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Crawford Technologies of Toronto, which provides document solutions to manage customer communications, has been named to the Branham300 list of Canada’s top Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies for the seventh year in a row. Ranked by 2016 annual revenues, the listing is published by Branham Group, a global ICT industry analyst and strategic marketing company.
 
Crawford Technologies explains its ranking on the Branham300 is a result of the demand for CrawfordTech’s document solutions that address customer preferences, the increasing number of B2C communication channels and the need for document-related workflow efficiency in the face of challenging regulatory compliance requirements.  

Crawford Technologies’ growth in 2016 represented the company’s strongest financial year in its 21-year history, demonstrated by the introduction of nine new solutions in FY 2016, and achieving a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of +63, putting the company above the average technology company for customer loyalty.
 
“We are honoured and grateful to achieve our highest ranking yet on the Branham300 list,” said Ernie Crawford, President and CEO of Crawford Technologies. “Our dedicated and talented staff made this unprecedented growth possible, so I thank them for their commitment and I thank our clients in the banking, insurance, healthcare, utilities and service provider markets for their business.
 
Crawford Technologies develops solutions that help enterprises optimize and improve the secure and accessible delivery, storage and presentment of their customer communications. The company has more than 1,800 customers on six continents, including some of the world’s largest banks, insurers, healthcare providers, utilities and print services companies.
Agfa Graphics has released new versions of two elements within its Arziro ecosystem for the general security printing market. Arziro Design 3.0 drives flexible security printing, offering new security design features and integration with Arziro Authenticate 2.0 – the updated version of Agfa Graphics’ encrypted distribution platform. Both solutions will be displayed at the Graphitec trade fair from 30 May to June 1 in Paris.

The new technologies are designed to help thwart counterfeiting and the risk it poses to businesses, governments and individuals worldwide. The Arziro ecosystem, explains Agfa, is capable of outsmarting forgers while streamlining the design process and production workflows of certificates, breeder documents, security cards, labels, stamps, vouchers, tickets, packages and more.

“With Arziro Design 3.0, users have the ability to develop extremely complex designs quickly and easily through a dedicated plugin,” said Andy Grant, Global Head of Software at Agfa Graphics. “On Mac or PC, users can smoothly work in the latest versions of Adobe Illustrator, enriching designs with customized security elements and using new tools and functions that aid in creating even more unique and complex security graphics. The upgrade also includes a brand-new module connecting it seamlessly with Arziro Authenticate as well as Arziro Plus, an advanced module for governments and security printers.”

Arziro Authenticate 2.0 is designed to add a deeper layer of safety and security to the design sharing process by combining a dynamically generated QR code with a secure graphic. Anybody can check the authenticity of a design, document or solution by scanning its code via a smartphone, enabling at the same time the product owner to receive insightful user data in the process.

Arziro Authenticate 2.0 includes additional functionality for driving customer engagement, e-commerce and supply chain management (track & trace) but also the possibility to create hybrid codes. For these hybrid codes, the security elements are printed in offset, flexo or gravure and the serialization elements are printed during a separate process with a digital printer such as an industrial inkjet printer.

“This upgrade of Arziro Authenticate is so much more than a secure authentication solution. It comes with new alert functionality, incorporates Google Analytics tools and supports hybrid codes and even more supply chain management tags that can be customized according to intended markets or distributors,” said Grant. “Even more, businesses can benefit from the rich data available to them through the Arziro SaaS server.”

The premium version of Arziro is only available to certified security printers and governmental departments. Arziro Plus with a new module, Arziro Blend, which generates new elements based on one or more selected elements with specific line distances and line weights.

“Arziro is a dedicated solution for the general security market, which is inspired by Fortuna, Agfa Graphics’ high security design solution. The complete Arziro security design ecosystem adds several new facets to the concept of state-of-the-art document security, using it not only to protect assets and information, but also to drive your business,” said Grant.
The Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association (CPEIA) has presented its first Startup of the Year award at CPES2017, a conference and trade show exhibition for printable, flexible and wearable electronics that ran from May 24 to 26 at Centennial College’s new Conference Centre in Toronto.

The award presentation capped off the final day of CPES2017, in which a panel representing six Canadian financing organizations and programs for startups and SMEs, led by CPEIA financing partner the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), heard pitches from four finalist startups.

Winning startup NanoCnet Ltd., explains CPEIA, has manufactured a transparent conductive film using silver nanowires so thin that they are invisible to the human eye. CPEIA continues to explain this stable silver nanostructure has set a new standard for cost, durability and flexibility, making it a promising option for thin solar cells, printed and flexible electronics, touch screens and smart windows.

Compared to typical silver nanowire, the synthesis process for NanoCnet’s nanomaterial is faster and can occur at room temperature – essential for low-cost manufacturing. The team behind the company includes co-founders Dr. Hadi Hosseinzadeh Khaligh, CEO, and Dr. Ehsan Mazbanrad, COO, with the support of technical advisor and investor Dr. Kaamaran Raahemifar of Ryerson University.

Judges scored each startup based on the market potential of the product/application, the soundness of the business plan and the viability of the business to generate wealth and jobs for the Canadian economy.

“The judges faced a difficult challenge. These four startups did a fantastic job developing and presenting their pitches and we see a bright future for all of them,” said Peter Kallai, President and CEO of the CPEIA. “As part of this program, the CPEIA will continue to provide support to all our finalists, with introductions to customers and partners, assistance with accessing financing and securing mentorship from seasoned industry leaders.”

The four finalists were coached and mentored over a six-week period by Kallai through his Keystep Growth & Finance consultancy, and Kirk Irving, Business Centre Manager at the BDC. Irving presented the award to NanoCnet.

The other startup finalists were:

Acquire Industries Ltd.: This Toronto-based startup is the first in Canada to offer novel electronic alternatives to snowmelt that are cost-effective and scalable for residential, municipal and commercial applications, using nanotechnology and molecular engineering.

Formi 3DP Inc.: This London, ON-based startup has created a new generation of photopolymers – polymer resins that are cured by ultraviolet light. These offer new levels of functionality, precision and resolution for 3D printing of multi-functional objects.

Wibicom Inc.: This Montreal-based startup is the first company to commercialize the photovoltaic/solar antenna and patent its design. Its products ensure smart energy usage, enabling long lifetime device autonomy and battery-less solutions.
A new report by Future Market Insights estimates the demand for digital printing in packaging will grow at 15.3 percent to surpass US$52 billion in revenues by 2026. This growth figure is based on what the research organization estimates the current demand for digital printing in packaging to be valued at over US$11 billion in 2016.

According to the report, the key factors fuelling demand for digital printing in packaging include growing preference for conventional/analogue plates and their application in printing jobs of shorter run lengths. Adoption of digital printing in packaging, explains Future Market Insights, is also growing on account of its convenience, to reduce turnaround time, over conventional presses.

The shifting preference from conventional printing is also fuelled by variable data printing and personalized printing. Leading packaging companies are adopting variable data printing, explains the organization, owing to its use in direct marketing. While Future Market Insights maintains a positive outlook on the global digital printing in packaging market, it is of the opinion that high variable costs and limited opportunities in indirect sales channels can impede widespread adoption.

Production by electrophotography (digital toner presses) is the largest segment, accounting for over half of revenue share by technology type. In terms of revenues, this segment was valued at just over US 6 billion in 2016. FMI projects it to grow at 16.6 percent CAGR and surpass US$32 billion in revenues by 2027.

By product type, labels is the largest segment, accounting for over US$7.1 billion in revenues in 2016. Future Market Insights estimates demand for labels to increase at 16.7 percent CAGR to reach US$38 .4 billion in revenues.

The food sector remains the largest end-user of digital printing in packaging. According to Future Market Insights, demand for digital printing in packaging was pegged at over US$4.5 billion in 2016. This is expected to increase at a CAGR of 16.6 percent during the forecast period 2016-2026.

Future Market Insights, in its report, offers market forecast and analysis on the basis of region, technology type, product type, and end-use. Printers profiled by Future Market Insights in its report include Quad/Graphics Inc., Tailored Label Products Inc., Creative Labels Inc., Reynders Label Printing, DS Smith Plc, THIMM Group GmbH + Co. KG, Traco Manufacturing Inc., WS Packaging Group Inc., Elanders AB, and Colordruck Baiersbronn W. Mack GmbH & Co. KG.
Canopy of Vancouver, BC, has launched its updated Ecopaper Database, described by the non-profit organization as the Holy Grail of directories for North America’s Best Environmental Papers. The 2017 iteration of this online resource features more than 450 printing and writing grade papers, office stationery products and packaging with high recycled, agricultural residue/alternative or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) fiber content.

All of these papers are available in North America, including nearly 60 products made with straw that is left over from the food grain harvest or other alternative fibers. The database is supported by the Environmental Paper Network.

“Not all ecopapers are created equal when it comes to their environmental benefits. Canopy’s Ecopaper Database helps customers discern which papers have the smallest impact on our forests and climate,” said Nicole Rycroft, Canopy’s Founder and Executive Director. “It’s a go-to for busy executives looking for the best ecopapers on the market – be it for their next annual report, copy paper or packaging.”
 
Canopy developed the directory more than a decade ago and has been regularly updating it ever since. The 2017 Ecopaper Database focuses on category leaders, including those products in each paper grade with the highest recycled or agricultural residue contents, rather than listing every paper with any recycled content.

Over the past decade there has been a substantial increase in the availability of environmental papers, explains Canopy, spurred on by growing demand and expectations from green-savvy customer companies. One hundred percent post-consumer recycled papers receive top rankings as leading life cycle analysis reports continue to show that 100 percent recycled papers have a significantly smaller footprint than papers with virgin content.
 
“There are now so many papers with some environmental qualities on the market that the Ecopaper Database can increasingly focus on those products that offer paper customers the greatest gains towards their sustainability goals and minimizing their carbon footprint,” said Neva Murtha, Senior Corporate Campaigner. “These products also offer the least risk of being sourced from ancient and endangered forests.”
 
The 2017 Eco Paper Database also now features links to what Canopy bills as robust procurement policies posted by select mills with commitments to not source from ancient and endangered or high conservation value forests.

Also new in 2017 are 222 papers which are designated Ancient Forest Friendly by Canopy. Publishers, printers and brands using these papers may be able to use the AFF logo on these papers pending an agreement with Canopy. The new data also includes links to leading LCA’s done by paper companies in conjunction with environmental organizations, which are more comprehensive than usual industry analysis.
 
The searchable Ecopaper Database includes book, magazine and newspaper grade papers, as well as copy papers, commercial printing papers, tissue, office products stationery, fine-text-writing papers, packaging, board, and now molded food service containers. All papers listed in the database have been screened according to The Paper Steps, a paper-grading tool developed by members of the Environmental Paper Network.
On June 14, PrintAction magazine is hosting a 1-day conference and exposition in Burnaby, British Columbia, designed to provide technological and strategic insight to printers on the West Coast. To register for PrintForum West, which is free to attend, and for more details visit PrintForum.ca.

The conference currently includes four educational sessions, including a kick-off panel discussion with some of Canadian printing’s emerging leaders, including Nikos Kallas, President, MET Fine Printers; Richard Kouwenhoven, President, Hemlock Printers; and James Rowley, Vice President, Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging.

The hour-long session, moderated by PrintAction Editor, Jon Robinson, will focus on how this next generation of business leaders views the future of the printing industry in terms of technology, strategy and innovation.

Session two features Neva Murtha and Catherine Stewart, Senior Campaigners Partnering with Printers of Vancouver-based Canopy, who have more than 20 years combined experience developing visionary procurement policies for printers and publishers, including TC Transcontinental, RR Donnelley, EarthColor and Hemlock. Their session will provide real-world examples of printers working with some of North America's largest printing consumers through modern procurement practices.

They will provide attendees with new findings from The Blueline Ranking 2017 report to be released this June, which analyzes and ranks the environmental progress driving some of North America’s top performing printers. Stewart will highlight how policies have lead to innovative conservation solutions in partnership with forest and paper companies, creating a more certain supply. Murtha will also provide an update on the manufacture and future of straw paper and other agricultural residue paper initiatives.

The afternoon sessions will provide a more technical overview of the progress of printing, including three technology leaders. First, Kodak’s William Li and Patrick Kerr, both based out of Kodak’s Vancouver facility, which is heavily focused on developing the parent company’s software products, will jointly present a forward-looking technical session aimed at improving printing company profitability. Li, who has been a software engineer with Kodak since 1997 (including Creo), will focus on the impact of colour technologies in relation to how printers can find and then maintain new business. Kerr, who has focused on workflow solutions with Kodak since 2003, will focus on how printing companies can leverage cloud computing and what it means for the business of print.

The fourth session of the day, titled The Smart Print Shop, will be presented by Heidelberg’s Andy Rae, who in April was appointed as Global Head of Marketing for the printing technology giant. Rae will discuss Industry 4.0 in printing, including the concept of The Smart Print Shop, which relates to leveraging print and media workflows to facilitate the complete automation of production processes. Rae will also discuss Heidelberg’s Push to Stop operating philosophy for print manufacturing, which provides a new way for thinking about automation and efficiency, productivity and most importantly profitability.
Following the passing of Dick Kouwenhoven, one of the icons of Canadian printing for more than four decades, a Celebration of Life has been planed for Saturday, May 27 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

“Firstly, on behalf of our family, I would like to thank everyone for all of the support that we have received in the form of calls, emails, cards and flower arrangements. Each of these kind gestures has helped us during a challenging time,” wrote Richard Kouwenhoven, President and COO, Hemlock Printers. “I can now confirm the date and time of Dick’s Celebration of Life which is open to family, friends and his many business colleagues.”

To assist in planning for the event, Hemlock is asking for people to RSVP (including guest names) by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Dick Kouwenhoven, Celebration of Life
Saturday, May 27, 2:00 – 4:30pm
Vancouver Convention Center (West Building)
Rooms 301-305

Read PrintAction's article on the passing of Dick Kouwenhoven
Printing For Realtors, an online printing service aimed at helping realtors is officially launching this week. It is described as a printing company located in Toronto that specializes in providing business cards and direct-mail postcards.

With a focus on realtors, the company aims to provide what it describes as high quality, fast and efficient service via the Web portal Printingforrealtors.ca, targeting the turnaround needs of its prospective clients.

“We believe that our unique focus on realtors allows us to provide the best service for anyone looking to sell houses,” said Raymond Wali, CEO of The World Is Global, of Printing For Realtors’ parent company, which hopes to expand past the market in Ontario into other provinces.
Quark software has announced that the newest version of its fully-integrated graphic design and layout software, QuarkXPress 2017, will be released Wednesday, May 24.

Customers can expect new design features, including non-destructive image editing, transparency blend modes, new shape tools, multicolour gradient enhancements, item format painters, text stroking and shading, column spanning and splitting, and smart quotes. Customers can also expect developments to digital publishing, including free iOS single apps creation, adaptive layout conversion for digital, and responsive HTML5 publications.

Quark has made improvements based specifically on user requests, including proportional leading, UI enhancements on Mac and Windows, adaptive layout conversion for print, enhanced word import, and the most recent fonts.
Dick Kouwenhoven, one of the icons of Canadian printing for more than four decades, passed away on April 25. Kouwenhoven was the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hemlock Printers Ltd., based in Burnaby, BC, one of the most highly revered commercial printing operations in North America and indeed known throughout the printing world for its industry leadership.

Kouwenhoven was Hemlock’s Chairman and CEO for the past four years after stepping down from running the company’s day-to-day operations for the previous 47 years. Less than a year after immigrating to Canada from The Netherlands in 1961, Kouwenhoven began to form what is now recognized around the world as a trailblazing printing company not just in terms of its high-end sheetfed perfecting capabilities, digital printing prowess and adoption of cutting-edge imaging technologies, but also in its environmentally progressive position.

Kouwenhoven was diagnosed with esophageal cancer a little more than a month ago. Describing his father as “a gentle person who quietly went about his business,” Richard Kouwenhoven explains his father remained active in life and business until the family understood how aggressive the cancer was.

“He set an example for so many people in our industry. Within Hemlock, he set a tone, an ethic that is held throughout our business today. It is part of our identity and it came through all of his dealings in the industry. The example he set is going to impact our industry for a long time,” says Richard, President and Chief Operating Officer of Hemlock.

In a letter sent to industry colleagues last night, Richard shared that he, along with his mother Clara and sister Vanessa, were by Dick’s side when he passed; that his brothers Frits, Bill and Frank were able to spend precious time with him while he was in hospital. “Myself, Frits and members of our Leadership Team met with the Hemlock staff today,” he wrote, “We shared our deep sadness and appreciation for his amazing vision, energy and leadership that created the special community we experience every day at Hemlock. We also thanked him for the legacy that he leaves behind and the wonderful example that he has set for us.”
 
Plans for a family funeral service as well as a celebration of life are underway. The celebration of life event, which will be open for staff, industry colleagues and friends, will likely occur at the latter part of May, explains Richard, but the venue and exact date have not yet been determined.

The following excerpts are taken from Dick Kouwenhoven’s speech in December 2015, when he received PrintAction’s Lifetime Achievement Award, answering questions he was commonly asked about his life in print:

How did you get into the printing trade?
As most of you know, I was born in the Netherlands, in a beautiful old city named Delft. My hometown became a city in 1246, about 250 years before Columbus ran into North America, on his way to Asia.

In the 17th century, Delft was famous for brewing the best beer, in numerous small breweries, but also for printing beautiful bibles. It is said that the number of breweries were equal to the number of churches in the city. That was reasonable balance to secure continuity for both industries.

I was born during the Second World War, as the ninth child of what would become a family of 12 children. Big families were very common in the Netherlands at that time. The Netherlands was occupied by Germany at that time. My older siblings (some in their teens) were in hiding to stay out of view. They were understandably very difficult times for all people in Holland. One of my first memories was the joyful crowds in the streets, with Dutch flags flying, when the country was liberated in early May of 1945. I was three years old, but I have a clear image of that scene of hundreds of happy people in the streets after spending most of my early years inside the house.

My father was a contractor/builder; second generation, continuing in his dad’s footsteps after he passed away. We had an impressive carpentry workshop behind the house, and as small kids we managed to get into the shop frequently. They made beautiful wooden windows and doors, heavy, structural stuff. We knew the craftsmen by name, and we were shown how they shaped the wooden components, and joined them with wooden dowels.

I knew at an early age that I wanted to work with my hands, creating beautiful stuff. My Dad did carpentry work for a local printer occasionally, and he was always fascinated by what he saw there. When I started to miss my marks in High School, he encouraged me to take a look at the printing trade, and arranged an interview. I learned about the practical combination of 4 days at work and 1 day at school, with a diploma after 5 years. So I became an apprentice compositor, signing my life away with a 6 year iron clad employment contract.

My Dad deserves much credit for his skills as a career councillor. I loved the work, the rapid learning curve, and the comradery of the workplace, much more than being a full time student.

When and why did you immigrate to Canada?
After eight years of learning and working in the trade in the Netherlands, including courses in estimating and accounting, I took the step (together with my brother John) to immigrate to Canada. That was not a big deal, because we already had three brothers who were established in Vancouver.

Much to my surprise, I found employment the day after I arrived in Vancouver, and started work on the following Monday. Too fast, I found, but they needed a typesetter desperately.

When did you start Hemlock Printers?
About six months after my arrival, I was approached by a gentleman who had just purchased a small storefront printery by the name of Hemlock Printers. He had no previous experience in printing, but he had great contacts in the business community, and could fill that little place with orders, no problem. All he needed was an all-round typesetter/printer who could make things happen in the shop.

So I accepted, and worked hard to keep him and his clients happy. He learned about selling print, and I learned about managing expectations, and deliver nicely printed letterheads, envelopes, business cards and wedding invitations etc. on time.

In fairly rapid succession, I invested some money, and became a 50% partner. I learned that a partnership is a poor ship to sail on, and I bought my partner out in 1968, incorporated the little company, borrowed some money, installed some new, better presses, and hired some staff, and moved to larger premises.

Looking back, what were the major events that put Hemlock on a path of growth?
With a move to larger premises just about every 5 years, we again faced a move from about 15,000 overused square feet in 1986. This time there were installations of some new and bigger presses involved and a big pre-press department to feed a total of 17 Heidelberg Speedmaster units. We were fortunate to find just the right place just a block away.

It was big. Too big at first glance. At 54,000 square feet, it looked like an airplane hangar. “We’ll never grow out of this one” was the conclusion of our staff. And they were right. We are still there after nearly 30 years.

Coinciding with an economic boom in Vancouver just before and after Expo’86, Hemlock experienced more than 20 percent growth per year in succession – with this growth in business, our team, our capacity and our capabilities expanded with the demands of the local market we served.

What are some things that make you proud of Hemlock’s success?
During the 47 years since 1968, we were fortunate to make so many friends in the industry and to build lasting relationships with customers, suppliers, employees and the larger community. The quality of our work and service standards make us proud, every day. In my daily walk through the plant, I am in awe of the dedication of our staff to serving our clients to the best of their ability. Our clients know it. There is a passion to excel that you can see and feel.

We have adopted and refined our environmental and social sustainability commitments, and shared our programs and practices freely, to help us all towards a better tomorrow. While it takes time, effort and investments, we feel that we must continuously improve.

I am also proud of the contributions of my family who have played such an important role in Hemlock’s success. Clara, my sweet wife of 48 years, my dear brother and business partner John, who passed away in 1997, dynamic brother Frits, selling up a storm in the USA, Richard responsible for day-to-day from the corner office, and all others who support our efforts.

What does the future hold for Hemlock?
Under Richard’s leadership, we will be expanding our on-line presence and facilities. Our well-oiled fulfillment centre will be expanded in response to increasing demands. And always stay the course with our employees and all our stakeholders to maintain Hemlock’s values and principles, which are pivotal to its continued success.
Ryerson University’s School of Graphic Communications Management, located in downtown Toronto, is hosting a three-day G7 Training course from May 16 to 18. This is a theory-based program, offering a blend of lab instruction and lecture on how to apply the G7 method on any type of printing process.

The G7 Methodology will be demonstrated across various output devices (G7 Certified Systems) that may include: Epson 7900 inkjet, Ricoh 901 MFP, Fiery FS-100 system. A method of calibrating G7 by hand (The Fan Graph Method) is reviewed during the training course and all materials related to this calibration are available free of charge and are part of the course handouts.

Idealliance explains the course is geared toward digital press operators, offset press operators, pressroom supervisors, prepress supervisors and technicians, quality assurance managers and printing equipment suppliers.

Idealliance has also made its online Color Management Professional (CMP) Fundamentals course available complimentary to registered attendees. CMP Fundamentals covers the principles of colour management. Successful completion of the CMP Fundamentals will certify those who take it as a Color Management Professional. Idealliance strongly recommends taking the CMP course prior to the G7 Training.

Event registration
Transcontinental has launched a process to sell all of its newspapers in Quebec and Ontario, which are controlled under the Montreal company’s TC Media operation. The sale process, which Transcontinental expects to span several months, involves 93 local and regional publications and their related web properties, including the Métro Montreal newspaper.

The move comes just days after Transcontinental sold its publication portfolio in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick to SaltWire Network Inc. That the transaction included the sale of 28 brands and Web-related properties, as well as four printing plants. In June 2016, Transcontinental sold its publishing assets in the province of Saskatchewan in a transaction that includes the sale of its 13 local newspapers and associated Web properties to Star News Publishing.

The new process to sell all of its newspapers in Quebec and Ontario excludes, among others, the following activities, to which Transcontinental reiterated its commitment: TC Media's specialty brands for the business, financial and construction sectors, its educational book publishing activities as well as the distribution activities operated through Publisac and Targeo in the printing division.

“In light of TC Transcontinental's business transformation strategy, already underway with steps including the sale of our media assets in Saskatchewan in 2016 and of our media properties in Atlantic Canada last week, we also undertook a strategic review of our local newspaper publishing activities in Quebec and Ontario,” explains François Olivier, President and CEO of TC Transcontinental. “As a result of this analysis conducted over the past few months, we have decided to put TC Media’s local and regional newspapers up for sale. We are convinced that selling these assets to local players is the best course of action in order to contribute to the continued sustainability of local media and to foster greater connections with the advertisers and communities they serve.”
Xitron, the developer of RIP and workflow products has shipped more than 4,500 units of its Screen interface kit, which allows computer-to-plate devices to be driven with any RIP or workflow.

The Screen interface kit is capable of driving all of the PIF-based platesetters, including the 4000, 6000 and 8000 series engines and the large-format Ultima 16000, 24000, 32000, 36000 and 40000 systems.

The interface can be coupled with Xitron’s Navigator RIP and like engines are also supported.

Xitron drives CTP devices from Agfa, ECRM, Creo, Kodak, Presstek, Heidelberg, Fuji and Screen.
New surface treatments for paper might enable significant savings in the use of commercial inkjet presses, which remains one of the biggest challenges for wide-spread adoption of what most envision as the future of printing


At PaperWeek Canada, the annual conference of the Canadian pulp and paper industry held in Montreal the week of February 13, 2017, one of the presentations discussed a new surface treatment for paper that could allow high-speed inkjet printers to improve quality and save money on their high quality print jobs.

Inkjet printing is achieved by spraying fine ink droplets on the printing medium from a print head. In order to obtain a good quality image on paper, the ink droplet arriving on the surface of the sheet must be immobilized, to prevent spreading of the ink and blurring of the image. There are two types of inkjet ink: pigment-based and dye-based. Pigment-based inks contain solid coloured particles which remain on the surface of the sheet. Dye-based inks, which are cheaper, absorb into the sheet and often produce duller images.

Commercial high-speed inkjet printing has shown an annual growth rate of about 15 percent over the last five years in the U.S., according to a study by Poyry. Inkjet printing is already the leading digital printing technique on transactional print jobs such as credit card statements where mostly black ink is used, since dye-based inks are cheaper than toners. It is also increasingly used for new business models such as print-on-demand and custom publishing.

Market shift in print
Commercial inkjet printing is starting to take significant market share away from offset printing. There are many reasons for this, including fast setup time, ease of customization, less waste and lower cost per copy for shorter print runs.

High quality marketing communications such as catalogues and brochures are traditionally printed by offset printing on glossy coated paper. With inkjet machines, printing on these types of papers can be a challenge, because the water phase of the ink must pass through the coating while the colorant remains fixed on the surface. For this type of promotional printing, pigment-based inks are the inks of choice for inkjet printers.

To design a paper surface that works well with inkjet inks, there are two strategies. One is to coat the surface with positively charged particles, which immobilizes negatively charged ink pigment particles. An approach using calcium chloride in the coating formulation was developed jointly by HP and International Paper about 10 years ago and is trademarked as ColorLok technology.

The second strategy is to provide a surface treatment that rapidly absorbs the liquid phase while keeping it near the surface of the sheet, and minimizes the drying time required. Home and office inkjet printers print relatively slowly, and the drying time is not critical, but web-based production inkjet printers often need to use inline drying techniques to run paper webs at several hundred feet per minute without ink smearing.    

KemPrint 17 in Montreal
An interesting research paper presented in Montreal was given by Bob Hardy from Kemira Paper Chemicals. Kemira has developed a new product, KemPrint 17, that can be applied at the size press of a paper machine. The product is a very high surface area cationic pigment and thus it uses both of the above strategies to immobilize the ink and minimize the set time. Ink penetration into the sheet is significantly reduced, creating high ink densities.

Kemira carried out lab printing trials with their product to demonstrate how it compares with a calcium chloride surface treatment, using either pigment-based or dye-based inks. A constant coat weight of 2.3 g/m² was used. The CaCl2 treatments used a 4:1 mixture of oxidized starch and CaCl2.

Two levels of KemPrint were applied, at 1/3 and 2/3 of the coat weight, mixed with oxidized starch. The results indicate, that for pigment inks, the black print density can be matched with KemPrint and coloured print density can be improved. The colour gamut, where a higher colour gamut value equals more vivid colour reproduction, was also improved with the KemPrint treatments.

The tests were repeated with dye-based inks, and here the KemPrint treatments all gave higher values of print density and colour gamut than the CaCl2 (ColorLok) treatment. This makes sense, as dye-based inks are non-ionic, so the cationic nature of the CaCl2 is ineffective at immobilizing this type of ink.  

Print-through tests also showed that the KemPrint product could match or improve the print-through performance of CaCl2, a good indication that liquid penetration into the sheet is being minimized.

High-speed inkjet printers are always looking for the higher print quality for lower cost. This new technology from Kemira, which is now being tried out by a few papermakers and printers, should result in brighter, sharper images, and may allow them in the long run to move from more expensive pigment-based inks to dye-based inks for these high-speed jobs.  

Production inkjet is already driving change in the printing industry, both by enabling new applications and by capturing volumes previously produced with analogue technologies such as offset and flexography. Over the past couple of years, there have been major advances in both technology and pricing models, with ink and substrates being front and centre in the future success of the production inkjet model.

Eastman Kodak Company announced it plans to retain its Prosper inkjet business after initially announcing plans to sell these assets in March 2016 after engaging advisors and banks to manage to process. In late December of that year, Kodak again announced it was still in talks with potential buyers.

However, on April 7, 2017, the imaging technology giant announced plans to retain the business after what it describes as an in-depth management review of business operations and multiple discussions with prospective buyers.

“This is a pragmatic decision given the improvements in the business and the offers received,” said Jeff Clarke, Chief Executive Officer, Kodak. “Prosper performed well in 2016 with a 40 percent increase in annuity sales for the full year. We expect our Enterprise Inkjet Systems Division [EISD] to be profitable this year, including our next-generation Ultrastream investment.”

Kodak explains it continues to invest in the Ultrastream program and has entered into letters of intent with partners, which the company expects to create new applications that drive market.

Kodak will begin delivering Ultrastream evaluation kits to 17 companies, including Fuji Kikai, GOSS China, Matti, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Printing & Packaging Machinery (MHI-PPM) and Uteco, to explore the integration of Ultrastream into their future printing solutions. Kodak expects products built on Ultrastream technology to go to market in 2019.

”The sale process for Prosper which we conducted over the past year was robust,” said David Bullwinkle, Chief Financial Officer, Kodak. “We hired Sagent Advisors, which solicited interest from global organizations. Strong interest in the business and technology existed throughout the process. While we had multiple offers, the range of consideration did not reflect the value of the business today.”

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