A research team in Iowa is taking 3D print to new heights with an educational online applicationHave you ever wondered what it looks like at the top of Mount Everest or at the bottom of the Grand Canyon? Well, Chris Harding and his colleagues can’t take you there, but thanks to their innovative work and the advancements of 3D printing, you can hold the natural wonders of the world in your hands.Harding, an Associate Professor of geological and atmospheric sciences, is part of a research team at Iowa State University and together they have created TouchTerrain.Essentially, TouchTerrain is a Web application that allows users to print 3D models of any place on Earth. So, instead of relying on a flat map or screen, instead of relying on 2D depictions of real terrain (like those lines which get closer together indicating a higher altitude), you can actually study 3D representations of mountains, canyons, the ocean floor and the Canadian Shield, among any geological feature, with a hands-on model.In the TouchTerrain program, you just select a rectangular section on a map and enter in your 3D printer’s parameters (Harding and his team have used a Makerbot Replicator 2x and Flashforge Creator Pro). Then the server downloads the elevation and terrain data through Google Earth Engine and downloadable STL files of that area are created.The project started in late 2014, Harding says, when his colleague in the department of geological and atmospheric sciences, Franek Hasiuk, got some experience working with the Makerbot Replicator 2x 3D printer in his lab and mentioned the idea casually.“I think he said ‘wouldn’t it be cool if everybody could 3D print the landscape they live in and hold it in their hands?’” Harding says.Harding and Hasiuk launched TouchTerrain with the help of Levi Barber, the IT wiz instrumental in the coding of the project and Alex Renner, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering. Harding says Renner was a “big help” in teaching him how to create 3D models reliably and efficiently on low-cost printers.Since the program went public in mid-March, Harding says TouchTerrain had over 2000 3D terrain model downloads in the first two weeks. The team has also received a lot of positive feedback and interest from high school teachers, university professors, museum curators and geoscientists.“They see value in using 3D-printed terrain models in an educational setting,” Harding says.In addition to producing 3D models of the wonders of our world, Harding has also experimented with those of other worlds, such as the Moon and Mars. He recently received a request from a teacher at a school in California which caters to visually impaired students.“Besides giving them the ability to touch the shape of the Grand Canyon,” Harding says. “I also hand created a 3D model for the hugely impressive Valles Marineris, which he printed and gave to his students to explore.”The TouchTerrain team is currently in the process of expanding. The project is growing faster than they can keep up with and Harding says they have already begun to experience issues with scalability when many users are trying to access the system. They are hoping other programmers will provide feedback to improve the codebase and are searching for the funding required to bring a Web programmer in on the project.“In addition to better scalability, we have a whole list of improvements we would like to see based on user requests,” Harding says.TouchTerrain is an open source project hosted at GitHub which provides code for the Apache server run at Iowa State and a standalone version. You can access the TouchTerrain code at https://github.com/ChHarding/TouchTerrain_for_CAGEO or check out the server version in action at http://touchterrain.geol.iastate.edu/. Harding and his partners provide the service to educators and the general public free of charge.“We hope that printing out these models and using them in a teaching context means that ideally more people become aware of 3D printing and how useful and affordable it can be,” Harding says. 
For the past two years, DATA Communications Management has been entrenched in transformation, perhaps best signified by this new name for the 58-year-old company that is historically associated with printing business forms. The change to DATA Communications Management from The DATA Group in the summer of 2016 seems trivial, but, at that time, the public printing company – one of just a handful in Canada – also consolidated all of its issued and outstanding common shares and began trading under a new TSX stock symbol, DCM. The transformation of DCM is a story of powerful investors who have influenced Canada’s printing industry for a couple of decades, mergers and acquisitions, reorganizing a national footprint and investing in a unique service platform run by highly skilled employees. Leaning on the printing legacy of one of Canada’s largest and longest-surviving document producers, DCM is now positioning itself as a managed communications provider with leadership expertise in marketing services. The company’s position pits it up against North America’s largest printers and technology suppliers who have a growing interest in the cash cow of corporate print consulting. This is driving DCM to build a breadth of printing services to, as the company’s rebranded homepage explains, become The Execution Engine for Business Communications. Rounding out print“The business has been in transition for many years, giving credit to prior management. They acquired, stitched together and moved the business forward in a lot of different ways,” says Michael Sifton, who has served as the Chief Executive Officer of DCM since April 2015. “That being said, what we did was amp up the rate of change in the last two to three years.”DCM’s current evolution leverages a sticky printing infrastructure relied upon by some Canada’s largest financial institutions, from where most of its revenue is still generated, accounting for approximately $130 million in its most recent fiscal year. To increase the breadth of its printing capabilities, DCM has made key acquisitions like February’s share purchase of Thistle Printing and substantially all of the assets of Eclipse Colour & Imaging. The acquisitions came after Sifton spent two years rightsizing the company, which reduced DCM’s production footprint from nine facilities to just five, which the company today labels as Centres of Excellence – in Brampton (headquarters) and Mississauga, Ontario; Calgary, Alberta; Drummondville, Quebec; and Niles, Illinois. “We are absolutely more focused than we were before and we are more optimized. One of our big initiatives is to become more united because we were disparate parts and not really working together with a mission,” says Sifton. “We are much closer to that today.”DCM’s core capabilities include direct marketing, print services, labels and asset tracking, event tickets and gift cards, logistics and fulfillment, content and workflow management, data management and analytics, and regulatory communications. In addition to leveraging an executive team with vast M&A experience, DCM is heavily focused on firming up processes and systems to get the most out of what is now one of Canada’s largest and most diverse printing operations. In January 2016, DCM revealed it had invested $6.7 million to acquire multiple new Xerox presses, including several top-tier iGen 5 machines. In late-2016, DCM completed an additional $2.1 million investment in its printing platform with an emphasis on label production, with upgrades and technology enhancements to systems in Brampton. As it made these platform investments, DCM also realized the consolidation of its facilities, including moving its Regina manufacturing and warehousing operations into its flagship Calgary facility, which had already absorbed the company’s Edmonton plant. The Calgary location, which also holds significant sheetfed offset capabilities, most recently began to absorb the wide-format capabilities of DCM’s Mississauga plant following on the purchase of Eclipse located in Burlington, Ontario. Eclipse specializes in large-format and point-of-purchase printing with approximately 100 employees operating in an 80,000-square-foot facility. This $9.2 million acquisition turns DCM into one of the country’s most significant large- and grand-format printers. Eclipse generated approximately $21.3 million in revenues (unaudited) for the fiscal year ended November 30, 2016. “They also have a growing packaging business, especially in specialty packaging, so we are quite happy about that,” says Greg Cochrane, who became DCM’s President in November 2016. “We see three growth areas: large format, packaging and labeling.”The $6.1 million purchase of Thistle in Toronto provides DCM with commercial printing capabilities in a location that better aligns with its critical customer base in the financial heart of Canada. “Thistle is a steady, classic commercial printer. What that allows us to do here in Eastern Canada is to have, under one roof, our complete litho and sheetfed operation,” says Cochrane. “Currently, we are outsourcing a lot of that to second-party vendors, maybe some of our competitors, but this allows us to do more inside. We repatriate the business.” With approximately 65 employees operating in a 42,000-square-foot facility, Thistle generated $16.4 million in revenues (audited) for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. As it closed the acquisitions of Thistle and Eclipse, DCM also arranged an increase under its senior revolving credit facility with a chartered bank by $10 million to up to $35 million. The move provides DCM with a total borrowing base of up to $72 million from $50 million, suggesting its investment-savvy executive team will continue to make acquisitions. “There are opportunities on the [printing] side of the spectrum that we need to tuck in and we think that they are trading at favourable multiples today,” says Sifton. Leveraging growth experienceIn DCM purchased Thistle from private equity firm VRG Capital Corp., perhaps best known for its financial backing of PLM Group, which was eventually purchased for $130 million by Transcontinental in 2007. Cochrane in 2011 became a Managing Partner of VRG Capital, which also holds an interest in DCM. The company publicly disclosed the Thistle purchase after receiving opinions on what was determined to be fair market value. Cochrane actually began working with DCM in June 2016 as a Director of the company (stepping down from his board position in November to fulfill his mandate as President), along with VRG Managing Partner J.R. Kingsley Ward, who currently serves as DCM’s Chairman of the Board. It was also around this time, as the new DCM entity came into existence, that Sifton made his own sizable investment in the company, approximately 10 percent, along with Cochrane at a lesser amount.“I bought in during the springtime last year in a fairly major way. Greg just recently took more shares as part of a transaction and is interested in making larger commitments to this company,” says Sifton. “So we are committed. We believe in its future and it is a company that is going to continue to go through transitions. There are going to be some bumps and grinds along the way but we think the prize is worth it.” With the arrival Cochrane, Sifton shifted his CEO mandate with DCM to focus on financial and strategic initiatives. Cochrane meanwhile is putting his knowledge toward sales and business development. “I am a real execution type,” he says. “There is no such thing as better strategy just better execution.” At age 65, Cochrane provides a diverse background with decades of experience in marketing services, communications, event management and private equity investment. After beginning his marketing career in product management with General Electric and then S.C. Johnson, Cochrane in 1981, along with his business partner, built out one of the largest Canadian event and conference companies, Mariposa Communications, which was sold in 1997 to Mosaic Group. In 2001, Cochrane became a lead investor in Pareto Corporation, a start-up marketing services business which became publicly listed in 2004, and where he remained a director until its sale to U.S.-based private equity firm Riverside Company in 2011 for $125 million. Pareto would eventually shut its doors in late-2013, filing under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, which new owner Riverside described as a result of a sluggish economy and increased competition in the shopper marketing space. Also described as sales activation, the term shopper marketing is based on methods to connect brands, retailers and shoppers before, during and after a sale, which can include a plethora of print for direct marketing, experiential marketing, events, sampling programs, retail merchandising, in-store messaging and other incentives.           With operational responsibility for the direction of DCM, Cochrane views the company as holding two primary business arenas. “The first part is what I call the rinse-repeat. It is forms. It is long-term contracts it is RFPs with major [financial institutions] and insurance businesses,” he says, acknowledging a decline in the printing of transactional forms, although DCM is also entrenched with the same clients’ use of electronic options. “As that [print] is declining you better be best in class in terms of costing, on time, and we aren’t paying for any extras. So that part of the business we are really good at it. There are only a couple companies that can do it here in Canada.” Cochrane refers to the other part of DCM business as customized on-demand, which relies on printing processes like digital, large-format, labels, packaging and direct mail – even sheeted with DCM’s new lithographic assets. “Those are the types of things that are growing… And the recent acquisitions we have made really bolster those areas for us,” he says. The customized on-demand part of DCM is where Cochrane’s marketing background comes into to play based on evolving client purchasing patterns. “People who are around the room are not only in procurement but also marketing,” says Cochrane. “The [sales] conversation 10 years ago is totally different than it is today.” He explains the marketing executives of large clients are now involved in the complete process, often asking DCM to work directly with agencies on campaign details. “Yes, this is complex, but we are in the business of simplifying the complexity of your communications needs.” Cochrane uses the term “to stand the client up” to describe DCM’s value-add approach, as he recalls one recent example: “With all of their requests it took 150,000 lines of code to get them up and running, so we could deliver materials on time.” In fact it was this same marketing executive who remarked on the true nature of DCM’s services. “The customer said, ‘Actually what you guys are is a managed services provider.’” With Cochrane’s experience and millions of dollars invested in new printing infrastructure, DCM is a formidable managed communications provider supported by marketing services potential and decades of process knowledge. “I knew nothing about DATA when I was first approached about the opportunity a couple of years ago,” says Sifton. “The one thing that keeps coming back to me is just how great the folks are in this company and they are worth us putting a shoulder behind it to make it work.”
Deschamps Impression of Québec City, Québec, began the New Year with the acquisition of another of the province’s best-known commercial printing operations in Imprimerie Litho Chic. With this acquisition, Deschamps will have more than 200 employees and increase its annual sales to more than $33 million. The Litho Chic acquisition compliments a year of capital-equipment investment by Deschamps. In May 2016, the printing company bought a new Xerox iGen5 press, as well as binding and finishing equipment for its Montreal plant. In December 2016, Deschamps Impression expanded its Québec City facility by almost 5,000 square feet. In January 2017, the company is installing a brand new 5-colour Heidelberg CX-102 press in its’ Quebec City facility. Founded in 1987, Imprimerie Litho Chic specializes in commercial work with both offset and digital printing systems. Jean Bilodeau and Michel Leclerc of Litho Chic will continue to play key roles within the Deschamps Impression organization. On top of high-end commercial printing, Deschamps Impression focuses on providing clients with prepress services, security and digital printing, as well as pharmaceutical and cosmetic folding-carton and box printing, in addition to bindery and finishing services. PrintAction spoke with President Jean Deschamps about the company’s most recent acquisition. What is the status of the acquisition? JD: We are planning to complete the merger of the two companies by mid-March. We acquired them in December and we are going to move staff and part of the equipment in February. They are going to be consolidated in our main plant in Quebec City. Was this a share purchase, rather than an asset purchase? JD: Yes it was – We were looking to increase our sales volume and with this acquisition we have gained almost $5 million in additional sales which is very interesting. Does Litho Chic provide a different sales base for you? JD: I would say it is complimentary because a good portion of their customer base is close to Montreal rather than Quebec City where we are based but with our manufacturing site in Montreal we are able to integrate the additional volume across our platform. This is one of the major interests we had at that time because if they had exactly the same customer as us, we would not have bought the company of course. What else attracted you to Litho Chic? JD: The customer base, as I mentioned, as well as the craftsmen who were working in the facility. We are transferring more people who are very talented, people who have a lot of experience in the printing industry as there are not a lot of new people who are coming into our industry. What Litho Chic assets are you taking in? JD: We will be transferring mainly finishing equipment. The presses and prepress/platemaking equipment are going to be sold because we just bought a brand new Heidelberg CX Speedmaster [being installed at the time of the interview]. That press is going to increase our productivity by about 40 percent more than the old CDs that we had. We are going to be able to take all of Litho Chic’s $5 million in sales on this equipment. Why were you attracted to Heidelberg’s CX press? JD: It is a 40-inch CX with great new technology. It runs 16,500 sheets per hour easily with the Autoplate, auto-register and all of the new features we wanted for its’ efficiencies. Make readies take about 10 minutes compared to the 2005 press that we moved out, so we increased our productivity significantly with this press and we are going to be able to take in all of the additional sales that are coming from Litho Chic. We are going to add other shifts on the other presses, so with that we should easily cover the entire new customer base that we are getting. Why did you recently put in a Xerox iGen 5? JD: We bought the press in May 2016 and it was installed in our digital facility which is part of our manufacturing site in Montreal. The press fills a short run gap and has incredible flexibility with its 14 X 26 format as well as a print finish almost identical to offset technology. Will the CX be used more for packaging? JD: We are moving forward also in the packaging industry. We are doing a lot of packaging, a lot of gluing, inside of our facility in Quebec City and that was part of the purpose of buying that press. Now we have three five-colour CDs that are fully equipped. The oldest press that we now run is a 2010 and our equipment, all Heidelberg, runs right up to our new 2017. When did you start focusing on pharmaceutical and cosmetic folding-carton printing? JD: It is relatively new – I would say maybe four or five years now and we are increasing our market share steadily through our qualified and knowledgeable sales force. We hope to make an acquisition in this market segment within the next two years. Why does Deschamps Impression have a significant position in security printing? JD: We are positioned as one of the oldest family-owned security printing companies in Canada, with 90 years this year. We do birth certificates, lottery games, gift certificates, as well as manufacture cheques. We are one of only two printers with a federal security classification. Security printing is the foundation of our company as we only began commercial printing in the 1980s. We do a lot of security documents that are produced for different countries as well as in Canada. When did you take over the company’s leadership? JD: I am the third generation and we have owned the company for 35 years now. I took over in 1995 as the President. But we took over the company, by acquiring our uncles’ shares, with my two brothers and my father and I, in 1980 which was when the third generation bought the company. How significant was this acquisition compared to other moves? JD: This is the seventh or eighth acquisition that we have made since the third generation bought the company. When we bought the company in 1980 we were doing about $2 million in sales. Now we are budgeting for $34 million sales next year. Every acquisition we have made was strategic, either to gain expertise in a given market or to grow our sales.     Why is Deschamps Impression a unique printing company in the region? JD: We are the only one doing packaging, security printing and we also do a lot of commercial printing, of course. We have a unique digital printing facility in Montreal. We completely finish about 95 percent of what we print. We manufacture in our facility in Montreal and Quebec City, so we are completely unique. We are one of the largest independent printers in the province of Quebec. We are also the only printer with a complete mirror plant which allows us to guarantee continuous service in case of a force majeure. Why are you so confident in the future based on all of the investment made over the past year? JD: We are very confident in the future and we will make other acquisitions as I said before. This has been part of our growth strategy and we are going to make additional acquisitions in the future. We are already in the process of talking with other printers who are more in the packaging market, as well as commercial printing, in the Montreal region. We are a 90-year-old company and we are looking forward to going over 100 years.
The evolution and rebranding of ICON Digital Productions positions a large-format-imaging pioneer as one of North America’s most unique and powerful visual communications companies   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.printaction.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleria5a1572b993 On the top floor  of ICON Digital Productions’ 90,000- square-foot manufacturing facility, tucked into a dimmed backroom, three technicians sit in front of a dozen screens grouped together on the wall like the Network Operations Centre of a cable news network. They are monitoring some of the highest profile static print and dynamic digital signs controlled by ICON’s newly minted Media division, including all the visuals hanging in Toronto’s Dundas Square and way-finding screens directing passengers at Pearson Airport. Responsible for thousands of digital signs across Canada for Blue Chip clients like Shoppers Drug Mart, ICON Media illustrates the reach behind one of the country’s most unique visual communications companies. Designed to deploy national signage networks by procuring all of the necessary hardware, developing business plans and ultimately managing ever-changing content for clients, ICON Media is well-positioned to take advantage of an evolving wireless world. It provides the company with an irresistible vehicle for C-suite strategy discussions with clients. The bedrock of the parent company, however, is formed by ICON Visual with one of Canada’s most powerful technological infrastructures for large-format imaging.ICON Visual dominates the company’s Markham, Ontario, facility, which any grizzled graphics pro would recognize by its curved-glass façade as the former home of Apple Canada. This division generates more than half of the parent company’s annual revenue, which in its most recent fiscal year amounted to just under $40 million, by pumping out static display graphics with print qualities demanded by the likes of Fortune 500 cosmetic and fragrance clients, Hudson’s Bay Company and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.ICON Print is the third pillar of the company’s All Things Visual strategy, developed through a divisional rebrand in December 2016. After years of outsourcing the production of offset-print jobs for its Blue Chip clients, ICON in January acquired Toronto Trade Printing, bringing decades of 40-inch-offset expertise in-house. The move creates a multifaceted communications manufacturing company powered by ICON Media, ICON Visual and ICON Print.Visual evolutionLast year alone, ICON oversaw the printing of more than 20-million direct-mail pieces in addition to a range of offset-produced marketing collateral. The company’s executive team has spent the past several months looking at both commercial and trade printing operations to purchase in the Greater Toronto Area. “We look at print not so much as old technology. We look at it as just another communications medium. In fact, our numbers tell us there is a lot of growth in print still,” says Juan Lau, President of ICON Digital, who co-founded the company in 1995 with Peter Evans and Peter Yeung. “The last three or four years we kept looking at our financial statements and, ironically, the fastest growing service sector was commercial printing – and we were not even trying.”Without a direct need to acquire book of business from a commercial shop, which is the primary M&A driver in today’s printing market, ICON’s executive team was focused on finding the best lithographic-manufacturing fit for its existing AAA client base. Lau explains his priority was to purchase a well-established printer to immediately provide the offset knowledge ICON lacks after two decades of building a roll-fed digital printing operation.Approximately 80 percent of what ICON  Visual now prints is produced with Durst roll-fed machines. Lau describes this as a key differentiator for ICON because its production has been built around a square-metre pricing model, driven as much by finishing and fabrication as by print production. “From a pricing model we are able to get more yield [using] rolls – just a pricing thing. We can get that buttoned down pretty quick. Printers getting into our space still go off the rate-card mentality,” says Lau, describing what he sees as traditional offset pricing based on number of sheets produced. “We know a lot of commercial printers are trying to get into our space now,” says Lau. “To get into our line of work, they are going to blow their minds out on the finishing end… anyone can print, but it is the finishing that really makes or breaks a project.” Most commercial printers getting into large-format imaging also turn to flatbed machines, continuing to focus on cost-per-sheet pricing models. Lau explains he never set out to build ICON as a traditional printing operation when the partners founded the company. In 1995, the Internet had not yet penetrated the minds of most people, fax machines and phones were the dominate business tools of the day, and modems were limited to speeds of under 20k. Still, Lau wanted the company name to hold the word digital, as well as production, because he initially wanted to start a video-production company. The key word ICON came to him one day when a radio host referred to Madonna or Michael Jackson, he cannot recall which, as the Icon of Pop.Prior to opening ICON, Lau was running a photo-enlargement company producing monochrome engineering drawings and architectural blueprints, generating slim margins, pennies per sheet. Lau describes his large-format eureka moment arriving in the early 1990s after seeing new colour imaging technologies at a tradeshow: “The idea of taking a file and outputting larger-than-life graphics on just about any surface, whether it is vinyl or textiles, or what have you, nobody was really doing it.”     ICON’s first large-format machine was a Xerox electrostatic printer and, Lau explains, he and Evans decided to put a stake in the ground as a new type of printing operation. “We printed on sheets alright, but we printed it to transfer media and that allowed us to, with lamination, transfer it directly onto any substrate.”The technology was slow, outputting two or three posters per hour, and not a realistic investment choice for offset-based commercial printers. Lau explains he was driven to own the market that ICON would serve, akin to McDonalds being synonymous with burgers, Coke with soda, and Rolex with watches. Advertising agencies were immediately drawn to the new output possibilities ICON could provide with one-off large-format printing, even if they would often turn to offset or screen technologies for longer runs. “We started to establish a name in the business to do mockups, ideas, innovative stuff,” says Lau, noting ICON initially produced a lot of tradeshow graphics ideal for one-offs.“What we were bringing on was really, by today’s standards, considered disruptive technology,” Lau says. “We didn’t know it at the time, but I think we were disruptors.” He explains it took about a decade after ICON’s founding for large-format imaging technologies, shifting from heavy solvents to UV, to evolve into a viable printing process for new entrants. “We went through a metamorphosis ourselves around 2005,” Lau says. “A key turning point in our company because it allowed me to do what I do best and that is go downstairs and take care of the operations, because our sales had never declined since 2005.” Lau was trained as a programmer and holds great affinity for taking a process-minded approach to business. He felt ICON’s challenge was not about topline sales and he began to search for more efficiencies in the facility. “Once I got my hands on the operations side, the process and all of that – [we previously had the] same level of sales, $10 million, for a while – our bottom line increased tremendously.” ICON brought on a new customized ERP system, internally branded as Cyrious, and a much-needed scheduling system for what had become a very busy large-format shop. ICON also brought in a new Chief Financial Officer, Alex Christopoulos, who Lau credits with greatly improving cash flow and the company’s overall financial health.Media evolutionLau describes the years from 2005 to 2008 as a “pivotal time” for ICON as he and Evans also decided to stop producing trade work for other printers and instead sell direct into the commercial market. “Part of the improvement on our bottom line was we made a conscious decision to shift and go after end-user markets,” explains Lau. “If we look back right now, we could have a few chuckles over that. It was one of the best decisions we could have made.” Around the same time, ICON’s future would be influenced by the arrival of significant developments in large-format digital imaging technologies with a new wave of UV-based inkjet systems. ICON threw out all of its older-generation, heavy-solvent inefficiencies and made significant investments in UV technology, which Lau also credits with improving the company’s bottom line. ICON’s attention to the bottom line through the latter half of the decade would soon prove critical as The Great Recession of 2008 fast approached, all but strangling print sales for months.A year before the printing industry plunged into the throes of frozen marketing budgets, Lau points to the significance of another technological marvel on ICON’s future. “2007 was a pivotal year from a technology standpoint, because when the iPhone came out [it] launched wireless technology in my opinion,” he says. “With all of the apps, [Apple] launched a whole slew of development in wireless technology.”The economic ecosystem that quickly developed around wireless technologies would serve as a catalyst for the growth in screen-based digital signage. Lau explains wireless technologies broke down barriers that had been fortified for years by the need to run so much cable and obtrusive hardware. Less than two years after the arrival of Apple’s iPhone, ICON purchased a two-person AV company called Gridcast in 2009, when digital signage was still very much in its infancy. ICON had previously worked with Gridcast on a project for the Bank of Montreal, which wanted to integrate a digital projection within a large banner with a cutout. “It went really well and that was another eureka moment with Gridcast,” recalls Lau, describing ICON’s first project to integrate both print and digital mediums.“Gridcast was very AV-oriented – hang-and-bang hardware. We saw very quickly in the first year that the model wasn’t really going to be a sustainable model,” says Lau. “Not only did we develop it by feeding it through ICON’s customer base, we actually changed [it] into a consulting model.”Multifaceted evolutionThe Gridcast division, rebranded in December 2016 as ICON Media, has been a significant driver for the company. “Our business in Media is an annuity. We will charge you a three-year management deal,” says Christopoulos, as an example of how the company can work with a client to finance a network of in-store screens, while ICON is truly interested in ongoing content management services.Christopoulos explains the company, to a much lesser extent, hopes to take the same approach with some of ICON Visual’s work, where they might provide a client with a free banner stand with a commitment to print work to cover it – ideally, changing out the print regularly – over the next several months. With The Bay, ICON Visual is also starting to print on magnetic sheets that can be applied to painted walls, speaking to the division’s growing attention on developing repeatable visual systems with clients. The continuing innovation in both ICON Visual and Media have developed a strong reputation south of the border, where the company now produces around seven percent of its work.“[It isn’t] so much because we are a better printer. They have local guys down there. It was actually our Media division because they are a lot more proactive when it comes to new innovations,” says Lau. “Because they want to do new things with digital, they are very open-minded to talk about the other print things we offer. So that is how we have been using digital media, more as a way to penetrate organizations from the top down, as opposed to starting with procurement and working our way up.” ICON Media has been using Virtual Reality for almost two years to show clients, like Sport Chek’s CMO for example, what their stores will look like with large-format print.As ICON Print is developed, the company plans to leverage strong C-Suite relationships to drive work onto litho presses. In fact, Lau envisions an emerging media procurement approach that will benefit the rebranded position of ICON’s three divisions: “I am hoping as more Millennials get into positions of power and decision-making, they are going to say, ‘Why do we need a separate print budget. This is a media budget. We need to line up all of our marketing together.’ I think those budgets are going to change. We are kind of placing a little bit of a bet that way.”Under ICON’s new multifaceted media vision, Lau explains it is important to hold a true offset-printing presence beyond outsourcing. “We have only touched the surface of the excitement the Media division is going bring,” says Lau. “It is huge. The ICON rebranding of All Things Visual is going to take us to the next level.”
In January, Ricoh acquired Toronto-based Avanti Computer Systems, which has been a leading developer of Management Information Systems dedicated to the printing industry for more than three decades. The software company was founded in 1984 by MIT graduate Dr. Richard Wallin, after a friend described the difficulties of putting an accurate job estimate together. In 2004, Patrick Bolan and Stephen McWilliam took an ownership position in the company and began to develop a business model that would sustain consistent growth to place Avanti MIS as a North American ERP printing power.In July 2013, Ricoh made an initial strategic investment in Avanti as the MIS developer was preparing to launch its new generation Avanti Slingshot solution, which was released in the fall of that year at Graph Expo. One of the most-advanced MIS products in today’s print market, Avanti’s new Slingshot platform was built around a completely new coding infrastructure and the MIS sector’s highest level of JDF certification for automation. With the full acquisition by a world-imaging giant in Ricoh, Avanti now holds the potential to become a true global power by leveraging Avanti Slingshot as an MIS newly built for today’s multifaceted business of print. PrintAction spoke with Bolan just days after the Ricoh purchase for his take on what the future holds for one of Canada’s most dynamic software developers for printing.What attracted Ricoh to acquire Avanti?PB: I think Avanti Slingshot is a big attraction. We have the best MIS system in North America, if not the world. From Ricoh’s standpoint, it acquired has MarcomCentral, which they bought just fully about two years ago... So they have the Web-to-print piece and now they have the MIS piece. They already have the production workflow piece, which is their TotalFlow product, so they have a complete workflow for a printer. I think it is a brilliant strategy on their part. Why is Slingshot an outstanding product?PB: The biggest thing is that the market has changed. Most MIS systems, including our legacy product Avanti Classic, were written 20-plus years ago. Back then offset was the primary focus. There was no or very little digital. The market has changed to where most of our customers are working in multiple lines of business. They offer digital, offset, large-format print, mail, fulfillment, data-management and even Web services for their customers.Most older systems do not handle those multiple lines of business. Meanwhile, Slingshot was written from the ground up to do just that. Number two is that Avanti Slingshot can be run on premise or in the cloud. And number three, Slingshot was written to be an open platform.How critical is Avanti Slingshot’s high level of JDF certification?PB: It opens a lot of doors. It is a key requirement for printers replacing an older MIS. They want connectivity. They want those islands of automation connected together and so absolutely it is definitely paying off.What allows Avanti to keep pushing MIS?PB: We have the experts on staff. You need an experienced team of product managers and implementation specialists, who are entrenched in MIS every day, to guide the product development process. We also have a strategic partners program of 10 or more customers who we bounce ideas off of. How much has your team grown since Slingshot launched?PB: Since Avanti Slingshot launched in 2013, we have more than doubled and maybe even a little closer to tripled – Definitely more than doubled. How much business has Slingshot generated for Avanti?PB: It drives a lot of the revenue for Avanti and, last year [ended August 31], we had a record year… We still have a really solid support base on Avanti Classic and continue to offer support and provide enhancements for Classic. We are up to around 100 Avanti Slingshot installs now.How will Avanti operate following Ricoh’s acquisition?PB: It’s really business as usual. There are no staff changes planned, so the great thing for customers is that they will still deal with the same people that they have grown to count on. I am staying. Stephen is staying, everyone is staying. I am sure that one of the reasons Ricoh acquired us is because of the subject-matter expertise of our team. Our team literally has hundreds of years of collective knowledge in MIS and it is impossible to replace. How will this Avanti’s global position?PB: This is one of the reasons we started discussions originally with Ricoh. They made it clear, from the initial investment three years ago, that they wanted our product to be a global product and that is exciting for us.
Frank Romano, Professor Emeritus of the Rochester Institute of Technology, in December travelled to Toronto to provide the keynote speech at the Digital Imaging Association’s annual holiday luncheon, held on the waterfront at The Boulevard Club. He has spent more than 40 years in the printing and publishing industries and is seen as one of the printing world’s leading technological pundits, producing hundreds of articles for publications from North America and Europe to the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Romano is the author of over 44 books, with a vast majority focusing on the arrival of digital printing. He continues to teach courses at RIT and other universities and works with students on unique research projects.The title of Romano’s DIA keynote, Digital Printing, From Good Enough to Nanography, describes one of the most pressing issues of technology investment on the minds of printers across North America. The following excerpts from Romano’s speech describe the potential disruption of inkjet printing on the offset world.Wrongly focused on page impressionsFrank Romano: The way they measure the output from these machines is page impressions. If you reduce everything to just a page, you have denigrated it – you have insulted it – because a page has no value. When the page is in a brochure it has value. When a page is in a book it has value… They are not pages, they are parts of a product and that product has value. And if we keep making that a page, we reduce the value in the product and that is an issue. Too many digital sheet sizes todayFR: Let’s get rid of all of these stupid sizes. We cannot deal with every different sheet size you can imagine. I’m sorry, the paper companies are not going to support you – they can’t anymore. They do not have the resources. They do not even have the warehouse space.Digital must move beyond CMYKFR: The problem is that the majority of these [inkjet and digital] machines are CMYK and yet we all know that we have to handle brand colours – Pantone colours… That is one of the reasons why Indigo sells so well. HP has done a very good job because of the fact that you can match almost every Pantone colour, every brand colour. That is why they are so dominant in the label market.It is just a matter of time, but the problem is without the brand colours they are not going to get into the packaging market… And, by the way, telling me you can do 80 percent of the Pantone colours with CMYK [is] not an argument.A future in water-based UV inkingFR: I think the next big movement has to be water-based UV. UV is really a key system because it can print on almost anything. It is impervious to the weather. That is going to be a key technology. Printing beyond paperFR: The next generation is going to print on new kinds of substrates. It is going to go way beyond paper... The home decor market, make the pattern of your sofa match your wall paper, if you so desire. Make your windows look like Tiffany glass. You can do that now very easily with wide-format inkjet. Offset and inkjet partnerships like Komori and LandaFR: What Komori is doing not only with Landa but with Konica and others… Mr. Komori is very shrewd and has created partnerships with other companies to build the mechanism as they build the digital printer… what Heidelberg is doing right now with Fuji. You are going to see a lot more of that as the offset companies try to figure out how to keep some of their business.By the way, when you buy a Landa machine, the base is shipped from Japan and the printing part is shipped from Israel and then they put it together in your plant. It is going to be very interesting to see how that works out. Importance of page-wide print headsFR: The other big change has been single-pass inkjet, instead of having the head move back and forth. Now that was pioneered by HP with a wide-format roll-fed machine... 40 inches wide by 500 feet a minute, CMYK, can’t beat it and it is selling very well worldwide.Oce is doing the same thing with their roll-fed machines and others. Impika has been down that road and then Xerox acquired it and has improved the product line significantly.  Cost of new digital machinesFR: The thing that bothers me more than anything else is that we are a capital-intensive business and these machines are not cheap anymore. [Technology suppliers] figure we all have money and yet that is one of my issues – we don’t. If you could get the machine at a reasonable price, we could then build a business and buy more machines, and buy more consumables… But right now I think they have priced them a little bit too high.
Founded 35 years ago, MGI Digital Technology has made a major impact on the world of printing with innovative digital printing and finishing technologies for enhancing the power of print.MGI Digital Technology invests approximately 20 percent of its annual sales back into research and development.This astonishing number speaks to the company’s origins just outside of Paris, France, and why it has raised the bar amid  what are now some of the industry’s mostpowerful technology suppliers driving the growth of digital printing. PrintAction spoke with Kevin Abergel, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at MGI USA, about the company’s mantra of innovation.How was MGI founded?Basically it was 1982 when my uncle was fresh out of the military where he had worked on anti-aircraft missile technology and he had learned a lot when it was still really early days for computers. When you look back further, actually, my grandfather was an offset pressman his whole life and on weekends in the summer his three sons all went into that environment to make some extra money. The three brothers who created MGI went into my grandfather’s shop and really learned the business from a traditional standpoint, which is why we have always had an affinity for commercial printers, because basically it is our bloodline – it is where we come from. Has invention always been in your family?My great grandfather, on my mother’s side, actually has the first patent for the first pneumatic feeder – 1925 or 1927 – for an offset press and it is up in our offices. We have a very strong and rich history in printing that runs through the Abergel veins. The first products MGI came out with were not necessarily in the print industry. They were some of the first computer programs for accounting, also for hospitals, big old floppy disks. That is really where we got started and then in 1991 we developed our first press – with a three-man team that developed a roll of basically Bristol paper that was being printed on digitally with a cutter just making business cards. It was called the Mastercard. And then the next generation of Mastercard all of a sudden it went from one colour to two colours to four colours, while also going from a business-card format width to 8 ½ x 11, then 12 x 18, and then we were doing plastics. We have really gone through 13 or 14 generations of engines in our history on the digital press side. That is really how we built up the business from nothing to a business today with a market-cap above 200 million Euros. And now we have partners like Konica Minolta, which really raised the profile higher.What is the Konica and MGI relationship?The Konica Minolta and MGI relationship goes back 20 years actually… The base MGI business model has been to use initial Konica technology, whether it is inkjet heads or toner-based print engines, and sup-up those engines. Two years ago we really started to get a closer relationship when Konica Minolta invested 10 percent into MGI – we are a publically listed company – and as a result of that we developed a smaller version of the varnish and iFOIL, called the JETvarnish 3DS, exclusively for their sales network. Because of the success that we had in that first year of bringing this product to market, Konica was now wanting to distribute the entire MGI portfolio and it was at that point in time that they went from 10 percent to 41 percent, which is a controlling interest in MGI where we have actually launched a new distribution agreement. Konica Minolta is now globally going to market and sell our entire lines of products. From a sales standpoint, it gives us much more visibility and from a service standpoint a much wider infrastructure.How much has MGI grown in 10 years? From 2008 to 2016, we grew something like 500 percent during some of the most difficult times in the printing industry. I think when times get tough people need to invest in something that brings a level of differentiation or innovation, so that they can actually compete on applications, not on price. That has really been our mantra this whole time. I do not care about how many pages you are printing per month. How much are you making on each one of those pages? If you are only making four or five percent that is not a good business model, but now if you can go to 60, 70 percent it is a different story.Why is MGI’s new Artificial Intelligence SmartScanner, AIS, significant?If I made a die or a screen, for example, I would never really be able to register any of what I am doing to a digital print for the simple reason that digital print moves page to page. The image registration maybe is going to be a little to the left or right, a couple of pixels up, a little skewed – every page is going to come out basically in a different position on the sheet. So the most important thing is being able to move up, down, left, right and custom fit every single page by comparing it to the original PDF of the print file and seeing where the moves are. The key point here is that AIS is going to be creating – using artificial intelligence – a topographical map of your print. By comparing that live with the actual PDF of the print file, it is going to be able to stretch out all those points where maybe there is high ink density that shrunk the paper or maybe you laminated it so you have a severe slip, stretch or a fan. In screen printing maybe it would take me 20 minutes to stretch my screens out manually to get my fit right and I have to spend a lot of sheets to get my fit correct to be able to make up for all of those deformations once it is out of the press.The scanner does away with all of that. Number one, your first sheet out is going to be perfect. Number two, you do not need that professional eye to understand where your stretch is in your sheet. It is all being done automatically as touch-less as possible. When you mix that in with the variable data barcode reading system… Not only will it varnish and foil the right image, but it is actually going to custom fit and custom register each one of those sheets as they are moving through. It has never been done before.How much data is being processed to leverage the AIS topographical maps?That was one of our biggest problems. If you look at the actual computer system that is just running the scanner alone it is basically doing five teraflops of information per second. It is a lot of information being crunched to be able to pull up the right file, trace the TIFF from the PDF, then be able to compare that file live to the actual print and be able to do all of the modifications automatically. For me it is the coolest technology we have ever done and we have done some pretty cool things. What MGI technologies excite you most?I also think that the fact that we have a B1 JETvarnish and a roll-to-roll JETvarnish or the fact that we are actually putting foil down with toner are all really fascinating products. I am most proud of the [AIS] scanner, because I know how much work went into it, almost four years of nonstop development and to see it actually work, knowing that it has been the unicorn. That was the codename for it, The Unicorn, because everybody was talking about it internally and hoping we would one day see it work.What MGI technology is having the most market penetration?Right now, the Meteor is having a large amount of success because, at the end of the day, it is still a digital press that can do all of the commodity stuff. But then you turn on the iFOIL and you start running envelopes or plastics or PVCs, or long formats, and put the foil down and it suddenly boosts your added value.On the JETvarnish side, I would say that 95 percent of the people who are buying this equipment are getting into varnish and foil for the first time in their history. So from a market penetration standpoint, we are having more placements with the Meteor, but the JETvarnish is significantly up compared to previous years because I think the market is finally starting to accept digital embellishment. Out of all the JETvarnish products, we are having an incredible amount of success with our B1 JETvarnish and iFOIL… it really allows us to go after a whole new customer segment which is the packaging converter. Is packaging ready for MGI’s digitization?Packaging wasn’t one of our priorities. For the past 35 years, we have focused on commercial printers, but the packaging guys are the ones who came to us and pulled us into that market. The more we did research, the more it made sense for us to develop a 29-inch JETvarnish to be able to do those XL sheets and today that is our number-one selling unit and that is for the packaging convertors. A lot of commercial printers are trying to find ways into digital packaging as well, because, according to Infotrends, there will be 41 percent growth over the next two years in digital folding cartons. I do not know if you could show me one other statistic in our industry that is as incredible as that 41 percent.How is MGI technology suited for labels?I read a stat from LPC that said by 2020 three out of four new label presses will be digital. Most importantly, [with MGI technology] it not going to cost you a lot of money to varnish and foil jobs. It is going to be a low-cost job which you can still charge a premium for. The brands are the ones who are pushing it that way, which is a big part of what we do to educate the brands on the advantages of digital and being able to do this kind of work.
A unique business trip to the Soviet Union, including a look inside the printing operation of the Red Army, at the height of the Cold War leaves a lasting impression.The world of print has been enriched by many folks from all walks of life who took many different roads to arrive at an industry with seemingly no beginning or end. On a busy mid-week day 36 years ago, a city inspector walked into Frank Herrington’s print shop. “Can you tell me where your designated smoking area is?” asked the inspector. “Wherever I’m standing,” uttered Frank.  This story was often repeated and always with a chuckle. It was a different time. Frank, a lifelong smoker, seemed to have two butts going at the same time. It was never uncommon to see an ashtray with a forgotten cigarette burned to the end with a length of ash. I first met Frank around 1977. He was then a partner in a trade shop but already had a lifetime’s worth of print experience. Born in Hastings, Ontario, to a family with a lot of siblings, Frank had a rough early childhood and found himself and his younger brother, Murray, in an orphanage. Unlike today, there were few family roots in the printing industry and it was a chance opportunity that Frank found a job at Toronto’s Parr’s Print & Litho in the mid-1960s. Starting with a broom, Frank did all sorts of odd jobs until one day a pressman called in sick and he had the chance to run a varnish job on a Consolidated Jewel. The Jewel was a hefty 30-inch single colour offset press made by ColorMetal in Zurich, Switzerland, but rebranded (as was common in those days), from its Swiss name Juwel to an Americanization Jewel.Frank was hooked. Especially with offset as he had no interest in letterpress. Like many of his generation, trade schools carried printing courses and taught various disciplines such as typesetting, page assembly, platen press operation, and so on. But for Frank, learning the California job case and composing with type was dumb and tedious when offset offered a better future in printing.Canadian connectionsThe ATF Chief 20 was a popular smaller press at the time and soon Frank was running one of these 14 x 20-inch single colours, too. He would run split plates for the record jacket business. This was difficult work, making ready two plates on one cylinder. Next he had the chance to run a Harris LUP two colour. This was a 49-inch press and the big leagues. Over his entire life, Frank preached about the simple intelligent concepts of the Harris press.Frank also had a short stint working in St. Paul, Minnesota, with Ternes Pin Register. Norm Ternes was instrumental in developing a simple method of installing register pins in plate clamps and also made plate register punches. On his return to Toronto, along with two partners, Frank began manufacturing plate punches and installing systems on all sorts of presses. It’s important to know that even in the early 1970s few offset presses had any kind of pin register.I once saw him completely re-strip a four-colour cover and print the job on a very old Solna 124 single colour. It was quite amazing to see him manipulate the film, cut the masking sheets, burn the plates and then make numerous adjustments to the press just to get the job out and prove to our customer the press would print.On another occasion, we had a customer in our shop and Frank was print testing with some plates that the customer had brought. The Harris LXG-FR had Micro flow dampening. What a chore it was to set the dampener, because it was driven by two sets of V-belts. I leaned down to look at the plate docket the customer had brought. Frank, without missing a beat, leaned over and said if I ever pulled out that screen plate he’d kick me into the middle of next week!  Frank knew that trying to run a full screen in such conditions would be a disaster.On yet another occasion, we had sold a printer a Heidelberg KOR single-colour offset press. A few months later that customer had dropped a dampener form into the press and smashed it. Resulting inspections by the Heidelberg agent indicated the press was scrap, so we were able to take it back for parts. After months of this press languishing in our shop, Frank strolled in one day and asked, “Whats up with the press?” I told him the story and how the press’ owner had said the plate cylinder was bent and it was toast. “But did you check it yourself?” Frank asked. I had not. So we did it together. Much to my surprise the plate cylinder was not bent and we quickly went through it and sold it on to another shop. This lesson was one of the most important Frank would pass on to me. Our long association proved to be much more than fixing presses and learning common sense. Frank would always challenge you. This trait seems almost extinct today. Over the last 40 years we had many a good mechanic work for us. Some were quite brilliant, others less so. Frank was unique in his ability to speak to owners with confidence while at the same time be a mentor to even the lowest skilled employee. From all walks of life there are folks even today that can share the same sentiments about Frank and how he was the best friend any of them could possibly have. Frank’s genius was in his confidence. He never let a piece of equipment intimidate him. No matter the complexity or difficulty. Especially with an offset press, Frank’s common sense fundamentals allowed him to almost always disregard the operation manual and use inherent basics to set grippers, adjust bearer pressures or make a feeder run difficult stocks.  Honey, disconnect the phone Over the next 25 years I would make seven or eight trips to Russia but a visit in 1980, in the midst of the Cold War, was special. For Frank, this was his first visit anywhere out of North America. We traveled aboard an aging Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-62 where the in-flight refreshments consisted of handing out mickeys and chocolates wrapped in tin foil. So here we were in Moscow during two weeks of September 1980. Our goal, to study various printing related equipment manufactured by the Soviet Union and see if we could purchase any of it.Frank and I had become close friends. He taught me a great deal and I needed him to help me access the viability of the anticipated equipment we would see.  We arrived at the scary monolithic Hotel Ukraina near Red Square. A very large haunting and dark place we nicknamed Dracula’s Castle. The Ukraina was a huge place built in a typical Soviet Style in 1953. This was also a foreigner’s Hotel and Russians themselves could not enter without a pass. The room had a black-and-white TV and a radio that was hard wired and couldn’t be turned off. Only the volume worked – there was only one station, too. I recall it was made of Bakelite and had the shape of the Moscow University’s main tower. The radio would chime an eerie tune to signify the top of the hour. Off we went the next day to the Red Army printing plant. There we were to see the supreme example of the Soviet industrial complex in the POL-54 offset press. This press, a single colour about 74 centimetres (29 inches) was running with two operators (one sitting on a stool at the delivery). To make matters worse the press wasn’t even running offset but rather letterset (dry offset). Frank had a quick look, smiled and whispered, “If that’s all they have we’re in for a rough two weeks.” Representatives from Techmaschexport (Soviet exporting agency) asked our opinions and I nudged Frank to go take a better look. He’s under the feedboard checking the grippers while all of a sudden the operator hits the run button. This caught Frank’s finger in the press and, as blood dripped from his hand, off he went with a nurse to the infirmary. Shortly after, with a plaster cast the size of an ice-cream cone, in strolled Frank. We never saw the Pol-54 again and apparently no one else did either.Our days off proved amusing and we had a lot of them. Each place we visited, Frank shook his head. In order to buy something at a store you needed to find what you wanted, get a chit, go to teller to pay, then back with receipt to the first guy.  The 1980 Olympics had been held only a few months earlier, so we wandered over to the main outdoor stadium where, to our glee, we found a store that sold potato chips. Nearby was what we would call a fast-food restaurant. We nicknamed it the Bun & Run. They were serving some kind of dish with a flatbread and a white creamy sauce poured over it. Looks good we thought. Pulling out a few Rubles, Frank bought a couple only to find out the sauce was some kind of butter milk. Tasted awful, smelled even worse. The food in the Ukraine was remarkably better than Russia.We walked each day to Red Square and watched the locals in the GUM department store. We visited a science and technology museum and spent time at the INTOURIST Hotel bar because as foreigners we could get in. But mostly we found ourselves in the main dining area of the Ukraina each night, getting a laugh when we spotted new arrivals trying to figure out that the only drinks were Georgian sweet “Champaign” and Vodka. We took a flight to the Ukrainian city of Odessa on the Black Sea. There we toured a prepress factory known for platemakers and cameras. It held really nothing of relevance, but we consumed a lot of Vodka during a lunch put on for us. That evening Mr. Ptashkin, our host, insisted we take in a show at the famous Odessa opera. Moments after taking our seats, Frank quickly nodded off. Afterword we walked down to the water on the famous Potemkin Stairs. These sacred steps were constructed in the 1800s and unique because from the top looking down you don’t see any stairs only landings. But on this night somehow, Frank and Ptashkin got into a bet of who could get to the top first. Frank did.So it’s now after midnight and time to head to the hotel. “Let’s go for a nightcap,” says Frank. There are no night bars in Odessa uttered Ptashkin in a stern voice. “Follow me,” said Frank. Around the back of the hotel, down some steps, knock on a door and – voila – a night bar and with Western liquor to boot. That was Frank, who was somehow a step or two ahead of everyone. Well, we left Frank at the bar and that’s the last I saw of him that night. I was worried in the morning when he didn’t show, having made my way down to the foyer to await our hosts. I was just about to explain Frank’s absence to Ptashkin when he strolled in looking haggard. Best we leave the rest of that story alone.Soviet presses and the KGBOnce back in Moscow another outing was arranged to visit a major factory in the city of Rybinsk. This city was near a giant reservoir and about 300 kilometers north of Moscow. To get there we had to take the train and also get special permits. The trip involved leaving Moscow in the evening to arrive in the morning. Neither of us actually knew where we were going and looking back it seems nuts to take such a long time to go 300 kilometers. We shared a bunk-bed cabin with the female interpreter and Mr. Ptashkin, separated from the proletariat who had less than stellar accommodations. It seemed every time we awoke coincided with the train stopping, changing direction or in one case stifling smoke in the cabin. Someone had closed a vent for a coal-fired massive tea urn at the rear of the car. The factory was huge. It still exists today. Back then it also had its own iron foundry. This facility made a wide range of printing equipment from web to sheetfed. A little cold set web press called the POG-60 was actually a licence agreement with West Germany’s MAN and was created to be portable. There were three units and a folder. Two colours one side, one on the back and in a tabloid size. We found this little press amusing because although the Soviet Union had several dailies we never saw anyone reading them – only reading official posted copies of a broadsheet on designated notice boards.Very large offset and letterpress newspaper webs – all for Coldset newspaper production – were being assembled in the factory. One item of interest was a sheetfed feeder by the name of TIPO, which turned out to be a Planeta design and the Soviets were now building all the feeders that were to be used on these East German presses. Oddly enough, the Soviets failed to use this feeder for their own presses. We were able to view the VOLGA offset press. In a 40-inch size, the VOLGA featured chain transfer from each unit – another dud! We walked past at a brisk pace. But we did have another troubling experience the next day. There was a special apartment in a workers housing complex. This was reserved for foreign guests. We had a few hours to kill and both of us had brought gum and candies to pass out as gifts. Looking out of the window I noticed some children playing in the late afternoon, so we grabbed our goodies and cameras and went downstairs to hand out the treats. All the kids were excited and we enjoyed making their afternoon.The next day the Rybinsk general director invited us to a special workers camp on the banks of the lake. Surrounded by woods, this camp consisted of a large house, sauna and outdoor showers. They laid on a feast along with the customary quantities of vodka and toasts. Followed by an obligatory visit to the sauna.  A car arrived for us around dusk and we headed back through the woods toward the main road. However, as we cleared the thick trees two black Moskvitch cars blocked our path. Frank and I were ordered to stay in our car while Ptashkin got out to talk to a bunch of guys wearing three quarter length leather trench coats. Moments later a stern looking Ptashkin came back and told us we had been observed taking photographs in a prohibited place the previous day and the “police” insisted that I hand over my camera and film. At first I refused but Frank clearly knew more than I and told me to shut up and give the KGB the damn film. I reluctantly agreed. The KGB developed my film and kept the ones they felt would cause harm to national security.  Funny enough, 14 years later I again found myself at the same factory. By this time the Soviet Union had collapsed and things had changed a great deal. In the huge machine hall, once occupying all types of machine tools, the printing presses were gone and in their place workers were punching out pots and pans. Central planning and subsidies exposed a crumbling infrastructure.The U.S.S.R trip gave us a lot to laugh about for years after, but the trip ultimately proved to be disappointing. What was very apparent to us was a stubbornness of the Soviets not embracing developments from the outside world. As we later discovered all high-quality printing was not printed in Moscow but in places such as Finland, Austria and Hungary. But that’s possibly because print was not a defense industry and languished because of its apparent unimportance. Odd still considering the Soviet Union, at that time, was the world’s largest producer of books.I continued to learn many lessons from Frank – both in and out of the printing world. I really miss my good friend in so many ways and I’m not alone. Frank touched a lot of people’s lives and left an indelible mark on all who knew him. We don’t have many in our print industry like Frank anymore. Guys that were strippers, pressman, mechanics and electricians all rolled into one.  I once asked Frank why he had so little respect for authority. In his early days, he had been in the Air Force, trained to use secretive radar equipment. After all the training and being sworn to secrecy, he was walking downtown a few years after leaving the military and saw one of those secret radar units for sale in the window of a surplus store.
Asia Pulp & Paper, a relatively young paper maker founded in 1979, has grown to become one of the world’s largest integrated pulp and paper entities with a raft of new environmental targets and products in the Canadian market.Asia Pulp & Paper  Group in 2013 introduced its Forest Conservation Policy as a large-scale environmental initiative based on zero deforestation.  The policy would require a range of investments by  Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) with a goal to put an immediate end to sourcing pulpwood materials from suppliers involved with natural forest clearance. The company, with its primary roots in both China and Indonesia, subsequently engaged leading environmental organizations like Rainforest Alliance, Deltares (a research institute) and Greenpeace to evaluate this unprecedented Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). APP opened up its operations to allow these organizations to track its FCP implementation progress.Over the next two years, APP continued to work on its environmental stance with initiatives like the world’s first-ever retirement of commercial plantations on tropical peatland – some 7,000 acres – and a program to restore and conserve one million hectares of forest across Indonesia, primarily within the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem, home to the endangered Sumatran Tiger. These massive initiatives were in response to mounting environmental criticisms leveled against APP over its practices.As a result of facing the criticism head on, APP has invested millions of dollars into establishing a stronger environmental position and, at the same time, reorganized its operations into one of the most modern structures across the paper world. While most other paper makers are running legacy equipment, often shutting down equipment based on unmanageable fluctuations in supply and demand, APP over the past 10 years has brought on line three new paper machines designed with technical flexibility to respond to new market demands. The company, driven by its own unique eucalyptus plantations, is now seen as the world’s most vertically integrated paper producers. This position has allowed APP’s Canadian operation, focused solely on moving paper as opposed to diversifying into equipment distribution, to reengage to domestic printing industry and become one of Canada’s most powerful paper suppliers.  New Canadian modelAPP’s new direction in Canadian printing primarily began in 2010 when David Chin became President of APP Canada. One of his primary goals was to become a preferred paper supplier to Canada’s Tier One printing operations. This would require new levels of market penetration for the company, which had traditionally focused on the retail market as a paper merchant. Chin instead began to build from APP’s long presence in the Canadian market to establish direct relationships with printers, as opposed to working through distributors. “We are not newcomers in the market. We have been here since 1998 so we are a very stable entity and we also have ample stock. If I am not mistaken we are the largest importer for commercial printing paper in Canada and we also have the most inventory of commercial paper in Canada,” says Chin. “We have made some giant leaps with Tier One customers, the top 10 printers in Canada, mainly because of our service and paper quality.”     Chin explains APP Canada purposely hires local people, as opposed to transferring people from overseas operations, to help build its presence in the domestic market. “We are truly a Canadian company. We are growing the Canadian economy and not just growing in Asia.”Much of APP Canada’s growth in the commercial printing market over the past six years can be tied to the operation’s ability to leverage the complete production integration of its parent company, which has spent the past decade building one of the world’s most modern end-to-end paper operations. “Our advantage is really integration all of our pulping facilities are a short drive away from our production facilities, if not on site,” says Ian Lifshitz, Director of Sustainability and Public Outreach, Americas, Asia Pulp & Paper Group. “So frankly we are able to get a competitive cost advantages.”Lifshitz notes APP does source some pulp on the open market, typically based on product type, but for the most part APP has emerged as an internally driven global operation that has been outpacing the investments of its competitors. “When we look at investments in new machines, and I am not talking about a converting machine, rather a paper-making machine, it has been a number of years since we have seen any investment in the North American market,” says Lifshitz. “When we look at what APP has done alone in the last 10 years we have brought on three giant machines – we are talking about $12 billion of investment.” In China, APP brought on what is now the world’s largest board machine housed in a building resembling a large airplane hanger to accommodate what amounts to a circular machine measuring around one kilometre in length. “We see our potential on a global scale in terms of investment in technology… and I think that is huge for APP in terms of its future within the industry,” says Lifshitz.New market realitiesLifshitz explains the investment in three modern paper machines allows APP to evolve product offerings as its printing-industry customers are also evolving, which may include providing coated or uncoated sheets, copy paper, stationery or printable packaging materials.  “APP can look at the growth segments and expand our portfolio. That is a key to our success,” he says.  “We have an advantage in machine flexibility because we are able to produce jumbo rolls… we are able to adapt our machine technology with different levels of pulp, different levels of coating, whatever the customers demands on a full run.”Whereas legacy paper production operations are primarily focused on shipping rolls out for further cutting and converting, APP is able to do single roll production and adjust its machines based on customer demand and this affords significant production savings. Flexible, full paper production integration combined with sourcing its own pulp from plantations allows APP to turn savings into stable global paper pricing. This is a key advantage particularly over the past few years when printers have seen significant fluctuations in their paper pricing.APP’s installation of new paper machines over the past decade are also supported equally aggressive investments around becoming a more environmentally progressive operation. “APP Canada sources from Indonesia and China and, through plantation development and sustainable efforts, we have really been able to take a leadership position to provide what the marketplace wants,” says Lifshitz. “We see customers looking for sustainable paper making and environmental credentials and we are able to provide that now... Over the past five years, the commitment on sustainability has really changed our value proposition and we now really have become a definer in terms of zero deforestation.”The plantation model employed by APP, which allows it to avoid clearing forests, relies on a special fast-growing eucalyptus genus, with other farmed species including poplar and acacia. The APP concessions in China alone represent approximately half of the country’s total pulpwood plantations. “The challenge for us, because we are truly integrated, is that we have to work with our suppliers and our suppliers’ suppliers to ensure they maintain the same commitments that we do in our supply… to ensure that all of our materials that arrive at our mill are harvested sustainability and follow our policies of zero deforestation,” explains Lifshitz.Based on years of research and develops, APP’s eucalyptus trees can now be harvested and planted in five-year cycles. This model is driven by APP controlled nurseries, including its primary Hainan location that produces more than 100 million plantlets each year that are then transplanted into APP’s managed plantations – a process that is crucial to APP’s goal of zero deforestation.“We are an integrated company all of the way from pulp manufacturing to retail and that sets us apart from the rest of the competitors,” says Chin. “Because we are fully integrated, we can go all of the way into the pulp price so we can offer more stable available pricing, which gives us more options.”Chin explains these options afforded by APP’s full production integration directly relates to the growing number of paper varieties it now supplies to the Canadian printing market. This becomes a vital asset as a coast-to-coast operation, with facilities stretching from Quebec to Vancouver, employing around 75 people.     Chin explains this position is also supported by the fact that APP is solely focused on the paper needs of its customers, as many of its competitors have diversified into selling equipment and industrial supplies. “Selling our paper is what we have been very successful at over the last few years,” says Chin, “and I think for the next few years we will stick with that.”
The growth of digital technologies is now starting to make a major impact on the textiles sector, where new business models are opening up a world of possibilities.If you don’t believe that digital textile printing has gone mainstream in North American fashion circles, ask Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. On March 10, 2016, in Washington, D.C., she wore a dress made with Canadian-manufactured digitally printed fabric to no less august an occasion than the welcoming ceremony for the first official visit of her husband, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to the White House. To create the dress, Toronto-based designer Lucian Matis applied decorations made of silk that was digitally printed with a hand-painted pattern of pink and purple orchids onto a background of solid crimson crepe. Fashion media instantly erupted into raves about the dress, some commentators even going so far as to claim that its sensational colours stole the show away from the Prime Minister and the Trudeaus hosts, U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama.In fact, Michelle Obama had already climbed on the digital textile printing (DTP) bandwagon seven years ago in May 2009, when she made fashion headlines by wearing a piece by U.K.-based DTP-pioneering designers Basso & Brooke to an evening of poetry and music at the White House. (Actually, her stylist shortened Basso & Brooke’s design for a digitally printed, Swarovski-crystal-beaded dress into a top which the American First Lady wore over white cropped pants. Another Basso & Brooke garment is the first digitally printed piece in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York.)Equipped with these revelations about the wardrobes of celebrity political wives and a tip from a fashionista friend, I tracked down the printer who manufactured the sumptuous silk fabric used in Grégoire Trudeau’s Washington-arrival-ceremony dress: The Emerson Group Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario. Company President Michael Hawke confirmed that the distinctive material was one of their recent jobs and speaks at length in this report about the evolution of his DTP business over the past eight years. Global growth statisticsVia email I also contacted Ron Gilboa, a Director of Functional Printing and Packaging at InfoTrends (Weymouth, Massachusetts) a worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm for the digital imaging and document solutions industry. While I was writing this article, Gilboa was preparing to deliver an overview of the DTP market and trends at the FESPA Digital Textile Conference on  September 30, 2016, in Milan, Italy. FESPA (formerly the Federation of European Screen Printers Associations) is a global federation of 37 national associations for the screen printing, digital printing, and textile printing community. The Milan conference is one of a series of educational events on DTP that FESPA has organized since 2008. According to FESPA’s Website, Milan is the largest DTP market in Europe, and the nearby Como region a textile manufacturing and decorating hub that accounts for 55 percent of the European digital textile market and produced more than 180 million square metres of digitally printed textiles in 2015.In an online description of the Milan conference, FESPA CEO Neil Felton comments: “Today, digital accounts for only a small proportion of all textile printing, but this is forecast to grow substantially in the years ahead, with estimates suggesting that digital could account for 5 percent of textile printing by 2020, up from 2 percent today. Clearly that’s a significant diversification opportunity for printers already invested in digital output technology and supporting workflows.”Gilboa kindly furnished me with a statistical report he wrote with InfoTrends Research Analyst James Hanlon, entitled “Digital Textile Printing Market Overview,” that further explains and predicts the extent of the new global commercial opportunities cropping up in this up-and-coming segment of digital print. Their report expects DTP to reach an estimated global product value of over $30 billion by 2020, based on driving factors that include technology maturity, supply chain consideration, brand ability to develop new products, and a significant and positive environmental impact.Additionally, although Gilboa and Hanlon predict DTP’s future growth will be concentrated in the Asia Pacific and other areas of the world where the most cutting and sewing is conducted, they add that “one of the trends we are observing keenly is the formation of localized production that includes print, cut and sew that are digitally enabled and automated. These allow for in-country production and consumption and new revenue streams for customized high value products,” as Hawke’s case exemplifies.Emerson’s 8-year curveHawke’s business, The Emerson Group Inc. is a family-owned, integrated communications company whose current services, aside from DTP, include marketing and design. His father, John, first started the business as a prepress film company in 1986, and Hawke, now 52, jumped in soon after. His brother, Chris, joined them a year later and now runs production. Hawke’s wife, Kara, also joined them in 2000 and now works as Vice President of Sales. These days, even at age 75, John still keeps an occasional hand in the business.As it evolved and the rise of computerized prepress caused demand for prepress film to shrink, the Hawkes bought a small design company and converted it into an advertising agency. Then eight years ago, after they first saw digitally printed fabric being produced in Europe, they decided to get involved in soft signage production. Hawke says they reached this decision in part because returning to some form of manufacturing seemed a more comfortable fit than staying with prepress and design work alone.They started doing DTP with one large-format printer 3 metres wide and within the next three years added two more printers, both 1.8 metres wide. All three machines, manufactured under DuPont’s Artistri brand, are no longer available for sale. Hawke clarifies: “Although we do also own a dye-sub printer as a backup, we don’t do dye-sub” (short for dye-sublimation printing, a common process for decorating apparel, signs, and novelty items such as cell phone cases or coffee mugs. In dye-sub specialized processes apply sublimation dyes first to transfer sheets, then onto another polyester or polymer-coated substrate using heat.) Rather, all Emerson’s DTP work is printed directly to fabric.Right now Hawke’s business employs 25 staff, six of whom work in the front end with the rest divided between two production shifts on weekdays. Production staff also routinely work overtime and on weekends during peak periods, which nowadays Hawke says fall practically all year round, except for summers and at Christmastime, when orders tend to slow.Presently their DTP operation produces both large-format print on synthetic fabrics and textiles in natural fibres for fashion and interior décor. Their customers are located all over North America, many in the United States. Textile orders typically involve relatively small runs of 200 to 500 metres of printed cotton, linen, silk, viscose, or blends based on these fibres. Large-format orders include not only the usual signs, banners, trade show displays, and backdrops, but also frequent novelty items for theatrical performances, festivals, special events, weddings, and large parties. One especially challenging job Hawke recalls was a wall covering for the theatre of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina--a project requiring them to print and sew together three separate panels into a gargantuan 30-feet-high-by-435-feet-long scene simulating the grandstand at a NASCAR race. Another was a tent for a corporate banquet with paintings by Old Masters printed on the interior walls, and a 50-feet-wide-by-165-feet-long roof printed on the inside to look like a ballroom ceiling decorated with elaborate crown molding.“We are getting more and more orders for soft fabric walls and trade show displays,” says Hawke. “Although vinyl has traditionally been the main substrate for these products, fabric is so much easier to use in many ways:  it’s lighter, more resistant to creases, easier to move around, and easier to handle and store.” DTP detailsHawke recounts that they have previously tried to run four different types of textile dyes on their equipment: acid dye, pigment dye, disperse dye, and reactive dye. Now, however, they specialize in only the latter two: disperse dye, which they run on their large-format printer for synthetic fibres, and reactive dye, which they run on the other two printers for natural fibres. Reasons for limiting their production to this two-dye system include that washing the printers repeatedly to change over dyes is costly, plus the only fabrics they cannot print are nylon-based ones (because the dye won’t stay on the fabric.) Hawke specifies that the process of applying disperse dye to synthetics requires heat, while applying reactive dyes to natural fibres uses steam to avoid burning the fabrics. He adds that when using reactive dye, the type used to print the silk for Grégoire Trudeau’s dress, textiles turn out softest to the touch and their colours look the best.“We try to offer our clients a range of about 20 different synthetics and 30 different natural fabrics that will work for a variety of projects, including displays, upholstery, drapes, household linens, dresses, and accessories,” Hawke continues, adding that textile orders for pillows and scarves seem to be especially popular. Designers can also bring in their own fabric for printing, providing it does not contain nylon, for the reasons explained above. After printing, both synthetic and natural fabrics go through a washing system to remove excess dye, then a post-treatment to apply water and dirt repellent or fabric softener, then larger fabrics are laser-cut to size.Online and other advantages“We don’t do a lot of advertising,” says Hawke. “Instead, a lot of our business comes by word of mouth, Internet searches, and our blog on DesignYourFabric.com, an online business we’ve operated for about a year, where designers can upload their own designs to print whatever quantity they want of their own fabrics. We’ve had some hiccups along the way, but since we got the bugs out six months ago, we’re seeing the on-line business grow.”He explains that to obtain textiles via traditional screen- or rotary-screen printing methods from places like Europe, South America, China, or India, customers have to order at least eight weeks ahead and commit to a minimum order of 100,000 to 500,000 metres. “If they don’t use up all the fabric, they’re stuck having to sell off their inventory. But our on-line ordering system fits the way people shop now, there’s no minimum, we can usually fill orders in seven to ten days – and those time frames are shortening. In eight years, print heads have improved, so whereas we used to get 200 droplets out of one head, now we get 1500 droplets, and the newer heads can print four to five times faster than we used to.” Gilboa and Hanlon’s report provides further supporting details on how digital inkjet technology has dramatically improved in recent years to facilitate a multitude of applications, ink types, print quality improvements, and faster production speeds.Hawke comments: “It’s nice because DTP is starting to bring textile production back to North America. Printing small orders on demand is where the growth is going to be here, because customers can buy locally, they don’t have to buy minimums and don’t have long waits for their orders.” Significantly, Gilboa and Hanlon’s observations on new opportunities mirror Hawke’s Web strategy and bode well for his business model: “New software and technology developments allow for greater brand, producer and consumer interaction. Web based applications are being developed that enable an individual to create designs and patterns for textiles, manage orders, and track fulfillment more easily. All of these combine to facilitate a streamlined supply chain while reducing operation cost. Digital solutions help products reach the market faster, reduce overall inventory, and make purchase activated manufacturing possible. This is great benefit for both the consumer as well as the brand that are now able to develop new products at speeds not possible with traditional printing. Brands, with digital textile printing, can react faster to consumer needs, localize products faster, and produce in small batches and custom products. This all leads to the democratization of design, and helps support upcoming designers, as there is minimal inventory obsolescence risk associated with digital production. Areas of textiles where these benefits shine through include fast fashion, high fashion, sports apparel, home textiles, and outdoor furnishing. Major fashion brands such as Zara and H&M are deploying digital print to improve and reduce their supply chain complexity.”Hawke continues: “Another of the nice things about our DPT business is that our dyes are all water-based, you can recycle polyester, and natural fibres break down in landfill, so our process is pretty green.” Gilboa and Hanlon’s report also emphasizes that “digitally printed textiles have one other key advantage over current methods, and that is a drastic reduction in overall environmental impact. Digital systems are able to produce the same printed textiles with significant reductions in water consumption during the printing process, sometimes up to 90 percent when compared to rotary screen-printing. Reductions are also seen in energy consumption as well as CO2 emissions, where steaming, washing and drying occur.” New stepsThe business resources Hawke continues to rely on include the Canadian Textile Industries Association (CTIA) and ITMA, a global textile and garment machinery exhibition held every four years, next scheduled in 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. His advice to DTP novices: “Prepare for a big learning curve – for one thing because, compared to other substrates, fabric undergoes a lot of changes. It’s not stable. It shrinks, for example, and batches of fabric can vary from one to another, so it’s important to locate suppliers who give you a consistent product.”Hawke’s future plans for his own business: “We’ve reached the stage where we’re maxed out for both space and electricity. So we have a choice of either moving to another building or trying to get more space and more electrical power at our current address. Once we’ve secured more of both these resources, we’ll take another step forward by purchasing more equipment.” 
In August, Veritiv Corp. held a groundbreaking ceremony in Mississauga to celebrate the ongoing construction of a 450,000-square-foot facility that will become the company’s new Canadian headquarters. Mary Laschinger, Chairman and CEO of Veritiv based in Atlanta, attended the event along with the city’s Mayor, Bonnie Crombie. Located just off highway 401 at Hurontario, in the growing business area of Courtney Park, now home to some of Canada’s largest industrial facilities, the new Veritiv building is scheduled to be complete by around April 2017. It will amalgamate Veritiv’s three existing facilities in the Greater Toronto Area, bringing together some 350 employees. The project was led by Regional Vice President Jason Alderman, who became Veritiv’s leader in Canada when the company was formed in 2014 after a merger between xpedx and Unisource.Alderman has been with Veritiv for 11 years after leading the company’s facilities supply business, which accounts for 55 percent of revenue generation in Canada, for a couple of years. He previously held various sales and production management roles, primarily in Canada’s Western region. Alderman sat down with PrintAction at the groundbreaking ceremony to discuss the Fortune 500 company’s growing influence in Canadian printing.Why is this project described as an $70 million investment?JA: The first year we are looking at about $8 or $9 million in some CapX to get this building up and going, and obviously the rent side of it to start. And then over the 15-year term, that we have taken out for this facility, it is $70 to $80 million investment overall.What does this building say about Veritiv’s commitment to Canada?JA: We are committed to growth is really what it means. We have an opportunity here to expand on our existing business which is already $106 million as it stands today. And we will have growth in all three core segments of our business: Commercial print, packaging and facilities. If we weren’t committed to Canada, we would  not be making this investment today.How will the new building change Veritiv’s footprint in Canada?JA: About 1/3 of our sales will be sold and distributed out of this location once we move in. When we move in we will still have about 20 percent room for growth overall and it also helps us provide some new services that we are thinking of getting into for all three segments of the business. It really is an opportunity to expand the bundle that we already provide to our existing and new customers. What are some of these new services?JA: On the packaging side, we are going to have a little more room to showcase some of the packaging equipment that we previously did not have an opportunity to do. It also gives us an opportunity to bring in a little more inventory to support some of the investments, to support an expansion into the wide-format space, which is a growth media on the print side of the business. We are a little condensed right now in the facility we are at.Which core business will grow most?JA: This year we expect growth in all three segments. I know a lot of people are surprised by the fact that we are expecting growth in print. We believe that we continue to take share in the marketplace over the next four or five years to get ourselves up into the lead position in Canada from a share perspective.We were not a packaging company in Canada if you look back over the past 10 years. In the last two years, we have really accelerated the growth there and we really believe that is where our greatest opportunity for accelerated growth is. But that also relates back to the print business where there is becoming a blurred line between what was traditional commercial print and now those printers are looking to get into some form of packaging world. What will the facility in the GTA mean for the rest of country?JA: We are making some minor changes such as moving out of our existing Ottawa facility, which is a bit older, into a brand new one to improve operational efficiencies and workflow, which keeps costs under control.         We are going to continue to look at our real estate portfolio that we have today and see if we need to make changes. But most of those changes are around upgrading facilities. We are not looking to close any facilities or reduce the footprint we have. We are going to continue on with the footprint we have today. We need it to continue to be a national provider to the print, packaging and facilities supply markets in Canada.Is this your first major project since taking on Veritiv’s lead for Canada?JA: There will not be bigger real estate project than this in Canada in the foreseeable future. It has been very rewarding for all of us and me personally.
Metroland Media details the ins and outs of manufacturing community newspapers and distributing flyers in Ontario, using a range of tools to measure its market penetration. Probably Metroland Media, owned by Torstar Corporation, which also owns Canada’s largest daily print newspaper, the Toronto Star, is best known for publishing over 100 community newspapers. Geographically the circulations of these papers span the province of Ontario, from London in the west to Parry Sound in the north to Ottawa in the east, with predictably the densest concentration in the Greater Toronto Area. Most of Metroland’s newspapers are distributed weekly, some twice a week, and two – the Hamilton Spectator and Waterloo Region Record – are dailies. Annually, the company also distributes four billion advertising flyers – partly printed by themselves but mostly printed by others – door to door to households in its newspaper-circulation areas. This year, in partnership with BrandSpark International, Metroland completed a study of its community news readership, comprising over 13,000 online and telephone surveys of adults in Metroland’s circulation areas. The study shows that 90 percent of respondents use either Metroland’s printed community newspapers or flyers for local news or shopping information. Recently, I asked Michelle Digulla, Vice President, Marketing, Metroland Media, and Dean Zavarise, Executive VP and General Manager, Torstar Printing Group, who oversees Metroland’s printing activities, for details on how Metroland maintains this high degree of market penetration in Canada’s most populous province. Digulla and Zavarise also discuss the future of Metroland’s community newspaper and flyer businesses, and how these fit with corporate strategy.Metroland’s portfolioDigulla says, that besides their community newspapers and flyers, Metroland Media is one of the largest direct-mail distributors in Ontario, to the tune of four billion pieces a year that reach about 84 percent of Ontario households each week. In addition to the digital assets associated with its community newspapers, Metroland also operates other major online community news sites that Digulla says are one of its fastest growing businesses, currently experiencing double-digit growth. The company also publishes printed magazines and organizes experiential consumer marketing shows in such categories as bridal, food and wine, travel and most recently a video-gaming show called EGLX, by far its largest expo, that premiered in Toronto in April. Digulla explains: “Our biggest assets are WagJag.com, a group-purchase Website where Canadian consumers can buy discounted products and services, and Save.ca, the largest digital flyer and coupon company in Canada. We dabble in other interests, but the ones I’ve mentioned are the biggest buckets.”Hyperlocal mediaDigulla says one of the main reasons behind Metroland’s strength in community newspapers is the company’s longstanding connections to the communities it serves: “Hyperlocal content really matters to the members of a community. Two-thirds of our online traffic comes from search and social media, where we find many people sharing our local content because of its uniqueness. They can’t find it anywhere else. “Our staff who produce the community newspapers live in those communities, so we know the people intimately, what topics interest them, what causes a stir, and whom to call for the inside story. These relationships give us the right balance between the ability to act locally and be part of the community versus the large scale of a big company that enables us to do our job efficiently.”  Zavarise explains: “To maximize efficiencies across our entire platform, Torstar Printing Group operates as a network of printing plants and has downsized or consolidated plants as needed. In the last three years we have closed three plants.” In July 2016, this included Metroland’s Vaughan plant with printing of the Toronto Star outsourced to TC Transcontinental.Zavarise lists the six plants Torstar Printing Group currently operates across Ontario, all with mainly cold-set web newspaper-printing capabilities: Ranked by number of staff, the largest is the Hamilton Spectator plant (in Hamilton), where they print Metroland’s two dailies on three large double-width Goss presses and perform offline packaging work for the Toronto Star. Besides printing and distributing its own properties, Torstar also prints and/or distributes newspapers published by competitors; for example, just recently it signed a contract to print Postmedia’s London Free Press (published six days a week) in Hamilton starting in October.Torstar’s second-largest and most modern plant, located on Tempo Avenue in Toronto, is equipped with a KBA Colora press and two lines of community-style single-width presses. Largely the Tempo plant prints bigger community newspapers, and also Metro Toronto, the free daily owned by Metroland’s sister corporation Star Media Group, also a subsidiary of Torstar. Zavarise says the Tempo plant’s production consists of about 85 percent work for their own or affiliated companies and 15 percent general commercial work for third parties. “At Tempo we are just starting up a new, relatively small heat-set single web installation – our first foray into this type of equipment after many years. Its purpose is to print small to medium runs of flyers and other marketing materials, which we see as an opportunity to grow our already strong relationships with many flyer advertisers by offering them more services,” explains Zavarise. A third plant, Central Ontario Web in Barrie, with two community newspaper press lines, is used to print Metroland’s assets including its many newspapers circulated in northern communities like Barrie and Muskoka. At a fourth facility, Hamilton Web Printing in Stoney Creek, a single line community press prints newspapers and third-party commercial work. Thuroweb Printing, a small fifth facility in Durham, near Owen Sound, produces newspapers for southwestern Ontario communities such as Fergus, Mount Forest and Elmira.Zavarise says Torstar’s sixth facility, Performance Printing in Smith Falls, a suburb of Ottawa, is the company’s most commercial-style plant, providing both newspaper printing (including Metro Ottawa) and full-service printing capabilities for the Ottawa area. Its equipment includes two cold-set community press lines (one tower with UV), sheetfed presses, bindery, an inserting facility, and a digital lettershop operation for direct mail.Commercial third-party printingZavarise explains: “Our jobs for Metroland and Torstar are a captive business. Generally they are fairly routine and fall into the same slots each week. But our commercial printing is more opportunistic, and we’re always glad to take on more commercial work.” He adds that the schedule at each of Torstar’s six plants is overseen internally by each location’s operations manager, but when major changes are requested by publishers and third-party commercial customers, a central planning team figures out where they can best schedule the work to ensure efficiencies and that customer requirements can be consistently met.     Since the busiest production days tend to be Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays for community newspapers and Mondays and Fridays for flyers, he says commercial work is often scheduled in between these crunch times to maximize use of resources. “And if necessary, we also maintain relationships with other companies who can do our overflow printing.”Zavarise continues: “In the last three months, we started Metrolandprinting.com, a do-it-yourself Web storefront offering our advertisers and other clients and the general public the ability to order a large gamut of printed products from us directly online. This portal was the brainchild of Nathan Matheson [Director of Business Development and Administration for Metroland Media and Torstar Printing Group], who thought, that instead of just selling what our plants can do, we should facilitate all forms of printing for our customers. This strategy enables us to build on our existing relationships and make things easier for our clients by offering them one-stop shopping.” The Website’s current online offerings include business cards, stationery, postcards, brochures, door hangers, greeting cards, tear cards, tent cards, magnets, labels and large-format signs. Flyer fine points Zavarise explains: “Our distribution business is a very solid, reliable process, audited by the Flyer Distribution Standards Association. It is a sophisticated operation involving not a few guys in a back room, but hundreds of people working in massive facilities of 10,000 to 80,000 square feet with one to four inserting machines. Across our footprint, we operate 14 such large regional distribution centres, most with machine-inserting capabilities.” He says all their distribution facilities share a common software management system to track the week’s flyer placements and delivery destinations. This system records which zones each flyer needs to reach and downloads the information to the inserting machines at each facility. Each facility waits for the printing plants to deliver the week’s flyers before they can start building packages. Typically they start on Friday for a Thursday delivery and work around the clock and through the weekend, depending on the size of the packages to be assembled for individual homes. For one community newspaper, a typical package can contain 30 or 40 different flyers, says Zavarise. Once packaging is completed, contractors transport the bundles of flyers to carriers’ homes along with the printed newspaper for their community. Usually a Metroland newspaper and one or more packages of flyers are delivered separately to each carrier, who assembles them into a single package and delivers it door to door.“Occasionally we use Canada Post, but in many markets we still distribute flyers in packages via youth carriers, each delivering to as few as 50 or 60 households,” Zavarise continues. “That’s where the complexity lies. Advertisers can narrowly target where their flyer lands. We can help them determine which zones have the right demographics to match their target market.”Digulla comments: “No one else in Ontario is large enough to afford or warrant the type of work we do for major clients in targeting flyers to specific locations based on point-of-service customer data collected by the clients. Our team includes a specialist with a Masters degree in Geographical Information Systems who can calculate very narrowly targeted deliveries to as few as, say, 60 homes based on factors such as demographics, income, purchasing behaviour, lifestyle, or psychological profile.”  Zavarise says that advertisers often use this targeting service on simpler terms by choosing to distribute their flyer to one specific portion of a community rather than the community as a whole: “For example, although a big grocery store chain might want their flyer to reach every household, a small laundromat might only want their flyer to go to the 1,000 homes located closest to the laundromat. We have the capability of doing that.“And if 20 other types of businesses are doing the same thing,” adds Zavarise, “an individual carrier might end up with a unique set of flyers that is quite different from the package delivered by the carrier on the next block.”Future Geo-demographicsIn the next three to five years, Digulla expects to see much more interest and business activity from clients based on point-of-service data and geo-demographics. She also anticipates that Metroland will be doing more to expand and leverage its growing digital properties.Both Digulla and Zavarise say, that although in general the Canadian newspaper business is being severely challenged by the movement of advertising dollars from print to digital media, Metroland’s study indicates consumers’ receptiveness to printed community newspapers and printed flyers delivered door to door remains high. Consequently, they feel optimistic about Metroland’s ability to continue attracting advertisers to sustain these businesses into the future.Additionally, Zavarise predicts, that although at present, relatively speaking, they do not print a lot of variable data for their flyer advertisers, the demand for this service may grow in the future. For example, right now they print and circulate multiple versions of Niagara This Week in six different zones. Some content is common to all six, but other content is limited to certain zones. Similarly, Digulla says a grocer who has great take-up on particular products in a specific area may customize their flyer for that specific area and request a special drop. In the future, advertisers may start exploiting these types of possibilities more often. “It all depends on them,” says Zavarise. “We’ll stay open to whatever they need.”
Sun Chemical’s recently introduced SunBar (Aerobloc) oxygen barrier coatings are aimed at converters to provide durable and sustainable films that support lighter weight packaging. It creates a homogenous, pinhole-free, and flexible gas barrier layer that can be easily overprinted, explains Sun Chemical, with inks and laminated to a variety of secondary films. SunBar Aerobloc is compostable, chlorine- and metal-free alternative that can be applied with few changes to current equipment.Through its partnership with acpo ltd., Sun Chemical can also deliver SunBar (Aerobloc) pre-coated films to converters to have alternative barrier films with improved barrier protection without needing to make capital investments in a coating unit. SunBar(Aerobloc) coated films from acpo are well suited for clear high barrier flexible packaging structures and also for ultra-high barrier metalized film structures.
Effective May 15, 2017, Sun Chemical customers will see a price increase of up to eight percent on all inks and coatings containing acrylic. Depending on the amount of raw materials used, geographical region, and other factors, the price will increase on all water-based and UV/EB inks and coatings. Sun Chemical faults disruption in the production of materials like styrene and acrylic acid used in the making of inks and coatings for the increase. Other product lines may also be affected depending on the production of other raw materials like nitrocellulose, distillates, solvents and soya oils. Sun Chemical says sales representatives will be contacting each customer to explain which products will be affected by the price increase.
After making its debut at drupa 2016, Enfocus has released a new PDF approval technology for its Switch automation software. Based on PitStop, Enfocus’ other technology for the preflight, correction and editing of PDF files, the PDF Review Module allows users to review and approve or reject native PDF files. The tool has been pilot tested by 50 customers and 40 partners since Drupa, some using it in full production.“The project actually started as something completely different,” said Andrew Bailes-Collins, Senior Product Manager responsible for the PitStop product family, “We had a completely different product idea initially, but when we discussed our plans with customers to obtain their feedback, it became apparent that there was another need.Customers were looking for a very simple prepress-based PDF review and approval solution. One that could be used by a wide range of customers, from the average man-in-the-street, up to a prepress professional, without cumbersome job setup requirements or the need for training. That is how the PDF Review Module was born.”The goal of the solution, explains Enfocus, is to replace manual email soft proofing and to overcome the problems and inadequacies with that process. Bailes-Collins explained, “We found when talking to customers, even those who have sophisticated portal solutions within their workflows, that email proofs were still a part of their daily production process. They use their portals for customers with whom they do regular business with, but for ad hoc jobs, or customers who they do one or two jobs a year for, they instead send email proofs.”The PDF Review Module is provided as an app for Switch and as an external web server application. The app is installed in Switch and can be added to any Switch flow. The Web server can be installed either locally or externally in a customer’s DMZ, in a data centre or on a cloud server.The PDF Review Module sends an email to a single customer, which can be designed in HTML and branded, and which will include a link. When the link is clicked, the customer’s default browser opens and the high resolution PDF file is loaded. Crucial for the customer is that nothing else needs to be downloaded or installed, nor is a user name or password required. The interface is dynamic supporting different designs for tablet and desktop viewing.With PDF Review Module, users have the ability to look at the individual colour separations, check for ink coverage, add annotations, a densitometer tool is available, as is a wireframe view. Document information can be seen, and when an object in the PDF is selected, then they can see the attributes of that object just as they can in the PitStop Pro Inspector.The approval options for the PDF Review Module are also completely customizable. They are based on the Switch flow. The number of approval options and the approval terminology and language used can vary from Switch flow to Switch flow.The PDF Review Module requires the Switch Core Engine 13 update 1 and above. For maximum automation and efficiency it is recommended to include the Switch Metadata Module to the Switch configuration.The PDF Review module is currently available in 17 languages, including: Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish, Swedish and Russian, other languages will follow.The PDF Review Module includes 5 concurrent clients and costs $3,600 for the license plus mandatory first year maintenance of $720. Additional client packs are also available.
QuarkXPress 2017 is the newest release of Quark’s fully-integrated design and layout software for print and digital production. With this new software, users can now edit images in QuarkXPress with features such as non-destructive image editing, transparency blend modes, new shape tools, item format painters and enhancements to multicolour gradients. Users will also find new typography features such as text stroking and shading, column spanning and splitting and smart quotes. And when it’s time to output, users can take advantage of unlimited free iOS single apps creation, responsive HTML publications and adaptive layout conversion for digital and print.Quark has also implemented the following user-requested features into QuarkXPress 2017, including: Merge text boxes; Proportional leading; The most recent fonts; Line between columns; Enhanced word import; Non-breaking text attribute; Cursor key increments/decrements; UI enhancements on Mac and Windows; Enhancements to convert to native images. QuarkXPress 2017 supports the three most recent operating systems from both MacOS (10.10, 10.11 and 10.12) and Windows (7, 8.1 and 10).
The Graphic Systems Division of Fujifilm is teaming up with alfa CTP Systems Inc. for the production of environmentally progressive newspaper printing plates. Fujifilm will combine its Superia Ecomaxx-T, a no-process thermal plate with alfa CTP’s Accelero thermal Computer to Plate machines. The union eliminates the need for plate processors and with them, the cost of ownership, operation and maintenance. It also means no chemistry to handle or dispose. Hands-on demonstrations of an Accelero plate setter are being held at Fujifilm’s Chicago Technology Centre and sample plates will be made available to customers within the newspaper industry.
Agfa Graphics has released the next generation of its StoreFront, version 4.0, which now features what Agfa describes as responsive stores for optimal ease of use, a ‘save for quote’ functionality for pricing information, and new packaging algorithms for cost-effective shipping.The new StoreFront version is optimized to be viewed on smaller screens and large desktop monitors, as store pages automatically adapt to any device. “StoreFront’s responsive design minimizes scrolling and zooming, and maximizes the print buyer’s comfort,” said Andy Grant, Global Head of Software, Agfa Graphics. “Even in the B2B market that StoreFront focuses on we’re seeing a marked increase in the number of visitors accessing private stores using a phone or tablet.”Another addition to StoreFront 4.0 is the ‘save for quote’ functionality. It allows resellers and agencies to get instant pricing information for an entire product bundle, including shipping costs. “Let’s say a print buyer needs a quote for priority shipping a large quantity of posters for a concert, or several different products for a promotional campaign – StoreFront swiftly displays the total cost for the entire project,” said Grant. “White label shipping is a growing market in which such a feature allow printers to compete more efficiently.”In StoreFront 4.0, the shipping module is completely reworked with new packaging algorithms for the grouping of order items and for calculating the optimal number of boxes needed for shipping. Also a new packaging type has been introduced for posters, banners and similar types of signage. These products can now be combined on a single packaging roll.“StoreFront 4.0 is designed to be versatile and relies on industry standard file formats like PDF and JDF,” said Grant. “Because support for open standards and easy integration remain key for Agfa Graphics.”
Electronics For Imaging (EFI) has introduced two new digital front ends (DFEs), the embedded Fiery E-24B DFE and external Fiery E-44B DFE. The new DFEs are based on the latest Fiery FS200 Pro platform and were launched to drive Ricoh’s print engines, the Ricoh Pro C5200s and C5210s.The DFEs can process graphically complex files with EFI’s Fiery SmartRIP technology and streamline production with the Fiery Command WorkStation interface. Optional add-ons such as Fiery Impose and Fiery JobMaster or the premium edition of the Fiery Graphic Arts Package allow users to access visual preview and advanced make-ready capabilities or troubleshoot digital designs before printing, respectively.“With Fiery E-44B DFE, users also get the advantage of EFI’s innovative, proprietary Dynamic HD Text and Graphics feature for accurate, high-quality reproduction of ultra-thin lines and fine details in text,” Vice President of Fiery marketing at EFI John Henze says.Both DFEs are now available from Ricoh and authorized Ricoh resellers.
In March, Roland released the ErgoSoft Roland Edition 2 RIP software for its Texart dye-sublimation transfer printers. ErgoSoft has developed the RIP specifically for the Texart XT-640 and RT-640 to support high-fidelity digital textile printing of sports and fashion apparel, soft signs such as polyester banners and flags, curtains and other interior décor, as well as promotional goods and personalized gifts.ErgoSoft Roland Edition 2, according to Roland, includes more than 40 new features and enhancements. A new dithering method increases rasterization speed and improves dot placement accuracy resulting in what the company describes as 40 percent faster RIP times and smoother gradients. Roland explains a new PDF engine displays colour-accurate previews of PDF files. The RIP also includes up to eight simultaneous RIP Servers to reduce processing time when working with high-capacity data or multiple print jobs. A new Printer Pool feature allows the same file to be sent easily to multiple devices and a Hot Folder feature is aimed at batch printing of images with the same specific print settings.Image Add-Ons functions support new effects like barcodes, rulers and drill holes. Multiple effects can also be applied to a single set of data. Specific editing functions support file formats that are commonly used for textile printing. The Step & Repeat feature is for repeating textile patterns from a single image is now available for PDF and EPS file formats. The Color Replacement feature for creating multiple colour variations is also now available for TIFF and PSD file formats. Variable Data Printing for producing personalized goods and apparel is now included as standard.Roland  has also launched Roland PrintStudio by Caldera, its new RIP and print management software for the latest MacOS.According to Valery de March, OEM business director at Caldera, Roland users will be able to “take advantage of extensive colour management features, create an unlimited number of presets and use automated functionalities and hot folders, as well as advanced tiling and nesting tools.”Features:-    ICC profiles creation,-    Adobe PDF Print Engine,-    Template-driven tiling options,-    Optimized contour nesting,-    Roland Color & Metallic System Libraries with hundreds of spot colours,-    Supports low-cost colour spectrophotometers,-    Supports RAL, HKS and Pantone® colour swatches,-    Access to the online Roland Profile Center and its library of media profiles,-    A blur and bleed function that removes the risk of white lines at cutting edges,-    Application guide tool that automatically assigns a number to each tile while generating a summary PDF.Roland PrintStudio by Caldera can be ordered through authorized Roland dealers.
In March, SmartSoft, introduced new enhancements to its PressWise software which provides web-to-print, MIS and workflow tools. This includes what the company describes as a major update to Purchase Order to better accommodate outsourcing. Users can now purchase non-inventory items, including services and finishing tasks. Outsourced Products POs can be automatically created upon order injection, PO line items associated to specific jobs, and POs emailed directly from within PressWise. Imposition enhancements include new support for Work & Tumble as a work mode on quotes. The system now includes full support for Grippers throughout the system for each press device, from quoting and ordering to batching and auto-impositioning. PressWise has automated the process to apply for, receive, and install/utilize SSL certificates for custom domains, allowing admins to obtain an SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt. This optional feature is free of charge.Inventory/stock purchases can now have minimum stock order amounts by substrate with the additional option of specifying a quantity per carton. Single Sign On (SSO) options are now available. User Interface Enhancements offer in-line editing in many areas with enhanced grids to make viewing, searching, and filtering information easier than ever before. Recently added reports include a Customer Aging Report, Customer Statements, Customer Activity, and more.
SA International (SAi), which develops software for wide-format printing and CAD/CAM for CNC machining, at the ISA Sign Expo (April 19-22 in Las Vegas) will launch its new MyFlexi mobile app. It will be released in conjunction with its SAi FlexiSIGN version 11 and FlexiPRINT version 12 software.The MyFlexi app is available for IOS iPhones and iPads and Android mobile phones and tablets. SAi explains it provides tools to improve throughput and minimize overall job production time – from set-up to completion. It includes remote access to the Web-based FlexiQuote tool to remotely create customer quotes. The Web version of FlexiQuote comes pre-loaded with a database of standard media and costs to configure pricing, while factoring in materials, labour, commissions, discounts and taxes. SAi explains the FlexiQuote wizard can give a customer quote within 30 seconds.MyFlexi also features the MyFlexi QR and Barcode Tester to test the QR codes generated in Flexi’s QR Code Creator. MyFlexi builds on the company’s first app, SAi Cloud.
Agfa released Asanti 3.0, described as an automated production hub and workflow tool for sign and display printers, pointing to version 3.0’s new graphical user interfaces, added automation and more integration possibilities with equipment and Management Information Systems, as well as software like PrintSphere and StoreFront.Asanti 3.0 now includes IntelliTune, which, according Agfa, automatically analyzes and improves image quality. The company explains this can include optimizing skin tones or by eliminating noise, staircasing and blurriness. Other new Asanti 3.0 features include QuickProof proofing support; an improved digital alternative for see-through graphics on clear material; and improved automation through updated parameter presets and smart image repetition.Version 3.0 of Asanti graphical user interface (GUI) includes improved job layout and positioning visualization, as well as a new interface for tiling large jobs. Asanti’s production dashboard displays information like print jobs, the number of prints, status data of multiple engines, ink levels, elapsed time. “It is all HTML5-based and works perfectly for those in close contact with clients and financial connections,” said Erik Peeters, Marketing Manager Workflow Solutions, Agfa Graphics. New to Asanti Color Management is a mode that allows printers to use a wizard for managing colours and shortening throughput time. The software also features new white printing options, as well as an ability to overrule spot colours with alternatives colour mapping to reproduce them.
In April 2017, Enfocus plans to launch PitStop version 2017 to help mark the 20th anniversary since the PDF-preflight software was first released. Signaling the company’s initial move to an annual PitStop release cycle, version 2017 includes what Enfocus labels as PDF Geomapper technology, which provides new ways for objects to be selected or ignored. PDF Geomapper, for example, can be used for configuring preflight checks to check only the objects needed to render or print a PDF file. Any additional hidden or unneeded elements can be ignored or removed, which Enfocus describes as a way to reduce the complexity of files and false error messages.Initial implementations of PDF Geomapper, specifically to help reduce the amount of false error messages, were first highlighted at the Drupa 2016 in June. Described as a first in Preflight by Enfocus, these checks could be restricted to within an irregular shape such as a cutline or structural design information. Expanding the PDF Geomapper technology, Enfocus now allows decisions to be made based not just on a single object, but also by taking into account other objects, underlying or overlapping the original.“The new PDF Geomapper technology opens up an exciting new world of possibilities for preflight checking and correction,” stated Andrew Bailes-Collins, Senior Product Manager at Enfocus. “For example, a text segment can be preflighted based on its legibility, by checking the colour of any objects underneath it.”The newest versions of PitStop Pro and PitStop Server include the addition of 40 Devicelink profiles based on standard ICC profiles, to help users with CMYK-CMYK colour conversions. These profiles have been made available with the support of Enfocus’ sister company X-Rite, leveraging its position as a Danaher company.Enfocus explains the PitStop ICC profiles are  particularly useful for customers in packaging, labels and large format, in that the check for Ink Coverage has been improved to work with selected inks and ignore named separations such as ‘white’ or ‘varnish’. This results in a more accurate check, explains the company, as only the actual printing inks will be used.PitStop Pro also includes a new Inspector interface for analyzing and editing page and transparency groups directly within the PDF file. There are also new Action Lists for customer requested functionality, such as automatically generating round cornered rectangles (for dielines) and new ways of modifying page sizes and objects within a PDF file.A new PDF Report function is available for validating the presence and configuration of layers within a PDF file, and new checks and fixes are available within the Preflight Profile Editor.The Adobe transparency flattener within PitStop Server has been updated to the latest version, and Mac OSX Sierra and Windows 10 anniversary update are now supported.
In May, swissQprint introduced two updated large format printer models with new curing options in the Impala LED and Nyala LED. The company explains there are also a range of mechanical improvements in Impala LED and Nyala LED. Two examples: the beam architecture has been reworked for even better stability, and swissQprint has ensured that the flatbed is indeed perfectly flat over its entire surface – 3.2 × 2 metres with Nyala LED and 2.5 × 2 metres with Impala LED. The Nyala LED achieves a maximum of 206 square metres per hour, Impala LED 180 square metres. Impala LED and Nyala LED are flatbed printers, expandable with options as required. There is a roll to roll option. swissQprint launched what the company calls a 4×4 version of its existing Impala and Nyala series in early 2017. Impala LED and Nyala LED are optionally available in this version as well, meaning that they come configured with quadruple CMYK at high printing speed.
Tilia Labs Inc., of Ottawa, Ontario, creator of tilia Phoenix for planning and imposition automation, has released its new automatic layout solution for wide format printers, called tilia Griffin. The software was first announced just prior to drupa in May 2016.tilia Griffin is a prepress solution to automate the layout creation process for wide format printing. It features what the company describes as a modern, ultra-responsive interface and intuitive design. Griffin leverages the Phoenix nesting engine to create true-shape tightly nested layouts, explains Tilia, helping drive down substrate costs, reduce errors, and increase throughput. The workflow in Griffin is simple, explains Tilia, and can be mastered with minimal training. To start out, artwork files are input into the system with various production information such as quantity, shape and size. Users can then select from a library a substrate board or roll size and automatically generate nesting. Once nesting has completed, marks such as registration, barcodes, and grommets are automatically added. Finally, output can be generated for printing and cutting using presets for different devices. “The release of tilia Griffin today marks a big milestone for our company. It is our second product to roll out into the market, and it also shows our dedication to the wide format segment, which we feel has a lot of room to grow and we have a lot of value to offer,” said Sagen de Jonge, CEO of Tilia Labs. “Initial testing with beta customers has been very positive so we’re excited to now begin offering to the general public and confident customers will enjoy fast return on investment with the time savings and advantages it has to offer.”
In May, Epson introduced its new SurePress L-6034VW, a UV-based label press for short- to mid-run jobs. The SurePress L-6034VW is Epson’s first single-pass industrial press, the first to use Epson’s PrecisionCore linehead technology, and the first to use Epson’s low migration LED UV curing ink. The company explains the L-6034VW is suitable across a range of industries, including health and beauty, nutraceuticals, and food and beverage, as well as standard consumer packaged goods. The SurePress L-4033AW is designed for prime label converters and commercial printers. It is a seven-colour inkjet digital label press with white ink that for working with clear and metallic substrates.
Sun Chemical entered a collaboration agreement with HP Indigo to develop coatings to help drive digital printing in the packaging industry. “Printers and converters have already invested in digital presses and need specialist coatings and varnishes that would enable packaging applications to be printed digitally according to market requirements and standards,” said Felipe Mellado, CMO, Sun Chemical. The digital coatings will include overprint varnishes and adhesives.Sun Chemical, a member of the DIC group, has annual sales of more than $7.5 billion and over 20,000 employees.
DuPont Advanced Printing has announced the addition of the DuPont Cyrel EASY EPC to its plate portfolio. The Cyrel EASY EPC, a soft digital plate is equipped with a built-in flat top dot for post-print corrugated printers. It also comes with medium durometer plates designed with flat-top dots which fit into the FAST and solvent workflow. Cyrel EASY EPC plates minimize fluting when printing on a variety of corrugated boards. Other features include simplified workflow, consistent ink transfer and printing, high exposure resolution, quality reproduction, and efficient make-ready times.DuPont highlighted the new Cyrel EASY EPC at INFO*FLEX 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.
At Fespa 2017, which began yesterday, HP Inc. introduced the new HP Latex 3600 and 3200 printers, flexible signage printing option for the HP Scitex 17000 press, and HP PrintOS for Latex and Scitex HDR presses.Introduced in 2009, water-based HP Latex technology now has more than 40,000 Latex printers installed worldwide. HP also introduced the HP Latex 300 Series Print and Cut solutions at ISA Sign Expo 2017 in April. The 3.2 meter HP Latex 3600 and HP Latex 3200 printers support higher volume printing and an improved monthly duty cycle. The HP Latex 3200 is geared toweard PSPs that want to produce a range of applications with high productivity, in high quality for retail/outdoor advertising, events/exhibitions, vehicle graphics, and interior décor. The HP Latex 3600 is designed for even larger PSPs needing long-run, uninterrupted printing. It can handle production peaks of up to 35,000 square meters per month and is well suited for dedicated application production, such as banners, backlits, wallcoverings, and retail or event signage. The new HP Latex 3600 and HP Latex 3200 printers offer a special tiling mode, with an improved colour consistency; reduced media waste, saving up to one linear meter per roll, using the HP Latex Media Saver; and lower labour costs, a single operator can manage up to four printers simultaneously.The new 54-inch HP Latex 315 Print and Cut and 64-inch HP Latex 335 Print and Cut are dual-device solutions for simultaneous printing and cutting in a single workflow.HP also announced commercial availability of HP Durable Backlit Fabric that can resist damage during post-processing or light box installation. HP Durable Backlit Fabric will be available in October in a variety of widths up to 2.95 m (116 inches). Widths of up to 3.2 m (126 in) are expected to be available by the end of 2017.Paper-based signage production for indoor and outdoor applications using flexible substrates is now supported with the Flexible Media Loader for the HP Scitex 17000 Corrugated Press.
Mutoh America, Inc. has announced its new 75-inch, four-head, dye-sublimation printer, the ValueJet 1948WX with print speeds up to 2,199 square feet per hour and dual heaters for fast dry times. The VJ1948WX also comes with adjustable pressure rollers, 4- or 8-colour ink capabilities, and automatic sheet off. It is equipped with Intelligent Interweave printing technique, DropMaster ink technology and ValueJet Status Monitor for smart printing.
At FTA INFOFLEX 2017, running until May 3 in Phoenix, Arizona, DuPont showcased its new Cyrel EASY EPC product, a soft digital plate with a built-in flat top dot developed especially for post-print corrugated printers. The company also highlighted medium durometer plates designed with flat-top dots that fit into its FAST and solvent workflow. DuPont explains the Cyrel EASY EPC delivers high-quality image reproduction while minimizing the fluting effect when printing on a variety of corrugated boards. “The expansion of our EASY plate portfolio confirms our commitment to customers, particularly in addressing their need for increased productivity and less make-ready time,” said Sam Ponzo, Regional Director, Americas, DuPont Advanced Printing.DuPont Cyrel EASY plates are designed to simplify the prepress process with built-in flat top digital dots, resulting in increased productivity and consistency.
Danish press manufacturer Nilpeter has expanded PANORAMA, its digital product line. The advancements include a re-design of PANORAMA’s converting and flexo printing units and an update of the press software. The digital hybrid configurations meet a number of requirements, including standalone, all-round and value-added PANORAMA hybrids. The new digital hybrid configuration features digital inkjet, flexo units, an FP-4 unit for hot foil and embossing, a semi-rotative die unit and a smart matrix unit. The enhancements to the product line will be on display at LabelExpo Europe 2017 in Brussels from September 25 to 28.
IQDEMY Holding, which operates in the inkjet arena, is showcasing its recently introduced Maglev 1228 UV-LED printer at Fespa 2017 (May 8 to 12, 2017) in Hamburg. Maglev 1228 features a print table of 1.2 x 2.8 metres and can accommodate heavy materials up to 400 kg, including stone, marble and glass.Its honeycomb table is divided into six vacuum zones operated independently to help reduce power consumption when only some parts of the table are used. The UV-LED printer is equipped with levitation technology, which enables printing without noise, according to IQDEMY. The printing system uses eight different dot sizes achievable via a combination of Variable Dot technology and Technology of Invisible Dots. Able to print with eight colours (CMYK+W+LM+LC+V) the Maglev also has a white ink recirculation system and 10 tanks for ink supply featuring ink level sensors. Its LEDs, according to the company, can operate for up to 10,000 hours without having to be replaced. The printer comes with a warranty for up to five years. Another feature of the Maglev 1228 is its ability to produce layered printing. This is sometimes also referred to as 3D-print in the large-format sector, as different amounts of ink layers enable a haptic feeling, thus images and prints, for example wood reproduction.“Maglev 1228 is our best solution in the context value for money,” said Vladislav Mirchev, CEO of IQDEMY. “Maglev 1228 has been designed especially for medium scale production. Advertising, including signboards, backlit projects, exhibition booths and POS, among others, are its primary application. In addition, the UV-LED printer enables printing on glass, furniture, stone, wood, marble as well as metals.”
Mimaki has commercially released its TX500P-3200DS machine, described by the company as a complete digital fabric printing system. The 3.2-metre-wide direct-to-textile printer features an in-line colour fixation unit for soft signage, exhibit graphics, and décor applications. The TX500P-3200DS printer will be on display at the upcoming International Sign Expo, April 20-22, in Las Vegas.Direct to fabric dye sublimation printing requires fixation of inks through a dry heat process, a step that is traditionally performed separately. The TX500P-3200DS printer, explains Mimaki, utilizes an inline colour fixation unit to optimize the printing and finishing process by enabling simultaneous printing and colour fixation, thereby reducing two steps to one in a single device. Additionally, the TX500P-3200DS printer provides efficient finishing by linking the printer and the heater units. This enables synchronization, explains Mimaki, so that the printer is initiated when the heater reaches the optimum fixation temperature. Mimaki states this feature helps to control cost by reducing production time, labour, and transfer-related waste.The TX500P-3200DS printer includes new print heads that enable printing directly onto various types of textiles. The high gap setting, explains Mimaki, gives users the ability to print on thin and thick textiles, plus woven patterns or raised fiber surfaces.The 12 print heads are arranged in a staggered array and provide a range of printing modes from high-speed draft (1,399 square feet per hour) to high quality (538 square feet per hour).An Auto Media Feeder (AMF) and a pulling roller provide consistent feeding of fabric by automatically applying the appropriate tension to the fabric during conveyance.The system also includes waveform control, whereby each ink colour has its own specific gravity and viscosity. To achieve placement of the ink droplets onto the media, Mimaki designed a waveform control that enables the printhead to jet each ink colour at the appropriate jetting angle while maintaining ink droplet circularity. The system provides variable ink droplet sizes – small, medium and large – and Mimaki Advanced Pass System 4 (MAPS4). This technology incorporates an advanced algorithm that reduces banding, uneven ink drying and bi-directional.
Agfa Graphics is introducing the new Avinci DX3200 dye sublimation printer for soft signage printing at ISA International Sign Expo 2017 (Las Vegas, April 20 to 22). The company explains this dedicated signage engine is designed to provide high print quality on polyester-based fabrics.The Avinci DX3200 engine allows users to create soft signage prints of up to 3.2 metres wide, at a resolution of up to 1,440 x 540 dpi. “The engine features six colours (CMYKLcLm) at a droplet size of 14 picoliter,” said Reinhilde Alaert, Product Manager at Agfa Graphics. “This guarantees a vibrant colour gamut, outstanding tonal rendering and fine detail reproduction.”The Avinci DX3200 offers different quality modes, with a speed of up to 173m2/h depending on the application. “Avinci can handle a wide variety of polyester-based applications, such as banners, point-of-sale displays, indoor wall graphics, outdoor advertising, trade show displays and flags,” said Alaert. “On top of that, the Avinci DX3200 has smart algorithms on board that enable very low ink consumption – another important benefit for our customers.”Avinci DX3200 comes with Agfa Graphics’ Asanti software designed to automate all preparation, production and finishing steps of signage products. The core includes automation, colour management, job pre-flighting, and templates. Asanti also includes features for soft signage printers like Integration with Storefront (Agfa’s tools for the automated management of Web-to-print and Web shops) automated positioning of grommets on banners, and the design of canvas extensions (like air pockets) for flags.Asanti also recently introduced integrated tiling so that oversized banners or billboards that extend beyond the maximum printing width can be produced on Avinci DX3200. Asanti creates mounting instructions and adds the necessary marks to the tiled prints to help the operator mount them.With a textile-dedicated media transport system and is also compatible with most off-line calendering solutions on the market, explains Agfa, which fix the colours deeply into the structure of polyester-based fabrics.
Immediately after the Interpack trade fair in Düsseldorf, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG is inviting its customers to a packaging event on May 10, 2017, at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site under the motto “Smart Print Shop – Zero Defect Packaging.” The event will showcase Heidelberg’s expanding postpress portfolio, including the new Promatrix 106 FC die cutter with hot-foil embossing, the new Promatrix 106 CSB die cutter with inline blanking, as well as the new Diana Easy 115 folder.The new Promatrix 106 CSB die cutter with inline blanking is a new addition to the Promatrix series. The die cutter, explains Heidelberg, eliminates the need for costly and wasteful hand-stripping of carton blanks.The new Promatrix 106 FC features automatic foil control and 20 individually controlled heating zones and the ability to foil in the transverse direction.The new Diana Easy 115 folder gluer, featuring four- and six-corner box capacity includes functions from the top-of-the-range Diana X as well as a throughput of up to 350 metres per minute. The new systems are the result of the partnership agreement signed by Heidelberg and MK Masterwork to work together to develop and distribute postpress machines for packaging customers. Heidelberg explains it has achieved its best sales ever in die cutters over the last 12 months.MK Masterwork is described as the largest manufacturer of die cutters and hot foil machines in the Asian region. MK Masterwork is a key player in the Chinese market and the leading supplier to the demanding tobacco industry.
Duplo USA Corporation has announced the launch of its DDC-810 Digital Spot UV Coater. The DDC-810 utilizes inkjet technology and gives images depth and raised textures with a gloss varnish. It features a CCD camera recognition system ensuring image-to-image registration and PC Controller software. The DDC-810 is designed for short-run applications. It can process up to 21 sheets per minute (A3) and paper weights from 157 to 450 gsm (coated paper). Anthony Gandara, project manager at Duplo USA, says the DDC-810 is for printers who want to “add elevated spot UV embellishment to their products."
Zünd has introduced what it describes as robust routing option, called the RM-L router, for working with heavy-duty materials like acrylics, plexiglass, aluminums, polycarbonates, Dibond, Forex, and MDF. The spindle delivers 3.6 kW of processing power and is well suited for print service providers running diverse work that is typically processed via different tools.In response to this ever-growing application range, Zünd’s new RM-L system is capable of routing, engraving and polishing a range of materials with what the company describes as a powerful spindle with pneumatic collet.  With a maximum torque of 0.7 Nm, in addition to 3.6 kW of power, the tool allows for dense, hard materials to be processed at greater speeds and cutting depths. It essenetially reduces the number of passes required to increase throughput. The RM-L spindle is water-cooled for run longevity and uses what Zünd describes as a high-performance dust extraction system to keep the working area clean. The new router module is equipped with MQL, a minimal quantity lubrication system that keeps the bit lubricated to minimize friction. As a result, Zünd explains very little heat is generated during routing, which can affect bit life. This lubrication system also allows for greater acceleration and processing speeds.The technology relies on a surface compensation system to determine the thickness of materials and detect inconsistencies. During processing, the system compensates for any variances by making the necessary depth adjustments. Particularly for engraving applications, Zünd explains this prevents quality issues arising from differences in material thickness by maintaining constant routing depths.The system uses a ER-16 collet for concentricity and to maintain reliable retention. To accommodate different shaft diameters, HSK-E25 collet holders are used, which allows for the use of a wider range of bits with one and the same router module. The ARC HSK automatic tool changer of the system takes care of handling and changing router bits. The magazine can accommodate up to eight different preloaded collet holders.
Masterwork USA, a finishing manufacturer of folding carton and packaging equipment headquartered in Tianjin, China, introduced its newest Duopress model: the MK21060STEs foil stamping and die-cutting machine. The company explains its engineers have designed the new model to incorporate better stability, additional technology and a faster maximum speed of 6,000 sheets per hour.“We’re pleased to unveil the Duopress MK21060STEs for the post-press market,” said Wayne Zheng, Marketing Manager for Masterwork USA. “Our expert research and development team have designed a new and exceptionally better computerized foil controlling system, which can handle complex foil advance calculations to help reduce foil usage of up to 60 percent. “They’ve increased the speed on the Duopress to 6,000 sheets per hour,” continued Zheng, “which is really 12,000 sheets per hour because it is producing three processes in one pass through the press: foil stamping, die-cutting, and stripping... Masterwork is the only company to offer this type of machine.”The Masterwork Duopress machines are designed with both foil stamping and die cutting functions in one pass, explains the company, to provide increased accuracy and efficiency. One pass offers register between die-cutting and foil stamping. If an operator has to feed the paper through two machines, explains Masterwork, the positioning of the paper may be slightly different and the die-cut and foil stamping might not be as accurate. The machine can also be optioned to stamp two separate foil applications in one pass in its two platens. The foil stamping system on the MK21060STEs is equipped with three longitudinal foil advance pulls and two transversal foil advance pulls.The Masterwork Duopress MK21060STEs is designed with a non-stop feeder. A pile change can be achieved while the machine is in operation with the help of non-stop swords. Adjustments on the feeder can be made with micro adjustments.Masterwork explains the Duopress MK21060STEs has enhanced tension control during foil feeding and its error tolerance of 1 mm during foil unwinds. A PID heating system controls its 20 independent heating zones. The operator workload is reduced due to a pneumatic plate locking device.The machine's stripping station features stripping frames, a stripping concave template, and stripping boards. The transmission mechanism and cam movement curve are designed for stripping stability and accuracy. The centre-line registration system used for the stripping board provides accurate positioning and easy adjustment.The non-stop delivery system is equipped with a delivery curtain. The delivery system has a double-sided pneumatic operating system, making it quicker and easier to control. An additional benefit in the delivery is the pneumatic sampling device, explains the company, which allows the operator to check the product as the machine is in production. The machine operator is provided with two fullly functioning top screens to control production. The screens display every machine function, including working speed, yield, fault diagnosis, and pressure. "The past 20 years has seen rapid product development,” said Zheng. “Masterwork has introduced six major lines including 70 different specification products, covering hot foil stamping, die-cutting, inspection, folding-gluing, digital inkjet, and gravure printing presses.”
In front of more than 80 international customers in its Mex, Switzerland, facility, Bobst unveiled what the company describes as the highest productivity metallizer in the world.The Bobst K5 Expert, successor to its K5000 metallizer, can run at speeds up to 1,200 metres per minutes and is available in widths from 2,450 to 3,650 mm and can house increased roll diameters of up to 1,270 mm to meet new industry trends. The vacuum metallization system, aimed at the packaging industry, houses what Bobst describes as the largest coating drum in the industry at 700 mm, which improves collection efficiency by 16 percent. This means less aluminium consumption and increased boat life.The K5 EXPERT features a totally redesigned evaporation source providing the widest coating window in the market, which Bobst states to be up to 50 percent wider than some competitor. This larger window translates in better coating uniformity and collection efficiency, minimizing aluminium wire waste.   A more intuitive HMI screen and software interface make the machine easy to operate. Its new design allows the operator to run everything from the front of the machine and to be positioned much closer to view the evaporation source and metallization process through the strobe window. Another new feature, which the company describes as unique in the industry, is the Automatic Sequential Control (ASC) system, which speeds up start-up of the machine with minimum operator involvement required, making the K5 EXPERT easy to operate. In addition to the Bobst Winding Mechanism, based on true tension control, the new model incorporates low friction Ferrofluidic seals for better tension control on the rewind – producing a virtually wrinkle-free roll-to-roll vacuum metallization process.The K5 Expert also has a variety of energy saving and waste reduction features including ECO mode which reduces energy consumption by up to 50 percent during stand-by and Film Save mode which has a synchronized faster shutter action (opening in just five seconds) and aluminium wire ramp up to minimize the amount of un-metallized film (waste) to less than 400 metres per roll, explains Bobst.As an option, the High Deposition (HD) source has an improved design for higher speed of operation for those metallization jobs that require a high deposition rate of up to 4.0 OD.
Sydney Stone, which specializes in distributing and servicing short-run finishing systems, is introducing two new Morgana products into the Canadian marketplace. As Morgana’s distribution partner for the country, Sydney Stone is launching Morgana’s next generation DigiFold Pro 385 and AutoCreaser Pro 385 systems.One of the key changes from previous DigiFold models, explains Sydney Stone, is the introduction of a high-capacity vacuum top-feeder that can take a sheet pile of over 17.7 inches. The company continues to explain after the size and thickness of stock are entered, all other feeder functions including air and vacuum settings, side guide positions, and fold roller gaps are automatically adjusted for easy setup of jobs. Stock of up to 0.4mm can be creased and folded with virtually no cracking of the sheets or the toner on them. Another new feature is the dual creasing blades, the Morgana DynaCrease, for creasing and folding applications at over 6,000 sheets per hour, and one for “creasing only mode,” allowing for a range of applications to be produced on one machine. The AutoCreaser, according to Hillhouse, is still Morgana’s best-selling machine and he expects further adoption with the new Pro 385 aimed at higher volume applications as a heavier duty machine. “Some of our customers had been using the previous generation machines for longer runs of offset or digital work, this new model will enable them to load the pile feeder and let the machine run,” said Michael Steele, Managing Director of Sydney Stone. “The high level of automation here is going to greatly benefit business owners with a goal of maximizing efficiency while producing output of unparalleled quality.”
Hemlock Printers Ltd. has installed VeraCore technology to manage its fulfillment operations, which is becoming an increasingly important revenue stream for company, which offers a range of services like offset and digital printing, online solutions, prepress, digital photography, bindery, mailing and warehousing. From its warehouse in Burnaby, British Columbia, Hemlock manages a range of fulfillment programs for clients built around both print and non-print collateral materials. Hemlock also manages magazine subscription fulfillment programs for several of its publishing clients. As such, the printing company focused on installing a fulfillment system for managing warehouse operations and inventory accuracy.The VeraCore Warehouse Management System includes both barcode technology and rules-based processing for increasing fulfillment throughput. “Fulfillment is definitely a growth area for us, so investing in this technology made sense,” said Richard Kouwenhoven, President, Hemlock. “VeraCore provides our team with the tools to run a highly efficient warehouse operation which meets the expanding needs of our customers.”The VeraCore Fulfillment Solution has been integrated with several of the systems in use at Hemlock, including ecommerce, Web-to-print and shipping. VeraCore explains its API will also enable Hemlock’s development team to build its own integrations as needed.
MGI Digital Technology has debuted what the company describes as a major new addition to its JETvarnish 3D digital enhancement product portfolio. The JETvarnish 3D Evolution is also described by the company as the world’s first B1 scalable sheetfed Digital Enhancement Press.JETvarnish 3D Evolution features a modular architecture, digital foiling and an upgradeable inkjet expansion system with three available substrate size options: 52 x 120 cm (20 x 47 inches) 64 x 120 cm (25 x 47 inches) and 75 x 120 cm (29 x 47 inches).The B1+ size format option (75 x 120 cm, 29 x 47 inches), explains MGI, is designed to give printers and converters the ability to run fully personalized short, medium and long runs in a “die-less” manner for packaging applications. Every piece finished on all of MGI’s JETvarnish 3D systems can include a blend of digitally embellished images, text, data and brand designs using spot varnish, 3D raised varnish and digitally embossed foil in one pass.The JETvarnish 3D Evolution is a high-production technology that incorporates pallet stacking, automated inkjet head cleaning, a new automatic feeding system, as well as a new sheet registration system, all of which will be unveiled and launched at drupa 2016.
Scodix plans to demonstration nine different print enhancement applications at the 2016 Dscoop Conference of HP technology users, running from April 14 to 16 in San Antonio, Texas. This will include the global introduction of two new techniques called Scodix Crystals and Scodix Cast&Cure, as well as the option of producing Foil on Foil, through the Scodix Ultra Pro system.Scodix Crystals – with colourful and reflective sparkle – is designed to replace the manual placement of chaton, costume jewelry, or crystals on products such as greeting cards and brochures. Scodix explains it creates a true 3D dimensional effect by applying a multi-layer, receding pyramid-like build-up of polymer to printed projects. Scodix Cast&Cure, applied through the Scodix Foil Station, is designed to create a 3D holographic effect on print projects. Employing a variety of standard off-the-shelf holographic patterns, as well as customized designs, Scodix explains this new technique also adds security features to brochures, folding boxes and packaging, displays, book covers, and all types of bags.The remaining print enhancement applications including Scodix Sense, Foil, Spot, Metallic, Glitter, VDP/VDE, and Braille.
The JM55 Force is a new JetMounter model to be added to Drytac’s line up of wide-format roller laminators. Described as a heavy-duty, entry-level laminator, the JM55 Force is designed for users who require durability and functionality over the long-term.  The JM55 Force has a maximum laminating width of 55 inches (1,397 mm) and is described as being well suited for mounting, laminating and decaling pressure sensitive materials. It features large 4.7 inch (119.4 mm) diameter non-stick rollers; speed control up to 20 feet (six metres) per minute; a maximum nip opening of 1 inch (25 mm); top and bottom auto-grip supply shafts with brake tension control on the operator side; single mechanical height/pressure adjustment; and an interchangeable 110V or 220V electrical configuration.“The Force is an excellent option for shops that need the versatility of a heavy-duty machine but want one with a smaller price tag,” said Nate Goodman, Drytac Product Manager. “There is no doubt that the well-built Force will provide many years of service.”
Rotoflex, which manufacturers inspection, slitting, rewinding and die cutting equipment, has released the new HSI slitter rewinder designed for high volume label slitting, inspection and rewinding. It is built with, according to Rotoflex, the same architecture as the company’s flagship VSI vertical design series. Rotoflex explains features of the new HSI include 330 and 440mm web widths, 1,000 fpm running speed, extra-large inspection table, ergonomic 37 inch (940 mm) high editing area, easily accessible slitting module, a straightforward web path and conveniently located finished roll rewind location. With end-to-end servo control design, the HSI also features the Rotoflex URC 2.0 proprietary control system with simple menus and an intuitive interface, giving operators the ability to monitor all functions from a single screen. The small footprint HSI is configurable for a range of vision inspection solutions and offers options like the new biometric (fingerprint) authentication for operator access and the Rotoflex exclusive Report Management System (RMS). With the RMS tool, real-time production data is collected from multiple finishing machines to a single interface, which can be accessed remotely via computer or handheld device. RMS generates a variety of detailed, customizable reports on performance variables such as run time, defects, production volume and scrap generation, as well as compares outputs of multiple machines. “Designed with the proven robust construction of our successful VSI series, the HSI is an advantageous solution for converters preferring a horizontal slitting inspection configuration in their off-line finishing machines,” said Manohar Dhugga, Rotoflex director of engineering and service. “The HSI is one of many new Business Responsive Technologies to be unveiled in the next few months, supporting our commitment to deliver high quality, innovative solutions that drive customer profitability."
Goss is launching six new unwinder/splicers and rewinders for its Contiweb product lines to be used with inkjet web presses. Both the unwinder and rewinder series products are engineered to be entirely modular, providing customers the ability to add automation at either end of the press line.Developed at the Goss Contiweb facility in the Netherlands, which has been producing splicers and dryers for web offset printers for almost 40 years, Goss states the new product lines have been designed to equal its Contiweb splice performance of 99.7 percent but for digital webs.“After many years refining and perfecting product design to ensure efficiency and repeatable high quality for web offset printers, we’re now seeing a similar need within the digital web community,” said Bert Schoonderbeek, Managing Director at Goss Contiweb. “The increasing variety of installations and applications is creating a relentless demand from print service providers for technologies that advance their competitive edge. The ability to master web tension and to continually improve productivity is rapidly becoming critical to success.”Available in two web widths, 770 mm (30 inches) and 1100 mm (42 inches), the CD range of splicer/unwinders and the CR range of rewinders share features that facilitate set-up, integration and day-to-day operation. These include floor-level loading and unloading of paper reels; unwinding/rewinding in either direction; and motorized reel side-lay adjustment; all of which can be monitored throughout via an HMI screen on the unit.Each model is shaftless and uses pneumatically expanding core chucks driven by low-noise electric motors, which provides an added element of sustainability, explains Goss, since energy generated feeds back into the electrical circuit.The Goss Contiweb CD series of unwinder/splicers are availble with a range of options for additional levels of infeed control, web guidance, remote operation through the central control system, and remote diagnosis via VPN. The Goss Contiweb CR Series of rewinders allow for transfer between reels of different width and paper thickness, and repeated transfers from first to second position, and vice versa.
The Newspaper Association of America, to better reflect “the news media industry’s evolution to multi-platform, digitally-savvy businesses and premium content providers,” has changed its name to News Media Alliance and launched a new website, newsmediaalliance.org. The association explains this new focus aligns with its membership, approximately 2,000 news organizations, and the new website visually depicts this expansion of news media into digital and mobile formats. The approach focuses on what it means to be a news media organization today, explains the association: communicating in real-time across multiple platforms. “Our transformation efforts are designed to show the positive trajectory of the industry and to share the innovation and growth taking place, especially in the digital space,” said News Media Alliance Vice President of Innovation Michael MaLoon. “There are so many great things happening in our industry right now, and our job is to tell those stories.”In addition, for the first time the association is broadening its membership requirements to allow digital-first and digital-only news organizations publishing original content to become members. The association states it has a number of new tools and resources it will be making available to members in the coming months that reflect the digital focus of its membership, including:ideaXchange, a new online community for News Media Alliance members launching this fall, which is to provide a platform that will make sharing, brainstorming and learning from one another easier than ever.metricsXchange, a new digital benchmarking tool exclusively for members, that will allow comparisons between markets and publications, providing new insights into the news media industry’s digital business efforts. The Alliance will also provide analyses and highlight newsworthy trends mined from the tool.mediaXchange, the News Media Alliance’s major annual event, will take a reimagined approach. Taking place in New Orleans in 2017, the event will focus on the future of the news media industry. “The news media industry should be optimistic. All evidence shows that people of all ages want and consume more news than ever,” stated News Media Alliance President and CEO David Chavern. “We need to focus on new ways to address the needs of audience and advertisers. Advertising on news media digital and print platforms continues to be one of the most effective ways for advertisers to reach important audiences. Publishers are working to adapt advertising across all platforms, make ads less intrusive and increase consumer engagement.”
When the term Web 2.0 seeped into business vernacular in the mid-2000s, it seemed to hold little concrete meaning. It was Internet ether following crazed venture capital funding of nascent but often flawed online business strategies. Web 2.0 initially seemed like a make-good promise for millions of lost dollars.In hindsight, Web 2.0 is now the descriptor for the foundation of user-generated content manifested most obviously as billion-dollar social media platforms. It has created completely new businesses amassing enormous wealth – in a matter of years as opposed to decades – as younger generations successfully tap into a robust online economy.Industry 4.0 is a much more relevant evolutionary term for the printing industry. Unlike Web 2.0, which certainly drove the Internet to become a GDP factor, Industry 4.0 ultimately involves the deployment of tangible goods, factories, machines and equipment. The Internet of Things is an important business term to understand, but perhaps more of an acknowledgement for the revolutionary – existing –  network infrastructure built by the likes of Cisco, Sun and Oracle. Industry 4.0, which includes The Internet of Things amid its most prevailing and complicated definitions, is a term to describe the new wealth to be generated from an overdue return to industrialism.For more than 50 years, the greatest business innovations to emerge out of stable economies have been generated around computing, from software and graphical user interfaces to processor chips and communications networks (both micro and macro). As Moore’s Law reaches its limit, which Intel’s CEO stated to be a reality in 2015, Industry 4.0 arrives for business visionaries to begin leveraging decades of computing power to drive industrial equipment.Elon Musk, who was born in South Africa but also holds Canadian and American citizenships, is the ultimate Industry 4.0 visionary. In 1995, Musk and his brother, Kimbal, used a small family loan to start Zip2 and develop online city guides for newspaper publishers, leading to contracts with The New York Times and Chicago Tribune. In 1999, Compaq acquired Zip2 for $307 million in cash and, within weeks, Musk’s proceeds co-founded an Internet-based financial services company called X.com. A year later, X.com merged with Confinity, which held a money transfer service called PayPal. Musk was PayPal’s largest shareholder when eBay bought it for $1.5 billion in 2002. Within weeks, Musk founded a new company called SpaceX with the ambitious goal of jumping the commercial space industry by building rockets.With NASA’s retirement of its Space Shuttle program and mounting U.S. tensions with Russia, whose Soyuz rockets are today relied on by most space agencies to carry cargo and people beyond Earth’s gravitational influence, Musk saw opportunity to undercut the dormant astronautic activities of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Focused at the time on aeronautics, these defense giants reacted by forming the United Launch Alliance (ULA). Today, with a base $1.6 billion NASA contract for 12 resupply flights, it costs SpaceX around $60 million to launch a payload aboard one of its Falcon 9 rockets. A ULA launch costs around $225 million – Space Shuttle missions were upwards of $1.5 billion per launch, depending on cargo. Driven to make money, SpaceX developed a reusable  Falcon 9 rocket (first stage) that in 2016 has twice successfully returned to Earth, landing on barge in the middle of the ocean after delivering an ISS payload. A SpaceX launch burns relatively little in fuel ($300,000), meaning there are significant cost savings with a reusable first stage rocket. The company estimates it would save 30 percent, around $43 million a launch. Commercial space company Blue Origin, controlled by another online magnet in Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos, has also successfully landed reusable rockets, although much smaller. None of this would be possible without taking advantage of Industry 4.0, applying incredible processing power to industrial equipment. Tesla is another prime example of Musk’s Industry 4.0 leadership, applying processing power to self-drive his battery-powered Tesla cars. Robotics will play a major role in Industry 4.0 and happen to be a Canadian specialty – driven by the Canadian Space Agency. Robotics will become a force for all manufacturing. Industry 4.0 is well underway and it is a positive development for the printing industry, which has lived on the edges of this business term for decades, processing billions of bits and bytes to million-dollar machines, offset, inkjet and toner. An industry that spent the past two decades forcing its machines to speak fluently with each other is ready for Industry 4.0.
A revolution in paper production driven by agricultural-residue pulp mills is on Canada’s horizon (originally published in PrintAction June 2016 magazine).The potential impact of papers made from agricultural residue is becoming an exciting new sector to watch in Canada. Canopy has just launched its “Say Yes!” project across the North American wheat, rye and sorghum belt. Dubbed YIMBY! – Yes In My Back Yard! – This innovative enterprise is reaching out to agricultural communities asking if they have the straw supply, town infrastructure and other qualities necessary to become a candidate site for a new, green-job-creating straw pulp mills.The Canadian prairies are being hit hard right now, with economic downturns in Saskatchewan and Alberta taking a toll on jobs and regional stability. New opportunities for rural communities across the Prairies, adding value to agricultural residues typically treated as ‘waste’ products could bring new hope and green jobs to a hard hit part of the country.The Federal government made bold commitments in at the 2015 UN Conference in Paris to seriously tackle climate change. Intact forest landscapes and their significant contribution to carbon storage are bound to come to the forefront as a means to reduce Canadian greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and contribute to climate stabilization. Canopy expects this to inevitably lead to greater protection of the boreal forest and a concurrent push to develop alternative fibre sources. The future of straw paper just keeps getting brighter.Some Canadian printers are early adopters of wheat straw-based papers. The Printing House, Hemlock Printers and MET Fine Printers, for example, offer uncoated free sheet wheat straw-based paper and more printers are bound to join the ranks of these forward-thinking businesses.Since before Canadian Geographic and Dollco (purchased by Lowe-Martin in 2012) worked with Canopy in 2008 to print a magazine issue on wheat straw-based paper, Canopy has been growing the market for straw-based papers to facilitate the development of agricultural residue pulping capacity. To date we have identified 1.3 million tons of unmet annual demand for printing and writing grade papers made with straw. That market keeps growing as more print users look to improve their standing on sustainability issues. Now we just need the supply – and it’s looking promising.Following the launch of YIMBY!, the response from farming communities has been immediate and enthusiastic. Within 24 hours of launching the campaign, Canopy was receiving applications from interested districts. Our detailed questionnaire will delve into the viability of each of these applicants. Do they have a high enough volume of straw available within a set radius? Do they have the water, road and power infrastructure needed to support a pulp mill? Is the work force available? We’ve done the research, established the criteria with the advice and assistance of experts in the field, and we know the potential exists for many straw pulp mills to be built.At the same time, we are liaising with entrepreneurs and investors, filling them in on the immense market demand for straw-based papers we have already quantified, the viable community opportunities for mill construction and the green-tech revolution that is ready to launch.Through our ongoing Second Harvest work, we’ve been privileged to be given confidential access to some of the latest developments and innovations. The revolution is truly gaining momentum.As new scientific research highlights the critical importance of forests in stabilizing the global climate and mitigating the impacts of climate change, more and more governments will be forced to take action to protect high carbon value ancient forests. And more and more print customers will be looking to avoid contentious forest fibre and seeking viable alternatives to tree paper.Straw papers will be a game-changer for the availability of publication grade eco-papers and lighten the footprint of print materials. The future of straw can revolutionize the printing industry. Are you ready?
Leveraging Customer Relationship Management and Voice Over Protocol tools to bind your print sales and production teams (Originally published in PrintAction June 2016 magazine).What can Buddy Guy’s blues band teach us about collaboration? Buddy Guy, the Chicago blues guitarist whom Eric Clapton once called “the best guitarist alive”, is still touring with his Damn Right Blues Band at 79 years of age. I’m a fan and play a bit of music each week because it feels so good to get together with friends and jam. A live blues band is an improvisational exercise in collaboration and innovation. Could that be an analogy for the printing business these days?I drove down to Buffalo with a fellow blues/jazz fan to see Buddy last month. We both love live music. Buddy opened by telling the adoring crowd, “I’m not sure what’s going to happen tonight. It keeps my band on their toes. There will be some surprises.”  And that, in a nutshell, is why I love live blues and jazz music. It is spontaneous and, to do it well, all the players must effectively communicate what’s going on in the moment, where the tune is going and who’s going to take the lead and when. The skill with which a great band navigates this tricky live improvisational experience is what I admire most.The key is clear communications and exchange of information among the players. The drummer gets a cue to end a song from the subtle lifting of the guitar neck, a slight nod signals a soloist to begin, a hand in the air telegraphs the bridge and a tap on the head means take it to the top. Hold up three fingers at the start of a song and you signal the three flats in the key of E.Enough riffing on the music, this brings me to how we manage internal business communications, which is increasingly becoming an experience of working in the moment. Sharing, collaborating and being prepared for improvising in new business situations has never been easier. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are the foundation of great customer experiences, because they allow for the easy sharing of information among your team about the customer’s contact information, the stage in the sales pipeline and recent communications with them. Most high-end Management Information Systems today have integrated dashboards for sales reps to help manage clients, but CRM is well supported by tools such as VOIP phones, chat tools and video conferencing. There are so many channels to engage with a customer and also to exchange information amongst your employees to make great music together. I have worked with several of these CRM and VOIP tools  that have proved beneficial in the fast-paced printing business.CRM toolsLet’s start with the CRM tools. These are basically the recent digital take on the paper Rolodex or address book. When all of your company can share addresses and contact information, you will be a stronger organization for it. Best of all, most are in the cloud, so they are scalable, mobile friendly and available wherever your team works. There will be no more time wasted searching out the right contact name for a customer or wondering who is the main contact, who pays the invoices or who has left the operation. Our CRM also keeps a log of all email back and forth between clients and the company. It simplifies understanding the state of a project and acts as a record of past exchanges.CRM is often associated with tracking the sales pipeline. This simply means that “opportunities” are logged in this central repository and this makes it possible to see how sales targets are being met, where leads are coming from and who is cultivating them at what stage – all great information to help you understand how your sales efforts are progressing. You can even automate some steps. For instance, when a new client is added or a sale completed, the sales manager can receive an email notification alert (the CRM equivalent of a guitar neck lift to signal the end of a song). The latest twist on this is the link between online forms, social media follows and your CRM. In other words, every point where a customer interacts with your company can be tracked and managed from the best CRM tools. It is now easy to compare different CRM tools functionality and an extra hour of research will find the best tool (at the right cost) for your employees. It’s like the whole band is facing each other, has eye contact and can see where the improvised tune is headed. Companies just perform better when they can collaborate easily.Even vendor information can be kept on the CRM, so nobody at your firm is scrambling trying to find the name of that special source for cartons, blade sharpening or specialty ink. Once you add a vendor name, the best practice is to add a few searchable keywords to make finding them easy. We add “plumber”, “electrician” and so on to our vendor names. You can even decide to rate your vendors so that others at the firm know if your electrician arrived late, charged too much or was the friendliest one you’d ever met. This just makes it easier to manage vendors of services, ink, paper, whatever else you purchase in the course of business.But the communication exchange can also benefit from new channels available at low cost. Some we are familiar with, and some we do not associate with business. Nearly all of us send SMS text messages these days. Our mobile devices help us connect with family and friends and increasingly with work. Having an internal chat tool (Google for Work has one built in) can mean time savings when quick answers are required. Messenger, now part of Facebook, is a growing tool for chat and even has a phone/video feature. You may be wondering why you’d use a Facebook tool in your print business, but you only have to ask the 900 million users (up 700 million in two years) about the benefits, or listen to Mark Zuckerberg’s latest 10-year plan to use Messenger in new ways in our business life.VOIP toolsI’m also a fan of VOIP phones as they help make collaboration easier. We once thought it was good enough to have a toll-free number, but nowadays you want to be able to have your calls follow your employees to their mobile devices, and offer easy conferencing and transferring, even if they are working from home or from a mobile device. VOIP seems to offer the widest number of options for making phone communications more effective at work.But don’t think that just having tools will make the whole thing gel. Your band of employees have to rehearse. By this I mean that they need to be trained and work out the new etiquette for these channels of communication. When should they choose Chat over an email and when should I invite a colleague to join me on a call or share a video of a bindery process with a repairman so they can see what is acting up in the plant?  Without having some policies and sharing best practices among your team, however, you’ll have a train wreck (that’s band talk for a song gone off the rails).These channels are constantly evolving. You cannot wait for it to all settle and then make your move. Start tuning up your internal and customer communications today and you’ll all make pretty music together, and maybe a bit more money too, as the experience improves and your costs to manage collaboration reduce.
Tips on preparing your business for loss before having to turn unprepared to an insurance claim (originally published in PrintAction June 2016 magazine).Think taking a terror-filled ride on Zumanjaro is the ultimate scariest you could possibly feel? Then you probably have not been through the life-changing horror of a major insurance claim. No doubt about it, the Six Flags Great Adventure ride in New Jersey is sure to suck the life out of you with its 415-foot drop reaching 90 miles per hour in just 10 seconds. Getting a phone call explaining that your building is on fire or the roof collapsed, however, will overcome any fears of Zumanjaro.There are so many angles to an insurance claim that it is virtually impossible to write a guidance manual on what to do, how to do it, or – even more importantly – how to avoid the possibility of seeing your hard-earned work collapse in rubble.  But there are ways and means to help prevent insurance catastrophes and I’d like to share some with you.Protecting your investmentEvery establishment has some type of insurance policy, but coverage is such a boring and mundane topic most of us do not dwell on it and quickly file documents away once established. Business interruption coverage is very common, but if a claim is made there is plenty of work the insured must do to prove the loss and this may come as a surprise to some. First suggestion: Keep good records and keep those records updated and in a safe place.Over the years, I have worked on both sides of an insurance claim. I’ve been hired by insurance firms, adjusters, forensic investigators, public adjusters, as well as the insured themselves. Having seen both sides of the equation, it becomes quite clear how much knowledge and communication is lacking.A good example is a file on which I was engaged by the insured. This company runs a profitable and well-organized business. A major weather-related structural failure in part of the company’s plant caused half of its machinery to become involved in a serious claim due to water and falling infrastructure. Months later, I was called to come and access some of the damaged machinery. The claim had gone nowhere and, as is quite typical, the insured called in a public adjuster. Public adjusters are firms that work specifically for the insured and not the insurance company. This happens quite often when things get testy between parties. They are well versed on the protocols of a claim and the mechanics required to settle one. Public adjusters typically work for a percentage of the claim and this comes out of the insured’s settlement. In this case, the machinery sat exposed and rusting in the elements. To make matters worse, the surrounding areas were dangerous and essentially off limits. At the on-site meeting about the accident, you could cut the tension and anger with a knife. Adjusters are firms that are hired by insurance companies to access and recommend needed steps to get the insured back up and running. Although the majority of adjusters are competent, as with any industry, there are also some disappointments and blow-hards that work to grind the claim process to a virtual halt. Obviously, insurance companies know they have responsibilities but they also want to mitigate the claims and pay out as little as they can. The word mitigate is important here, because it is not as well discussed that the insured must also try to mitigate their claim too, taking any steps to preserve or reduce damage to equipment and furnishings.In this case, we had a disturbing adjuster who seemed to relish his role and enjoy the fact he was being paid handsomely to travel across the country, write reports, argue the merits of visible damage and drive just about everyone – especially the insured – to look for sharp objects. Dealing with claimsAfter months of deadlock, thousands of dollars spent to argue the claim, total disruption of their scheduling, lack of key machinery. which in this case was very specific and hard to replace, it came down to total anger. Usually a competent adjuster can come up with a good plan. He or she knows, that when it comes to machinery, the best the manufacturer can do is provide a ballpark repair quote and a new replacement price. But what happens when the repair comes without a firm warranty? In almost all cases, it does not. And so the claim discussion moves forward around getting new replacement machinery, which is a significant discussion point to understand.Talk to your agent and tell them you wish to be covered for full new replacement. If not, the claim continues down a rabbit hole: “The press is 12 years old? Then we need to value such an asset prior to the claim.” This is the essential problem and an active files quickly becomes a bickering and depressing period that can take years to settle and will in the end, probably – surely – mean you will come out of the whole ordeal worse off than you were before. Even with various opinions and quotations (for repairs), if the adjuster is lacking in specific knowledge and does not go out and seek someone who can provide this, then it may be impossible for both the insurer and the insured to agree on a fair settlement.There is, of course, another side to the insurance business in faulty claims or at the very least a case of very suspicious origins. We were called in by an insurance company over a claim to do with one machine – almost brand new. The story was an apparent break-in and vandalism on the press. Rags and paper were set alight placed on various parts of the press and a few control cabinets were tipped over. The heat activated the sprinklers which then put out the fire but drenched everything in the plant including offices. There was something wrong here. I felt it and was rather surprised when I discussed my thoughts with the insurance rep. He didn’t much care really. He told me that the integrity of the insured really didn’t matter much. Insurance had to quantify the claim and close the file. But this was an exception and it should be noted, having worked many times on the insurance side, very little is left unknown when investigators get to work. They will know where the “oven” is, which is the term used by insurers in reference to the initial location of a fire. They will also be able to track the damage and spot oddities like accelerants. Forensic work like finding out about the financial wellbeing of a claimant is the norm not the exception. In the end, this printer was forced to close.When there was still a very healthy business climate for printing machinery, we regularly bought and rebuilt countless machines. I remember one purchase vividly from in 1994, shortly after southern California had a major earthquake. Bridges collapsed, buildings were damaged, and all sorts of businesses had claims. One damaged printer had two 40-inch presses – a 6-colour and a 5-colour. The claim was settled before we were involved and I went to look at the machinery, which was now dismantled and sitting outside in a temporary tent.  The manufacturer’s service manager was there and he tried to explain to me that the earthquake had uplifted the machine from its leveling feet and somehow twisted the frames. His evidence was one elongated hole which was part of six holes on each unit that were bolt holes for assembly. One hole? Clearly whoever had taken apart the press had a whole lot of trouble getting one bolt out! There was obviously no damage to the frames – it was all nonsense. But the printer did get new machines and we did bring both machines back to life and eventually resold them. Some common sense could have saved somebody a lot of money.Many damaged machines came through our plant: Lightning strikes, floods, transit (by water or road), but the most damage by far was caused by fire. Delivery fires are common – caused by filthy deliveries with lots of spray powder. Dropped sheets mixed with very hot infrared or UV lamps can cause tremendous damage. Overheated motors such as ring blowers near the delivery, are another common reason. An obvious remedy is to keep machinery clean and free of debris. Another suggestion few think about is to have plenty of fire extinguishers around and know how to use them. This last one would have helped a UK company after its 6-colour double coater and double dryer (LYYLX) was set alight via a dropped sheet and interdeck UV lamp. That press took us over 6,000 man-hours to restore.Insurance common senseOver the years, we must have been involved in over 30 substantial rebuilding projects. Almost all were equipment that we purchased when a claim was settled. I learned to quantify costs of repairs using some basic grade-nine chemistry, calculating what temperatures were reached, how it affected the guts and understanding how cast iron has a memory. Heat-twisted cast iron will return to its original position with re-heating. Fires that occur near melted polyethylene and polypropylene (plastic skids for example), produce toxic gases and when mixed with water become an acid that will attack bare steel and cast iron. I still see a great deal of waste within the insurance claim process when the wrong so-called experts are in a position to determine repairs. A good talker can needlessly cost both sides a lot of money.So far I’ve yet to meet any insured who felt that they came out ahead after a claim. This should be a warning to everyone, that even though we have insurance, in the end, after all the pain and disruption, you will often wish you did not file a claim. Insurance is important and can save a business, but do not assume you’ll finally get rid of that old machine or upgrade your whole plant simply because you have business disruption coverage and replacement coverage. Take steps to protect your investments now. Do simple things like buy more fire extinguishers, improve your housekeeping, and update your records.If a disaster happens, take steps to reduce your claim and get solid advice from a professional. Be completely honest and upfront. Do not try and pile-on things that will be spotted as marginal by a good adjuster. One final suggestion: consider increasing your deductible. You should be trying to prevent a life changing moment not small repairs like as a bolt going through a press. Raising your deductible can lower your premiums and even afford you the budget to increase your protection if and when the big claim hits.That’s about all you can do and it’s really important that you do it now before something horrible happens. Zumanjaro is nicknamed the Drop of Doom. But you know that when you buckle in. Insurance claims can have the same moniker but be even more terrifying and without warning.
During the premier event for research in North American print, five keynotes address industry progress (originally published in PrintAction's May 2016 issue). The middle of March is a time of year when researchers and technology evangelists from the printing world gather at the annual Technical Association of the Graphic Arts  (TAGA) conference, held this year in Memphis, Tennessee. An unusual aspect of this year’s TAGA conference was that there were five keynote addresses, instead of the traditional four, addressing the future of technology. The first keynote presented by Mike D’Angelo, Managing Director Americas for Goss International, focused on why offset printing remains today’s dominant printing process around the world. D’Angelo pointed to a key trends affecting the current print market, including: Many magazines are still being printed, the book market is stable, the newspaper decline has stopped, and packaging is a growth business. Commercial printing seems to have turned a corner, according to D’Angelo, but there is no doubt the run lengths are shorter, less pages per job are printed, more localized versions are produced, and the use of automation has increased. Newspaper printing needs a new business model, according to D’Angelo, with smaller, more agile presses. This in turn will translate into printing localized content to help stabilize newspaper sectors. The packaging market sees increased competition and more versions of the same product are being printed. Web offset printing also offers some price and speed advantages in comparison to sheetfed offset. Offset plates are cheaper to make than flexo plates and web offset printing offers a unique speed advantage, not only in press terms, but also in the number of times materials need to be handled and stored.The second keynote was given by Liz Logue, Senior Director Corporate Business Development with EFI, speaking about printing on textiles and ceramics with inkjet technology. Logue stressed a little-known fact that 50 percent of ceramic tiles and 40 percent of display graphics are digitally printed. Digital textile printing is gaining traction and currently only five percent of all textiles are digitally printed.Rotary screen printing is still the dominant print technology for textile printing. Inkjet inks are adapted for textile printing and fast fashion turnover provides digital-printing textile opportunities. New digital designs enable new profits. Increases in print speed and resolution for digital textile printing helps with the transition from conventional to digital print technologies. From an environmental standpoint, Logue explains digital printing is also less water polluting than conventional print methods.The next keynote speaker was Kevin Berisso from the University of Memphis, who talked about The Internet of Things (IoT) and posed an intriguing question to the crowd by referencing The Terminator movie series: Are we building Skynet? In truth, Berisso was really asking what exactly is IoT, because there are now so many definitions out there about this critical movement in business processes.Berisso explains IoT is based on physical devices that are networked, collect data and make automatic decisions. An IoT solution needs to combine hardware and software, has to interconnected, and must interact with its environment.  The fourth keynote was given by Janos Verres, Program Manager at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), speaking about the next generation of Printed Electronics. First, Verres give a brief historical overview of PARC and some of the many innovations made there that are now part of everyday live, such as the Graphical User Interface, ethernet connection and laser printing. Verres also talked about how energy will be democratized and why the future will be personalized. He explained how this future will be driven by smart devices, smart analytics and smart infrastructure. In the future, electronics will have any form, any shape and will reach new levels of complexity. Yet, they still need to be easy to fabricate using flexible printed and hybrid electronics. IoT will change from Internet of Things to Internet of Everything. This will lead to ubiquitous intelligence and computing. Printing technologies will help shape the Internet of Everything, with integrated printing platforms that will be part of multi-process printing workflows. Simple electronics will be printed with very small memory capacity, which will be printed.The fifth keynote was given by Don Schroeder, Director of Solutions Development at Fujifilm North America, speaking about key trends in inkjet printing. The use of inkjet technology is growing fast based on new print heads even as more paper products must be adapted to work well with inkjet inks. Although the use of inkjet printing is growing, Schroeder explains it still is only 0.5 percent of global print production volume.High-speed inkjet printing is gaining traction beyond its current primary use for transactional printing. Its main challenges remain paper quality, costs and availability, in addition to capital costs and printing speed. Inkjet presses have become more expensive and people shy away from the risk of buying a new, expensive inkjet press that might become superseded in two years time. The amortization period is too short.Schroeder also pointed to inkjet printing benefits: Less set up time, less waste, quick turnaround, variable data printing, low volume reprints, less consumables and less maintenance. Inkjet printing also offers a larger gamut than offset printing, as it makes inroads into the packaging and label markets. Looking at folding cartons, for example, the new Heidelberg Primefire 106 will be shown at drupa 2016 running with Fujifilm’s inkjet technology, reaching speeds of 2,000 sheets per hour.The remaining TAGA program outlined critical technology progress, including a presentation on expanded gamut printing and, importantly, asking what is the correct colour sequence of CMYK plus OGV (seven colours) to find the best combination to achieve maximum gamut.Another presentation showed how the FOGRA 51 dataset and resulting ICC profile was put together before its public release. Other key topics printers should investigate included: Cross-media communications, PDF X/4, the influence of optical brighteners, new colour management tools for digital printing, shorter product cycles for packaging, print quality of 3D objects, printable films based on hemicellulose, inline direct-mail automation, on-press control of metallic inks using M3 measurement condition, CxF/X4, lamination for consumer packaging, spectral colour control, resistive gravure inks made with soy protein, print gloss, and how to extract capacitors out of recycled printed electronics.TAGA once again delivered the message that innovation remains a key driver of the printing industry and that its proprietors must embrace change.
From PrintAction's April 2016 print issue, Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling, combines sales insight and print experience to describe how to leverage one of the most important, yet vanishing, skills of lead generation.What do ballet dancing and print sales have in common: Wendy Weiss, a.k.a. The Queen of Cold Calling, a widely quoted New-York-City-based sales training and coaching consultant specializing in lead generation and business development.“I cut my teeth doing new business development in the print and graphic arts industry. Many of my clients are still printers and graphic artists,” says Weiss, who was preparing to present four sales seminars at the National Print Owners Association’s April conference in Texas. “I was never supposed to be The Queen of Cold Calling. I was supposed to be a ballerina,” Weiss laughs.  As a teenager, she moved from Pennsylvania to New York City to dance. She needed a day job and, tired of waiting on tables, landed a telemarketing position setting up B2B appointments. The telemarketing company did not have enough work for her, but, after discovered she was good at prospecting, print broker friend soon hired Weiss to set appointments. She then worked in sales for a number of New York printers, one of whom nicknamed her The Queen of Cold Calling.“A big mistake people make when prospecting by phone is talking too much about what they do. Typically printers talk too much about their equipment,” she says. “But I didn’t know any of that stuff back then. I just got on the phone and talked about what a great printer I was setting appointments for... That’s how my sales career started – totally by accident.” Weiss continued to dance and prospect for businesses for a while, but ultimately turned toward training salespeople, sales managers, and business owners.Cold calling is indispensableWeiss believes cold calling is more critical than ever in today’s marketplace. In an interview on the BizTalk Radio Show (one of many free resources archived on her Website), she explains ultimately you can only generate a sales lead four ways: Through marketing; referrals; networking; and cold calling (targeting and telephoning a prospect with whom you have had little or no previous contact).Weiss explains the first three methods are all essentially passive, because you have to wait for somebody else to act. With marketing, you have to wait for prospects to contact you. With referrals, you have to wait for others to facilitate introductions. With networking, you rarely meet the prospect, only the person who knows them.“[Cold calling] is actually the only appointment-generating or opportunity-generating activity that is directly under your control, and it’s the only way to make up the difference between the number of leads or opportunities that you are finding through marketing, referrals, and networking, and the number of leads or opportunities that you actually need to hit whatever revenue number you’re looking to hit,” she says. “So the issue today is not that cold calling is outmoded... it has changed and most people do it really badly.”Weiss says email and social media channels lead some sales professionals to conclude incorrectly that they do not need telephone skills: “What if somebody calls you and you blow the conversation? You’re not going to get the customer. It’s also a fallacy that you can use social media as the main driver and not have to talk to people. For our clients to be effective in today’s environment, we teach them to reach out to prospects strategically and consistently over time, using the phone along with other types of communication and software to track their progress.”Weiss emphasizes that cold calling is a communications skill that can be improved on, but also, “This is not something that you can just wing. There is a certain progression of what needs to be done to get where you want to be.” To teach clients the nuts and bolts of cold calling, Weiss uses a performance model based on her former career as a dancer. The first step in her model is warming up: “When you’re a dancer, warming up is the first thing you do so you don’t hurt yourself,” she explains. “And as a second step, you always rehearse, because that’s how you create the muscle memory that makes your performance automatic. After you have warmed up and rehearsed, then and only then do you pick up the phone.”In Weiss’s model, warming up means compiling a highly targeted list of the people who are most likely to need what you’re selling: “In the old days we didn’t have a lot of information about prospects, but today a wealth of information about them is available to help you decide who might possibly buy something from you, who are most likely to buy from you, and who are most likely to come back and buy a whole lot more.” Her warm up also requires determining what messaging to use when you get prospects on the phone, as well as in your email and voice-mail messages. “The rule of thumb is that nobody cares what you do, so the words matter.“Do you have an attention-grabbing introduction, do your voice-mail messages get people to call back, do your emails get people to respond? If someone you talk to says, ‘I’m not interested,’ it means you’re not saying anything interesting. So you need to do some up-front work to figure out what words will be compelling to the market that you’re talking to and make people want to engage with you.”Changing thoughts and processesBesides instilling skills, Weiss also helps people who dread cold calling change the way they think about it. She says these clients are prone to counterproductive mindreading or fortunetelling.“Cold calling isn’t an emotional experience. It’s marketing,” she insists. “The opposite of hating cold calling is not that you love it. It’s that you’re neutral, which is the mindset you want to maintain. You can’t function if you’re hysterical.” Weiss diffuses fear by pointing out that telephone prospecting, especially appointment setting, is highly predictable – most prospects will respond in only a few different ways.One typical response is, “Send me information.” Weiss explains this usually means a prospect has not read the information sent, because either you have not said anything compelling or the prospect is too busy. If it is the latter, and since your goal is to set up a meeting, Weiss suggests focusing on the fact that they have not said no. “Find a way to make the prospects right or agree with them by countering with something like, ‘I understand you are very busy, but I only need 10 or 15 minutes.  When would work for you?’ Many times prospects’ responses are not a stumbling block but a negotiation.”If a prospect responds with, “I already have a vendor I’m happy with,” Weiss suggests focusing on the fact that this automatically places them in the desirable qualified-prospect category.Weiss describes another scenario in which a printer asked her to help hire a salesperson. When she asked him what procedures were in place for the salesperson, he lapsed into an uncomfortable silence. “A big mistake printers make is to hire someone, teach him or her everything about printing, and then tell them to go and sell with no source of qualified leads and no process to follow. Generally speaking, companies seem to have processes in place for everything except prospecting.“Yet as managers or business owners, if we lay out a process with steps for our sales reps to follow, it makes things so much easier, and they are so much more likely to succeed, especially inexperienced new hires or somebody who is struggling.”Although the attrition rate for new hires can be as high as 50 percent, Weiss explains companies usually pay new sales hires up to two-and-a-half years’ salary before deciding to replace them via a corporate hiring cycle that typically costs another two times the salesperson’s annual salary.“To avoid these mistakes, the advice I would give the head of a company is to put in place a comprehensive process, including things like a targeted list, messaging, skills training for your people, and software that tracks and measures what they are doing so you know what is actually working. If any of these essential elements are missing from your process, your telephone-prospecting campaigns are not going to work well,” she says.Weiss explains setting appointments should be the first step of staff training: “They don’t have to know every single thing about printing. You can easily teach them how to make appointments, then use software to track what they’re doing, so you know how to coach them appropriately and have some measure of their progress... If they can’t set appointments, they’re probably not going to sell a lot, so you don’t need to wait a full two years before deciding whether or not to keep them.”Weiss says many printers experience a boom-bust cycle (a busy month followed by an insufficient number of orders the next month) and the bust is frequently the result of not having enough prospects. Her antidote is to prospect every day. “It’s a very common scenario that owners don’t prospect regularly because they get busy doing other stuff. Lots of entrepreneurs also have only one or two really big clients, and if they lose their business, they’re screwed. While it’s a myth in cold calling that you have to do hundreds of dials every day, you still have to do some. You need to take action every day and keep looking for opportunities to move your business forward.”
Breaking down one of the most-significant operational issues Canadian printers will face for the next several months.Back in the spring of 2011 Canada’s dollar was flying high. It hit a level of almost five cents above the American greenback. As experts pointed to the advantages of Canada’s banking regulations, the Great White North was outpacing the United States coming out of the 2008 worldwide recession.  The purchasing power of Canada’s printing industry was fantastic. Machinery was at an all-time low – as much as 40 percent less than 2003 levels. It was never going to last, however, and today we face US$30-per-barrel oil, metal prices spiraling to near historic lows and our dollar is trading in the 70-cent range relative to the once again mighty U.S. buck (USD).There are serious implications for domestic manufacturers facing a low Canadian dollar. First and foremost are the wild swings occurring as the Loonie bobs about finding its true value. This is our most difficult issue. If the Loonie would just park itself somewhere we might be able to cope, adjust. But fast moving exchange rates bring chaos to budgets and quotations. Very few businesses can benefit like billionaire George Soros has amid these FX swings. Besides machinery, a great deal of materials and consumables are priced in USD. Printers quoting work – even a few weeks ahead are now finding it difficult to hold firm prices. The Bank of Canada’s Stephen Poloz opined that it could be two years before we see the fallout (both good and bad) from the recent and drastic decline in our currency. It is not a simple remedy to buy Canadian products or to create an artificially lower exchange rate in-house. Behind the scenes, financial markets and a global community are going to close the door. Products made in Canada will always be valued not so much on their cost but on their value in USD. Almost everything made here has some element of American content. If by chance they do not have U.S. content, it still will not matter and prices will rise just because they can! This effect will be best exemplified by paper, an everyday ingredient of printing, regardless of whether it is produced in Canada, Asia, Europe or the United States. Paper is a worldwide commodity and even if it left the factory in Indonesia it will be priced in USD. Canadian paper, with whatever portion of American value added, will rise to reflect a world value and not a Canadian value. You cannot escape the future higher costs of anything you purchase.Machinery, the most expensive product printer’s purchase, will see prices rise dramatically in the next few months. Whether these machines come from Germany, Japan, China or the U.S., they are usually imported by American companies first and converted into USD. With machine inventories mostly American held, you will pay accordingly. Meanwhile, China’s Yuan currency rides the USD and Chinese manufacturers price their products in USD.It is not just our Loonie that has been seeing declines. The Euro has dropped substantially in 2015 versus the USD. Companies like Heidelberg have the ability to play the FX markets and it’s possible they are able to sell their machinery in Canadian dollars exchanged against the Euro. Japan’s manufacturers work through their American subsidiaries or dealers and while the machinery may leave Japan in Yen it’s bought with USD in a sometimes forward contract. Realities of the negative exchange facing Canadian printers can hit home hardest when it comes to obtaining needed parts for their machines. This revenue stream becomes particularly important for Canadian dealers if the sale of large machinery declines. There is a general assumption around the world that if a country’s currency tumbles then it becomes a great place to shop. This is largely untrue, especially with equipment. Everyone wants and expects a world price. Press makers will not sell any cheaper in Canada than they do anywhere else. If this were the case then we could assume all of us Canadians would be paying even less to for oil and gas, which is unlikely to ever happen.Besides labour, occupancy costs and taxes are safe from a falling dollar. Little else is and Canada continually faces another major issue, competitiveness. In 1998, when our dollar started to fall, Canadian printers like most other manufacturers used it like a golf handicap. Great – we just got some free strokes! The lower dollar maintained our historical position as faux Americans. The appetite to compete has been at the centre of Canadiana since confederation and why, even in 2016, we find ourselves not able to keep up with U.S. entrepreneurship.  The immense size of the U.S. absorbs much of what it produces. Canada is a nation with risk adverse businesses, conservative banking and a labour pool that demands a social net.Inflation is a by-product of a low dollar, which may not be as negative as it sounds. Large printers who do business in the U.S. can shield themselves from some of the risk by offsetting their materials purchases against sales made, both in USD. This leaves truly Canadian costs (labour) to be more profitable. The dwindling middle class of print – companies with limited sales reach – will face more systemic challenges.As printers wait for calmness in the big-ticket market, the best thing they can do is sell products in the U.S. This alone will not only dampen the effect of bad rates but help us all in Canada to be more competitive as we go head to head with some of the best businesses in the world.The low Loonie may not be forever. Oil will shoot back up eventually and China will hopefully resume its bullishness for Canadian raw materials. When this happens our dollar will strengthen. Not because of our small manufacturing base, but because of what we draw out of the ground.
APP of Jakarta, on the three-year anniversary of its Forest Conservation Policy, provided an update of its progress and also launched its Belantara Foundation, an initiative to fund conservation projects in Indonesia. The paper maker also noted progress with its Peatland Best Practice Management Project and a new Integrated Fire Management program involving training from Canadians.“On the third anniversary of our Forest Conservation Policy launch we are pleased to report that our continued work to implement the policy, together with efforts to align our ambitions with those of other actors in Indonesia’s forests have resulted in tangible progress,” said Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement at APP. “We now have the building blocks for a sustainable model of forest and pulp and paper operations whereby forests are protected, communities empowered and our supply chains strengthened.”The APP Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), launched in February 2013, is what APP describes as its commitment to immediately end deforestation in its supply chain and bring sustainability to the forefront of the company’s operations. Policy commitments by the company include the ending of natural forest conversion throughout its supply chain, best practice in peatland management, and adopting a collaborative approach to resolving social issues.The company’s previously announced work to block over 3,500 perimeter canals to increase water levels in APP suppliers’ concessions located on peatland has recently been completed, with a total target of 7,000 dams to be built by the end of the first quarter of 2016. This is in addition to the retirement of 7,000 hectares of commercial plantation areas in Riau and South Sumatra, announced by APP in August 2015. In total, APP and its suppliers have allocated approximately 600,000 hectares for forest conservation and ecosystem restoration within its suppliers' concessions. Peatland areas are particularly vulnerable to forest fires, explains the company, and these initiatives to manage and protect them are part of APP’s new Integrated Fire Management (IFM) strategy. Fire management experts TREK Wildland Services from Canada and Working on Fire (WOF) from South Africa will provide 400 APP staff members and their suppliers with Incident Command System (ICS) fire training. Two new aircraft with state-of-the-art thermal imaging cameras will help gather hotspot data with far greater accuracy than satellite imaging, explains APP. Information will be distributed in near real time to APP’s in-house Geographic Information System (GIS) and distributed to field staff within 15 minutes, allowing rapid response to emerging fire threats.Another forest protection initiative is the Integrated Forestry and Farming System Program launched by APP during COP21 in Paris. The program aims to help local communities develop alternative livelihoods to achieve economic development while also keeping Indonesia’s forests intact.As a first step in its implementation, community members will be given equipment and support in the form of microfinance or revolving funds to help kick start local businesses. Horticultural training will also be given to help improve community capacity in managing fruit and vegetable crops using the agroforestry system. The program will include 500 villages across the APP supply chain with up to $10 million invested over the next five years.Since committing to a landscape approach in 2015, the company has worked to establish a platform to help manage and fund landscape conservation programs in Indonesia. As a result of these efforts, APP has initiated the Belantara Foundation. Today we announce the newly appointed Advisory Board, consisting of widely respected individuals drawn from the government, non-profit and corporate sectors. With the Foundation’s personnel, full working remit and due diligence processes in place, Belantara is now ready to work together with other key stakeholders in the landscape to help support the protection and restoration of Indonesia’s forests.Belantara Foundation will work with communities, civil society, government and businesses to help ensure a careful balance is found between economic development, the livelihoods of people in local communities and environmental conservation. This involves overseeing natural forest restoration and endangered species protection and conducting studies to strengthen sustainable landscape management.
Asia Pulp & Paper Group announced a new commitment to support the economic development of 500 villages in what the company describes as the landscapes surrounding APP’s supply chain. The aim of the program, explains APP, is to demonstrate that economic development can be pursued in a sustainable way that supports rather than undermines the protection of Indonesia’s forests. APP’s announced this sustainable development commitment at the recent UN Climate Conference in Paris, COP21. The announcement was made after APP presented details of its forest and peatland protection initiatives, which support Indonesia’s ambitions to achieve a 29 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030. Since the launch of its Forest Conservation Policy in February 2013, APP explains it has implemented initiatives to help communities develop alternative livelihoods, to reduce the risk of fires and achieve economic development while keeping Indonesia’s forests intact. This new commitment to Indonesia’s communities is in addition to APP’s existing pledge to support the protection and restoration of 1 million hectares of forest landscapes and to channel and coordinate US$10 million per year of in-kind and financial support into forest conservation across Indonesia, announced in 2014. APP’s commitment will be delivered through what the company describes as a series of pilot community agroforestry programs, which might include the sharing of: rearing initiatives for livestock; sustainable fruit and vegetable farming techniques; and forestry and business skills to enable alternative livelihoods that do not require the clearance of natural forest for further economic development.“A key theme of COP21 is to ensure that economic development goes hand-in-hand with environmental protection,” said Aida Greenbury, Managing Director, Sustainability, APP. “We believe that this new agroforestry program will help communities to achieve economic development while protecting Indonesia’s forests. The issues facing Indonesia’s forests need to be managed at the landscape level, and local communities have a very important stake in the forest. Whilst these program are at an early pilot stage, we will be working to help introduce and spread sustainable farming techniques that are compatible with forest protection.”APP explains the programs will be designed to help reduce instances of conflict over land by providing less land-intensive development options and will help to reduce instances of land encroachment and slash and burn activities.
Printing Industries of America (PIA) released the election results to name its 2016 Officers and Board of Directors, which took place on November 15, 2015, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.Canadians joining the 2016 Board of Directors include Richard Kouwenhoven of Hemlock Printers, who is representing the British Columbia Printing Industries Association, and David Potje of Twin City Dwyer Printing Co. Ltd., who is representing the Ontario Printing Industries Association.Bradley Thompson of Inland Press in Detroit, Michigan, becomes Chairman of the Board. He is the immediate past Chairman of the Government Affairs and Labor Policy Committee of PIA and a former Chairman of Printing Industries of Michigan. Thompson, a fifth-generation printer, is a member of the Board of Directors of the Michigan Press Association and serves as Government Affairs Chair of the American Court and Commercial Newspaper Association. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan.  Curt Kreisler of Gold Star Printers in Miami Beach, Florida, becomes First Vice Chairman for the PIA. He has served on PIA’s Board of Directors since 2009. He is currently the Association Relations Committee Chairman and a member of its Finance and Investment Committees. Bryan Hall of Graphic Visual Solutions in Greensboro, North Carolina, becomes Second Vice Chairman. He served on Printing Industries of America’s Board of Directors for a number of years as Chairman of the Education Committee and as a member of the Finance Committee. Hall also served on the Board of Directors of his local affiliate – Printing Industry of the Carolinas – for nearly 10 years. Michael Wurst of Henry Wurst in Kansas City, MO, becomes Secretary to the Board/Treasurer. He has served many years as a PIA Association Relations Committee member. Wurst is also actively involved in his local affiliate, Printing & Imaging Association of MidAmerica, serving on the Executive Committee for four years, including one year as Chair. He is the CEO of Henry Wurst, Inc., a 75-year-old family-owned commercial printing company. David Olberding of Phototype in Columbus, Ohio, becomes Immediate Past Chair.He was appointed as the association representative to PIA in 2006. He has served PIA as Chairman of the Board, First Vice Chairman, Second Vice Chairman, Executive Finance Committee member, Secretary to the Board, and as Marketing Committee Chairman. Olberding served as Chairman of the Board, Treasurer, and Chair of the Education Committee of Printing Industries of Ohio and Northern Kentucky.Also joining the Board of Directors in 2016 are: Peter Jacobson, Daily Printing, representing Printing Industry Midwest; Timothy R. Suraud, Print Media Association, representing the affiliate managers; Adam G. Avrick, Design Distributors, Inc., representing Printing Industries Alliance; David Wigfield, Xerox, representing the vendor community; Richard Kouwenhoven, Hemlock Printers, representing BCPIA; Norm Pegram, representing Printing Industries of the Gulf Coast; Justin Pallis, DS Graphics, representing PINE; and Dave Potje, Twin City Dwyer Printing Co. Ltd., representing OPIA.
Rolland Enterprises Inc. of St-Jérôme, Quebec, has created a new policy, developed in cooperation with Vancouver not-for-profit Canopy, to advance the protection of endangered forests, engage in the research and development of alternatives to tree fibre, and to avoid all controversial forest fibre sources. “Rolland has a track record of setting the pace for eco-paper development and post-consumer recycling,” said Nicole Rycroft, Canopy's Executive Director. “By expanding their vision to avoid controversial fibre and sourcing from endangered forests such as the Boreal, Rolland stands out as a sustainability leader at the vanguard of change in the North American pulp and paper industry.” Rolland Enterprises, which has been providing recycled fibres for decades, advanced its existing policy with the following new specific commitments:- End the use of wood fibre sourced from endangered forests and controversial suppliers;-  Avoid fibre sourced from Intact Forest Landscapes, such as the intact forests of the Boreal; - Play an active role in the research, development and commercial scale production of pulp and paper from alternative fibre sources such as straw;- Support visionary solutions that protect endangered forests in the Coastal Temperate Rainforests of Vancouver Island and North America's Great Bear Rainforest, Canada's Boreal Forests, and Indonesia's Rainforests; and- Continue producing papers with 30 to 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled content.  “These commitments are an integral part of Rolland's plans to remain a competitive player in the challenging North American paper industry,” said Rolland CEO, Philip Rundle. "Rolland is excited to remain at the forefront of meeting customers' growing needs for sustainable products into the future.” Canopy has worked closely with Rolland's St-Jérôme mill over the past 13 years to advance solutions, including the development of the paper company’s partipcation in the initiative to use 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper in the printing of the Canadian edition of Harry Potter in 2003 and 2005. In 2011, Canopy and Rolland again collaborated in another groundbreaking initiative – a North American first – with the production of straw paper made from agricultural residues. This limited edition paper was used to print a special edition of Margaret Atwood's book, In Other Worlds, and Alice Munro's, Dear Life.
Decades ago an older gentleman wandered into the foyer of a five-star hotel. He was carrying a shopping bag and dressed in less than appropriate garb for such an establishment. He asked for a room. The front desk clerk, assuming him he was a bum, suggested he try another hotel down the street. The bum, however, owned the hotel property. Looks can be deceiving. Some of the richest people in both Canada and the United States are seldom seen or heard. They do not make anything, build our roads or habituate the world of graphic communications. But they do rent space to those who manufacture or sell products and services. Somewhat likened to an iceberg, most of the wealthy exist below the waterline of awareness. Hundreds of millions of square feet hardly noticed and owned by this group of the faceless wealthy. Then there’s Donald Trump. The results of the Bataan death march referred to as the never-ending U.S. election, shocked a great many people. Lots of hand wringing and mea culpa moments ensued. But it was too late. America had in fact elected Trump as its 45th President. He had campaigned on a clever platform: The world is falling apart and dragging America down with it. Too many immigrants from the wrong countries, unfair lopsided trading practices that put American industry at risk, and so on. The plan worked and America found itself at war – with itself. Unlike his often silent, low-key brethren of real estate, President Trump enjoys the limelight. He craves attention and respect. There also seems to be zero commonality between himself and the average American $24 per hour factory worker and, as surprising as it seems on the surface, these workers were one of the key reasons Trump now holds one of the most powerful positions in the world. It is difficult, if not impossible, to explain what drives Trump, and even harder to support his many rigid viewpoints, except to say that some of it has to do with his involvement in the construction industry in New York City. Sitting across from mid-level bureaucrats that have the ultimate power over what can or cannot be built plays a role in his aggressive behaviour. Having his own name attached to properties belays a need to protect it. One assumes Trump blows himself a kiss each morning when he shaves. It can be said that Trump’s business views have changed very little since he pushed himself into the limelight of the highest office in the land. The books he is said to have written are nothing more than grandstanding and one fears Trump himself believes every word of it. “I alone can fix it” summarizes extreme narcissism and bills him as a neo-fascist. Trump sees government agencies as wasteful and incompetent – getting in the way of free enterprise. He did build his own brand, however, and brought up his children to business leaders in their own right, and all the while being mostly alienated from the aristocrats and old-money movers and shakers. Few wanted anything to do with a brash newbie with such radical views of society. This is why his campaign was so amazing. Trump created a crisis and drew lower- to middle-class white males and small business owners into his web. Recent gaffs such as the ban on seven select Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States plays to the right-wing hardliners who are also among his strongest supporters. Trump’s position is nothing more than a red herring and he knows it. There are many faiths within Islam. Ismailis for one are an excellent example of why Obama’s separation of extremists and terrorism is so important. One needs only to recall the bloodbath in Northern Ireland, between Catholics and Protestant, to know that wars are primarily caused by two factors – economics and religion. Man’s character cannot be justified by religion: we are all capable of doing bad things. God has been just a good excuse for war. If we elect people solely on character, legislatures would be virtually empty. But President Trump with all his obvious flaws has one attribute that may pan out especially for manufacturers. I’ve spoken to quite a few American printers – from all regions. The majority suggest the same thing. They support Trump because he will disrupt the status quo of government and be a pro-business President. You cannot argue with that even though some realities of bringing manufacturing back to America may mean they will be buying $10,000 refrigerators and paying much higher costs for labour-intensive products. The Trump message to industry is quite clear. Cut out the red tape, impose tariffs on a variety of imported products, all to make America great again. U.S. printers can buy into that because if the plan actually works the result will be more printing being produced in America. The Mexican upheaval is really a US., Japanese and Korean manufacturer’s issue more than it is a Mexican one. Goods assembled or made in Mexico are for non-Mexican corporations – with a majority being American. In the 1980 movie The Formula, a film about a secret synthetic fuel that would render oil obsolete, there is a scene between two oil company executives: Arthur Clements: [proposing that Titan Oil can raise its gasoline prices] the people will accept the 12 cents now because we can blame it on the Arabs. Adam Steiffel: Ah, Arthur, you’re missing the point, we are the Arabs. The largest U.S. corporations are global. The movie showcased what we all sort of know. America Inc. is the puppeteer. Mexico (the country) is the one taking all the flack. The first commandment of free enterprise speaks of making products cheaper. Countries like Mexico are essential to maintaining a low-cost environment. Jobs are disappearing simply because of technology and both Canada and America need a low-cost producer in their own back yard, just as the rest of the world’s continents have access to such countries. The printing industry on both sides of the 48th parallel can benefit from Trump’s hacking away at red tape and forcing more factories to open up in the USA. Tariffs alone, if implemented by Congress, could invigorate rustbelt towns all over the United States. But there will be losers and Canada will have to work hard to keep itself out of Trump’s crosshairs. If Trump has his way in removing the so-called tax imposed on manufactured goods made and exported from America, this could cause severe indigestion for, among others, Canadian printers. We faced difficulties like this in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After all, Canadians enjoy exemptions on exported items so the likelihood of the Republicans agreeing on similar schemes is not a stretch. In 1994, when NAFTA was enacted, there were many Canadian naysayers warning of impending doom to the Canadian Auto industry. The previous 1965 AUTOPACT agreement had proven to be a Godsend for Canada and its replacement? Well who really knew how that would play out? Quite wonderfully actually. But now NAFTA is under attack and if our government cannot negotiate favourable terms our print industry could find itself back in the 1960s – shut out of tariff-free trade with our largest trading partner. For us in Canada? We can only hope that we don’t catch a cold. Only a fool believes our large oil reserves serve a single purpose of providing energy and powering our vehicles. Oil is so much more important and used in everything from food to plastics. But paper is another story all together. Especially in coated cut sheet, Canada and America work somewhat differently. This can be seen by visiting any cross border print shop. Southeast Asian and Chinese paper suppliers enjoy a major slice of a Canadian printer’s buy. Not as much in America, where they have always been aggressive in slapping on anti-dumping and countervailing duties. With current zero duties on Canadian printed materials (to the U.S.), Trump could alter any perceived advantages save for our weaker dollar. A bull in a china shop, Trump, while upending the way things have been, could either draw Canada closer economically or create huge difficulties. His reckless tweets and simplistic sound bites could not be more different from his predecessor. Obama’s speeches make Trump’s sound like he’s in a primary school debate. This does not change Trump’s forward trajectory as he stumbles through his first year. America’s small business owners will, however, applaud him if he does make it easier for them to expand and run their businesses. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for one, has made it extremely hard for web printers. The EPA imposes harsh rules for exhausting of airborne effluents and in some states like California the paperwork alone kills the majority of a dwindling industry. Battles have not begun yet between the Republican majority Congress and the President. But they will. In two years, Congress has an election. A massive problem will unfold soon between the two for its possible that the GOP will (if they completely side with Trump) lose their majority and make Trump a lame duck. Congress representatives from States that do a lot of business with Canada will be hard pressed to support schemes that restrict trade between the two countries. Let the knives come out. For the U.S. printing industry they hope Trump will not do anything really stupid to upend the economy. These folks are willing to hold their nose and pray that Trump stays on message to effect legislation that can benefit U.S. manufacturing. Canada’s printing industry needs a strong voice in Washington now more than ever. Do we have it? Time will tell. The one argument President Trump can make that will hold water is trade. The rest of his ideas are another matter but let’s hope it’s not too late to take the car keys back.
How the Iron Curtain ushered in the half-size web in the face of large-format offset to forever change print.   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.printaction.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleria1ad228270f If you were born in the 1950s and chose printing as an occupation, then you already know most of this story. Pressrooms of larger commercial printers typically employed huge sheetfed machines – sheet sizes of 60- and 77-inch monsters. They were the epitome of highly successful businesses. The bigger the press, the more likely you were to be among the top 10 percent in the industry. Only heatset web offset plants were more substantial.Such large format sheetfed printers existed because, as the amount of printing increased from the 1920s to 1970s, the only logical way to gain an advantage was to print more on a single sheet. Web offset was a much more segregated sector with different customers and very few web printers owned a sheetfed press.Sixty-four-page signatures were common especially if you produced books and short-run magazines. Massive size sheets meant tremendous hurdles in handling and re-stacking or even turning over to print the back sides. Several machine makers developed blanket-to-blanket presses for one-over-one printing. George Mann and Crabtree cornered this market with presses in the 56- and 65-inch sheet size. The French company Marinoni made similar machines and was eventually bought by Harris.None of these presses were easy to run. Older Manns required the plate clamps be removed and placed on a table whereby the plate was mounted. Then, along with the heavy clamps, hoisted back into the machine. But for one-colour book work like  school books these presses saved a lot of time with a single pass through.The binderies of the day faced just as many issues. Sheets – anywhere from 35 by 45 inches to 52 by 72 inches – would arrive and need to be folded. Dexter’s Quad folders were often used (all knife folds). If there were size changes it could take days to set up. Baum made monsters too, albeit not as large. These were all-buckle and, as with all folders of the time, had a very high feed table. I often joked that you needed oxygen to operate them. The biggest challenge was again in paper handling. Reams had to be hoisted by hand to load the feeders!The industry of its day seemed content to follow the maxim of larger (sheet size) was better even though that meant everything else in a supporting role had to be huge. It seemed nothing else would give a printer a technical advantage over another. Web was an old-boys club few sheetfed printers would dare enter – even if they could scrape up enough cash to do so. In Canada, companies like Ronald’s, Maclean Hunter, Southams, Lawsons and Richardson Bond & Wright (RBW) held the keys to a door few would dare cross.Quiet leap forward with GDRIf you visit Berlin take a stroll through the DDR Museum situated in the former East Berlin sector, just a short walk from the Brandenburg Gates. Inside you will see an interactive display of life in East Germany after the Second World War and up to 1989, when The Wall fell. Nearby a display of wooden hand grenades, which were given to children so they could practice chucking them over the wall when the decadent westerners invaded, there is a plaque that helps to define the miserable life that existed then. The East Germans provided the Eastern Bloc with the majority of hard currency by exporting the lion’s share of what they produced. Rejects were kept for the locals.As the Iron Curtain fell upon Eastern Europe after WWII, many German businesses found themselves trapped in the wrong place and at the wrong time. One such firm, known today as ZIRKON, had a storied past going back to 1819. Originally known as J.F. Schelter & Giesecke they started out as type founders. By 1827 they started building printing machines. The now famous PHÖNIX art platen was well received all over Europe and sold well into the early 20th century. In 1952 Schelter & Giesecke, along with about 80 percent of the East German industry, found themselves reorganized into the new Volkseigner Betrieb (VEB) state-owned structures. The company was renamed VEB Druckereimaschinenwerk-Universal Leipzig. Already having been involved with small reel-to-sheet machines before the war, they had designed and built a rather novel little web press known as the RZO. This was an offset press with three cylinders (plate, blanket and impression) and a sheeter, too. Various stories exist on just how and why this VEB came up with such a concept. Rumours suggested because these machines were so small (they had a web width of 24 ½ inches and a cut-off off 17 3/8 inches) that the whole press could be loaded on a truck and driven all over the Eastern Bloc to print newspapers and propaganda. During 1952 they manufactured the RZO with only two units so only one-over-one printing was possible.  By the next year, VEB expanded the line with the RZO II. It could run with four units and at speeds of only 8,000 iph. A folder was added that could be dollied into position in front of the sheeter. However, the small press had only two ink forme rollers, but this was fine for ground- wood newspaper stock and limited coverage only. Newspapers and flyers fit the bill.By the time 1957 rolled around, a small New York company called Zarkin Machine Co. caught wind of the RZO. Zarkin, incorporated back in 1928, was into all sorts of things and not just printing. After the war they were building plate whirlers and graining machines and it is suggested that two of the owners, Charles Zarkin and Jerome Reinitz, had in 1949 financed the rebuilding of a bombed out printing press factory in Berlin. This may have been the firm KiekeBusch for shortly after a new company Royal Zenith appeared in the US and the Kiekebusch sheetfed was marketed under the name of the Royal Zenith Jobber. The KiekeBusch was an odd little press with a Spiess feeder and made entirely of either aluminum or the new Suluminum alloy created by the Nazis during the war. Zarkin and Royal Zenith were both connected to each other. One hundred and thirty five RZO II’s were bought by Royal Zenith and sold into the US market by 1957 and a new chapter of printing was about to be written. In 1963, a revamped model of the RZO was designed. This press continued with the 3-cylinder principle but was faster and more refined. Called the Ultraset Junior RO62, it quickly found homes in both America and Canada. Marketed first as the Webmatic and then the Rubin 90, the press gained from Royal Zenith’s upgrades and demands to drastically change the printing landscape. A major incentive for anyone dealing with the East Germans was hard currency. The powerful US dollar was so desperately needed in the GDR that these machines were sold for ridiculously low money.The mighty Harris Intertype Corporation was starting to take notice. Harris was the industry leader in sheetfed especially 60 and 78 presses. Back in 1953 Harris had already decided to enter the web business and purchased Dallas-based Cottrell Company. With Harris’s knowledge of offset and Cottrell’s letterpress web skills, it soon blossomed and a wide range of Harris-Cottrell web presses in all sorts of sizes from 16pp to 64pp took hold of the North American market. But Harris didn’t have a small half-size web and they could see clearly how Royal Zenith had created a brand new business of turning large format sheetfed printers into 8pp web shops. This was causing havoc with Harris sheetfed sales!The argument was compelling for Royal Zenith. Paper would be cheaper, the press could eliminate folding in the bindery, fewer operators and most importantly faster speeds. No more monstrous platemakers or folding machines and paper cutters. No heavy handling of stock, perfecting was as simple as a turn-bar and machine footprint was not much more than a 38-inch sheetfed. By 1963, Harris bought a successful forms press manufacturer by the name of Schriber. Out of this, on the commercial side, came the revamped M-90 long grain web press and shortly after a new short grain M-110. The big advantage of the M 110 was that it was a 4-cylinder blanket-to-blanket design – just like the bigger commercial presses. So now instead of turn bars, a 4-unit press prints four colours on both sides at the same time. Add a dryer and some chill rollers and Voila! – the perfect tool to decimate the large sheetfeds completely. This M 110 entry may have hastened Harris`s resolve to drop the complete sheetfed program in an extraordinary 1975 decision. Not to be outdone, especially in a market they themselves had single handily created, VEB Polygraph/Royal Zenith had another press to launch in 1968. The ZIRKON 66 appeared (referred to in North America as the Royal Zenith 300) and it had all the same attributes as the Harris M 110 plus one very big advantage: Price! VEB Polygraph had come up with a press with some warts, but still able to produce high quality printing equal to sheetfed. Over the next 15 years, Harris and VEB Polygraph/Royal Zenith would battle it out for market share while at the same time destroying forever the very large format sheetfed industry. By 1982, there were seven more competitors in this segment. Albert Frankenthal (now KBA) with its A 101, Miller Johannisberg with the CW68 and Webb 66 (a licenced copy of the Zirkon Forta 660), Komori with the System 20 (long grain), MAN with the Octoman, Heidelberg with the Web-8 (long grain), Hitachi 440 and 660, and Solna with its C-50. These were all similar 8pp presses and now marketed the same way. The age of the half-web was here to stay.Both Harris and VEB Polygraph continually brought new technologies to the half web market. In 1978, VEB Polygraph launched the much improved FORTA 660 (or RZ420). The press ran 40,000 iph and was equally matched by Harris’s M 110 B.Royal Zenith must have made a fortune on the VEB Polygraph association. They certainly did with its Planeta business as well as representing other Eastern Bloc combines like Brehmer, Perfecta and KOVO-Romayor. By the time of reunification (1990), Royal Zenith saw its advantage evaporate overnight and sold its interest to the newly formed and privatized Planeta. Planeta continued for a short time to represent the newly named VEB Polygraph (ZIRKON) but with virtually no cash and still bloated with too many employees, too much inventory and no cash, were gobbled up by KBA. ZIRKON continues today in Leipzig as a privately held GmbH and has made forays into 16pp webs as it continues trading. The beginning of the end of the half-web happened slowly. And by 1995 drupa, new sheetfed technologies for perfecting 4 over 4 put a lid on its coffin. The advantage the half web once held over larger sheetfeds was eroded by the declining run lengths, lower waste (of new perfecting sheetfeds) and more efficient make-readies of 16pp page webs. The larger webs could, by the mid 1990s, easily compete with what had been an exclusive segment held by the little 8pp webs.In the early days of half web, printers also started to realize that they could print new work like business forms, newsletters and direct mail, opening up more revenue streams for a press that was first idealized to print propaganda on bad paper. Today manufacturers face a new challenge in keeping even the 40-inch press viable in the face of newer digital presses. This threat is real and the main impediments are the costs of such new (digital) technologies.         Currently there is severe sticker shock and something that is completely inverse to the story of the half web versus large sheetfed. Half webs can today be bought for less than the value of their metal. It is a reminder of how quickly printing technology changes today.
With the introduction of the M measurement modes, the past couple of years have brought a range of incredible new measurement devices that can change the way any commercial printer approaches their pressroom (originally publshed in PrintAction's October 2015 issue).(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a relatively long, highly important technical article produced from original research by Ryerson University's Dr. Martin Habekost and Dr. Abhay Sharma, with contributions from fourth-year student Alyssa Andino. If preferred, a PDF version of the article is available for printing in PrintAction's archives.)   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.printaction.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleria0703a5b166 There are some exciting new developments in the world of measuring instruments that tackle the perennial issues of measuring wet and dry press sheets, measurement of papers with optical brighteners, doing a press check with metallic inks or trying to match a press sheet to a proof – new standards and new instruments are now available that eradicate many of these practical colour issues. The Barbieri SpectroPad2, the Techkon SpectroDens and the X-Rite eXact have been tested and evaluated in Ryerson University’s pressroom in different applications from inkjet photo papers to metallic PANTONE inks on press. Spectrophotometers are routinely used for colour measurement and colour management in many commercial printing and proofing workflows. In the case of media containing optical brightening agents, UV-induced fluorescence has lead to poor levels of agreement between models from different manufacturers, or different models from the same manufacturer. If instruments produce different readings, then problems with colour matching can occur when colour management is done in prepress with one instrument, but a different instrument is used to do spot checks at press-side. A major contributor to inter-model differences is the amount of ultraviolet (UV) energy in the instrument. When a paper contains brightening agents, instruments have reported different measurements for the same sample. The new standard ISO 13655 now clearly defines four measurement modes: M0, M1, M2 and M3. In broad terms, M0 is a legacy mode for all devices prior to the implementation of the new measurement modes, while M1 and M2 are UV-included and UV-excluded modes, respectively. The M3 mode is a polarizing mode for use in ink dry-back on press or for measuring metallic inks and other special effect inks. New ISO 13655 measurementThe problem to date has been that there was no clear specification for handheld spectrophotometers for prepress and pressroom use. The new ISO 13655 standard provides much more clarity for the instrument measuring conditions, which has brought instruments from different suppliers into closer agreement. The instruments evaluated here are new instruments that meet this standard. We provide an explanation for ISO 13655 and its implementation for the general user. The legacy mode M0 represents the majority of measuring instruments used in the field today. The X-Rite 530, i1Pro and iSis are all M0 instruments. M0 is directed to instruments that use a tungsten lamp to illuminate the specimen being measured. The tungsten bulb based device used to be the primary type of device on the market. It should be noted that the UV component can be very weak in these instruments as they have very low energy in the 300-400 nm range.An M0 instrument can safely be used for process control applications where it is adequate to make repeatable measurements, it can be used in situations where it is not necessary to know the “absolute” measurement value and there is no exchange of information or correlation with other measurement scenarios. In general, the M0 mode exists as a catch-all mode so that we have within the new ISO standard a category for legacy devices. The M0 mode enables older devices to have a place within the new standard.M1 is known as the “D50 mode” or “UV included mode”  – devices can use two different methods to achieve this mode. The light source in the instrument must create the effect of CIE Illuminant, D50. A major difference (and improvement) over earlier specifications is that in this mode the spectral power distribution of the illuminant should approximate D50, thus the relative amount  of UV and visible wavelengths is now clearly and unambiguously specified.The clarification for spectral power distribution in measuring instruments, ISO 13655, is accompanied by a similar clarification in the standard for viewing booths ISO 3664. Via updated standard ISO 3664, emphasis has turned to requiring a closer simulation of Illuminant D50 thus clarifying the amount of UV illumination in the viewing booth. In the current context, ISO 3664 has called for tighter tolerances on the quality of the light source to ensure that it closely matches the D50 (M1) curve especially in the UV part of the spectrum. We may say that M1 is, in fact, nothing more than an ISO 3664 source in the instrument. By implementation of these two ISO standards, we arrive for the first time at a situation where instrument reported values are in agreement with what is observed visually in a viewing booth. D50, one of the standard viewing booth modes, is the basis for the Profile Connection Space in the ICC architecture. M1 mode within instruments corresponds to ISO 3664 for viewing booths, all of which make M1 the most desirable mode for today’s colour measurement and colour management systems. Instruments that offer M1 mode are devices such as X-Rite’s i1Pro2 and iSis2 – note the “2” in the model name, indicating they are second generation instruments for the new ISO standard.M2, defined as a “UV-cut” mode, removes all UV light from the measurement system, below 400 nm. ISO 13655 states, “The spectral power distribution of the measurement source… shall only contain substantial radiation power in the wavelength range above 400 nm...” M2 is thus a UV-cut mode, filtering out any UV component below 400 nm, in the instrument’s light source. How is this mode used in practice? There will be times when a customer will request a print to be measured using M2 because the lighting used to display the job is expected to be free of UV content. A museum is an example of one such place that may use UV-free lighting. In colour management circles there may be instances that require removing UV light from the measurement system. With the new standard there is a specific definition for “UV-cut” and the wavelength at which it occurs.M3 is a polarizing mode (for measurement of wet offset press sheets) and consists of UV-cut, up until 400 nm and then a polarizing filter is applied to the remaining wavelengths. The main use of M3 is to limit or completely remove surface reflections. In the offset printing sector, the customer pays for the final dry product. One of the main concerns is that the press sheets come off the press wet and as they dry the density of the ink drops. The M3 mode can aid printers in cutting the surface gloss from wet inks, and if drying is primarily represented by a change in surface gloss, then by removing the gloss, we may have a better prediction of the final expected dry density. It is generally agreed that a polarization filter can give less difference in density readings between a wet and a dried-back press sheet, so the use of a polarizing filter can provide a better predictor of dry density from wet density readings.There is considerable debate around the use of polarization filters for density measurements and for use in metallic inks. The use of polarization filters is somewhat controversial since the effect is not controllable and each situation will produce different results, until now there have been no published standards for the use of polarization filters. The situation was akin to the use of UV light in the instrument, it was not stipulated or clearly defined. ISO 13655 now clarifies the situation for the response of the polarizing filter. The M3 mode is examined in the present study for use in measurement of metallic inks – an area that has been a thorny issue for measurement and control of metallic inks on press. Practical testing using the Techkon SpectroDens and X-Rite eXact show that the M3 mode provides huge improvements when controlling metallic inks on press.Barbieri SpectroPad2New in the market today, from different companies, are instruments that meet the ISO 13655 standard. The Barbieri SpectroPad2 spectrophotometer was evaluated at Ryerson GCM for use in photo papers containing high amounts of optical brighteners. The SpectroPad2 has a novel upright design with a large, clear panel. To measure, the head moves along for a small distance until a small beep reports the measurement in the touch-screen LCD panel. The device connects directly to a laptop or other computer via Barbieri Gateway software using USB or WiFi, or at press-side the LCD panel can be set to immediately report a pass or fail colour test. Importantly, the SpectroPad2 is compliant with the M0, M1 and M2 measurement modes – it is highly recommended that a press shop should only buy a device that complies with these standards. The white calibration tile is neatly hidden and is unlocked when white calibration is done by the user. The device is clean, simple, elegant and a charm to use, and has applications in offset printing as well as all digital applications such as large-format inkjet. Barbieri is an Italian company, run by brothers Stefan and Markus Barbieri, supplying a range of spectrophotometers with a wide European user base, and support here in Toronto.Techkon SpectroDensThe Techkon SpectroDens is a sophisticated German instrument in which we focused on the use of the M3 measurement mode. The SpectroDens also has a neatly hidden calibration tile in the charging base for the instrument. The SpectroDens can also be used to see if a press sheet is in compliance with the G7 process. The latest model even offers a hand-scanning mode for the measurement of the G7 target. In the current evaluation we focused on the M3 mode, which can be used for measuring metallic inks and other special effect inks. The M3 measurement mode describes the use of two polarizing filters before the reflected light from the sample hits the sensor.In the test, we measured wet and dry metallic inks to see how well the new M3 measurement mode works when it comes to measuring such inks. Ten metallic inks with PANTONE P877 silver or P874 gold as base metallic ink were printed on a Prüfbau printability tester and measured. The reference point was the printed metallic ink in the PANTONE metallic book. A range of samples with declining ink amounts were printed. The Techkon SpectroDens was used to measure L*a*b* values and the density of the samples.The colour data and the density were recorded using the SpectroDrive software from Techkon, which can be downloaded for free. The software can connect to the instrument over WiFi, if both devices are on the same wireless network. The other option is to connect the instrument with the supplied USB cable to a USB port of your computer. With help of the software a colour standard can be set and then measurements can be taken of the samples and compared to the standard. The colour difference between standard and sample can be calculated in various colour differencing equations. For the evaluation of the M3 measurement mode, we used the DE2000 equation because the calculated DE2000 values correspond quite well with how we, as human observers, perceive colour differences.Since the SpectroDens, and all other modern spectrophotometers measure the light spectrum that is reflected back from the sample, they do not calculate density in the same way as traditional filter-based densitometers. In spectral-based densitometers, the reflected light spectrum is used from which to calculate density. This is the reason why the measuring device is capable of giving L*a*b* values and printed ink density at the same time.Press run with silver and gold metallic inksAfter printing 10 different metallic inks on the Prüfbau printability tester, six colours were chosen for a pressrun on our 2-colour Heidelberg Quickmaster QM46. Again, we used the printed ink density from the PANTONE metallic book as a yardstick. After a proper set up and achieving the target ink density, we turned the ink ductor off and ran 200 consecutive prints. For the analysis, a press sheet was measured every 10 sheets and the results collected with the SpectroDrive software and recorded in Excel. The results from the prints on the Prüfbau printability tester and the QM46 press run aligned quite well in regards to which metric can be used for controlling metallic inks on press.For the metallic ink project we also used an X-Rite eXact which has been switched into M3 measurement mode. The same samples (Prüfbau and QM46) that were measured with the SpectroDens were also measured with the eXact. X-Rite offers the DataCatcher software which can connect via Bluetooth or USB-cable with instrument. The data can also be stored directly into an Excel spreadsheet.Very important and relevant findings show that the M3 mode can be used to measure spectral density and the density relates well to ink film thickness of metallic ink. When we increase or decrease the amount of metallic ink, the density reading increases or decreases accordingly, thus we have an instrument and metric to control metallic ink on press. The other critical result here is that two different instruments – the Techkon SpectroDens and the X-Rite eXact agree in their measurements of the same sample. A main result from this project is that there is close agreement in terms of density between the Techkon SpectroDens and the X-Rite eXact for the metallic colours. The density function on both measurement devices allows to easily track the printed ink density on press. Differences start to show up when thick ink films are being printed, when one tries to print a real intense or dense colour. At this point, the measurement values start to drift, but you have to keep in mind that at a heavy ink film and high ink densities very little light reaches the light sensor and, therefore, the calculated L*a*b* values and ink densities can start to be slightly different. Another option would be to track the L*-value of the printed ink. L* is a lightness measurement. So, if the L* value is below the target L*-value than the ink is too dark and too much ink is applied on press. If the L* value is above the target value then the ink is too light and a little bit more ink has to be printed. Our results clearly show that the recorded density values decrease as the printed ink film thickness decrease. A decreasing ink film thickness means that the print gets lighter, which in return, in shown in the increasing L*-values. A higher L*-value means, that the colour is less intense than the desired colour and a thicker ink film has to be printed on press by either opening the ink keys more, or by increasing the ink dwell in the ink fountain.More than hypeIn many print shops there are different devices used in prepress and press, or a printer may have a Toronto and Ottawa location with an instrument in each facility. The new ISO 13655 standard brings all these different instruments into close alignment. Further, the ISO 13655 enables different measurement modes for UV-included and UV-excluded measurements and also the M3 mode for measurement of metallic inks. Together these changes provide huge advantages to practical colour measurement and colour matching at press-side.It is not marketing hype, press shops should genuinely seek to upgrade their instrumentation and in this work we evaluated the Barbieri SpectroPad2, Techkon SpectroDens and X-Rite eXact – these all meet the new ISO standards and are all easy to use, software-driven devices. Specifically in this testing, the Techkon SpectroDens and the X-Rite eXact can both be used to measure metallic inks on press, using the M3 measurement mode. A relatively easy to understand metric for on press control is the printed ink density that both instruments can show in their LCD displays. Using the printed ink density allows press operators to measure and control metallic inks like they are controlling four process colours!
An in-depth test review of Affinity Photo v1.3.5 (available from the Mac Store for $57.99 or as a free trial) to better understand if Serif Software can continue to shake up the graphics software market with its inexpensive applications.Within a span of 12 short months, UK-based Serif Software has turned the Mac graphics software market on its ear! Its first salvo – Affinity Designer – was released in October 2014 (reviewed in PrintAction February 2015) and cut a broad swath into the design, pre-media and prepress software market with powerful and useful features aimed squarely at graphic arts professionals. And instead of exacting a monthly toll from its users, Serif chose to sell perpetual licenses of Affinity Designer through Apple’s online store for a fraction the cost of competing applications.Now Serif is poised to disrupt the image-editing and photography market with its next product for graphics professionals and amateurs alike – Affinity Photo. As with Designer, Serif has engineered Affinity Photo as a Mac application from the first line of code instead of porting their popular PhotoPlus application from the Windows side of its business. And based on my initial impressions and early industry buzz, Affinity Photo is a strong sophomore effort for the company as it courts the Mac design, photo and graphics pro.Personas for the peopleWhen first launching Affinity Photo (AP) the default user interface opens in an application window and presents a familiar looking array of image-editing tools and panels that are relatively easy to navigate for both experienced image pros and amateurs. As with Designer, Affinity Photo groups tools and functions into task specific workspaces called Personas – good for those keen to organize their workflow. Initially, Photo opens with the Photo Persona active, presenting a familiar looking Tool Dock on the left chock full of the usual (image-editing) suspects including: Move Tool; Selection Brush; Cropping; various paint brush and fill tools; dodging and cloning tools; as well as a few mystery tools. Mystery tool #1: The AP Flood Select tool enables users to select pixels by colour similarity. As you drag the tool across a range of pixels, the selection size grows to encompass a wider range of colour. Flood Select is especially useful in isolating shadow areas in high contrast images. Mystery tool #2 is the Inpainting Brush, another tool unique to AP that can be used to identify damaged areas within an image, and then used to paint over the missing data with new pixels reconstructed based on image information from the surrounding pixels. It sounds complex, but is really just a new and innovative approach to content-aware restoration.The toolbar running horizontally along top of the Photo Persona application window houses auto levels, contrast, colour and white balance buttons in addition to selection and quick mask tools. In particular, AP’s Quick Mask feature enables users to easily build masks to isolate key elements within their images, then toggle how the selection is displayed. Other toolbar inhabitants include a nifty Force Pixel Alignment tool that will snap vector objects or pixel selections to full pixels – very useful for Web graphics – as well as a full range of arrange, insert and alignment functions. A full range of filters can be found in the Photo Persona menubar, including the varied flavours of Blur; Sharpen; Distort; Noise; Edge Detection; Shadows/Highlights and so on. When launched each Filter pops up in its own window with all the appropriate controls and parameters for the user to adjust. Split Screen, a feature borrowed from Designer, is built into the filter window and enables users to view images in full screen, split screen or mirrored screen to preview the effect alongside the original image in real-time.As you might expect, the right side of the default AP workspace contains a familiar set of panels relevant to the Persona that the user is working in. For example, the Photo Persona includes essential panels such as Layers; Effects; Swatches; Brushes; Histogram; Navigator; and so on. All panels can be rearranged to suit individual preferences within the application window to create a customized workspace. The chaotically minded can opt to do away with the window altogether by choosing to work in Separated Mode, which breaks all the aforementioned toolbars and panels into free-floating elements that can be placed anywhere on your screen.Using Layers, AP provides a comprehensive non-destructive editing workflow allowing users to apply any adjustment or effect to underlying Layers. Colour images can be converted to greyscale using a B+W adjustment layer similar to a channel mixer you might find in other photo-editing applications. Unique to Affinity Photo, Live Filter Layers can be applied to any layer and modified in real-time. Portrait photographers and prepress techs dealing with a lot of headshots will appreciate AP’s Frequency Separation filter which enables users to correct texture and colour independently – great for blemish removal and smoothing coarse skin textures without affecting skin tone.Liquify & DevelopAffinity Photo includes three additional Personas for users: Liquify; Develop; and Export. As the name implies, Liquify Persona is the workspace for distorting pixels in images. When switching to the Liquify workspace, a grid is immediately applied to your image showing brush size and distortion effect. The Toolbar displays a selection of distortion tools, such as Twirl; Pinch; Liquify Turbulence Tool; as well as a Freeze Tool that creates a mask to protect an area in your image from distortion, and a Thaw Tool to remove it.Opening a Camera RAW file in Affinity Photo automatically defaults to the Develop Persona – AP’s robust RAW editing workspace. In addition to RAW, the Develop Persona works with other standard image formats and Photo’s tabbed UI means that users can work with RAW images alongside other files. Develop enables users to apply multiple adjustments to images encompassing exposure; white balance; and black point along with a variety of other professional-grade adjustments. The AP Scope panel shows users the distribution of chrominance and luminance within their image – a capability I have not previously seen in an image-editing application.I was particularly impressed with the powerful lens correction features in the AP Develop Persona, including notable noise reduction for high ISO images. That said: Affinity Photo has the ability to create and save presets for rectifying lens distortion, but this version does not appear to include profiles for specific lenses. Hopefully, some popular lens profiles will show up in a future version. When finished perfecting your RAW image, Affinity Photo prompts you to ‘Develop’ before changing Personas in a nod to the analog roots of darkroom wizardry. The Export Persona affords users very precise control over getting an image out of Affinity Photo in a variety of formats. At this point, I should mention that AP has its own propriety file structure for saving files you are actively working with. The .afphoto file type contains all layer, filter, mask and effect information in addition to the pixels in your image. Although this format is both efficient and convenient, users will still need to export more common image formats for prepress use. Fortunately, the Export Persona makes short work of this task with all the options necessary to export SVG, JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, EPS and PDF available in one convenient workspace. Interestingly, I saved the same test image in Photoshop and Affinity Photo –  the Affinity Photo file was about 70 percent smaller while maintaining the same pixel density.Under the hoodIt is easy to get wrapped up in all the bells and whistles Affinity Photo provides for image-editing pros and overlook a few other pretty remarkable attributes. Under the hood, AP uses a 64-bit architecture and harnesses every graphics advantage the Mac ecosystem has to offer, such as: Support for Open GL; Grand Central Dispatch; Core Graphics; and the Retina display UI. In plain English this translates to fast, live processing and instantaneous previews of a huge range of high-end filters and effects; masking effects and advanced adjustment layers as well as live blending modes. Affinity Photo is very fast, even on modestly configured equipment such as my aging 2012 Macbook Air.Prepress pros will be glad to hear that in addition to support for RGB, Greyscale and LAB colour spaces (both 8- and 16-bit), AP provides users with a start-to-finish CMYK workflow, something of a rarity in image-editing applications within this price range. Add to that a multi-document tabbed interface, support for unlimited layers and impressive live preview performance even when applying effects to massive layered images and its pretty tough to see a downside to working in Affinity Photo!That’s not to suggest Affinity Photo provides everything a photographer, designer or prepress pro wants or needs. A few useful production capabilities are missing in action with this version, including support for scripts, HDR image compositing and panorama stitching. Also, minor conveniences such as the application recognizing the pixel dimensions of an image in the clipboard when creating a new file have been overlooked – in this version at least. The good in Affinity Photo’s imperfections is that Serif has fodder for future updates – something they have established a good reputation for with Affinity Designer.Elephant in the prepress department“Gee, Affinity Photo sounds an awful lot like Photoshop! How does it compare?” Google “Affinity Photo” and you will see “Photoshop Alternative” or “Photoshop Challenger” as the headline or opening stanza in dozens of articles. When assessing Affinity Photo, I tried to put more than two decades of Photoshop experience on the back burner and take an unbiased look at this new application instead comparing the two programs feature-by-feature. As a result, I have concluded that Affinity Photo is the first image-editing application I’ve worked with that can meet the day-to-day production needs of most designers, photographers and image-editing specialists that didn’t have an Adobe logo on its welcome screen. This application provides all tools needed to work with CMYK images with full Photoshop import (.PSD and .PSB) and export capability (.PSD) while maintaining layers and effects.Does Affinity Photo do everything Photoshop does? Of course not! Photoshop benefits from more than 25 years of development and includes arcane features such ad-hoc video editing and 3D model rendering and printing – neither which might be relevant to many designers, premedia and prepress specialists.And if, like myself, you have been working with Photoshop on a professional level for more than 20 years you have also likely memorized plenty of key commands and know where to access every single function with a flick of the wrist. With that level of muscle memory dedicated to working in Photoshop, you will have some re-learning to do before becoming as effective in Affinity Photo. The key takeaway here is that in most cases you can eventually be as effective once you are on the downhill side of the Affinity Photo learning curve… a pretty big accomplishment for Serif’s new kid on the image-editing block.Zac Bolan can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Earn more business by reducing your prospect’s marketing cost by up to 75% while maintaining maximum marginsMost account executives are facing the same two print sales challenges: How do I differentiate my services when my competitors are capable of supplying the same job and how can I be competitive when there is always someone willing to print the same job for less? Although co-op marketing does not apply to every print sales situation, if your prospect is a neighborhood business that is print marketing collateral then co-op marketing offers a unique solution to this print sales challenge. What is co-op marketing?With summer now in swing, businesses that offer home services like lawn care, carpet cleaning, door and window sales, heating and air conditioning sales, eaves trough installers, roofers, driveway paving, kitchen and bathroom renovators, home improvement contractors and landscapers are getting ready for their summer marketing drive, which usually entails distributing fliers, brochures and door hangers throughout the local neighborhood. This need for marketing collateral presents an excellent opportunity for anyone in the printing industry to grow their sales and earnings.But landing these accounts is not that easy, after all, most of them are already dealing with a printer and the vast majority – a whopping 80 percent – are happy with their existing supplier. So why should any of these companies endure the risk and inconvenience of changing suppliers?  Well the fact is that in most cases they won’t, unless:You have something to offer that they can’t get from their existing supplier, You can show them how to get a better ROI, and Your quote is very competitive.Co-op marketing allows you to meet all three of these criteria. Co-op marketing simply means sharing the printing and distribution costs between two or more noncompetitive businesses. CO-OP Marketing advantages 1. It lowers your prospect’s cost   For example, the lawn care service provider is ready to invest $3,000 to print and distribute a promotional flier; the roofing company is also planning to send promotional fliers to the same target market; and so is the driveway paving service and the eaves trough installers. If only two of these businesses got together to share the cost of the flier and distribution, they could reduce their marketing costs by up to 50 percent; and if all four got together their savings could be as high as 75 percent. From a print sales perspective creating a co-op marketing program allows you to differentiate your service by telling the prospect that you can reduce their marketing costs by up to 75 percent!  2. It will increase sales    For your prospect a reduction in marketing costs means much more than just saving money; it also means an increase in sales and higher profits. For example, take any business person; a real estate agent; the owner of a lawn care service or the owner of the local pizzeria, their success requires marketing. They need to tell everyone in their neighborhood about the service or product and the more often they get their message out, the higher their sales. But small business owners have a limited marketing budget, so although they’d like to advertise more, they cannot afford it. Small business owners will welcome an idea that allows them to promote their services more often for the same cost and co-op marketing provides this opportunity. From a print sales perspective, creating a co-op marketing program allows you to differentiate your service by telling the prospect that you can share an idea that will increase their sales and gain market share.3. It makes your prospect’s marketing material more effective  Diversity increases readership. For example, a Healthcare Newsletter that included an article and ad from a dentist, a dermatologist, a chiropractor and a nutritionist would have a much higher readership then a newsletter that only focused on one of these topics. So while sharing the cost of printing and distributing a brochure, flier or door hanger will greatly reduce your prospect’s marketing cost, co-op marketing will also increase readership and, for the prospect, that means generating a higher response. From a print sales perspective, creating a co-op marketing program means that you differentiate your service by telling the prospect that you can share an idea that will increase response and make their marketing collateral more effective.While offering your prospects a co-op marketing opportunity is an extremely effective way to differentiate your services and eliminate price competition, you can maximize your sales and earnings by offering the prospect a marketing campaign instead of a single co-op distribution. For example, if you created a co-op Home Services Newsletter or Door Hanger your promotional package could include printing and distribution to 5-million homes once a month for six months. How to create a co-op marketing package 1. Select the productAny printed material can be turned into a co-op marketing program, a note pad, flier, postcard, calendar, oversized door hangers, or an 11 x 17 sheet can be turned into 4-page newsletter.      2. Select an area for distribution5,000 homes along specified postal routes, all the businesses within a target area3. Pick a theme Again, there are lots of themes to choose from, primarily depending on time of year: Home improvements, real estate, food and entertainment, health and fitness, business services, etc.4. List the different types of business that fit under your themeHome improvements: Carpet cleaning, door and window sale, heating and air conditioning sale, eaves trough installers, roofers, driveway paving, kitchen and bathroom renovators, home improvements contractors, landscapers, lawn care, plumbers and electricians. Food and entertainment: Restaurants, theatres, pubs, country clubs, caterers, wine making outlets, butchers, home delivery, bakers and even farms that sell to the public.Business services: Office cleaning, office supplies, office equipment, business insurance, car leasing, temp services, accounting, bookkeeping and computer services, courier, shipping.5. Create a prospecting listUse the phone directory and Internet to identify all the local businesses on your list. 6. Contact everyone on your listTell them about the benefits. Offer everyone exclusivity by only including one company for each service. For example if your theme was dinning you could make it exclusive by including only one Italian, one Chinese and one Mexican restaurant.
For three days in March, some of  the brightest technological minds in print gathered in New Mexico to discuss RFID, Ultra Violet, omni-marketing and colour management The Technical Association of the Graphic Arts held its annual conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in late March. As is tradition, the conference, focusing on the newest technological developments in printing systems kicked off with four high-profile keynote speakers.The first keynote came from Chris Travis of KBA North America. He talked about many advances still being made in press technology, with more sales of complex machines, combining different   printing features and more automation. Presses are being ordered with double coaters for spot UV, spot matte and special effect coatings. Sometimes the coating units are before the printing units for laying white down first, to print on foils and for the application of sizing. The goal of all these various press configurations is to get everything done in  one pass. Travis also points out that the decision to print a job digitally or offset starts at a relatively low good-copy count. He says any job with more than 191 good print copies is more cost effective when the job is printed offset. UV technology is also changing, as the light tubes change from the standard mercury vapour to iron-doped mercury vapour light tubes. This little change results in higher gloss levels for UV coatings. The coating manufacturers have to adjust the phot0-initiator mix so it will work with the iron-doped UV light tubes and UV LED technology is gaining more of a foothold in the print industry. Travis also points out that flexographic printing is growing and holds the most potential in the print industry. The industry overall is finally growing again even as a lot of mergers and acquisitions take place.The second keynote was given by Patrick Younk from Los Alamos National Lab, introducing conference attendees to some of their incredible work. Many fundamental research projects are carried out by this research institute. Younk talked about the High Altitude Water Cherenkov observatory for the detection of gamma rays originating from the sun. He also talked about an ultra-fast optical ranging measurement system. It is a non-contact position measurement system that works with a 1-micron accuracy and it could be used to measure ink film thickness or colour registration.Michael Van Haren from Quad/Graphics presented the third keynote on omni-channel marketing. He began by describing the differences between multi-channel and omni-channel marketing. Omni-channel marketing is the same message on all media. Print of course is still the main driver of this. Why – because it works. It delivers the right message in the right place at the  right time. With the emergence of high-speed inkjet printing it is possible to personalize the message and with full colour inkjet the message to the consumer becomes very personalized. A highly targeted variable data print uses personalized URLs or PURLs. Through QR codes and image recognition apps, the printed piece has some augmented reality to it. For all this technology to work well, data is needed to drive the campaign. The contact strategy needs to be build with print being in sync with digital channels. Any digital tools that interact with the customer need to be tested over and over again to make sure they all work as intended.The fourth keynote was given by Bruce Khan from Clemson University and his topic was printed electronics. He said that print is and will be the manufacturing method of choice in this area, because it is fast and produces the electronic components at a relatively low cost. Khan also says that false hopes had been given by nanotechnology and RFID technology. The most successful printed electronic component is the glucose sensor strip for diabetics. Many obstacles still need to be overcome to successfully print something like flexible hybrid electronics.Colour and optical brightenersOn the second day of the TAGA conference, the series of presentations started with a diverse range of topics. John Anderson from Kodak talked about the  Flexcel NX flexographic printing plate that allows the manufacturing of plates with flat top dots. The Flexcel NX plate is coupled with DigiCapNX technology to achieve higher solid ink densities than with conventional plate technology. This technology allows for creating halftones from a 0.4 to a 99.6 percent tint. Through Hyperflex NX technology, the floor of the flexographic printing plate gets extended to support low tint value halftone dots. This presentation was an example of the advances that are currently made in flexography that allow the printing of finer details and more vibrant solids.Don Schroeder from Fujifilm was one of the first speakers to talk about the influence of optical brighteners in papers and that proofing papers have no or very little optical brighteners in them. This discrepancy causes colour differences between press sheet and proof, especially if the paper has a very blueish white colour. The new measurement conditions M1 as outlined in ISO 13655 requires a light source with UV component, so the optical brighteners in the paper get excited and influence the measurement of the printed colours. The standard datasets that many colour management solutions are built upon were created in 2006 and they have been measured under the M0 measurement conditions, which are without a UV component in the light source. The new dataset created in 2013 use measurements taken under the M1 conditions.Many other presenters talked about the new M1 measurement conditions and how they will influence the printing industry, but there is a drawback to this new measurement condition. An extreme example is that two M1 compliant light sources can have 50 and 150 percent of UV component in them and this results in a b* difference of 7. This can be quite significant for the overall colour difference and can result in a pass or fail of a colour. In conjunction with ISO 13655, for the measurement conditions of light booths, ISO 3664 has also been updated, so that the light source in the viewing booths also has a UV component in them. The compliance of a viewing booth with this updated ISO standard can be verified with a measurement device from GL Optics. Overall there were six presentations about the new M1 measurement condition and how it influences measured colours, the proofing stage and also the colour management part of any print job.Although the DE2000 colour difference equation is not (yet) part of an ISO standard, work is being done to develop a colour space that is based on DE2000. John Seymour from QuadTech presented his advances in this project. His goal is to create a colour space with modified L*a*b*-axis that allow for the use the DeltaLab colour difference formula.A presentation was given on the strategies of managing spot colours using traditional metrics and how to predict the colour outcome using simulated colours on screen. Research is also being done regarding working with expanded gamut printing using 7 colours (CMYK plus orange, green and violet). The use GCR and optimized colour sequence (KOVCGMY) are instrumental to more stable and predictable print results.Raia Slivniak-Zorin from HP in Israel talked about the work she and her team did with regard to digitally printed flexible packaging. The work was done on an HP Indigo and the prints were also laminated. One of her main findings is that a primer needs to applied to the flexible substrate first, so the ElectroInk will adhere properly. Also an adhesive has to be applied first, before the printed material can be laminated. A corona treatment of the substrate greatly enhances the bonding of primer and ink.The 2015 TAGA conference was a very high profile conference with many cutting-edge research  presentations that will have an  influence on the print industry in the coming years. The fact that the M1 measurement condition  received so much attention during the conference shows that the new ISO standard requires more  investigation.
Makers of electrophoretic ink discuss how technology that began life as an MIT Media Lab research project is transforming information consumptionSimple demographics are one of the biggest threats to the viability of print. Younger generations consume more and more media with little need for the printed page. Digital display companies are keenly focused on the functionality of their user interfaces, but readability remains an allusive metric for most. From consumer reports it seems the tablet reading experience on devices such as Apple’s iPad or Samsung’s Galaxy leaves something to be desired. The tablet’s glossy backlit LCD screen is great for watching videos, but reflections tire the reader’s eye and the words are difficult to read outdoors. Emissive displays also draw a lot of power causing tablet batteries to fade after only a few hours in many cases.On the other hand many avid e-book fans will tell you that a Kindle or Kobo with crisp black type on a paper-white background provides a much better reading experience. Though by no means a replacement for the multi-media friendly tablet, former consumers of the printed page have been increasingly adopting this style of e-reader for ease of reading both indoors and out while enjoying longer battery life. But what makes these e-readers so different from tablets? The answer is E InkE Ink takes its name from its technology – electrophoretic ink – and is the visible component used in Electronic Paper Displays (EPDs). This promising technology began life in 1996 as a research project in the MIT Media Lab before becoming the foundation of E Ink Corporation, which sought to commercialize the digital paper concept as the preferred display for e-readers. E Ink is made of microcapsules about the diameter of a human hair sandwiched between two thin layers of film containing a transparent top electrode, and a bottom electrode. Each microcapsule contains negatively charged black pigment and positively charged white pigment suspended in a clear fluid. When the top electrode charges positive, the black pigment rises to the surface, morphing the microcapsule from white to black. The microcapsules are bi-stable and reflective – meaning the image will remain on the digital page without electricity and requires only ambient light to be visible. That’s why E Ink displays draw very little power.E Ink displays are well suited for viewing static images that change sporadically – simulating book, newspaper or magazine pages for example. Because the display reflects natural light, it much more closely resembles the printed page with readability improving as the light gets brighter – working especially well in full sunlight. E Ink Corporation announced new concepts at CES 2015 and demonstrated E Ink products developed by licensees that evolve the digital paper paradigm beyond the e-reader.New E Ink models“One of the more interesting products we are showing at CES is the Sony DPT S1 business e-reader,” reveals Giovanni Mancini, head of global marketing for E Ink. “Designed for the business user, this device is the size of an A4 sheet of paper, extremely rugged and weighs only about six ounces.“The DPT S1 has touch capability, but it also has an extremely responsive digitizer. This is intended for business users who want to take a large number of documents with them, but don’t want the bulk of the paper,” he continues. “Users can annotate documents with their fingertip while in the field, then have the information captured into the document control system back in the office.”The Sony DPT S1 comes with 4gb storage, capable of carrying thousands of monochrome pages and has a micro SD slot for expansion.Mancini then demonstrates another innovative use for E Ink in the form of a mobile phone display. The Russian-made YotaPhone is an Android mobile phone featuring a standard high-resolution colour display on the front, and a monochrome E Ink display on the back of the handset.“The idea is to attach different information feeds, such as email or text messages, that you want to keep monitoring to the E Ink display on the back,” Mancini explains. “This way you don’t have to constantly turn on the screen on the front of your phone and cycle through the various apps to get the information. This really extends the battery life of the YotaPhone because of the very low power consumption of E Ink displays.“To really conserve power, the user can completely disable the front colour display and get the full Android interface on the E Ink display. You can even use the Kindle App to read books on the back of the YotaPhone! “Another innovative use of an E ink display can be seen on the Sony Smartband Talk – a sports watch and fitness device that pairs up with an Android phone. The Smartband Talk enables you to track your fitness during the day and get information from your smartphone, all displayed on a controllable E Ink display,” explains Mancini.While EPDs are already well established in the retail display category, E Ink Corporation announced and demonstrated innovative new solutions at CES 2015 targeting both the indoor and outdoor signage markets.“These E Ink 32-inch digital displays are great for small businesses such as coffee shops or restaurants, for example, that might want to use them as menu boards,” says Mancini. “They are also well-suited for information displays in public spaces such as bus shelters. Because of low energy requirements, batteries or even solar power can power these E Ink displays without the need to run cables.“Another thing that we announced at CES this year is our E ink Prism product,” Mancini continues. “We’ve taken our E ink technology and encapsulated many different colours of pigments within the same microsphere and laminated them into a colour changing film to incorporate into architectural products.”E Ink Corporation demonstrated a 20-foot wall of colour-shifting Prism tiles at CES. Controlled by a PC, these tiles are designed to change colours, providing a different aesthetic and changing the mood of a hotel lobby or an airport terminal.“Right now this is a concept product for us,” Mancini continues, “created through collaboration with architects and design firms over the past year. We hope to have a public installation of Prism by the end of 2015. We also plan to use Prism in horizontal surfaces such as glass counters or coffee tables.”Nemesis of printFrom the products on display at CES 2015 it’s logical to conclude that E Ink has already done most of the damage it’s going to do to the conventional printed page. After all, e-readers already represent an established market for publishers, and the line has been drawn between those who prefer to read the printed page, and those who choose digital. Instead, the future of E Ink and Electronic Page Displays lies in enabling the next generation of signage, personal document readers, smart devices and wearable technology – where low-power displays and control surfaces are essential to ensure functionality and energy efficiency.
With drupa 2016 a year away, I began thinking about the last time the giant German tradeshow in Düsseldorf took place in 2012 and the crowds at Landa Digital Printing’s exhibition space. Mostly, I remember the blue-and-black futuristic design of Landa’s new Nanographic Printing Presses, including the unique control panel mounted to the side of each press like a giant iPhone. I wondered aloud, “Shouldn’t there be a few presses already installed in print shops by this time?”Providing as much function as form, the control screen GUI appeared to be well designed to meet the needs of a busy operator. There was even a digital microscope that came with each press, which I was immediately impressed with because it allows both operators and customers to look at the details of a printed sheet. Over the first days of the 14-day trade show, heavy iron manufacturers like Heidelberg, manroland and Komori joined Landa’s marketing buzz by announcing Nanographic technology partnerships, albeit a little vague. Benny Landa, who founded the company in 2002, told drupa 2012 visitors the Nanographic presses could reach first adopters by the end of 2013 at the earliest, with initial machines hitting the market during the first months of 2014. I thought to myself: Let’s see if he can keep this deadline.Nanography nutshell The year 2013 came and went without any Landa Digital presses going into potential customers, although there may have well been quiet alpha testing going on inside an eager print shop. In March 2013, I attended the annual TAGA conference in Portland, Oregon, where Gilad Tzori, VP of Product Strategy of Landa Digital Printing gave the event’s third keynote presentation.Tzori provided conference attendees, who primarily serve on the technical side of printing, an overview of how Landa Nanography works and differs from existing printing presses. Emphasis was put on Landa’s jetting of water-based inks which do not soak the paper, so the sheet does not come out wavy at the end of the press run.Many people will have experienced this water-soaking problem when they print a sheet of paper with heavy coverage on their home or office inkjet printer. Tzori explained how the Nanographic printing process first inkjets the image onto a heated transfer belt, and secondly how the ink turns into a semi-solid type material on the transfer belt, which is then transferred onto the paper. Unique properties of Landa’s belt, explained Tzori, ensures a 100 percent transfer of the image onto the paper. He then showed images of a printed dot produced with Nanography and compared it to the same magenta dot printed with different technologies currently on the market. The superior quality of the Nanographic process, in regards to the roundness and sharpness of the printed dot, was then described in Tzori’s marketing presentation. A clear advantage of Nanography indicates the process allows for printing on almost any substrate.Nano pigments deliver a broader colour gamut than standard offset inks. The Landa black has L*a*b*-values of 5.4, 0.7 and 0.05 compared to the ISO standard of 16, -0.1, 0.1. The ink film is 500-nano-meters thick, which is a lot less than that of any other conventional printing process. The printed density for coated and uncoated paper is the same, since the ink does not sink into the uncoated paper but rather sits on top of the paper. De-inkability studies, explained Tzori, have also shown good results. De-inkability is a significant problem with regular inkjet printed sheets.Nanography nicheAfter describing the technical architecture of Nanography, Tzori explained where Landa Digital sees its market niche and how it plans to bridge a gap between short-run digital and longer-run offset jobs. This includes targeting offset sheetfed work with a 40-inch or B1-format press model. Tzori stressed that Landa is not reinventing existing machine technology like paper feeding and delivery, which is why the company is working with traditional press makers, most notably Komori.A key question to come from the conference crowd that day asked about the future availability of these new Nanographic printing presses. A careful answer was given, which I interrupted to mean it would be at the beginning of 2014, while the company’s main challenge was to achieve the desired print quality at the necessary resolution.Year 2014 came and went and, without hearing much more from Landa in terms of press installations, I naturally started wondering if the past two years of Nanographic marketing had been all smoke and mirrors? In February of 2014, Landa Digital and EFI announced a strategic alliance and in June 2014 Altana invested €100 million into Landa Digital, which had also received a number of press down payments from printers wanting to be first in line. It is my guess that Altana will manufacture the Landa inks and EFI will deliver the digital front-end to the presses. On December 9, 2014, Landa Digital made a public statement about its technology development, including its intent to focus on the 40-inch folding-carton market with its S10 press. The press has undergone some radical design changes, including the addition of a coating unit. The operator’s side-mounted touchscreen, as it was seen at drupa 2012, had to be moved to the delivery end – transforming its look more toward a traditional press design. The weight of the press has increased also from 10 tons to 30 tons.Landa Digital explained the S10 operator now has a more ergonomic workplace showing all the required information for running jobs. Personally, I like the video feeds from inside the press to the operator cockpit. The press operator can see if any sheets have been dropped or if they are causing a jam. The presses also have an inline inspection unit from Advanced Vision Technology. Within its online marketing material, Landa Digital writes: “The quality control solution will combine innovative nozzle performance and colour control techniques to maintain print quality and increase press productivity. The quality control system will also control colour-to-colour registration, image placement and front-to-back registration.”  The print resolution of the S10 press is now at 1,200 dpi and the press also makes it possible to print on both sides of the carton sheet before entering the coating unit.Nanography 2015In early 2015, I spoke with Tzori on the phone to discuss recent developments at Landa Digital Printing. He indicated the first presses are scheduled to be commercially available in the second half of 2015. Beta machine are currently set up at Landa’s facilities in Israel, where potential customers can see the presses in action. During our phone conversation, Tzori also discussed what kind of drying technology is installed between the coating unit and the delivery end of the press. Depending on what kind of coating the customer wants to use, there will be IR drying lamps installed for water-based coatings and UV-curing lamps for UV coatings. The UV-curing technology can either be UV-mercury vapour lamps or UV-LED.Tzori points out that the IR or UV technology is only necessary for the coatings that are applied to the printed sheets. The sheets printed with the Nanography ink come dry out of the press.Thinking ahead to drupa 2016, which surely will be another important exhibition for Landa Digital technology, I asked Tzori what is to come with regard to the company’s web-fed printing machines. The first web-fed printing machine will be geared towards the flexible packaging market. Landa Digital expects this to make a huge impact on the flexible packaging sector, especially with many of the other digital press manufacturers also developing printing solutions for the short-run flexible packaging market. I have every intention of attending drupa 2016 for a firsthand view of Landa’s developments and I expect they will be as interesting as Nanography’s unveiling three years ago.
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS FEATURED IN PRINTACTION'S FEBRUARY 2015 ISSUEAs in nature, the software ecosystem abhors a vacuum! Introduced for the Mac in 1987, Adobe Illustrator evolved from Adobe’s in-house font development software to become the industry standard line-work editor and has all but dominated the desktop vector graphics market.Twenty-eight years later, Illustrator is so pervasive in the graphic arts few prepress pros would even consider an alternative were one available. While a few innovative Mac applications such as iDraw and Sketch have nipped at Adobe’s heels, to date no application has presented a credible challenge to Illustrator’s dominance on the Mac platform, creating a competitive vacuum. That might be about to change.Though unknown to many Mac users, Serif Software is a dominant player in the lucrative Windows desktop publishing software world. Founded in 1987, Serif’s original mandate was to produce powerful yet cost-effective alternatives to expensive desktop publishing and graphic design applications for the PC. Its critically acclaimed PagePlus, DrawPlus and PhotoPlus applications have garnered a large and loyal following in the Windows world – extending from casual creatives to business and education users. After years of planning and development, Serif stepped across the OS barrier in June 2014 with its first Mac App, Affinity Designer. While still in public beta, Affinity Designer turned heads while generating a great deal of online buzz before the October 2014 launch of version 1.0 on the Mac App Store. Since release, Affinity Designer has raced up the App Store charts and finished the year as Editor’s Choice Best of 2014! But does all that hype make any difference in the prepress and print world? Can a PC software developer give Adobe a run for its money on Adobe’s home turf?Vector contender or pretenderWell, for starters it is pretty clear that Affinity Designer was engineered from the ground up as a production environment for professional-grade vector drawing destined for a variety of output intents, including both print and Web.Where Designer differs from other line-work editors is in its ability to work with raster images and create pixel-based effects and textures within the same file as vector layers. And while Designer has its own file format, the App can import a wide variety of file types including: Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, Photoshop, EPS, JPEG, PDF and SVG. Additionally Designer can export: Photoshop, EPS, GIF, JPEG, PNG, SVG and PDF – although direct export of AI format is not supported. Users wanting to bring their Designer files into Illustrator will have to pass through PDF-land first.When launching Designer for the first time users are presented with a clean, uncluttered user interface that is unique yet somewhat reminiscent of an Adobe Creative Cloud application. As a result, anyone with Illustrator chops should be able to find their way around Affinity Designer in fairly short order. The default application window follows the familiar axiom of toolbar on the left, functions along the top and tabbed palettes on the right hand side of the workspace.  Users can also choose to work in Separated Mode meaning the Designer toolbars, workspace and palettes are free floating and can be reconfigured to individual tastes. Designer diverges from other editors by breaking down the workflow into Personas (Draw, Pixel and Export) represented by icons on the upper left side of the workspace. The icon for the active Persona appears in colour and each features tools, functions and palettes specifically configured for the appropriate tasks. The Draw Persona toolbar contains recognizable drawing tools you would expect to find, such as a Move Tool, Vector Brush Tool for creating painted effects and a Pencil Tool for free drawing vector lines, as well as Gradient and Transparency tools. Additionally, the toolbar houses a wide variety of shape tools ranging from standard rectangles and ellipses to diverse polygons, clouds and call-outs. Each shape can be quickly and radically altered either with the Node Tool, or the context-sensitive settings in the Draw Persona tool set. There is even a special hidden Easter Egg feature that enables users to make a cat shape – see if you can find it!The Pixel Persona enables a variety of marquee and selection tools along with essential raster editing tools in the toolbar, such as erase, fill, dodge, burn, blur and sharpen. It is important to remember that while Designer is equipped to create, alter and apply raster effects within a vector file, it is definitely not a replacement for a full image editor such as Photoshop or Pixelmator as there are no tools that I can find for adjusting the contrast, saturation or hue of photographic images.As the name implies, the Export Persona provides a straightforward workflow for getting your image online with several presets, support for ICC profiles as well as layers and image slices. Speaking of online, Designer has a number of features targeting the Web slinger, such as a powerful pixel preview of vector images for both standard and retina displays, as well as instant export of multiple objects – each with independent output settings.Designer also brings back one of my favourite old Illustrator features with a new twist. The Split View divides the image workspace vertically enabling the user to see any combination of Frame, Vector, Pixel or Retina previews and drag the dividing line back and forth across the image – changing the preview instantly.Of course, any mention of ‘instant preview’ inevitably brings up the topic of Designer performance. Whether opening a complex vector graphic or a massive layered Photoshop file, it is immediately apparent that Designer is blazingly fast. This 64-bit application is fully optimized for the latest Mac OS and Retina 5K displays, enabling users to pan and zoom across their images with little perceptible lag as well as apply and view effects in real-time. This is especially impressive when you consider that Designer offers a staggering 1,000,000 percent zoom, as well as super smooth gradients that can be edited in real time at any magnification. For such a young App, Designer offers some impressively mature workflow features like non-destructive editing and robust support for layers, including vector, pixel and adjustment layers. Ready for the big leagueWorking with Affinity Designer is comfortable once you get used to multiple Personas, however, the software is lacking in a few key areas of importance to design and production pros. For example, Designer currently only supports a single page per file, something designers who are used to building multiple art boards will find hard to live with. And what prepress pro has not used Illustrator’s Auto-Trace to quickly build a logo for a job they are working on? Designer will need to implement some sort of raster to vector workflow to really gain print market share.And while Designer seems to be able to import a wide variety of file formats, I have experienced mixed results when opening old EPS files containing complex vector gradients. Mind you, Designer has only been in the field for a few months and to Serif’s credit they’ve already built an active, lively and supportive user community that fuels its development team with bug reports and feature requests. Within just three months of launch, Serif has already revved Designer to v1.1.2 – not only with bug fixes but also significant new user-requested features like iCloud Drive support; critical stroke alignment options; and 5K-display support.The road aheadSerif recently published the first issue of Affinity Review – a quarterly ePUB magazine for their users – containing some very interesting product news in addition designer profiles, interviews and tutorials. According to Serif, the Affinity Designer roadmap includes several professional printing features such as: PDF/X support; PDF image compression; trim, bleed, overprint and mark control; spot, Pantone and registration colours; and advanced transparency features. Designers can look forward to: multiple pages; text on a path; mesh warp and distort tools; and improved text controls… all promised as free updates! Likely many of these new functions will be incorporated into its own Personas. Also in Serif’s 2015 playbook: Affinity Photo and Affinity Desktop (you can see where they are going with this).Is Affinity Designer the answer to all your high-end vector design, editing and production needs? Not yet. Is it worth fifty bucks? You bet! Besides, designers on a budget are already flocking to Designer so it’s only a matter of time before Affinity files start making their way into your prepress department.
“Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end…” The song popularized by Mary Hopkin in 1968 waxed over youth, lost opportunities, passions and a life now well past it’s prime. Cycles of every form have a beginning as well as an end. Technology breeds new revenues and fills scrapyards with redundancy. For the printing machinery industry there is a lot of reminiscing about good times back in the day.  The great period of litho printing press sales, what almost became an annuity business for press makers, is long over and will not return. Oh how painful it is to say that.   It seems like only a few years ago we were so excited to embrace a device that, either by violet or thermal laser, entirely eliminated a labourious step of the production cycle and make offset plates perfectly, without fit issues, and at incredibly fast speeds as lasers advanced by the month. Digital technology was our friend. Prior to CTP, the Macintosh computer also eliminated a huge chunk of the typesetting industry by letting us do it all ourselves.  Fantastic new devices were going to rid us of waxers, light tables, film, cameras, plate-makers and a great deal of expensive labour. Everybody knew that strippers and other prepress employees commanded large paychecks. Wasn’t this future fabulous? As I look back at some of the projects we were involved with at Howard Graphic Equipment, I find that no one really had any idea of where mobile computing, particularly the smartphone and tablet, would take communications. We once had a customer who had a rather simple contract to print a 10-point cover and then stitch it onto popular magazines. It was for a now-defunct airline, to be used on the aircraft. The airline wanted to ensure these magazines were returned and so had produced the magazine with its logo emblazoned on the false cover. In time, the costs proved too high and the airline asked instead for a sticker to be tipped onto the cover. Finally, the magazines as a cost were dropped altogether. Another customer produced a weekly sports betting card. These were perfected one over one and printed in the millions. Again costs and technology overtook print and now all the betting is online, no day-changing betting cards, just a receipt with the details. In the early 1980s, we did quite a lot of business with an accounting publisher. Every time there was a change in Canada’s revenue act new sections had to be printed. Even then hot metal Linotypes were used to make copy. It was proofed and then film and plates were made to run on a web.  The bindery was enormous to handle the accounting publisher’s work. It had separate lines for side stitching, hole punching and perfect binding. The annual tax-code book was almost two inches thick and expensive. Accountants, who were members, bought special binders for all of the inserts of changes that would occur each year. The Internet almost overnight eliminated all of this mechanical work and hundreds of jobs.Many printers found themselves in the same situation with legal books and court decisions. Changes in the law created a great deal of print and case-bound work. Think of the law offices up until recently, where  huge libraries stored the requisite purchases for dozens of sets of law books. If not annually mandatory, dozens of new thick books spoke to a law office’s prestige  Automotive manuals and parts books were a staple of a few of our customers, too. In the turn of just a few years, almost all are now out of print entirely. In the early 1990s, my company Howard Graphic Equipment purchased a Miller perfector from a printing company in the east of England. This firm had a long history. They were ensconced in what had been a carriage house, even had an 1800s workable water closet. The biggest piece of business for this printer was railway timetables. Almost all of it is now redundant. A smartphone can look-up the schedule and buy a ticket to ride without any paper being expended.Wondering where all of the presses have gone is an intriguing question. In a commendable open manner, KBA in its latest annual financial statements for 2013 approached this difficult subject. KBA commented that group sales had slumped 35 percent since 2006. Since KBA is heavily involved in both sheetfed, web and special presses (currency and metal decorating), it has an almost split revenue business  at €571.9 million for sheetfed and €527.8 million for web and special presses. KBA also acknowledges that since 2006 its Web sales have fallen 70 percent and sheetfed almost 50 percent. The statements also comment that the Web business will continue seeing retraction in the coming years. Should we assume KBA, although heavily diversified, is an example of what all major press makers are going through? The answer is yes.  Competitors to KBA may argue that the business of newspaper printing (long a staple of KBA) exacerbates the drop in sales. They may also suggest that perhaps KBA had a smaller commercial and publication customer base, or that what KBA produced was not as suitable?  But KBA is a major supplier in both fields. On the sheetfed side, KBA owns a major position in packaging and Very Large Format sheetfed printing. New in-roads in technology have been poured into the Rapida 106 and 145 platforms. One surmises with its packaging strength KBA’s only real rivals are Heidelberg when it comes to imaginative, multi-purpose machinery for the carton industry. Komori and Manroland also compete in this segment with Manroland running a close third to KBA and Heidelberg in press variants.We as a machinery segment are a reflection of you the printer just as you are a reflection of your clients. Therefore. we must assume printers cannot make the math work when calculating return costs for a large piece of machinery. Presses that cost a million dollars plus are no longer the prime piece of manufacturing gear in a printing business. They may never be again. There are exceptions of course. Trade printers who do it cheaper, not better, may consider new machines. Packaging printers will because the business is stable. Smaller commercial printers, however, will not. They may buy used, but its doubtful that a majority of shops can draw enough profitable work to pay for today’s engineered marvels.Data was once the exclusive domain of the printer and publisher. The only way any kind of data could be distributed was through a printing press. Google et al changed all that.David Carr, writer for The New York Times, does a masterful job explaining how the trend from a physical method (newspapers) to online is humbling. During a recent speech in Vancouver, Carr eluded to this fact when explaining the state of his employing newspaper. It was as much funny as it was sad for those of us in the business. He explained newspapers are offices where everyday information comes in and is collected. Then a bell goes off and everyone stops collecting news and starts to write down what came in that day. They send the copy to a giant press where it’s printed, rolled up and eventually thrown onto your front lawn. Carr accepts the inadequacies of news distribution via print while at the same time considering that large dailies like The New York Times seem to be weathering the storm and seeing growth via online pay-walls. Carr hastens to add that it’s the medium-size papers suffering the worst, while small local papers, for the most part, continue to do well in the communities they serve. News is data and so is almost every piece of information we need, which used to be mailed to us. First Gutenberg and now the colloquial Google has changed our world again. Despite the odd period of increased new machinery order intake that prevailed in late 2013, the industry at large will not go shopping for new litho machines again. While I have a vested interest, few press makers would argue the second-hand press business becomes more important to lessen a printer’s investment risk. It is not coincidence that used machines now are a much bigger piece of the machinery trading pie than ever before in the history of printing or that most press makers now have full-scale used press operations.The 50 percent machinery sales shrinkage in seven years, as reported by KBA, is reality for every litho press maker. Postal rates and other fixed costs are impediments that cannot be overridden with faster machinery costing millions of dollars. Where have all the presses gone? Nowhere it seems.
During the first week of November, Manroland Sheetfed proudly unveiled its new Roland 700 Evolution press to over 450 curious guests at its corporate headquarters in Offenbach, Germany.  The machine is Manroland’s first new press in four years and follows the company’s 2012 acquisition in insolvency and restructuring by Langley Holdings PLC, a UK-based engineering group and global provider of highly diverse capital equipment. The company reports that its new Evolution press is designed with a sleek, futuristic look and many new technological developments aimed to give printers unprecedented levels of efficiency, productivity, operation and quality. These improvements are consistent with the research-and-development targets Manroland Sheetfed CEO Rafael Penuela Torres outlined to PrintAction when describing his company’s restructuring (August 2014, The New Press Builder), including increased user-friendliness, maximum machine performance and maximum uptime for printers.  Specific new features highlighted through demonstrations at the Offenbach unveiling and in the company’s prospectus for the Evolution press include:• Completely redesigned cylinder-roller bearings with separate bearings for radial and axial rotation to provide better absorption of vibrations, fewer doubling effects, longer bearing life, and improved print quality;• A newly designed central console that replaces buttons with touchscreen panels, provides more detailed graphical information, and offers comfort adjustments for left- and right-handed users and operators of different body heights;• A mobile app that allows printers to see the press’ production while they are on the move;• A new feeder pile transport designed to provide a smooth upward motion of the pile-carrying plate and improved sheet travel from the feeder to delivery, resulting in fewer interruptions, less start-up waste, and reduced walking distances to the feeder;• Solid fixing of the suction head to reduce vibration and wear, while ensuring safer sheet separation and higher average printing speeds;• All-new dampening units for greater solidity and fewer roller vibrations during passing of the plate cylinder channel and fewer stripes;• Software for practice-oriented roller washing cycles that reduces downtime with more precise dosage of the dampening solution over the entire width, reducing the possibility of skewing the dampening dosage roller;• A new three-phase AC motor providing high power output with lower energy consumption;• A new chambered doctor blade system for producing gloss effects. With additional options, this system provides higher solidity over the entire width of the doctor blade and a more even varnish application. It also provides improved absorption of vibrations of the Anilox roller and doctor blade, caused by passing the coating form cylinder, and results in fewer stripes, especially in combination with pigmented varnish; and• Newly developed suction belt sheet brake technology provides higher printing speeds combined with improved sheet alignment and tail edge stabilization, resulting in a more even pile contour and reduced risk of misaligned sheets in the delivery pile.Practical demonstrations of the Evolution press were provided in the company’s Print Technology Center in German, with simultaneous translation available in half a dozen languages via ear sets for guests from all over Europe and Russia, as well as Canada. A further highlight was a tour of the company’s impressive press-building facilities, where the workers’ high skill levels were obvious. Hans Hassold, Head of Regional Sales, explained how Germany’s apprenticeship system helps ensure that Manroland Sheetfed’s foundry and factory workers are well qualified both in terms of their skill sets and their understanding of the practical requirements of industry. He said over half of German students aged about 16 to 18 opt into what is called a dual education system because it splits training between the classroom and the workplace. These students apply for training contracts with employers and, if accepted, spend two to four years training with a company while also receiving a taxpayer-subsidized education designed to meet industry needs.  In fact, most dual-system students are hired upon completion of their training, contributing to a youth unemployment rate in Germany of eight percent (versus 14 percent in Canada.) The dual system requires employers to work co-operatively rather than adversarially with government and unions and to effect a certain amount of compromise with these third parties in their operations.  In exchange, they receive a consistent supply of new workers who are equipped with precisely the skills and knowledge their companies need.Although the German apprenticeship system is not perfect and is under review, it is cited as a factor in the success of Germany’s economy being able to keep its manufacturing base, instead of relying on just providing services, and at retaining its manufacturing jobs for nationals instead of farming them out to workers in foreign countries with lower labour costs like China. Thus the apprenticeship system has also been credited with contributing to Germany’s unemployment rate of 5.2 percent, less than half that of Europe as a whole. By contrast, Canada’s unemployment rate is 7.2 percent, and studies indicate that only about half of the more than 400,000 registered Canadian apprentices actually complete their programs for reasons ranging from the high cost of classroom training for students who are not being paid to concerns about job prospects when they graduate.  And although it is becoming increasingly difficult for Canadian employers to find enough skilled workers, only about 20 percent of Canadian skilled-trade employers are actually hiring and training apprentices, while investment in employee training among Canadian companies has fallen nearly 40 percent since 1993. The Roland 700 Evolution unveiling also included a video testimonial from Samson Druck GmbH, a general commercial printer in Austria and the first Evolution press owner. Samson Druck has invested in Manroland press technology for 22 years and currently has four presses with a total of 34 printing units. Founded in 1978 by Erich Aichhorn, the family company is also one of the largest employers in the area with 100 staff members.Tony Langley, Chairman and CEO of Langley Holdings, was present to provide a closing summary to guests. Langley first established his engineering group in 1975. Today, Langley Holdings comprises five principal operating divisions located in Germany, France, and the UK; more than 70 subsidiaries in the Americas, Europe, The Far East, and Australasia; and over 4,000 employees worldwide.Langley Holdings’ products run an extremely wide gamut from food-packaging equipment to electrical systems for data centres, machinery for cement plants, automotive welding equipment, and house construction. The group operates free of debt with substantial cash reserves, typically grows by acquiring under-performing businesses, and takes pride in never having sold a company it acquired. In 2013 it posted a profit before tax of €91 million.The fact that Langley maintains a relatively low profile contrasts with his colourful presence. He is 6 feet 5 inches tall, largely self-taught in engineering, and pilots his own airplane, helicopter and racing yacht, Gladiator. (In this fall’s Les Voiles de St Tropez regatta, Gladiator came in second to the Enfant Terrible helmed by HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.)  Accompanying Langley to Offenbach was his eldest son, Bernard Langley, who joined Langley Holdings in 2012 to become the fifth generation of the family to come into the engineering business.The same week as the unveiling, Langley Holdings entered into an agreement to acquire the German print chemicals group DruckChemie, which had gone into administration for insolvency in September. DruckChemie is one of Europe’s leading producers of print chemicals, accessories, and waste reprocessing and recycling services, with sites throughout Europe, as well as in Brazil, Dubai and Mexico.Michael Mugavero, Managing Director and CEO of Manroland North America, commented in an e-mail, after the 700 Evolution unveiling: “Integral in what we hope visitors come to identify with while touring our home in Germany, is the competency Manroland has to develop and deliver tangible value for our customers.”
After switching to InDesign in 2002, Zac Bolan takes  QuarkXPress 10.4 for a test drive to see if you can go home again On Friday, November 8th, 2002, I made the switch to Adobe InDesign. After spending a week building a print flyer for a local drugstore chain in QuarkXPress 5, I sat down to export a press-ready PDF. Three frustrating hours later I still hadn’t managed to squeeze a PDF, or even a usable postscript file, out of the buggy XPress release. I threw up my hands in despair and at that moment decided to spend the weekend learning InDesign and rebuilding my job.That decision was not made lightly, as I had been a stalwart XPress user since 1988. With the release of XPress 5 in January 2002, however, Quark faced a barrage of criticism from its dedicated Mac users. After all, launched only days before XPress 5, InDesign 2 was OS X native – something Quark had failed to accomplish with its release. Like many in the design and prepress community, I resented being denied the benefits of Apple’s new operating system. At the time, Quark’s dominance of the Mac desktop publishing market was such that Apple Computer actually cited XPress 5 as a factor slowing adoption of OS X within the design community.It’s been more than a decade since I (and many others) made the switch. During that time InDesign matured into a leading desktop publishing solution while QuarkXPress quietly persevered – after a painful transition to OS X, XPress gradually improved. Following iterations empowered the faithful while adding features to entice users to return. But for many the draw of Adobe’s Creative Suite seemed to say ‘you can’t go home again’, that is, until the advent of Creative Cloud and Adobe’s software as a service (SaaS) business model. Now designers seeking to own their workflow are taking a second look at QuarkXPress, and with version 10.2 they will find a stable, capable and fully-featured page layout application.New XPress tricks and tipsI won’t try to summarize five full upgrade cycles in a few hundred words, but some key enhancements in recent XPress versions are worth mentioning. When I reviewed XPress 8 for PrintAction (August 2008) Quark had significantly overhauled its Graphical User Interface (GUI), vastly improving user efficiency while removing workspace clutter. Additionally, XPress 8 offered in-app image manipulation, built-in Flash authoring, as well as support for Asian fonts. In a nod to the changing publishing landscape, XPress 9 added: ePub and Kindle export; App Studio for tablet publishing; numerous new layout features like anchored callouts; a shape wizard; and enhanced bullets/numbering.Then in October 2013 Quark made an ambitious leap forward with the release of XPress 10 (recently updated to 10.2.1), the first version developed as a native Cocoa application. Cocoa is the Application Programming Interface (API) for Apple’s OS X operating system. In most cases, software produced with Cocoa development tools has a distinct and familiar feel to Mac users, as the application will automatically comply with Apple’s human interface guidelines. From the developer’s perspective, being Cocoa native ensures the ability to leverage the latest OS X features, maximize performance and fast-track support for new OS X versions. For example, while not officially supported on Apple’s recently launched OS X 10.10 Yosemite, based on my initial trials QuarkXPress 10.2.1 appears to run quite well. Quark will be releasing XPress 10.5 with full Yosemite support in early November.This formidable undertaking required Quark engineers to update more than 500,000 lines of code in addition to writing 350,000 new lines. To fully leverage Apple’s latest hardware enhancements, developers had to create more than 500 dialogues and palettes in multiple languages as well as incorporating 1,300 new icons enabling Retina Display resolutions. Besides going Cocoa, Quark engineered a completely new graphics engine for QuarkXPress 10 that will ultimately be implemented across a wide range of Quark products. The new Xenon Graphics Engine enables users to see stunning high-resolution renderings of imported raster and vector files on screen, including rich PDF, Photoshop and Illustrator files to name a few. Using Quark’s Adaptive Resolution technology, graphics can be rendered instantly to the resolution required for professional image zoom (up to 8,000 percent). Being able to zoom into high-resolution graphics onscreen while creating page layouts is a real advantage to visually oriented designers like myself. Additionally, the Xenon Graphics Engine seems to really improve overall screen re-drawing times.In addition to optimization for HiDPI and Retina Displays, XPress 10.2 features Advanced Image Control enabling users to control several aspects of embedded PDF, PSD and TIFF files, such as layers, channels and clipping paths without bouncing out to Photoshop. With advanced illustration tools XPress users can now accomplish quite a few basic image editing and vector drawing tasks without Adobe’s help – saving time and reducing reliance on the Creative Cloud. These features combined with multiple simultaneous document views, robust shortcut and palette management, make XPress 10 an attractive alternative to renting page layout software.Perhaps the most significant tool Quark brings to the publishing market is not actually a QuarkXPress feature at all. App Studio is a standalone cloud-based service for converting publications to digital editions for tablets and smartphones. While initially limited to producing Apps based on QuarkXPress documents, App Studio now creates rich and interactive HTML 5 publications from a variety of sources including InDesign and XML. Making the jumpWith the refined and polished GUI of QuarkXPress 10, anyone familiar with InDesign or other page-layout applications should be able start building pages in fairly short order. By default, the XPress toolbar displays the most commonly used tools but can be configured to access a variety of other functions such as Grid Styles and Advanced Image Control. The Measurements palette along the bottom of the default workspace provides access to content-specific functions in one convenient location. For example, when selecting a text frame, the user can tab between controls for text box, frame, runaround, space/align and drop shadow. As a former XPress jockey, I found I still recalled many of the old keyboard shortcuts and was zipping between XPress functions within a few minutes of starting a doc- ument. However, those used to InDesign keyboard shortcuts will have some relearning to do. Within InDesign, for example, Command D conjures the Place dialogue – while in XPress Command D duplicates any selected element. For many considering QuarkXPress, the next question will invariably be, ‘What about my legacy InDesign documents?’ While Quark does not offer direct access to .indd format files within XPress, a third-party plug-in is available enabling InDesign document import. Well known in the prepress world, Markzware made its name with the popular Flightcheck document preflight application. Additionally, Markzware produces a number of plug-ins for importing various file formats into both XPress and InDesign. While working with XPress 10.2 I tested ID2Q, the Markzware XTension for converting InDesign files to QuarkXPress file format. Once installed, ID2Q can be launched from the newly added Markzware submenu in the QuarkXPress menu bar. The process is quite simple: The user navigates to the InDesign document they wish to open in XPress, selects the appropriate conversion options and clicks OK. Depending on InDesign file size and complexity, conversion time can vary between seconds and minutes before the document opens in QuarkXPress. While ID2Q has little trouble getting your InDesign file into XPress, it is important to remember that the two page layout applications do not always handle things the same way. For this reason, your imported .indd file will need some work in QuarkXPress before going to print, ePub or tablet. Layout grids created with InDesign, for example, do not survive the transition to QuarkXPress. Similarly, InDesign offers a few page layout options not found in XPress, such as a maximum page dimension of 216 inches and support for multiple page sizes within a single document. Having said that, most users will likely be using this XTension to move legacy documents over to QuarkXPress as a template for new projects rather than starting from scratch. For that, ID2Q is the perfect solution. Listening to usersQuark recently unveiled QuarkXPress 2015, due for release in Q1 2015. According to Quark, this iteration will deliver increased performance from a new 64-bit architecture in addition to a bevy of enhancements based on user feedback. New features will include support for larger page sizes, a format painter, user definable shortcut keys and table styles. Also, several Designer-Controlled Automation improvements for long documents will debut including: automated footnotes and end notes; a new table tool with improved Excel integration; and text variables for automatically populating reoccurring fields such as running headers. And bucking the SaaS trend, QuarkXPress 2015 will continue to be sold as a perpetual license or as a paid upgrade. New retail users who purchased QuarkXPress 10 after October 1, 2014 will receive the 2015 release as a free upgrade. Going back homeIf you asked me a few years ago whether I felt Quark could stage a return to dominance in the desktop publishing space, I would have expressed serious doubts. Despite the fact that Quark has evolved to equal or best InDesign in many ways, Adobe has done a remarkable job of embracing the ecosystem approach with its wildly successful Creative Suite. And while reliable metrics of InDesign versus QuarkXPress usage do not exist, your prepress manager will likely tell you that the majority of client files these days are built with InDesign rather than QuarkXPress.With the arrival of Creative Cloud, however, that could easily change as not everyone will want to rent software from Adobe. Also, given the maturity of QuarkXPress in addition to Quark’s focus on dynamic publishing and the enterprise, many may see XPress as a preferred option, rather than just an alternative to InDesign. And for old Quark refugees like myself, it looks like you really can go home again!

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