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At the London Book Fair on April 11, HP introduced its Piazza book printing service, which the company describes as a set of independent and interlocking cloud-based book manufacturing and distribution services for publishers. HP explains Piazza allows publishers to build a virtual warehouse for the management, automation, distribution, print, and direct fulfillment of book orders, while holding zero inventory.
FPInnovations, a not-for-profit organization that supports Canadian forest sectors, welcomed the Quebec government's latest economic plan, économique du Québec, which provides for an additional $6.5 million in forest-sector workforce training. The organization said the move helps Quebec's hardwood forests, and particularly in southern Quebec.
The Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC) reached an innovation milestone receiving its 2,500th U.S. patent, entitled Silver Nanoparticle-Sulfonated Polyester Composite Powders and Methods of Making the Same. The patent, according to XRCC, reinforces its global position in advanced materials research and development.
Print Digital Solutions (PDS) on May 4, 2018, is holding a daylong open house to showcase new printing systems that it distributes in the market.


The open house event, taking place at the company’s Scarborough location, is scheduled to run from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and will feature newer systems like the Duplo DFL-500 3, which provides laminating, foil and dry coat with formulated film that is melted onto the sheet. The system’s foil capabilities leverage what Duplo describes as unique adhesive rollers that stick to the toner. It targets applications like book covers, business cards, postcards direct mailers and brochures.



Also on display will be the OKI 942, a 5-colour with white toner print engine. PDS will also be showing new digital garment printers from OKI, model 8432 CMY + White, and model 6410 with neon. Both of these printers can be matched up with the HIX Heat press line.

PDS, in addition to its distribution agreements with MBM and Mutoh, will also be highlighting a range of systems from Multigraf, which develops one-pass slit, cut, crease and fold technology.
Webcom Inc. of Toronto signed an agreement to acquire York Bookbinders, a 34-year-old business specializing in hardcover book-bindery services. The deal is expected to close on April 27, 2018, and will add 7.5-million hardcover books per year to Webcom's manufacturing capacity.

The acquisition also boosts Webcom’s digital book manufacturing investments, which the company pegs at $30 million over the past few years. Webcom explains the purchase reconfirms its commitment to meet a growing publisher demand for unique casebinding capabilities.

This is Webcom’s second expansion of its casebinding services in 2018, following the recent investment in digital casebinding systems from GP2 Technologies.

“The integration of York Bookbinders into Webcom’s Toronto manufacturing facility significantly improves Webcom’s capacity to support book publishers with cost competitive, responsive service for hardcover books in quantities ranging from book of one to thousands of copies,” said Mike Collinge, President and CEO of Webcom. “This acquisition will augment Webcom’s current POD, ASR, digital inkjet and softcover production capabilities supporting Canadian and global book publishers with an efficient, full-service North American book manufacturing and distribution hub.”

New capabilities allow Webcom to meet the high-quality standards for NASTA-compliant educational titles, library bookbinding and a range of elaborate casebound book formats. Webcom explains the addition of York Bookbinders’ skilled hardcover book operators, customer base and modern binding equipment aligns with its goal of full service manufacturing support of global and mid-size publisher needs.  
 
“York Bookbinders’ current customer base of Canadian trade printers, brokers and agencies mirrors Webcom’s Coatings Canada division customer base,” said Collinge, “It is an opportunity to improve our competitiveness and create compelling product offerings for our trade customers by combining coating finishing and bindery services.”

The management of both companies is developing a 6-month transition plan to consolidate equipment and operations at Webcom’s plant.
At Dscoop Dallas 2018, HP unveiled the PrintOS Marketplace, described by the company as a new solutions community for the HP PrintOS cloud-based print production operating system. Designed to provide tools for printers using HP technologies, Marketplace will offer production and design tools and services from both HP and third parties.

Opening this summer, Marketplace will be open to any vendor to offer subscription-based apps for PrintOS members that help HP customers automate production, expand offerings and grow business. Today, PrintOS has 5,400 printing providers subscribed to the system, including owners of HP Indigo, HP PageWide Industrial and HP Scitex presses.

“Our partners have innovative solutions. The PrintOS Marketplace will serve as a platform to spread the innovation and will help customers to adapt faster to the changing print market,” said Alon Bar-Shany, General Manager, HP Indigo, HP Inc.

OneFlow System Systems and HYBRID Software are the first two partners enrolled in the PrintOS Marketplace. Pre-release versions of their app solutions were demonstrated in the HP Dscoop showcase.

OneFlow’s AutoFlow solution automates manual prepress operations including artwork fetching, checking, fixing and manipulation. HYBRID Software’s PACKZilizer is a cloud-based application to prepare packaging files for production.

Additionally, some 20 HP solutions partners have already integrated their solutions with PrintOS.
Asia Pulp & Paper opens up its Indah Kiat Perawang mill to illustrate five years of work to become a progressive paper producer with interests rooted in its concession communities


For a pictorial report of APP Indonesia, visit PrintAction's February 2017 article, A Look Inside Asia Pulp & Paper.

Asia Pulp & Paper in February 2018 reached the five-year anniversary of its seminal Forest Conservation Policy, which set into motion a series of massive and aggressive initiatives to transform one of the world’s largest integrated pulp and paper corporations. Its decision to place sustainability at the heart of its operations was actually formalized a year earlier in its Sustainability Roadmap Vision 2020, when Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) committed to zero deforestation. This commitment was then formalized in the Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) based on APP developing a plantation-driven business model and putting an immediate end to sourcing pulpwood materials from suppliers involved with natural forest clearance.

Today, all 38 of its external wood suppliers are evaluated for FCP compliance and the company explains, that outside of two minor breaches that were quickly resolved, it has maintained its FCP commitments. “Five years ago we turned our company around and it has been a good story of change,” says Ian Lifshitz, VP of Sustainability & Stakeholder Relations, Americas, APP. “We have really seen a shift in our organization in the way we approach the community, forest conservation and zero deforestation. The key thing is five years later the FCP is holding. We have not broken our policy. We continue to maintain and evolve.”

FCP commitments are rigorously reviewed every six months at an APP-hosted forum with environmental stakeholders like Greenpeace, which years earlier targeted APP’s practices through highly public campaigns. Greenpeace and similar NGO stakeholders, as well as government agencies, engaged in the FCP process are now commending APP for its progress and work on the ground, which has since moved well beyond forestry protection into a holistic approach to help develop prosperity for Indonesia.

Opportunities of the forest
According to 2017 numbers provided by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, 27.8 million Indonesians live in poverty and 36.7 percent, or 10.2 million people in the country, are below the poverty line in rural areas where forestry and/or agriculture are the main source of economic livelihood. Indonesia’s forest area comprises 126.1 million hectares, equivalent to 66.9 percent of the country’s total landmass. Some 1.3 million jobs – directly and indirectly – are created by the pulp and paper industry.

“It is important for us to put our industry in the context of the most critical issue facing Indonesia today, which is poverty,” says Veronika Renyaan, Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement, APP Indonesia. She explains APP now invests more than $13 million annually in community development programs, including the company’s unique Integrated Forestry and Farming System introduced in 2015 with its own investment budget of $10 million until 2020.

Under Indonesian regulations every forest concession holder must set aside 20 percent of the land for community use and 10 percent for conservation. APP is currently operating beyond these marks providing 22 percent of its concessions for community use and 21 percent for conservation, with the remaining 57 percent being used as plantation forest. The Integrated Forestry and Farming System (IFFS) is a key driver of these percentages in APP’s effort to support the economic development of 500 villages in landscapes surrounding its concessions.

“There are 180 villages within our concessions, but we also map out villages outside of our concession areas to a radius of 10 kilometres,” says Neglasari Martini, Head of Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement, APP, noting this accounts for 799 villages, which may hold anywhere from around 100 people to larger size communities of more than 1,000.

Martini explains the 500 chosen villages are based first on the approximate 200 touching APP’s concessions and the other 300 are based on social mapping, in terms of location, land conflicts and potential threats to APP’s forest concessions, which constantly face illegal logging and the potential for third-party fires being started in, or crossing over into, its concessions.

“Fire is a very complex issue in Indonesia… often it is because of land disputes. People may want to claim land so they burn it and then plant palm oil. It is very complex to pinpoint,” explains Martini. APP has invested more than $103 million since 2015 on forest fire management. It began working with British Columbia’s TREK Wildland Services and Working on Fire from South Africa to help train its fire teams, build fire towers and to establish better hotspot detection for real-time monitoring, understanding this is a critical issue for APP’s efforts to work with communities.

Before the IFFS program begins within a community, a business plan must be put together to understand how the land will be used, which typically involves planting vegetables or fruit, managing cows, or developing more schooling or housing. The program also requires the establishment of a village institution to manage the money within a cooperative model.

“It is like micro-financing and they need an evolving fund, so some of their profit returns to the institutions for the other villagers to use the money,” says Martini.
This approach not only improves farming yields and the development of more skills and services for the village as a whole, it also provides forest protection and conservation. A facilitator is based in the village to help implement the program.

“The HR manager [from APP’s Indah Kiat Perawang mill] runs a farming community program,” says Lifshitz, “so there is crossover from employees at the mill who actually work on the program, directly impacting them.”

Perawang pulp and paper
The Indah Kiat Perawang mill is enormous covering a square footage area of more than 2,400 hectares, holding nine paper machines, four pulp lines and six large-size tissue lines in addition to smaller machines. When last checked, more than 40 kilometres of pipe – often of large diametre – is used to feed and relieve the mill’s operations. One of the mill’s current capital investment projects focuses on updating its power cycle, which has an install capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

The project will also help power local communities, which is an existing APP initiative. “Sometimes the government power supply is not enough and we always have spare capacity that we can sell,” says Sufianto Alfian, Head of BU Commodity Division at Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper Perawang. “But we are not making profit from it, rather creating a good relationship with the community.”

The Perawang mill has a pulp capacity of around 8,000 metric tonnes per day, about 50 percent of which is used for paper production, with its own output of 3,000 to 4,000 metric tonnes per day. This equates to anywhere from 100,000 to 120,000 metric tonnes of paper produced per month. The mill’s Paper Machine 3 (PM3), as an example, has a target running speed of 1,350 metres per minute and an average uptime operating efficiency of between 85 and 90 percent. PM3 typically runs 24/7 for about 40 days before shutting down for a day of maintenance. It takes about one hour for PM3 to produce what the team refers to as a jumbo roll – 50 tonnes – and around 1,200 tonnes per day.

Hinting at the scale of Perawang’s vertical integration, which includes a new Bielomatik-driven converting plant, its pulp production is fueled by around 50 percent of APP’s wood supply (creating black liquor), with the other half converted into usable fibre. Alfian explains, “The integration is quite extensive here, from the seedlings that turn into fibre production and even the final products going to customers – all of it from seeds.”

APP started its forestry research program at Perawang in 1990, which was then replicated in Jambi province in 1995, followed by three other regional research centres in 2005. The company develops Eucalyptus and Acacia for its commercial plantations. “We need to find the best quality of wood to fulfill the needs of our mill,” says Yodim Kusuma, who leads Seed Development, in the Perawang mill’s research facility.

The company’s research facilities face more pressure since the beginning of FCP and its zero deforestation pillar, as APP must focus more on growth and yield assessments to determine if there will be enough wood supply for its mills. Its first projections done in 2013, to the year 2020, identified a small gap in 2019, but it will be easily overcome with improvements in yield and other operational efficiencies. Updated projections in 2015, looking toward 2025, also indicate there will be enough wood supply in APP’s plantation model.

Previously, APP harvested its trees in eight-year cycles at the high end, but the work of the research team allows for harvesting more often after just five years. “Only after five years will the eucalyptus properties meet the criteria of the mill, because they have wood density, the hardness of the wood, and also cellulose content and lignin content criteria,” explains Kusuma. “After two years, the wood is not hard enough so the wood consumption is still low. But after five to eight years, it will be too hard and it will be difficult for the wood-chipping process.”

Using a spacing of three by two metres, Kusuma explains the company can grow 1,666 trees per hectare, which creates an ultimate yield target of 225 cubic metres per hectare. The operation is currently hitting 150 cubic metres per hectare, with a survival rate of between 70 and 80 percent. Perawang’s research team continues to work with Eucalyptus hybrid clones – without DNA manipulation as regulated by the government – to develop what it describes as plus trees.

“When we find a plus tree, we will multiple it on a large scale,” says Kusuma. “For Eucalyptus, we can produce by cutting, but for Acacia we use seeds because we have not optimized our cutting production for Acacia.” The Eucalyptus clones are created from cuttings after about three months of various quality control and fertilization stages in the lab. They are then placed in the nursery and ultimately back into the plantation to restart tree growth for the future.

For a pictorial report of APP Indonesia, visit PrintAction's February 2017 article, A Look Inside Asia Pulp & Paper.
On April 3, 2018, students of Ryerson University’s School of Graphic Communications Management will host the program’s annual GCM Colloquium at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens) in Toronto. This year’s GCM Colloquium includes a Business Plan Expo component, creating a larger networking event for GCM students and members of Canada’s printing industry. 


Transcontinental Inc. this morning announced an agreement to acquire Coveris Americas for C$1.72 billion, subject to customary closing adjustments, in the Montreal company’s continuing push to become a North American leader in flexible packaging. Coveris Americas is a business held by Coveris Holdings S.A., a portfolio company of Sun Capital Partners.

The acquisition, which remains subject to closing conditions and receipt of applicable antitrust approvals, has been approved by the boards of directors of both TC Transcontinental and Coveris Americas. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the third quarter of TC Transcontinental’s fiscal year 2018.

Since entering the market in 2014, this is TC Transcontinental’s seventh flexible packaging acquisition,  including its March 2018 purchase of Multifilm Packaging Corporation.

Coveris Americas, explains Transcontinental, is one of the Top 10 converters of flexible packaging and other value-added products in North America based on revenues for its fiscal year ended December 31, 2017. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Coveris Americas manufactures a variety of flexible plastic and paper products, including rollstock, bags and pouches, coextruded films, shrink films, coated substrates and labels.

As of December 31, 2017, Coveris Americas operated 21 production facilities worldwide, primarily in the Americas, the United Kingdom and Australasia. Coveris Americas has over 3,100 employees, the majority of whom are located in the Americas. For its fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, Coveris Americas generated US$966 million in revenues and US$128 million in Adjusted EBITDA.

“Today’s announcement marks a turning point in TC Transcontinental’s 42-year history. This transaction crystallizes our strategic shift toward flexible packaging and solidifies our commitment to profitable growth,” said Isabelle Marcoux, Chair of the Board, Transcontinental. “We are convinced that this transformational acquisition will be a driver in the creation of long-term value for all of our stakeholders. It is with pride that we begin the next chapter of our successful journey with Coveris Americas, its employees and customers, building on our values of respect, teamwork, performance and innovation.”

Based on Coveris Americas’ financial results for its fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, and on TC Transcontinental's financial results for its fiscal year ended October 29, 2017, the pro forma consolidated revenues and Adjusted EBITDA for the combined entity for fiscal 2017 are estimated at C$3.3 billion and C$564 million, respectively, with flexible packaging accounting for approximately 48 percent of total revenues.

“We are thrilled to announce such a game-changing transaction for TC Transcontinental and to bring our vision of becoming a North American leader in flexible packaging to life,” said François Olivier, President and CEO of TC Transcontinental. “The acquisition of Coveris Americas adds significant depth and scale to our existing platform, with flexible packaging operations now expected to be our largest division in terms of TC Transcontinental's pro forma revenues based on its fiscal year 2017.

“This transaction complements and bolsters our existing product offering in several flexible packaging end markets including dairy, pet food and consumer products,” continued Olivier. “Additionally, it allows us to enter new and attractive flexible packaging end markets such as agriculture, beverage and protein.”

Mark Andy, which develops technologies for the label and packaging industries, has acquired Presstek, a global supplier of DI (direct imaging) offset plates and presses, and CTP solutions. With the Presstek acquisition, Mark Andy explains it now serves as one of the only full-complement solutions providers to the global graphic arts and print industry.


Presstek’s Zahara waterless plates division, which is not being acquired by Mark Andy, will be spun into a new company, Verico Technology, led by former Presstek CEO Yuval Dubois. Verico Technology will focus on expanding its market share for cut sheet aluminum waterless plates and coating technologies in the printing industry as well as venturing into new market segments. “Mark Andy’s acquisition of Presstek is a big win for customers from both organizations,” said Dubois. “We are pleased for the long-term benefits that this initiative will bring to the market.”

Presstek’s team of over 60 technical professionals will be integrated within Mark Andy’s service infrastructure, which the company states makes it the largest, regionally staffed service organization in North America. Certified technicians will support equipment service for brands such as Presstek, ABDick, Ryobi, Heidelberg, Xerox, KBA, Epson and more.

Mark Andy and Presstek have maintained a strong partnership over the years, with Mark Andy Print Products (MAPP) fulfilling all orders in North America for Presstek DI and CTP products.

“Presstek has been a force in the small- and medium-format offset segment for many years. Presstek’s DI plates and equipment and CTP solutions are well respected throughout the industry, and I am happy to welcome the Presstek employees and products into the Mark Andy family,” said Kevin Wilken, CEO, Mark Andy. “We expect Presstek’s customers to benefit from Mark Andy’s stable leadership, tremendous customer service and unmatched product offerings, including MAPP offset print supplies and consumables and Mark Andy digital print equipment.”

Stuart Gallup, appointed as Vice President, Offset Business, Mark Andy, said, “Today's print buyers are seeking shorter print runs, faster turnaround and no compromises in print quality. Mark Andy has a strong commitment to its customers, supporting them with the best solutions to guide them in a direction for success. It’s a privilege to now offer the single point of contact customer experience and streamlined processes that our commercial and in-plant customers have previously enjoyed.”

At the leadership level, Gallup will be accompanied by Ian Pollock, Director, Presstek EAMER, and Ralph Jenkins, Director MAPP Offset Sales in North America.
Idealliance, an organization focused on workflow processes and technologies for the printing industry, recently awarded G7 System Certification and G7 Press Control System Certification to two Koenig & Bauer colour control and colour reporting systems: Instrument Flight Color Control by System Brunner and the newest version of its QualityPass software for sheetfed presses. Koenig & Bauer explains it is now the only press manufacturer to hold two G7 System Certifications.

“Our organization has continually invested in development and cooperation’s to ensure our customers produce the highest quality printing with colour control and colour reporting that can be specifically monitored throughout the print run,” said Chris Travis, Director of Technology for KBA North America. “This clearly sets us apart from our competitors and demonstrates our ongoing commitment for the highest quality standards.”

Last fall, the Idealliance G7 Press Control System Certification program confirmed that Koenig & Bauer’s Instrument Flight Control technology by System Brunner can monitor and control a production press run according to G7 gray balance and tonality specifications.

Koenig & Bauer explains its Instrument Flight Control technology by System Brunner is the world’s first press control system to elevate G7 from a calibration procedure to a complete process control system from prepress to pressroom.

In addition to G7 metrics, Instrument Flight also monitors and controls TVI (dot gain) in the individual colours, the spread of TVI, solid ink densities, L*a*b* colorimetric targets and more of a reference print condition or standard such as GRACoL, ISO 12647-2, the System Brunner Globalstandard or any specific company targets.

Instrument Flight is able to prioritize the different metrics according to different requirements, such as G7 settings. The real-time print process diagnostics and quality rating informs the press operators at any time during print production if they print in the target specification.

“The key for consistent colour match lies in observing and controlling all variables influencing the offset printing process,” said Michael Eichler, KBA North America Sales Director of Service Select. “System Brunner Instrument Flight is an outstanding tool which goes way beyond ink density and L*a*b* in order to achieve and maintain the best result according to G7 tonality specifications.

"Instrument Flight elevates G7 from a calibration procedure to a complete process control system," continued Eichler. "The initial System Brunner on-site support service and training brings the press in line with the company’s specific workflow, a big benefit which increases the performance of the whole printing system.”


Idealliance has also certified the newest Version 8 of Koenig & Bauer’s QualityPass software for sheetfed presses. Version 8 of QualityPass produces reports on the quality and consistency of print produced and provides a score as a percentage against the required fields of the ISO 12647-2 standard, such as CIE LAB values, dot gain (TVI) and trapping.

QualityPass software allows sheetfed printers to be able to demonstrate colour consistency throughout a production run via the reports produced at the end of the job by the software and provides reassurance for a printers’ customers.

QualityPass reports are generated as a PDF for every job produced and contain every measurement taken by either the ErgoTronic Color Control device or the QualiTronic ColorControl inline system. The viewer of the report can analyze the quality of print produced and make the required adjustments to improve the scoring, for example; tensioning blankets or making alterations to the plate output curves.

The Koenig & Bauer QualityPass software system was evaluated by the G7 System Certification Program for the calibration of a printing device to meet the G7 grayscale definition using four 1-D curves and support the application of the G7 methodology in process control.

Accompanying each G7 Certified System is an Application Data Sheet (ADS), designed to assist print producers and end users in the proper use and operation of their system. Utilizing a G7 Certified System ensures the ability to operate a consistent G7-managed workflow, which has been proven to expand efficiencies, reduce costs of operation, and speed time to market of printed materials.
Eastman Kodak Company reported financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2017. Revenues for the full year 2017 were US$1.5 billion, down seven percent (or US$112 million) from 2016. The revenue decline, explains Kodak, was driven by volume and pricing declines within the company’s commercial print business and volume declines in the company’s consumer inkjet and industrial film and chemicals businesses.


The company, however, reported GAAP net earnings of US$94 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, which includes a tax benefit of US$101 million due to the release of a valuation allowance in the fourth quarter of 2017.



“2017 was a year of investment in our strategic growth priorities which bodes well for the future,” said Jeff Clarke, Chief Executive Officer, Kodak. “We also eliminated several business initiatives while continuing to reduce cost and drive greater efficiency in the company. We enter 2018 with a stronger growth profile and more productive operations.”

Kodak explains key product lines achieved strong year-over-year growth for the full year 2017, including: Volume for Flexcel NX Plates grew by 17 percent, volume for Sonora Process Free Plates grew by 21 percent; and annuity revenues for the Prosper inkjet platform grew by 13 percent. The company ended the year with a cash balance of US$344 million, compared with US$434 million at the end of 2016.

“Our use of cash in 2017 included meaningful investments in the Ultrastream inkjet platform, Flexcel NX packaging, Sonora X plates, advanced materials and brand licensing which will contribute to growth,” said David Bullwinkle, Kodak’s Chief Financial Officer. “In the fourth quarter of 2017, we reprioritized our investments to focus on shorter payback periods and reduced costs which will improve our ability to generate cash in 2018 and beyond.”

Print Systems Division (PSD), Kodak’s largest division, had Q4 revenues of US$261 million, a six percent decline compared with Q4 in 2016. Operational EBITDA for the quarter was US$16 million, compared with US$39 million for the same period a year ago.

Print Systems Division had full-year 2017 revenues of US$942 million, a seven percent decline compared with 2016. Full-year Operational EBITDA was US$58 million, a decline of US$48 million compared with the prior year. Kodak explains the decline was due primarily to industry pricing pressures, higher aluminum costs and an overall commercial print industry slowdown.

Enterprise Inkjet Systems Division (EISD) had fourth-quarter revenues of US$39 million, down from US$43 million in the same period in 2016. Operational EBITDA was US$3 million, an increase of US$1 million compared with the fourth quarter of 2016.

For the full year 2017, EISD revenues were US$144 million, compared with US$166 million in 2016. Operational EBITDA for the full year 2017 increased by US$21 million from 2016 to US$5 million in 2017. The results, explains Kodak, reflect the positive impact of cost control actions and continued strong growth in Prosper annuities. Kodak’s next-generation inkjet writing system, Ultrastream, is scheduled for launch in 2019.

Flexographic Packaging Division (FPD) had 2017 revenues of US$145 million, compared with US$132 million in the prior year, or a 10 percent improvement. Full-year Operational EBITDA of US$31 million is an improvement of Us$7 million compared with the prior year.

Software and Solutions Division (SSD) had 2017 revenues of US$85 million, down from Us$90 million last year. Full-year Operational EBITDA remained flat compared with the prior year.

Consumer and Film Division (CFD) revenues for the full year were US$198 million, down from US$221 million in 2016. Operational EBITDA for the division was down US$32 million for the year.

Advanced Materials and 3D had Operational EBITDA for the full year of negative US$26 million. Kodak explains this division took significant cost actions in Q4 and sharpened its focus on investments in light-blocking particles, printed electronics and advanced materials.

2018 guidance is for revenues of US$1.5 billion to US$1.6 billion and Operational EBITDA of US$60 million to US$70 million.
Printing Industries of America issued a response to the recent announcement by the United States Department of Commerce regarding preliminary anti-dumping duties on Canadian imports of Uncoated Groundwood (UGW) Paper.

Tariffs on Canadian UGW paper, explains Printing Industries of America (PIA) will unnecessarily burden printing companies and their customers with cost headaches while forcing alternatives to print.

“Yesterday, the Department of Commerce announced preliminary anti-dumping duties of up to 22.16 percent on Canadian imports of Uncoated Groundwood Paper. This is compounded by preliminary countervailing duties averaging 6.5 percent on the same product announced in January,” explained Michael Makin, President and CEO of the PIA, in a written statement. “These tariffs will negatively impact paper used for newsprint, directories, book publishing, and advertising circulars, raising costs for production and, ultimately, print customers. In an industry in which it is difficult to absorb forced cost increases, the effect will likely be less production, fewer pages printed, a faster shift to digital content of news and books, and more diversion of advertising from print to electronic platforms.”

Makin continued to explain this tariff havoc has been caused by one company in the paper industry filing a trade remedy case alleging unfair trade practices by Canada. He explains that the majority of U.S. newsprint manufacturers and trade associations representing the industry, as well as U.S. customers, oppose the trade petition on UGW paper.

“Demand for newsprint has declined by 75 percent in North America since 2000 due to electronic diversion and change of customer reading habits, not because of unfair competition,” Makin continued to explain in the association’s statement. “PIA believes firmly in the power of print to deliver news and information, and its member companies work daily to innovate and maintain print’s relevance in today’s world of multi-channel communication delivery. Tariffs on Canadian UGW paper will unnecessarily burden printing companies and their customers with cost headaches while forcing alternatives to print.

“PIA and its allies in the Stop Tariffs on Printers and Publishers (STOPP) Coalition have gone directly to the Department of Commerce and Capitol Hill to make the case opposing tariffs on UGW paper imported from Canada and will continue to urge the Trump Administration to reject this trade case in light of the harmful impact such tariffs will have on a key segment of the American manufacturing economy.”

Additionally, Makin made the following statement regarding the recently announced Trump Administration policy on imported steel and aluminum:

“Promoting job growth in domestic manufacturing is at the core of PIA’s mission and we appreciate President Trump highlighting the importance of the manufacturing sector and its workers. However, there are 800,000 jobs associated with the U.S. printing industry and PIA’s first and foremost goal is to ensure the companies that provide those jobs are able to purchase equipment – including printing plates made of aluminum – without higher production costs associated with potential tariffs.

"PIA is closely monitoring the details of the recently announced steel and aluminum tariff to determine potential negative impact on printing facilities, possible exemptions for key components of printing equipment, and other aspects of the tariff case as the specifics of the policy unfold.”
Fujifilm’s Ed Pierce, Komcan’s Brett Rogers, Canon’s Alec Couckuyt and RISO’s Andre D’Urbano describe sheetfed inkjet press advances, challenges, and why commercial printers should invest.

Ed Pierce, Product Marketing Manager, Fujifilm North America, Graphic Systems Division

Why is it important for commercial printers to consider an inkjet press?
Pierce: As run lengths continue to decline, regardless of the reason whether it be inventory cost driven or targeted marketing driven, it becomes increasingly difficult to provide a quality product at a price that is profitable for the print provider. As run lengths decrease, the expectation of quality does not decrease along with it. Toner technologies only go so far and production inkjet drives it home beyond the capabilities of a toner device.


This should also be considered an opportunity for commercial printers. By staying ahead of the curve and investing in new technology that addresses this need; will put the printer in a much better competitive position to attract and win this book of business that is not a trend but rather a new reality in the market. With the integrated technologies of the J Press 720S the print provider can produce a smaller initial quantity and reprint in a week, a month and so on the exact same quality and colour of the initial print run by simply calling up the same job with the same media profile and hitting the print button. There are no plates, there is not running up to colour and there is no extra labour required to reproduce a simple reprint order.  

What is currently your company’s best inkjet press for a typical commercial printer?
Pierce: The Fujifilm J Press 720S was not only the first B2/half-size production inkjet press brought to market, it is now in its second generation and the most widely adopted B2 inkjet press with over 100 installations globally. 

The J Press 720S uses the industry benchmark Fujifilm Dimatix Samba print heads along with Fujifilm’s cloud-based ColorPath SYNC colour management, Fujifilm VIVIDIA aqueous pigment inks, VERSA Drop jetting technology and proprietary screening algorithms to deliver what many describe as better than offset quality printed output.  And by running standard coated and uncoated offset stocks, the commercial printer and print buyer do not have to change the stocks they use or purchase stocks that carry a premium cost.  

What key challenges still exist for production inkjet?
Pierce: There is still a perception in the market that production inkjet has yet to achieve offset quality. At least in the case of the J Press 720S from Fujifilm, this market need has been met. Commercial printers tend to look at their current book of business when considering the purchase of a production inkjet press and plugging these numbers into their ROI. The reality is that just about all printers that have adopted production inkjet technology have achieved new business with their investment.

Brett Rogers, Technical Sales Manager, Komcan (Canadian Komori distributor)

Why is it important for commercial printers to consider inkjet?
Rogers: The primary shortfalls of digital printing technologies have been twofold. Volume and Quality, you can maybe have one, but not the other. With production Inkjet, we are seeing that elevated crossover point, and unmatched quality in the digital space.

We have also come to a point with traditional toner-based digital equipment, that quality and other factors such as substrate limitations, and post-press application, are limiting. Inkjet bucks all of those and allows for A) high level of quality, B) continually increasing crossover point, C) substrate freedom (in some cases), and D) post-press durability.

What is currently your company’s best inkjet press for a typical commercial printer?
Rogers: The Komori IS29 is a leader in all four aspects of quality, low to higher volume printing, substrate freedom, and post press durability. The larger format, 23 x 29 inches, allows for 50 percent more up per press sheet, at 8.5 x 11 inches, without sacrificing press speed [3,000 sheets per hour].

Print quality produced by the IS29 is fantastic. Colour consistency throughout the run is solid. Perfecting, UV curing, substrate freedom, including off-the-shelf non-porous substrates, and litho based sheet transport with excellent register, make the IS29 an excellent investment, while maintaining the digital advantages, such as full colour variable. The crossover point is rising.

What key challenges still exist for production inkjet adoption?
Rogers: Preconceptions regarding quality exist because previous incarnations of inkjet technology had shortcomings. This is no longer the case and inkjet printing has now surpassed quality levels seen in the toner world.

Further, the cost of introduction has been an objection heard in the market. The same price objections that were heard when toner based technologies, CtP, or even the Linotype machine came out. Technologies, while in their infancy, are expensive. No different than DVD players, VCRs or 8 Tracks. Inkjet, however, is past the infancy stage, and even past the toddler stage; and as such, improvements are being made, turning these objections obsolete.

Andre D’Urbano, Director of Dealer Sales, RISO Canada

Why is it important for commercial printers to consider an inkjet press?
D’Urbano: For years the print consumer has been told that colour is more expensive. To this day we have organizations that are forced to limit or ban the use of colour as it is deemed a luxury. Inkjet allows those on a budget to shift a majority of their monochrome printed material into the colour arena but at an affordable price. Colour inkjet has a cost of 1 to 2 cents per page and can be sold at 4 to 6 cents per page, a far cry from the 10 to 15 retail cents for colour toner. The end user gains in increased colour printing while the print shop benefits from the higher margins of inkjet compared to monochrome toner.

What is currently your company’s best inkjet press for a typical commercial printer?
D’Urbano: RISO offers production, colour, cut-sheet printing at a speed of 9,600 letter-size pages per hour. The GD9630 offers improved 5-colour output at the low cost that is expected from inkjet. The RISO solution is one of the few – if not the only – high-speed, cut-sheet production devices priced at about $100,000 or less. It is the least expensive way to dip your toe into the inkjet waters. If a print shop has seen the demand for inkjet grow but cannot justify the investment of some of the larger devices in the market, RISO will provide the shallow financial ramp needed to get in the game.

What key challenges still exist for production inkjet?
D’Urbano: Inkjet quality has and continues to be widely accepted by end users everywhere. The challenge comes from those selling inkjet printers along with those at the print shop level who need to sell inkjet printed material to their clients. These are the ones with a critical eye and some cannot get past anything less than toner that is baked onto coated paper. The fact is that there are many non-profit organizations convinced that colour is out of reach. They have for years been told that a colour image will cost more. As such, they revert back to monochrome. A print shop that prints 60 percent monochrome and 40 percent colour annually can easily transfer half that monochrome work to colour inkjet as it is more affordable than toner.

Alec Couckuyt, Senior Director PPSG, Canon Canada

Why is it important for commercial printers to consider inkjet?
Couckuyt: In this rapidly evolving communications industry the commercial printer is faced with five critical dynamics: 1. Shorter run lengths, 2. Faster turnaround times, 3. Increasing job complexity like variable content/images, 4. Expansion of products and services offerings like data management, commercial print, display graphics, fulfillment, and 5. Relentless pressure on cost avoidance. These dynamics dictate the degree of relevance of print within the communications omni-channel venues. Inkjet technology gives the commercial printer an additional critical tool to stay on top of these dynamics and make print highly relevant.

What is currently your company’s best inkjet press for a typical commercial printer?
Couckuyt: The answer has to be twofold – one press does not fit all. If the commercial printer deals with a high number of different types of short run jobs with fast turnaround, an ability to print on a wide range of media, including coated offset, the answer is the VarioPrint iSeries, our highly productive inkjet cutsheet colour press. If the commercial printer’s requirements are based on higher volumes, variable content/images the answer is the ProStream. This 22-inch-wide web press with a native 1,200 x 1,200-dpi multi-level droplet modulation, runs at 80 metres per minute, prints on coated offset media, with a monthly duty cycle of 35 million impressions, and a colour gamut beyond offset.

What key challenges still exist for production inkjet adoption?
Couckuyt: The two biggest challenges a commercial printer faces today are 1) The clear understanding of ink consumption, in order to properly estimate job costs, and 2) The understanding of what paper media a specific inkjet press can print on. It is essential for the commercial printer that during the discovery phase the vendor clearly defines these two aspects.
For many commercial printing leaders, inkjet has reached a tipping point as the process becomes a relevant, quality production tool, initiating a third wave of technological change.

Variety, The Spice of Life Media catalogue, is a Canon-produced self-promotion project using 15 different papers to highlight the media versatility of the Océ VarioPrint i300. First introduced in Canada in 2016, this production-strength sheetfed press is equipped with iQuarius technology to enable inkjet printing at high speeds. It is designed to bridge the gap between the application flexibility of toner presses, the efficiency of offset sheetfed presses, and the economy and productivity of web-fed systems. It enables print providers to handle new and diverse applications with an eye toward productivity and profitability – benefits all inkjet press makers are leveraging.

Canon’s Variety project also highlights the use of Océ VarioPrint i-Series’ optional ColorGrip technology, which enables printing on a wider range of media, expanding the application range. ColorGrip enhances the image quality on papers not designed for inkjet. It expands the media range to include some coated offset stocks.   
 
Production inkjet jobs can now include a variety of coated, uncoated and treated stocks and the printing system automatically adjusts the print parameters for each media type on a sheet-by-sheet basis.

ColorGrip and iQuarius, and of course the VarioPrint i-Series, are unique to Canon, but the movement toward commercial-printing relevance by new generation inkjet technologies from other leading vendors is becoming a reality in the offset-dominated world of printing.         

The Variety project highlights that the days when inkjet presses could not effectively print on coated offset stocks are gone. Gone are the days when the quality of inkjet was considered almost there. And gone are the days when commercial printers once felt like they had to ask that million-dollar question, offset or inkjet?

Waves of change
If the question is no longer offset or inkjet, then what should printers ask themselves and their suppliers when considering capital investment for the present and future health of their businesses? In order to figure this out, I began tapping into my years of experience in this ever-evolving industry. Over the past 30 years, I’ve had the privilege to work for companies such as Agfa in Belgium, Germany and Canada; Transcontinental Printing at its large-scale plants in both Canada and the United States; Symcor – one of North America’s largest transactional printers in Canada; and, for the last 10 years, with Canon Canada. Throughout my career, I have been able to witness firsthand the many waves of technological change in our industry.

During my career, the first significant wave of change started with the introduction of the Macintosh computer in the mid-1980s, the subsequent digitization of prepress, and ultimately the launch of Computer-to-plate technologies – the latter largely pinned on Canadian-led development. This digitization of print basically eliminated many vertical processes like typesetting, imposition, colour separation and plate-making.

The wave of digitization in print created a business shift, allowing – if not forcing – printers to create a more streamlined process to move directly from file preparation to plate-making. The industry underwent massive consolidation because of digitization. I remember Agfa buying Compugraphic and soon after Hoechst – and subsequently how dramatically the graphic arts dealer network changed across the country.

The second wave of change started in the mid-1990s with the introduction of the first rudimentary standalone digital presses and digital inkjet print heads. Print jobs exceeding million-plus run lengths started to disappear and we entered into versioning and personalization. I remember installing the first one-inch Scitex inkjet heads on our half-web offset presses and the acquisition of our first Xeikon digital colour press at Yorkville Printing, owned by Transcontinental.

During this wave, we also saw the evolution of toner-based platforms (cut-sheet and continuous-feed marvels) in an adjacent industry. The transactional printing industry was dealing with large amounts of variable data coming off mainframes, printing transaction records on preprinted offset shells. At that time, transaction printers only printed in black-and white, no colour, and obviously all variable.

As the millennium year 2000 approached, transaction printers and commercial printers were operating in divergent spaces, serving different verticals.

Then came inkjet
We installed our first high-volume inkjet presses in 2008 in Toronto and Montreal at a leading transactional printer. These full-colour inkjet web presses ran 22-inch wide rolls of paper (52 inches in diameter) at speeds of nearly 500 feet peer minute. Massive amounts of transaction data and CMYK colour data were processed on the fly, now driven by powerful servers. More importantly, the introduction of printing full colour in a “white paper factory” model eliminated the need for pre-printed offset shells. This dramatically impacted overall efficiencies, including warehousing and logistics.

Inkjet printing fundamentally reshaped the transactional printing segment of the industry. Early adopters of this technology gained a major competitive advantage, captured considerable market share, and – again – market consolidation ensued. Inkjet had evolved but was not ready for commercial printing – not yet. But the once distinctive lines between transaction and commercial printers began to blur.

For many in the commercial printing world, drupa 2016, also dubbed Inkjet 2.0, was the tipping point for when inkjet became a relevant, quality production tool, initiating the third wave of change. The demand for short runs, full colour, quick turnarounds, and variable print work increased exponentially as the need for long print runs decreased substantially. Since the turn of the millennium, maturing toner-based, cut-sheet production platforms fulfilled these initial print consumer demands for short-run, full-colour print. Their inherent limited production speed and higher cost structures, however, limited the type of applications one could profitably take on.

The current generation of inkjet presses have now eliminated these production limitations and are breaking down cost structure barriers. Additionally, the range of capabilities and the quality output of inkjet presses make them suitable for at least 80 percent of all commercial printing work. But these are not the primary advantages of inkjet, they are a given. The single most-important attribute of inkjet is the capability of producing relevant printed products.

Inkjet is not just a technological evolution or change, above all it is the cornerstone in helping printing businesses stay relevant in a changing world of omni-channel communications – a world flooded by print, e-mail, apps, text, any number of smartphone capabilities, Web, streaming, virtual reality, etcetera. Inkjet gives commercial printers the tools to mass produce customized and personalized integrated print pieces almost instantaneously, and to be an integral part of the omni-channel communications sphere.

The ultimate question commercial printers should ask, therefore, is how do inkjet and offset fit into my business model and enhance the relevance of my offerings within the world of omni-channel communications. These are indeed exciting times for an exciting industry.

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