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

Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers on August 30 reached what the organizations describe as tentative short-term agreements – for both the urban and RSMC bargaining units – with the help of a Federally appointed mediator.

The new agreements, must be ratified by Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) members, are for a period of two years instead of the typical four-year contracts that have been negotiated in the past. The tentative collective agreements have been recommended by the majority of CUPW’s National Executive Board. Member voting will occur over a period of five or six weeks.

CUPW noted over the next 13 months that it plans to work on a third-party pay-equity report regarding RSMCs, which are estimated to make 30 percent less than their urban counterparts for doing work of equal value.

The agreements avert a work disruption, noted Canada Post, as businesses head into the holiday shipping season. Canada Post also noted this 2-year approach provides more time for thoughtful discussion and analysis on how to best address significant challenges facing the crown corporation – primarily declining mail volumes and a growing pension obligation.
Twenty-five industry and academic thought leaders gathered last Wednesday at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC) in Mississauga for the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) Industrie 2030 Roundtable. The group’s discussion focused on the critical success factors affecting innovation and profitable value creation in an ever-changing digital world.
The Industrie 2030 roundtable, led by the CME, together with partners, was aimed at understanding the obstacles that stand in the way of commercializing new products, adopting advanced technologies, and growing business in Canada, and creating a plan to overcome them.
Xerox explains insights generated from the roundtable will provide a foundation for an action plan to double value-added manufacturing by 2030. The action plan will be released at the CME’s National Summit being held in Ottawa, October 18 – 19, 2016. The plan will help form policy advice provided to the Government of Canada through the Minister of Innovation Science and Economic Development’s national Innovation Agenda consultation process.

UPDATE AUGUST 30: Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have again agreed to extend mediation aimed at resolving their labour dispute by another 24 hours. Both sides will continue to negotiate through a special mediator into Tuesday.

POSTED AUGUST 29: The Canadian Union of Postal Workers on Thursday, August 25, provided Canada Post with 72-hour strike notices. As a result, the union was in a legal position to commence strike action on Sunday, August 28.

Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) spent this past weekend negotiating with the help of a special mediator. On Monday morning, August 29, the two sides agreed to extend mediation by 24 hours.

Shortly after CUPW issued its 72-hour strike notices this past Thursday, MaryAnn Mihychuk, Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, appointed a special mediator to assist in negotiations. Canada Post stated: “We hope that the assistance of a neutral third party will help both parties address the real challenges facing the postal service caused by declining mail volumes and increasing pension obligations.”

The current collective agreements remained in effect until late-Monday night, barring another extension or settlement.

After spending three days in Düsseldorf, the positive vibe and innovation displayed at  drupa 2016 illustrates print is far from dead, even if how and when it will be produced is changing significantly.

This year I had the privilege to attend the drupa tradeshow again. I was in good company with seven students from the Graphic Communications Management program at Ryerson University and six of my colleagues. We spent three days at drupa exploring the trade show.

First of all, I would like to say that the whole show carried a very positive and energetic vibe. It was like a fest, almost a party, compared to the sombre tone from 2012. The halls were bustling with people from more than 188 different countries. Many pieces of equipment carried a Sold to... sign. I see this as a positive trend towards the future of the printing industry. Companies are investing again to modernize their equipment and add new services.

Yes, the hype of the show was HP, which had hall 17 completely to itself, as well as Landa, Kodak and Highcon. There were many exhibits in regards to 3D printing, functional printing and so on, but the majority of exhibitors were focused on supporting existing businesses and their needs from new inks to better knifes for a cutter. The paper manufacturers had a hall to themselves to show off many new products. What I also liked was the hustling and bustling in hall 1, occupied by Heidelberg.

Overall, 260,000 visitors visited the 1,837 exhibitors who themselves came from 54 different countries. These numbers are little bit less than statistics from drupa 2012, but, as I said before, the spirit was quite positive throughout the show. Messe Düsseldorf states 54 percent of the visitors came to drupa with concrete investment intentions and 29 percent placed orders and another 30 percent plan to place orders after drupa.

Digital print trends
Although previous drupa trade shows have been labelled as the digital drupa, this 2016 version was for sure the digital drupa. Benny Landa’s famous saying  “Anything than can be printed digital, will be printed digital” was clearly on display at the show. The speed of digital presses using inkjet technology is continuing to increase and the print resolution is also getting better. Sometimes you really have to look closely (with a magnifying glass) to see the difference. Also more and more special inks are being developed for digital printing presses, which used to be available only in offset or flexo ink sets.

Kodak showed interesting new inkjet technology with the introduction of its Ultrastream platform, which was incorporated into its Prosper 6000C press. Landa, meanwhile, stated it will finally ship machines after the show to a number of beta customers.

Automation is still a big topic by all accounts. Due to the increasing number of short run jobs, the changeover between print jobs has to be as quick as possible. Expanded gamut printing is not only a trend for digital printing, it also for conventional printing. Expanded gamut printing uses CMYK plus OGV (Orange, green and violet, sometimes also called blue), to cover up to 95 percent of the Pantone book. Using expanded gamut printing eliminates wash-up or ink changing between press run. Digital presses and conventional presses were shown at drupa that used this technology during live demonstrations and the changeover time was a few minutes for new plates or plate cylinders before the next print job started printing.

Pantone just released a book that shows the Pantone colours and how they can be achieved using expanded gamut printing. Just think of it as the Pantone Bridge book, but instead of four colours, seven colours are being used. I also saw quite a number of vendors showing MIS technology. One would think that this is somewhat of an old hat, but there still seems to be quite a need for it. Another important item seems to be Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems. Local and cloud-based solutions were shown. I found it interesting that each user can have different levels of access, from low resolution, for position only, up to full editing rights. The important DAM trend is that the original image does not get edited, it is always a copy that is being modified. The DAM systems can also be searched to see which image was used for which product or campaign.

A clear indication of the changing print industry was that HP had hall 17 completely to itself. In 2008 HP had a relatively small booth in a hall. In 2012, the company occupied half of a hall, and it was one of the busiest booths at that show. In 2016, HP was the largest exhibitor at drupa 2016 with its hall measuring 6,200 square metres. It would be possible to write a complete article on all of the things HP showed in hall 17, but I am focusing on just a few items that sparked my interest. The first item is the HP T490 HD PageWide inkjet web press. It can run webs from 16 to 42 inches wide. The press can run in two modes, called performance and quality mode. In quality mode, the press runs at 500 feet per minute and at 1,000 feet per minute in performance mode. I asked a representative from HP what the amortization period for such a press would be and received the answer of 20 years. It was pointed out to me that the press is field upgradable in regards to the inkjet heads and also in regards to the digital front end (DFE). I also asked about ink costs. Although the inks costs are twice as much as offset inks, there are no costs for plates, make-ready or wash-up.

HP prides itself in the fact that the T-series machines are made from solid metal, even the small gears, and therefore built to last. HP is also experimenting with different kind of inks that used to be only available for conventional print processes. The company is experimenting with colour-shifting and glitter inks, fluorescents, spot gloss, adhesive, thermochromic ink, silver ink and also with digital lenticular ink. In order to show off the versatility of the inks, HP displayed a board with print samples produced on coated paper, compressed cardboard, synthetic paper, SBS, fluted PP, foam PVC, PE film, Acrylic and Polyester film.

HP’s 3D printer is set to mix-up the 3D print market. The difference to most current models is that it does not matter if one copy or 10 copies of the same item are made, as long as they fit on the table inside the device. HP leverages Jet Fusion technology that uses bonding and fusing agents that are applied separately after the material has been deposited. Another unique feature of the 3D system is its ability to print in colour.

Kodak, as mentioned, introduced its Prosper 6000C inkjet press with Ultrastream technology, which is based on a continuous-feed inkjet system to achieve high print speeds. This allows users to print at an equivalent resolution of 1,200 x 1,200 dpi. The web width on this machine can range from eight to 97 inches. The web speed can reach up to 500 feet per minute and is limited to 150 feet per minute for vinyls and plastics. The inks are safe for indirect food contact. Due to the high printing speed of the Propser 6000C inkjet press, the roll unwind is handled by a MEGTEC roll stand and the in-line folding operation is done by a manroland websystems’ Foldline technology.

The new NexPress zx3900 has five printing units and can print white ink and MICR ink. The operator also has the option to change the fusion roller to achieve a different gloss on the printed material. This press can be equipped with a fusion roller for a glossy finish or a matte finish, without changing the toner.  

Xeikon is known for its toner-based digital print machines delivering a high print quality. At drupa 2012, the Trillium toner technology was introduced, but at this year’s drupa a working roll-to-roll press using this technology was shown. The interesting thing about Trillium toner technology is its use of a liquid toner. The liquid toner gets transported via an anilox roller and a doctor roller onto the photoconductor drum. From the photoconductor drum, the image is then transferred onto an intermediate rubber-covered cylinder before the transfer to the substrate takes place. All this time, the toner is in a carrier oil. The Trillium technology is slated towards short-run book printing, transactional direct mail and transpromo printing. Xeikon also showed machines geared toward the short-run label market. The printing machine can be  equipped for heat transfer or in-mold labels.

Delphax, a Canadian player in the inkjet printing market, uses the Memjet print head technology in its Elan 500 press. Interestingly, this machine has a relatively high speed for cutsheet inkjet printing. The top speed hits 500 sheets per minute in A4/letter size. The maximum print resolution can be 1,600 dpi and full duplex is possible in one pass. The maximum sheet size for the Elan 500 is 18 x 26 inches and the paper weight can range from 20 to 130 lb.

At drupa 2012, Benny Landa introduced the printing world to his Nanography branding. Nanography uses nano-sized pigment particles in a water-based inkjet ink. The difference to current inkjet technology is that the water gets removed from the inkjet ink before the printed image gets transferred to the substrate. In Nanography, the image is jetted onto a heated transfer belt, which removes all the water from the ink and turns the ink into a semi-plastic, before it gets transferred to the substrate. The design of the S10 sheetfed press has changed a lot from drupa 2012. The machine looks more like a conventional printing press with a cockpit at the end. The press also has coating capabilities if the customer so desires. Beta machines of the S10 presses will soon be delivered to selected beta-site customers. Quad-Graphics is one the selected customers for North America.

Landa positions its technology in terms of production between current digital print technology and offset print technology, at the run lengths between 1,000 and 10,000. This was shown during its theatre style presentation. It was also stressed that the quality of the printed dot on coated and uncoated paper is higher compared to current inkjet technologies. Images were on display that demonstrated this fact. Another advantage for Landa is, that the CMYK gamut of its inks is wider than the conventional CMYK gamut, as is the case with most inkjet systems. Landa can also print with an expanded gamut set that covers almost all of the Pantone colours. Interestingly, the ink containers are made from cardboard and can be flattened and recycled once the plastic bag that contains the ink concentrate is empty. The plastic bag for the ink can be recycled in the current plastic recycling stream.  Prints made with Nanographic inks are also recyclable according to the INGEDE test method.

Landa also unveiled a new technology brand called Metallography, which is set to replace foil stamping for any kind of metallic ink effect on any kind of printing. The Metallography application unit can be retrofitted onto an existing press. This concept was shown on a narrow-web flexographic press. Metallography uses nano-silver which is attracted to the printed material via a trigger image and a donour roll applies the metallic flake to the print. Metallography can save a lot of metallic foil material. It was said that one kg of this silver material replaces 3,000 kg of foil stamping material. Another advantage of this process is that prints with Metallography can be used in a microwave without causing any fires or damaging electric discharges.

Conventional print trends
Although most of the hype at drupa was around digital printing, current industry powers were not sitting on their hands and waiting for things to happen. Many inventions were shown in press technology for offset and flexography that drive the use of automation and shorter time frames between printing jobs. True press and print automation can only be done if the press operator prints to the numbers. Some of the lifting that used to be done in the press room needs to take place in the pre-media portion of any job through profiling, but also the press has to be set for printing at optimal print conditions.

Heidelberg’s hall was quite full the day I visited. Many people were talking with representatives from Heidelberg and a flair of excitement was in the air.

Heidelberg showed its Speedmaster XL106-8-P with UV LED curing, which is technology I saw at other well-know press manufacturers. It seems that UV LED, although not new, is to become more mainstream. On the XL 106, Heidelberg introduced the concept of autonomous manufacturing, printing one job after another with the operator there to stop the press, not to start it. Heidelberg calls this principle Push to stop. During the short presentation of the XL 106, three small jobs were completed. The operator only needed to take the plates from job #1 out from the automatic plate changer and load the plates for job#3 into the plate loading system. The press starts automatically based on the lined-up jobs.

Of course, the main attraction for me in the Heidelberg hall was the Primefire 106, a digital inkjet press built in co-operation with Fujifilm. Heidelberg contributed the paper handling and coating unit, while Fujifilm provided its inkjet print heads. The showcased press was configured for 7-colour printing with expanded gamut and the print resolution is 1,200 x 1,200 dpi. One feature I liked a lot on this press is the fact that the operator gets a pulled sheet by the touch of a button on the control table.

Gallus showcased its Labelfire 340 which is based on UV-inkjet technology with in-line finishing. The press prints at 1,200 x 1,200 dpi with up to eight colours. The 8th colour is white plus CMYK and OGV. Again, expanded gamut printing is used. The print speed ranges from 50 to 150 feet per minute.

I walked onto the KBA booth when a demonstration of the Flexotechnica XD LR started. The common impression cylinder flexographic printing press showed that it is possible to print with water-based inks on clear PET film. The press can also be configured to run EB-curable inks. Another development from KBA, in co-operation with Xerox, is the 40-inch VariJET 106 for the folding carton market. This press prints at 4,500 iph and is geared toward short-run applications of folding cartons. The press can be configured with coating, cold-foil, rotary die-cutting, creasing and perforating units.

Esko shared a booth with other companies now belonging to Danaher, including X-Rite, Pantone and Enfocus. Together with seven GCM students and six colleagues we had an extended tour of the booth. For nine out of 10 major brands, Esko solutions are used to produce packaging. One interesting new Esko product is the CDI Crystal 5080 imager, which can be used for HD Flexo and Full HD flexo plates. Esko has simplified the operation of this imager with a touchscreen mounted to the left of the device. The operator more or less just pushes a start or stop button. The machine features a fully automatic plate loading and ejecting system. The imager can be combined with the XPS Crystal 5080 for the exposure of the plates. The unique feature of the plate exposure unit is that front and back exposure are done in the same moment through an exposure bar that travels over the plate with UV LED exposure for the back exposure.
Esko also introduced a combination of a robotic loading and unloading with a Kongsberg table for cutting and scoring. The unique thing is that the cutting table and robotic loading arm “talk” to each other, so both machines know what the other one is doing and do not try  to execute conflicting operations.

The German company Bobst might be familiar to most people for its die-cutting machines, but it also builds flexo and gravure printing presses. Bobst showed its M6 flexographic printing press for food packaging. The demonstrated press ran in extended gamut configuration with UV-flexographic inks. The press has two unique features, including tracking the curing of the UV ink after each print unit and the ability to change plate cylinders on the fly. The press has one plate cylinder in use, while the other one is in a waiting position. When the operator presses the button for a complete plate change, the press slows down to make-ready speed and a system lifts the current plate cylinder into a storage position, while the other one slides into printing position. The automatic register control system adjusts the register quickly and the press can ramp up to production speed. Bobst claims that the press has an uptime of 95 percent. After the new plate cylinders are in use, the plate cylinders from the previous job can manually be removed from the press and fitted with plates for the next job. This is a highly productive printing press.

The surprise of the show was the exhibit from Highcon, an Israeli company that has specialized in manufacturing 3D objects with the help of laser-cutting. Its machines can cut up to two-mm thick material. Depending on the machine type, the 3D object can either be manually assembled or the machine can do it for you. On display was a wine-bottle stand that took roughly 30 minutes to cut and assemble out of cardboard.  The displayed wine stand was at least one metre tall. Trying to create the same item with 3D printing would have taking quite a number of hours. Highcon first introduced its technology to the print world at drupa 2012, but its products in 2016 made quite an impact on the visitors at the show.

Key takeaways
Although it is simply impossible to see everything at the drupa there is always an overall trend most visitors get out of the show. For me, the overall trends from this drupa are: Print is alive and coming back strong, the how and when has changed, and digital printing is making strong inroads into the offset print market with increased print speeds and high quality.

It was great to attend drupa again and see where the printing industry is headed. Its landscape will become quite diverse, but it will still be print.

Organizers of Graph Expo 2016, scheduled to run from September 25 to 28 in Orlando, Florida, have released their annual list of Must See 'Ems. Exhibitors of the trade show can enter an unlimited number of products, with a $250 entry fee per product, that are then evaluated across 11 categories by a selection committee. The top vote getter in each category wins the best-of-category Must See 'Ems award.

Listed below, in alphabetical order, are the 2016 MUST SEE 'EMS award winners in each of the 11 categories:

Sales and Order Entry
Infigo Software Ltd., Catfish-Mega Edit
Pixopa Inc., Web-to-Print Solutions
Radix Software Services Pvt. Ltd., Unified-W2P Advanced B2B nConnect

Prepress and Premedia
CGS Publishing Technologies, ORIS Flex Pack // Web Visualizer
Electronics for Imaging, Optitex Collaborate
Ultimate TechnoGraphics Inc., Impostrip Automation v10 AutoNesting
Xerox Corp., Xerox FreeFlow Core version 5.0
Xerox Corp., Xerox FreeFlow Digital Publisher

Colour Management and Quality Control
Canon U.S.A., PRISMAsync Color Print Server - G7 Calibration
Electronics for Imaging, EFIFiery Color Profiler Suite G7 calibration and verification
Lake Image Systems Inc., Discovery Roll Inspector

Variable, Transactional and Multi-Channel
Electronics for Imaging, EFI Digital Marketing Automation Platform
HP Inc., Link Technology
XMPie (Xerox), Campaigns-on-Demand

Pressroom: Analog Presses
RYOBI MHI Graphic Technology, RMGT 920ST-5-A+LED-UV

Pressroom: Digital Presses
Canon U.S.A., Océ VarioPrint i300
Electronics for Imaging, EFI Nozomi C18000
HP Inc., HP Indigo 12000 Digital Press
HP Inc., HP PageWide Web Press T390 HD
MGI USA, Meteor Unlimited Colors Press Series
Xeikon, Trillium One
Xerox Corp., Xerox Brenva HD Production Inkjet Press

Pressroom: Wide-Format
Electronics for Imaging, EFI AquaEndure Inks
Electronics for Imaging, EFI Armor Erase UV Coating
Epson America Inc., Epson SureColor S80600

Postpress and In-line Finishing
C.P. Bourg Inc., Bourg Preparation Module
MGI USA, JET Varnish 3D Evolution
Scodix, Scodix Ultra Pro Digital Print Enhancement Platform with Scodix Foil

Imprinting, Mailing, Shipping and Fulfillment
BCC Software, Integratec API Platform
Neopost USA, MACH 6
Neopost USA, Neopost AS-650
Solimar Systems, Inkjet Mailing and Efficiency Solution

Management Systems
Electronics for Imaging, EFI and Esko integrated workflow for digital packaging
Electronics for Imaging, EFI Corrugated Packaging Suite
HP Inc. - HP PrintOS

The Future of Print
MGI USA , AIS SmartScanner
PrinterPresence, PrinterPresence app for Zapier
Xerox Corp., Xerox Direct to Object Inkjet Printer
Avery Products Canada is providing 7,500 school supply kits to students in under-resourced classrooms across Canada. The campaign, which has already been applied in 20 Canadian schools, is being produced in partnership with The Michael “Pinball” Clemons Foundation (MPCF) and change maker Hannah Alper. Each kit is filled with Avery classroom supplies, such as binders, dividers, hi-liters and kids ID labels.

“Avery Products Canada is pleased to be working with MPCF on this great program to give back to Canadian schools and communities,” said Lynn Livesey, General Manager of Avery Canada. “At Avery we truly believe in caring and supporting each other so this program is a natural extension of what we do every day.”

The campaign is also being driven by social media platforms under the title of #AveryGivesBack, which includes a commitment for further monetary donations from Avery based on video shares. Avery Products Canada is a division of CCL Industries Inc. based in Whitby, Ontario.
Dr. Gerold Linzbach, Chairman of the Management Board of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, will not be seeking the extension of his contract. He informed the company’s board that he aims to pursuenew professional challenges.

Linzbach, age 60, will continue to serve the company until the scheduled end of his contractual term in August 2017, providing the board time to find a suitable replacement.

Linzbach succeeded Bernhard Schreier as Heidelberg’s CEO at the start of 2013. Schreier had led Heidelberg for 13 years.

The Supervisory Board of Heidelberg noted Linzbach’s intensive work and strong dedication in connection with the restructuring of the German press maker. In particular, his efforts have focused on the company’s growing digital, services and packaging segments.
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.”
The next Graphics Canada trade show, taking place from April 6 to 8, 2017, at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., is to host a new feature called intelliPACK, a collaboration between the associations of PAC and CPEIA.

PAC is a not-for-profit corporation that includes over 2,100 members throughout the packaging value chain. Established in 2014, the Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association (CPEIA) focuses on the Canadian printable, flexible and wearable electronics sector and ecosystem.

intelliPACK will be a series of workshops focused on what the collaborators describe as smart packaging systems and printed electronics, including applications for high value-added products like wine and spirits, electronics, food & beverages, luxury, health and beauty, apparel and pharmaceuticals.

The applications will focus on, for example, products that help extend shelf life, monitor freshness, display information, improve safety, security and improve convenience. The workshops will feature brand owners and technology experts sharing their approaches and experiences with intelligent and smart packaging systems.
4over has purchased ASAP Printing Corporation, which will become a subsidiary of the U.S.-based trade printer. This acquisition expands 4over's network to 16 locations in North America.

“ASAP's reputation for excellent service and quality are recognized in the market and will complement the 4over brand and strategy going forward,” said 4over CEO Zarik Megerdichian. “The acquisition also means that we will now have a presence in the southeast and mountain states, strengthening our delivery network more than ever before. We are excited to bring ASAP into the 4over family while continuing to provide unparalleled value to our customers.”

4over describes itself as an industry leader in print order fulfillment for print brokers and industry professionals and as a print provider of more than 40,000 industry professionals.

In additon to planned operation opening in Atlanta, 4over's 16 existing locations across North America include:

Glendale, CA
San Jose, CA
Dayton, OH
Chicago, IL
Moonachie, NJ
Salt Lake City, UT
Raleigh, NC
Arlington, TX
Houston, TX
Miami, FL
Tampa, FL
Phoenix, AZ
Toronto, ON
Seattle, WA
Boston, MA
Washington DC
Memjet and HP Inc. this morning released a short statement that they have reached a global settlement that includes the dismissal of all current actions between the parties and a cross-license. The terms of the settlement are confidential.
“We are pleased to have reached a settlement with HP,” stated Len Lauer, CEO of Memjet. “We will continue to stay focused on creating innovative printing technology that enables our customers to realize optimal speeds, quality and costs.”

In August 2015, Memjet has a patent infringement lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. The lawsuit alleges infringement of eight Memjet patents related to its Waterfall printing technology. Memjet’s lawsuit also claimed it is entitled to recover damages resulting from HP’s use of patented technology in HP's PageWide printer products.

The HP PageWide products using the patented technology, according Memjet, included HP’s Pro X generation of office printers, the T-Series commercial presses, and PageWide XL series products. Memjet also pointed to HP statements around its intention to use PageWide Technology in future wide-format and 3D printers.

Memjet claims to hold several thousand U.S. and foreign patents in the page-wide inkjet printing space.
In January 2016, Torstar confirmed plans to shutter its printing plant in Vaughan, Ont., just outside of Toronto, which will affect 220 full-time employees and 65 part-time staff. Transcontinental Inc. of Montreal had come to an agreement with Torstar to print its Toronto Star daily newspaper for the next five year at Transcontinental’s Vaughan facility.

On July 4, photographer Todd Kroll helped produce a photo essay called, Inside the last days of the Toronto Star's printing plant.

View Kroll's photo essay.

Canada Post late Friday issued a brief statement that it has withdrawn its lockout notice, explaining the move “will allow both parties to focus their efforts on serious negotiations.”

Canada also stated it is prepared to negotiate within a “cooling off period” over the next 30 days to reach a settlement with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). If both parties are unable to successfully conclude negotiations within that period, states Canada Post, both parties must agree to binding arbitration.

Canada Post and CUPW have been in discussions since late 2015, with 60 days of conciliation and almost 30 more days with Federal mediators. The parties, however, remain far apart on key issues, particularly around the pension plan.

Canada Post continues to point to the drop in mail volume as its primary concern over the future of the government corporation, which explains the amount of mail deposited across its network was down more than 80 percent compared with July 8 of last year.

Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, MaryAnn Mihychuk, has asked both Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) to submit to binding arbitration to resolve the current impasse at negotiations.

Canada Post released a statement that it has agreed to voluntarily submit to binding arbitration, thereby, acknowledging it is unlikely that a settlement can be negotiated between the two parties.

As a result Canada Post announced this morning it is extending the current 72-hour lockout notice period to Monday at 12:01 am. The union had not yet confirmed it would voluntarily submit to binding arbitration at the time of Canada Post’s statement.

Canada Post this morning informed the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) that it is issuing a 72-hour lockout notice, creating the possibility of a work stoppage by Friday, July 8, 2016. The lockout would affect 50,000 workers and potentially shutdown Canada’s postal system until a new agreement is reached.

Canada Post also explained this morning that the terms and conditions of the current collective agreements will no longer apply starting this Friday. Employees will continue to receive regular pay and some benefits such as applicable prescription drug coverage. Other items will be cancelled as per Canada's Labour Code, which provides Canada Post with the flexibility to adjust staffing.

“We knew this was their game all along,” stated Mike Palecek, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. “They are sabotaging the public review of the post office. They refused to negotiate fairly with us and now they’re locking the doors and will try to starve us into submission.”

CUPW also points out Canada Post locked postal workers out in 2011 until the Federal Conservative government forced them back to work with legislation that has since been ruled unconstitutional.

The negotiation vitriol has intensified between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in reaction to offers made by both sides over the past few days.

On the evening of July 1, Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) tabled its new Global Offers, six days after Canada Post’s latest offer, for both the urban and RSMC collective agreements.

Under the Canada Labour Code, explains the union, once the parties have obtained the legal right to strike or lockout, no action can occur unless one of the parties has provided 72-hour notice, which has not yet happened (at time of article posting).

A day before tabling its Global Offer, CUPW issued a statement entitled Why Is Canada Post Hiding The Huge Surplus In The Pension Plan? The union points out, as Canada Post spokespeople continue to point to a deficit in the Canada Post Pension Plan, there was a pension surplus for 2015 of $2.7 billion, even as the pension solvency deficit was reduced from $6.8 billion to $6.1 billion.

In reaction to CUPW’s July 1 offer, which included an outline for wage increases for its members, Canada Post stated it is “extremely disappointed” with the offer because it would add $1 billion in new costs to run the postal system, without addressing what the government describes as long-term issues with the employee pension plan.

In its offer, states Canada Post, the union rejected any changes to the pension, more than tripled the government’s proposed wage increases and demanded the immediate reinstatement of changes agreed to in the last round of negotiations in 2012.

CUPW, meanwhile, called Canada Post’s assertion, that the latest union offer would add $1 billion costs, "bogus"; and then cited several examples from past labour negotiations when Canada Post stated union demands would cost $1 billion. The union asserts Canada Post is only interested in headlines instead of further negotiations.

In its July 1 Global Offers, CUPW explains it believes service expansion is one of the best ways to provide new revenues for Canada Post, including a model for seven-day parcel delivery on weekends, mornings and evenings.

Canada Post, however, explains that while its parcel business has been improving in the last few years, the corporation continues to face the impact of a decade of decline in Lettermail, which continues. Last year alone, Canada Post explains it delivered 1.6 billion fewer pieces of mail than it did in 2006.

Canada Post yesterday issued a statement regarding a potential work disruption as labour negotiations between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) continue.  Talks have been ongoing since November 2015 and, while there is still time to reach new agreements, a legal work disruption could occur as early as July 2.

Canada Post explains it will not operate in the event of a labour disruption. Mail and parcels will not be delivered, and no new items will be accepted. Any mail and parcels within Canada's postal system during a work disruption will be secured and delivered once operations resume.

On Saturday, June 25, 2016, Canada Post tabled offers for the separate negotiations under way with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW-Urban and CUPW-RSMC), which represent both delivery and plant employees.

Canada Post explains the new offers do not present any changes to the pension for all current employees and their job security remains unchanged; and that all employees would see an increase in their take-home pay.

Future hires would receive a Defined Contribution pension plan as part of a new, compensation package that aims to address Canada Post’s ongoing pension challenge in the long term.

The new offer presented would allow Canada Post to establish temporary and part-time jobs to deliver parcels on weekends and evenings, which aims to better manage costs, as opposed to the current approach of providing this service while paying double-time.

In addition, Canada Post has included more flexible size specifications for Neighbourhood Mail to respond to requests from businesses and marketers for more options.

Jeff Ekstein, President of Willow Printing Group in Concord, Ontario, has been elected as the new Chair of the Canadian Printing Industries Scholarship Trust Fund (CPISTF), which was initiated in 1971 and has since provided over a million dollars in funding to students pursuing a career in the graphic communications industry.

Ekstein’s appointment comes following the retirement of CPISTF Chair Don Gain, who served in the position for 11 years, and Treasurer Wayne Burroughs. Ekstein has been heavily involved with the Printing Industries of America, Canadian Printing Industries Association (CPIA), and Canadian Printing Industries Sector Council (CPSIC).

Mike Collinge, President of Webcom Inc., has been appointed as Vice Chair of CPISTF and Sean Murray, President of Advocate Printing and Publishing, as Treasurer.

The CPISTF provided $56,000 in scholarships to 35 students in 2015. A total of $38,000 was provided to 23 new students enrolled in the first year of an approved course of study and $18,000 in scholarships was given to 12 students continuing in a program.

At a May 2015 CPISTF meeting of trustees, the board approved to increase the scholarship amount received by each student from $1,250 to $1,500 per year, to help offset the increasing cost of tuition.

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