing buzz by announcing Nanographic technology partnerships, albeit a little vague. Benny Landa, who founded the company in 2002, told drupa 2012 visitors the Nanographic presses could reach first adopters by the end of 2013 at the earliest, with initial machines hitting the market during the first months of 2014. I thought to myself: Let’s see if he can keep this deadline.Nanography nutshell The year 2013 came and went without any Landa Digital presses going into potential customers, although there may have well been quiet alpha testing going on inside an eager print shop. In March 2013, I attended the annual TAGA conference in Portland, Oregon, where Gilad Tzori, VP of Product Strategy of Landa Digital Printing gave the event’s third keynote presentation.Tzori provided conference attendees, who primarily serve on the technical side of printing, an overview of how Landa Nanography works and differs from existing printing presses. Emphasis was put on Landa’s jetting of water-based inks which do not soak the paper, so the sheet does not come out wavy at the end of the press run.Many people will have experienced this water-soaking problem when they print a sheet of paper with heavy coverage on their home or office inkjet printer. Tzori explained how the Nanographic printing process first inkjets the image onto a heated transfer belt, and secondly how the ink turns into a semi-solid type material on the transfer belt, which is then transferred onto the paper. Unique properties of Landa’s belt, explained Tzori, ensures a 100 percent transfer of the image onto the paper. He then showed images of a printed dot produced with Nanography and compared it to the same magenta dot printed with different technologies currently on the market. The superior quality of the Nanographic process, in regards to the roundness and sharpness of the printed dot, was then described in Tzori’s marketing presentation. A clear advantage of Nanography indicates the process allows for printing on almost any substrate.Nano pigments deliver a broader colour gamut than standard offset inks. The Landa black has L*a*b*-values of 5.4, 0.7 and 0.05 compared to the ISO standard of 16, -0.1, 0.1. The ink film is 500-nano-meters thick, which is a lot less than that of any other conventional printing process. The printed density for coated and uncoated paper is the same, since the ink does not sink into the uncoated paper but rather sits on top of the paper. De-inkability studies, explained Tzori, have also shown good results. De-inkability is a significant problem with regular inkjet printed sheets.Nanography nicheAfter describing the technical architecture of Nanography, Tzori explained where Landa Digital sees its market niche and how it plans to bridge a gap between short-run digital and longer-run offset jobs. This includes targeting offset sheetfed work with a 40-inch or B1-format press model. Tzori stressed that Landa is not reinventing existing machine technology like paper feeding and delivery, which is why the company is working with traditional press makers, most notably Komori.A key question to come from the conference crowd that day asked about the future availability of these new Nanographic printing presses. A careful answer was given, which I interrupted to mean it would be at the beginning of 2014, while the company’s main challenge was to achieve the desired print quality at the necessary resolution.Year 2014 came and went and, without hearing much more from Landa in terms of press installations, I naturally started wondering if the past two years of Nanographic marketing had been all smoke and mirrors? In February of 2014, Landa Digital and EFI announced a strategic alliance and in June 2014 Altana invested €100 million into Landa Digital, which had also received a number of press down payments from printers wanting to be first in line. It is my guess that Altana will manufacture the Landa inks and EFI will deliver the digital front-end to the presses. On December 9, 2014, Landa Digital made a public statement about its technology development, including its intent to focus on the 40-inch folding-carton market with its S10 press. The press has undergone some radical design changes, including the addition of a coating unit. The operator’s side-mounted touchscreen, as it was seen at drupa 2012, had to be moved to the delivery end – transforming its look more toward a traditional press design. The weight of the press has increased also from 10 tons to 30 tons.Landa Digital explained the S10 operator now has a more ergonomic workplace showing all the required information for running jobs. Personally, I like the video feeds from inside the press to the operator cockpit. The press operator can see if any sheets have been dropped or if they are causing a jam. The presses also have an inline inspection unit from Advanced Vision Technology. Within its online marketing material, Landa Digital writes: “The quality control solution will combine innovative nozzle performance and colour control techniques to maintain print quality and increase press productivity. The quality control system will also control colour-to-colour registration, image placement and front-to-back registration.”  The print resolution of the S10 press is now at 1,200 dpi and the press also makes it possible to print on both sides of the carton sheet before entering the coating unit.Nanography 2015In early 2015, I spoke with Tzori on the phone to discuss recent developments at Landa Digital Printing. He indicated the first presses are scheduled to be commercially available in the second half of 2015. Beta machine are currently set up at Landa’s facilities in Israel, where potential customers can see the presses in action. During our phone conversation, Tzori also discussed what kind of drying technology is installed between the coating unit and the delivery end of the press. Depending on what kind of coating the customer wants to use, there will be IR drying lamps installed for water-based coatings and UV-curing lamps for UV coatings. The UV-curing technology can either be UV-mercury vapour lamps or UV-LED.Tzori points out that the IR or UV technology is only necessary for the coatings that are applied to the printed sheets. The sheets printed with the Nanography ink come dry out of the press.Thinking ahead to drupa 2016, which surely will be another important exhibition for Landa Digital technology, I asked Tzori what is to come with regard to the company’s web-fed printing machines. The first web-fed printing machine will be geared towards the flexible packaging market. Landa Digital expects this to make a huge impact on the flexible packaging sector, especially with many of the other digital press manufacturers also developing printing solutions for the short-run flexible packaging market. I have every intention of attending drupa 2016 for a firsthand view of Landa’s developments and I expect they will be as interesting as Nanography’s unveiling three years ago.
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS FEATURED IN PRINTACTION'S FEBRUARY 2015 ISSUEAs in nature, the software ecosystem abhors a vacuum! Introduced for the Mac in 1987, Adobe Illustrator evolved from Adobe’s in-house font development software to become the industry standard line-work editor and has all but dominated the desktop vector graphics market.Twenty-eight years later, Illustrator is so pervasive in the graphic arts few prepress pros would even consider an alternative were one available. While a few innovative Mac applications such as iDraw and Sketch have nipped at Adobe’s heels, to date no application has presented a credible challenge to Illustrator’s dominance on the Mac platform, creating a competitive vacuum. That might be about to change.Though unknown to many Mac users, Serif Software is a dominant player in the lucrative Windows desktop publishing software world. Founded in 1987, Serif’s original mandate was to produce powerful yet cost-effective alternatives to expensive desktop publishing and graphic design applications for the PC. Its critically acclaimed PagePlus, DrawPlus and PhotoPlus applications have garnered a large and loyal following in the Windows world – extending from casual creatives to business and education users. After years of planning and development, Serif stepped across the OS barrier in June 2014 with its first Mac App, Affinity Designer. While still in public beta, Affinity Designer turned heads while generating a great deal of online buzz before the October 2014 launch of version 1.0 on the Mac App Store. Since release, Affinity Designer has raced up the App Store charts and finished the year as Editor’s Choice Best of 2014! But does all that hype make any difference in the prepress and print world? Can a PC software developer give Adobe a run for its money on Adobe’s home turf?Vector contender or pretenderWell, for starters it is pretty clear that Affinity Designer was engineered from the ground up as a production environment for professional-grade vector drawing destined for a variety of output intents, including both print and Web.Where Designer differs from other line-work editors is in its ability to work with raster images and create pixel-based effects and textures within the same file as vector layers. And while Designer has its own file format, the App can import a wide variety of file types including: Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, Photoshop, EPS, JPEG, PDF and SVG. Additionally Designer can export: Photoshop, EPS, GIF, JPEG, PNG, SVG and PDF – although direct export of AI format is not supported. Users wanting to bring their Designer files into Illustrator will have to pass through PDF-land first.When launching Designer for the first time users are presented with a clean, uncluttered user interface that is unique yet somewhat reminiscent of an Adobe Creative Cloud application. As a result, anyone with Illustrator chops should be able to find their way around Affinity Designer in fairly short order. The default application window follows the familiar axiom of toolbar on the left, functions along the top and tabbed palettes on the right hand side of the workspace.  Users can also choose to work in Separated Mode meaning the Designer toolbars, workspace and palettes are free floating and can be reconfigured to individual tastes. Designer diverges from other editors by breaking down the workflow into Personas (Draw, Pixel and Export) represented by icons on the upper left side of the workspace. The icon for the active Persona appears in colour and each features tools, functions and palettes specifically configured for the appropriate tasks. The Draw Persona toolbar contains recognizable drawing tools you would expect to find, such as a Move Tool, Vector Brush Tool for creating painted effects and a Pencil Tool for free drawing vector lines, as well as Gradient and Transparency tools. Additionally, the toolbar houses a wide variety of shape tools ranging from standard rectangles and ellipses to diverse polygons, clouds and call-outs. Each shape can be quickly and radically altered either with the Node Tool, or the context-sensitive settings in the Draw Persona tool set. There is even a special hidden Easter Egg feature that enables users to make a cat shape – see if you can find it!The Pixel Persona enables a variety of marquee and selection tools along with essential raster editing tools in the toolbar, such as erase, fill, dodge, burn, blur and sharpen. It is important to remember that while Designer is equipped to create, alter and apply raster effects within a vector file, it is definitely not a replacement for a full image editor such as Photoshop or Pixelmator as there are no tools that I can find for adjusting the contrast, saturation or hue of photographic images.As the name implies, the Export Persona provides a straightforward workflow for getting your image online with several presets, support for ICC profiles as well as layers and image slices. Speaking of online, Designer has a number of features targeting the Web slinger, such as a powerful pixel preview of vector images for both standard and retina displays, as well as instant export of multiple objects – each with independent output settings.Designer also brings back one of my favourite old Illustrator features with a new twist. The Split View divides the image workspace vertically enabling the user to see any combination of Frame, Vector, Pixel or Retina previews and drag the dividing line back and forth across the image – changing the preview instantly.Of course, any mention of ‘instant preview’ inevitably brings up the topic of Designer performance. Whether opening a complex vector graphic or a massive layered Photoshop file, it is immediately apparent that Designer is blazingly fast. This 64-bit application is fully optimized for the latest Mac OS and Retina 5K displays, enabling users to pan and zoom across their images with little perceptible lag as well as apply and view effects in real-time. This is especially impressive when you consider that Designer offers a staggering 1,000,000 percent zoom, as well as super smooth gradients that can be edited in real time at any magnification. For such a young App, Designer offers some impressively mature workflow features like non-destructive editing and robust support for layers, including vector, pixel and adjustment layers. Ready for the big leagueWorking with Affinity Designer is comfortable once you get used to multiple Personas, however, the software is lacking in a few key areas of importance to design and production pros. For example, Designer currently only supports a single page per file, something designers who are used to building multiple art boards will find hard to live with. And what prepress pro has not used Illustrator’s Auto-Trace to quickly build a logo for a job they are working on? Designer will need to implement some sort of raster to vector workflow to really gain print market share.And while Designer seems to be able to import a wide variety of file formats, I have experienced mixed results when opening old EPS files containing complex vector gradients. Mind you, Designer has only been in the field for a few months and to Serif’s credit they’ve already built an active, lively and supportive user community that fuels its development team with bug reports and feature requests. Within just three months of launch, Serif has already revved Designer to v1.1.2 – not only with bug fixes but also significant new user-requested features like iCloud Drive support; critical stroke alignment options; and 5K-display support.The road aheadSerif recently published the first issue of Affinity Review – a quarterly ePUB magazine for their users – containing some very interesting product news in addition designer profiles, interviews and tutorials. According to Serif, the Affinity Designer roadmap includes several professional printing features such as: PDF/X support; PDF image compression; trim, bleed, overprint and mark control; spot, Pantone and registration colours; and advanced transparency features. Designers can look forward to: multiple pages; text on a path; mesh warp and distort tools; and improved text controls… all promised as free updates! Likely many of these new functions will be incorporated into its own Personas. Also in Serif’s 2015 playbook: Affinity Photo and Affinity Desktop (you can see where they are going with this).Is Affinity Designer the answer to all your high-end vector design, editing and production needs? Not yet. Is it worth fifty bucks? You bet! Besides, designers on a budget are already flocking to Designer so it’s only a matter of time before Affinity files start making their way into your prepress department.
“Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end…” The song popularized by Mary Hopkin in 1968 waxed over youth, lost opportunities, passions and a life now well past it’s prime. Cycles of every form have a beginning as well as an end. Technology breeds new revenues and fills scrapyards with redundancy. For the printing machinery industry there is a lot of reminiscing about good times back in the day.  The great period of litho printing press sales, what almost became an annuity business for press makers, is long over and will not return. Oh how painful it is to say that.   It seems like only a few years ago we were so excited to embrace a device that, either by violet or thermal laser, entirely eliminated a labourious step of the production cycle and make offset plates perfectly, without fit issues, and at incredibly fast speeds as lasers advanced by the month. Digital technology was our friend. Prior to CTP, the Macintosh computer also eliminated a huge chunk of the typesetting industry by letting us do it all ourselves.  Fantastic new devices were going to rid us of waxers, light tables, film, cameras, plate-makers and a great deal of expensive labour. Everybody knew that strippers and other prepress employees commanded large paychecks. Wasn’t this future fabulous? As I look back at some of the projects we were involved with at Howard Graphic Equipment, I find that no one really had any idea of where mobile computing, particularly the smartphone and tablet, would take communications. We once had a customer who had a rather simple contract to print a 10-point cover and then stitch it onto popular magazines. It was for a now-defunct airline, to be used on the aircraft. The airline wanted to ensure these magazines were returned and so had produced the magazine with its logo emblazoned on the false cover. In time, the costs proved too high and the airline asked instead for a sticker to be tipped onto the cover. Finally, the magazines as a cost were dropped altogether. Another customer produced a weekly sports betting card. These were perfected one over one and printed in the millions. Again costs and technology overtook print and now all the betting is online, no day-changing betting cards, just a receipt with the details. In the early 1980s, we did quite a lot of business with an accounting publisher. Every time there was a change in Canada’s revenue act new sections had to be printed. Even then hot metal Linotypes were used to make copy. It was proofed and then film and plates were made to run on a web.  The bindery was enormous to handle the accounting publisher’s work. It had separate lines for side stitching, hole punching and perfect binding. The annual tax-code book was almost two inches thick and expensive. Accountants, who were members, bought special binders for all of the inserts of changes that would occur each year. The Internet almost overnight eliminated all of this mechanical work and hundreds of jobs.Many printers found themselves in the same situation with legal books and court decisions. Changes in the law created a great deal of print and case-bound work. Think of the law offices up until recently, where  huge libraries stored the requisite purchases for dozens of sets of law books. If not annually mandatory, dozens of new thick books spoke to a law office’s prestige  Automotive manuals and parts books were a staple of a few of our customers, too. In the turn of just a few years, almost all are now out of print entirely. In the early 1990s, my company Howard Graphic Equipment purchased a Miller perfector from a printing company in the east of England. This firm had a long history. They were ensconced in what had been a carriage house, even had an 1800s workable water closet. The biggest piece of business for this printer was railway timetables. Almost all of it is now redundant. A smartphone can look-up the schedule and buy a ticket to ride without any paper being expended.Wondering where all of the presses have gone is an intriguing question. In a commendable open manner, KBA in its latest annual financial statements for 2013 approached this difficult subject. KBA commented that group sales had slumped 35 percent since 2006. Since KBA is heavily involved in both sheetfed, web and special presses (currency and metal decorating), it has an almost split revenue business  at €571.9 million for sheetfed and €527.8 million for web and special presses. KBA also acknowledges that since 2006 its Web sales have fallen 70 percent and sheetfed almost 50 percent. The statements also comment that the Web business will continue seeing retraction in the coming years. Should we assume KBA, although heavily diversified, is an example of what all major press makers are going through? The answer is yes.  Competitors to KBA may argue that the business of newspaper printing (long a staple of KBA) exacerbates the drop in sales. They may also suggest that perhaps KBA had a smaller commercial and publication customer base, or that what KBA produced was not as suitable?  But KBA is a major supplier in both fields. On the sheetfed side, KBA owns a major position in packaging and Very Large Format sheetfed printing. New in-roads in technology have been poured into the Rapida 106 and 145 platforms. One surmises with its packaging strength KBA’s only real rivals are Heidelberg when it comes to imaginative, multi-purpose machinery for the carton industry. Komori and Manroland also compete in this segment with Manroland running a close third to KBA and Heidelberg in press variants.We as a machinery segment are a reflection of you the printer just as you are a reflection of your clients. Therefore. we must assume printers cannot make the math work when calculating return costs for a large piece of machinery. Presses that cost a million dollars plus are no longer the prime piece of manufacturing gear in a printing business. They may never be again. There are exceptions of course. Trade printers who do it cheaper, not better, may consider new machines. Packaging printers will because the business is stable. Smaller commercial printers, however, will not. They may buy used, but its doubtful that a majority of shops can draw enough profitable work to pay for today’s engineered marvels.Data was once the exclusive domain of the printer and publisher. The only way any kind of data could be distributed was through a printing press. Google et al changed all that.David Carr, writer for The New York Times, does a masterful job explaining how the trend from a physical method (newspapers) to online is humbling. During a recent speech in Vancouver, Carr eluded to this fact when explaining the state of his employing newspaper. It was as much funny as it was sad for those of us in the business. He explained newspapers are offices where everyday information comes in and is collected. Then a bell goes off and everyone stops collecting news and starts to write down what came in that day. They send the copy to a giant press where it’s printed, rolled up and eventually thrown onto your front lawn. Carr accepts the inadequacies of news distribution via print while at the same time considering that large dailies like The New York Times seem to be weathering the storm and seeing growth via online pay-walls. Carr hastens to add that it’s the medium-size papers suffering the worst, while small local papers, for the most part, continue to do well in the communities they serve. News is data and so is almost every piece of information we need, which used to be mailed to us. First Gutenberg and now the colloquial Google has changed our world again. Despite the odd period of increased new machinery order intake that prevailed in late 2013, the industry at large will not go shopping for new litho machines again. While I have a vested interest, few press makers would argue the second-hand press business becomes more important to lessen a printer’s investment risk. It is not coincidence that used machines now are a much bigger piece of the machinery trading pie than ever before in the history of printing or that most press makers now have full-scale used press operations.The 50 percent machinery sales shrinkage in seven years, as reported by KBA, is reality for every litho press maker. Postal rates and other fixed costs are impediments that cannot be overridden with faster machinery costing millions of dollars. Where have all the presses gone? Nowhere it seems.
During the first week of November, Manroland Sheetfed proudly unveiled its new Roland 700 Evolution press to over 450 curious guests at its corporate headquarters in Offenbach, Germany.  The machine is Manroland’s first new press in four years and follows the company’s 2012 acquisition in insolvency and restructuring by Langley Holdings PLC, a UK-based engineering group and global provider of highly diverse capital equipment. The company reports that its new Evolution press is designed with a sleek, futuristic look and many new technological developments aimed to give printers unprecedented levels of efficiency, productivity, operation and quality. These improvements are consistent with the research-and-development targets Manroland Sheetfed CEO Rafael Penuela Torres outlined to PrintAction when describing his company’s restructuring (August 2014, The New Press Builder), including increased user-friendliness, maximum machine performance and maximum uptime for printers.  Specific new features highlighted through demonstrations at the Offenbach unveiling and in the company’s prospectus for the Evolution press include:• Completely redesigned cylinder-roller bearings with separate bearings for radial and axial rotation to provide better absorption of vibrations, fewer doubling effects, longer bearing life, and improved print quality;• A newly designed central console that replaces buttons with touchscreen panels, provides more detailed graphical information, and offers comfort adjustments for left- and right-handed users and operators of different body heights;• A mobile app that allows printers to see the press’ production while they are on the move;• A new feeder pile transport designed to provide a smooth upward motion of the pile-carrying plate and improved sheet travel from the feeder to delivery, resulting in fewer interruptions, less start-up waste, and reduced walking distances to the feeder;• Solid fixing of the suction head to reduce vibration and wear, while ensuring safer sheet separation and higher average printing speeds;• All-new dampening units for greater solidity and fewer roller vibrations during passing of the plate cylinder channel and fewer stripes;• Software for practice-oriented roller washing cycles that reduces downtime with more precise dosage of the dampening solution over the entire width, reducing the possibility of skewing the dampening dosage roller;• A new three-phase AC motor providing high power output with lower energy consumption;• A new chambered doctor blade system for producing gloss effects. With additional options, this system provides higher solidity over the entire width of the doctor blade and a more even varnish application. It also provides improved absorption of vibrations of the Anilox roller and doctor blade, caused by passing the coating form cylinder, and results in fewer stripes, especially in combination with pigmented varnish; and• Newly developed suction belt sheet brake technology provides higher printing speeds combined with improved sheet alignment and tail edge stabilization, resulting in a more even pile contour and reduced risk of misaligned sheets in the delivery pile.Practical demonstrations of the Evolution press were provided in the company’s Print Technology Center in German, with simultaneous translation available in half a dozen languages via ear sets for guests from all over Europe and Russia, as well as Canada. A further highlight was a tour of the company’s impressive press-building facilities, where the workers’ high skill levels were obvious. Hans Hassold, Head of Regional Sales, explained how Germany’s apprenticeship system helps ensure that Manroland Sheetfed’s foundry and factory workers are well qualified both in terms of their skill sets and their understanding of the practical requirements of industry. He said over half of German students aged about 16 to 18 opt into what is called a dual education system because it splits training between the classroom and the workplace. These students apply for training contracts with employers and, if accepted, spend two to four years training with a company while also receiving a taxpayer-subsidized education designed to meet industry needs.  In fact, most dual-system students are hired upon completion of their training, contributing to a youth unemployment rate in Germany of eight percent (versus 14 percent in Canada.) The dual system requires employers to work co-operatively rather than adversarially with government and unions and to effect a certain amount of compromise with these third parties in their operations.  In exchange, they receive a consistent supply of new workers who are equipped with precisely the skills and knowledge their companies need.Although the German apprenticeship system is not perfect and is under review, it is cited as a factor in the success of Germany’s economy being able to keep its manufacturing base, instead of relying on just providing services, and at retaining its manufacturing jobs for nationals instead of farming them out to workers in foreign countries with lower labour costs like China. Thus the apprenticeship system has also been credited with contributing to Germany’s unemployment rate of 5.2 percent, less than half that of Europe as a whole. By contrast, Canada’s unemployment rate is 7.2 percent, and studies indicate that only about half of the more than 400,000 registered Canadian apprentices actually complete their programs for reasons ranging from the high cost of classroom training for students who are not being paid to concerns about job prospects when they graduate.  And although it is becoming increasingly difficult for Canadian employers to find enough skilled workers, only about 20 percent of Canadian skilled-trade employers are actually hiring and training apprentices, while investment in employee training among Canadian companies has fallen nearly 40 percent since 1993. The Roland 700 Evolution unveiling also included a video testimonial from Samson Druck GmbH, a general commercial printer in Austria and the first Evolution press owner. Samson Druck has invested in Manroland press technology for 22 years and currently has four presses with a total of 34 printing units. Founded in 1978 by Erich Aichhorn, the family company is also one of the largest employers in the area with 100 staff members.Tony Langley, Chairman and CEO of Langley Holdings, was present to provide a closing summary to guests. Langley first established his engineering group in 1975. Today, Langley Holdings comprises five principal operating divisions located in Germany, France, and the UK; more than 70 subsidiaries in the Americas, Europe, The Far East, and Australasia; and over 4,000 employees worldwide.Langley Holdings’ products run an extremely wide gamut from food-packaging equipment to electrical systems for data centres, machinery for cement plants, automotive welding equipment, and house construction. The group operates free of debt with substantial cash reserves, typically grows by acquiring under-performing businesses, and takes pride in never having sold a company it acquired. In 2013 it posted a profit before tax of €91 million.The fact that Langley maintains a relatively low profile contrasts with his colourful presence. He is 6 feet 5 inches tall, largely self-taught in engineering, and pilots his own airplane, helicopter and racing yacht, Gladiator. (In this fall’s Les Voiles de St Tropez regatta, Gladiator came in second to the Enfant Terrible helmed by HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.)  Accompanying Langley to Offenbach was his eldest son, Bernard Langley, who joined Langley Holdings in 2012 to become the fifth generation of the family to come into the engineering business.The same week as the unveiling, Langley Holdings entered into an agreement to acquire the German print chemicals group DruckChemie, which had gone into administration for insolvency in September. DruckChemie is one of Europe’s leading producers of print chemicals, accessories, and waste reprocessing and recycling services, with sites throughout Europe, as well as in Brazil, Dubai and Mexico.Michael Mugavero, Managing Director and CEO of Manroland North America, commented in an e-mail, after the 700 Evolution unveiling: “Integral in what we hope visitors come to identify with while touring our home in Germany, is the competency Manroland has to develop and deliver tangible value for our customers.”
After switching to InDesign in 2002, Zac Bolan takes  QuarkXPress 10.4 for a test drive to see if you can go home again On Friday, November 8th, 2002, I made the switch to Adobe InDesign. After spending a week building a print flyer for a local drugstore chain in QuarkXPress 5, I sat down to export a press-ready PDF. Three frustrating hours later I still hadn’t managed to squeeze a PDF, or even a usable postscript file, out of the buggy XPress release. I threw up my hands in despair and at that moment decided to spend the weekend learning InDesign and rebuilding my job.That decision was not made lightly, as I had been a stalwart XPress user since 1988. With the release of XPress 5 in January 2002, however, Quark faced a barrage of criticism from its dedicated Mac users. After all, launched only days before XPress 5, InDesign 2 was OS X native – something Quark had failed to accomplish with its release. Like many in the design and prepress community, I resented being denied the benefits of Apple’s new operating system. At the time, Quark’s dominance of the Mac desktop publishing market was such that Apple Computer actually cited XPress 5 as a factor slowing adoption of OS X within the design community.It’s been more than a decade since I (and many others) made the switch. During that time InDesign matured into a leading desktop publishing solution while QuarkXPress quietly persevered – after a painful transition to OS X, XPress gradually improved. Following iterations empowered the faithful while adding features to entice users to return. But for many the draw of Adobe’s Creative Suite seemed to say ‘you can’t go home again’, that is, until the advent of Creative Cloud and Adobe’s software as a service (SaaS) business model. Now designers seeking to own their workflow are taking a second look at QuarkXPress, and with version 10.2 they will find a stable, capable and fully-featured page layout application.New XPress tricks and tipsI won’t try to summarize five full upgrade cycles in a few hundred words, but some key enhancements in recent XPress versions are worth mentioning. When I reviewed XPress 8 for PrintAction (August 2008) Quark had significantly overhauled its Graphical User Interface (GUI), vastly improving user efficiency while removing workspace clutter. Additionally, XPress 8 offered in-app image manipulation, built-in Flash authoring, as well as support for Asian fonts. In a nod to the changing publishing landscape, XPress 9 added: ePub and Kindle export; App Studio for tablet publishing; numerous new layout features like anchored callouts; a shape wizard; and enhanced bullets/numbering.Then in October 2013 Quark made an ambitious leap forward with the release of XPress 10 (recently updated to 10.2.1), the first version developed as a native Cocoa application. Cocoa is the Application Programming Interface (API) for Apple’s OS X operating system. In most cases, software produced with Cocoa development tools has a distinct and familiar feel to Mac users, as the application will automatically comply with Apple’s human interface guidelines. From the developer’s perspective, being Cocoa native ensures the ability to leverage the latest OS X features, maximize performance and fast-track support for new OS X versions. For example, while not officially supported on Apple’s recently launched OS X 10.10 Yosemite, based on my initial trials QuarkXPress 10.2.1 appears to run quite well. Quark will be releasing XPress 10.5 with full Yosemite support in early November.This formidable undertaking required Quark engineers to update more than 500,000 lines of code in addition to writing 350,000 new lines. To fully leverage Apple’s latest hardware enhancements, developers had to create more than 500 dialogues and palettes in multiple languages as well as incorporating 1,300 new icons enabling Retina Display resolutions. Besides going Cocoa, Quark engineered a completely new graphics engine for QuarkXPress 10 that will ultimately be implemented across a wide range of Quark products. The new Xenon Graphics Engine enables users to see stunning high-resolution renderings of imported raster and vector files on screen, including rich PDF, Photoshop and Illustrator files to name a few. Using Quark’s Adaptive Resolution technology, graphics can be rendered instantly to the resolution required for professional image zoom (up to 8,000 percent). Being able to zoom into high-resolution graphics onscreen while creating page layouts is a real advantage to visually oriented designers like myself. Additionally, the Xenon Graphics Engine seems to really improve overall screen re-drawing times.In addition to optimization for HiDPI and Retina Displays, XPress 10.2 features Advanced Image Control enabling users to control several aspects of embedded PDF, PSD and TIFF files, such as layers, channels and clipping paths without bouncing out to Photoshop. With advanced illustration tools XPress users can now accomplish quite a few basic image editing and vector drawing tasks without Adobe’s help – saving time and reducing reliance on the Creative Cloud. These features combined with multiple simultaneous document views, robust shortcut and palette management, make XPress 10 an attractive alternative to renting page layout software.Perhaps the most significant tool Quark brings to the publishing market is not actually a QuarkXPress feature at all. App Studio is a standalone cloud-based service for converting publications to digital editions for tablets and smartphones. While initially limited to producing Apps based on QuarkXPress documents, App Studio now creates rich and interactive HTML 5 publications from a variety of sources including InDesign and XML. Making the jumpWith the refined and polished GUI of QuarkXPress 10, anyone familiar with InDesign or other page-layout applications should be able start building pages in fairly short order. By default, the XPress toolbar displays the most commonly used tools but can be configured to access a variety of other functions such as Grid Styles and Advanced Image Control. The Measurements palette along the bottom of the default workspace provides access to content-specific functions in one convenient location. For example, when selecting a text frame, the user can tab between controls for text box, frame, runaround, space/align and drop shadow. As a former XPress jockey, I found I still recalled many of the old keyboard shortcuts and was zipping between XPress functions within a few minutes of starting a doc- ument. However, those used to InDesign keyboard shortcuts will have some relearning to do. Within InDesign, for example, Command D conjures the Place dialogue – while in XPress Command D duplicates any selected element. For many considering QuarkXPress, the next question will invariably be, ‘What about my legacy InDesign documents?’ While Quark does not offer direct access to .indd format files within XPress, a third-party plug-in is available enabling InDesign document import. Well known in the prepress world, Markzware made its name with the popular Flightcheck document preflight application. Additionally, Markzware produces a number of plug-ins for importing various file formats into both XPress and InDesign. While working with XPress 10.2 I tested ID2Q, the Markzware XTension for converting InDesign files to QuarkXPress file format. Once installed, ID2Q can be launched from the newly added Markzware submenu in the QuarkXPress menu bar. The process is quite simple: The user navigates to the InDesign document they wish to open in XPress, selects the appropriate conversion options and clicks OK. Depending on InDesign file size and complexity, conversion time can vary between seconds and minutes before the document opens in QuarkXPress. While ID2Q has little trouble getting your InDesign file into XPress, it is important to remember that the two page layout applications do not always handle things the same way. For this reason, your imported .indd file will need some work in QuarkXPress before going to print, ePub or tablet. Layout grids created with InDesign, for example, do not survive the transition to QuarkXPress. Similarly, InDesign offers a few page layout options not found in XPress, such as a maximum page dimension of 216 inches and support for multiple page sizes within a single document. Having said that, most users will likely be using this XTension to move legacy documents over to QuarkXPress as a template for new projects rather than starting from scratch. For that, ID2Q is the perfect solution. Listening to usersQuark recently unveiled QuarkXPress 2015, due for release in Q1 2015. According to Quark, this iteration will deliver increased performance from a new 64-bit architecture in addition to a bevy of enhancements based on user feedback. New features will include support for larger page sizes, a format painter, user definable shortcut keys and table styles. Also, several Designer-Controlled Automation improvements for long documents will debut including: automated footnotes and end notes; a new table tool with improved Excel integration; and text variables for automatically populating reoccurring fields such as running headers. And bucking the SaaS trend, QuarkXPress 2015 will continue to be sold as a perpetual license or as a paid upgrade. New retail users who purchased QuarkXPress 10 after October 1, 2014 will receive the 2015 release as a free upgrade. Going back homeIf you asked me a few years ago whether I felt Quark could stage a return to dominance in the desktop publishing space, I would have expressed serious doubts. Despite the fact that Quark has evolved to equal or best InDesign in many ways, Adobe has done a remarkable job of embracing the ecosystem approach with its wildly successful Creative Suite. And while reliable metrics of InDesign versus QuarkXPress usage do not exist, your prepress manager will likely tell you that the majority of client files these days are built with InDesign rather than QuarkXPress.With the arrival of Creative Cloud, however, that could easily change as not everyone will want to rent software from Adobe. Also, given the maturity of QuarkXPress in addition to Quark’s focus on dynamic publishing and the enterprise, many may see XPress as a preferred option, rather than just an alternative to InDesign. And for old Quark refugees like myself, it looks like you really can go home again!
In late-July, I had the opportunity to interview Rafael Peñuela Torres, Chief Executive Officer of Manroland Sheetfed GmbH in Offenbach, Germany. A polyglot born in Spain, educated in Economics in Germany, and employed in the printing industry since 1992, Peñuela took charge of Manroland’s Spanish organization in 1999. By 2003, he was managing the company’s Western European market and by 2006 Manroland Sheetfed sales worldwide. Following Manroland Sheetfed’s takeover by an British industrial conglomerate controlled by Tony Langley, Peñuela Torres temporarily shared the role of Managing Director of Service and Sales with a colleague until 2013, when he became Manroland Sheetfed’s sole CEO.In our interview, Peñuela Torres, 54, candidly discusses Manroland’s change of direction after its 2011 insolvency and 2012 acquisition by Langley Holdings PLC. He describes several aspects of the company’s restructuring efforts, working through Germany’s  tough labour laws.Peñuela Torres offers analyses of how dramatically the offset equipment and printing markets have changed since being hard hit by the global financial crisis of 2008. He also divulges how Manroland Sheetfed’s research-and-development division is currently adapting its printing machines to meet a whole new set of customer needs and expectations. Victoria Gaitskell: What do you consider to be the most important sheetfed-offset technology your company has introduced over the past five years or so – and why?Peñuela Torres: For decades, Manroland has been leading the development of new technologies for offset printing – although not all these developments have been commercially successful. For example, in 2000 we launched the DICOweb plateless press, enabling a digital changeover from job to job in less than 10 minutes. It was amazing technology for the time, but it was not a commercial success, because the cost was much too high.  In 2009, we developed the world’s largest perfector, the Roland 900 XXL, to serve the demand for high-volume book printing. It allowed offset printers to produce 64 A4 pages in one pass, enabling them to compete with web process productivity.  But after commercial and editorial printers took a hit in the 2008 financial crisis, the demand for this technology was greatly reduced. Press productivity is only important if customers have jobs for it. So some of our new developments did not succeed because of the wrong timing or costs.  But many others were successful because they were exactly what our customers wanted: In 2003, for example, we built the Roland 500, the first press to print 18,000 sheets per hour; and time has proven that this innovation in speed was the right trend for our market. We also launched an InlineFoiler that can print cold foil in one pass on a conventional press. Although at first it proved popular, it generated complaints that the process wasted too much very expensive foil; so later we developed an indexing function to reduce waste in the inline process by up to 50 percent. This is an example of how we are trying increasingly to generate value for our customers by our technology. Our innovations have not only taken the form of heavy metal, but also the integration of software processes into a single electronic workflow, as we achieved in our Printnet network management system.In 2006, we launched the Roland 700 DirectDrive. The DirectDrive technology allowed customers to change plates simultaneously while the press is washing the cylinders, allowing for zero plate-changing time.  Since then many of our competitors have introduced similar technology, and so far it forms the biggest step towards a significant reduction of make-ready time. Peñuela Torres continues to discuss R&D…PT: Among these successful technologies, I can’t identify one single development as the most important; but I can say that many of our recent developments have focused on increasing automation and reducing make-ready time, rather than on increasing press speed. One reason is that in today’s world we have discovered that speed is not the issue for our customers. The general trend is that run lengths are becoming shorter, so increasing press speed does not really help. A precondition for the improvements we introduce now is not just that they satisfy our R&D people but that they satisfy our customers.Since 2008, it has been increasingly difficult for Manroland and our competitors to sell the same amount of equipment we used to sell. The market has shrunk by 50 percent because print shops are disappearing or merging, so less demand for machinery exists.Customers are also running machinery for longer than planned. The average age of a press now is 13 years, and our customers’ requirements and business models are changing rapidly; so we are developing new technology like the InlineFoiler in a way that allows customers to add it on through upgrades or retrofits to get different or better value out of their existing press. In addition to shortening make-ready, another of our R&D goals is to make it easier to handle a press by creating an easier interface with the user. Our customers are finding it more and more difficult to obtain highly skilled operators to run presses, because fewer of these operators are available; so we are spending a lot of brainpower and resources to make it easier to operate our technology. Especially because runs are becoming shorter, automation plays a tremendous role. Since skilled labour is critical to the manufacture of high-performance presses: What was the size of the labour force in your three manufacturing plants before restructuring and what is it now in your single plant after restructuring?   PT: You are correct – Skilled labour is crucial for press manufacturers. Manroland decided years ago and confirmed under Langley its plan not to do any manufacturing outside of Germany. One reason is that, although we realize many skilled people work outside of Germany, in other countries we find it more difficult to find the right number of them with expertise in all the different disciplines we need to build a press.In the insolvency, we lost 50 percent of our workforce. Beforehand we had roughly 4,300 employees and we have 1,800 today. Of these, 900 work in the German factory and the other 900 take care of our markets and aftermarket services in various parts of the world. How did you select which workers to keep and which to downsize?PT: I don’t know if you are aware of it, but German labour laws require a company undergoing massive restructuring to apply for approval on who goes and stays via a so-called social plan.The government works with unions to establish criteria for this process. Workers are assigned points based on factors like seniority, age and family situation. Adding up the points results in a pre-selection of employees who have to leave the company. Because the point system gives preference to older workers with seniority and families, normally you have to ask younger people, sometimes with promising talent, to leave the company – which happened in our case.  Sometimes, if you have certain workers with critical expertise, you can offer a successful argument here and there to avoid the social plan and keep them on board. But we had only a short time to discuss the plan with the union and workers council during the last week of insolvency. I don’t know if the results were right or wrong, but we tried to do our best. With a reduced workforce, how are you ensuring your machinery continues to be of high quality?PT: We are still continuing to fine tune our human resources management strategy after restructuring. Langley was convinced that with our remaining capabilities we are still able to keep our whole production portfolio. Not one press was eliminated. This challenge has required us to cross-train people who were specialists before.  For example, experts on 700 perfectors have also become qualified to handle 500 perfectors.  It was quite a challenge, especially for the first six months of 2012; but now we have a more flexible workforce of people who can change from one model to another on the production line and still maintain high-quality standards. The employees say they are happy with the new system, because they have acquired more skills and are doing work that is more challenging and less routine. In 2012, I was concerned that we would not be able to manage the whole portfolio with a reduced workforce; but in fact the presses we ship out today are costing less overall after delivery. This fact proves that we have been able to manage with half our original workforce and achieve an even better result in terms of quality.     With restructuring behind you, what is the biggest challenge facing your company today?PT: After the Langley takeover, our immediate challenge was to serve customers as well as before, or even better, despite having reduced resources. Even before then, the company had experienced different phases of restructuring, but it was only because of the insolvency that we became aware that our old culture and huge-corporation mentality were responsible for the insolvency itself. We had become too heavy, too bureaucratic, too self-confident that we couldn’t fail, and too slow in managing, reacting to the market, and responding to our customers.  Our new shareholder Tony Langley knew we needed to change our attitude first. During the first year, he spent three days a week helping to transform us into a mittelstand [German for middle-sized] company with a hands-on attitude and quicker response times.Now the biggest challenge is to keep this new culture as part of our daily business and avoid falling back into the old ways. Especially in the last two years, when profits have been better than expected, it creates the expectation of going back to the good old days when salaries were higher and expenses less controlled. It’s an issue I need to keep an eye on. Why should new sheetfed-offset presses continue to interest commercial printers in North America, one of the world’s most mature printing markets?PT: Commercial printers in industrialized Western countries are in a different position than commercial printers in China, India, and Latin America, where other electronic media are still less widespread and print is still the main transmitter of commercial messages. In North America and other Western economies, the commercial sheetfed-offset print segment has suffered more since the 2008 financial crisis because it must defend its position against electronic media and digital print.But after 20 years, digital printing is still far from dominating the market. It still represents one single digit of total printed volume, although the marketing noise is very loud and gives the impression that digital is dominating. In reality it will take years for digital to achieve a bigger percentage than what they have today, because the cost per copy is high for digital and many enhancements, such as UV and foil coating, are not available in digital. I think for many, many years sheetfed offset will remain the dominating technology. It may be less loud and less sexy, but for sure it is the best way to print massive volumes of sheets of cardboard or paper for packaging or commercial print.When it comes to cost-per-copy for industrial volumes, no method is cheaper.  Today, we see Western commercial printers finding new business models to stay in the market or even grow by adding value to commercial print and escape from the commodity print market. We see more and more commercial sheetfed-offset printers who have managed to find their own niche by focusing on a specific application, or way of adding value, or way of servicing customers.For example, sheetfed offset is still the most used method to print business cards, and it also lets printers develop workflows to produce simple products for customers on 24-hours’ demand. So today’s successful business models include Web-to-print production of business cards and other simple products, printed with the highest efficiency at an unbeatable price.   What is the best advice you can share with the many small- to mid-sized commercial printers in Canada who continue to rely on sheetfed offset as their primary production process?PT: I’m not the guy to give advice to printers. They are professionals who know best what they have to do.But one thing I know from observation is that it is crucial for printers to identify and follow the right model for their business. They need know what they can do better than others.  Basically they have a choice between two ways of moving forward: One is to find a way to be different from their competitors with a different product or a different approach to customers through their services, response time, flexibility of workflow, or other factors. The second way is to achieve excellence by increasing productivity and reducing the cost per copy; for example, by using a large commercial press to produce large volumes with good or good-enough quality. The right business model can be either mass productivity or differentiation.
In the early 1980s, a local garden hose manufacturer called our small press-sales office because he had a printing problem. The round cardboard discs, used for product branding within the the hose-reel, were missing their Made in Canada. Somehow its inclusion overlooked by everyone involved in the printing process. The garden hose manufacturer now had thousands of printed and die-cut pieces of cardboard he could not use. “Any suggestions?” he asked.It took a split second to solve his problem: The Heidelberg platen! Certainly there were other possibilities. Machines from Kluge, Victoria or Chandler & Price (with feeder) could do it, but there was an easier, obvious solution with the Heidelberg – problem solved. The T platen, or Tiegel platen as the German’s called their brilliant little press, can feed and deliver virtually anything. From one-up business cards to folded signatures, thin stitched booklets, odd-shaped labels and – yes – even round Made in Canada cardboard wrappers for garden hoses. The platen quite literally came with everything; initially, there were no options one could buy. It came standard with two chases, small-size kit, two-up kit, odd-shape kit, die-cutting plate and ink knife.Since the creation of metal type there has never been such a successful printing machine as the Heidelberg T platen. Even today, you would have a tough time finding a commercial printer without one of these versatile, solid machines still working away in their pressroom.Birthing the TiegelSchnellpresse, as Heidelberg was called in the early days, truly began building its now massive business around the Tiegel platen when it was born in 1912. T platens were sold all over the world and by the time mass production stopped, in 1985, more than 165,000 had been sold. There was of course, competition. The British Thompson was a close facsimile of the Heidelberg machine, especially before WWII when Thompson used the same rotary gripper system. A few years after WWII, the Czechoslovak Grafopress appeared as an almost identical T platen clone. Many suggest this was the driving force behind why Heidelberg began to use the branding term Original Heidelberg, as the German press maker tried to separate its products from Iron Curtain machines impervious to litigation. I have doubts about this connection, however. German manufacturers regularly employed the word Original and Schnellpresse mostly likely used it well before the Czech clone arrived.We called the Grafopress the Scrap-o-Press, because it was such an inferior printing machine to the T platen. Grafopress, however, did have one key feature incorporated into the Heidelberg machine by Drupa 1967: The ability to lock out form rollers. Both the Soviet Union and China also made knock-offs of the Heidelberg T platen, but they were terrible machines.Over the years at Howard Graphic Equipment, which primarily sells and reconditions used printing machinery, we have hauled Heidelberg platens out of and into basements, garages, through windows, and often stripped down in order to fit through narrow doorways, as if the old building itself had been built around the press. It seems no place existed where a Heidelberg platen could not go. I lost track years ago of how many platens our company has overhauled and sold.When crash numbering reached its apex, it was not uncommon to see one operator in control of four presses. The operator could keep track of each machine’s progress by listening to its click-clack as they hurried the loading and unloading of feeders and deliveries. The Heidelberg platen faced many challenges as safety concerns increased when unionization returned to manufacturing plants. Some Ts were encapsulated by Plexiglas and wire mesh to keep the inspectors at bay. Eventually it became impossible to operate these presses in such situations. Greeting-card companies, with an ideal T platen application, might have had more than 10 machines and discarded them all for fear of injuring workers.This amazing and still relevant printing machine was born when Schnellpressenfabrik Heidelberg purchased the patents from a Köln print shop owner and tinkerer named Karl Gilke. Not much is known about Gilke, but his platen with the “propeller-gripper” changed the world. Previously, essentially all platen presses required intensive labour for both feeding and delivering each sheet by hand. It was incredibly slow production amid a new world of industrialization.Growing the TiegelGilke forever changed the efficiency of platens by using the favoured Boston Principle, which equates to a platen with a stationary bed, and incorporating both feeder and delivery into it.  Back in 1896, the Harris Brothers of Niles, Ohio, developed a similar game-changing machine in the EI rotary card press. It had a unique shuttle feeder and could run at an astounding 15,000 sheets per hour. Because the E1 was rotary, however, it required a stereo plate, which is a curved lead cast plate common on letterpress newspaper presses. This lead cast plate was its Achilles Heel and why the Harris E1 failed to make nearly as much impact as Heidelberg’s T. Small print shops used type and printers could not afford the cost of making stereos needed by the E1.In 1921, American Robert Miehle came out with his revolutionary Vertical Miehle. This press was later called the V-36 for its high running speeds of 3,600 sheets per hour. It employed a cylinder in a vertical incline – a very unique press design. The Vertical Miehle was well received and had a bigger sheet size of 14 x 20 inches, as compared to Schnellpress’ 10 x 15-inch size. But the Vertical was also a harder press to run, particularly when it came to make-ready. The Heidelberg platen was so quick to set up and feed that it ran circles around the Vertical. Only when run lengths were bigger, and the sheet size increased, did the Platen begin to lose some of its advantage. Before WWII, it was common to see both a Vertical and a Tiegel in the same shop. One’s weakness was the other’s strength and this environment remained throughout the letterpress era.  Schnellpressenfabrik Heidelberg has roots going back to 1850, before Andreas Hamm and Andreas Albert joined forces in 1863. Hamm owned an iron foundry specializing in bells. Albert was a foreman at C. Reichenbach’s Press Works in Augsburg (later to become MAN). But the two partners had a falling out and Hamm continued on with the company. Albert, on the other hand, formed a new company called Albert & Cie, which grew exponentially. After Hamm’s passing in 1894, his son sold the company to Wilhelm Müller. Not much happened at Schnellpress during the years 1873 to 1912, when press building gave rise to powerful players. VOMAG, Koenig & Bauer, MAN, Maschinenfabrik Johannisberg-Geisenheim (MJG), Dresdner Schnellpressenfabrik Coswig (Planeta) and Hamm’s former partner, Albert & Cie. all became major makers of mostly cylinder presses. Tiny Schnellpress made facsimiles of the standard German stop cylinder press, as well. Although Schnellpress released the Exquisit cylinder, in 1921, there was no magic in this press.Gilke’s design was the one and only watershed moment for Schnellpress. German platen presses were all mostly knock-offs of the American Gally parallel impression design. At least 20 companies were making very good versions of this press; Victoria being the best known. Any developments to automate feeding and delivery were all Band-Aid approaches with discombobulated devices affixed to an already mature handfed platen design. Schnellpress understood if they could make its little platen work, it would rip apart the whole industry. Even back in the early twentieth century, the majority of printers were small shops. Not everyone wanted or could afford large cylinder presses. Jobs were mostly handled 1- or 2-up on smaller handfed platens. If Heidelberg could make a press that would feed and deliver easily then the printing world would come calling.By the end of WWI Heidelberg had such a press. Although the company faced management issues and very difficult times, Schnellpress had one more vital ingredient. It had a foundry. Richard Kahn, the owner at the time, also owned Maschinenfabrik Geislingen (MAG) and this allowed Schnellpresse to work completely autonomously on its design. Heidelberg castings are unique. When I was a young kid I could see even then the quality differences between a Heidelberg and any other machine – German, English, or American. There was a special quality to a Heidelberg. Whatever notions one had prior to the Heidelberg platen, these were tossed aside because not only was the feed/delivery unique, so was the inker and adjustable bearers.  Having a windmill, as the platen was also often referred to, in your shop almost guaranteed success, because you could obliterate any competitors who were still hand-feeding work or trying to make the crude add-on feeders work.  Heidelberg’s innovation to build the T platen on Germany’s first mechanical assembly line brought the prices down so that every printer could afford one. The small jobbing printer was the key customer for Heidelberg and its new machine was priced accordingly. Along with its small footprint, the T platen required nothing more than a drive motor or belt driven from a driveshaft. Leveraging the TiegelWhy then was Heidelberg able to eclipse much larger companies in Germany, such as VOMAG, MAN and Koenig & Bauer, the latter of which is recognized as the founder of printing machinery manufacturing. Heidelberg also faced stiff competition from Albert Frankenthal and Faber & Schleicher. All of these firms, however, were focused on making innovative but complicated cylinder sheetfed machines, Web presses and even offset machines in the early 1920s. So much that they all failed to notice a big hole in jobbing presses which is exactly what Schnellpresse filled. Another major reason for Heidelberg’s meteoric rise was its unique sales approach. Instead of staying close to home, as many of the German builders did, Heidelberg sought out new markets and customers in America, Britain and around the entire globe. The early vision of globalization among Heidelberg’s leaders is a fundamental reason why its T platens, and the company itself, became so successful. At the Bugra trade fair of 1914, Heidelberg displayed the first prototype T platen to the world. This early press, known as the Express, would be altered several times before it finally became legend. 1914 was also the year The Great War began and very little development or production materialized on the T platen until 1921. By 1927, the press had another facelift. The gripper mechanism was vastly improved and remained remarkably similar to the last version of 1985. Impression throw-off and micro adjust was really easy. Changing packing was just as simple as on a Gordon. The use of a Geneva motion or Maltese cross allowed for better registration and more stable movement of the grippers. This feature alone was an incredible advancement for its time.World crisis in the first half of the twentieth century had an impact not just on Schnellpress but every manufacturer. The crash of 1929 was a worldwide financial epidemic and Germany faced hyperinflation and eventually the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s. Loving the TiegelWhy then does this little press mean so much to so many? History shows there was ample press competition and, certainly, for work like heavy embossing one must give the Parallel machine or Kluge a leg up. Why then? Heidelberg was very clever. The company designed its press to be the easiest to run. Feeding was easy, clean up, running difficult materials – even printing on paper bags is possible. Watching a Heidelberg run is precision in motion, exact and measured in its movements. Even when compared to a high-end Gordon platen, it is actually frightening how much better the Tiegel was. It worked in harmony with the operator. I remember my father showing me how to run the press, never forcing its workings and making it sing. The better the pressman, the easier the work. My memories of the Heidelberg platen trump everything else. Its sound, its strength, the fact it was almost indestructible are fond recollections. Heidelberg built its company on the T platen, later followed by the GT (larger size) and the OHC (cylinder). What Heidelberg learned with the T platen can be seen still today. Its unique suction feeder was used on the cylinder S and K models, as well as the K, M and GTO offset presses. In fact, the unique hardware first used on the T can be seen on the Speedmaster as late as 1994. The wonderful T platen made it possible for Heidelberg to move past all of the German press makers and stay on an incredible roll right up to its flagship Speedmaster line. Heidelberg owes everything to the platen. It took the unique machine-building genius of Heidelberg to refine and build it in their personal style. Perhaps this affection has been lost on many of the greybeards in the industry, but to the new generation of letterpress artisans, the Tiegel is making them fall in love with printing all over again. Today, Heidelberg makes some of the finest printing machines in the world. Look at the XL 106 or XL 162 – amazing technology. The lithographic world is changing very fast. It’s fighting to keep digital devices away from their offset pages. I doubt there will ever be another printing machine that is truly loved like the Heidelberg platen. I remain in love my Heidelberg platens. We have a 1928 and 1985 in our collection.In 1975, a Dutch artist created a musical about his Heidelberg T, running it on stages across Holland. One of Japan’s largest printers has a T monument ensconced in glass. Loved by so many, the Tiegel transcends printing. It was Heidelberg’s gift to the printing world.
Strategic brainstorming, change management and printing awards at CUPMAC’s 47th annual conference CUPMAC stands for College and University Print Management Association of Canada. Its approximately 80 members, who are all managers or other key personnel of in-plant printing operations in Canadian institutions of higher learning, do not necessarily follow the same protocols that spell success in the business world. Rather, they operate in ways uniquely geared to effectively serve the specific needs of their own academic institutions and customers. At the same time, their day-to-day routines accomplish many of the same goals that have always been among printing’s loftiest – education, freedom of thought and speech, free access to information and the progress of the arts, sciences, and technology.Another remarkable aspect about CUPMAC members is that they are regularly required to devise sophisticated practical solutions to meet the unique challenges of their work. Invariably, when I speak with members, I am fascinated to learn about the latest solutions they have uncovered for printing dilemmas I’ve never even heard of before. For this reason, I was excited to facilitate a 90-minute interactive brainstorming session on the latest challenges, successes and growth strategies for academic in-plants at CUPMAC’s 47th Annual Conference, held in early June in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The conference’s relatively small size of about 40 participants enabled shop talk that was satisfyingly intense and detailed, and gave all of us an opportunity to get to know each other over the information-packed three-and-a-half-day event. Change or dieThe conference theme, The Change Imperative, emphasized CUPMAC’s focus on supporting its members at a time when print and education environments are both changing rapidly. To survive this volatility, academic in-plants must quickly keep forging new paths to ensure their products and services stay relevant, while also ensuring their printing platforms remain efficient in the face of tightening budget constraints. Among the conference’s eye-openers on managing change was a workshop called Change or Die by Scott Comber, Assistant Professor at the Rowe School of Business at Halifax’s Dalhousie University. Comber is also a leadership coach, who works with organizations to help them manage change and improve the effectiveness of their leaders, conflict resolution, ethical decision-making, and the overall quality of work life.Comber’s thesis for his Change or Die sessions derives from studies in the health-care field involving patients with heart disease who undergo bypass surgery and afterwards need to change to a healthier lifestyle for their own survival. Yet statistics show that 90 percent of these patients choose not to change. Comber believes the reason is that, although they can understand rationally and intellectually why change is necessary, they fail to grasp the need for change on an emotional level and, therefore, fail to do so.“In business, change management usually refers to new sites, new bosses, new organizational charts, new technology, new policies, or other practical measures,” explains Comber. “Most management approaches to change focus only on these externals and their results." But most managers neglect what he calls transition: The internal psychological experience of the people involved in change as they come to terms with the new situation. “Unless transition occurs, change will not be successful,” says Comber, pointing to research showing that a full 75 percent of corporate change initiatives fail.“Since research also confirms that the largest catalyst for behavioural change is emotion, you must understand that change is emotionally driven and that managing people’s internal experience is the most critical part of change leadership,” says Comber. “Accordingly, you must integrate emotion into the way you communicate with others about change to make your communications effective in engaging people and changing their behaviours.” He suggests that connecting with people on a human level right at the beginning of the change process is the most-important single thing you should do – even before addressing the subject of how the change will proceed. “All you have to lead people through the change is your relationship with them,” he advises. He also recommends that leaders’ initial communications about change should identify the brutal facts – meaning what needs to be different – or else the change will not proceed successfully, either. Aiding transitionSince change – especially endings – can often give rise to people’s negative emotions like fear, denial, frustration and anger, Comber advises leaders to acknowledge (but do not necessarily judge) any endings that must occur, including any associated conflict and emotions.Support people in dealing with their feelings about the change and recognize that some people will take longer to adjust. Only after these preliminaries is it advisable to move on to discussions identifying best practices and creating an action plan for external changes.At this stage, one of the best ways to aid someone’s transition is to empower them to become part of the decision-making process through engaging them in dialogue, answering their questions, and listening to their feedback. “Help them decide on their own parts,” advises Comber. “In most situations you can include others in this way and avoid the common mistake of not holding other people capable and assuming they won’t be able to handle it.” Once an action plan for change is determined, Comber advises it is best to move quickly and energetically to implement it, because research shows that fast, large movement actually helps people adjust better than small, gradual changes.Another effective leadership technique is to tell a story about the road to change and new beginnings in a way that gives people meaning, purpose and validation. An excellent way for leaders to achieve all these ends is by communicating progress in a way that speaks to people’s emotions by instilling hope or even joy – emotions that are far more powerful motivators than logic, facts or fear.Communicating appreciationComber says another important part of communicating about change is appreciation: “Focus on what you want more of, give energy to it, and it will grow. In other words find it, track it and fan it.“Conversely, do not focus on problems, because if you focus on the negative, it will actually grow. Instead think in terms of the changes you want to see. As a small example, if employee lateness is a problem, track people who arrive on time and appreciate them. Rather than focusing on the problem, get people galvanized on a positive future marked by early arrivals.”Your expression of appreciation should be timely, convey thanks and include an all-important impact statement explaining the positive results of what you are appreciating. “It’s the impact message that actually changes behaviours by helping people understand how their contribution counts,” Comber explains. “During change people must do things they normally don’t have to do, so it’s important to appreciate their extra efforts.” It is not necessary to acknowledge each person individually, however. You can also do it through collective events like awards presentations or ice cream days.Comber adds that effective change leaders also need to cultivate their own skills at communicating with others about the ambiguity and volatility of information and situations. Likely, as plans progress, they will need to find constructive ways to address such unforeseen developments as delays and unanticipated consequences. Adding local colour and national awardsHalifax is one of Canada’s most-historic cities when it comes to printing. The country’s first newspaper, the Halifax Gazette, was first published there in 1752. The city also became home to Margaret Draper, a Loyalist from Boston, Massachusetts, considered Canada’s first female printer, who arrived in Halifax at the start of the American Revolution with her business partner John Howe, dragging a wooden printing press along with them.With a population today of 413,710, six universities and three colleges, Halifax seems to be experiencing a building boom, to judge by the number of cranes and construction sites in evidence in June. The CUPMAC conference took full advantage of local tourism by offering attendees optional nearby sightseeing on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, including visits to the famously scenic fishing villages of Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg (the latter being one of only two North American UNESCO Heritage Sites). The fact that modern Halifax has become a gastronomic wonderland was reflected both in excellent meals at the conference hotel and several supplier-sponsored dinner outings to fine local restaurants.The awards dinner at the conference was memorable for its impressive venue: The Garrison Room in the North Magazine of the Halifax Citadel, a British fort established in 1749 and Canada’s most visited National Historic Site, according to Fodors.com. The occasion marked the first ever presentation of the annual CUPMAC Awards, a new source of lifeblood for members, who depend for their existence on the acknowledgement of their value by the bureaucracy and teaching departments of the institutions they serve. This clientele, consisting of administrators and academics, may have no concept of the expertise and benefits provided by their school’s printing in-plant and may in fact find it easier to farm the whole operation out to an external facility-management supplier if they seriously fail to understand its importance. Hence the requirement on all CUPMAC members to keep their institutions constantly aware of the unique and valuable services their in-plant provides.The newly created awards program gives members a way to generate just this kind of vital internal recognition and marketing, explains Sean Kehler, Supervisor, Print & Logistics Services, Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, British Columbia. He laughs when recounting that his appointment to the Awards Committee of one, charged with implementing the program, came while he was taking a break from the room where CUPMAC’s 2013 annual meeting was being held in conjunction with the association’s 2013 conference in Whistler, British Columbia. (He was present, however, when he was elected the association’s new President at CUPMAC’s 2014 annual meeting in Halifax.)In organizing the awards, Kehler elected to incorporate a number of distinctive features; for instance, wall plaques are awarded as prizes instead of trophies to save space on desks and shelves. The plaques are made in the city hosting both the annual conference and awards presentation ceremony to further involve the locale in the awards. All samples entered in CUPMAC’s five categories of Production Awards are displayed at the annual conference and judged by all members in attendance. A further five categories, called Impression Awards, are determined by CUPMAC’s executive team to recognize special achievements. The Impression Awards include: Collaborative Service, working with another unit to achieve a goal; Green Service, changes in operations impacting recyclable, renewable and sustainable environmental resources or communicating the in-plant’s green efforts to customers; Accelerated Service, an extreme production deadline; Distinctive Service, continuing daily production while achieving innovative goals for growth through such drastic measures as new equipment installs, plant moves or reorganization; and Hall of Fame induction, exemplifying the highest standards of service to an institution along with contributions to CUPMAC and the in-plant community as a whole.Although printing in-plants in institutions of higher learning vary greatly in size and complexity, Kehler explains the Impression Awards make it possible for even CUPMAC’s smallest members with only one or two staff to gain recognition:  “Impression Awards are for something you accomplished in the trenches without ever necessarily producing a showy printed piece. Everyone can enter a good story or two about how they overcame a difficult challenge to achieve a special accomplishment.”During judging, CUPMAC’s members and executive assess entries following detailed criteria set out on a judging sheet compiled by Kehler, then cast their votes accordingly. Another friendly, collaborative touch is that, after receiving an award, each winner then turns around and acts as the presenter for the next one.
Scores of established and start-up 3D printer and scanner manufacturers clamoured for the attention of the curious wandering the Las Vegas Convention Centre at International CES 2014 this past January. With the explosive growth of 3D printing at CES 2014, it is clear the technology – also referred to as additive layer manufacturing – is evolving well beyond its engineering roots. While continuing to deliver high-end 3D printers for prototyping and parts-on-demand applications, established players like Stratasys and 3Dsystems are now vying for dominance in the consumer arena. And in the wings, crowd-funded entrepreneurs and start-ups are bringing innovative products to a market eager for inexpensive 3D printing and scanning solutions. In much the same manner of how Apple and Adobe democratized the graphic arts through desktop publishing, the 3D printing movement promises to change the way products are designed, manufactured, purchased and consumed. With basic printers selling for less than $1,000, 3D printing is no longer the exclusive domain of industrial designers. Soon school kids and hobbyists will have the ability to produce surprisingly detailed models made from nothing more than imagination and inexpensive plastic filament. And if industry leaders have their way, the lady of the house will one day download designs and 3D print bracelets and earrings to match an outfit! The potential consumer rush to 3D printing is certainly the driving force behind Amazon’s late-July introduction of its 3D Printed Products online marketplace. Tea – Earl Grey, hotThe replicator seen in Star Trek can make virtually anything magically appear on command, including a hot cup of tea, but today’s 3D printing technology is limited to producing solid objects based on computer-aided design (CAD) files. The design of most 3D printers is based on the 2D plotter with threaded rods guiding the print head horizontally in the X/Y axes. The 3D print head deposits malleable media in very thin layers to build an object before moving upward along the vertical axis and starting the next layer. Layer thickness determines the resolution of the 3D object in the same way pixel density affects how images look on a printing plate – a thin layer means a smoother, more detailed object is produced. While most 3D printers use various forms of plastic filament to produce objects, industry-specific printers can print with a wide variety of media including resins, chocolate and metal.If the additive layer manufacturing process sounds labourious and sluggish, it’s because it is; high-resolution printing of complex 3D objects can take hours or even days depending on size and media used. On the other hand, complex 3D objects such as gear sets and flexible chains emerge from the printer fully functional with no further assembly required, saving considerable time for the user.Entry-level 3D printers are relatively inexpensive, but price quickly scales upward with higher resolution, larger build volume and diversity of print media. If you have read this far, you must be wondering if a conventional ink-on-paper printing company can stake a claim in this 3D printing gold rush – after all, you adapted to digital print, right? Can 3D printing be that different?Testing 3D watersBased in the city of Cranbrook, BC, Rocky Mountain Print Solutions (RMPS) has been serving the East Kootenays for more than 40 years. Owner/proprietor Don Wik and his team have navigated the turbulent waters of print evolution by taking their business into new directions. Two years ago, RMPS became the regional Konica Minolta dealer and now sells copiers to many of its clients in addition to print. And recently RMPS added 3D printing to the mix with the installation of a MakerBot Replicator capable of printing high-resolution objects with a build volume of roughly 10 x 8 x 6 inches.“We’d been looking around for other business models and noticed a lot of industry talk about 3D printing. While we didn’t think there was a business case for a small printer to have a 3D printer, the idea of offering local manufacturing ability to our clients was appealing,” explains Wik. “We wanted to offer 3D printing so our clients could use it within their business, and create a buzz in the marketplace.“The buzz generated by 3D printing is much cheaper than advertising, and we’ve noticed a substantial increase in support from our clients,” continues Wik. “We’ll bring clients in, expose them to 3D printing, and let them think about how they can use it within their own businesses, and that really is the value to our company.” Wik is not yet prepared to directly credit 3D printing for an increase in RMPS sales, but he has definitely seen more business since introducing the MakerBot to the Cranbrook market.“We’re amazed by some of the objects we print for our clients, we often wonder why would anyone manufacture this way – it’s so slow,” bemuses Wik. “So while 3D printing has great potential, I find I’m more impressed with those who create and share files within the 3D community – the makers.”The makers are an informal coalition of enthusiasts who design objects and create the necessary CAD files for 3D printing, many of which are freely available to the general public. Additionally, many 3D printer manufacturers host sites offering free or inexpensive CAD files for users to purchase, download and print. In the early days of the 3D printing movement, MakerBot (the consumer brand of Stratasys) launched www.thingiverse.com, an online portal for things designed by the maker community. Through the site, users can download free Creative Commons licensed files to produce anything from a bearing clamp or a model of the Taj Mahal to a personalized doggy bowl. At CES 2014, MakerBot launched its Digital Store service to sell high-quality CAD files of toys and educational models aimed at a kids – another sign 3D printing for home and school is imminent. Think global, 3D print localAlthough most of the interest in RMPS’ MakerBot 3D printer originates in the Cranbrook region, the company has received commissions to print objects through www.3dhubs.com, a Netherlands-based service bureau service aggregator that enables 3D printer owners to register their device and offer printing services to the public.“Through the MakerBot site, a designer in Calgary discovered RMPS is a supplier for the 3D Hub,” reveals Wik. “He was designing what looked like a case for a prototype of an instrument, a special instrument.  We made the case and then shipped it to his home. Now did we make any money off it? Probably not, but I think as the technology gets more sophisticated and faster you could make a service bureau business case.” POD, parts on demand“We recently installed a new CTP device that punches the printing plates after imaging. We also use an external punch so the plates will properly fit on our press. Well, the external punch wouldn’t work with the new plates because one of the small guides wouldn’t accommodate the CTP punch holes,” explains Wik. “We had someone build a CAD file for a part modification that would enable the punch to work with our new plates.” RMPS then printed the new part on its MakerBot, replaced it on the punch, and could actually use the machine again.“After making the part, we talked to the supplier of the equipment, and will send them a copy of the modified part so they know what they need to do if they want to improve their punch,” says Wik. “With the 3D printer, we’re able to be part of the problem-solving process for graphics equipment, which we think is pretty unique." From letterpress to 3DWik and the RMPS team recognized an opportunity to showcase the company’s technology – both old and new – during Sam Steele Days, a major community festival hosted annually in Cranbrook. Outside the RMPS front door sits a cast-iron printing press manufactured in the 1890s, and just a metre away the company’s 3D printer sits inside the front window. As the Sam Steele parade passed RMPS’ front door, both presses were running for the inquisitive crowds.“Everyone was quite impressed to see the juxtaposition of the two technologies running together,” explains Wik. “We’ve kept our old collection of movable type, so we have about 200 drawers of lead and wooden type. Although we were able to manufacture some movable type on the 3D printer we didn’t use it, as we didn’t have time to perfect the plastic fonts. But I believe with a bit of experimenting we could actually use the type from the 3D printer to print on the letterpress.“You could probably use a 3D printer to produce a die for blind embossing on a letterpress if the right 3D print media is used,” envisions Wik. “Most small printers have gotten away from that kind of work because it’s too difficult and expensive to make the die. I believe we will be experimenting with that in the future.”MakerBot parent company Stratasys already manufactures high-end 3D printers that use ABS polymer (the same plastic used to make Lego bricks) to make very hard objects such as the dies used for bending sheet metal for car parts. As 3D printers gain in function and replicate with a wider variety of media the Parts On Demand market is expected to grow exponentially – further strengthening a business case for 3D service bureaus. Almost ready for primetimeFor the commercial printer that makes a living replicating thousands of copies of a customers’ 2D images in the shortest possible timeframe, the sluggish process of producing one-off 3D models currently makes little economic sense from a manufacturing perspective. When considering the innovative ways Rocky Mountain Print Solutions has leveraged its relatively small 3D printer investment, however, it’s easy to see why Don Wik and his team are excited about the future.“The real value in diving into 3D printing is gaining an understanding of the new technology,” says Wik. “Implementing 3D printing is affordable and a good way to see what’s out there for your business: that’s the real payback at the present time.” Zac Bolan’s blog: blog.softcircus.com
Imagine if you dare a world without Photoshop – a barren image editing wasteland offering little to comfort those longing to adjust a photo’s hue, or straighten and crop a wayward picture. How would you apply effects to your pictures, convert to black and white or resize low-resolution images without Adobe? Sounds like a pretty bleak existence, doesn’t it? Thankfully it doesn’t have to be.Photoshop remains at the heart of most serious image-editing workflows, but there are options on the market.  These days, savvy software consumers can save a few dollars and still fulfill a surprising percentage of their image editing needs. While there are a number of open source and share-ware image-editing alternatives on the market, a couple of the early Photoshop challengers have matured into significant contenders in the pixel-pushing arena. Tested: Pixelmator 3.2 (Mac OS X), pixelmator.com, Apple App Store $29.95 I first discovered this powerful yet unassuming app shortly after returning from drupa years ago and wrote about version 1 in PrintAction magazine (July 2008). At the time, I was impressed with the versatility of the inexpensive image editor and it soon became my go-to tool for quick image adjustments when away from my Photoshop workstation.Over the years, Pixelmator matured with each successive release, bringing it ever closer to Photoshop functionality while remaining a fraction of the price. Within an intuitive and stylish interface, Pixelmator delivers most of the features you would expect in an image editor. The Tools palette will feel immediately familiar to anyone with a working knowledge of Photoshop. Pixelmator is replete with a full range of tools covering everything from selection; cropping; cloning; erasing; drawing; painting; shapes; and blurring to typography and effects.And like that other image editor, Pixelmator supports layers – in fact, you can even open your layered .PSD files, edit them and export the file back to .PSD, or any one of several common image formats. I use the term ‘export’ because Pixelmator can only save images in its own proprietary format. This might not be such a bad thing because, on cursory inspection, Pixelmator appears to produce a smaller file size than .PSD for the same image. Pixelmator also features a number of tools geared toward those combining or creating new images, such as Alignment Guides and Relative Spacing Guides, which are much like the smart guides found in Creative Suite apps.  The latest release, Pixelmator 3.2, brings some new advanced editing features to the table including a completely re-engineered Repair Tool.  The Repair Tool can be used for anything from simple dust and scratch removal to difficult repairs such as large image removal from a complex background. Pixelmator ‘patches’ the areas removed with colour-corrected pieces from the image surrounding it. Even if the object to be removed was not selected precisely, the Repair Tool builds a smooth transition area and matches the structure of the background. The results are often quite impressive.Other new Pixelmator features include support for 16-bit colour, lockable layers and a cool little feature that apparently converts any selection into a shape for editing. I say ‘apparently’ because I cannot actually figure out how to do it, which highlights one of the few flaws of the application – the lack of a manual! There is, however, a fairly comprehensive help file and quite a few online tutorials to get new users up to speed. Also, because Pixelmator restricts users to living in an RGB world, it will not unseat Photoshop for heavy-duty prepress use anytime soon. Having said that, Pixelmator is a robust, fun and surprisingly fully featured image editor for a very, very good price! Tested: Perfect Photo Suite 8.5 (Mac OS X, Windows 7 & 8), onOnesoftware.com, Starting at $79.95 Another blast from my image-editing past, Perfect Photo Suite began its life as a collection of high-priced plug-ins for Photoshop. When I last reviewed the product (version 5 in PrintAction, August 2010), Perfect Photo Suite cashed out at a hefty $499 for the full assemblage of plug-ins. At the time, each of the plug-ins was also available as an independent product, so users could buy just the tools or effects they wanted.onOne Software has since taken the collection in the opposite direction and combined Perfect Photo Suite into a fully featured standalone application containing all of the functionality of the individual plug-ins. As a result, Perfect Photo Suite 8.5 has evolved into a surprisingly comprehensive image-editing workflow well suited for the artistic image manipulator and premedia pro alike.When launching any Perfect Photo Suite plug-in from Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture, the net result is the same: The full suite opens outside of the host application with the image and the selected functions active. From there, users can access any of the other Suite tools encompassing a wide range of image-editing chores.The Enhance tool provides everything an image geek needs to improve brightness, contrast or hue, as well as play with focus or remove offending spots and elements in the style of Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill. Enhance provides loads of presets for the novice and a complete set of finicky adjustments for the pro. Once you make your perfect enhancement, save it as a preset for other images, or even batch processing.As its name implies, Effects is the Suite tool for stylizing images. As with Enhance, this function comes with both a full catalogue of photographic effects and plenty of adjustable filter options to create entirely unique looks. Additionally, Effects filters can be stacked to create masterpieces or abhorrent messes, depending on the skill of the user.Portrait provides both presets and manual tools to make short work of tedious portrait re-touching tasks like removing blemishes, shine and wrinkles. Portrait also has specific adjustments for eyes and mouths, including red-eye removal and teeth whitening – cheaper than a trip to the ophthalmologist or the dentist!But for me the big draw to Perfect Photo Suite has always been its excellent Resize and Mask functions. Resize started life as a very pricey Photoshop plug-in called Genuine Fractals and over its nearly 20-year life has matured into the very best software to scale a lower resolution image to a large print size. Able to make sharp enlargements up to 1,000 percent, Resize is well equipped with presets optimized to a wide range of large-format-inkjet printers and media in addition to a full range of user-adjustable parameters to get your enlargement just right. Personally, I often use Resize to bring low-quality customer-supplied images up to prepress standards for print. And Mask has only improved with age – with a little practice, most users can easily mask around soft-edged image elements such as clouds or hair.Perfect Photo Suite, however, is not the perfect way to kick the Photoshop habit. Like Pixelmator, the Suite only works with RGB images. Also, I found the application stuttered a bit with very large images on my 11-inch Macbook Air – the Suite seemed to want more RAM than I could muster. Working with the same images in Photoshop was no problem, suggesting there is room for improvement in the Perfect Photo Suite memory management department. But, considering Genuine Fractals alone used to sell for more than $200, the entire Perfect Photo Suite is a steal starting at $79. Can you live without PhotoshopIf you wrangle images for a living, the short answer is no. There is a good reason Photoshop has been the tool of choice for pixel wranglers for decades, and likely for the foreseeable future. However, given Adobe’s subscription model not everyone will want to shell out for the Creative Cloud just to straighten a few images, downsize some photos for a blog or play with bokeh at home. Also, each of these innovative applications has unique strengths that can enhance any pro image editing workflow for a relatively small investment. Having alternatives is a great thing for users, and hopefully having some competition will keep the engineers at Adobe on its toes. Zac Bolan’s blog: blog.softcircus.com
Measures to protect your business from employee fraud The printing industry is continually plagued by cases of employee fraud. During the five years I managed the Ontario Association of Quick Printers, I was surprised by the number of small business owners who confided that at some point their company had been defrauded out of ruinous sums by staff – often a long-term employee whom they thought they knew well and trusted... Cases of staff fraud at printing companies reported in just the past 12 months, include: Michael Britt, 31, charged with 13 counts of forgery occurring over more than five years and resulting in the theft of over $1 million from Gene-Del Printing, the Brentwood, Missouri company co-owned by Britt’s mother and three partners. Britt allegedly wrote at least 166 unauthorized cheques to himself using forged signatures of two of the company’s owners, fabricated fraudulent invoices for the cheques, and made at least $25,000 in unauthorized purchases on a company credit card.Christina and Brian Russo, a married couple, both in their 50s, charged with stealing more than $657,000 from Harmony Press of Easton, Pennsylvania. Christina Russo allegedly wrote hundreds of unauthorized cheques to her husband and herself using a rubber stamp with the owner’s signature.Leona Gebhart, the 70-year-old former comptroller of Henderson’s Printing in Altoona, Pennsylvania, charged with stealing at least $151,130 over 11 years by allegedly writing unauthorized company cheques to herself (including duplicate and triplicate paycheques), manipulating petty cash, and falsifying documents, while allowing the company’s Federal tax payments to become delinquent. With all these past and present horror stories in mind, I spoke to Robert Fowlie and David Malamed, forensic accountants at leading Toronto financial and business advisory firms, and Detective Constable Keith Nakahara of the Halton Regional Police Service Fraud Unit (Commercial Team) to learn what printers can do to protect themselves from devastation by employee fraud. How employee fraud worksNakahara’s region of Ontario, including the towns of Oakville and Milton, has one of the highest per capita incomes and one of the highest rates of fraud in Canada. He observes that business fraudsters have no particular motivations or characteristics in common except that they have too much control with too little supervision – a position that creates overwhelming temptation for some people.  “Don’t automatically assume you can trust somebody based on a family connection or the length of time you’ve known them,” he warns. “In business the most common fraud we see is committed by a person in a position of trust with limited oversight, typically a bookkeeper or accountant who has a certain amount of control over what facts get released, so the fraud may go undetected for years.”Both Fowlie, a partner at Deloitte LLP, and Malamed, a partner at Grant Thornton LLP, have long strings of credentials after their names certifying them as fraud experts. Besides investigating alleged cases and preparing financial information for use in court, they also work proactively to establish preventative controls.Both say smaller print shops are more susceptible to fraud than larger companies if their smaller staff count results in less separation of duties. In other words, the person writing the cheques may be the same person reconciling the bank accounts and doing the accounting, so he or she can readily conceal bogus payments to themselves or fictional third parties.In billing fraud, phony vendors may get paid, or an individual working in procurement for a company starts his own business, buys raw materials at cost, marks up the prices exorbitantly, then sells the materials to the company he works for. In payroll fraud, wages may be paid to a fictitious employee or somebody who was terminated still gets paid via deposits to an account controlled by the fraudster.    Verify bank and accounting recordsFowlie and Malamed say a good way to detect fraud is for owners to obtain their bank statement directly from the bank and review it monthly (or else delegate the review to an internal third party knowledgeable and reliable) to ensure that each payment and vendor is legitimate. They also recommend comparing your list of vendor and delivery addresses with your employees’ addresses and regularly reviewing the payroll journal that most companies submit to an external third party for processing.“In a recent trial we uncovered that, even after review and approval of payroll information, a clerk was still able to make changes by adding payments to herself and terminated employees to an account she controlled and make accounting entries to cover up these payments,” warns Fowlie. “Our clients thought they were in control when in fact the process was not operating as they intended.”Nakahara suggests that the notes in your company’s year-end financial reporting may also identify specific items of concern:  “For example, ledgers that don’t match bank payments and the bookkeeper’s explanation dismissing the discrepancy as a computer glitch may warrant closer investigation.” Expenses, consumables and chequesAnother big area of concern is employee expense accounts, says Malamed: “Expense fraud is epidemic among all organizations. It’s the number-one trend I see.”  Fowlie explains: “In today’s tougher economic climate, some families have gone from two to one income or experience no growth in income against growing expenses. Under new financial pressures, some people feel forced to do things they have not done before. Perhaps this is one reason we’re seeing an up-tick in fraudulent employee expense claims involving false documentation or duplicate claims.”  He warns that Websites even exist where users can print out receipts for fictitious claims. As a remedy, he says companies must check every detail of expense claims submitted by employees and require each item to be supported not only by legitimate documentation but also within business rationale.“Another form of fraud happens if I cook and sell steaks in the restaurant where I work, then pocket the customer’s money because the owners don’t know they were sold,” says Malamed. “This type of transaction is also possible in the printing world, where press or pre-press operators could be running their own jobs on the side using the owner’s resources.”  Since consumables like toner, ink, and paper are expensive and highly transactional, he thinks there could also be a secondary market for them. One preventative measure he suggests owners can take is to project what the company’s sales should be based on consumption of supplies. If either the sales or the supplies in stock fall short, they need to investigate why. “Don’t get carried away with the business and forget to look at the numbers,” he insists. “The numbers tell the story. Perform your own analysis to see if things add up.”Typically, in cheque fraud the names of payees or dollar amounts on cheques are changed, or duplicates are issued of the same cheque. “Usually cheques are numbered sequentially, so if number 005 shows up a few times, it’s a red flag,” says Malamed. (Red flags are warning signals that deviate from correct practice and may point to the presence of fraud.) Fowlie says organized criminals commonly perpetrate a counterfeiting scheme by intercepting a company’s cheque in the mail and taking it to a printer to obtain fake blank copies. Then they write the fake cheques to third parties, who cash them and return some of the proceeds to the organized criminals. “This is the reason why in Europe payment is typically arranged through wires and direct transfers to avoid cheques being intercepted and compromised and counterfeits being written against the account,” explains Fowlie. “Some of my clients have lost millions of dollars through this type of scheme because they didn’t monitor their accounts closely or were unprotected in terms of the way their account was set up.”As a preventative measure, banks operate something called Positive Pay programs in which companies pay the bank a fee (something like 20 cents) per cheque and provide the bank with standard information on cheques they issue like cheque numbers, payees’ names, and dollar amounts. If the information written on a particular cheque differs from their records, the bank will hold the cheque and notify the company. “Some companies think the cost of a Positive Pay program is too expensive; however, if you’re lacking in segregation of duties, it may be the least expensive way to handle the problem of cheque fraud,” says Malamed. Staff and hiring issuesNakahara says before hiring any employee in a position of financial trust it is important to have the person sign a pre-employment contract that clearly delineates the basis and limitations of the job. He explains that fraud is the crime of obtaining money or some other benefit for the perpetrator or someone else by deliberate deception. Thus, to prosecute fraud, police need evidence both of a theft and of the deceit the fraudster used to commit it.He says a lot of cases get thrown out of court because the fraudster claims that the business owner knew about and approved the transactions in question. Without corroborating evidence on either side, the case boils down to the fraudster’s word against the owner’s and is likely to get tossed.  Thus the pre-employment contract should specify that:  (1) the person will not gain by any transaction without the knowledge and consent of the owner, and (2) the owner’s approval of any transaction must be stated in writing. Additionally, before hiring accounting and payroll personnel, Fowlie advises owners to call their former employers. If, for example, his client’s company had checked on the payroll clerk mentioned earlier in this way, they would have learned she was charged by the RCMP for doing the same thing at a previous employer’s company.But Nakahara says doing systematic police background checks on prospective employees only provide a false sense of security: “The checks only reveal when people are convicted, not charged, and for various reasons conviction rates are low in comparison to the larger number of people who are actually committing fraud. So no amount of front-end due diligence can replace ongoing due diligence in a business operation.”Fowlie says due diligence should include remaining alert to changes in staff’s behaviour and financial well-being, such as someone suddenly living outside their means. Additionally, he says people involved in fraud often do not take vacations to prevent their fraud from being detected; so refusal to take vacations is often a red flag. If you suspect fraudFowlie encourages businesses to review their insurance policy with their broker or insurer to make sure it includes coverage not only for fraud, but also for fees for a forensic accountant to conduct an investigation on their behalf, if necessary.If you suspect someone of fraud, he says it is not prudent to confront the individual straight away. Rather, you should first conduct an investigation and strategize about what is to be done. “I have seen companies accuse and fire longtime employees, only to discover the problem was not fraud but careless accounting,” he cautions.If an investigation substantiates fraud, Nakahara advises owners to be aware that perpetrators usually plan an escape, so that even if they are removed from their job, they can still continue to defraud the company. So the most appropriate course of action is not only to remove the person from the job completely, but also to notify your bank and other financial institutions that the person no longer has the authority to transact business for your company.Nakahara also recommends you let the fraudster know you have gone to the police, which might make them stop robbing you of more money or prompt them into a legally useful verbal response – something police call a “spontaneous utterance” – such as an admission of guilt or an offer to pay you back the stolen money, which you should carefully make note of. As the victim, you can also file a complaint with the police, usually in the district where you work or reside. In fact, to pay out on a crime insurance policy, most insurance companies require police to lay criminal charges to validate that the fraud has occurred with reasonable probable cause. A subsequent criminal conviction on the charges in court gives the perpetrator a police record which may prevent the person from repeating the offence at other companies.Sometimes, if a business is not covered by insurance for fraud, or insurance does not cover the entire loss, the owner may also elect to pursue a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator to try to recover stolen money. In this event, Fowlie says forensic accounts are often enlisted to investigate the fraudster’s assets to determine how much recovery might be possible. Fraud risk assessmentFowlie points to statistics from the global Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) showing that some businesses are defrauded as often as every two to three years. And because prevention costs are generally lower than the cost of a fraud investigation, he urges businesses to become proactive about prevention.Malamed concurs:  “Prevention is my key focus. Every dollar you spend on prevention saves $10 or $20 on reaction – not including dollar loss. If there’s one message I want to scream from the top of buildings, it’s ‘Put preventative techniques in place!’”One thing a business can do is hire a forensic accountant to conduct a fraud risk assessment of its operations, which reviews all of the company’s activities to determine the types of fraud it is exposed to and develops preventative internal controls.As with legal fees, you pay for the consultant’s professional expertise, so the cost of a fraud risk assessment can be high. But Fowlie explains:  “Like lawyers, most forensic accountants will first meet with you for an hour to understand your business and prepare a quote on how much time and money will be required to assess the entire organization. Some will also help figure out a budget that will work for you, since it is possible to perform the assessment in stages, one division or function at a time. You can start with the most vulnerable area the first year, then assess the rest over time.” Awareness training and whistleblower programsMalamed suggests two more important anti-fraud services available from companies like his, which are affordable to small- and medium-sized companies:  fraud awareness training and whistleblower programs. Fraud awareness training educates employees, owners, and stakeholders on how to identify red flags. A whistleblower program enables employees to anonymously point out instances where potential fraud exists.“For example, in one investigation, I asked the employee I was interviewing:  ‘Didn’t you find it unusual when the manager asked you to make journal entries on Friday nights and Saturday mornings instead of during regular business hours?’” recalls Malamed. “With awareness training, the employee would have realized this timing was a red flag, and a whistleblower program would have given him a way around his feelings of discomfort about questioning a manager’s orders directly.”Malamed says research by ACFE shows that over 40 percent of fraud is identified by tips. Giving employees a way to report it without worrying about backlash increases the odds of detection. ACFE statistics also show most fraud take about 18 months to identify and result in an average loss of $140,000 over this time. But for companies with controls in place like awareness training and whistleblower programs, detection time goes down from 18 months to nine months and average loss from $140,000 to $77,000.
Protecting your software investment with virtual machines Virtual machines are nothing new, and out of necessity I was an early adopter of the technology. While working in prepress and later in software development a few years back, it was essential for me to have ready access to the Windows environment. Initially, this meant hauling around two laptops in my bulging computer bag, as early operating-system emulators for the Mac were sluggish and limited in function. All that changed when I discovered an early version of Parallels Desktop. With Parallels I was finally able to ditch the ThinkPad and effectively run Windows XP on my MacBook Pro. For the uninitiated, virtual machines (VM) are complete computing environments including operating system, software and user documents/files contained in a single disk image. With a software emulator such as Parallels Desktop, an appropriately configured host computer can run a VM and its applications alongside host-native applications. When I reviewed Parallels Desktop 8 (PrintAction, February 2013), I had just made the transition to a new MacBook Air with a Solid State Drive (SSD). The differences in speed between the SSD and a conventional hard drive is remarkable, making a virtual machine respond just like a hardware-based Windows workstation. Suffice it to say that the SSD completely changed the way I used virtual machines and put Parallels Desktop on my daily use list. Released in September 2013, Parallels Desktop 9 improves an already robust hardware emulator with a host of new features, including: Support for Windows 8; Thunderbolt and Firewire device access; multi-monitor settings remembered; iCloud, SkyDrive and Dropbox sync; and an enhanced wizard making it considerably easier to setup a new virtual machine. The biggest reason to upgrade is speed, however, as Parallels Desktop 9 runs noticeably faster than version 8. Parallels claims up to 40 percent better disk performance in Desktop 9 in addition to faster start-up, shutdown and suspend times. While I often take marketing claims of this nature with a grain of salt, this one seems to stand true. My virtual machines were significantly speedier after migrating to Desktop 9. Of course, your mileage will vary based on the configuration of your host computer. To be effective, virtual machines need to live on a speedy machine such as a late model iMac, MacBook Pro or Air. While the stated memory requirements for Desktop 9 start at 2GB, users will find that more is better in this department, as a sizable block of memory must be assigned to the virtual machine OS. My current MacBook Air has 8GB RAM which is more than adequate for Parallels Desktop 9 – but my next Mac will have at least 16GB RAM or more, if available. Likewise, you do not need an SSD to run Desktop 9, but your user experience will improve dramatically if you do. Fortunately, SSD prices are coming down as more manufacturers include them in new machines and aftermarket upgrade drives become commonplace. Alongside Desktop 9, Parallels launched Parallels Access, an iOS App enabling users to access and run applications from their Mac and VM on an iPad. Parallels Access is available on an annual subscription basis. Why do you need a virtual machine?You would be forgiven to think that the only reason to run a virtual machine on your desktop is to get Windows running on your Mac. After all, Parallel’s Website and packaging both scream “RUN WINDOWS ON YOUR MAC” in large red print. What many do not realize, however, is that Parallels Desktop can accommodate a wide range of 32-bit and 64-bit Guest Operating Systems including Linux, Solaris and every flavour of Windows ever devised, as well as legacy Mac OS X operating systems back to OS X 10.5 Leopard Server. So why would you want to run an older version of Mac OS X as a virtual machine on your Mac? Simple – protecting your legacy software investment. As prepress departments deal with a wide range of clients and an even wider range of source files, it is important to maintain older versions of production critical applications such as Adobe Creative Suite and QuarkXPress. Many prepress pros concurrently keep multiple generations of these applications on their workstations so they can work with customer files in the specific version in which they were created – thus avoiding text reflow and other potential file problems.Also, with each new Mac OS X iteration comes new features and enhancements enticing users to upgrade. These new capabilities often come at a price, however, as older applications may no longer work as effectively – or at all – with the latest Mac OS X. By building a bespoke virtual machine for each major version of the Mac OS users can install and run older applications in the environment they were designed for. For example, I currently run a Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) VM for Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 and an OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) VM for Creative Suite 6. These VMs can either run on the host computer in their own window, in full-screen mode, or in their applications side-by-side with host applications using Parallel’s Coherence mode.Creating a Mac OS X VM is a relatively easy process with Parallels Desktop 9. After launching Desktop 9, select ‘New’ under the File menu and the Wizard will walk you through the steps. Assuming you acquired your Mac OS upgrades through the App Store, your older operating system installers will be available under the ‘Purchases’ menu and available for download. For Mac OS X installs before version 10.6 (Lion), you will need to find your original installer DVD. Once you have created and are running your VM, install and register your legacy software as you would on any Mac.Another major advantage of virtual machines is the ease in which they can be backed up and duplicated. Users need only copy the Parallels disk image to another drive for backup, or to another Mac with Parallels installed to use the virtual machine elsewhere. Considering Adobe’s recent decision to stop selling perpetual Creative Suite licenses it seems prudent to ensure you will always have access to your last ‘owned’ version of Creative Suite should you decide to work outside of the Creative Cloud. Housing your second CS6 install in a Mountain Lion VM, for example, is one way to ensure you will always have access to Photoshop, regardless of how Mac OS and Apple hardware evolve. Zac Bolan’s blog: blog.softcircus.com

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