Paul LeBlanc, owner of FASTSIGNS of Vancouver, invested in his franchise, the second in Canada, in January 1996. At the time, the only other franchise in Canada was thousands of kilometres away in Newfoundland. LeBlanc moved from Nova Scotia to Vancouver and to start up his FASTSIGNS operation (originally 1,800 square feet) in a large city. LeBlanc moved into his current 5,400-square-foot facility in 2008 and now employs 10 people running two roll-fed printers, a flatbed printer, and a thermal transfer printer.
“We originally had a saw on our wall and a hand saw we used for cutting on production tables,” said LeBlanc. “A lot of the materials took a good amount of muscle to cut. On some occasions when clients needed a good number of retail signs and shapes, we sent them out to a subcontractor to be cut.”
During a recent FASTSIGNS convention, LeBlanc recalls several other franchise owners discussing their decision to purchase industrial cutting tables, which he explains aided his decision to purchase the Esko Kongsberg V system.
Esko launched the Kongsberg V entry-level cutting table in May 2014. The system designed for sign-and-display work (a second machine focuses on packaging) is based on a MultiCUT tool head for cutting and routing. The MultiCUT has various insert options with an air-cooled milling spindle of up to 45,000 rpm, suitable for acrylics and other synthetics.
The Morgana DigiFOLD PRO, purchased through Sydney Stone, is rated to crease and fold up to 6,000 A4-size sheets per hour.
PointOne has been providing trade-printing services out of the Greater Toronto Area for more than 15 years. In the past couple of years, the company, led by President Dennis Low, has boosted its production with a range of new equipment, such as a Heidelberg XL 106 perfector, two Heidelberg Suprasetters, two Ricoh Pro C901 digital presses and a Vivid UV coater.
The press, purchased through KOMCAN Inc., comes equipped with a range of automation features, including: APC fully automatic plate changers, PDC-SII close-looped colour control, AMR automatic make-ready, fully automatic wash-up systems and KHS Komori high-speed inking. Operating from Georgetown, Ontario, KOMCAN is the authorized dealer for Komori equipment sales, parts and service in Ontario and Western Canada.
“This purchase means growth for our print division,” said Lance Hill (right), Director of Plant Operations at Annex Business Media. “We will double our productivity, improve quality, and lower our make-ready and waste through automation.”
Replacing an existing 29-inch, 8-colour press, the 40-inch Komori perfector will be a key driver of Annex’ continuing expansion in business-to-business publishing. In January, Annex, which owns PrintAction magazine, teamed up with Newcom Business Media to acquire 67 trade-publishing brands from Vancouver-based Glacier Media Inc., a deal worth $19.65 million.
Annex immediately took control of 15 Glacier Media properties, adding to its existing stable of 40 business-to-business brands, the vast majority of which continue to publish a magazine, in addition to their online, digital and event components.
Annex Business Media is Canada's largest business-to-business media company with over 55 properties. This total does not include the B2B media assets currently held in a joint venture between Annex and Newcom, called Annex Newcom Limited Partnership.
ICON Digital Productions Inc., a Toronto-area manufacturer of very large format printing, with offices in Montreal and New York, acquired Canada’s first Durst Rho 1312 UV, which is a 98-inch-wide hybrid inkjet system.
“The Rho 1312 represents Durst’s latest generation of high-speed printers – it’s definitely one [of] the fastest we looked at,” said Juan Lau, President of ICON Digital, which has been a long-time Durst user. “Plus, its hybrid architecture gives us the flexibility to do both flatbed and roll printing.”
Opened 20 years ago, ICON Digital is currently housed in a 45,000-square-foot production facility in Richmond Hill, Ontario, not far from Toronto's Pearson International Airport.
The Rho 1312 reaches printing speeds of up to 6,600 square feet per hour, while handling difficult and heat-sensitive medias. It prints with 12-picolitre droplets and leverages what the company calls Gradual Flow Printing for producing smoother tones over large areas and a high-gloss finish.
“For years, speeds have been improving, and the 1312 seems to have reached speeds and image quality that’s on par with litho printing,” said Lau. “Its print quality at higher speeds means we can do less outsourcing to litho printers and keep that work in-house. Plus the Rho 1312’s ink set allows us to print on a wide variety of substrates. That’s very important to customers who are always pushing the envelope on new substrates, and it’s very important to us because it helps open brand new business opportunities.”
Synchrolith, a prepress trade operation, located in Saint-Laurent, Quebec, has installed an Agfa Anapurna M4F wide-format inkjet printer. The UV system features a print resolution of 720 x 1,440 dpi and a 62-inch-wide format.
The Anapurna M4F can handle rigid media thicknesses up to 1.75-inches, while the 4-colour system is also available with a roll option for flexible media. It prints with a 14-picolitre drop size and reaches a top speed of 150 f2/hour (postor quality). When producing in photo/sign quality mode the system is rated to run at 75 f2/hour.
Synchrolith has been in business since 1978 and provides a range of digital prepress services to customers, from preflight to plate production.
Kelly Signs, one of the largest sign companies in Eastern Ontario, added an Esko Kongsberg i-XP24 table to its production floor in Ottawa.
Founded in 1947, Kelly Signs today produces a range of applications like real estate and construction signs, trade show displays, banners and vehicle graphics, as well as storefront and building signs, pylon signs and channel letters. The company also has a business unit dedicated to producing large electrical signs.
Kelly Signs operates two silkscreen presses and two flatbed inkjet printers, along with a roll-fed printer. “This is why Kelly Signs has grown into one of the largest real estate sign and full service sign companies around,” said Mark Steinberg, General Manager, Kelly Signs.
“Many years ago, when we were exclusively printing with silkscreen presses, we had purchased a large guillotine cutting table. The majority of our work required square cuts on coroplast, and we could cut that material with no problem at all. Other jobs with different shapes or materials were either outsourced, or we used a band saw, jigsaw or other tools,” continued Steinberg. “Cutting a 4 x 8-foot plywood starburst could take as long as an hour. We could not necessarily justify the cost of a digital finishing table based on the other tools and work we had, but over time we felt that in order to grow our business and take it to the next level, it was time to move forward”.
Steinberg explains the decision to purchase a Kongsberg i-XP 24 was largely based on the company’s need to handle a wide range of work, from vinyl to basically all substrates. With a maximum working area of 66 x 126 inches and a maximum speed of 66 inches per second, the i-XP series can convert a variety of board, sheet and roll materials.
The Label Factory of Georgetown, Ontario, installed the country’s first Memjet-powered JFlex870 label conversion system, which is engineered and manufactured by RDP Digital of Montreal in cooperation with IPT Digital.
The Label Factory is a trade-only label printer producing a range of products like pressure-sensitive labels, prime labels, consecutive numbering and barcodes, IRC coupons, and synthetic tags. “We've been keeping an eye on developing digital label processes for some time and when we saw the speed and resolution of the JFlex870, we knew for sure digital print had a place in our operation,” Alex Medd, co-owner of The Label Factory.
The IPT Digital JFlex1700 system is aimed at the narrow-web label sector. RDP Digital, a division of RDP Marathon, explains the JFlex870 and JFlex1700 systems allow printing companies to turn their existing presses into a high-speed digital printing platform.
Using Memjet print-head technology, the JFlex870 is a drop-on-demand thermal inkjet system with four print-heads printing CMYK, available with an optional fifth print-head for printing spot colour. Each print head contains 70,400 print nozzles firing 3-billion dots per second at 12.4 kHz. The result is speeds of up to 225 feet per minute on an 8.64-inch format size. The system produces 1,600 x 1,375-dpi resolution.
“We knew The Label Factory had a huge inventory of die tooling and the beauty of the JFlex870 is that it will be mounted on the customer's existing press so additional tooling costs will be minimal,” said Jerry Wynia, President of Northern Graphic Solutions, which is involved in development of the JFlex870 and JFlex1700 products.
The JFlex1700 system, carrying the same print-head specifications, introduces the option to duplex and provides a printing format range from 8.64 to 17 inches wide. The JFlex870 package includes a high-powered computer with touchscreen HMI for efficient print file management as well as colour management and RIP software.
RDP Digital explains the JFlex870 works in conjunction with the existing press or web control platform. This also allows for finishing labels using existing varnish, laminating and die-cutting equipment. Options for the JFlex870 include a web guide, corona treater, web cleaner and small roll unwind unit.
RP Graphics has installed a Busch SWH125RLA pile turner into its 60,000-square-foot Mississauga, Ontario, facility.
The automated system, purchased through KOMCAN Inc., is to be used for paper handling between RP Graphics’ two 40-inch Komori GL presses. The company installed its second 6-colour Komori GL40 press in late-2014. The press includes a coating unit and is integrated with UV energy curing technology. The company’s first 6-colour Komori GL40, with more than 60-million impressions, was installed a couple of years ago.
The Busch SWH125RLA pile turner features an enlarged opening width (2,000 mm) for higher piles, as well as Busch’s patented SPEEDTURNER technology for loading and unloading from the front, as well as from one or both sides. SPEEDTURNER allows for turning, airing, aligning and jogging, as well as transferring piles from paper mill/machine pallets on to system pallet.
RP Graphics’ new Busch pile turner also features safety light barriers, manually slewable aligning gauge (adjustable), pressure control flaps, airing with a second blower for increased airing power, tilting (15°), slewable control desk, adjustable jogging, and electrical air volume regulation.
In early February, UK label specialist Mercian Labels is to become the world’s first pilot site to install Xeikon’s new Cheetah press.
Mercian Labels will place the Cheetah system into its new factory in Staffordshire, UK, to run alongside an existing Xeikon 3000 Series press; as well as hot-foiling, flexo and inkjet technologies. Founded more than 40 years ago, Mercian Labels is a manufacturer of self-adhesive labels, cartons and security seals. Its technical specialties are in digital label and carton production and high-volume, variable data and barcode labels.
Xeikon Cheetah is a five-colour label press based on dry toner technology. It is rated to produce a native 1,200 x 3,600-dpi resolution, reaching speeds of up to 30 metres per minute (98 feet per minute). It holds a printing width of 7.9 to 13 inches.
“Every investment has to have an ROI. We like to sweat our assets, regardless of whether they are software or hardware,” said Dr. Adrian Steele, Managing Director of Mercian Labels. “We are in the business of making money – not just labels. Everything has to earn its keep, and we are convinced that the Xeikon Cheetah will definitely do just that.”
Mercian Labels states its Cheetah investment supports a production expansion based on demand for its digital and security labeling products. Previously based in a 6,000-square-foot site in Cannock, UK, the company’s new 24,000-square-foot facility in Staffordshire brings much more capacity for the company's benchmark of three-day lead times for label work.
“Our mantra is speed and service,” said Steele. “This means we must be very informed about and accurate with our pricing, so we can offer the benefits of the best of both digital and UV flexo technologies to our customers.”
Mercian is now housed in two sites with a combined 50 employees and 31,000 square feet of label and carton manufacturing space. It has a £3.4 million annual turnover and a customer base of approximately 9,000. The company states it is acquiring around 40 new customers per month.
“We have experienced seven consecutive years of double-digit growth and see our future growth coming from various combinations of product innovation, market share and acquisitions,” said Steele. “We formally completed our merger of AC Labels in Derby into the core Mercian Labels business at the end of last year and remain acquisitive.”
Prior to the New Year, Scan Copy Print Inc. became the first company in Edmonton to install Xerox’ new Versant 2100 press, with its Ultra HD Resolution technology rendering work at 1,200 x 1,200 dpi at up to 10 bits.
Led by owner Ashraf Jaffer, Scan Copy Print was founded in 1995 and today provides customers with complete on-demand services from concept and design to printing and finishing. The company, located on Gateway Boulevard in Edmonton, focuses much of its attention on annual reports, books and booklets, flyers and stationary packages, as well as producing corporate identity and various association work.
First unveiled in April 2014, the redesigned imaging system of Xerox’ Versant 2100 press uses a new compact belt fuser to handle substrate weights from 52 to 300 GSM at 100 pages per minute (ppm), as well weights of above 300 to 350 GSM at 80 ppm. The press prints with what Xerox labels as new 1,200 x 1,200-dpi Ultra HD Resolution. The Versant 2100 also incorporates what Xerox brands as Full Width Array technology for highly accurate production registration.
In addition to the Versant 2100, Scan Copy Print’s equipment list includes a Xerox Nuvera 200 EA perfecting system and a 44-inch imagePROGRAF iPF8300 large-format printer with a 12-colour LUCIA ink system.
Scan Copy Print’s finishing department provides services like saddle stitching, Cerlox binding, coil binding, tape binding, hard cover binding, and perfect binding, in addition to shrink wrapping, padding, three-hole punching, cutting, folding and collating.
Brant InStore of Brantford, Ontario purchased its third and fourth Esko Kongsberg finishing systems, specifically two XP24 tables that feature i-cut cameras, auto-feeder and kiss-cut, through cut and routing capabilities. The company also owns an older model Kongsberg table and had purchased a Kongsberg XP24 with i-cut camera last year.
“These two machines were similar to the one we had purchased a year ago,” saoid John Paul deBoer, CEO of Brant Instore. “The Kongsberg table is relatively simple to install, and doesn’t consume a lot of floor space.”
Founded in 1963 with one manual press and two employees, Brant InStore has approximately 300 employees generating revenue from customers across Canada and the United States, who primarily operate in retail, restaurant and automotive industries. It operates four large-format silkscreen colour presses along with four wide-format flatbed inkjet printers and four large-format digital roll-to-roll presses. They also operate five litho presses of varying sizes. The company also operates a 150,000 square-foot finishing and distribution facility.
With a maximum working area of 70 x 141 inches and a maximum speed of 66 inches inches per second, the Kongsberg XP24 can convert a range of board, sheet and roll materials. An optional conveyor extension is available that can work with rolls or sheets/boards with an Auto-Feeder with scissor-lift and transfer cart system, expanding the quantity of print runs that can be pre-stacked. With the Auto-Feeder, the Kongsberg table is able to take the substrate, set the program, read the registration marks, cut the job, and send it to an output conveyor.
“One of the strengths we promote is helping to reduce time to market,” said deBoer. “We can turn around jobs in 24 hours or less. This is our busiest time of the year and if you cannot react quickly enough to changes and last-minute requests, you can lose orders.”
Cascades Inc. has invested more than $13 million with the installation of two new Mitsubishi printing presses into its Norampac plants in Vaudreuil and Drummondville, Quebec, which specialize in manufacturing corrugated packaging products.
“This major investment in Québec is part of our efforts to modernize Norampac's and Cascades’ assets,” stated Charles Malo, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer for Packaging at Norampac. “Similar investments were made at several of Norampac's corrugated converting plants in Ontario, and productivity at the plants increased significantly.”
The Mitsubishi Evol press at the Vaudreuil plant has been in operation since September 2014, and the press at the Drummondville plant was commissioned at the beginning of November. Mitsubishi explains its Evol 100 press can be set up in two minutes by two operators and run at 350 blanks per minute. The press handles a maximum sheet size of 37.4 inches long by 100.59 inches wide.
"The new state-of-the-art equipment is part of our plan to increase our productivity and market share by focusing on strategic sectors as a means of keeping the company on track as we move forward,” stated Alain Lemaire, Cascades' Executive Chairman of the Board. “[This] gesture demonstrates the trust we are placing in the employees at the Vaudreuil and Drummondville plants. Cascades will continue to grow here, as it will in the rest of North America.”
Founded in 1964, Cascades produces, converts and markets packaging and tissue products that are composed mainly of recycled fibres. Cascades employs close to 12,000 people, who work in over a hundred production units in North America and Europe.
Image Four Inc. of Vaughan, Ontario, ramped up its large-format production with its previously installed 64-inch, 6-colour KBA Rapida 162a press, plus coater, which is now supported by a new Kuda guillotine and Busch pile turner.
All of the new support systems for the KBA RA162a-6-3ALV-CX press are designed to handle larger format materials, including the 70-inch Kuda guillotine and 64-inch Busch SWH 180RLA pile turner. These systems and the press were purchased and installed through Howard Graphic Equipment.
The Busch system includes programmable aeration and vibration options, allowing Image Four staff to handle both lightweight and heavyweight materials. Image Four’s substrate handling needs regularly shift from 60-lb to micro-flute materials.
“We are extremely proud of our association with Tim Treloar and his staff,” says Nick Howard of Howard Graphic Equipment. “Image Four continually over delivers to their clients as the go-to independent large-format plant in Canada.”
Image Four was established in 1991 as a traditional prepress trade house. The company moved toward its large-format production with the installation of a VLF-capable CTP imaging system in 2002. Today Image Four provides full prepress, proofing and platemaking up to 70 inches for both packaging and commercial printers across North America.
Codiac Printing, based in MacDougall Settlement, New Brunswick, installed an Agfa Anapurna M2540 flatbed inkjet system, purchased through ND Graphics.
After beginning as a downtown Moncton print shop, Codiac was relocated to MacDougall Settlement in 1992 to a small building on a historic farm property. Codiac provides a range of production services, including screen printing, large format inkjet, offset and vinyl cut lettering.
The Agfa Anapurna M2540, with a pin register bed size of 8.3 x 5 feet, reaches speeds of up to 484 square feet per hour in Express Mode. In what Agfa classifies as Production Mode, the UV-curable inkjet printer reaches a speed of 301 square feet per hour.
Best Deal Graphics & Printing, a trade printer based in Scarborough, Ontario, has increased its 40-inch press capability by ordering a Mitsubishi sheetfed perfecting machine.
The company is adding a Mitsubishi 3000TP perfecting press, sold through New Jersey's RM Machinery, to its existing 40-inch press line up.
Best Deal Graphics 8-colour Mitsubishi 3000TP is a dedicated tandem perfector with features like closed-loop colour control and inline coating.
The Mitsubishi 3000TP joins Best Deal Graphic’s existing 8-colour 3000R convertible perfector with dual coaters and three 3000 series straight presses (two six-colours and one five-colour), also equipped with coaters.
In addition to its printing services, Best Deal Graphics provides finishing, kitting and fulfillment.
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