Jon Robinson

Jon Robinson

E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Friday, 11 November 2016
More than 200 people gathered last night to celebrate some of the best printing in the country at the 11th Canadian Printing Awards gala, held at the Palais Royale on Toronto’s waterfront. Dozens of awards were presented to printing companies and technology suppliers from across Canada. The winners are notified beforehand that they are finalists, winning a Gold, Silver or Bronze Award, but were not informed of the award level until last night at the gala.

The printing categories winners were determined by a judging panel of 11 industry leaders, who spent a full day analyzing and ranking the entries through a blind scoring system. The judges consider issues like printing process, run length and repeatability across submitted samples. At the end of the day, they collect their favourite projects and together debate which single entry, across all categories, should be awarded Best of Show. Finalists in the year’s Best of Show discussion included work from Friesens, MET Fine Printers and PDI Group (two submissions), with the award going to Montreal’s PDI Group for its production of the Cartise Autumn 2016 catalogue.

As previously announced, PrintAction’s 2016 Industry Achievement winners included: John A. Young Lifetime Achievement Award, Hadi Mahabadi, former Director, Xerox Research Centre of Canada, Mississauga, ON; Printing Leader of the Year, Jamie Barbieri, President, PDI Group Inc., Montreal, QC; Emerging Leader of the Year, Todd Cober, Vice President, Cober, Kitchener, ON; and Community Leader of the Year, Jeff Ekstein, President, Willow Printing Group Ltd., Concord, ON.

The following sponsors were critical in the success of the 2016 Canadian Printing Awards, including: Platinum sponsor, Veritiv; Gold sponsors, Canon, HP, Huber Group, KBA, Kodak, Manroland Sheetfed and Sun Chemical; and Silver sponsors Domtar, Fujifilm, Heidelberg and Spicers.

The 2016 Canadian Printing Award recipients include:

2016 Best of Show
Cartise Autumn 2016
PDI Group

Self Promotion, printing company
Gold: Hemlock Holiday Wrap
Hemlock Printers

Silver: C.J. Heavy Metal
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Bronze: Greeting Card Box Set
Priority Printing, being accept by Heidelberg’s Don Robinson

Self Promotion, technology supplier
Gold: Supreme Piece Love
Spicers Canada, printed by C.J. Graphics

Silver: The Paper Loop
Rolland Enterprises

Bronze: Innovation in Motion
MGI Digital Technology, printed in-house by MGI technicians

Brochures & Booklets, offset
Gold: Hakai Fishing Club
Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging

Silver: Lexus RX 2017
Colour Innovations

Bronze: Cressey Bellevue
Hemlock Printers

Brochures & Booklets, digital
Gold: Seneca Fashion Resource Centre
Colour Innovations

Silver: Blue Dragon, The East Made Easy
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Bronze: barometer
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Books, hardcover offset
Gold: Montreal 375 BEST OF SHOW FINALIST
Friesens

Silver: Making Friends Was My Business
Friesens

Bronze: Audian Art Museum, Mexican Modernists
Hemlock Printers

Books, softcover offset
Gold: Cirque du Soleil, Luzia Souvenir Programme BEST OF SHOW FINALIST
PDI Group

Silver: The Age of Audacity, Calgary University
MET Fine Printers

Bronze: Horseshoe Bay
MET Fine Printers

Books, digital
Gold: J Vair Anniversary
McAra Unicom

Silver: Flowers In Transition
Friesens

Bronze: Silverhorn, Discovered Naturally
McAra Unicom

Web Offset
Gold: Moon Handbooks, Bermuda
Friesens

Business & Annual Reports    
Gold: ATB Financial, Long Story Short
McAra Unicom

Silver: National Gallery of Canada
The Lowe-Martin Group

Bronze: Alberta Central Credit Union
McAra Unicom

Direct Mail    
Gold: Spring Auto Event
The Lowe-Martin Group

Silver: Hudson's Bay Olympic and Paralympic Teams
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Bronze: Mercedes Benz Welcome
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Variable Data Imaging
Gold: USC Season Ticket Package and Magazine
McAra Unicom

Magazines
Gold: Mountain Life 2016
Hemlock Printers

Gold: Sharp Book for Men
St. Joseph Communications

Silver: Nuvo Autumn 2016
Colour Innovations

Bronze: DesignEdge Canada
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Calendars
Gold: Inuit Art 2017
Colour Innovations

Silver: Friesens Engagement Diary
Friesens

Bronze: Ultimate Sailing 2016
Friesens

Labels, offset
Gold: Wayward Distillation House, Unruly Gin
Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging

Silver: Star Trek Prestige Stamp Booklet
The Lowe-Martin Group

Bronze: Crown Royal Black Label
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Labels, flexography or gravure
Gold: Sparks
Artcraft Label

Silver: Le Boating Club
Artcraft Label

Bronze: Lakeview Cellars Merlot
ASL Print FX

Flexography
Gold: Cavendish Farms Rustic Russets
Farnell Packaging

Silver: Vigoro Organics
Farnell Packaging

Rigid Packaging
Gold: Feel Packaging
Hemlock Printers

Silver: Cadbury Crème Eggs Package Family
Ellis Packaging

Bronze: Forty Creek Founder’s Reserve
Jones Packaging

Catalogues
Gold: Cartise Autumn 2016 BEST OF SHOW FINALIST
PDI Group

Gold: Nike Vision Running BEST OF SHOW FINALIST
MET Fine Printers

Silver: Filson, Smokey the Bear
Hemlock Printers

Bronze: Holt Renfrew Holiday
St. Joseph Communications

Business Cards
Gold: Canadian Food Aficionado
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Silver: Oak 49
Pacific Bindery Services

Bronze: Gryphon & Rock
McAra Unicom

Stationery & Invitations    
Gold: Art Gallery of Ontario, Midnight Massive Invitation
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Silver: TNS Invitation
MET Fine Printers

Bronze: Canadian Opera Company, Centre Stage Gala Invitation
Colour Innovations

Finishing
Gold: Ringling Bros Circus Extreme
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Silver: Flowers In Transition
Friesens

Bronze: Daydreamer Anthropologie Candle Toppers
Pacific Bindery Services

Specialty Project
Gold: Nike Vision Running Easel Stand
MET Fine Printers

Silver: Star Trek Prestige Stamp Booklet
The Lowe-Martin Group

Silver: TNS Invitation
MET Fine Printers

Bronze: Union Leasing Welcome Package
Wellington Printworks

Specialty Effects
Gold: USC Ticket Package
McAra Unicom

Gold: Canadian Food Aficionado Media Kit
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Silver: Granville HOPS + DARK
Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging

Bronze: Venice Lift
Ellis Packaging

Most Environmentally Progressive Printing Project
Gold: Capilano University 2017 View Book
Hemlock Printers

Silver: Atlantic Salmon Vol 65 No 1
The Lowe-Martin Group

Bronze: TD Friends of the Environment Foundation Calendar
C.J. Graphics, Printers & Lithographers

Most Environmentally Progressive Technology Company    
Gold: HP Canada

Most Environmentally Progressive Printing Company
Gold: The Lowe-Martin Group, Ottawa, Ontario

Silver: Hemlock Printers, Burnaby, British Columbia

Bronze: Symcor, Mississauga, Ontario

Most Progressive Printing Technology, software
Gold: PRISMAsync Colour Print Server
Canon Canada

Silver: Dynamic Press Profiler
ColorXTC

Most Progressive Printing Technology, electrophotography/toner
Gold: Canon ImagePRESS C10000VP
Canon Canada

Most Progressive Printing Technology, inkjet
Gold: PageWide Technology for Large Format Production
HP Canada

Silver: Océ VarioPrint i300
Canon Canada

Most Progressive Printing Process, packaging
Gold: AG Hair High Build Gloss
Hemlock Printers

Most Progressive Printing Process, offset
Gold: UV Grit Coating
Hemlock Printers
Friday, 04 November 2016
Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, based in Plymouth, Michigan, has acquired the Canadian franchise organization KKP Canada, based in Richmond Hill, Ontario. The agreement adds 50 franchise locations to Alliance Franchise Brands’ portfolio, which includes more than 600 locations in North America and the United Kingdom.

The purchase of KKP Canada effectively triples the Canadian presence of Alliance Franchise Brands. “This represents a sound investment in the continued growth of our network,” said Mike Marcantonio, CEO, Alliance Franchise Brands. “Our organization began in the graphics communications industry with the quick print concepts of Speedy Printing in Canada and American Speedy Printing in the U.S.

“Over the past 40 years, we have aggressively invested in the areas with the most potential for long-term gains, including technology, signage, digital and print communications,” continued Marcantonio. “With the acquisition of KKP Canada, our network of businesses is 630 strong with annual revenues approaching a half billion dollars.”

The company’s brands include Allegra, Speedy Printing, image360, Insty-Prints, Signs by Tomorrow, Signs Now, Zippy Print (also Canadian), and KKP franchises in the United States.

“Our franchise members have been serving their markets in Canada for over 30 years,” said Kevin Cushing, President of the Marketing & Print Division for Alliance. “We have our own corporate-owned location in Windsor, Ontario, and 25 franchised locations across the country prior to having KKP Canada join our network. We believe this move will support greater resource deployment for the success of all of our members and better partnership opportunities with Canadian suppliers."

KKP Canada CEO and Vice-Chair Gigi Harding is to remain active in KKP Canada through the transition as an advisor.
Monday, 31 October 2016
Asia Pulp & Paper, a relatively young paper maker founded in 1979, has grown to become one of the world’s largest integrated pulp and paper entities with a raft of new environmental targets and products in the Canadian market.

Asia Pulp & Paper  Group in 2013 introduced its Forest Conservation Policy as a large-scale environmental initiative based on zero deforestation.  The policy would require a range of investments by  Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) with a goal to put an immediate end to sourcing pulpwood materials from suppliers involved with natural forest clearance.

The company, with its primary roots in both China and Indonesia, subsequently engaged leading environmental organizations like Rainforest Alliance, Deltares (a research institute) and Greenpeace to evaluate this unprecedented Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). APP opened up its operations to allow these organizations to track its FCP implementation progress.

Over the next two years, APP continued to work on its environmental stance with initiatives like the world’s first-ever retirement of commercial plantations on tropical peatland – some 7,000 acres – and a program to restore and conserve one million hectares of forest across Indonesia, primarily within the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem, home to the endangered Sumatran Tiger. These massive initiatives were in response to mounting environmental criticisms leveled against APP over its practices.

As a result of facing the criticism head on, APP has invested millions of dollars into establishing a stronger environmental position and, at the same time, reorganized its operations into one of the most modern structures across the paper world.

While most other paper makers are running legacy equipment, often shutting down equipment based on unmanageable fluctuations in supply and demand, APP over the past 10 years has brought on line three new paper machines designed with technical flexibility to respond to new market demands.

The company, driven by its own unique eucalyptus plantations, is now seen as the world’s most vertically integrated paper producers. This position has allowed APP’s Canadian operation, focused solely on moving paper as opposed to diversifying into equipment distribution, to reengage to domestic printing industry and become one of Canada’s most powerful paper suppliers.  

New Canadian model
APP’s new direction in Canadian printing primarily began in 2010 when David Chin became President of APP Canada. One of his primary goals was to become a preferred paper supplier to Canada’s Tier One printing operations. This would require new levels of market penetration for the company, which had traditionally focused on the retail market as a paper merchant. Chin instead began to build from APP’s long presence in the Canadian market to establish direct relationships with printers, as opposed to working through distributors.

“We are not newcomers in the market. We have been here since 1998 so we are a very stable entity and we also have ample stock. If I am not mistaken we are the largest importer for commercial printing paper in Canada and we also have the most inventory of commercial paper in Canada,” says Chin. “We have made some giant leaps with Tier One customers, the top 10 printers in Canada, mainly because of our service and paper quality.”     

Chin explains APP Canada purposely hires local people, as opposed to transferring people from overseas operations, to help build its presence in the domestic market. “We are truly a Canadian company. We are growing the Canadian economy and not just growing in Asia.”

Much of APP Canada’s growth in the commercial printing market over the past six years can be tied to the operation’s ability to leverage the complete production integration of its parent company, which has spent the past decade building one of the world’s most modern end-to-end paper operations.

“Our advantage is really integration all of our pulping facilities are a short drive away from our production facilities, if not on site,” says Ian Lifshitz, Director of Sustainability and Public Outreach, Americas, Asia Pulp & Paper Group. “So frankly we are able to get a competitive cost advantages.”

Lifshitz notes APP does source some pulp on the open market, typically based on product type, but for the most part APP has emerged as an internally driven global operation that has been outpacing the investments of its competitors.

“When we look at investments in new machines, and I am not talking about a converting machine, rather a paper-making machine, it has been a number of years since we have seen any investment in the North American market,” says Lifshitz. “When we look at what APP has done alone in the last 10 years we have brought on three giant machines – we are talking about $12 billion of investment.”

In China, APP brought on what is now the world’s largest board machine housed in a building resembling a large airplane hanger to accommodate what amounts to a circular machine measuring around one kilometre in length. “We see our potential on a global scale in terms of investment in technology… and I think that is huge for APP in terms of its future within the industry,” says Lifshitz.

New market realities
Lifshitz explains the investment in three modern paper machines allows APP to evolve product offerings as its printing-industry customers are also evolving, which may include providing coated or uncoated sheets, copy paper, stationery or printable packaging materials.

 “APP can look at the growth segments and expand our portfolio. That is a key to our success,” he says.  “We have an advantage in machine flexibility because we are able to produce jumbo rolls… we are able to adapt our machine technology with different levels of pulp, different levels of coating, whatever the customers demands on a full run.”

Whereas legacy paper production operations are primarily focused on shipping rolls out for further cutting and converting, APP is able to do single roll production and adjust its machines based on customer demand and this affords significant production savings.

Flexible, full paper production integration combined with sourcing its own pulp from plantations allows APP to turn savings into stable global paper pricing. This is a key advantage particularly over the past few years when printers have seen significant fluctuations in their paper pricing.

APP’s installation of new paper machines over the past decade are also supported equally aggressive investments around becoming a more environmentally progressive operation. “APP Canada sources from Indonesia and China and, through plantation development and sustainable efforts, we have really been able to take a leadership position to provide what the marketplace wants,” says Lifshitz. “We see customers looking for sustainable paper making and environmental credentials and we are able to provide that now... Over the past five years, the commitment on sustainability has really changed our value proposition and we now really have become a definer in terms of zero deforestation.”

The plantation model employed by APP, which allows it to avoid clearing forests, relies on a special fast-growing eucalyptus genus, with other farmed species including poplar and acacia. The APP concessions in China alone represent approximately half of the country’s total pulpwood plantations.

“The challenge for us, because we are truly integrated, is that we have to work with our suppliers and our suppliers’ suppliers to ensure they maintain the same commitments that we do in our supply… to ensure that all of our materials that arrive at our mill are harvested sustainability and follow our policies of zero deforestation,” explains Lifshitz.

Based on years of research and develops, APP’s eucalyptus trees can now be harvested and planted in five-year cycles. This model is driven by APP controlled nurseries, including its primary Hainan location that produces more than 100 million plantlets each year that are then transplanted into APP’s managed plantations – a process that is crucial to APP’s goal of zero deforestation.

“We are an integrated company all of the way from pulp manufacturing to retail and that sets us apart from the rest of the competitors,” says Chin. “Because we are fully integrated, we can go all of the way into the pulp price so we can offer more stable available pricing, which gives us more options.”

Chin explains these options afforded by APP’s full production integration directly relates to the growing number of paper varieties it now supplies to the Canadian printing market. This becomes a vital asset as a coast-to-coast operation, with facilities stretching from Quebec to Vancouver, employing around 75 people.     

Chin explains this position is also supported by the fact that APP is solely focused on the paper needs of its customers, as many of its competitors have diversified into selling equipment and industrial supplies. “Selling our paper is what we have been very successful at over the last few years,” says Chin, “and I think for the next few years we will stick with that.”
Tuesday, 04 October 2016
In August, Veritiv Corp. held a groundbreaking ceremony in Mississauga to celebrate the ongoing construction of a 450,000-square-foot facility that will become the company’s new Canadian headquarters. Mary Laschinger, Chairman and CEO of Veritiv based in Atlanta, attended the event along with the city’s Mayor, Bonnie Crombie.

Located just off highway 401 at Hurontario, in the growing business area of Courtney Park, now home to some of Canada’s largest industrial facilities, the new Veritiv building is scheduled to be complete by around April 2017. It will amalgamate Veritiv’s three existing facilities in the Greater Toronto Area, bringing together some 350 employees. The project was led by Regional Vice President Jason Alderman, who became Veritiv’s leader in Canada when the company was formed in 2014 after a merger between xpedx and Unisource.

Alderman has been with Veritiv for 11 years after leading the company’s facilities supply business, which accounts for 55 percent of revenue generation in Canada, for a couple of years. He previously held various sales and production management roles, primarily in Canada’s Western region. Alderman sat down with PrintAction at the groundbreaking ceremony to discuss the Fortune 500 company’s growing influence in Canadian printing.

Why is this project described as an $70 million investment?
JA: The first year we are looking at about $8 or $9 million in some CapX to get this building up and going, and obviously the rent side of it to start. And then over the 15-year term, that we have taken out for this facility, it is $70 to $80 million investment overall.

What does this building say about Veritiv’s commitment to Canada?
JA: We are committed to growth is really what it means. We have an opportunity here to expand on our existing business which is already $106 million as it stands today. And we will have growth in all three core segments of our business: Commercial print, packaging and facilities. If we weren’t committed to Canada, we would  not be making this investment today.

How will the new building change Veritiv’s footprint in Canada?
JA: About 1/3 of our sales will be sold and distributed out of this location once we move in. When we move in we will still have about 20 percent room for growth overall and it also helps us provide some new services that we are thinking of getting into for all three segments of the business. It really is an opportunity to expand the bundle that we already provide to our existing and new customers.

What are some of these new services?
JA: On the packaging side, we are going to have a little more room to showcase some of the packaging equipment that we previously did not have an opportunity to do. It also gives us an opportunity to bring in a little more inventory to support some of the investments, to support an expansion into the wide-format space, which is a growth media on the print side of the business. We are a little condensed right now in the facility we are at.

Which core business will grow most?
JA: This year we expect growth in all three segments. I know a lot of people are surprised by the fact that we are expecting growth in print. We believe that we continue to take share in the marketplace over the next four or five years to get ourselves up into the lead position in Canada from a share perspective.

We were not a packaging company in Canada if you look back over the past 10 years. In the last two years, we have really accelerated the growth there and we really believe that is where our greatest opportunity for accelerated growth is. But that also relates back to the print business where there is becoming a blurred line between what was traditional commercial print and now those printers are looking to get into some form of packaging world.

What will the facility in the GTA mean for the rest of country?
JA: We are making some minor changes such as moving out of our existing Ottawa facility, which is a bit older, into a brand new one to improve operational efficiencies and workflow, which keeps costs under control.         

We are going to continue to look at our real estate portfolio that we have today and see if we need to make changes. But most of those changes are around upgrading facilities. We are not looking to close any facilities or reduce the footprint we have. We are going to continue on with the footprint we have today. We need it to continue to be a national provider to the print, packaging and facilities supply markets in Canada.

Is this your first major project since taking on Veritiv’s lead for Canada?
JA: There will not be bigger real estate project than this in Canada in the foreseeable future. It has been very rewarding for all of us and me personally.
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
Part II of The pulse of print heads focuses on the advances of manufacturing piezo and thermal systems for use in inkjet presses taking greater aim at commercial printing and packaging

With the growing range of investment options, PrintAction is producing a series of articles, called The pulse of print heads, to better understand one of the most-critical components of any production inkjet press. In Part 1, last month, we took a look at the relatively simple discussion of drop size, primarily because print head R&D and inkjet messaging for more than a decade focused on printing ever smaller drops of ink with the goal of improving overall inkjet quality, even as some commercial settings may require larger drops for higher volume work.

This month, Part II of The pulse of print heads focuses on the manufacture of print heads and how it relates to the adoption of inkjet presses for a wider range of commercial-printing applications. When a production inkjet system requires dozens of print heads each costing a few thousands dollars, for example, the manufacture of print heads also relates to the initial purchase price of inkjet systems and subsequent print head replacement costs.

Crystals, diaphragms and heat
The past few years have seen the rise of two important technical terms in relation to the key piece of hardware – print heads – of production inkjet presses: Nanotechnology and MEMS. Print head makers and their press-building OEM partners – if not one and the same – have put both nanotechnology and MEMS into play for decades now. Short for Microelectromechanical Systems, MEMS basically describes any type of microscopic device, particularly devices with moving parts.

MEMS manufacturing, therefore, relates more directly to piezo print heads that eject ink with moving mechanical elements, walls or diaphragms. Thermal print head manufacturing is experiencing similarly important advances, albeit with different process definitions, as developers of both print head types absorb massive upfront factory costs to propel the printing industry’s adoption of inkjet.

“When we talk about MEMS, Xaar talks very holistically about our whole product portfolio – older [print heads] and new stuff. The difference being that we now use silicon MEMS, as well,” says Jason Remnant, Product Line Manager with Xaar, which has built inkjet print heads since 1990. He explains silicon is more or less used to form the base of the print head, providing it with fluidic chambers before a film is applied with PZT (piezoelectric pumping components).

Xaar’s older generation print heads were built with what the company refers to as Bulk PZT that would be cut down to make the actuator ejection device, with control signals and a source of energy. The advances in silicon PZT manufacturing provides print-head makers with scalability and accuracy, resulting in an ability to fit more nozzles onto the given size of a print-head plate, with corresponding drivers, at less cost – even if the head may not be as durable as a Bulk PZT build.

In 2007, Xaar started working toward silicon-based MEMS production and in May 2016 introduced its next-generation 5601 print, which is also built with what manufacturers describe as Thin Film technology for holding PZT components. “It has to be biggest thing to come along from Xaar in a decade,” says Remnant. Over the past decade, print head developments ensured the mass adoption of wide-format inkjet for commercial work, as well as ceramics printing and print products with lower quality requirements like the inner pages of books, statements and forms. The commercial printing industry – with its many applications and quality demands – requires a print-head evolution that is well under way.

“The 5601 is a new platform of print heads that will absolutely drive the opportunity to digitize more print in the world,” says Remnant. In addition to reaching higher manufacturing levels at smaller micro-scales (nanotechnology), the new generation of print heads for commercial work, packaging and laminates, need to jet fluids other than solvent and UV. Remnant explains the 5601 can jet low-viscosity fluids, including aqueous and latex-type inks, which also opens up inkjet to the world of textiles.

To deploy the 5601, Xaar is working closely with Ricoh, which holds significant press interests in commercial and high-speed printing markets. “Past print heads have included silicon MEMS techniques and now new designs are being developed. MEMS and thin-film technology are not changing Ricoh’s print head position, but rather, these two technologies are enhancing and expanding Ricoh’s inkjet print head capabilities,” says Joseph Ryan, Director Business Development, Ricoh Printing Systems America.

The most-advanced print head manufacturing models today integrate components to create more of a print chip than a print head. “MEMS is a bit of a misnomer for HP thermal inkjet technology,” says Ross Allen, Senior Technical Specialist, HP Inkjet Technology Platform, who first joined the company as an engineer in 1981. “There are no moving mechanical elements in an HP print head. The ink is the only moving part. So, HP thermal inkjet is a MicroElectroFluidic System, and that term is not in common use.”

HP builds its newest generation of print heads with silicon and photolithographic polymer technologies. Allen explains this allows the entire print head, including on-board electronics, to be built with technologies that were originally developed for manufacturing integrated circuits like computer chips. HP’s MicroElectroFluidic advances resulted in the launch of its Scalable Printing Technology (SPT) around a decade ago. Allen explains SPT enables fine structures, both electronic and fluidic, to be defined, precision-aligned and built on a silicon substrate.

Just as Xaar faced limitations producing Bulk PZT, HP also previously faced manufacturing challenges with its original thermal heads because they employed separately fabricated nozzle plates that had to be mechanically aligned and adhered to a silicon substrate with fluidic channels and chambers. Allen explains more complexity came from the use of different material properties, such as thermal expansion between an electroformed nickel nozzle plate and the silicon (polymer) component.

“By building fluidic – ink – chambers, passages, and nozzle plates out of the same photo-imageable polymer in layers up from the surface of a silicon wafer – with its electronic circuits – larger and more complex print heads may be produced,” says Allen. “HP thermal inkjet print heads are essentially integrated circuits that eject ink.”

Like Xaar’s 5601, Epson’s PrecisionCore and Fujifilm Dimatix’ Samba technology, HP SPT is print head platform, meaning it continues to receive R&D dollars to include what Allen describes as smaller fluidic structures: Smaller drop generator chambers, ink passages, nozzles and built-in filters that catch particles in the ink.

“This means that current generations of an HP print head chip – typically about an inch long – can have thousands of identical nozzles and deliver two or four different colours of ink. These chips are placed end-to-end, staggered – and with a small overlap – to build print heads that are 4.25- and 8.5-inches wide.”

Compact nozzles and zones
The ability to design nozzle-dense print heads – and manufacture them on a grand scale – is critical for inkjet-press adoption in commercial printing for a number of reasons from quality to cost. Technically, nozzle-dense heads allow press makers to build larger format presses with smaller print zones. Xaar’s 5601 is built in a Z-pattern to interlace the print heads and reduce the printing area of – ideally – a single-pass inkjet press built by one of its partners.

A smaller print zone reduces potential printing complications with fast moving paper. “Being able to assemble a number of print heads into large arrays allows large systems to be assembled,” says Ryan. “Aligning print heads, especially in high-resolution printing applications, has always been a challenge to system designers. Almost all print heads have alignment techniques using precision locating pins, flat control surfaces, and incorporating physical configurations, such as Z forms and trapezoidal configurations for interlocking and alignment.”

Employing traditional print heads in a single-pass production inkjet press, explains Xaar’s Jason Remnant, typically required staggering the print heads on a print bar to address issues like number of applicable colours and redundancy, particularly as press format sizes increased. Staggering heads can equate to deeper print bars, which in turn increases the print zone. “A small print zone is really critical because it has a [reduced] cost on the build of your machine and it also has a big influence on the print quality of your output,” explains Remnant. “If you are making a huge single-pass printer and it turns out that your print zone is two-metres wide, you have to control your substrates [to] get them from the first colour all the way to the nozzles of the last colour – and [the paper must] be where you expect it to be, so the drops end up where you want them.”

Challenges of running a larger print zone are exacerbated, explains Remnant, because it allows for more swelling when paper is hit with fluids, particularly if absorbing water. “Part of the design of this [5601] head was to allow the OEM to make a very compact print zone and, in fact, the concept for a four-colour system with our print speed would actually mean you are printing quicker than the swelling of the paper.”

The application of staggered print head bars, of course, becomes efficient when building integrated print chips with super-packed nozzles. For the first generation of print heads used in the HP PageWide Web Presses, Allen explains nozzles were spaced in two offset columns of 600 nozzles per inch to print at 1,200 dpi across the web. “The newest generation of HP print heads, called High Definition Nozzle Architecture, places small drop weight nozzles between the original high drop weight nozzles for dual drop weight printing. Across each ink feed slot – a slot through the silicon chip that supplies ink to the fluidics layer – these print heads feature 2,400 nozzles per linear inch,” says Allen. “A low drop weight nozzle prints in the same dot row as a high drop weight nozzle across the ink feed slot, so the printing resolution is still 1,200 dpi across the web.”

HP’s print head build with integrated circuit technologies means many hundreds of its print head chips can be made on one silicon wafer. “This leads to large economies of scale in manufacturing,” says Allen, “where many different print head series can be built in the same HP factory.” Economies of scale provided by today’s print-head manufacturing results in lower-cost products that will ultimately affect the price of production inkjet presses and introduce a wider range of lower-cost, smaller-format systems for commercial printing. With growing use of total-cost-of-ownership investment models, printers should also consider the cost of replacing silicon-based print heads.

“I don’t see any breakthroughs coming in any inkjet technology that could be considered a dramatic reduction in replacement cost. HP SPT already delivers manufacturing economies of scale that are reflected in print head price,” says Allen. “What could happen to reduce effective print head cost-to-print is longer print head life, which drives down cost per square metre. Of course, HP and others are always working to develop longer life, more reliable print heads, but lower prices will be evolutionary and not a dramatic breakthrough.”
Tuesday, 13 September 2016

At the upcoming Canadian Printing Awards gala, taking place on November 10, 2016, at the Palais Royale in Toronto, PrintAction magazine will honour four individuals who have had a significant impact on the Canadian printing industry. The gala is expected to attract more than 200 industry leaders from across Canada, as well as attendees from the United States and Europe.



Now entering its 11th year in 2016, the Canadian Printing Awards program is designed to recognize printing innovation in the country through three distinct awards sections, grouped in Printing, Environmental and Technology categories, which are determined by an independent panel of judges.

In 2008, PrintAction introduced the Industry Achievement Awards to the program to honour outstanding leadership as demonstrated by members of the Canadian printing community.

Three of the four 2016 Industry Achievement Award recipients, determined by PrintAction magazine, include:

Printing Leader of the Year
Jamie Barbieri
President, PDI Group Inc., Montreal, QC
Director, Quebec Graphic Arts Association
Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Printing Industries Association

Emerging Leader of the Year
Todd Cober
Vice President, Cober, Kitchener, ON

John A. Young Lifetime Achievement Award
Hadi Mahabadi
Founder, CanWin Consulting Inc.
Former Director, Xerox Research Centre of Canada, Mississauga, ON

Community Leader of the Year
Jeff Ekstein, President, Willow Printing Group Ltd., Concord, ON

For more information about the 2016 program and gala, please visist Canadianprintingawards.com

Tuesday, 06 September 2016
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.
Monday, 29 August 2016
For three decades, Martin Bailey has developed unique expertise in building products for processing digital documents. He was a principle driver behind the JDF and JMF formats as CEO of CIP4 from its inception in 2000 until late 2006. He has lead a range of CGATS, ISO and PDF/X task forces as a global expert on industry standards and page-description languages.

As CTO of Global Graphics for the past decade, his knowledge is infused into the ubiquitous Harlequin RIP. PrintAction spoke with Bailey about the company’s new Fundamentals program to help inkjet press manufacturers overcome technical hurdles.

What is Global Graphics Fundamentals?
MB: For the last several years, a number of inkjet vendors have approached us with questions on whether we can help them build DFEs to go with inkjet presses that they have created or solve problems around the speed or quality on presses they are already shipping. And now Eric Worrall is heading up our [BreakThrough Engineering Service] and we’ve essentially formalized what we had been doing in a more ad-hoc manner. [Fundamentals] is designed to allow a press vendor to bring a new press to market more quickly and to be more confident that it is actually going to deliver the speed and quality and functionality that they want to provide to their users.

What area is of most concern for inkjet?
MB: We have talked quite a lot over the last couple of years, in particular, about halftone ink quality of using greyscale heads on single-pass inkjets. It is an area that a lot of people seem to be struggling with.

Why is there little inkjet screen discussion?
MB: There [is] very good technology in the wide-format space – multi-pass, fairly slow speeds, with many inks and levels of droplet size on the heads... but we do not see people doing significant work on the half-toning in the high-speed, single-pass production space. We do find that there are real problems there. That the drop placement isn’t as accurate as you would really like it to be, partly because of dot shape deformations, because you get elliptical marks where the drop actually hits because the substrate is moving so rapidly.

You tend to have pseudo random coalescing of adjacent dots. It is quite not random enough though. There tends to be a directionality to it, so that at normal reading distance you get a visible texturing. We have been working with three or four press vendors for a couple of years now to improve the output they can produce on their presses – to absolutely minimize the texturing effects and simultaneously ensure we are hitting the maximum total area coverage, ink lay down.

What is the best screening approach?
MB: There are good reasons to do the screening in different places depending on the workflow. In many cases, it makes sense to do the screening inside the RIP, if you can, simply because you are moving less data around post-RIP... When you consider that the fastest inkjet presses at the moment consume something around 20 gigabytes of raster per second then reducing that data transport requirement is a very significant gain.

But, in other cases, there are good reasons why people want to do the screening at the last minute in order to do on-the-fly recalibration, or head-to-head calibration, because of the width of the press, etcetera, and do that in a near close-loop environment… There are people who are using other people’s RIPs and unhappy with the quality they get from the screening or the speed they get at the screening. It is a very useful first step for them to say, ‘I am going to throw away the screener that came with the DFE… I am going to plug in Global Graphics ScreenPro because it is a lot faster and gives the quality I need.’

How are inkjet speeds and DFEs related?
MB: Building a DFE for one of these very, very high speed [inkjet presses] requires as much emphasis on systems engineering as it does on the RIPping, colour management, etcetera… that is hitting 1,000-feet-per-minute speed, which is aqueous. A lot of the people we tend to be working with at the moment are on UV and it is coming out at about 230/250 feet per minute. So far it is a lot slower than aqueous. I do not know if it is going to stay that way.

When will inkjet move deeper into commercial print sectors?
MB: They are pecking away at a number of different sectors to start with… Obviously, the direct-mail market as a sort of adjunct to the transactional space, where inkjet has been used for decades, but now pushing into much more graphically rich work.

They are being used in the book and publication space. It is also being used in some of the newsprint markets, which is kind of relating to book. It hasn’t really gone into magazines yet, because it is only fairly recently that aqueous inkjet presses have got to the point where you can print at a sensible price on coated paper. That has been a fairly big breakthrough in the last year, 18 months.

Monday, 25 July 2016
After a decade of intense research and development, supported by unprecedented technology partnerships, is production-strength inkjet finally ready to disrupt commercial printing.

The continued growth of inkjet printing systems was once again the major force at drupa, eight years removed from the cutting-edge system introductions of Fujifilm’s cutsheet Jet Press 720 and HP’s PageWide web press platform, which presented new possibilities to a sector largely dominated by the continuous-feed systems of Océ and Ricoh. At drupa 2012, another range of primarily concept production-inkjet machines were introduced by powerful players like KBA, Komori, Konica Minolta, Landa, Miyakoshi and Xerox.

At drupa 2016, all of these companies and many more had expanded their production-inkjet platforms with serious new players like EFI and Heidelberg joining the mix, setting sights on the packaging world. Several new technology partnerships between paper-transport experts (offset press makers) and print-head developers speak to a concerted effort to drive inkjet into the mainstream.

The past decade of inkjet R&D investment alone, collectively stretching into the tens of billions of dollars, by so many prominent technology suppliers rings the loudest chorus of reality – inkjet is building a new foundation for the future of printing. Still, the question remains with most printing companies for when inkjet systems, even with an ability to match 40-inch format size (unlike toner’s electrophotographic drum), will be ready for prime time in the commercial printing market. Key issues like quality and speed, press and consumable costs, have been a major challenge for the mass adoption of inkjet, even as this fascinating printing process has been disrupting pockets of publishing, transactional and direct-mail printing.

Commercial print influence
Alec Couckuyt is one of Canada’s most-experienced printing leaders in the field of digital printing. Twenty years ago, serving as Vice President of Direct Marketing at Transcontinental’s innovative Yorkville plant, Couckuyt was driving variable data to Xeikon’s Chromapress to produce personalized automobile booklets. Building files from VIN numbers, the facility printed cover forms featuring specific car models and colours, while also applying variable text and dealership locations, to entice customers into a new rig before their leases ran out.

“We were forerunners at that time, but it was far from being fast enough and you had to be in a highly controlled environment,” recalls Couckuyt, who was also integrating inkjet print heads on web presses at Yorkville. “Twenty years later, look at how far we have come… you can feed [an inkjet press] with so much data and the output is so cost efficient. The sky is the limit and this is an exciting time.”

Prior to his digital-printing work with Yorkville, Couckuyt began his career in 1983 as a Product Manager for Agfa Canada, ultimately serving as the company’s Vice President of Graphics Arts Systems for 10 years until joining Transcontinental in 1996. Today, as Senior Director of Canon Canada’s Professional Printing Solutions Group, he holds a unique knowledge set to describe the adoption of production-inkjet systems in Canadian commercial printing.

“We are targeting commercial printers right now with the experience that we have acquired in the transaction market, combined with the quality levels that inkjet has reached, when you talk about the VarioPrint i300 and the ImageStream, as well as the capabilities of printing on coated offset stock,” says Couckuyt. He joined Océ in 2008, as Vice President of Production Printing Systems, shortly before the company (purchased by Canon in 2012 for approximately $1 billion) installed one of Canada’s first web-fed production inkjet systems.

“We have more than eight years of experience with a similar technology that has evolved to a point where it is now ready for prime time in commercial printing,” he says. “You always have to take into account the volume, the production capabilities of equipment, and I think there is bigger potential for cutsheet inkjet devices in the Canadian market, more so than continuous-feed inkjet.”

Near the back of Canon’s drupa 2016 booth, the company ran a new web-fed ImageStream inkjet press, which is a class of technology Couckuyt feels some commercial printers will look at depending on their needs. “It is the same technology,” he says, relating the VarioPrint i300 to the ImageStream platform. “You are using 1,200 x 1200 native inkjet heads, combined with smaller droplets, different types of inks, coated stocks, proper drying systems, and now you are playing into the commercial printing field.”

Web-fed inkjet, traditionally referred to as continuous-feed systems, has a significant existing install base because its paper transport naturally runs substrates much cleaner through the imaging system, whereas a turned-up ear can easily jam a cutsheet press. This cutsheet inkjet challenge is being addressed, however, as offset press makers become heavily involved with inkjet development. Despite the experience advantages of web-fed systems, Couckuyt points to the business realities of Canadian commercial printing, which for decades has been built around cutsheet workflow. “It would only be a logical step to also add an inkjet cutsheet device,” he says. “Basically, it offers quite a bit of additional application opportunities to the commercial printer.”

Downtime becomes uptime
“When you run an offset press, you are always making sure that you have the least downtime possible, which must be minuscule when you look at your total production time,” says Couckuyt. “In digital printing, people talk about uptime – just the opposite. If they had 50 to 60 percent uptime [on toner] they were happy, but that doesn’t cut it for an offset printer.”

Canon’s cutsheet VarioPrint i300 system is promoted as having an uptime of more than 90 percent, often approaching 95 percent: “Now you are talking about a production machine – in addition to the quality and capabilities of printing on multiple papers – that fits right into the offset world,” says Couckuyt. “Those factors are extremely critical and the reasons why we believe it is ready for the commercial printer.”

To improve cutsheet inkjet uptime, for example, the VarioPrint i300 is a self-contained system, meaning it is temperature and humidity controlled, and all external elements have been eliminated (a noticeable trait looking at the body of the machine). Even the input trays of the i300 are sealed for temperature control. The unit has to be decompressed when opening up its doors. With its doors open, the first thing you notice about the i300 is a massive drying system. Canon engineers ultimately surmised a sheet needed to travel in the drying system for two seconds at full running speed to properly condition the paper – hitting it with infrared, conventional heat and air systems – before reentering the duplex imaging system.

Couckuyt explains this unique drying system is critical because operators do not need to slow down the i300 when applying heavy ink coverage. “It is actually a production machine and it is built in such a way that even if you have high coverage you will not slow down the press,” he says. To further improve uptime, the i300 employs a Sentry Unit that ejects wavy, earmarked or unwanted papers, again at speed, before first entering the imaging system. “A jam in digital printing on a cutsheet device is always your biggest nightmare.”

Quality applications
Commercially released more than a year ago, there were 42 i300 systems installed globally before the opening of drupa 2016, which actually marked the system’s availability in the Canadian market. A key new feature of the i300 introduced at drupa is called ColorGrip, which applies a primer specifically where expensive inkjet ink needs to go, instead of blanketing the sheet.

A critical goal for all inkjet system developers, particularly for commercial printing adoption, is to improve their inks to a level that can more easily adhere to both coated and uncoated papers without the need for applying a primer. This will take time, but systems like ColorGrip, which actually immobilizes the ink to stop it from convalescing into big, ugly dots, are providing a vastly superior level of quality output than older generation inkjet systems. “ColorGrip keeps the right colour in the right position,” says Couckuyt, “so you are basically extenuating and giving more pop to your colour – Even a good sheet, you make a lot better.”

One of the greatest advantages of digitized sheetfed offset presses, and why the technology remains core to the vast majority of printers, is application flexibility – an ability to throw almost any commercial print job at it, regardless of ink coverage, stock or format. For a printer to invest more than a $1 million into an inkjet press, even if today’s systems can handle a greater range of work, it becomes critical to understand the production cost of specific applications.

“With the VarioPrint i300, where it becomes viable for a commercial printer to enter into that field, you are looking at a million and up impressions per month – all the way up to 10 million,” says Couckuyt, explaining a typical web-fed system requires at least five million impressions to become a viable investment.

“We spend an extreme amount of time with the customer before a sale takes place,” says Couckuyt. Canon will run a job file from a printer’s existing offset infrastructure at its Océ facility in Boca Raton, Florida. “We will make a complete analysis of the files, ink consumption, press time, everything, so that the client really knows in advance what they are embarking on.”
Monday, 06 June 2016
Pronto Reproductions Ltd. has added an EFI 1625H wide-format printing system, purchased through Cansel, to its plant in Mississauga, Ont. The company runs a range of printing equipment, including a Heidelberg Speedmaster CD102-6 + LX and a Xerox IGen4 EXP, among other machines and a finishing technologies.

Installed at the beginning of 2016, the EFI 1625H is described as a mid-level production printer with four colours plus white and 8-level grayscale capabilities, as well as LED drying. The system handles flexible and rigid substrates up to 65 inches (64-inch printing) and up to 2-inches thick. The company is also running 3M cobranded inks for MCS Warranty.

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. To find out more, read our Privacy Policy.