Agfa Graphics is expanding its operations in Canada with the opening of a new warehouse in London, Ontario.

The warehouse addition follows March 2014 news of Agfa opening up an enhanced demonstration centre in its Mississauga facility, which serves as the manufacturing site for the Belgian parent company’s high-end Jeti inkjet systems.

“Our objective is always to improve the level of services to our customers,” stated Ruben Silva, Managing Director, Agfa Graphics Canada. “By expanding operations we can provide a wider portfolio of innovative products that give a competitive edge to our customers and partners...”

In conjunction with its new warehouse announcement, Agfa stated it will soon introduce Duratex media to the Canadian inkjet market, as well as other wide-format medias, and Esko products.

Agfa Graphics’ Mississauga manufacturing facility recently began production of the new Jeti Titan S and HS flatbed inkjet machines, shown for the first time in early February at the C!Print exhibition in Lyon, France. These new machines incorporate the latest generation of Ricoh Gen 5 print heads with 1,280 nozzles. The Jeti Titan S is equipped with one row of print heads, but it is field upgradeable to two rows. The Jeti Titan HS (high-speed) is equipped with the two rows from the outset.

Gandy Digital, a manufacturer of large-format inkjet printers, has moved its manufacturing and product development functions to a new 30,000-square-foot facility in Mississauga, Ontario.

The new manufacturing and assembly plant, according to Gandy Digital, features an automated digital product feed system, product design and test laboratories, customer training and demonstration facilities, and the company’s global sales and service facilities.

“Our new facility is the embodiment of our company vision and mission…. we have designed our new plant to not only drive production efficiencies and reduce costs, but to also provide an environment where design creativity could be maximized,” stated Hary Gandy, CEO, Gandy Digital.

The Gandy Digital product portfolio consists of a range of UV inkjet printers, offering flatbed or flatbed with a roll-to-roll capability, including Pred8tor, Domin8tor, Viper and Sl8te. “With over 35 years of digital printing technology and more than 2000 products installed around the world, we are proud to have been, consistently, at the forefront of the large format market,” stated Harry Gandy.

Cober Evolving Solutions welcomed around 300 guests to tour its 86,000-square-foot facility in Kitchener, Ontario, as the company begins to generate more work onto its HP Indigo 10000 – the only such press currently in Canada.

The Cober open house event, shared with journalists in the morning and dozens of clients in the afternoon, follows a busy few months for the operation, after recently acquiring Kempenfelt’s printing operations in Barrie, Ontario, and earlier CuteGecko Inc., also of Kitchener. The star attraction of the open house, however, was the HP Indigo 10000, a recent commercially released 29-inch-format digital press currently run by only a couple dozen printers in the world today.

President Peter Cober and his son, Todd, a Vice President with the company, began the tour in their boardroom discussing the company’s long history and evolution, particularly since jumping head first into high-quality colour digital printing in the late-1990s. In addition to the Indigo 10000, Cober Evolving Solutions also runs two Indigo 7600 machines and has been regularly upgrading its digital presses for well over a decade.

Founded in 1916, Cober Evolving Solutions is a fourth-generation printing company with deep roots in sheetfed lithography. In addition to smaller such presses, the company runs three 40-inch Heidelberg perfecting presses (two 10-colours and one five-colour), as well as a straight 29-inch Heidelberg SM 74. Over the past couple of years, Cober has also started to move deeper into wide-format inkjet, as the company is equipped with an HP LX850, HP FB700 and an associated Kongsberg cutting system. Over the past year, Peter Cober estimates the company’s production mix comes in at around 50 percent sheetfed offset, 40 percent digital (liquid toner), and 10 percent inkjet.

Addressing the past few turbulent years for North American printing operations, Peter Cober, in the company’s boardroom, expressed how they have used the stagnant print market over the past few years to retool for today. It is a refrain Cober shared in a March interview with PrintAction about the Kempenfelt acquisition: “The recession was great for us because we could go out to customers and say, ‘You do not have to buy print the way you always used to. You do not have to have three people managing print projects.'”

This environment of print efficiency being passed on to clients is primarily fueled by Cober’s continued progress with driving work through Web portals. Peter Cober estimates this currently accounts for around 90 percent of work reaching the HP Indigos. He anticipates the use of templates will only growth as the company’s technicians, salespeople and customers become more familiar with the new print possibilities afforded by the Indigo 10000’s unique format size.

"It is hard to get salespeople internally to start thinking about the bigger formats all of a sudden,” Cober said back in March. “With presentation folders, for example, instead of ordering 2,000 of them, you can make them more personalized or versioned within different segments of your client’s business.”

As if the morning facility tour for journalists was a practice run for the key afternoon event with clients, Cober Evolving Solutions invited Scott Dubois, President of pidalia, to speak for 30 minutes about the growing connection between social media and brand building through integrated campaigns – using print as a key component.

In January 2014, Cober acquired a small local, five-year-old design agency called CuteGecko primarily because of its expertise in social-media. “How do you use social media strategy to do a better marketing campaign? Is it part of the print mix?” said Cober, in March. “We have print and we have digital, e-communications and PURLs and social media. We have been talking about this with clients. You really have to look at it and get involved.”

Toray is now producing its unique waterless printing plates out of its new manufacturing facility at Toray Textiles Central Europe (TTCE) in Prostejov, Czech Republic.

The 60,000-square-foot facility, located just outside of the country’s capital of Prague, is producing Toray’s LL-7 commercial sized waterless plates for European, North American and South American customers, with VG-5 waterless plates to follow.

“We’re excited to have this new centrally located facility in Europe,” stated Eric Friedman, North American Sales Manager of Toray International America. “After some 30 years of plate production in Okazaki, Japan, Toray plates will now also be supplied from the heart of Europe.

“It will provide us with a second facility to expand our plate production for worldwide consumption and increase our speed-to-market for our rising demand,” continued Friedman. “The new TTCE production is equal to our factory in Japan and allows us to double our production capacity. Our new plant in Prostějov is essential if we are to satisfy rising demand and enable further growth over the coming years."

In 2010, Toray explains it began to consider the possibility of building a new production line. Prostějov was chosen due to its geographical location in the heart of Europe. The factory in Prostějov was built in 1997 and was originally designed for the production of synthetic textiles for apparel applications. Today it is also an important site for the manufacture of air bag fabrics for the auto industry. Toray has now invested another €50 million in the site to construct the coating line for waterless printing plates.

"Since 2005, sales and turnover for waterless printing plates have increased fivefold,” stated Mitsunori Hayashi, GM for sales in the graphic materials department at TTCE. “We are seeing annual percentage growth in many areas including newspaper printing due to the success of the KBA Cortina press, of which 20 systems are now in operation or have been ordered, and security printing.”

Goss International officially opened its new 7,000-square-foot Packaging Technology Center in Durham, New Hampshire, featuring a Vpak web offset press system.
The star attraction of the new centre is a Goss Vpak 500 press with seven web offset units, as well as EB and UV curing and flexo coating capabilities. The system prints on film substrates from nine to 75 microns thick and board substrates as thick as 100 GSM. The press works with web widths of up to 850 mm (33.5 inches) and a repeat range from 406 to 812 mm (16 to 32 inches).
The new facility is to focus on providing packaging press demonstrations, testing and the development of advanced printing concepts. It will also serve as a controlled site for suppliers interested in testing inks, chemicals and auxiliary technologies for web offset production. Goss plans to bring converters, brand owners and suppliers together to jointly explore market requirements and new print production ideas.
Educational programs for converters and brand owners will begin later this spring. The company expects the Packaging Technology Center to draw in attendees from the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Leveraging unique quick-change sleeve adapter technology, Goss Vpak 500 and Vpak 3000 web offset press models for folding carton, flexible packaging, pre-print and label applications are available in web widths from 520 mm to 1905 mm (20.5 to 75 inches) and print at speeds of up to 457 meters (1,500 feet) per minute.

Agfa Canada in early March hosted dozens of printers and journalists from across North America at its demonstration centre in Mississauga, which is also the manufacturing site for the parent company’s high-end large-format inkjet systems.

Agfa Graphics refers to its revamped demonstration facility, housed within the 160,000-square-foot-plant that Agfa took over after purchasing Gandinnovations in 2009, as its new Canadian competence centre. The facility will play host to existing and potential Agfa clients from around the globe as they delve deeper into large-format inkjet technologies.

The two-day event, held March 4 and 5 under Agfa’s banner as a Red Carpet Event, featured the company’s recently launched Jeti Titan S and HS systems, which are built in Mississauga – one of the Belgian company’s three primary facilities for manufacturing inkjet systems. Agfa also builds its entry-level machines in South Korea and mid-range machines in Belgium.

The Jeti Titan S and HS flatbed inkjet machines were shown for the first time in early February at the C!Print exhibition in Lyon, France. Building on the existing Jeti Titan series of UV-curable wide-format printers, the new machines incorporate the latest generation of Ricoh Gen 5 print heads with 1,280 nozzles. The Jeti Titan S is equipped with one row of print heads, but it is field upgradeable to two rows. The Jeti Titan HS (high-speed) is equipped with the two rows from the outset.

The ink system on both the Jeti Titan HS and Jeti Titan S, which are driven by by Asanti workflow software and Anuvia UV-curable inks, is set at six colours plus white (CMYKLcLmWW). White printing is supported by different modes, including: overprint, under-print, spot, under-spot, fill and over-spot for rigids and pre-white for roll media.

The Red Carpet Event was kicked off by Dominiek Arnout, VP of Inkjet for Agfa Graphics, who is from Belgium but currently oversees operations for the facility in Mississauga. He spoke of Agfa’s growing position in large-format production, outlining the company’s strategy to be a top-three player in the market segment. Members of Arnout’s inkjet team then presented a series of technological presentations on topics like the new Titan S and HS, development of UV inks, Asanti software and opportunities in the large-format inkjet market. 

SGIA Vice President Dan Marx also spoke about market and technology trends in the sign-and-display industry. Marc Fortier, President of RP Graphics, then spoke about his company’s experiences during testing of the :Jeti Titan HS system (see PrintAction’s February 2014 cover story, Scale and Scope, on RP Graphics' CEO George Mazzaferro).

Attendees were then taken on a tour of both Agfa’s new Canadian competence centre to see the new :Jeti machines in action, along with Asanti software and Titan HS M3200, Titan X and M2540 machines. Attendees were also toured through the Mississauga manufacturing plant, which sits just on the other side of the competence centre’s door, where Agfa also continues to perform R&D activities for its global inkjet business.

Agfa Graphics plans to host similar Red Carpet Events at its headquarters in Mortsel, Belgium, and across the world to provide information about its newest software developments, CTP solutions and wide-format inkjet systems.

Kodak has expanded its manufacturing of the Sonora plate at German and China plants, while announcing plans to phase out plate production at its facility in Leeds, United Kingdom.

The investment into Sonora plate manufacturing is in response to what Kodak describes as an increased demand for its process-free printing plates. More than 450 Kodak customers around the world currently use Sonora plates. In Europe, Kodak has invested in its Osterode, Germany, plant with an upgraded Sonara plate manufacturing line. The Osterode plant began shipping Sonara plates in November 2013.

In Asia, Kodak has completed an upgrade of its Xiamen, China, plant to begin producing Sonora Plates. Kodak also states it is currently selecting another plate-production site to better serve customers in the Americas.

“This is our strategy to win and best serve customers in the printing plate market,” stated Brad Kruchten, Kodak’s President of Graphics, Entertainment & Commercial Films. “The technology strength of our Kodak Sonora process-free plates, combined with our plan to increase production capacity and locate our manufacturing closer to customers, will enable us to serve the many customers who are embracing this product.”

As part of its strategic, global manufacturing plan, Kodak is to phase out production at its Leeds plant, beginning that process in the third quarter of 2014 and completing it in mid- to late-2015. As a result of the action, Kodak expects to incur total charges of $30 to $40 million.

“Our employees in Leeds have a long history of capably serving our customers with the quality products they have come to expect from Kodak,” stated Robert Price, General Manager of Worldwide Plate Operations. “However, with the investments we made last year in the new high-speed manufacturing line, the capacity of our Osterode plant can now meet future demand growth from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”

The Printing Industries of America has announced it will be closing its technical training facility in Pittsburgh and moving its education programs online for 2014. This move is part of an effort to cut costs and also includes slimming down its staff.

In a letter to its membership, CEO Michael Makin says: “Whereas once we had the luxury to maintain a state-of-the-art facility for hands-on technical training, the business realities of today have made this model unsustainable from a financial perspective, particularly as fewer and fewer companies have availed themselves of such hands-on, equipment-focused learning.”

The PIA renovated its training facility for research and education in May of 2005, which added 10,000 square feet to the existing building. It currently houses a Heidelberg Speedmaster 102, a Heidelberg Printmaster 46, a Xerox iGen4, a Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C8000, a Ricoh C901S, an Océ Arizona 360GT UV, and a host of prepress and finishing equipment.

The organization will continue to offer face-to-face learning opportunities such as the Continuous Improvement and Color Management Conferences and its Print Leadership Summit, relying on vendors and their training facilities going forward.

“It is true we will be a smaller organization going forward, but our commitment to our core service offerings will remain unchanged,” adds Makin. “We will continue to be represented in Washington with a government affairs presence, maintain our economic research for the industry from market surveys to ratio benchmarks, continue to offer expertise in the environmental, health, and safety arena, and continue to provide human resources assistance and educational offerings.”

The Printing Industries of America was founded in 1887 and become the predominant voice of printers an affiliated industries in the U.S. In 1999, it merged with the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation. The organization has been headquartered in Sewickley, Pennsylvania since 2003 and serves more than 10,000 member companies.

In Canada, it has affiliations with the BCPIA, and more recently, the OPIA. Last week, Jeff Ekstein of Willow Printing Group in Concord Ontario was named the Chairman of the PIA Board.

INX International Ink Co. announced plans to build a new 62,000-square-foot facility in Lebanon, Ohio. The facility is to primarily focus on producing the company’s solvent ink packaging products. It is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2014, with an initial staff count of 33 employees.

The new building is to replace a smaller property INX currently operates about 25 miles away in Blue Ash, a suburb of Cincinnati. Besides solvent ink packaging products, INX will also manufacture three-piece metal decorating, UV/EB and some water-based flexographic ink products in Lebanon.  

“Our team has worked diligently on this project for two years.  When we evaluated our facilities and our ability to increase capacity and efficiencies, we determined the best way to service the market going forward was to construct a new plant,” stated John Hrdlick, COO of INX International. “The site in Lebanon is a terrific location with easy access to Interstate 71, and it provides us with an opportunity to expand the plant up to 90,000 square feet in the future.”

In addition to manufacturing space, INX plans to construct a laboratory for colour management and development, as well as for traditional quality control and testing purposes.

Vistaprint N.V. of the Netherlands today released financial results for the three-month period ended September 30, 2013, the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, which CEO Robert Keane describes as being consistent with expectations across all geographic regions. The online-printing giant also announced new investment plans to expand manufacturing capablities in 2014.

“Our operating profitability this quarter was also in line with our expectations,” stated Keane. “With the first quarter behind us, we are focused on delivering against our holiday expectations during our second quarter, as well as continued improvement of our customer value proposition globally and our marketing execution in Europe.”

Revenue for Vistaprint’s first quarter of fiscal year 2014 grew to US$275.1 million, a nine percent increase over revenue of US$251.4 million reported in the same quarter a year ago. Gross margin (revenue minus the cost of revenue as a percent of total revenue) in the first quarter was 65.2 percent, up from 65.0 percent in the same quarter a year ago. Operating income in the first quarter was US$8.4 million, or 3.1 percent of revenue, and reflected an increase compared to operating income of US$0.2 million, or 0.1 percent of revenue, in the same quarter a year ago.

“We expect to deliver lower year-over-year revenue growth in Europe than in North America, primarily due to planned changes we are making in our business in Europe to improve our customer value proposition, marketing execution and profitability,” stated Ernst Teunissen, VP and CFO of Vistaprint. 

For the full fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, Vistaprint expects revenue of approximately US$1.25 billion to $1.3 billion, or seven percent to 11 percent growth year over year in reported terms.

Vistaprint also reports it expects to make capital expenditures of approximately US$85 million to US$100 million in the full fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. This planned capital investment is to be focused on new manufacturing capabilities.

CCL Label has completed an expansion of its facility in Saint-Bruno (a suburb of Montreal), a process which took over six months, cost close to $5 million, and added 20,000 square feet. The expansion included the updating of the plants flexographic printing presses.

CCL Label Montreal is the only entity in Quebec dedicated completely to the pharmaceutical industry. Originally known as Graphiques Apex, CCL Label Montreal has been specialized in printing and folding of information leaflets as well as pharmaceutical labels since 1984. In 2004, the company became a subsidiary of CCL Industries and now serves markets as far as Europe, Asia and Australia.

"In the past five years, we've seen growth of approximately 75 percent, and our workforce has expanded from 75 employees in 2008 to more than 140 today," says Pierre Déry, General Manager of CCL Label Montreal. "This outstanding progress is the result of a constant quest for quality aimed at improving our response to clients' requirements." According to the company this latest expansion will eventually lead to the hiring of some 20 new employees.

In conjunction of this official opening, the company also held a trade exhibition called Pharmaceutical Printing, The Human Factor. CCL, with 40 suppliers, hosted 400 people in the pharmaceutical trade. The show included tours of the CCL Label Montreal facility.

In other company news, CCL also announced that it has signed a deal to acquire the assets of Advanced Packaging Films GmbH of Schkopau, near Leipzig, Germany. The deal is for $9 million in cash and assumed debt.

“This new capability allows us to design proprietary, specialty films for new sleeve and pressure sensitive label applications while improving our supply chain performance for part of today’s demand,” says Guenther Birkner, President of CCL Label’s Global Food & Beverage business. “It is an important strategic step as we seek to accelerate growth with global brand owners in the premium segment of this market. We remain the world’s largest trade buyer of heat shrinkable films for label applications from our valued supply partners.”

CCL Industries employs 9,600 people across 87 production facilities in 25 countries, with corporate offices in Toronto and Framingham, Massachusetts.

Texas-based FASTSIGNS has announced the opening of six more centres in Canada, adding to its existing base of 22 centres throughout the country. Four centres will open in the Maritimes and two others will open in Toronto and Calgary, respectively, joining the company’s network of 540 FASTSIGNS centres in eight countries worldwide.

“As we continue to expand our footprint worldwide, Canada remains a key growth market for FASTSIGNS,” said Mark Jameson, Senior VP of Franchise Support and Development. “Because of our 20-year plus success in Canada and recent recognition with the [Canadian Franchise Association], we believe that now is a great opportunity for franchisees in Canada.”

As part of the four-unit agreement, franchisee Philip Zakem and three partners will open their first FASTSIGNS centre in Halifax, NS, slated for the fourth quarter of 2013. The partners are also converting their independent sign business, located in Charlottetown, PEI, into a FASTSIGNS franchise in 2014. Their final two FASTSIGNS centres will open in Saint John, NB, and Moncton, NB. 

“Partnering with FASTSIGNS was a strategic decision to help us reach our long-term goal of expanding our business across the Maritimes,” said Zakem in a statement. “The brand recognition and franchisee support, coupled with FASTSIGNS’ in-depth product and technology knowledge, is exactly what we need to take our business to the next level. We’re looking forward to continue serving our current clients while also reaching new customers.”

HP announced it has opened a new 32,000-square-foot plant in Israel to produce ink for its HP Scitex FB10000 Industrial Press. The plant is located next to an existing HP facility in Kiryat Gat and replaces a plant in Ashkelon.

“To win business with big brands, HP Scitex customers require reliable products and inks that offer consistent results at top quality,” said Boaz Perets, General Manager, HP Scitex. “The new HP Scitex ink plant allows us to address these needs and meet the growing demand for HP Scitex UV-curable inks while protecting the environment.”

The plant is built using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards and is also ISO 14001 certified. Both the new plant, and the existing neighbouring facility, are the first LEED certified ink plants for HP in the world. The new facility includes an ink lab to support manufacturing development and quality assurance.

The inks used in the FB10000, known as HP HDR240 Scitex inks, are  based on a new formulation that is so far exclusive to that machine. HP says that it has completed early installations of the press at customer sites in the United States and Europe with general commercial availability expected beginning this November.

Agfa Graphics announced it plans to close down its printing plate factory in Manerbio, Italy. The plant produces analogue offset plates as well as negative CTP plates, both products of which are in markets in decline.

“This decision is part of our strategy to improve our operational efficiency, margins and competitive position in the highly competitive prepress market,” says Stefaan Vanhooren, President of Agfa Graphics.

The Manerbio closure will affect 123 employees; Agfa says a redundancy plant is being developed for them.

M&T Printing Group added two new wide-format inkjet systems, including an Epson GS6000 and a Fujifilm Acuity, as well as a Zund cutter to expand its sign division. The systems were installed at M&T Printing’s primary plant in Kitchener, Ontario.

In addition to its large-format-inkjet investment for its Kitchener facility, M&T Printing has also been expanding such services at its Brantford facility. The company also lists Ontario locations in Waterloo, Guelph, Waterloo, London, Cambridge and Conestoga College.

The sign division operating out of Kitchener, according to the company, will be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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