Headlines
ICON Digital Productions Inc. of Markham, Ont., has acquired controlling interest in Asterisk Media, a Toronto-based creative studio. Asterisk Media will now operate as a division of ICON Digital and will be rebranded as ICON Motion Inc.  They will continue to operate from their current Liberty Village location.

Asterisk specializes in creating video content for multiple platforms. “We started this company after seeing the impact of how digital enabled viewers to have two-way conversations with brands,” said PJ Lee, Founder and President of Asterisk Media, who will serve as President of the newly created ICON Motion division. “We decided to build a company that was nimble and able to produce high-quality, high-frequency content that matched our partners’ content strategies.”

ICON explains the deal will enable it to offer Asterisk’s suite of services such as commercial production and post-production, as well as 360/VR and livestream. “This is an excellent fit with our overall growth strategy to be a multi-faceted visual communications company and is consistent with our company mandate to be ‘All Things Visual’” said Juan Lau, CEO and President of ICON Digital.
 
This is ICON’s second acquisition of 2017, following its February purchase of Toronto Trade Printers (TTP). The ICON group of companies reached $32 million in sales last year prior to the TTP and Asterisk acquisitions. With offices in Toronto, Markham, Montreal and New York City, ICON Digital now operates four divisions with high-end production capabilities for display graphics, digital signage, commercial printing and video production.
Electronics For Imaging Inc. has purchased Escada Systems based in the United Kingdom and with operations in the United States, which develops Corrugator Control systems for the packaging market

EFI has a growing interest in corrugated production, primarily based on its drupa 2016 introduction of the Nozomi C18000 high-speed single-pass LED inkjet press. The company has also developed versions its Fiery DFE, inks, and the EFI Corrugated Packaging Productivity Suite aimed at the sector.

The addition of Escada's technology, providing control and traceability for the corrugation production process, will enable EFI to expand the Productivity Suite’s value to sheet feeders and corrugated box plants. “The addition of Escada makes EFI a one stop shop for enabling packaging companies to improve the quality, efficiency and profitability of the corrugation process, using their existing corrugators,” said Gabriel Matsliach, Senior VP and GM, EFI Productivity Software.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but EFI explains it is not expected to be material to EFI’ss Q4 or full year 2017 results. Escada employees, including founder and former principal Gavin Bushby, have joined EFI's Productivity Software business unit.
AlphaGraphics Inc., a global franchisor of design, printing, marketing and communications businesses, has been purchased by fellow franchisor Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) Worldwide. Following the acquisition, MBE will hold a network of approximately 2,600 locations in 39 countries, including nearly 500 locations in the U.S.

In addition to its own printing operation interests, MBE specializes in third-party logistics, concentrating on shipping, micro and related retail-logistics services. MBE also acquired the U.S.-based PostNet franchise system in April 2017.

AlphaGraphics will continue to operate as an independent company and will retain its current management team, with headquarters remaining in Salt Lake City. “This is an exciting development for the AlphaGraphics franchise system,” said Gay Burke, AlphaGraphics Executive Chair. “Combining forces with MBE Worldwide creates unique opportunities to synergize with colleagues similarly steeped in managing a franchise-based network of entrepreneurs.”
At the upcoming 12th annual Canadian Printing Awards gala, taking place on November 9, 2017, 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 country.

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

The 2017 Industry Achievement Award recipients, determined by PrintAction magazine, include:

John A. Young Lifetime Achievement Award
Bob Cockerill (retired in 2015)
Senior Vice President, SGK Inc.
President & Chief Operating Office, Schawk Canada Inc.
Chairman, PAC - Packaging Consortium
Board Member, IDEAlliance (2010 – 2013)
Board of Governors, Ryerson University (2008 – 2011)

Printing Leader of the Year
Sean Murray
President and CEO, Advocate Group of Companies, Pictou, Nova Scotia
Advocate Printing and Publishing Limited, Advocate Media Inc.

Emerging Leader of the Year
James Rowley
General Manager, Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging, Vancouver, British Columbia

Community Leader of the Year
John Hueston
President, Aylmer Express Graphics Group, Aylmer, Ontario

For more information about the 2017 awards program and gala, please visit Canadianprintingawards.com

Kodak will increase the price of all Kodak offset printing plates globally by up to nine percent. Over the past 12 months, Kodak explains it has been absorbing significant increases in costs for raw materials that are used to produce its offset plates, including: aluminum; chemicals; and packaging materials. The company states the magnitude of the materials cost impact has made it necessary to increase plate prices.

“The printing plates market is both technology-intensive and cost-competitive,” said Brad Kruchten, President, Print Systems Division, Kodak. “As a result, there is no room for us to continue to absorb these escalating raw materials costs without raising our own prices.

“Our approach to implementation will affect our newest and most technically-advanced products the least, while our more mature offerings, which are less efficient and less advanced, will see higher price increases,” he added. “This, in turn, will help drive long-term viability, profitability and sustainability for our printers and our industry partners.”

Plate price increases were previously announced for China in January 2017.
The C.J. Group of Companies has merged with Annan & Sons, both of which are based in Toronto, Ontario. Both Paul and John Annan, along with several of their staff members, are scheduled to join C.J. Graphics in that company’s new Mississauga location at the end of October 2017.

C.J. Group explains Paul and John Annan will be overseeing the management of their division, including production and sales of their current clients. Going forward, John, who served as President of Annan & Sons, will also have a position on C.J.’s management team.

“As we started planning to relocate our production, we recognized C.J. Graphics as a great fit for our customers,” said John Annan. “C.J. Graphics is well known for great quality and service. This merger will allow us to continue to offer these high standards to our customers. C.J. Graphics is also very innovative in new technologies which will give us more products to offer to our clients.”
FASTSIGNS International, operating under a franchising business model, has opened two new centres in Canada in the first half of 2017 and signed four franchise agreements to develop additional new locations in Calgary, Winnipeg, and Oshawa in the coming months.

The company expects to sell a projected six to eight locations in Canada in 2017. Currently, there are 36 locations throughout the country.

“Canada has been and will continue to be a huge growth market for FASTSIGNS, so we're excited about our expansion so far this year,” said Mark Jameson, EVP of Franchise Support and Development, FASTSIGNS International. “There are ample opportunities to strengthen our presence through franchise development in key markets such as continued expansion in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta provinces and planned aggressive growth in Quebec.”

Jameson continued to explain the company is seeking a single unit and a Master or Area Developer for Quebec franchisees to help us grow its footprint across Canada.

FASTSIGNS International was ranked number 1 in the Business Services/Signs category for 2017 and 95 overall in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 ranking.
Kruger Inc. announced a $377.6 million transaction to diversify operations at four Quebec operations, including mills in Brompton and Wayagamack that will focus on specialty niches, such as flexible food packaging, labelling and digital printing.

This project, undertaken in partnership with the Government of Québec, will help to maintain more than 500 jobs in the Mauricie and Estrie regions. The announcement was made in mid-September in the presence of Philippe Couillard, Premier of Québec; Dominique Anglade, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation and Minister responsible for the Digital Strategy; and Joseph Kruger II, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kruger, as well as Ministers Luc Blanchette, Julie Boulet, and Luc Fortin.

Kruger and the Government of Québec have formed a partnership by which Investissement Québec, acting as the government's agent, will grant loans and a loan guarantee totalling $59.8 million and acquire an equity participation of 37.5 percent, or $44.6 million, in the new entity Kruger Specialty Papers Holding L.P. The new entity comprises the assets of the Brompton and Wayagamack Mills, as well as the Biomass Cogeneration Plant adjacent to the Brompton Mill.

To carry out this diversification project, Kruger Specialty Papers Holding L.P. will invest $107.5 million over the next three years to enable the Brompton and Wayagamack Mills to gradually reduce the production of some publication paper products that are in decline, such as newsprint and magazine paper, while accessing new markets that are on the rise around the world. Investments will be distributed as follows:

    Wayagamack Mill: $32.9 million;
    Brompton Mill: $47.5 million;
    Trois-Rivières Mill: $22.3 million; and
    Biomass Cogeneration Plant (Brompton): $4.8 million.

The project’s other benefits, explains Kruger, include an additional 100,000 metric tonnes of wood chips procured annually, which will have a material impact on Québec's sawmill sector.

The Mills' diversification strategy is based on the complementarity of the Company's various operations, which is why the project calls for investments in the Biomass Cogeneration Plant next to the Brompton Mill and in the Thermo-mechanical Pulp Mill at the Trois-Rivières Mill, which will supply the Brompton and Wayagamack Mills with raw material.

The amounts invested will be used to acquire new production equipment, modify existing equipment, make technical improvements to boost productivity, and for various energy efficiency measures.

The new Kruger Specialty Papers entity will supply products that are in high demand due to changing market trends around the world, specifically increased demand for sustainable packaging and the growing popularity of e-commerce. New specialty products include food packaging paper, labelling products (backing paper) and coated paper for digital inkjet web presses to print mass-circulation catalogues and flyers that can be customized for targeted mailings.

By the end of the project, the Brompton Mill will focus exclusively on specialty products and therefore will no longer manufacture 200,000 metric tonnes of newsprint annually.

The specialty papers developed by Kruger will offer several competitive advantages, including the use of cellulose filaments (CF). This new-generation biomaterial is Kruger's proprietary strengthening additive that is manufactured at the world's first CF plant built by Kruger in Trois-Rivières in 2014. Tests conducted by the company have shown that adding CF helps to make products stronger, lighter and more sustainable.
Bassett Direct has moved to the Toronto Print Campus of St. Joseph Communications’ Print Group located in Concord, Ontario. St. Joseph in late-2016 acquired Bassett Direct, which has long served as one of Canada’s most advanced providers of direct marketing services and variable printing programs.

The Bassett team, along with its fleet of digital-printing equipment, has been relocated to the 150,000-square-foot Print Campus facility. The company explains the move will allow St. Joseph Communications’ Print Group and Bassett Direct’s customers to take advantage of a range of new and expanded capabilities, including advanced direct mail and print-related services all under one roof.

St. Joseph continued to explain acquisition of Bassett fits its vision to become the supplier of choice for brands and retailers requiring multi-channel content and graphic solutions.

“St. Joseph’s acquisition of Bassett Direct provides a major growth opportunity for both our businesses and extended services for our clients,” said Rich Bassett, Vice-President, Direct Mail. “With the stability and backing of one of the Canada’s leading commercial communications companies, Bassett Direct’s customers will benefit from improved products, services and innovation and likewise the services we bring to St. Joseph will enable us to deliver one of the broadest and most unique skill-sets of any printer in Canada.”
The emergence of enhancement and embellishment technologies are generating new possibilities for print to capture the attention of marketers and higher margins for commercial operations.

InfoTrends estimates approximately 30 percent of the total colour pages printed in North America and Western Europe, or nearly 1.8 trillion pages, currently receive some form of special effects enhancements or embellishments. These statistics are pulled from a 2016 report called Beyond CMYK: The Digital Print Enhancement Opportunity, coauthored by Jim Hamilton, Group Director of InfoTrends, who explains this relates to a range of value-add special effects like spot or flood coatings, adding a Pantone colour, metallic inks, opaque whites, fluorescents, security features or any number of CMYK+ features.

The vast majority of these 1.8 trillion enhanced pages are printed offset and finished with conventional methods. In fact, the report found that 46 percent of enhanced offset printed material requires two or more enhancements. There has been recent growth in digitally printed pages receiving enhancements because most toner-press makers now provide a fifth station for inline treatments, but Hamilton estimates this is applied to less than 10 percent of all digital pages and less than three percent of total production colour digital pages receive special effects.

Hamilton also points to the recent uptake in offline digital enhancement systems introduced from companies like Scodix, Konica Minolta (MGI), Duplo and Steinemann to apply spot gloss, dimensional, foil and other effects. Beyond CMYK estimates, however, the digital print enhancement market (both inline and offline) only amounts to about nine billion pages annually. “That may seem like a lot, but it’s just a tiny sliver compared to the total 1.8 trillion print-enhanced colour pages produced each year,” Hamilton explains. “The conclusion is pretty clear. There is a significant growth opportunity for digital print enhancement processes.”

The opportunity in digital enhancement outlined by Hamilton helps to describe two of the three strategic pillars leading the development and commercialization of Scodix technology. Founded in 2007 by Eli Grinberg and Kobi Bar, Israel-based Scodix introduced its first digital enhancement system in 2010 and then caught the attention of the printing world at drupa 2012 for its unique application of polymers to enhance print – both offset and digital pages. Today, these polymers can be used in nine different or combined enhancement applications on three system platforms including the Scodix S, Scodix Ultra and the recently introduced 41-inch Scodix E106.

The Value Category, as described in large part by Beyond CMYK’s research focus, was Scodix’ initial push to the market in 2012 based on the ability to apply spot textures on a page through what are now branded as Sense polymers. Scodix’ introduction of a digital foil enhancement module in late-2015 supported its existing value-add approach, but also introduced a Cost Replacement Category of commercialization for the system maker. The third strategic pillar is referred to by Scodix as the Dream Category, which relates to a printer’s ability to attract completely new work based on enhancing pages.

Cost replacement foil
Scodix’ value and dream categories are often hard to quantify because numbers will shift based on the type of application being produced, run length and a printer’s sales ability to create a demand for enhanced pages. Cost replacement, however, provides printers with solid numbers in their application of digital foil relative to the costs of insourcing or outsourcing such analogue work.

“Scodix is building a story about how they have grown and it is closely linked to the availability of what we call digital foil,” says Christian Knapp, owner of Toronto-based CMD Insight, who serves as the Canadian agent for Scodix. He has worked with Scodix for the past two years and been involved with almost half of the 11 Scodix installations in Canada, with a twelfth nearing completion. “[Texture] is very interesting but somewhat limited in its application and adoption by the market. Once Scodix brought out digital foil they opened up the parameters completely… and they experienced substantial growth simply because the market realizes digital foil fits the cost replacement model and that is what most commercial, and in fact other, printers are going for.”

Approximately 150 Scodix systems were sold during drupa 2016. There are around 50 Scodix installations currently in North America and now more than 250 worldwide. Knapp believes the technology has moved past the early adopter stage, when printers were initially intrigued by texture, into an early majority phase. “Any return on investment calculations for a commercial printer require, on the one hand, to reduce costs in their business and, on the other hand, offer new technology. And digital foil together with texture, what we call Sense printing, gives us that ability,”

Knapp says, relating to the set-up time of traditional hot and cold foiling methods suitable only for long runs, and the direct costs of outsourcing. The ability to apply digital foil naturally fits with the digitalization of prepress and presses, as most commercial printers today face a higher number of daily print-work transactions.

“Once you go from that product life cycle early adopter to early majority, people are starting to look at that in much more detail,” Knapp says. “Now the calculators come out and people need to justify their investments and let’s face it these machines are not inexpensive.”

Knapp explains a base Scodix Ultra system, onto which modules can be added, sells for approximately US$600,000 and the foiling unit is around US$150,000, resulting most often in a machine set up for around US$750,000 all in. “In calculations for customers, I have been able to justify the investment on the foiling unit alone within less than 12 months,” he says, noting the ROI on many full systems can be done in the range of 24 to 28 months. “That is fairly aggressive for a product that is not a small investment.”

Value and profit
In addition to the cost replacement models that help drive Scodix ROI calculations, Knapp also points to the value-add category where printers can simply charge more for print work when it is enhanced. He explains that traditional coating is actually more of an enabling technology relative to true page enhancements applied through systems like those built by Scodix. “Coating enables you to participate in the market, but you cannot really add that much value. Because at that level there is a market price that is highly fought over and there are lot of competitors in this segment,” Knapp explains. It is rare for an offset press to be sold today without a coating unit and coating holds as much customer expectation as sharp CMYK work, as much as service provides client loyalty but not necessarily a premium price.

When discussing value-add, Knapp is directly referring to profit contribution for a printer based on page enhancements. He provides the example of a printing company that generates $10 million turnover, which is a suitable revenue number for Canada’s majority of small- to mid-sized printers. “If you are a good printer, well regarded, and have high productivity, you might make five percent margin so there is $500,000 on a $10 million turnover,” he explains. “Now take the Top 10 percent of your customers and convert that with value-added processes such as Scodix digital foil and digital embossing. For that $1 million, if your profit number is now, to simplify things, 50 percent, you are making $500,000 profit on that volume.”

Knapp explains by maintaining the remaining $9 million of turnover at five percent margin, which is about $450,000 profit, and adding the Scodix profit from VIP clients, a printer might generate around $950,000 for the same $10 million business turnover. “In that example, if you wanted to make $950,000 profit on a five percent margin for a conventional business you would have to produce about $19 million in sales. We all know how difficult it is to grow a commercial print business from $10 million to $19 million.”

The example of achieving 50 percent margin on Scodix print work would certainly need to be adjusted depending on how it is being applied and for what select clients. A high margin figure, however, is not unrealistic for enhanced print. “Special effects printing can be a profitable endeavour,” wrote Hamilton, based on the Beyond CMYK report. “According to InfoTrends’ research, print buyers will pay premiums in the range of 24 to 89 percent for digital print enhancements over CMYK-only work. Interestingly, many buyers expressed a willingness to pay a higher premium for special effects than printers believed they would pay.”

Knapp points to three third-party studies that suggest a premium margin for enhanced print comes in at anywhere from five to 40 percent. These studies, however, focus on a range of enhancements including lower-value coatings and not exclusively Scodix-level work.

Power of vision and touch
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) conducted an experiment in which the end user price sensitivity was tested in respect to tactile print enhancement. The researchers concluded that price increases are possible by adding soft-touch tactile features to packaging whereby brands could raise prices to end-users by up to five percent.

The British Royal Mail looked at measuring user interaction with direct mail back in February 2015 in a survey called Private Life of Mail, which included looking at the effects of tactile printing on a reader’s emotional responses. The study states: “Behavioural marketing experts, Decode, scanned recent academic literature for us to see what had been discovered about the importance of touch in human psychology. They demonstrated that there are strong reasons why getting consumers to engage physically with a brand is likely to have a strong effect on them. Multi-sensory stimulation seems to alter the way the brain processes messages – often making processing quicker, which is key for driving emotional response to messages or brands.” The Royal Mail’s study found that a sense of ownership over a printed item derived from sight and touch translates into a 24 percent increase in value.

Earlier this year, Canada Post – through True Impact Marketing – produced its own study called A Bias For Action that used brain imaging and eye-tracking technologies to see into the brains of people interacting with physical (direct mail) and digital (email, display) advertising media. The researchers developed two integrated campaigns featuring mock brands, applying the same creative and messaging across both physical and digital media formats. The 270 participants were later given memory tests to assess their recall of branded material.

True Impact Marketing found that it takes 21 percent less thought to process direct mail over digital messaging, and that the paper product creates a 70 percent higher brand recall – that our brains process paper media quicker than digital media. Researchers found the motivation response created by direct mail is 20 percent higher and even better if it appeals to more senses like vision and touch.  “Physical fills a much-needed, and very human, sensory deficit in the virtual world, where we spend most of our time these days...The most important renaissance in advertising has gone largely unnoticed,” wrote Deepak Chopra, CEO of Canada Post, in a guest column for The Globe and Mail about the study.

Research by the Foil & Specialty Effects Association in 2013, in a study called Results of Impact of High Visibility Enhancements, concludes that there are overwhelming responses for what it calls First Fixation of foil stamped packaging. The authors explain, “The ability of a product to attract the shopper’s visual attention has a strong influence on a consumer’s decision to purchase.” The study found that foil can increase sales prices by 10 to 40 percent depending on the end product.

“We have a number of instances where people are charging $30 for 500 business cards, for example,” says Knapp. “Business cards are a dead giveaway market for this type of technology, compared to maybe only $10 for a conventional, standard CMYK business card.” He explains Scodix is currently focused on five target markets where it can add value: Commercial print, Web-to-print (such as business cards), folding-carton convertors (based on the introduction of the 41-inch Scodix E106), book publishing and photo-books.

The cost of polymer, explains Knapp, is always a point of discussion with printers when doing ROI calculations, especially as it relates to value-add, but he does not see it as a significant factor. “We encourage them to not put down too much polymer, because you will then lose the uniqueness, the ability to make this page standout,” he says. Knapp explains the worldwide average of Scodix polymer usage per page on a B2 sheet, 28 x 30 inches, is somewhere in the range of seven percent. “That is fairly low and the cost for a page produced like this is then in the range of 12 to 15 cents U.S. So that is actually not that much, especially if you can sell every one of those pages for a dollar or more, $5 – it depends on the application.”

Dream polymers
The third pillar of commercialization for Scodix, beyond value and cost-replacement, is referred to by the company as the dream category, based on a printer’s ability to increase sales outside of existing product offerings and clients. “It doesn’t fly very well in the hard-nosed business world of commercial printers,” says Knapp, who began his printing career by spending more than two decades selling offset technologies. “We mention it to people because we know this happens, but in a return on investment calculation it is very difficult to quantify.”

It is logical, however, that opening up VIP clients to enhanced print with texture and foil can help attract more of their offset or digital printing work, while at the same time provide a route into new accounts through differentiation. This is also fuelled by the development approach of Scodix based on the fact that most of its research effort is put toward polymers to expand beyond its current nine applications, which are branded as Sense (texture), Foil, Foil on Foil, Spot, Metallic, Glitter, VDP/VDE, Braille, Crystals and Cast&Cure.

Knapp explains Scodix views itself as chemical company more so than just a hardware company, focusing on engineering machine platforms to leverage new polymers and applications. “The future may well have polymers with a specific light frequency that reacts or they may taste or smell,” he says. “There are so many markets where a unique polymer or application would have great benefits. Think of security, foods, packaging in general. There are lots of applications that this technology will go to in the future.”

The polymers are a major differentiator for Scodix in the market relative to traditional inks and coatings, as well as the growth in new electrostatic inks for fifth and sixth imaging units. Knapp explains, “Scodix always determines the ideal and right polymer for the print job. Its modular [system] philosophy is application specific to what the end user needs and it is a very open R&D-centric company.”

Knapp continues to explain the use of polymers also provides an advantage for the vast majority of commercial printers who produce work-and-turn jobs, because Scodix jobs can be processed quickly with efficient drying. He also points to Scodix’ machine build, weighing around 9,500 pounds, and the registration accuracy of the systems as advantages.

“The underlying theme for Scodix, has always been to make printers more profitable,” says Knapp. “That is how I see their differentiation. I can talk technical Olympics for hours if that is what we need to do, but in the end it really comes down to providing tools for printers to be successful.”
More than 700 people from around world on September 21 gathered at the Vogel Convention Center in Würzburg, Germany, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Koenig & Bauer. The world’s second largest printing press manufacturer began its third century by introducing a new branding position to its guests.

A day before its jubilee celebration on Thursday evening, CEO Claus Bolza-Schünemann unveiled the new brand to a group of 60 journalists who then toured the company’s Würzburg manufacturing facility. Bolza-Schünemann explained the brand KBA, which was introduced in 1990 after the takeover of Albert-Frankenthal AG, is reverting to the original brand of Koenig & Bauer – the surnames of its founders. This brand position includes a new logo and product design.

“Koenig & Bauer AG today has 33 subsidiaries. Twelve of them produce their own products for their own customers. We see the company anniversary as an ideal time to place all activities of the Group, from classic printing to digital printing, including prepress and post-press and top service, under a strong common roof again,” said Bolza-Schüneman. “The relaunch is intended to strengthen the employee’s pride in the history of the company and the pride of new employees, who have joined the Group through acquisitions, in the common brand Koenig & Bauer, and to allow old and new customers to feel the strength of this traditional brand even more, with a modern appearance and product design.”

The company also takes on a new moniker, “We're on it” to describe its position in the market. The ampersand between the surnames of the founders of the company was chosen as the short form of the brand name Koenig & Bauer, designed in the new company font, for promotional activities.

The new product design, which was on display on some of the company’s demonstration and testing presses in the Würzburg facility, is to be implemented immediately for new products, and successively up until drupa 2020 for all other product families of the Koenig & Bauer Group. Koenig & Bauer explains its company colour blue becomes warmer and more accentuated, while its use is reduced, with the use of new dark and light shades of grey.
Ricoh Japan is replacing some traditional metal tooling with lightweight 3D printed jigs and fixtures for its Production Technology Center assembly line dedicated to large-format printers. The assembly line is located in the northeast branch of Ricoh Industries in Miyagi prefecture, Japan.

Ricoh is specifically assembling an electronic component using a 3D printed fixture produced in anti-static ABS plastic on the Stratasys Fortus 900mc production 3D printer. By producing the 3D tools, Ricoh is able to produce each tool according to the part geometry while reducing the tool’s weight. This has enabled Ricoh to improve its manufacturing process in which an operator typically handles more than 200 parts a day.

“Because we are producing an enormous number of parts, it takes a lot of time and effort to identify the right jigs and fixtures for each one. This manual process has become even lengthier as the number of components grows, requiring that an operator examine the shape, orientation and angle of each part before taking out a tool and placing it back in its original fixture,” said Taizo Sakaki, Senior Manager of Business Development at Ricoh Group. “The operators were occasionally annoyed with the many different tools, and we were looking for a way to accelerate tooling to match our manufacturing schedule.

“Now with Stratasys 3D printing, we are able to customize the tools according to the part and produce them on demand,” continued Sakaki, “which is helping us restructure and modernize our production process.”

Ricoh explains it will typically outsource machine cut tools that could take two weeks or more. Now, Ricoh’s operators can determine the shape and geometry of a fixture that corresponds to its associated part through 3D CAD software and 3D print it in one day.

“The Stratasys Fortus 900mc 3D printing solution enables us to realize designs that are difficult for conventional cutting methods to replicate, such as hollow interiors, curves or complex shapes. The material used to 3D print the tools is very strong and anti-static which is important due to the large number of electronic components we are assembling, adding to the advantages of Stratasys 3D printing,” explained Sakaki.

Stratasys is a global player in applied additive technologies for industries. For nearly 30 years, the company has 200 granted and pending additive technology patents to date.

“Ricoh illustrates perfectly how manufacturing aids 3D printed with Stratasys additive technology empower manufacturers to increase their efficiency and flexibility while ultimately becoming more competitive,” said Omer Krieger, President of Stratasys Asia Pacific & Japan. “Customized 3D printed jigs and fixtures can play an important role in enabling companies to get products to market faster and are a great example of how Stratasys applies purposeful innovation to manufacturers’ goals and aspirations. Whenever you can reduce a process from weeks to days – that is a solution worth exploring.”
Lightning Source LLC, part of the Ingram Content Group, signed a deal to deploy 24 HP PageWide Web Presses to serve its publishing clients. The agreement makes HP its preferred inkjet press provider through 2024, to be delivered at five sites across three continents, focusing on PageWide T240 HD colour and mono presses. With services and supplies, the multi-million dollar deal over seven years is the largest ever for HP’s graphics business.
 
“This incredible deal shows that the momentum behind the renaissance in digital printing is not only continuing – it’s accelerating. Last month we announced a 5-year deal with Shutterfly, the leading manufacturer and digital retailer of high-quality personalized products and services, and today we’re announcing a 7-year deal with a leader in the content distribution space,” said Enrique Lores, President, Imaging & Printing Business, HP Inc. “Our collaboration will enable Lightning Source to deliver higher-quality digital printing for their customers at the next level of scale, productivity, and efficiency.”

HP explains its PageWide customers are currently printing 5.5 billion pages in aggregate every month. Year-over-year customer page growth in 2017 was over 15 percent. HP PageWide customers have printed a total of 250 billion pages worldwide since inception.
 
Ingram’s services include digital and physical book distribution, print on demand, and digital learning. Ingram Content Group is a part of Ingram Industries Inc. and includes Ingram Book Group LLC, Ingram Publisher Services LLC, Lightning Source LLC, VitalSource Technologies LLC, Verba Software LLC, Ingram Library Services LLC, and Tennessee Book Company LLC.
Messagepoint Inc. of Toronto, Ontario, which provides software and services within the Customer Communications Management (CCM) market, has been named for the second consecutive year to the PROFIT 500, a ranking of Canada’s fastest-growing companies.

The PROFIT 500 ranks Canadian businesses by their five-year revenue growth. Messagepoint ranked 314 on the list, with a five-year revenue growth rate of 185 percent. The ranking is an increase over last year, when the company, then named Prinova, ranked No. 347.
 
“It is never easy to earn a spot on the PROFIT 500, but this year’s applicant pool was the most competitive yet,” said Deborah Aarts, PROFIT 500 program manager. “This year’s winners demonstrate the resilience, innovation and sheer management smarts it takes to build a thriving business today. Canada – and the world – needs more entrepreneurial success stories like these.”
 
The company explains its growth is driven by Messagepoint, a hybrid-cloud software platform for omnichannel customer communications. Enterprises across a range of industries, such as insurance, financial services and healthcare, use Messagepoint for customer-facing print and digital communications. Messagepoint received the 2016 CODiE Award for Best Multichannel Publishing Platform and was a finalist in the 2016-2017 Cloud Awards.
Nustream Group becomes a new distributor for Flexa in Canada. Founded 25 years ago, Flexa develops short-run finishing technologies particularly for small and wide format digital printing, signage, 3D pins and labels, Plexiglas and polycarbonate objects, and thermal transfer on fabrics.

Flexa’s product range includes hot and cold laminators, automatic, electric and manual cutters, roll-slitters, pneumatic and manual eyelet machines and different accessories for the visual communication.

“This collaboration will help to strengthen the sales of our company in this big country and creating new business opportunities,” said Andrea Sottana, Flexa, Sales Director.

Nustream focuses on providing the technologies for commercial, label and packaging, photographic and art reproduction printers.

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