One year ago Canadian Sean Springett became Chief Executive Officer of Manroland Sheetfed GmbH’s North American subsidiaries, based in Chicago, Illinois, and Vaughan, Ontario. Springett, age 43, joined Manroland Sheetfed in 2008 and served as VP of Sales & Marketing for both the U.S. and Canada before taking on his current position. Manroland Sheetfed, a subsidiary of privately owned UK engineering group Langley Holdings plc., has been a leader in the paperboard sector of printing for decades. With the growing focus on carton work, because of its stability relative to some eroding commercial markets, Springett spoke with PrintAction about the direction of this sector and its domination by sheetfed offset technologies.How can commercial printers enter carton?SS: I would suggest using caution is prudent, especially since the landscape is evolving through consolidation in the packaging segment. I can only speak to how I have seen this transition occur in the past and, at best, the migration to package printing from commercial is a gradual event. A commercial printer must consider their existing niche served and what aptitude and skill-sets they already have that can be put to good work in making a leap, or dipping their proverbial toes in the packaging arena. Major and medium players in packaging are highly skilled and tooled. If a commercial printer is attempting to compete in the volume business, they need to retool their factory, areas like sheeting, structural engineering, die cutting, gluing, and die making is typically more foreign to commercial applications, at least by scale.Are commercial printers focused on packaging growth?SS: I believe a stronger concept in the years prior; the trend was always about complimenting, be it packaging or any number of additional services. We see commercial printers furthering their niches, not often in packaging. I have been amazed at how talented many of the independent commercial operations have been in entrenching themselves with their customers. The evolution of many commercial printers into marketing firms has been a more successful trend in my opinion. The technology advances in IT, the ideology of print being a compliment versus the single primary export of a commercial printer, is intriguing. Many have evolved into a more savvy business model with multiple revenue streams. Couple this with the marriage of sheetfed offset and digital. Whereas digital has crept into what was considered traditional offset, the newest sheetfed offset technology is creeping into what was always regarded as short-run digital.What is the complexion of today’s short-run carton market?SS: The ideology of volume versus short run is almost dismissive in regards to larger packaging firms. Many of them, whether global, national or an independent viscerally defend the market space regardless of run specifics. The larger firms equip themselves to handle the shorter runs but often struggle with big business problems where some of the smaller independents shine in this arena. This is the space a smaller independent packaging house or a commercial printer can capitalize on.What type of automation do you need to focus on short-run carton?SS: It is less about the individual process of the equipment and more about the overall operation of a system. In today’s terms, it’s about transparent productivity. The ability to measure the performance of the asset, being a sheetfed offset press and determine how to optimize the performance... the ability to provide the information is less important compared to being able to disseminate it and help the printer improve productivity and fully utilize the asset.What market activities are driving folding-carton work?SS: Predominately food products for the folding-carton market, with increased demand for convenience-oriented products for the volume side of the business. Increased demand for bespoke-oriented products such as cosmetics and specialty products has caused the B1 format to see an increase in sales. Are packaging press sales growing or is it more a decline in commercial press sales?SS: When new offset high-performance equipment becomes operational, optioned and equipped to the highest automation level, I believe we will see a little more offset in the digital sphere. At the same token, new offset and new digital can do the work of two or three of its predecessors. By sheer economics, press sales will decline regardless; I favour the opinion that our market is far more variable in nature. How far off is inkjet from making an impact on short-run carton?SS: Speed is the Achilles’ heel of inkjet. In order for inkjet to gain a more mainstream focus, it will need to increase the sheets per hour and continue to economize the ink costs.
Cimpress is the world leader in the mass customization of a growing number of print products like business cards, signage, apparel, promotional items, photobooks and packaging. It is the parent company of Vistaprint, with its manufacturing crown jewel in Windsor, Ont., and more than 20 other online brands employing some 10,000 people in 20 countries.Mitchell Leiman joined Cimpress more than a year ago to lead the company’s global development. PrintAction spoke with Leiman, Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development, to better understand Cimpress’ new operating structure and its powerful printing platform. Why did Cimpress decentralize and how did this affect last year’s operating loss? ML: The decentralization and reorganization was a really a no-brainer for us. We saw the benefits of these changes to allow us to be even more entrepreneurial, innovative, customer-focused, agile. Even though in the short term it impacted financial results we felt it was so much better for the company and our customers in the long run. Another big factor that drove the reported loss, a bigger factor than restructuring, was our investments. We had historically high levels of investment in the business and that’s been a multi-year trend, because of the huge opportunities we see in the markets where we play... That was a big part of what led to the reported loss in our fiscal year 17.Why was the acquisition of National Pen an important investment?ML: National Pen [acquired for approximately US$218 million in December 2016] relates to our desire to accelerate efforts in promotional products. For many years, we have started selling more and more promotional products and it is a great opportunity for the mass customization concept to really take hold in how we approach the business, both from selling and manufacturing... But most of our investments are organic, essentially investing in the current operations.Where has Cimpress made most of its organic investments recently?ML: We continue to of ourselves as a technology company, whether it is on the frontend of our business, the selling, the Website, the experience of the customer in designing on the Website, whether it is in Vistaprint or some of our other brands… a lot of technology is facilitating the manufacturing of our goods. Windsor is really the crown jewel of our manufacturing and there is a tremendous amount of technology investment related to production and more recently software that drives our business... to specific machinery and automation. Technology is a big part of our investment.We continue to invest in new business models and [infrastructure] in countries like Brazil, India, China and Japan, so this is another area of organic investment. We have investments in what we call Vistaprint Corporate, working with larger customers and helping them to set up dedicated Websites that have their own branding and templates preconfigured. And maybe the last area is in new products. The breadth of products that we are trying to play in is ever expanding. Our strength is the mass customization capabilities both in selling and helping customers design, as well as making transactions. How is technology investment enhancing Cimpress’ customer experience?ML: One example is, if you upload a picture, we are getting better and better at instantaneously telling you that maybe the picture isn’t of good enough quality. Or better yet, we will automatically just fix it for you and you may not even know it as a consumer... we want to have technology to make the customer experience that much better, as well as improve the efficiency of how we are able to do things.Why is Cimpress still a unique company in the printing world after 20-plus years?ML: The way we think about competition is not necessarily [with regard to] another big player like Cimpress. It is the thousands of smaller companies that are very focused on a particular customer segment or geography... There are a lot of great companies and certainly many have tried to integrate – and a lot with great successes – some of the things we do well. A concept like ganging, for example, was very innovative when we were first doing it and now it is more common practice. [Print] is a very competitive space and they push us hard. What keeps us successful and unique is the decentralization that has allowed us to stay small as we get big. The benefit is that we are somewhat able to emulate those smaller companies in a way where we try to keep our businesses manageable and focused… On the other hand, we are able to leverage our scale and do business in a way that is really hard to replicate for all sorts of reasons. One example is our mass customization platform and that really allows our businesses to have distinct identities to work very seamlessly together... There are ways when it is very advantageous for us to still operate as a single entity. Even if we are trying to fight off being too big of a fish now, we are a school of fish that swims together.
Scott Gray joined Mitchell Press in mid-2017 to help the historic web offset facility move toward digital printing, as the company installed a new Kodak NexPress ZX3300. Led by its third generation of family ownership, Mitchell Press, based in Burnaby, British Columbia, operates out of a 64,000-square-foot facility as the largest commercial heatset web printer in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, outputting an average of more than two billion printed pages per year for a range of clients. PrintAction spoke with Gray, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, about the transformation of what has been a quiet Canadian printing power.Why does Mitchell have a unique market position?SG: I have only been here about a month now but I’ve always known Mitchell to be one of Canada’s leading high-quality heatset operations. The have a 16-page configuration, two full-size webs, 4/4, 5/5, and the 4/4 has a coater as well. They have been going after high-end publication work for the last, I will call it, 88 years. They started out as a financial printer. Nine years ago was a big moment for them when they sold their old factory, which was actually an old cookie factory, kind of a disjointed building. They created a new purpose-built facility and then put in a brand new Komori 1000 at the time and that was basically setting them off on a brand new foot. The building is really large, with lots of room to move into.At that time, there wasn’t a lot of competition in the Vancouver market. There was Teldon, which five years ago Mitchell ended up buying and they absorbed the cream of the crop of the staff and brought some of the presses over. And then just kept pushing in that direction. They outlasted all of their competition, but the web market is reducing a little bit. Run lengths are getting a little bit smaller and these guys are really looking forward to what is the future of the company and they are not afraid to spend a little bit of money to do that.Where is Mitchell investing for the future?SG: They want to go in a completely new digital direction with the size of the company and they have other expansion plans down the road that we will reveal a little bit later. But immediately they have now built probably one of the coolest digital rooms that I have ever seen.The prepress workflow is getting so buttoned down with these guys. They are doing a turnaround of 25,000 on web magazines in 24 to 48 hours. The are so slick from that point of view and so we want to take that mentality and put it into the digital world. So they have installed a Kodak NexPress ZX3300, a beautiful machine with amazing capabilities – oversized sheet, it does metallic gold, opaque whites, dimensional, and I think next quarter we are getting into the heavyweight substrate expansion kit so we will go up to 530 gsm. For digital it has a lot of horsepower.How difficult will it be for a web offset shop to go digital?SG: We are getting competitive at 3,000 runs on the web with how fast these guys are making ready and turning around jobs so it is not much of stretch of the imagination to [produce] a couple thousand digital. Now maybe the gap is a thousand copies between digital and web.We can do advanced copies for our clients to go around and pitch advertising. They can check out new artwork. They can do variable data image covers and that is just strictly on the publication side, not to mention the extra at least 30 percent of possible business opportunity that rests with existing clients that we are not even touching.What is your initial push at Mitchell?SG: Right now it is digital… One of the reasons they brought me on is that I have a lot of experience with digital – digital storefronts. I am leading the sales team. I am not here to retrain anyone because they are all very seasoned. They know what they are doing, but I want to show them new opportunities and I can kind of lead by example with the digital stuff because I have of a lot of experience with it. I have already brought in a few very cool, very high-level design projects that really push the limitations of the machines and it has knocked it out. So everybody has kind of caught a buzz on it and now they are looking to their existing client base.How important are online storefronts for print?SG: I think it is huge. I honestly think that is the future of print. We will be pushing that very quickly. We are going live with our Monarch update in a month and we are already putting together our storefront team and I believe that is going to be the next part of it. We will be doing both offset and digital through it. I personally think it is the future of print. If the industry in five years is not doing 30, 40 percent of our work through storefronts then I will give my head a shake.What are you most excited about by joining Mitchell?SG: To me it is the ability to help rewrite an almost 90-year-old story. They have been very quiet and I can reintroduce them to design community. They have been really focused on the publication community and we have so much to offer for what people need, but they do not know who we are here. I just really want to shine a light on Mitchell and give them the attention that they deserve. I am really excited about the growth potential and the fact that they have embraced this change.
Austrian prepress company Glatz Klischee GmbH installed Esko’s new XPS Crystal 5080 system, which delivers main and back exposure in one step in plate manufacturing. Glatz Klischee is a prepress service provider in the city of Bregenz. It prides itself on its high-quality production of flexography plates by regularly reaching up to 100-line screen. In investing in the new XPS Crystal 5080 system, Glatz Klischee explains that UV plate exposure was a weak link in its process and that traditional light tube exposure units have reached their quality limits. Glatz Klischee investigated Esko’s LED exposure as early as 2010. Since then the trade shop has gained experience with several generations of inline UV exposure and worked with prototypes of the XPS Crystal 5080. “In our opinion, UV main and back exposure in one unit represents a milestone in flexographic plate making. It improves plate exposure quality and ensures extremely consistent flexographic plates,” said Manfred Schrattenthaler, Managing Director of Glatz Klischee. Glatz Klischee has been working with the new XPS Crystal 5080 from Esko for about six months now. “Thanks to this technology, we now are able to supply our clients with standard screens [54 and 60-line], up to the absolute premium range with 250 lpi. We can deliver the best possible plate quality with the highest level of consistency and repeatability that we have not experienced to date,” said Schrattenthaler. Established in 1931, Glatz started out in the stamping and engraving field. Sign making and plate making were added later. The third-generation family business has five locations. Since 1999, Glatz Klischee has been an independent company in the Glatz Group. At the Bregenz site, there are 40 employees. Glatz specializes in flexible packaging and corrugated cardboard in Austria, South Germany and Switzerland.
At drupa 2016, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG unveiled a new operating philosophy called Push to Stop, also referred to by the press maker as autonomous printing. It basically applies a true manufacturing approach to printing in that operators only push a button to stop the press, rather than the traditional approach of pushing a button to activate jobs.The concept is to have the press initiate a series of print jobs that are properly queued up by Heidelberg’s Prinect software, depending on ink layout down and imposition, and then run consistently without operator intervention. Ultimately, the technology platform can also leverage colour management tools to reach pre-specified Delta e levels and a tagging system in the press delivery. PrintAction spoke with Heidelberg’s Ray Fagan about Push to Stop and automation in the printing industry.What is the state of automation in the printing industry?RF: I would say in general print shops are behind other industries in automating their processes. There is a trend toward getting away from the craft of printing more toward the manufacturing of printing. And that is a bitter pill to swallow for a lot of printers, more so for the commercial companies than in packaging. Packaging companies have been in a manufacturing mindset for a longer period of time, because of the nature of what they print. Are printers ready for Push to Stop?RF: We are learning very quickly that most companies are not in a position to take advantage of Push to Stop automation. The press ends up waiting. There is a fellow who has joined Heidelberg by the name of Anthony Thirlby and he is head of Prinect now, driving some of these processes... He estimates 55 percent of the time a job is in a printing company is before it even gets to the CTP. It’s in estimating, job costing and prepress – 55 percent of the time before it is even plated and on the press. So if an average job time takes three days to get out the door, one and a half of those days is spent just getting the job ready to be plated.How does Push to Stop look beyond just the printing component?RF: Push to Stop is part of what we call the Smart Print Shop, which is more holistic in the approach, where Push to Stop is the print processing element of it. To have a Smart Print Shop, you need to think about how do I align my jobs so that I can truly manufacture at an acceptable operating equipment efficiency or an OEE number for a new press? How do I justify putting this piece of equipment on the floor?What is Heidelberg’s answer for creating an OEE number for a capital investment?RF: You should only think in terms of throughput and you should only measure, in our opinion, cost per thousand sheets. What is the cost of running a thousand sheets for my company?Why has Heidelberg focused on cost-per-thousand-sheet manufacturing?RF: We are launching a big data platform this year in a couple of satellite plants as a beta test. We are going to be collecting every single piece of information from the press and any other automation that is in front of, or behind, the press that can provide data. Then you can start to do a few things like intensify your colour management, streamline your stock purchasing by big data analysis. You can determine a lot to drive your cost per thousand sheets down. But it is not only based on capacity. If you can make every thousand sheets more profitable, a three-shift printer can become a two-shift printer and be more profitable even if they do not see an increase in print volumes coming. What is big data telling you about print?RF: There are so many decisions now where you can try to remove the emotional element and just focus on what is happening. It is interesting to see the look on a customer’s face when you tell them their overall operating efficiency [OEE] is 18 percent or 23 percent. They have these big pockets of unexplained time.How common is it for printers to have an OEE number well below 40 percent?RF: Most are below 40 percent for sure. And in fairness, a lot of people are getting hung up on overall operating efficiency. You can be the most efficient printer in the world but if you are a really short-run printer your [OEE] is not going to reflect how efficient you are just based on your total volume. Why is Push to Stop a new operating philosophy for printing?RF: I do not think anybody has ever gone from makeready to good sheet before without having a physical interference. To be able to process multiple jobs in sequence without interruption of a person has never been done before and now we have the capability to do it at a press level.What is new I would have to say is the ability to queue up multiple jobs from the prepress department into the queue of the press, all ready to go.
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&Itemid=1&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#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.
DALIM SOFTWARE in January 2017 released DALIM ES 5.5 as a significant update to a major version released just within the past year. DALIM ES (Enterprise Solution) is a media production platform for marketing partners and media services companies to store, manage, locate, and drive omnichannel projects, from print to Web to video.DALIM ES 5.5 features a completely redesigned and more sophisticated workflow editor, rewritten with a new user-friendly interface to create, edit and organize workflows. Users can drag and drop tasks into place, and to make – and undo –changes. Administrators can scale the workflow diagrams, zooming in and out to locate specific tasks. Groups of tasks can be copied and placed wherever needed. DALIM SOFTWARE has implemented an artificial intelligence framework into ES based on similarity, embedding libraries based on deep learning. When the deep learning is active, DALIM ES is automatically tagging metadata when a document is uploaded. The metadata is then used in the search field. Thus, DALIM SOFTWARE is building a machine learning model that works on any type of data, of any size, for more successful searches—for example, based on their color.DALIM LATITUDE is a free application to provide better interaction between the company’s web applications and the operating system. With DALIM ES and DALIM LATITUDE, a checked-out document from DALIM ES can be stored on the user’s machine in a LATITUDE directory. Users can also add new files to an ES project by dropping them in the LATITUDE directory, storing the checked-out files of the project, and checking them in the project.
During its annual Connect conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, EFI debuted its new MarketDirect platform as software to help printing companies and marketing service providers drive integrated customer engagement.Described as a Customer Engagement Platform, MarketDirect gives users the ability to develop, distribute and track customer communications for loyalty programs, offers, newsletters, surveys and communications. The software includes the next-generation of cross-media/multi-channel technologies available from EFI, building on the company’s DirectSmile platform for lead generation, new customer acquisition, prospecting and more.The software is available as a standalone application or alongside EFI’s Web-to-print software employed in the technology company’s Productivity Suites. It provides users visibility, data tracking and management capabilities for marketing campaign and customer engagement activities within the Suites’ MIS/ERP frameworks.MarketDirect includes EFI SmartCampaign, a new HTML5-based cross-media design tool. With a new storyboards automated campaign-creation feature, EFI explains, customers can build and visualize a campaign in a matter of minutes using simple drag-and-drop tools.Theme templates introduced with MarketDirect, explains EFI, give users the ability to personalize and launch campaigns with minimal training. New tools in the software also allow users to build and execute personalized communication and marketing programs for Web, email, print, mobile or social media.“This next-generation Customer Engagement Platform in MarketDirect significantly expands what our customers can offer in marketing and communication services,” said Charlotte Tueckmantel, VP and GM, Value Added Products, EFI Productivity Software. “From storyboarding and campaign design to visual automation, this is an elegantly simple tool for businesses looking to drive greater customer loyalty and deliver higher-value services to their client base”
A range of technology suppliers were asked to provide up to two of their newest Web to Print tools, which can include either a new platform or updates to an existing product. The following technologies provide some of the strongest tools available to drive a range of business to digital and offset printing presses.Radatech Web to Print ShopWeb to Print Shop bundles Radatech’sW2P tools into modules as plug-ins that can be applied to any Wordpress/Woocommerce Website. These tools are well suited for companies that have a modest level of fluency in managing their Website and wish to manage their own data. They can leverage the general open source aspects of their Website that are publicly available, while the Web to Print Shop plug-ins will fill in the gaps and handle harder issues like sophisticated product options and pricing, variable data templates, the uDRAW HTML5 designer plug-in, PDF based templates, file upload detection, file data and job routing. The system allows users to choose from several user interfaces and to create their own. W2P Shop can also be connected to the W2P CLOUD system and have all orders funnel into one production dashboard for streamlined management and reporting. Infigo MegaEdit 3D previewThe MegaEdit 3D preview module was updated in March 2017 to include finishing features, such as embossing, spot varnish and foiling, and photo-realistic 360-degree product previews. The original 3D preview tool was launched last year. Infigo explains the MegaEdit 3D preview module gives users the closest online experience to try before they buy, which is particularly useful for the personalized gifting space. The HTML 5 MegaEdit module is cloud-based so there are no time-consuming downloads, and it’s compatible for any device, so clients and end users can access it anywhere.The 3D preview module has also been integrated with Esko so it can deliver a 3D visual of the product and automate the output of the Esko CAD profiles in a print-ready format, delivering an automated workflow that enables on-demand printing for packaging suppliers. Amazing Print eCardBuilder Version 5.2 eCardBuilder Version 5.2 is to be released at Print 17 in September 2017 and will have a multi-lingual interface with more products. Amazing Print explains the new version of the web-to-print design engine eCardBuilder 5.2 will feature 100 new products and thousands of additional templates as a free upgrade to current users. Some of the new upgrades include new template creation functionality, new language support for multilingual w+Websites, new image editing capability and image cropping and resizing improvements. The tool’s improved mobile optimized interface will allow ordering and designing on any cell phone or tablet device, while desktop users will benefit from increased speed and better aesthetics. A new version of APIs will allow deeper connectivity in popular shopping carts and Websites. eCardBuilder users can additionally upgrade to a PosterDesignerPlus+ web to print poster designer and ordering interface based on eCardBuilder framework directly from Canon Canada.EFI SmartCanvasSmartCanvas, powered by DirectSmile is a new, Web-based product design tool launched with the new version 9.2 of EFI’s Digital StoreFront Web-to-print and eCommerce software. With SmartCanvas, users can create templates for a variety of products such as greeting cards, flyers, business cards, brochures, stationery, and banners. SmartCanvas is 100 percent HTML5 compatible, ensuring it works across a range of browsers for printer clients to submit customized orders online. Clients can use the design tools to personalize products by selecting images from galleries and adding their own text, images, QR codes, and shapes, while retaining the original branding control of the template. SmartCanvas supports: Multiple levels of undo (and redo); Keyboard shortcuts; Right-click context menus; Layers; Data tools – form fields, variables, and switches; Custom-defined spot colours and official Pantone spot colour definitions, including metallic and fluorescent colours); Real-time preview of product customization.Infigo MegaEdit MobileA mobile optimized version of Infigo’s MegaEdit design tool was launched in March 2017 to enhance the user experience on mobile devices, which requires an intuitive mobile experience. With consumers storing photos on their mobile device more so than their computer, Infigo explains this development is key to deliver a great experience for photo gifting businesses, and personalized product online retailers. The latest developments, explains Infigo, make it easy for end users to personalize their order. The MegaEdit mobile interface has been developed to make image upload and editing variable fields simple on a mobile phone. MegaEdit is built in HTML 5 and is cloud-based, so is easy access on most any device.Agfa StoreFront 4.0In April, Agfa Graphics released the next generation of its StoreFront, version 4.0 software, which now features what Agfa describes as responsive stores for optimal ease of use, new estimating 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.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. 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.Radatech Web to Print Cloud Web to Print Cloud is powered by EPOWER, which specializes in online ordering portals for corporate brands and in-plant operations. The software has the ability to modify the skin to accommodate any look and feel. The system utilizes multiple file formats for variable data – HTML5 design application, PDFLib and InDesign files with XMPie. The system offers editable workflow stations (as many as you want). The company explains there are no limits to the type of products that users can publish on the system. It also accommodates multiple administrative privileges, multi-billing and shipping options. The reporting can also be customized to generate reports with any piece of data in a few seconds and no coding is necessary. Print Science wp2print wp2print is an e-commerce solution for printing companies built on top of WordPress. wp2print brings these important functions to the Website: Complete purchase process including: quotes, purchase and payment; pricing calculators that can handle all the different products type printers require including saddle-stitched catalogues, perfect-bound books, wide format products, signs and more; design-online; both public storefronts and private storefronts for large accounts; and file uploads with no limitations on file size or type.Because it is built with WordPress, the company explains wp2print is easy to manage to create an attractive and responsive Website by using thousands of available WordPress themes. Print Science explains it is also easy to extend functionality by adding Wordpress or WooCommerce plugins; and to translate to any language. wp2print is available for purchase or by subscription (SaaS). Subscription prices start at US$100 per month. Subscriptions include Website hosting, training and technical support.
Sun Chemical in January launched a new UV offset ink developed, explains the company, to make sophisticated graphics look stunning and vibrant on high-end luxury folding cartons, while at the same time providing the longer-term shelf appeal. The new ink system, called SunCure Aspire UV, has been formulated to exhibit what Sun Chemical describes as immense colour transparency to help create vivid colour graphic effects on metallized, lenticular and holographic board stocks frequently used for pharmaceutical, perfume, liquor, cosmetic and POP applications. The company continues to explain that SunCure Aspire UV inks offer “excellent transfer, a wide water window, a high degree of lithographic stability, very high pigment strength to ensure mileage on press, and good lightfastness so shelf appeal remains consistent over time.” This ink system has been designed to work well with Sun Chemical’s SunInspire special effects coatings in the production of cartons. Sun Chemical explains the new UV ink system does not use any of the “exclusion-type photoinitiators” that are sometimes considered to be a concern to many brand owners and regulatory bodies. SunCure Aspire UV inks, according to the company, also deliver strong adhesion properties to many non-porous substrates. SunCure Aspire UV inks are available in a range of high strength blending colours for all spot colour needs, and meet ISO color requirements for GRACoL G7 applications.
Tilia Labs of Ottawa, a developer of planning, imposition, and automation software reached a new technology partnership with Aleyant, which also serves as a software developer for the printing industry. Their joint development aims deliver simplicity, efficient end-to-end quality control for printing companies that provide commercial and large-format services via online storefronts. The partnership has already resulted in two new integrations that connect Tilia Labs’ flagship imposition system, tilia Phoenix, with Aleyant’s Web-to-print and workflow solutions Pressero and tFlow. The integrations, explains Tilia, mean that customers can leverage automated imposition capabilities for calculation of the most cost-optimal production layouts direct from order input through to completion. The company explains this end-to-end cross-platform automation covers virtually any printing, cutting, and finishing combination. “We’re very excited by this partnership with Aleyant because Web-to-print imposition is an area where we feel tilia Phoenix can make a massive difference to print service providers,” Sagen de Jonge, CEO of Tilia Labs explains. “Phoenix was purpose-designed to automate impositions that deliver the best scenario for the printer, in terms of equipment utilization, materials and consumables, turnaround times, and overall cost. “By its nature, web-to-print involves the greatest range of variables: thousands of individual files, each specified differently, submitted in every available format and via a variety of protocols,” continued de Jonge. “It calls for unprecedented speed, flexibility, and accuracy. The combination of Aleyant and Tilia will be hard to beat.” tilia Phoenix, explains the company, draws on new developments in Artificial Intelligence in automating planning and imposition for all types of devices and print applications using nesting, die cutting, guillotine optimization, and planning algorithms. The system factors in parameters like job specifications (quantity, dimensions, colours, substrates), presses/print devices, postpress requirements, and delivery considerations, to deliver optimal layout options. Pressero’s use of XML open architecture enables it to automatically hand off orders and files to a hot folder designated for Phoenix software. First, Pressero will generate a csv file that can be saved locally or in FTP. Once the file is received via Aleyant's Automatic Workflow Integrator (AWI), it is sent to the Phoenix hot folder where is has automatic access to Phoenix tools and protocols that, explains the company, search across millions of possibilities in calculating the most cost-effective ganging and nesting combinations. The Phoenix Plan identifier helps control which incoming jobs are considered to be in the same group in identifying layouts for up to 1,000 orders at a time. Integration with Aleyant tFLOW links tilia Phoenix into a digital and large format workflow specifically designed to control difficult file management tasks and processes. Aleyant tFLOW can automatically check and fix jobs and forward them for approvals or production. With tilia Phoenix as partner technology, imposition plans, production options and cost implications can be calculated simultaneously on-the-fly. “Our principal mission is to help customers become more available, efficient and profitable by unifying production processes,” said Darrian Young, tFLOW Product Manager at Aleyant. “This partnership creates a very powerful capability to do exactly that without adding any complexity for the user. Printers of everything from custom packaging, labels, decals, cases, sign and display, to more traditional commercial jobs, can now benefit from ultimate process efficiency and cost-optimization.”
Crawford Technologies of Toronto released an upgrade of its software based on the CrawfordTech Digital Transform Engine (DTE) 4.6, which is the company’s core engine used in products for print stream transforms, document reengineering and accessible document creation. New capabilities in CrawfordTech DTE 4.6 include enhancements and product extensions like support for Auto Tagger for Accessibility, so users can convert documents in all print formats and PDFs into Section 508 compliant accessible documents.The upgrade also includes new capabilities in the MasterONE Architecture for handling multiple languages in one pass, as well as enhancements to PRO Concatenator that now allow it to pass all PDF outline objects through when concatenating PDF files.Enhancements to PRO Designer are designed to support greater usability when designating rules for creating accessible documents. The upgrade also includes an Enterprise license server that enables customers to manage their own licensing and, according to the company, makes it easier for them to make changes in their environment.In total, the new software release includes more than 200 enhancements, fixes and performance improvements. “Crawford Technologies remains committed to its aggressive semi-annual schedule for new software releases that further enhances our ability to provide a platform-independent approach, leading system performance and superior innovation with all our solutions,” said Ernie Crawford, President and CEO of Crawford Technologies.
Beta has added the new Presto Spectro product to its line of colour densitometers and spectro-densitometers, aimed at both multiple colour offset or flexo presses. It can measure offset plates as well as print. It features what the company describes as Red (Stop) and Green (Go) traffic light indicators to show printers whether colour is correct and within their specified working tolerances as set by the user. The unit sells for approximately US$3,499.The Presto Spectro measures density, dot gain, dot area, gray balance, trapping order, L*A*B*, Lch, Delta E, and opacity. It also includes a new feature called Spot Color Tone Value (SCTV), which the company describes as especially useful for flexographic spot colour tone matching. The Presto Spectro-Densitometer needs no chargers, explains the company, running on AA batteries for 50,000 measurements per battery set. Beta also explains it features an “ever bright” white display that makes reading values easier, as well as an “Easy Glide” track designed to never touch wet ink.The Presto Spectro includes a built-in 32 colour customizable library that is expandable to thousands of colours with the addition of the optional PrestoConnect Color Library software and database, which maintains job parameters to create, collect and manage colours and job information. The PrestoConnect Color Library software database can organize by colour, customer and job date.
Tilia Labs of Ottawa, Ontario, a developer of planning, imposition and automation software for the graphic arts, entered a new partnership aimed at label printers. In a development with Cerm, a MIS provider to this sector, the two companies will combine their strengths to offer integrated prepress capabilities for label print production. The initial result of the collaboration between the two companies is new integration between Cerm MIS and tilia Phoenix ganging capabilities to deliver a plug-and-play solution for optimizing sheetfed label production workflow, from design through to distribution. According to Geert Van Damme, Managing Director of Cerm, increasing demand from customers for an “intelligent ganging system” acted as the catalyst for Cerm to explore options for a dedicated imposition solution. “Cut & Stack sheetfed label producers were asking for a sophisticated capability that would allow them to combine a variety of labels with different sizes, colours and quantities on print sheets,” said Van Damme. “[Phoenix’] speed was the first thing to impress everyone,” continued Van Damme, describing the testing phase of available partner software. “It also offers an extensive set of preferences, allowing the print shop to align the system with its routine production habits. The user can make any number of changes to the chosen option and even save it as a template for the future. On top of this, the system is very intuitive – for usability it couldn’t be matched.” Tilia Labs’ flagship imposition software, tilia Phoenix, draws on new developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in automating planning and imposition for all types of devices and print applications. At its hub is Imposition AI, a set of tools and protocols designed to search across millions of possibilities to calculate the most cost-effective ganging and nesting combinations for up to 1,000 orders at a time. The system factors in parameters like job specifications (quantity, dimensions, colors, substrates), presses/print devices, postpress requirements, and delivery considerations, to deliver optimal layout options. The Cerm MIS now interfaces directly to Phoenix as to an intelligent ‘black box’, without the need to switch back and forth between applications. A group of individual orders can be ganged in the most competitive way, explain the companies, based upon the calculation of total production costs. The preferred option can be stored during estimation and re-used for repeat production runs, allowing individual elements within the template to be swapped for identically shaped labels. The companies explain if significant changes are called for then the gang-sheet can be opened, elements can be replaced or added and then re-ganged. When a final option has been selected, tilia Phoenix generates print-ready ganged layouts and imposition JDF instructions. Van Damme explains that, due to Cerm’s existing integration with Esko Automation Engine, the Phoenix JDFs will automatically drive Esko’s platemaking, offering additional time and cost savings to the print shop. “Tilia and Cerm customers can now tap into a wealth of combined knowhow via a single source to gain a very powerful management system,” Sagen de Jonge, CEO of Tilia Labs. “The ongoing development opportunities are also promising - Cerm are already looking at our die-cut capabilities to explore the potential of developing a joint offering. This is not simply a technical interface between the two systems, it’s about complete solutions that will evolve with new developments from both sides over time.”
Barbieri has released a new measuring device for colour management in the field of digital large-format printing. The Spectro LFP qb provides a range of features and also supports the M1 measurement mode. The new Spectro LFP qb spectrophotometer from Barbieri comprises three components. First, the Spectro LFP platform is the measuring stage with an enhanced clamping system and integrated M1 backlighting (for transmitted light measurement). The spectral unit (measuring head) incorporates the latest qb technology and comprises what the company describes as the high-precision spectral core, three light sources for uniform illumination of the media surface from three different angles, and seven LEDs to guarantee real M1 daylight illumination pursuant to the standard. The spectral unit has another extremely useful feature, explains Barbieri: The measuring head is removable and therefore ideal for fast and reliable spot measurement. The third component, the sensing unit, is described by the company as an innovation in the field of professional digital printing: an integrated camera offering a range of applications never available before. With the help of the camera, the measuring device automatically recognizes the target, performs a precision measurement and communicates the position and the photo to the RIP software for further processing.The new system also includes switchable apertures (2, 6, 8 mm) for measuring different materials, surfaces, inks and resolutions.“We want to turn our customers into top performers so that they can deliver the very best certified quality to their customers. Our Spectro LFP qb incorporates the know-how we have built up through 15 years of collaboration with leading international bodies, regular customer feedback and experience on the market,” said Markus Barbieri, Director of R&D. “Now we are satisfied: We can offer our customers not only solutions for existing problems but for the first time also a platform that opens up a world of new possibilities and applications.”
Sun Chemical has introduced a set of migration-compliant metallic inks for sheetfed offset printing. The new set, part of Sun Chemical’s SunPak FSP range of bio-based, lithographic inks for board and paper, comprises four colours – silver, rich gold, rich pale gold and pale gold. The SunPak set of migration-compliant, metallic inks is now available in Europe, North America and South America.The inks are ideally suited for food packaging, explains the company, as they have been fully certified as migration-compliant. Developed to ensure that there is no batch-to-batch variation and offering a storage life of 12 months, the new inks will be dispatched to customers as a ready mixed, one-pack system. The new inks have been validated in tests by existing customers, Sun Chemical explains their feedback indicates that the new range of metallic inks delivers good storage stability, is more robust on press compared with other migration-compliant inks and has drawn level with standard oil-based metallic inks in terms of metallic brilliance. “In line with Sun Chemical’s commitment to continuous innovation to help our customers operate more productive, profitable and sustainable businesses, we’re now introducing our latest set of metallic inks,” said Detlef Trautewein, Technical Service Manager, Sheetfed Europe, Sun Chemical. “Offering an unsurpassed level of shine, together with a 12-month storage life, batch consistency and a migration-compliant certification in a one-pack system, we’re confident that these new additions to our SunPak range will enable our customers to produce stand-out packaging for their customers.”
CTI Paper USA has commercially released an expanded range of Kromekote ultra-gloss papers aimed at labeling and general printing applications. This includes a new embossed, pearlescent Kromekote Jade Text and Cover line for dry toner/laser and offset printing. A universal coating, according to CTI Paper, enables Kromekote to be used interchangeably across offset and production-rated dry toner/laser equipment. CTI Papers are available in Canada through a range of paper merchants such as Arirva.The newly launched Kromekote Jade Text and Cover line brings highly reflective, embossed pearlescent textures to the brand for the first time. It is available in luxe surfaces – Brush, Wave, Linen and Pinweave – with immediate availability of folio, digital and cut-size sheets, plus envelopes.“Printed pieces on Kromekote Jade deliver a beautiful, sophisticated elegance,” said John Kelly, President and co-owner of CTI Paper USA. “Ambient light refracts against the embossed surface and inks to deliver stunning, high-impact print. We’re seeing interest in this unique, differentiated surface from printers of all sizes.” New for HP Indigo presses, following the growing demand for heavyweights, is a 14- and 18-point Kromekote ultra bright-white board. CTI Paper now offers HP Indigo papers in a variety of weights and thicknesses, from 8 pt. to 18 pt. (350 gsm), the majority of which are certified by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).CTI Paper USA has also received certification for Kromekote on the Konica-Minolta bizhub press platform, while the company explains the paper line is engineered for digital presses from Xerox, Kodak, Canon, Epson, Oce and Ricoh.“Kromekote’s universal surface delivers other important benefits to merchants and printers – increased simplicity of specification and use, and reduced inventory requirements,” said Kelly.For offset and dry toner/laser equipment, Kromekote features an ultra bright-white universal C1S and C2S sheet in a wide range of weights and sizes. It is also available in an ultra bright-white C1S label in two basis weights. Kromekote products are acid-free, lignin-free, elemental chlorine free and, with the exception of foils, recyclable. In addition, Kromekote features offerings in brushed and mirror-finished gold and silver foils and five colours. Kromekote handles specialty finishing such as embossing, foil stamping, aqueous coatings and varnishes.
Electronics For Imaging at PRINT 17 made the worldwide debut of the Fiery FS300 Pro technology as the next-generation platform for its digital front ends (DFEs). The Fiery FS300 Pro platform features what EFI describes as a major upgrade to its job management software, EFI Fiery Command WorkStation 6, with a new interface and supporting new versions of EFI’s Fiery Impose, Compose and JobMaster make-ready software products.EFI is highlighting its new Productivity Workbench dashboard; EFI Metrix planning and impositioning software for ultra-high-speed inkjet presses; EFI iQuote estimating and planning software for folding carton and label production; and an EFI Corrugated Packaging Suite integration with Esko ArtiosCAD software.The EFI Productivity Workbench is included in the latest release of several EFI Productivity Suites for print and packaging applications. It provides visibility (one-click access to task-based, business-critical data) across all components of a Suite and is described as a launch pad for common user activities. The product gathers data with what EFI describes as ContextSense links back into the system, and Workbench widgets display information most critical to each user.EFI Metrix software is designed for ultra-high-speed inkjet presses, handling complex print change calculations. It is linked to new Fiery DFEs for ultra-high-speed digital presses to accelerate the impositioning process, while giving users the ability to select multiple jobs in a Fiery DFE queue for instant gang run impositioning. EFI states Metrix reduces the labour associated with manual job imposition and planning by 80 percent. The software is launching with the new Fiery DFE system used on Landa digital presses, and it will also be available for other ultra-high-speed inkjet devices. EFI iQuote estimating and planning software for folding carton and label production reduces the risk converters face in profitably quoting jobs, applying custom business rules for accurate estimates that are easier to create. The software also streamlines planning and production on approved jobs by importing data directly into manufacturing workflows as part of the EFI Packaging Suite. Another 2017 Must See ’Ems Award-winning packaging innovation, EFI Corrugated Packaging Suite/Esko ArtiosCAD integration, automates the process of moving complex CAD design projects into production workflows for faster job preparation and, ultimately, quicker turnaround times.At PRINT 17, EFI is also highlighting the Pro 16h LED wide-format hybrid printer, a 65-inch device presented at the show by Konica Minolta and Ricoh. Pro 16h LED, which was recently named the 2017 SGIA Product of the Year for UV hybrid printers from $100,000 to $500,000, is a four-colour (plus white) printer with a built-in EFI Fiery proServer Core DFE. EFI explains the Pro 16h LED provides up to 30 percent greater throughput compared with other EFI wide-format hybrid production platforms.AT PRINT 17, EFI is featuring new versions of its Productivity Suites for commercial and digital superwide-format printing with the EFI Quick Print, Midmarket Print and Enterprise Commercial Print Suites. Also on display are EFI’s latest Suite versions for packaging, the EFI Packaging and Corrugated Packaging Suites. Workflow innovations for EFI’s Productivity Suites at PRINT 17 include new shop-floor data collection technology offering direct integration with Fiery digital print management systems, and EFI SmartCanvas, an online template design tool for EFI Digital StoreFront Web-to-print software.
Durst is preparing to launch a new large-format-printing platform, called the P5 Series, beginning with what the company describes as its flagship P5 250 HS system, which is scheduled to start shipping this April. The P5 250 HS is targeted toward high-volume industrial production, as well as one-offs with what Durst describes as offset quality. P5 relates to five core features at the heart of this technology: Productivity, reliability, workflow, versatility and print quality. The Durst P5 features a two-pass mode with up to 240 sqm/h speed and hresolution modes of up 1,200 dpi – based on a drop-size of 5 pcl. When compared to its existing Durst P10 250 HS, the new generation P5 is designed to be 70 percent more productive. It features MEMS nozzle plates, powered by Durst proprietary data-path and electronics, for a high-speed printing system with precise drop placement and industrial level reliability. “The new P5 platform, including workflow software and advanced service tools, represents our key strategy to further invest into large format printing technology and further afield,” said Christoph Gamper, Chief Executive of Durst Group. “We believe that there is a lot to explore in this market space and the P5 250 HS is our first statement.” The P5 Series of printers is supported with newly developed software and workflow solutions, as well as touch operation-based user interfaces and remote service capabilities. Durst explains its P5 industrial design reaches a step further with the P5 Series. The company had a design studio from Munich canvas opinions from customers and operators with a view to integrating their wishes into a new concept machine. The results will be incorporated into many Durst product lines in the future.
Xante has introduced the new En/Press as its next-generation digital envelope press. En/Press is a four-color process press built around an Adobe PostScript controller that delivers full-colour output at up to 60 letter-size pages per minute or 4,000 #10 envelopes per hour with variable data. Powered by Xante’s iQueue workflow software, En/Press produces print quality of up to 4,800 dpi.The En/Press includes PlateMaker 8 computer-to-plate technology, meaning the same press that produces envelopes, NCR forms, and stationery, can also produce polyester plates. PlateMaker 8 takes advantage of the En/Press technology to produce Myriad2 plates on a variety of sizes up to 13 x 19.38 inches that are suited for one- or two-colour jobs.At 13-inches wide, the En/Press media input handles a range of popular envelope and sheet sizes. Its patented Enterprise feed system delivers envelopes up to 13 x 10 inches and sheets up to 13 x 49.6 inches. The Enterprise Feed System has been redesigned with a slimmer profile. While handling the same 1,000 envelope capacity, Enterprise now accepts media as small as 3.5 x 3.5 inches to expand its envelope printing capability. “En/Press raises the bar for digital press technology,” said Robert Ross, President and CEO of Xante. “It’s truly a unique solution with its incredible print quality, dead-on spot colour matching, simple ease of use, durability, low cost, and CTP polyester plate printing that Xante customers have come to expect.”
Mimaki announced the availability of its Tiger-1800B printing system in the Americas. The Tiger-1800B is described as a high-production inkjet printer capable of direct-to-textile or transfer dye sublimation output. It is designed to deliver both large-scale production at manufacturing sites and small-scale production at on-demand sites, explains Mimaki, making it well suited for digital textile applications.The 74.8-inch Tiger-1800B includes an adhesive belt transport system with belt washing technology and in-line heat drying unit for what Mimaki describes as an all-in-one process for direct-to-textile printing.For high-volume production, it features 16 print heads in a staggered array for the direct-to-textile model, or 8 print heads for the transfer dye sublimation model, resulting in print speeds of up to 4,144 square feet per hour. Usable quality can be achieved even at these high print speeds to meet volume demands, explains Mimaki, or to quickly produce shorter-run projects such as for regional or seasonal fashion requirements.Its print speeds are supported by what the company describes as a sophisticated textile transport system, achieved through twin pressure roller shafts attached to the edge of the transportation belt. Textiles are transported onto the belt through the rollers. Wrinkle and Media Jam sensors detect textile wrinkling or creasing early in order to minimize potential damage to the print heads from collisions with raised or jammed textiles.As previously mentioned, the Tiger’s belt washing mechanism prevents stains on fresh fabric from ink remaining on the belt. It is equipped with two squeegees to prevent splash-back, and two heaters to dry and re-activate the belt surface. A cleaning liquid is automatically applied to each wiper before and after head cleaning. This liquid enhances the head cleaning process, explains Mimaki, and reduces daily maintenance time by providing a clean wiper.The Tiger-1800B printer features Variable Dot Printing and a standard Degassing Module reduces clogging by removing air bubbles in the ink, and an Ink Circulation ensures stable ink supply by constantly circulating the ink.Options for the direct-to-textile model include: a Roll Media Centering Unit featuring a feeding unit with a centering device and tension bar; a Jumbo Roll Unit; a Plaited Unit; and a Drying and Take-Up Unit for high density printed fabrics. The dye sublimation model includes the Jumbo Roll Unit as a standard feature.
At C!Print 2018 in Lyon, France, running from February 6 to 8, Agfa Graphics introduced its new Anapurna H1650i LED inkjet printing system. The 1.65-metre-wide hybrid printer, according to the company, is designed as an accessible and cost-effective LED production system. Agfa explains the Anapurna H1650i LED is a smaller version of its Anapurna H2050i LED printer, while sharing some of the same features. Like other systems in the Anapurna series, the H1650i LED prints on rigid and flexible media by means of LED curing, and includes Agfa’s thin-ink-layer and white-ink technologies.“The hybrid Anapurna H1650i LED printer was designed as a robust, qualitative and versatile entry-level option for wide-format print service providers,” said Philip Van der Auwera, Product Manager, Agfa Graphics. “Although smaller, it is equipped with features normally reserved for higher-end printers, such as automatic head height measurement, crash prevention and an anti-static bar, thus offering the very best at a reasonable price.” Anapurna LED engines also leverage a reinforced belt drive and shuttle beam, a gradient and multi-layer functionality and six 12-picoliter print heads. The printers are fitted with air-cooled UV LED lights that allow for printing on thin and thermal sensitive substrates, with lower energy consumption than traditional UV curing methods.
HP has commercially released what it describes as the world’s most-secure large-format printer for GIS mapping by adding tools like HP Secure Boot and Whitelisting for its next-generation, 44-inch DesignJet T1700. The improved security of the T1700, explains HP, is designed to help enterprises print CAD and GIS applications while protecting printers and data from unauthorized or malicious access in infrastructure construction, urban planning as well as utilities industries like oil, water, gas and electricity. “Security is a top concern in enterprises today as connected devices and increasingly open office spaces are pervasive. At the same time, data breaches are growing at an alarming pace. In the first half of 2017, the worldwide breach level index was up more than 160%,” said Guayente Sanmartin, General Manager and Global Head, HP Large Format Design Printing. “The HP DesignJet T1700 Printer Series includes unique advanced security technologies designed to keep corporate network printers, their documents and data protected.” Features include a new self-encrypting hard drive on the printer that ensures it is only readable by the printer itself, even if removed from the device. For additional device security, HP Secure Boot provides BIOS protection, and Whitelisting only allows approved firmware to be installed and run on the device. The Whitelisting feature will be available in mid-2018.To process larger GIS files, the DesignJet T1700 printer now offers a new processing architecture using a 500 GB hard disk. The large-format printer also has an embedded Adobe PDF Print Engine.The DesignJet T1700 also leverages a new set of six HP Bright Office Inks with tuned colour profiles and a High Density Printhead. The system also features HP Click printing software for ease of use.
Introduced in January 2018, OKI explains its Pro8432WT produces HD-quality colour transfers for textile and hard substrates, up to 11 x 17 inch format, as well as promotional materials. To this end, it leverages a straight paper path for flexible media handling. The printer features white toner technology with solid opacity and CMY colour. It can handle transfers for 100 percent cotton, cotton blends or polyester. Running at nine pages per minute for tabloid-size full-colour transfer, or 16 ppm for letter-size, reaching 1,200-dpi resolution. OKI explains its digital transfers, unlike sublimation do not require, do not require specially coated substrates. They rransfers onto black, white or coloured textile or hard surface substrates.
Liquid and dry toner presses continue to advance in fifth station units, print enhancements, media formats and raw printing power, among others toold, as featured in some of these newer engines. OKI 900 Series OKI 900 Series OKI C711WT OKI C711WT HP Indigo Pack Ready HP Indigo Pack Ready HP Indigo GEM HP Indigo GEM Heidelberg Versafire CV Heidelberg Versafire CV Kodak NexPress Substrate Expansion Kodak NexPress Substrate Expansion Kodak NexPress Opaque White Dry Ink Kodak NexPress Opaque White Dry Ink Ricoh Pro C7100 Ricoh Pro C7100 Ricoh Pro 8220 Ricoh Pro 8220 Xeikon CX500 Label Press Xeikon CX500 Label Press Canon varioPRINT DP Canon varioPRINT DP Canon imagePRESS C10000VP Canon imagePRESS C10000VP Canon Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN Canon Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN Xerox White Dry Ink Xerox White Dry Ink View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.printaction.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=1&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleria25270774e3
HP Inc. in January 2018 introduced its HP Indigo Wallpaper, a substrate-driven technology to leverage the Indigo 20000 press for wallpaper manufacturing. HP explains this system provides gravure quality with the benefits of on-demand printing. In addition to short-run production, the new HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press Wallpaper solution is capable of producing high-volume printing at 16,307 square feet per hour with a 29-inch width. The Indigo 20000 is programmed for repeat, frameless printing, which explains HP, makes it ideal for repeated pattern wallpaper applications and more. Wallpapers for the press are available to HP customers through suppliers such as Felix Schoeller and Van Merksteijn. HP also recently announced a new range of durable textiles certified for HP Latex printers to produce soft signage and décor applications, including curtains and blinds, cushions, lampshades, and bags, on materials made from 100 percent cotton, cotton linen or polyester. Some of the new textiles can also achieve washability with a heating process after printing. HP Latex water-based inks now also received ECO PASSPORT Certification from Oeko-Tex for textile applications.
Epson in January introduced its SureColor F2100 direct-to-garment system, which will be available in March 2018. Leveraging an Epson PrecisionCore TFP print head and Epson UltraChrome DG garment ink technology, the SureColor F2100 achieves up to twice the speed of the company’s previous generation DTG printer – the SureColor F2000. The SureColor F2100 (MSRP US$17,995) offers four colour ink technology, plus White ink. Additional improvements on the new SureColor F2100 include a quick-load platen, Epson Garment Creator Software, all-new integrated self-cleaning system for less downtime, and newly developed print modes including Light Garment Mode and Highlight White. Epson explains these new modes provide for more consistent print quality. “The SureColor F2000 is the number-one selling direct-to-garment printer in the market and has helped customers increase efficiency on short-run orders and expand product service offerings,” said Tim Check, senior product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America. “We listened to our customers and addressed common direct-to-garment pain points with the new SureColor F2100.” In terms of the new integrated inline self-cleaning system, the SureColor F2100 transports cleaning solution through the printhead, allowing the printer to perform daily maintenance to reduce downtime. In addition, White ink is triple filtered before reaching the printhead, designed to help reduce White ink nozzle clogging for greater up-time and reliability. Epson explains the new Highlight White mode achieves brighter White ink output by applying a second coat of White ink, while simultaneously printing colour ink for improved print speeds. With a new garment grip pad, the SureColor F2100 allows users to quickly load and unload garments on the printer platen to help reduce traditional hoop platen load times.
Digital label printing is one of the most attractive segments for printing growth led by significant new demands from brand owners for short-run versioning and variable print workThe digitization of label production began years ago with bleeding-edge projects but only now is beginning take a foothold across the printing world, which is still dominated by flexography. Some of the globe’s largest brands are reinvesting in print with the shifts in advertising effectiveness to younger generations, who may never watch a television ad or block them entirely online.A recent report by Future Market Insights estimates the demand for digital printing in packaging will grow at 15.3 percent to surpass US$52 billion in revenues by 2026. By product type, labels is currently the largest segment, accounting for over US$7.1 billion in revenues in 2016. Future Market Insights estimates demand for digital labels will increase at 16.7 percent CAGR to reach US$38.4 billion in revenues. The labels segment is estimated to hold the highest market share by the end of the projected period, accounting for more than 70 percent of the global market share by the end of 2027, up from 64.1 percent in 2016.Consider for example, the money invested by Coca-Cola to produce its largest-ever personalized brand campaign, Share a Coca-Cola, launched in 2013 across 32 countries. Coke used printing operations with HP Indigo presses to digitally print labels with 150 of the most popular first names, nicknames and terms of affection – initially 800 million high-quality personalized labels.The Share a Coca-Cola campaign became famous across the printing world because it signified a paradigm shift in what is effective marketing, leveraging print. It is an example of long-run versioning through digital, but the possibilities of digital labels burst open. Commercial printers are certainly attracted to the potential of digital labels but without a large client base will find it hard to invest millions in capital equipment and workflow infrastructure. Instead, many will take the route of entry-level inkjet- or toner-based printing engines, which can be integrated with a range of finishing technologies to work with existing clients and build up a base before committing significant resources. PrintAction spoke with Brett Kisiloski, PDS Sales Manager, about the potential of digital label printing, as well as the challenges and opportunities of investing in entry-level digital printing systems.What kind of systems do printers need to enter digital labels?Kisiloski: cEssentially you need two machines for a full production label system. You have your roll-to-roll label printer and your label finisher, which will laminate, die cut custom shapes, waste matrix, and then you can slit into singles from a multiple-up format. We focus on toner-based printers rather than inkjet – roll-to-roll toner. For us specifically, we use the OKI engines. We carry a few different die cutters but essentially they do the same sort of thing.When is a die-cutter not needed? Kisiloski: The only time we ever suggest to a customer that it is okay for them just to purchase a label printer is if they are only doing one or two sizes of labels… then it is easy for them to print pre-die-cut and they only need to stock one or two sizes in their shop. If you have a lot of other custom sizes, you can’t just phone up your label material provider saying you need new shapes… it is going to cost you twice as much. The flexibility isn’t there. Are more commercial printers looking into digital labels?Kisiloski: A lot of printers like the idea of it. The problem is that even for an entry-level system it is fairly costly if you want to get into a new machine. You are looking at probably an entry cost of definitely no less than $50,000, between $50,000 and $60,000. So you have to think that these printers already have a built-up label business of some sort. I have seen the most random, small print shops that are looking for a label printer. They might be doing hundreds of thousands a month and they have been outsourcing it, because they just happened to stumble across these customers who want labels.Another challenge with digital labels is finding that sweet spot… Is it going to be six cents a label, eight cents a label, because there is a difference when you have a trade printer quoting five cents a label. What really comes into play is that there is a lot of short-run or variable-data label printing.How much work do you need for ROI on an entry-level system?Kisiloski: You actually do not need that many jobs per month for this to make sense. It is likely you are selling that thousand let’s say for $300 and it is costing you maybe $80 to $100 to print. That’s printing, labour and everything, so let’s say $100, and you are making really good margin. If you are making $200 on every order and you get two orders a week you can pay off the machine. So that is really not a ton of volume for someone to jump into it based on getting one or two orders per week. What are the pros and cons of inkjet versus toner?Kisiloski: We carry smaller systems so I do not want to compare too much to the bigger guys… Systems for under $100,000 let’s say. We still sell Memjet print-head [inkjet] systems for envelopes and labels. It is great in the sense that it is really fast and it is quite inexpensive to print in terms of the ink costs. You are printing 60 feet a minute which is two to three times as fast as you are going to get on a toner printer, so it was really interesting a few years ago.The downfall is that you have to print on inkjet-coated material. About three or four years ago it was still cheaper when all was said and done to print on inkjet with the coated material. In the last two to three years, however, coated material prices have gone up big time, so it is very difficult. I would say it is 25 percent cheaper to print any size label using a toner printer rather than an inkjet just because of the material cost.Inkjet is also very finicky. It might have 70,000 print nozzles in a tiny little bar stretching 8 1/2 inches wide, so those things clog easily, whereas toner is very consistent. When does entry-level inkjet make sense today?Kisiloski: I have a customer who prints post-it notes, for example, and because it is a paper you do not need inkjet coating… The paper stock will absorb the ink… an inkjet system is perfect for him, because it is super cheap. He is just paying for the ink and it is really fast. But most people print on gloss paper or polyesters or vinyl, which has to be inkjet coated and you are doubling or tripling your cost. What is most exciting about digital label printing?Kisiloski: The label business is huge. Packaging is a massive industry so it is very exciting to be able to offer that… it is nice to be able to provide different options for a customer when they walk in the door and open up their mind a little bit to other ways of making money
Kernow North America has launched its new KernowPrint for HP Indigo line of printable synthetic materials featuring Cobalt Coating Technology. Describing the new product as ready-to-print and certified synthetic media, KernowPrint includes bright-white synthetics, specialty colors and an expanded range of printable films. The RIT-Certified KernowPrint for Indigo range will include KernowPrint Elite bright white synthetic paper, KernowPrint Vivid and Pastel-coloured synthetic media. The company plans to increase the number of available materials to include vinyl, styrene and specialty media such as metalized films.KernowPrint for Indigo ready-to-run films features proprietary Cobalt Coating Technology, which the company describes as chemistry based of years of research in creating formulations for the digital printing market. Kernow explains Cobalt provides an exceptional print surface and maximizes ink adhesion of the HP Indigo inks, while also providing a high level of static control in films and enhanced stability in difficult prints.“There’s been a strong push from our customers and partners for some time to deliver a range of synthetics for HP Indigo that addresses market needs,” said Kernow’s Dan Lawellin. “In putting together this portfolio of products, we’ve consulted industry leaders and relied heavily on customer feedback to create a product set that not only fills market gaps but takes into consideration the features and benefits that mean the most to printers. We’ve tried to address as many of these features as possible, – from stabilizing films for easy multi-shot printing to utilizing our Cobalt Technology to control static and improve overall print performance on challenging materials.”
Ricoh, during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, introduced a new “ultra-affordable” Direct to Garment (DTG) printer, called the Ri 100, which the company expects to make a major impact with a variety of small businesses, municipalities and other organizations. The Ricoh Ri 100 was announced as a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree, as judged by a panel of independent industrial designers, independent engineers and members of the trade media, across 28 product categories. “Customers have been asking for an affordable, low risk entry point into the DTG market, and our team is the first in the market to deliver on that,” said John Fulena, Vice President, Commercial and Industrial Printing Group, Ricoh USA.The company describes it as a great fit for souvenir shops and other businesses looking to leverage the impact of branded t-shirts, canvas bags, pillows and other fabrics. The Ri 100 features ready-to-go drivers and design software alongside what Ricoh describes as an intuitive heating unit for prepress wrinkle-smoothing and post-press ink curing. Leveraging technology from Ricoh and AnaJet, a Ricoh company, the Ri 100 prints at up to 1,200 x 1,200 dpi in vivid mode using Ricoh’s print heads with modular drop-sizes.The system is designed so users can start producing DTG applications right out of the box with minimal to no training. It can fit on counters or desks, so it can be added to a business without existing dedicated space for printing equipment. The total package (Ri 100, heating unit, software and accessories) is planned to retail for less than US$5,000, which Ricoh describes as a price that is significantly lower than that of traditional DTG printers.
Esko, which focuses on developing software and hardware for the packaging, labels, sign and display industries, launched the Kongsberg C66, a finishing table designed for short-run production of corrugated applications.The Kongsberg C66 was developed based on market demand as part of Esko’s robotics program in that technology sector. Esko explains its combination of size, speed and precision on heavy-duty rigid materials like corrugated cartons make it a viable alternative to conventional diecutting equipment for short-run corrugated production of packaging and POP displays.The Kongsberg C66 can run at 100 metres per minute and handle either manual multi-zone production of large 2.2 x 3.2-metre (87 x 126-inch) sheets or single-zone production of large 2.5 x 4.8-metre (98 x 189-inch) corrugated sheets. It can work with corrugated containers made from HD double-wall or triple-wall corrugated and packaging and POP displays. The Kongsberg C66 is also capable of processing other materials required in the protective packaging environment, including foam cushioning materials.The Kongsberg C66’s 3,210 x 4,800-mm (W x L) work area supports both large-format and multi-zone production. Its Carbon Composite Traverse is highly rigid, which Esko explains to enable high speed, fast acceleration, high quality creasing with minimal deflection. It allows the Kongsberg C66 to run at full production speed on much larger material, explains Esko, without losing accuracy. The i-cut Production Console (iPC) drives the table’s functionality and includes capabilities such as camera control, machine set up, tool recognition, calibration and tool adjustments. Designed to guide and support the operator, it incorporates a number of logical, user-friendly features including an icon-based graphical interface with colour-coded alerts and updates. Combined with Device Manager it offers the ability to follow production progress from a distance.
Mimaki USA, a manufacturer of wide-format inkjet printers and cutters, introduced the CF22-1225 flatbed cutting plotter, a 4-foot by 8-foot model being displayed at the SGIA annual exhibition running in New Orleans from October 10 to 12. The new system is expected to be available beginning in December 2017.The CF22-1225 cutting plotter is based on the existing Mimaki CF2 platform first launched in 2005. The new, larger CF22-1225 features a work area that can accommodate oversized media and allows a full 4-foot by 8-foot maximum cut size. Mimaki explains this allows printers to move materials directly from a standard flatbed printer.The CF22-1225 cutting plotter is compatible with FineCut8 and the new RasterLink6 Plus software. This new version of Mimaki’s RIP software includes an ID Cut function. Along with registration marks, RasterLink6 plus software will include a bar code on output from a Mimaki printer driven by this version. The barcode, read by the crop mark sensor on the CF22-1225 cutting plotter, contains cutting and rotation information enabling the CF22-1225 cutting plotter to automate the cutting process. Mimaki explains this function is particularly useful when running nested print-cut jobs, as the cutting plotter continuously reads the data for both single and ganged jobs.Users can choose from various cutting heads for a range of tool holders for cutting, creasing and drawing tools, depending on the application. Swivel knife, tangential knife, reciprocating knife, creasing wheel and pen options are available with a range of blade and creasing options. The company explains the CF22-1225 provides for cutting a variety of materials like corrugate, styrene and foam up to 20-mm thick for packaging and POP applications, as well as rubber, resin materials and plastics for industrial applications.
Kompac of Somerville, NJ, has launched new EZ Koat 20 Plus and 30 Plus models, rated to reach speeds of up to 200 feet per minute. The systems can be used for priming, UV coating or aqueous coating.Now offering an anilox coater option, the EZ Koat 20 Plus and 30 Plus are ideally suited for running soft-touch and matte coatings. The standard Kompac Coating System remains in place to switch to UV/aqueous gloss and satin coatings when desired. Kompac explains, unlike competitive systems, the EZ Koat product line operates with a digital lamp driver, providing variable curing and drying capabilities as well as instant start-up after coating changes. Kompac explains its patented technology translates to a 25 percent power reduction.For users in high-production environments, Kompac provides options for the EZ Koat 20 and 30 Plus, including high-pile pallet feeders and stackers, sheet turners for two-sided capabilities, and inline conveyors for running on digital, offset presses and other finishing equipment.
Brandtjen & Kluge Inc. has introduced the new ApexFoil foil stamping and diecutting press for small to medium format. The company states the technology provides innovations in application range, makeready and efficiency. The commercial release and first official exhibition for ApexFoil will be at PRINT 17 in Chicago this September.“We were driven to develop the ApexFoil in response to customer feedback and a clear understanding of their evolving business needs,” said Michael Aumann, CEO of Kluge. “The functionality of this innovative new product will allow for better efficiency and more output in an ever-changing workflow environment driven by digital print technology.” Kluge explains operators can use the ApexFoil’s Compass control system that includes patented features to control time, temperature and tonnage, which the company describes as three key properties of foil stamping. Kluge explains Compass allows operators to greatly reduce, and in some cases eliminate, job makeready.ApexFoil also includes sliding Clearview interlocking safety guards, a PLC touchscreen interface, a multi-point LED lighting package and high-performance Delrin work surface. The programmable foil system that can hold a tolerance of +/- .016 inches at the foil gap and also provides programmable step-and-repeat capability.Kluge also points to the system’s 24/7 programmable dual surface heat control with timer control to pre-heat die and makeready surfaces prior to a shift start up, as well as a foil, die and makeready alignment system that trims set-up time and increases set-up efficiency. ApexFoil, explains the company, also features quick-set tool-less registration adjustments and an ultra-lightweight die mounting plate, which can save up to five minutes of set-up time during job changeover.
Dylan Westgate of Sydney Stone disucsses advances in digital finishing technologies.
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.
International environmental not-for-profit Canopy, based in Vancouver, BC, has unveiled the 2017 update to its annual Blueline Ranking, a print-buying tool that profiles and ranks the sustainability performance of North America’s largest printers. Printers analyzed in this year’s assessment represent $34 billion in annual sales. Canopy collaborates with more than 750 companies to develop processes to make their supply chains more sustainable.Five of the Top 10 printers on Canopy’s North America ranking are Canadian, while another three are within the Top 15, including: TPH The Printing House, TC Transcontinental Printing, Hemlock Printers, MET Fine Printers, The Lowe-Martin Group, Webcom, St. Joseph Communications and Torstar Printing Group.“As businesses across North America step up to address climate change, it is time to think about the high carbon footprint of printing, which is mainly attributable to paper choices,” said Canopy’s Executive Director, Nicole Rycroft. “Many papers are sourced from the logging of high carbon forests which carries a much bigger climate footprint than processing or transportation within the print sector. We’re encouraged to see strong leadership by many important players in the print sector.”Based on the report, Canopy reports that 45 percent (20/44) of the printers ranked understand the value of communicating sustainability successes to their clients and have strong sustainability content on their websites. Forty-one percent (18/44) of Blueline printers have policies that support ancient and endangered forest conservation. In just under two years, five of North America’s largest printers have developed new and leading policies, reports Canopy, reflecting clients’ increasing requirements for sustainable printing services.“The Blueline Ranking aligns with our own sustainability goals and is an invaluable resource for cross-checking our print service providers and monitoring progress," stated Jenny Dela Cruz, Director of Sustainability for HH Global, which is one of a growing number of Fortune 500 companies and leading brands that use the Blueline Ranking as a resource in choosing their print partners.“As one of the largest providers of marketing communications in North America, it’s important that our customers – both current and future – recognize our commitment to achieving a sustainable supply chain with a reduced carbon footprint,” said Mark O’Leary, President, Taylor Communications, which improved its ranking the most, moving from 18th to 3rd place with strong policy updates and implementation engagement. “We are thrilled to move to third place in the 2017 Blueline Ranking.”EarthColor and The Printing House, explains Canopy, continue to lead the ranking with strong policies, rigorous policy implementation and transparent reporting on progress and successes.The Blueline Ranking rates major printers on a set of 32 key sustainability criteria and highlights sector leaders to consumer brands. Those that top the ranking are outperforming their peers in areas such as reducing their use of papers that contain ancient and endangered forest fiber, supporting the advancement conservation solutions, supporting the development of new environmental papers such as those made with high recycled content or straw, and bringing a high degree of transparency to their sustainability initiatives.This year’s Blueline Ranking is dedicated to the memory of Dick Kouwenhoven, the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hemlock Printers Ltd., noted by Canopy as a champion in sustainability in the print sector.The interactive online ranking can be viewed here.
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.
A group of journalists over four days in late-January were given a tour of the Indonesian-based business activities of Asia Pulp & Paper, which has grown to become one of the world’s largest integrated pulp and paper entities.
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.
How the Iron Curtain ushered in the half-size web in the face of large-format offset to forever change print.
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).
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.”
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