Jon Robinson

Jon Robinson

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Friday, 08 January 2016
Mary Ann Yule is to assume the role of Managing Director of HP Canada Co. on February 15, 2016, responsible for all aspects of HP operations in Canada. She succeeds Lloyd Bryant, who retired as President and CEO of HP Canada in December 2015 after a distinguished career with the company in a range of progressively senior sales, management and general management roles.

Yule joins HP Inc. from CDW Canada where most recently she was the Vice President and General Manager since 2008. In this role, she was responsible for driving business growth and national brand recognition. Prior to joining CDW Canada, Yule served in various senior management and key marketing positions at Toshiba of Canada and Tech Data Canada. She brings nearly 20 years of leadership experience in the Canadian technology sector.

"Mary Ann brings incredible passion and energy to our business," said Christoph Schell, President, Americas, HP Inc. "I am extremely excited to welcome her to HP and my direct staff. I have no doubt we will achieve new heights in Canadian markets under her leadership.”
Thursday, 07 January 2016
Friesens of Altona, Manitoba, began to install its new 73-inch manroland R900 HiPrint XXL perfecting press in March on its way to building one of the world’s most-efficient pressrooms (originally published in PrintAction September 2015).

The town of Altona in southern Manitoba holds slightly more than 4,000 people in an economic landscape primarily driven by farming- and agriculture-based businesses, as well as the manufacture of books. In early March, the town became home to one of the world’s three 8-colour, 73-inch manroland R900 HiPrint XXL perfecting presses, which Friesens Corporation is leveraging for short-run book work.

Most presses of this size are saved for the packaging sector, where perfecting is usually not needed to print on both sides of the substrate. Of course, Friesens’ press also required significant inline colour management tools to deal with a massive sheet that will often hold 64 unique and different pages at one time. The company is well known by other printers for its near-spotless pressroom and by North American publishers for its ability to print short-run, colour-intensive works of art.

“I never want to lose the underdog mentality that has existed as part of the fabric of this company for 107 years. We are in the middle of nowhere, but that just breeds ingenuity and hard work,” says Curwin Friesen, CEO of Friesens Corp., which provides an ownership model for its approximate 600 employees, tying the highly respected book manufacturer even closer to the community.

When the R900 arrived in Altona by dozens of tractor-trailers, it was too large for Friesens’ shipping bays and the company needed cut a massive hole into the side of the building for direct entry into what would become a newly configured pressroom. Installed, the press is  approximately 100 feet long and weighs half a million pounds. Before commissioning the press in July, celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with hundreds of staff members and around 75 dignitaries, Friesens conducted three and half months of set up and testing.

Form efficiency
The decision to go with the R900 was made a little more than a year ago, after first discussing the possibilities of moving to very large format technology at the drupa 2012 trade show in Germany. It would be a challenge to handle such a large sheet and perfect it without marking, which can be a technical struggle even with 40-inch perfectors.

“It is very much an efficiency play and a progression from where we have moved in our history,” says Friesen. The company began working 8-page signatures, four pages on each side of a sheet sent through the press twice, drying twice before folding. When press technology improved the crew moved to a machine printing 16-page signatures, again twice through. “In the late-80s, we went to 50-inch format when others were on 40-inch format and that allowed us to go to a 32-page, 8 ½ x 11 signature.” The press sheets still traveled twice through the press, but the company’s 50-inch machines were printing a 64-page children’s book with just two sheets and four make-readies.

The new 8-colour, 73-inch manroland R900 perfector allows Friesens to print a 64-page children’s book with one sheet and one make-ready. The relative efficiency of the new press, over the 50-inch machines, is increased by anywhere from 300 to 400 percent, with a more precise number expected after more time with the R900 reveals figures like wastage, press speed, and finely-tuned make-ready – with the latter number ending up slightly more than a quarter of 50-inch machine make-ready.

“There are hardly any book manufactures in North America who are running 50s and almost none overseas. It is basically a 40-inch world and we live in the 50-inch world and now we are trying to live in the 73-inch world,” says Friesen. “Is it more efficient – absolutely. Are we excited about the productivity numbers we are starting to see – you bet we are. Since the ribbon cutting, every week is getting better and our crews are getting more familiar with it, more comfortable.”

Pressroom build
The multi-million-dollar technology investment included the purchase of a massive Maxson Automatic Machinery Co. precision sheeter, because Friesens has traditionally converted its own stock, which now sits about 15 feet in front of the press.

A new large-format platesetter – about 65 feet long in its own controlled positive air space – is also close by and integrated with robotics to move the massive 73 x 50-inch plates – in addition to 50-inch plates – through the imaging process, before a specialized conveyor is wheeled about 10 feet to modified catwalk rails where crews finally touch the plates for mounting on the R900.

The manroland R900 configuration is also unique because Friesens’ management decided to maintain its bindery set-up for 32-page signatures, resulting in an inline slitter system integrated with the new press, as well as the continuing interest in 50-inch machines. “One of the other things unique about this press is that we put an engineered pit underneath it, so we have better access and that is not done anywhere else in the world,” says Friesen, noting how much the company’s mechanics were involved in the R900 investment project.

“The beauty of it is that we were starting from scratch and our goal was to create the most-efficient pressroom in the world and everything mirrors this mindset,” says Friesen.

Market matters
Despite its massive size, the efficiency of the press and pressroom allows for incredibly short runs of around 4,000 books and up, with an ideal range at around 10,000. “We are a short-run book manufacturer that is what we specialize in within our book division,” says Friesen. The company already produces long runs that may measure around 100,000, but the R900 also presents a new opportunity to provide sheetfed press quality on some lower-end Web offset press speeds.

“Books are not DVDs. Books are not music. Books are different. As we see with business cards, some players in the market believe that business cards are going to be around forever and they certainly do not seem like they are going away,” says Friesen. “One large player has also used large format on short-run business cards to change the game.”

Friesens generates approximately 55 percent of its revenue from the U.S., which Friesen has noticed picking up because of the lower dollar, and 45 percent domestically. Based on various avenues of research, he notes the book market has been very stable for the past five years, to the point where independent bookstores are growing for the first time in a decade. Friesen explains it appears the concentration of e-readers has hit a saturation point in North America. “E-books have their niche and have an important role in the book business, but not the only role,” he says. “Publishers see that sales are bearing that out and so we continue to believe there is a strong future for books.”

Friesen describes one recent report from Deloitte based on polling a sample of 18 to 24 year olds who exhibited a strong propensity toward printed books. “Despite the fact that they live in a digital world they still like print for a bunch of reasons.” Friesen is also noticing more on-shoring of book printing, relating that many publishers are returning to North American printers instead of having the work done in China.

The trend is driven by much busier Chinese ports and the need for shorter turnaround times, as well as more preference to print lower run totals; for example, two 5,000 jobs instead of 10,000 at once. Friesen explains it is not in a printer’s best interest to print 10,000 books and have the publisher only sell 2,000. “Is China still going to be a big printing force – absolutely – but if five percent of that business returns, or 10 percent, on a billion-dollar industry, that is significant.”

In addition to its strong roots in yearbook production, typically with runs measured in the hundreds, self publishing is a growing sector for Friesens, through its FriesenPress division that sells packages – potentially with editing, copywriting, designing and proofreading services in addition to printing – that might cost around $3,500 run on digital presses instead of $15,000 via litho.

“We believe that we are going to be in books for a long, long time and if we are going to be in books then we better be geared up for it and not just dabbling,” says Friesen, projecting a relatively stable market for at least the next decade. A little more than five years ago, however, Friesens’ managers were tasked with expanding the company’s interest in packaging, which resulted in think4D, consisting of around 40 employees.

After purchasing a Toronto company and related patents, and investing a few million into R&D, think4D is a unique operation in the world that marries thermoforming and printing.  “We found thermoforming and print were two different worlds,” says Friesen. “With some of the technologies we were researching, we thought that we could combine those worlds. Why not print on the plastic and then thermoform that piece out of the plastic already printed.”

This innovation in packaging is built from a culture that developed over decades by leveraging technology to innovate the process of manufacturing books. “It isn’t always just the numbers we paint on press at times. There are efficiencies and robotics and workflow… yet the product we are producing is an art piece, often at the end of a creative chain.”

Tuesday, 22 September 2015
For the first time in North America, Agfa Graphics will be demonstrating the new Anapurna M2540i FB printing system at Consac sign and graphics tradeshow running in Mississauga at the International Centre on September 25 and 26, 2015.

The Anapurna M2540i FB system on the booth will be a 6-colour plus white UV-curable flatbed system, which reaches printing speeds of up to up to 93 m2/h (1,001 ft2/hr). Agfa explains the M2540i, with its moving gantry flatbed, is well suited for both step-and-repeat work and for printing on a range of media sizes at one time.

Demonstrations of the Anapurna M2540i FB at Consac will include the following printing applications: Second surface printing, sandwich white (colour, white, colour); multilayer printing (colour, colour, white); and second surface, 2-sided printing on clear substrates to illustrate how to print an image to be read correctly on the front and back (colour, white, blackout, white, colour).

Agfa continues to explain the flatbed system can run a range of indoor and outdoor medias, as well as on uncoated rigid media like corrugated boards, rigid plastics, plexiglass, mirrors, exhibition panels, wood, aluminum, MDF, stage graphics, and advertising panels. In addition to the Anapurna M2540i FB, Agfa will also be demonstrating the Esko Kongsberg V24 cutting table.
Tuesday, 01 September 2015

Heidelberg’s Promatrix 106 CS die cutter will make its North American debut at Graph Expo in Chicago next month. The system will be showcased on Masterwork Machinery’s exhibit.

In August 2014, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG announced it was restructuring its postpress equipment manufacturing through a new OEM partnership with Masterwork Machinery Co. headquartered in Tianjin, China. The move excluded Heidelberg’s production of folding machines at its Ludwigsburg site, a city in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

“Heidelberg offers a value proposition that is unique in the industry,” said Joerg Daehnhardt, Vice President, Postpress, Heidelberg USA. “Our strategic partnership with Masterwork enables Heidelberg to offer a broader portfolio than ever before to the converting market.”

The Promatrix 106 CS is designed to handle substrates from 65-pound text to 48-point board. It outputs 8,000 sheets per hour, and has a maximum sheet size of 29.92 x 41.7 inches, matching the format of Heidelberg’s flagship Speedmaster XL 106 press.
 
The Promatrix 106 CS is the first Heidelberg product manufactured by Masterwork, while the German company retains sales and support responsibilities for its postpress lines. The Promatrix CS 106 is a further development of an existing Masterwork platform, along with additional improvements and certifications (such as “GS,” a German seal denoting safe operation).
 

Tuesday, 01 September 2015
Lynn Worley joins Gandy Digital as National Sales Manager to develop the company’s wide-format-system footprint in North America. Worley spent the past 18 years at xpedx in a range of roles and recently as a Print Solutions Manager with Veritiv Corporation focusing on wide format technology.

“I am excited to start a new challenge with Gandy Digital and look forward to working with the team to further develop their already extensive digital printer products,” said Worley.

Gandy Digital is headquartered in the Greater Toronto Area and has more than 35 years experience developing and manufacturing inkjet-printing technologies. Its primary inkjet machines include the Pred8tor, Domin8tor and Gladi8tor, which are all designed and manufactured in a 40,000-square-foot Mississauga facility, while its software is engineered in the United States.

“We view his appointment as a sign of our commitment to being the leading company in our industry,” said Hary Gandy, President of Gandy Digital. “Our new innovations such as the SoftJet Direct to Fabric Printer and the introduction of our Sl8te LED Printers, as well as increasing demand from our customers led us to look for an addition to our team who will fit in with our ethos of innovation and exceptional service.”
Thursday, 27 August 2015

William Li, Color Technology Manager for Eastman Kodak, will lead what he describes as a historic meeting taking place next week at Ryerson University in Toronto. Open to Canada’s printing public for their input, the September 3 meeting is to focus on the direction of the emerging ISO TC130 standards for printing and colour quality, which is critical to the near-future interests of Canadian printers and technology suppliers.

As Canadian Chair of the ISO TC130 Technical Advisory Group, Li explains the September 3 event will mark the first, in-person meeting of its kind to plan how Canada’s printing industry can impact the use of global standards relating to colour management.

Over the past few years, European organizations like Fogra, as well as IDEALliance in the United States, have become strong forces in directing the technical basis of colour management. Li explains Canadian printers need to take action now to serve their own interests as printing continues to move more rapidly across borders.

The meeting is to begin at 9:00 am in the HEI Boardroom of the downtown building housing Ryerson’s Graphic Communications Management program. After introductions, Li, who is based out of Kodak’s Vancouver facility, will provide an overview of the issues surrounding ISO TC130.

Lasting until approximately 4:00 pm, the agenda will also cover standards currently being put on the table by the various technical groups around the world; Canada’s position prior to an important fall meeting in Seoul, Korea; and the mechanics of how the Canadian Technical Advisory Group should proceed.

Participation by Canadian printers is encouraged through an This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

In addition to announcing the availability of the Pro C7100 press line earlier this month, Ricoh has introduced enhancements to ProcessDirector and InfoPrint Manager software, which fit into the company’s Critical Communications portfolio.

ProcessDirector can now integrate multi-channel capabilities, such as email and electronic presentment, while InfoPrint Manager adds Linux support. ProcessDirector users can send customers all or part of a job’s documents via email. Emailed documents can be set to dynamically pull key information into subject lines, arranging the message in the manner most useful to the reader.

With the updated software, users can set separate versions for different audiences, such as internal help desk and external customers, with different kinds of information available. The system utilizes preset AFP forms that are dynamically filled in at time of printing, so users no longer have to store preprinted forms.

Ricoh, in July, also announced the availability of the Pro C7100 press line, which was unveiled in September 2014. The four-colour Pro C7100, available in both printer/scanner and printer-only configurations, features an AC-transfer system and elastic fusing belt technology to enhance output on heavily textured media like vellum and linen, explains the company.

The press reaches speeds of up to 90 pages per minute, handling a maximum sheet size of 13 x 19.2 inches, with a monthly volume of 240,000 based on A4. Using Ricoh’s new vacuum feed LCT, the press has an option for oversized prints of up to 27.5 inches in length.

The press also features a sheet-to-sheet mechanical registration system that squares the sheet prior to imaging, adjustable from the user interface. It also holds a media library that allows users to adjust and associate different parameters per substrate to help ensure IQ and reliability. A self-contained liquid cooling system keeps the developer at a constant temperature and minimizes disruptions in extended production runs.

Monday, 27 July 2015
Jay Lalonde becomes Canadian Territory Manager for Zund America Inc., a division of family run Zünd Systemtechnik AG of Switzerland, which develops cutting tables among a range of associated precision technologies.

Lalonde brings more than 25 years of printing industry experience, including seven years he recently spent with Fujifilm’s Canadian operation, where his responsibilities included product marketing management and product obsolescence. He also previously held positions with Boehmer Box, Beresford Box, Pfizer and Sunlife, involved in a range of roles from prepress to packaging design.

In his new role, Lalonde will focus on driving sales and increasing revenue by identifying new opportunities in Canada, as well as building on relationships with existing Canadian Zünd customers and resellers.
Monday, 13 July 2015
Sylvia Ma of Ryerson University’s Graphic Communications Management program won the North American Print Skills Contest by a score of three to one in solving four production problems on the Sinapse SHOTS Sheetfed simulator.

Ma was competing against finalist Sunny Turner from Appalachian State University in North Carolina. The two competitors on July 8 worked through the four print problems live via video link in front of participants of the International Circle Conference held at California Polytechnic State University.

Their task was to solve four sets of print problems within a 10-minute limit for each. The winner was chosen on the basis of best quality and optimum productivity (simulated time and waste). The exercises become progressively harder to solve and concerned registration, inking, blankets and various mechanical issues. Contestants were tasked to understand the problems, analyze the possible causes, decide how to solve the problems and see results and cost of their action (or inaction).

The North American Print Skills Contest contest lasted for several months. It was open to all International Circle members, printers and related schools of North America. The simulator was supplied by download and integrated with a Heidelberg Speedmaster user interface.

With her victory, Ma has prequalified (and, therefore, does not have to go through new qualifying rounds) for the global competition at next year’s drupa tradeshow in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Monday, 13 July 2015
Serif Software, after five years of development, launched its Affinity Photo image-editing application on the Mac App Store. This is the second application in an all-new suite of professional creative software for the Mac being developed by Serif.

The first, Affinity Designer, was launched in October last year (reviewed by Zac Bolan in PrintAction’s February 2015 issue, More Vector, Less Money).

Affinity Photo was originally launched as a public beta in February (culminating in over 230,000 downloads), including capabilities such as RAW processing, PSD import and export, 16-bits per channel editing, and ICC colour management.

The release version of the app features a full set of tools for professional processing, including camera lens and exposure corrections, accurate adjustments, live filter layers, controls for channels and masks, advanced layer handling, and built-in frequency separation editing.

Serif also promotes its speed, explaining whether working on a 100-megapixel image or a complex composition with thousands of layers, a user can still pan and zoom at 60 fps and see live views of all adjustments, brushes, blend modes and filters with no compromise.

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