Jon Robinson

Jon Robinson

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Tuesday, 01 May 2018
Transcontinental Inc.’s Media Sector, TC Media, on April 27 completed the sale of 30 publications. The transaction includes 21 weeklies in the Montréal area, the Métro Montréal weekday newspaper, as well as eight publications in the Québec City area to Transmet Logistics & Metropolitan Media, led by President and Montréal businessmen Michael Raffoul.

Transcontinental launched a process to sell its Québec and Ontario newspapers one year ago, and today only five of those 93 titles remain under the company’s control.

“It is with much pride that we have served the Montréal and Québec City communities for many decades with the local newspapers and the reputed Métro Montréal weekday newspaper,” said François Olivier, President and Chief Executive Officer of TC Transcontinental. “We [now] hand over these publications to Michael Raffoul, an entrepreneur who is active in print media-related services.”

The transaction includes all Web properties related to the titles sold as well as the Québec Hebdo Website. In total, 119 employees of the various publications and 20 employees from TC Media’s Production team are transferred to the acquirer. TC Transcontinental also concluded a multi-year agreement for the printing of all of these titles, as well as for the distribution, with the exception of Métro Montréal, which is already under contract with Raffoul’s print media distribution company.

Raffoul said: “The print media industry has been at the heart of our business for a long time. Because of this unique relationship that binds us together, we truly understand the importance of newspapers in the communities. The acquisition of these quality publications thus reinforces our position in the industry, furthering our growth and development opportunities.”

In addition to the Métro Montréal newspaper, the Montréal-area publications included in this transaction are: Ambiance/Rendez Vous, L’Avenir de l’Est, Cités Nouvelles, Courrier Ahuntsic, Courrier Bordeaux-Cartierville, Corriere Italiano, L’Express d’Outremont – L’Express Mont-Royal, Le Flambeau Mercier-Anjou, Le Guide Montréal-Nord, Le Magazine de l’Île-des-Sœurs, L’Informateur de Rivière-des-Prairies, Journal de Rosemont, Messager Lachine & Dorval, Le Messager LaSalle, Le Messager Verdun, Nouvelles Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Les Nouvelles Saint-Laurent News, Le Plateau, Progrès Saint-Léonard, Villeray–Parc-Ex Petite Patrie and La Voix Pop.

For the Québec City area: L’Actuel, L’Appel, L’Autre Voix, Beauport Express, Charlesbourg Express, Le Jacques-Cartier, Journal Habitation and Le Québec Express, as well as the Québec Hebdo Website.

“To conclude, I would like to mention how satisfied and pleased we are with the outcome of the ongoing sale process for our local newspapers in Québec and Ontario launched a year ago,” noted François Olivier. “With the transaction announced today, only five of the 93 newspapers up for sale are left in the process and we continue to have discussions with potential buyers.”
Tuesday, 24 April 2018
Starting up a new 240,000-square-foot facility in late 2017, Jay Mandarino continues to push The CJ Group toward becoming Canada’s largest commercial printing operation, featuring a range of innovations.

Jay Mandarino in March 2017 began his largest business venture in what has been a storied printing career that began as CJ Graphic Images – a brokerage proprietorship – 38 years ago in the basement of his parents’ home. Since opening his first press location in downtown Toronto in 1985, Mandarino has been on a steady path of growth toward becoming one Canada’s largest independent commercial printing operations.

Growing through acquisition, as well as by organic sales and technological investments, Mandarino took a major step toward his goal in 2014 with the purchase of a 65,000-square-foot plant, adding to two facilities controlled by what had been renamed as The CJ Group of Companies (CJG) to reflect holding more than 30 businesses. In late 2014, Mandarino pegged CJG as a $30 million operation and described his ambition to reach toward $100 million in annual revenue. Over the past 15 years alone, CJG has made more than 15 acquisitions, including the recent additions of Prime Imaging, Artwords and TPS (2014); publishing entity SBC Media (2015); and Clixx, one of the top mailing facilities in Canada, Artistic Die Cutting and Annan & Sons (2017).

In January of last year, Mandarino concluded the sale of three CJG buildings, accounting for approximately 145,000 square feet of space on 4.5 acres of land in Etobicoke, Ontario. That real-estate deal was reinvested in CJG’s new 240,000-square-foot plant, situated on eight acres, just 10 minutes away in Mississauga. “We had the opportunity to sell our three other buildings for very good money… I could of put the money in the bank and retired, but what am I going to do,” says Mandarino, President and CEO of CJG, who recently turned 57. “Two hundred and twenty people work here now and they have families.”

The move to CJG’s new Hensall Circle location began in March 2017 and ultimately involved more than 200 tractor-trailer loads, not to mention regular runs by the company’s two 5-tonne trucks and two vans. By fall 2017, CJG began operating out of the facility, today easily one of Canada’s largest commercial printing plants. “We are about $45 million right now,” says Mandarino, reaffirming his commitment to continue growing. “And now we have the capacity and the facility to do it.”

Offset innovations
Mandarino estimates the capital investment in CJG’s new facility to be more than $30 million. The cost of the building alone was just under $16 million and renovations came in at around $5.5 million, with additional moving costs of approximation $1 million. CJG also made major equipment investments that conservatively reach above $8 million.

Mandarino estimates around a third of CJG’s revenue is generated through 41-inch sheetfed offset presses, which is a relatively low number compared to other lithography-rooted shops – hinting at the diversity of CJG’s current operations. “People are looking for one-stop shopping,” he says, pointing to CJG’s range of services like screen printing, large- and small-format digital, traditional foil stamping and embossing, digital foil stamping and embossing, traditional and laser die cutting, fulfillment and distribution, and mailing and marketing services.

The company is currently in the process of setting up a car-wrap department within a couple of bays at the building’s front-right corner. “We also have an Innovation Division now dealing with holographic displays and virtual readers. We have some very creative people working here and we are very blessed.”

CJG’s lithography was boosted in November 2017 with a new 6-colour Heidelberg XL 106, adding to its existing line-up of two 6-colour XL straight presses and two 20-inch offset machines. “The XLs just produce so much. One XL is like two old CDs,” says Mandarino. CJG’s new XL 106 is equipped with an Anilox AQ coater and Inpress Control, which Mandarino is directing toward Heidelberg’s new Push To Stop operating philosophy. Push To Stop allows a press to initiate a series of print jobs that are properly queued by Prinect software, which also relies on the new Press Center XL 2 console, Intellistart 2 and assistance systems like Intelliguide.

Depending on ink lay-down and imposition, print jobs can run consistently without operator intervention. The technology platform can leverage colour management tools to reach specified Delta levels and tagging systems in the press delivery. “The new technology is unbelievable, Push To Stop – the ability to set inline spectrophotometry and recalibrate sheets, how it is done automatically at 18,000 sheets an hour. The press operators love it,” says Mandarino. “It is the way the industry is going and we do a lot of similar jobs in different industries that we specialize in, so it is not a problem.” CJG also invested in Inpress and Push To Stop controls to retrofit its second XL press, while the third XL is being equipped with UV.

Digital innovations
As its new offset press was being added at Hensall Circle, CJG was also installing two fully loaded Xerox iGen 5 presses, as well as an Epic CTi-635 inline coating system equipped with a C.P. Bourg BSFE-x sheet feeder. The new Epic technology allows for spot and overall aqueous and UV coatings, while the iGen 5s can produce matte toner, run 24-point stock, and achieve up to 93 percent of reproducible PMS colours – with orange, blue, green, white dry and clear dry.

“They are very unique machines. They have the newest technology in the sense that they have opaque white, which is amazing especially if you are going to print on black stocks,” says Mandarino. “We have a lot of clients who are still very, very fussy and they want that specific PMS colour and we are so close now. We actually changed over about 20 percent of our clients who were doing traditional litho stationery to digital.” In February, CJG finished upgrading one of its Xerox presses to run gold and silver metallic.

The facility also holds six large-format machines: Fujifilm’s Uvistar, Acuity HS, and Onset X3, as well as investments in Agfa’s Jeti Tauro H2500 LED with ABF, Jeti Ceres RTR3200 LED, and Jeti Titan HS with FTR. In April, CJG was scheduled to add a seventh machine in Agfa’s 10-foot Tauro 3300 with full automation.

The Tauro H2500 is a 100-inch wide hybrid LED UV printer with an integrated roll-to-roll system. It is designed to reach speeds of up to 2,960 square feet per hour and can feed a range of media including corrugated board. The Tauro’s automated board feeder (ABF) can process up to four boards automatically and its white ink capability expands applications to backlit POP or for using white as a spot colour. CJG’s new Jeti Ceres RTR3200 LED, aimed at higher-quality work, reaches speeds of up to 2,002 square feet per hour. The 126-inch-wide, roll-to-roll system provides six colours plus white to enhance the opacity and boost colour contrast.

The Hensall Circle facility also holds one of North America’s most advanced digital finishing departments after CJG in 2015 installed North America’s first Scodix Ultra Pro with Scodix Foil. The system is designed for producing cost-effective foil with run lengths from one up to 10,000, enhancing a range of products like packaging, brochures, business cards, invitations and book covers.

This Scodix purchase came a week after CJG announced its Canada-first acquisition of a Highcon Euclid II+ system, described as the first fully digital cutting and creasing machine for converting paper, labels, folding carton and micro-flute. It incorporates Highcon’s patented Digital Adhesive Rule Technology (DART) and polymers to produce creases, as well as high-speed laser optics to cut a range of substrates.

“It takes a while to build up the market for it, there is no question, but I can tell you we have two major accounts – one out of the U.S. and one out of the UK – because of those machines,” says Mandarino. “We are looking at upgrading to the [Highcon] Beam now, which does, I think, 5,000 sheets an hour – we are doing 1,200 to 1,500 now – to get into some bigger packaging runs.”

The Scodix and Highcon sit across from each other in a dedicated room filled with unique print samples, which are in fact a common sight throughout the entire Hensall Circle facility. “We are very sales driven and we have always invested in technology and it has made us successful,” says Mandarino. “You have to find new stuff all of the time.”
Tuesday, 03 April 2018
Asia Pulp & Paper opens up its Indah Kiat Perawang mill to illustrate five years of work to become a progressive paper producer with interests rooted in its concession communities

For a pictorial report of APP Indonesia, visit PrintAction's February 2017 article, A Look Inside Asia Pulp & Paper.

Asia Pulp & Paper in February 2018 reached the five-year anniversary of its seminal Forest Conservation Policy, which set into motion a series of massive and aggressive initiatives to transform one of the world’s largest integrated pulp and paper corporations. Its decision to place sustainability at the heart of its operations was actually formalized a year earlier in its Sustainability Roadmap Vision 2020, when Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) committed to zero deforestation. This commitment was then formalized in the Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) based on APP developing a plantation-driven business model and putting an immediate end to sourcing pulpwood materials from suppliers involved with natural forest clearance.

Today, all 38 of its external wood suppliers are evaluated for FCP compliance and the company explains, that outside of two minor breaches that were quickly resolved, it has maintained its FCP commitments. “Five years ago we turned our company around and it has been a good story of change,” says Ian Lifshitz, VP of Sustainability & Stakeholder Relations, Americas, APP. “We have really seen a shift in our organization in the way we approach the community, forest conservation and zero deforestation. The key thing is five years later the FCP is holding. We have not broken our policy. We continue to maintain and evolve.”

FCP commitments are rigorously reviewed every six months at an APP-hosted forum with environmental stakeholders like Greenpeace, which years earlier targeted APP’s practices through highly public campaigns. Greenpeace and similar NGO stakeholders, as well as government agencies, engaged in the FCP process are now commending APP for its progress and work on the ground, which has since moved well beyond forestry protection into a holistic approach to help develop prosperity for Indonesia.

Opportunities of the forest
According to 2017 numbers provided by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, 27.8 million Indonesians live in poverty and 36.7 percent, or 10.2 million people in the country, are below the poverty line in rural areas where forestry and/or agriculture are the main source of economic livelihood. Indonesia’s forest area comprises 126.1 million hectares, equivalent to 66.9 percent of the country’s total landmass. Some 1.3 million jobs – directly and indirectly – are created by the pulp and paper industry.

“It is important for us to put our industry in the context of the most critical issue facing Indonesia today, which is poverty,” says Veronika Renyaan, Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement, APP Indonesia. She explains APP now invests more than $13 million annually in community development programs, including the company’s unique Integrated Forestry and Farming System introduced in 2015 with its own investment budget of $10 million until 2020.

Under Indonesian regulations every forest concession holder must set aside 20 percent of the land for community use and 10 percent for conservation. APP is currently operating beyond these marks providing 22 percent of its concessions for community use and 21 percent for conservation, with the remaining 57 percent being used as plantation forest. The Integrated Forestry and Farming System (IFFS) is a key driver of these percentages in APP’s effort to support the economic development of 500 villages in landscapes surrounding its concessions.

“There are 180 villages within our concessions, but we also map out villages outside of our concession areas to a radius of 10 kilometres,” says Neglasari Martini, Head of Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement, APP, noting this accounts for 799 villages, which may hold anywhere from around 100 people to larger size communities of more than 1,000.

Martini explains the 500 chosen villages are based first on the approximate 200 touching APP’s concessions and the other 300 are based on social mapping, in terms of location, land conflicts and potential threats to APP’s forest concessions, which constantly face illegal logging and the potential for third-party fires being started in, or crossing over into, its concessions.

“Fire is a very complex issue in Indonesia… often it is because of land disputes. People may want to claim land so they burn it and then plant palm oil. It is very complex to pinpoint,” explains Martini. APP has invested more than $103 million since 2015 on forest fire management. It began working with British Columbia’s TREK Wildland Services and Working on Fire from South Africa to help train its fire teams, build fire towers and to establish better hotspot detection for real-time monitoring, understanding this is a critical issue for APP’s efforts to work with communities.

Before the IFFS program begins within a community, a business plan must be put together to understand how the land will be used, which typically involves planting vegetables or fruit, managing cows, or developing more schooling or housing. The program also requires the establishment of a village institution to manage the money within a cooperative model.

“It is like micro-financing and they need an evolving fund, so some of their profit returns to the institutions for the other villagers to use the money,” says Martini.
This approach not only improves farming yields and the development of more skills and services for the village as a whole, it also provides forest protection and conservation. A facilitator is based in the village to help implement the program.

“The HR manager [from APP’s Indah Kiat Perawang mill] runs a farming community program,” says Lifshitz, “so there is crossover from employees at the mill who actually work on the program, directly impacting them.”

Perawang pulp and paper
The Indah Kiat Perawang mill is enormous covering a square footage area of more than 2,400 hectares, holding nine paper machines, four pulp lines and six large-size tissue lines in addition to smaller machines. When last checked, more than 40 kilometres of pipe – often of large diametre – is used to feed and relieve the mill’s operations. One of the mill’s current capital investment projects focuses on updating its power cycle, which has an install capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

The project will also help power local communities, which is an existing APP initiative. “Sometimes the government power supply is not enough and we always have spare capacity that we can sell,” says Sufianto Alfian, Head of BU Commodity Division at Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper Perawang. “But we are not making profit from it, rather creating a good relationship with the community.”

The Perawang mill has a pulp capacity of around 8,000 metric tonnes per day, about 50 percent of which is used for paper production, with its own output of 3,000 to 4,000 metric tonnes per day. This equates to anywhere from 100,000 to 120,000 metric tonnes of paper produced per month. The mill’s Paper Machine 3 (PM3), as an example, has a target running speed of 1,350 metres per minute and an average uptime operating efficiency of between 85 and 90 percent. PM3 typically runs 24/7 for about 40 days before shutting down for a day of maintenance. It takes about one hour for PM3 to produce what the team refers to as a jumbo roll – 50 tonnes – and around 1,200 tonnes per day.

Hinting at the scale of Perawang’s vertical integration, which includes a new Bielomatik-driven converting plant, its pulp production is fueled by around 50 percent of APP’s wood supply (creating black liquor), with the other half converted into usable fibre. Alfian explains, “The integration is quite extensive here, from the seedlings that turn into fibre production and even the final products going to customers – all of it from seeds.”

APP started its forestry research program at Perawang in 1990, which was then replicated in Jambi province in 1995, followed by three other regional research centres in 2005. The company develops Eucalyptus and Acacia for its commercial plantations. “We need to find the best quality of wood to fulfill the needs of our mill,” says Yodim Kusuma, who leads Seed Development, in the Perawang mill’s research facility.

The company’s research facilities face more pressure since the beginning of FCP and its zero deforestation pillar, as APP must focus more on growth and yield assessments to determine if there will be enough wood supply for its mills. Its first projections done in 2013, to the year 2020, identified a small gap in 2019, but it will be easily overcome with improvements in yield and other operational efficiencies. Updated projections in 2015, looking toward 2025, also indicate there will be enough wood supply in APP’s plantation model.

Previously, APP harvested its trees in eight-year cycles at the high end, but the work of the research team allows for harvesting more often after just five years. “Only after five years will the eucalyptus properties meet the criteria of the mill, because they have wood density, the hardness of the wood, and also cellulose content and lignin content criteria,” explains Kusuma. “After two years, the wood is not hard enough so the wood consumption is still low. But after five to eight years, it will be too hard and it will be difficult for the wood-chipping process.”

Using a spacing of three by two metres, Kusuma explains the company can grow 1,666 trees per hectare, which creates an ultimate yield target of 225 cubic metres per hectare. The operation is currently hitting 150 cubic metres per hectare, with a survival rate of between 70 and 80 percent. Perawang’s research team continues to work with Eucalyptus hybrid clones – without DNA manipulation as regulated by the government – to develop what it describes as plus trees.

“When we find a plus tree, we will multiple it on a large scale,” says Kusuma. “For Eucalyptus, we can produce by cutting, but for Acacia we use seeds because we have not optimized our cutting production for Acacia.” The Eucalyptus clones are created from cuttings after about three months of various quality control and fertilization stages in the lab. They are then placed in the nursery and ultimately back into the plantation to restart tree growth for the future.

For a pictorial report of APP Indonesia, visit PrintAction's February 2017 article, A Look Inside Asia Pulp & Paper.
Wednesday, 14 March 2018
Fujifilm’s Ed Pierce, Komcan’s Brett Rogers, Canon’s Alec Couckuyt and RISO’s Andre D’Urbano describe sheetfed inkjet press advances, challenges, and why commercial printers should invest.

Ed Pierce, Product Marketing Manager, Fujifilm North America, Graphic Systems Division

Why is it important for commercial printers to consider an inkjet press?
Pierce: As run lengths continue to decline, regardless of the reason whether it be inventory cost driven or targeted marketing driven, it becomes increasingly difficult to provide a quality product at a price that is profitable for the print provider. As run lengths decrease, the expectation of quality does not decrease along with it. Toner technologies only go so far and production inkjet drives it home beyond the capabilities of a toner device.

This should also be considered an opportunity for commercial printers. By staying ahead of the curve and investing in new technology that addresses this need; will put the printer in a much better competitive position to attract and win this book of business that is not a trend but rather a new reality in the market. With the integrated technologies of the J Press 720S the print provider can produce a smaller initial quantity and reprint in a week, a month and so on the exact same quality and colour of the initial print run by simply calling up the same job with the same media profile and hitting the print button. There are no plates, there is not running up to colour and there is no extra labour required to reproduce a simple reprint order.  

What is currently your company’s best inkjet press for a typical commercial printer?
Pierce: The Fujifilm J Press 720S was not only the first B2/half-size production inkjet press brought to market, it is now in its second generation and the most widely adopted B2 inkjet press with over 100 installations globally. 

The J Press 720S uses the industry benchmark Fujifilm Dimatix Samba print heads along with Fujifilm’s cloud-based ColorPath SYNC colour management, Fujifilm VIVIDIA aqueous pigment inks, VERSA Drop jetting technology and proprietary screening algorithms to deliver what many describe as better than offset quality printed output.  And by running standard coated and uncoated offset stocks, the commercial printer and print buyer do not have to change the stocks they use or purchase stocks that carry a premium cost.  

What key challenges still exist for production inkjet?
Pierce: There is still a perception in the market that production inkjet has yet to achieve offset quality. At least in the case of the J Press 720S from Fujifilm, this market need has been met. Commercial printers tend to look at their current book of business when considering the purchase of a production inkjet press and plugging these numbers into their ROI. The reality is that just about all printers that have adopted production inkjet technology have achieved new business with their investment.

Brett Rogers, Technical Sales Manager, Komcan (Canadian Komori distributor)

Why is it important for commercial printers to consider inkjet?
Rogers: The primary shortfalls of digital printing technologies have been twofold. Volume and Quality, you can maybe have one, but not the other. With production Inkjet, we are seeing that elevated crossover point, and unmatched quality in the digital space.

We have also come to a point with traditional toner-based digital equipment, that quality and other factors such as substrate limitations, and post-press application, are limiting. Inkjet bucks all of those and allows for A) high level of quality, B) continually increasing crossover point, C) substrate freedom (in some cases), and D) post-press durability.

What is currently your company’s best inkjet press for a typical commercial printer?
Rogers: The Komori IS29 is a leader in all four aspects of quality, low to higher volume printing, substrate freedom, and post press durability. The larger format, 23 x 29 inches, allows for 50 percent more up per press sheet, at 8.5 x 11 inches, without sacrificing press speed [3,000 sheets per hour].

Print quality produced by the IS29 is fantastic. Colour consistency throughout the run is solid. Perfecting, UV curing, substrate freedom, including off-the-shelf non-porous substrates, and litho based sheet transport with excellent register, make the IS29 an excellent investment, while maintaining the digital advantages, such as full colour variable. The crossover point is rising.

What key challenges still exist for production inkjet adoption?
Rogers: Preconceptions regarding quality exist because previous incarnations of inkjet technology had shortcomings. This is no longer the case and inkjet printing has now surpassed quality levels seen in the toner world.

Further, the cost of introduction has been an objection heard in the market. The same price objections that were heard when toner based technologies, CtP, or even the Linotype machine came out. Technologies, while in their infancy, are expensive. No different than DVD players, VCRs or 8 Tracks. Inkjet, however, is past the infancy stage, and even past the toddler stage; and as such, improvements are being made, turning these objections obsolete.

Andre D’Urbano, Director of Dealer Sales, RISO Canada

Why is it important for commercial printers to consider an inkjet press?
D’Urbano: For years the print consumer has been told that colour is more expensive. To this day we have organizations that are forced to limit or ban the use of colour as it is deemed a luxury. Inkjet allows those on a budget to shift a majority of their monochrome printed material into the colour arena but at an affordable price. Colour inkjet has a cost of 1 to 2 cents per page and can be sold at 4 to 6 cents per page, a far cry from the 10 to 15 retail cents for colour toner. The end user gains in increased colour printing while the print shop benefits from the higher margins of inkjet compared to monochrome toner.

What is currently your company’s best inkjet press for a typical commercial printer?
D’Urbano: RISO offers production, colour, cut-sheet printing at a speed of 9,600 letter-size pages per hour. The GD9630 offers improved 5-colour output at the low cost that is expected from inkjet. The RISO solution is one of the few – if not the only – high-speed, cut-sheet production devices priced at about $100,000 or less. It is the least expensive way to dip your toe into the inkjet waters. If a print shop has seen the demand for inkjet grow but cannot justify the investment of some of the larger devices in the market, RISO will provide the shallow financial ramp needed to get in the game.

What key challenges still exist for production inkjet?
D’Urbano: Inkjet quality has and continues to be widely accepted by end users everywhere. The challenge comes from those selling inkjet printers along with those at the print shop level who need to sell inkjet printed material to their clients. These are the ones with a critical eye and some cannot get past anything less than toner that is baked onto coated paper. The fact is that there are many non-profit organizations convinced that colour is out of reach. They have for years been told that a colour image will cost more. As such, they revert back to monochrome. A print shop that prints 60 percent monochrome and 40 percent colour annually can easily transfer half that monochrome work to colour inkjet as it is more affordable than toner.

Alec Couckuyt, Senior Director PPSG, Canon Canada

Why is it important for commercial printers to consider inkjet?
Couckuyt: In this rapidly evolving communications industry the commercial printer is faced with five critical dynamics: 1. Shorter run lengths, 2. Faster turnaround times, 3. Increasing job complexity like variable content/images, 4. Expansion of products and services offerings like data management, commercial print, display graphics, fulfillment, and 5. Relentless pressure on cost avoidance. These dynamics dictate the degree of relevance of print within the communications omni-channel venues. Inkjet technology gives the commercial printer an additional critical tool to stay on top of these dynamics and make print highly relevant.

What is currently your company’s best inkjet press for a typical commercial printer?
Couckuyt: The answer has to be twofold – one press does not fit all. If the commercial printer deals with a high number of different types of short run jobs with fast turnaround, an ability to print on a wide range of media, including coated offset, the answer is the VarioPrint iSeries, our highly productive inkjet cutsheet colour press. If the commercial printer’s requirements are based on higher volumes, variable content/images the answer is the ProStream. This 22-inch-wide web press with a native 1,200 x 1,200-dpi multi-level droplet modulation, runs at 80 metres per minute, prints on coated offset media, with a monthly duty cycle of 35 million impressions, and a colour gamut beyond offset.

What key challenges still exist for production inkjet adoption?
Couckuyt: The two biggest challenges a commercial printer faces today are 1) The clear understanding of ink consumption, in order to properly estimate job costs, and 2) The understanding of what paper media a specific inkjet press can print on. It is essential for the commercial printer that during the discovery phase the vendor clearly defines these two aspects.
Wednesday, 07 March 2018
Transcontinental Inc. today announced that it has acquired Multifilm Packaging Corporation, a flexible packaging supplier located near Chicago in Elgin, Illinois. Employing more than 70 people, Multifilm focuses on the high-end candy and chocolate packaging verticals in North America, and specializes in piece-wraps and high-barrier laminates for the confectionery, snacks and dry foods markets.

Since entering the market in 2014, this is TC Transcontinental’s sixth flexible packaging acquisition, including its previously most recent acquistion of Flexipak in November 2017. Today, the company’s packaging division has close to 1,000 employees and its North American platform comprises seven production plants and one premedia studio.  

Transcontinental explains Multifilm is built around an integrated manufacturing process and distinguishes itself through expertise in cast film extrusion, metallization and demetallization, as well as aluminum foil printing.

“The acquisition of Multifilm Packaging Corporation is aligned with our growth strategy for the packaging division and presents tremendous opportunities,” said François Olivier, President and CEO of TC Transcontinental. “This transaction allows us to enter new high-end confectionery packaging niches and to bolster our offering in this market. Multifilm expands our manufacturing capabilities, namely with aluminum foil printing and demetallization, thereby enabling us to leverage these sought-after processes within our North American packaging platform.”

Multifilm Packaging Corporation has been owned since 2008 by four owner-managers, who will be joining TC Transcontinental. “We are truly proud to join TC Transcontinental, a large corporation with a 42-year history and track record of success,” said Chris Rogers, President of Multifilm. “We are inspired by the long-term growth vision and entrepreneurial spirit of its executives, and we are confident that, together, we will continue to help Multifilm thrive by building on its success, as we have always done."
Tuesday, 27 February 2018
3D printing begins to move past consumer hype into industrial design and onto the production floor, as manufacturing and logistics companies plan for significant changes to their business models.

Financial institution ING in late-2017 reported the current trajectory of 3D printing could result in one-quarter of world trade being wiped out by 2060. This was its Scenario I, in which 3D printing continues to evolve at an annual growth rate of 19 per cent, with the possibility of locally 3D printed goods cutting trade by 40 percent. Scenario II presented by ING considers an accelerated growth rate in 3D printing of 33 percent, which would wipe out two-fifths of world trade by 2040. ING’s analysis also predicts, that at current growth rates, conservatively half of all manufactured goods will be printed in 40 years.

These long-term predications cannot possibly consider all future supply-and-demand variables, of course, but today 3D printing constitutes less than one percent of global manufacturing revenue. Wohlers Associates, an independent consultancy specializing in 3D printing research, estimates 3D printing will eventually capture five percent of the global manufacturing capacity, which would make it a $640 billion industry (all figures in U.S. dollars). A 2016 report called 3D Printing: The Next Revolution in Industrial Manufacturing, published by logistics giant United Parcel Service (UPS), estimates today’s 3D printing market to be worth anywhere from $7 billion to $9 billion, predicting it could reach $21 billion by 2020. Consultancy firm McKinsey estimates the 3D printing market will grow to reach anywhere from $180 to $450 billion by 2025.

The range of these growth predictions largely comes from the inability to fully understand how massive corporations – with the ability to shift markets – might alter their manufacturing models to leverage 3D printing. It is unlikely that 3D printing will predominately replace – or even penetrate – mass production processes in several product sectors, but it does hold the potential to touch most any category of discrete manufacturing. IT research firm Gartner estimates 10 percent of all discrete manufacturers will be using 3D printers by 2019 to make parts for the products they sell or service.

Watching 3D grow
3D printing is currently best suited for making complex, small-batch products, as illustrated by its heavy usage for prototypes and parts. The UPS report describes parts production as the fastest-growing application of 3D printing, specifically functional parts at 29 percent and prototypes at 18 percent. In November 2016, UPS invested in a company called Fast Radius to launch a new logistics model for parts production via 3D printing.

Fast Radius’ primary production facility is now located in what it describes as the world’s largest packaging facility, UPS WorldPort (Louisville, Kentucky), which also serves as the logistics giant’s global air hub. Fast Radius explains this “strategic end-of-runway location” provides it with up to six hours of additional production time versus using a near-site location, typically controlled by a third-party. 3D printing will likely experience growth under a service-bureau model as technologies mature, in terms of both function (speed and quality) and cost. More manufacturers and product companies will also change their business models to install 3D printing systems.

Research released in 2017 by IT consulting firm Gartner shows interest in establishing in-house 3D printing capabilities is “rapidly gaining traction.” Gartner predicts 40 percent of manufacturing enterprises will establish what it calls 3D printing Centers of Excellence (COE) by 2021, pointing to existing industrial-scale efforts by Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Rolls Royce and Siemens. In September 2016, reported 3D-print startup Carbon received $81 million from a group of investors, including GE Ventures (General Electric), BMW Group, Nikon and JSR, as an extension of a $100 million funding round in August 2015 led by Google Ventures.

In December 2017, Yahoo Finance reported Carbon closed on $143 million of a new funding round to accelerate its global expansion. “Once completed, this round will bring the Silicon Valley-based company’s total raise to a whopping $422 million and reportedly boosts its valuation to a mighty $1.7 billion,” writes Beth McKenna. “To provide some context, the two largest publicly traded pure-play 3D printing companies, Stratasys and 3D Systems, have market caps of $1.14 billion and $1.13 billion, respectively.”

The prospects for 3D printing growth are buoyed by venture-capital investments with the participation of established companies like UPS, which holds the world’s largest network of distribution centres. Billed as The Global Platform for Part Production, Fast Radius enables companies to manage the design, engineering, prototyping and production of end-use parts. Its in-house 3D printing capabilities are supported by partnerships with third-party providers of traditional parts manufacturing techniques like metal extrusion, CNC machining and injection molding.

3D printing can help reduce the use of expensive processes to create tools, molds and modifications for production lines. In 2017, imaging giant Ricoh began replacing some of its traditional metal tooling with lightweight 3D printed jigs and fixtures for a large-format-printer assembly line in Japan, where an operator typically handles more than 200 parts a day. Ricoh is specifically assembling an electronic component using a 3D printed fixture produced in anti-static ABS plastic on a Stratasys Fortus 900mc printer.

“Because we are producing an enormous number of parts, it takes a lot of time and effort to identify the right jigs and fixtures for each one. This manual process has become even lengthier as the number of components grows, requiring that an operator examine the shape, orientation and angle of each part before taking out a tool and placing it back in its original fixture,” explained Taizo Sakaki, Senior Manager of Business Development, Ricoh Group. “[Now] we are able to customize the tools according to the part and produce them on demand, which is helping us restructure and modernize our production process.” Sakaki explains Ricoh would typically outsource machine cut tools that could take two weeks or more to produce. Ricoh’s operators can now determine the shape and geometry of a fixture that corresponds to its associated part through 3D CAD software and 3D print it in one day.

“Prototyping is the reason 3D printing exists, because there is nothing better to make one-offs particularly if it is a small part with high detail,” said Stephen Nigro, VP, Inkjet and Graphic Solutions for HP Inc., which launched its Multi Jet Fusion products in 2016. HP – an inkjet printing pioneer – plans to disrupt the 3D printing market with this new high-speed, relatively low-cost platform. HP explains on a current high-cost, high-quality laser sintering machine, for example, 1,000 gears would take at least 38 hours to fabricate, while those same 1,000 gears could be produced within three hours on Multi Jet Fusion technology.

UPS shared a telling quote from an engineer/senior industrial designer at a consumer electronics company: “Our prototype turnaround time reduced from three to six months to two to three weeks. Time-to-market for new products reduced by 40 to 60 percent. 3D printing is viewed as an enabler here for expanding into new markets. We initially used it once a week, but now it’s used daily.” UPS explains the next big 3D printing opportunity for consumer electronics is in smartphones, which comprise an estimated 35 percent of total consumer electronics sales.

As early adopters, the consumer electronics and automotive industries each contribute 20 percent of the total 3D printing revenue, according to UPS, with aerospace following closely behind. Mercedes-Benz Truck in 2017 began its first 3D-printed spare parts service, allowing customers to 3D print more than 30 different spare parts for cargo trucks. Logistics giant DHL, in its own 2017 3D printing report, explains hundreds of millions of spare parts from across all industries are kept in storage. DHL used data from Kazzata – an online marketplace for 3D printed parts – to estimate the share of excess inventories can exceed 20 percent.

“[3D printing] may never be as efficient as a 3-story stamping press at banging out ribbons of metal into panels, but, in one shot, 3D printers can form complex – indeed impossible-to-make – parts that a press could never solve,” wrote Pete Basiliere, Research VP at Gartner, which first used its highly regarded Hype Cycle Report to analyze 3D Printing in 2016. “Our Predicts research highlights three industries – medical devices, aircraft and consumer goods – that are making significant strides in implementing advanced manufacturing practices enabled by 3D printing. To a significant extent, the experiences of these industries can be applied to all manufacturing industries.”

Gartner research predicts 75 percent of new commercial and military aircraft will fly with 3D-printed engine, airframe and other components by 2021 – “After 20 years of use, Boeing has additive manufacturing at 20 sites in four countries and more than 50,000 3D-printed parts are flying on both commercial and defense programs.” He also points to how GE Aviation’s new Advanced Turboprop engine design converted 855 conventionally manufactured parts into 12 3D-printed parts, resulting in 10 percent more horsepower, 20 percent fuel savings, a shorter development cycle and lower design costs.

Basiliere also describes how Airbus is utilizing 3D printing in the construction of its airplanes, having already introduced more than 1,000 3D-printed parts in its A350 model. In 2016, Airbus unveiled a completely 3D-printed drone called Thor consisting of 50 3D-printed parts and two electric motors, explains Basiliere – “This aircraft, which is four metres long and weighs 21 kg, was constructed in just four weeks.” Lockheed Martin in 2017 announced it is using 3D printing for titanium satellite components, reducing cycle times by 43 percent and costs by 48 percent.

The evolution of 3D printing is poised to generate new applications with DHL pointing to 4D printing, as developed at MIT, which adds the dimension of change to 3D-printed objects: “4D-printed items can self-assemble and adjust shape when confronted with a change in their environment like temperature. Imagine water pipes that shrink or expand depending on water flow, or tires that adapt to wet surfaces and change back to their original size and pressure when the roads are dry again.”  The potential of 4D printing or similar market-boosting innovations is supported by the ability to print electronics under conditions similar to 3D printing. 
Monday, 26 February 2018
CRON Machinery & Electronics Co., which describes itself as the largest global CTP manufacturer, announced it is forming a new business unit to serve the global flexo industry. It will be called the CRON-ECRM Flexo Business Unit (FBU). CRON first entered the North American graphic communications market in 2014.

The new unit will be led by Alex Lee, as the General Manager and Global Sales Director, and Marshall Hogenson has been appointed Vice President Americas, Flexo Business Unit. Hogenson will specifically be responsible for driving the flexo business in North, Central, and South America by naming dealers, handling key accounts, and developing regional strategic partnerships.

“This is an extremely exciting opportunity,” said Hogenson. “CRON’s reputation as a high quality, affordable flexo CTP option is growing rapidly. The potential is massive and CRON is well positioned to become a major player in the market.”

In addition to the Americas, CRON's FBU will also focus on three additional regions: China, Asia, and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). Each region will have its own Vice President to drive growth in that market.

Hogenson joined CRON-ECRM in July 2017 as the Director of Sales, Flexo. He previously held positions at Creative Edge Software, which focuses on package design software products; Eastman Kodak, where he was the Business Development Manager, Country Manager, Canada, Packaging; OEC Graphics, where he served as the Corportae Director of Sales; and EskoArtwork, where he was the Global and Strategic Accounts Sales Manager and Director of Brand Owner Solutions.
Tuesday, 06 February 2018
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.

Monday, 05 February 2018
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.
Thursday, 25 January 2018
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 Shop
Web 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 preview
The 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 SmartCanvas
SmartCanvas, 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 Mobile
A 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 4.0
In 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.
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