Jon Robinson

Jon Robinson

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Tuesday, 07 April 2015
Quark Software Inc. has set April 28, 2015, as the launch date for its next major version of QuarkXPress, noted as version 2015. The layout tool for print and digital publishing features a new 64-bit architecture among a range of new tools. It will also continue to be sold as a perpetual license.

To satisfy its loyal following, Quark, during its development, committed to include the Top 10 most-requested enhancements in the new version of QuarkXPress, based on a voting system. A list of the most prominent features follows. For a more complete preview of what to expect in QuarkXPress 2015, read The Quark Alternative written by PrintAction’s technology columnist Zac Bolan in February.

New key features in QuarkXPress 2015 include:

64-bit performance,
Verified PDF/X-4 output,
Larger page sizes,
Dedicated orthogonal line tool,
Fixed layout interactive e-books,
Custom paper sizes,
Relink any picture in the usage dialogue,
Collect for output for complete project,
User-definable shortcut keys on Mac,
Table styles,
Format painter,
Automatic footnotes and end notes
Faster table tool for Excel integration with table styles,
Text variables for automatically populating reoccurring fields (running headers),
Tool Palette, Measurement Palette and Palette Group Docking on Windows
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
Agfa Graphics states it will launch four new media products at the 2015 ISA Sign Expo being held in Las Vegas this April. This includes Duratex 15-ounce PVC Backlit Banner, which is described as a smooth, translucent backlit banner media that is printed for indoor and outdoor signage applications. It is compatible with most solvent, eco-solvent, latex and UV-curable inkjet printers.

Duratex Composite PVC/PET/PVC Blockout Film is a new media described by the company as non-curling and completely opaque for high-resolution single- or double-sided printing. It is designed for applications like display systems, retractable banner stands and scrolling displays.

The new Duratex Super White Foamboard is described by Agfa as one of the strongest and most-rigid products on the market. It is comprised of a 94 white point paper surface sandwiched with an extruded polystyrene foam core. The company states that it features strong ink adhesion and cutting performance, designed for point-of-purchase displays, retail display graphics and interior signs.

The fourth new product is called Duratex Foam PVC Board, which Agfa describes as a rigid foam PVC substrate for high-definition, wide-format inkjet printing in applications like high-end signs, POP displays and exhibition backdrops.
Tuesday, 03 March 2015

Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG today signed an agreement with investment company CoBe Capital for Heidelberg to acquire the European Printing Systems Group (PSG) headquartered in the Netherlands. Through this acquisition, for which the purchase price is to remain undisclosed, Heidelberg would expand its services and consumables business.

Heidelberg expects the acquisition of the PSG Group, which is subject to regulatory approval, to result in additional sales of around €130 million for the Heidelberg Group, primarily through services and consumables business. The medium-term goal at Heidelberg is for services and consumables to account for over 50 percent of total Group sales. The figure currently stands at around 40 percent.

PSG has approximately 400 employees in the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) and southern Europe. It has worked closely with Heidelberg for several decades. PSG currently generates over half of its revenue through the sale of services and consumables, with Heidelberg products accounting for the majority of the company’s equipment sales.

“PSG’s strength in the services and consumables business and its outstanding access to customers are very attractive to us,” said Gerold Linzbach, CEO of Heidelberg. “Having eliminated unprofitable portfolio items, we’re now starting to actively expand our portfolio in order to return the company to growth."

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Featured in PrintAction magazine's February 2015 issue, now available online, Vic Stalam describes his new role as President of Highcon Americas and why the company's unique Euclid cutting and creasing technology can disrupt one of printing’s most enduring long-run sectors. The full article is available in the print edition or via PrintAction's digital archive.

 

How is Highcon’s Direct to Pack technology unique?
Vic Stalam: Nothing else exists today in terms of what we have to offer… Highcon is the first to offer a totally digital Direct to Pack solution to the folding-carton market. It also handles both [worlds]. It doesn’t have to be digitally printed, it can also be analogue. Truth be told, most of the volume is still analogue and we need to support that. So, in this sense, it is not only the technology that is unique, but also the fact that we support both digital and analogue.

What stands out most about Highcon’s DART technology?
VS: The paper movement is right to left and, in stage one, once the paper is registered… the polymer is UV-cured and then it produces the creasing lines. It is very unique in that sense. Because it can address any point on the paper, you have opportunities to create very, very unique applications. Once the line is creased – and it is folded through the creasing lines – the next major stage is the laser, which does the actual cutting.

What’s unique about our technology is, not only DART and the way the polymer is laid, but also the way it is creased and then how it is registered for the laser to cut it. Typically when you use a high-powered laser you can burn all kinds of other things like paper or folding carton. Our technology takes care of [this challenge] so that you do not see any of that. It is a very clean process.

How are Euclid’s digital optics important to the laser-writing process?
VS: With the optics you not only have edge registration, which is mechanical, but we also have optical registration. With traditional die cutting, you just do not have the precision of a laser, so everything you see [off the Euclid] is going to be a higher quality product, as it relates to registration and the quality of the cut itself.

What advantage does Highcon, relative to printing’s historic postpress players, have when it comes to developing new approaches for finishing folding-carton work?
VS: I always think of the great Canadian Wayne Gretzky and a famous quote. Somebody in the press asked him, “You are not a big guy, what makes you great?” He said, which always sticks in my mind, “I always try to be one step ahead. I always try to get to where the puck is going to be next and I do not worry about where the puck is now.” I think that is where Highcon is going… positioning ourselves as customers move to digital – how is it going to help them in the future?

How would you compare Highcon’s potential impact to another stage of printing evolution, such as when film was eliminated in prepress?
VS: The world is going to be very different in just a few years – I guarantee you that. This is the disruption and we are going to be a big part of that on the finishing side. Remember how we used to have these film-based companies called trade shops – absolutely, same analogy. Trade finishers have an opportunity to embrace this new technology and grow or else they are going to fall by the wayside.

How can a technology like Euclid ease the ability for commercial printers to get into packaging?
VS: Having spent a lot of my life in both commercial printing and packaging, 70 percent of what commercial printers do is the same as what packaging printers do… There are differences. One is the language they speak. Commercial printers talk about pages and packaging printers obviously do not. There is an issue around substrates. Then there is an issue around specialty colours. Commercial printers now do six, seven colours. With packaging customers it is not unusual to see 10, 12, 14 with all of the varnishes, all of the metallics.


But when it comes to digital technology, the one thing I like about commercial printers is that they are trying hard to get digital right. I think they are probably five to 10 years ahead of packaging printers as far as digitization is concerned. I give them credit for that. Given their experience with digital technology, given their desire to get into packaging, I think solutions like Euclid will help.

How does Highcon benefit from the growth in digital press development for packaging?
VS: We are in constant dialogue with all of these digital press companies, whether it is HP, Xerox, Xeikon, Landa or Kodak, whoever, because the nature of the relationship between us is very symbiotic. We need each other, because if we can get a lot of short-run jobs printed with digital that will make the Euclid system very successful. They need us because they can do all of the digital printing, but it comes to a screeching halt if they have to depend on an analogue process for finishing. We are the missing link to complete that whole digitization process for end customers.

What type of printing company should be looking at Euclid?
VS: We are looking for companies who are very progressive and innovative, who want to look at new technology. That is one vector. The second one is we are looking for companies who either have digital or, more importantly, they are in the process of moving toward digital. We have a few customers who do not have any digital and are just putting it in now, after they put in the Euclid, because it also supports analogue. The third vector we are looking for is customers who want to grow with new applications, who are willing to work with their customers, the brand owners, to help them grow.

What type of industry sectors are being targeted for Euclid as a starting point?
VS: There are about three major sectors. One is clearly commercial printers who are doing folding carton. This is going to be key. Two is packaging printers who are doing a lot of the other stuff like labels. And the third sector is trade finishers, the prepress houses of the finishing business. Those are the three big ones as we move ahead.

There are also some very creative design applications to take advantage and we will build on that as we go forward in time.

How much investment is needed to add Euclid in your facility?
VS: Just as a ballpark, the entry-level product is around $690,000. That is where it starts and then you can add things to it.

What savings can be realized through Euclid, specifically by eliminating traditional die-cutting processes?
VS: It takes about 15 minutes to set up a job in terms of the Euclid. In the case of die cutting, first of all, probably you have to send the job outside. You have to schedule it and then it takes typically anywhere from one to three days. The actual set up time is between four to eight hours on the die-cutting side depending on the complexity of the job versus 15 minutes, so there is a huge difference in the set-up times.


In the case of die cutting, they will have to store [a new die] in the event that they may have to reuse it at some point, which means they need a huge inventory management system and storage space. Think of the old days of film; how you had to store film and then go find it when needed. It is just a mess. Go back to the days of stripping a piece of film on a light table. And it also depends on the experience of the operator.


How many Euclid systems are currently installed in North America?
VS: We have four in North America right now, with one currently going in. We just launched the product in North America at Graph Expo [September 2014].

Do you have projections for how many Euclid systems should be installed on an annual basis?
VS: No, it is too early to tell. One of my jobs is to size the market, how big the opportunity is. As the new guy, I am going to go look at it with a fresh set of eyes. Ask me in three months.

How is Euclid’s consumables opportunity attractive to Highcon?
VS: There are three consumables that go with the system. The first one is the polymer. And this is the polymer I talked about earlier, which creates the creasing line. The polymer is first put on the foil and then it is UV hardened and then it creates a creasing line on the substrate.

The second one is the foil onto which the crease lines are written. And those two are one to one. For every job, you need a polymer and you need a foil. And the last consumable is called the counter substrate, which supports the high-quality creasing. It is replaced approximately every 120 jobs on average, so that is probably once every two months, depending on how many jobs you run.

Is the foil and polymer developed by Highcon or a third-party?
VS: Highcon develops it all. It is optimized to run – absolutely.

What hidden costs should printers consider before investing in Euclid?
VS: There are two things. The power requirement. Make sure they have enough power in the plant. And two is the chilling unit. Make sure there is enough accommodation for the chilling unit.

How does Euclid deal with waste material?
VS: This is a very important point. We are also unique in terms of how we automatically strip off all of the waste materials into a collection bin, which is totally automated. You cannot do that with traditional die cutting. It is a mess when you look at a traditional die-cutting machine – carton board is all over the place.

How will Highcon reach the market in the Americas, particularly here in Canada?
VS: Today, we have an agent out of Winnipeg called Canadian Printing Equipment. I’m going to be coming up in the next few weeks and doing an assessment on what do we need. At the same time, we continue to work with digital press partners. But right now it is definitely a dealer model for Canada, given how big the country is and what we need to do.

What technology challenges does Euclid still face?
VS: We continue to listen and learn from cutomers and we will not be a one-trick pony. We are committed to being an R&D powerhouse in this space and we are building a portfolio of products. One of the reasons why I joined the company is because of its strong commitment to R&D and the desire to listen and continue to iterate on the product. In my experience, with new products, that is the only way to do it.

What struck you most on your recent tour of Highcon’s facility in Israel?
VS: I believe in the technology. I believe in the value of what it will do for our customers and their customers. I have had the opportunity over the years to work with several Israeli companies. Their passion in terms of technology and their hard-work ethic is just incredible. I was there for four days. I was trying to cram in as much as possible. I was there every day from 8 o’clock to 8 o’clock, before we went for dinner, and I saw almost the whole team working. That is passion in terms of new technology.

What excites you most about Highcon’s technology and its potential impact?
VS: The single biggest thing that I am excited about is the fact that for brand owners, especially for folding-carton end customers, it means that now they can push for short runs without a lot of additional cost, at a very affordable rate. Today short run [folding carton] is not affordable because the finishing is very, very expensive. We are going to bring a lot of value to brand owners in terms of helping them grow their brand. I think that is going to have a major impact.


It is also going to cut down on the amount of time they need to bring a new product out. Brand owners take months and months when they have a new product to get on the shelf, so every day counts. Also new applications, which you could never produce with traditional die cutting.

What is your most important message to PrintAction’s readers?
VS: There is a major shift going on within the folding-carton market, to go digital. And we are going to be a major part of it. We are going to make it happen because it brings value to our customers and their customers. There is going to be a seismic shift even if today a lot of the volume is still traditionally printed. It is just a matter of time before the shift happens.

 

Monday, 23 February 2015
Richard Armstrong, who had led Heidelberg Canada as President for the past 14 years, is set to retire at the end of March, inline with the completion of the company’s fiscal year. He has been active in the Canadian printing industry for close to 30 years.

Armstrong spent 18 years of those years with Heidelberg Canada, serving the first four years there as Vice President of Customer Service. He was instrumental in establishing new revenue streams for the press maker’s Canadian operation, through customer support, but primarily in terms of developing a substantial consumables distribution business.

Leveraging Heidelberg’s dominant position in pressrooms across Canada, Armstrong, both through acquisitions and distribution partnerships, developed a consumables network that was eventually mirrored across the printing world by Heidelberg’s other country-based organizations.

“It started in Canada and now it has become a major objective of Heidelberg to grow the consumables side of the business globally,” says Armstrong, who could not yet share details about future plans for Heidelberg Canada’s leadership.

Armstrong was also instrumental in helping to establish a dedicated building for Ryerson University’s School of Graphic Communications Management (GCM). He worked closely with Mary Black, then Chair of Canada’s only degree-level post-secondary program focused on printing and imaging, and a handful of industry leaders to raise necessary funding to have the building built on Ryerson’s downtown university campus.

The GCM building was eventually named the Heidelberg Centre based on the German press maker’s financial commitment to complete the funding needs. Last year, Ryerson GCM had more than 550 full-time students across all four years of the program, making it North America’s largest undergraduate program dedicated to graphic communications. Armstrong has also been a Director of the Canadian Printing Industries Scholarship Trust Fund for 13 years.

Heidelberg, with its enormous footprint across the country, has led much of the community development and technological innovation in Canadian printing over the past three decades, including Armstrong's 14 years of leadership. “We have been fortunate to have great market share and fantastic customers. The team we have at Heidelberg Canada is amazing and it has been a real pleasure to work with all of them," says Armstrong. "Heidelberg has been a great company to work for and I will really miss the customers and staff."

Prior to joining Heidelberg, Armstrong spent a year with Transcontinental Printing as a Project Engineer to develop feasibility studies for the implementation of new printing technologies across its Canadian platform. He also spent five years with Maclean Hunter Printing as an Engineer Manager, which included helping the company consolidate three separate printing facilities, and a year with Southam Murray Printing in the same capacity.

Armstrong joined the printing industry in 1986 when he took on an Industrial Engineer position with Toronto-area book manufacturer Webcom Limited, where he worked the next three years. He previously worked with Canada Wire & Cable Limited and Athabasca Airways Limited.
Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Engineering group Langley Holdings plc, the parent company of Manroland Sheetfed after its acquisition in 2012, published its IFRS Annual Report & Accounts for the year ended 31 December, 2014.

Langley reported a profit before tax of €100.6 million on revenues of €779.4 million. Chairman Tony Langley said that the group's divisions had performed in line with or ahead of expectations. Manroland Sheetfed, Langley’s largest division in terms of revenue and employees, reported a small profit.

Piller, the producer of power protection systems for data centres and Claudius Peters, the plant machinery constructor, performed in line with expectations while the other businesses division, principally Bradman Lake, the packaging machinery specialist, also had what Langley classifies as a satisfactory year.

Langley also acknowledged the contribution made by the group’s 4,000 employees and welcomed around 300 employees of the newly acquired DruckChemie group to the family of businesses.

Monday, 02 February 2015

Chris Raney becomes President of Baumer hhs in Dayton, Ohio, which manufacturers systems for value-added-gluing, camera-verification and quality-assurance systems for a range of industrial sectors like corrugated packaging, folding carton, printing and woodworking.

In addition, Baumer hhs also welcomed Rob Bradshaw to its sales team. Bradshaw will be based in Illinois as the Midwest Sales Manager and will lead the region's sales efforts.

Raney, who most recently served as VP of Packaging for Heidelberg USA Inc., brings over 25 years of relevant industry experience to his new role as President of Baumer hhs. This includes more than 10 years in the folding carton market in North America. He worked for Bobst in various roles in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and in the United States where from June 2002 he was Vice President of the Folding Carton Business Area.

“We welcome Chris’ experience and leadership to the Baumer hhs team,” said Detlef Engling, Managing Director. “In his new role as President, he will provide leadership and guidance to our team. His results-oriented approach and ability to think strategically will help hhs continue to grow profitably, while extending our track record of innovation and exceeding our customers’ demands.”

Tuesday, 04 November 2014

Drytac, during the SGIA exposition in Las Vegas, introduced its new ChalkMate specialty chalkboard film, which is a 5-mil UV printable PVC with a traditional black chalkboard finish.

Designed for use with standard chalk or liquid chalk markers, ChalkMate, which is available as either a permanent or removable adhesive (in roll widths up to 61 inches), can be installed on most smooth surfaces. The removable adhesive is built on Drytac’s ReTac technology.

Also during SGIA, Drytac featured its redesigned JetMounter Fuzion XD roll laminator, which sells for $7,595 (US pricing). Available in a 63-inch laminating width, the JetMounter Fuzion XD features interchangeable, large-diameter non-stick silicone rollers; a heat-assist top roller with digital display for Celsius/Fahrenheit; a heavy-duty lift mechanism for precise; adjustable speed control up to 20 feet per minute; and four auto-grip supply or take-up shafts with adjustable brake tension on the operator side for roll-to-roll lamination.

Additional features on the JetMounter Fuzion XD include a centre release, fold down feed table with a lay-flat paper in-feed guide; latching storage compartment on each side of the stand; maximum nip opening of one inch; and heavy-duty lockable casters for greater stability and maneuverability. The model can also accommodate 10-inch diameter rolled material and is cTUVus and CE-certified.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

MGI Digital Graphic Technology of Paris, France, reached an agreement to have Agfa Graphics distribute its technologies throughout the United States.

This is the second major printing player to shine its attention on the growth of MGI products in the United States, following Konica Minolta’s January 2014 purchase of a 10 percent minority interest, valued at €13.7 million ($20.4 million), in the French company. The strategic alliance between the two companies is to focus on “accelerating the innovation and commercialization of next generation digital printing solutions.”

MGI’s North American operation is based in Melbourne, Florida.

In Canada, KBR Graphics continues its 5-year-long distribution agreement with MGI. In November 2009, KBR Graphics, inked an exclusive distribution deal with MGI which accounts for all of Canada except British Columbia. Operating in the Canadian printing industry since 1977, KBR Graphics also carries lines from companies like Standard Horizon, Hamada, Busch, Challenge, Perfecta USA, and Graphic Whizard.

At Graph Expo 2014, MGI showcased its new Meteor DP8700 XL+. The fifth generation of Meteor Series features an increased format size of up to 47 inches long. It has the ability to print substrate thicknesses ranging up to 16 point board and 450 Microns on plastic substrates. The Meteor DP1000 XL was previewed for the first time ever at the MGI’s Graph Expo 2014 booth. This new press, which will be available sometime in 2015, can print 100 A4 pages per minute in thicknesses of up to 16-point board.

MGI, at Graph Expo, also announced the first In-line finishing unit for use on the Meteor Series of digital presses. The DF Pro is an inline finishing unit capable of cutting and trimming, full and strike perforation (allowing for knockouts), as well as up and down creasing. All functions can be performed in-line in one pass on formats up to 1,200 mm (47 inches) long.

MGI also launched its JETvarnish 3D Evolution T Option which allows for either the doubling (T2) or the tripling (T3) of production speeds, giving the JETvarnish 3D the ability to digitally emboss up to 300 microns in one pass on formats up to 52 x 105cm (20 x 40 inches). It provides production for of up to 2,400 B2-size sheets per hour with embossed 3D effects and 3,000 B2s per hour with traditional flat effects.

Tuesday, 05 August 2014

Quark Software Inc. has introduced QuarkXPress 10.2 to address performance and output issues related to the software’s new Xenon Graphics Engine. The update is available free to QuarkXPress users currently on version 10.

In addition to performance and quality improvements for the Xenon Graphics Engine, QuarkXPress 10.2 includes new features for collaboration, such as “Redlining”, which allows users to track changes within QuarkXPress documents to be viewed by a range of users. With the Redline feature, Quark explains teams can view the inserted and deleted text content made in a project and decide whether to accept or reject the changes.

QuarkXPress 10.2 also includes “Notes”, allowing users to store comments in a project without affecting its actual content. This feature can involve adding reminders and comments on the text content. Notes, with a “sticky note” look, can also be exported as PDF content.

In version 10.2, Quark explains there are no limitations on nesting anchored boxes, whereas previous versions of QuarkXPress have a limit of two levels. As well, users can export and import hyphenation exceptions created for a document and share the exceptions across projects to maintain uniformity.

QuarkXPress 10.2 output has passed all version 4 Ghent Workgroup Output Tests, which includes PDF/X-4.

Quark is providing a 30-day trial of QuarkXPress 10.2.