Featured in PrintAction magazine's February 2015 issue, now available online, Vic Stalam describes his new role as President of Highcon Americas and why the company's unique Euclid cutting and creasing technology can disrupt one of printing’s most enduring long-run sectors. The full article is available in the print edition or via PrintAction's digital archive.
How is Highcon’s Direct to Pack technology unique?
Vic Stalam: Nothing else exists today in terms of what we have to offer… Highcon is the first to offer a totally digital Direct to Pack solution to the folding-carton market. It also handles both [worlds]. It doesn’t have to be digitally printed, it can also be analogue. Truth be told, most of the volume is still analogue and we need to support that. So, in this sense, it is not only the technology that is unique, but also the fact that we support both digital and analogue.
What stands out most about Highcon’s DART technology?
VS: The paper movement is right to left and, in stage one, once the paper is registered… the polymer is UV-cured and then it produces the creasing lines. It is very unique in that sense. Because it can address any point on the paper, you have opportunities to create very, very unique applications. Once the line is creased – and it is folded through the creasing lines – the next major stage is the laser, which does the actual cutting.
What’s unique about our technology is, not only DART and the way the polymer is laid, but also the way it is creased and then how it is registered for the laser to cut it. Typically when you use a high-powered laser you can burn all kinds of other things like paper or folding carton. Our technology takes care of [this challenge] so that you do not see any of that. It is a very clean process.
How are Euclid’s digital optics important to the laser-writing process?
VS: With the optics you not only have edge registration, which is mechanical, but we also have optical registration. With traditional die cutting, you just do not have the precision of a laser, so everything you see [off the Euclid] is going to be a higher quality product, as it relates to registration and the quality of the cut itself.
What advantage does Highcon, relative to printing’s historic postpress players, have when it comes to developing new approaches for finishing folding-carton work?
VS: I always think of the great Canadian Wayne Gretzky and a famous quote. Somebody in the press asked him, “You are not a big guy, what makes you great?” He said, which always sticks in my mind, “I always try to be one step ahead. I always try to get to where the puck is going to be next and I do not worry about where the puck is now.” I think that is where Highcon is going… positioning ourselves as customers move to digital – how is it going to help them in the future?
How would you compare Highcon’s potential impact to another stage of printing evolution, such as when film was eliminated in prepress?
VS: The world is going to be very different in just a few years – I guarantee you that. This is the disruption and we are going to be a big part of that on the finishing side. Remember how we used to have these film-based companies called trade shops – absolutely, same analogy. Trade finishers have an opportunity to embrace this new technology and grow or else they are going to fall by the wayside.
How can a technology like Euclid ease the ability for commercial printers to get into packaging?
VS: Having spent a lot of my life in both commercial printing and packaging, 70 percent of what commercial printers do is the same as what packaging printers do… There are differences. One is the language they speak. Commercial printers talk about pages and packaging printers obviously do not. There is an issue around substrates. Then there is an issue around specialty colours. Commercial printers now do six, seven colours. With packaging customers it is not unusual to see 10, 12, 14 with all of the varnishes, all of the metallics.
But when it comes to digital technology, the one thing I like about commercial printers is that they are trying hard to get digital right. I think they are probably five to 10 years ahead of packaging printers as far as digitization is concerned. I give them credit for that. Given their experience with digital technology, given their desire to get into packaging, I think solutions like Euclid will help.
How does Highcon benefit from the growth in digital press development for packaging?
VS: We are in constant dialogue with all of these digital press companies, whether it is HP, Xerox, Xeikon, Landa or Kodak, whoever, because the nature of the relationship between us is very symbiotic. We need each other, because if we can get a lot of short-run jobs printed with digital that will make the Euclid system very successful. They need us because they can do all of the digital printing, but it comes to a screeching halt if they have to depend on an analogue process for finishing. We are the missing link to complete that whole digitization process for end customers.
What type of printing company should be looking at Euclid?
VS: We are looking for companies who are very progressive and innovative, who want to look at new technology. That is one vector. The second one is we are looking for companies who either have digital or, more importantly, they are in the process of moving toward digital. We have a few customers who do not have any digital and are just putting it in now, after they put in the Euclid, because it also supports analogue. The third vector we are looking for is customers who want to grow with new applications, who are willing to work with their customers, the brand owners, to help them grow.
What type of industry sectors are being targeted for Euclid as a starting point?
VS: There are about three major sectors. One is clearly commercial printers who are doing folding carton. This is going to be key. Two is packaging printers who are doing a lot of the other stuff like labels. And the third sector is trade finishers, the prepress houses of the finishing business. Those are the three big ones as we move ahead.
There are also some very creative design applications to take advantage and we will build on that as we go forward in time.
How much investment is needed to add Euclid in your facility?
VS: Just as a ballpark, the entry-level product is around $690,000. That is where it starts and then you can add things to it.
What savings can be realized through Euclid, specifically by eliminating traditional die-cutting processes?
VS: It takes about 15 minutes to set up a job in terms of the Euclid. In the case of die cutting, first of all, probably you have to send the job outside. You have to schedule it and then it takes typically anywhere from one to three days. The actual set up time is between four to eight hours on the die-cutting side depending on the complexity of the job versus 15 minutes, so there is a huge difference in the set-up times.
In the case of die cutting, they will have to store [a new die] in the event that they may have to reuse it at some point, which means they need a huge inventory management system and storage space. Think of the old days of film; how you had to store film and then go find it when needed. It is just a mess. Go back to the days of stripping a piece of film on a light table. And it also depends on the experience of the operator.
How many Euclid systems are currently installed in North America?
VS: We have four in North America right now, with one currently going in. We just launched the product in North America at Graph Expo [September 2014].
Do you have projections for how many Euclid systems should be installed on an annual basis?
VS: No, it is too early to tell. One of my jobs is to size the market, how big the opportunity is. As the new guy, I am going to go look at it with a fresh set of eyes. Ask me in three months.
How is Euclid’s consumables opportunity attractive to Highcon?
VS: There are three consumables that go with the system. The first one is the polymer. And this is the polymer I talked about earlier, which creates the creasing line. The polymer is first put on the foil and then it is UV hardened and then it creates a creasing line on the substrate.
The second one is the foil onto which the crease lines are written. And those two are one to one. For every job, you need a polymer and you need a foil. And the last consumable is called the counter substrate, which supports the high-quality creasing. It is replaced approximately every 120 jobs on average, so that is probably once every two months, depending on how many jobs you run.
Is the foil and polymer developed by Highcon or a third-party?
VS: Highcon develops it all. It is optimized to run – absolutely.
What hidden costs should printers consider before investing in Euclid?
VS: There are two things. The power requirement. Make sure they have enough power in the plant. And two is the chilling unit. Make sure there is enough accommodation for the chilling unit.
How does Euclid deal with waste material?
VS: This is a very important point. We are also unique in terms of how we automatically strip off all of the waste materials into a collection bin, which is totally automated. You cannot do that with traditional die cutting. It is a mess when you look at a traditional die-cutting machine – carton board is all over the place.
How will Highcon reach the market in the Americas, particularly here in Canada?
VS: Today, we have an agent out of Winnipeg called Canadian Printing Equipment. I’m going to be coming up in the next few weeks and doing an assessment on what do we need. At the same time, we continue to work with digital press partners. But right now it is definitely a dealer model for Canada, given how big the country is and what we need to do.
What technology challenges does Euclid still face?
VS: We continue to listen and learn from cutomers and we will not be a one-trick pony. We are committed to being an R&D powerhouse in this space and we are building a portfolio of products. One of the reasons why I joined the company is because of its strong commitment to R&D and the desire to listen and continue to iterate on the product. In my experience, with new products, that is the only way to do it.
What struck you most on your recent tour of Highcon’s facility in Israel?
VS: I believe in the technology. I believe in the value of what it will do for our customers and their customers. I have had the opportunity over the years to work with several Israeli companies. Their passion in terms of technology and their hard-work ethic is just incredible. I was there for four days. I was trying to cram in as much as possible. I was there every day from 8 o’clock to 8 o’clock, before we went for dinner, and I saw almost the whole team working. That is passion in terms of new technology.
What excites you most about Highcon’s technology and its potential impact?
VS: The single biggest thing that I am excited about is the fact that for brand owners, especially for folding-carton end customers, it means that now they can push for short runs without a lot of additional cost, at a very affordable rate. Today short run [folding carton] is not affordable because the finishing is very, very expensive. We are going to bring a lot of value to brand owners in terms of helping them grow their brand. I think that is going to have a major impact.
It is also going to cut down on the amount of time they need to bring a new product out. Brand owners take months and months when they have a new product to get on the shelf, so every day counts. Also new applications, which you could never produce with traditional die cutting.
What is your most important message to PrintAction’s readers?
VS: There is a major shift going on within the folding-carton market, to go digital. And we are going to be a major part of it. We are going to make it happen because it brings value to our customers and their customers. There is going to be a seismic shift even if today a lot of the volume is still traditionally printed. It is just a matter of time before the shift happens.
Sydney Stone, the exclusive Canadian distributor of Morgana’s line of creasing, folding, numbering and booklet-making equipment, plans to launch the new Morgana BM 350 and BM 500 offline and near-line booklet makers at Graphics Canada, taking place in Mississauga from April 16 to 18.
This will be the first time the Morgana BM 350 and BM 500 booklet makers will be shown at a North American trade show, which is to include demonstrations of the new products.
Sydney Stone explains the Morgana BM 350 and BM 500 booklet makers have been offered for more than a year as inline systems by Xerox and Ricoh, but are now available as both near-line and offline versions. Sydney Stone also states these higher capacity booklet makers (35 and 50 sheet capacity) enable printers to finish work that is increasingly printed on higher quality coated and art papers without over taxing the booklet maker.
The near-line Morgana solution includes a 21-inch high capacity dual bin sheet feeder, while the off line solution is a handfed booklet maker with optional square spine press and face trimming.
Israel-based Highcon, which develops unique digital cutting and creasing technologies for the printing industry, is expanding into North America with the appointment of Vic Stalam as President of Highcon Americas.
Founded in 2009 by Aviv Ratzman and Michael Zimmer, Highcon is best known for its Euclid finishing system, unveiled at drupa 2012, and described by the company as the first fully digital cutting and creasing machine for converting paper, labels, folding carton and microflute.
The Euclid incorporates Highcon’s patented Digital Adhesive Rule Technology (DART) to produce creases, as well as high-speed laser optics to cut a range of substrates. This process eliminates the conventional die-making step. The Euclid is installed at customer sites in the United States, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Stalam previously served as Senior Vice President of Sales at X-Rite, where he worked from 2011 to 2013, and as Vice President of Commercial sales at Kodak, where he worked from 2009 to 2011. Before joined Highcon, Stalam provided C- Level consulting for private equity and venture capital companies. He will lead Highcon's team in Canada, North and South America and building the American operations.
“I am excited to be joining Highcon at this particular stage of the company's growth. The introduction of digital technology into the post-print and packaging market completes the missing link in the digital printing workflow,” said Stalam. “I believe in Highcon’s vision of transforming finishing into a value adding process…”
Sydney Stone, a Mississauga firm specializing in finising for short-run print production, has reached a distribution agreement to sell MultiLoft products in Canada.
MultiLoft, according to Sydney Stone, allows for producing materials up to 64-pt thickness in forms like business cards and post cards.
Working with print from toner press, MultiLoft allows front and back cover sheets to assembled back to back, and insert sheets to be added to increase thickness. Pressure from the trimming clamp then seals the sheets together. After assembly, the sheets can also be die-cut into specialty shaped cards.
Standard Horizon plans to debut two finishing systems at the upcoming Graph Expo 2014 tradeshow, taking place from September 28 to October 1 in Chicago.
Standard plans to launch the new CRA-36 Creaser (to be available September 2014) with automated feeding. The system can crease or perforate up to 5,000 sheets per hour, while also performing up or down creasing, as well as spine, hinge and flap creasing for perfect-bound book covers. Up to 10 creasing lines can be created in one pass. The CRA-36 accepts coated, uncoated or laminated stock from 24-lb bond up to 18 points, on sheets of up to 14.3 x 34 inches.
At Graph Expo, Standard is also debuting the TBC-200L three-knife top and bottom trimmer (to be available September 2014), which can be connected inline to Horizon SPF-20/20A/200A/200L booklet-making systems. The TBC-200L is also available as an off-line version. It reaches speeds of up to 4,000 trimmed booklets per hour, at thicknesses up to 0.195 inches. It accepts untrimmed booklets up to 14 x 12 inches down to 4.725 x 3.55 inches.
In addition to these two new systems, Standard is exhibiting the RD-4055 and RD-3346 rotary die cutters for short-run work. The systems can die cut, crease, perforate, slit, hole punch, and round corner in one process for both toner and offset sheets. The RD-4055 feeds, die-cuts, and separates waste in one pass at up to 6,000 cycles per hour and accepts sheet sizes up to 15.74 x 21.65 inches, at a thickness of up to 0.5mm (0.019 inches). Creasing is also available for applications that require additional folding after die-cutting, such as boxes, pocket folders, and greeting cards. The RD-3346 runs at 3,000 cycles per hour on sheet sizes up to 13 x 18 inches at .35 mm (0.013 inches) thick.
MGI Digital Graphic Technology installed the new iFOIL hot-foil-stamping system into its Florida headquarters for demonstration purposes with North American printers.
iFOIL operates inline with MGI’s JETvarnish 3D UV spot coater to produce on-demand – and personalized – embossing, debossing and hot foil work. MGI points to applications like magazine covers, books, brochures, labels, invitations and packaging.
In addition to foil on foil work, iFOIL can apply up to three foils in one pass. It runs up to 1,700 B2 size sheets per hour, which equates to 25 metres per minute.
Using market standard foil rolls, the inline configuration handles sizes ranging from A4 format (21 x 30 cm) to 52 x 105cm and on paper substrates ranging from 150 to 700 microns. User can also produce hot stamping with iFOIL with output from offset and toner presses, including MGI’s Meteor series.
Sydney Stone is to begin distributing the new Duplo DC-616 system with slitting, cutting, creasing and perforating primarily aimed at short-run toner work.
The DC-616 is designed to eliminate white borders and prevent toner cracking on colour documents. It can finish a range of full-bleed digital applications including greeting cards, invitations, brochures, book covers, photos, and 24-up business cards without the need for additional modules. The DC-616 can process up to six slits, 25 cuts, and 20 creases in a single pass.
Two models are available, including the DC-616 PRO which comes standard with PC controller software and PC Pole Mount for easy job setup, CCD scanner to read barcodes and registration marks, ultrasonic double feed detection, and a perforating unit (with two manually adjustable perforation tools) to perforate along the length of the sheet. All of these features can be added to the basic DC-616 model as options.
Duplo has commercially released the DC-646 slitter/cutter/creaser for the United States, Canadian and Latin American markets. The technology was first introduced at PRINT 13 to handle a range of print work primarily produced on colour toner presses.
The DC-646 can produce up to eight slits, 25 cuts and 20 creases in a single pass, while also providing full bleed to eliminate white borders and preventing toner cracking on fold lines up to 30 sheets per minute. The DC-646 can be equipped with optional rotary tool and cross perforating modules, both with strike-perforating capabilities.
With Duplo’s new technology, users can create 24-up business cards on 12 x 18 or 36-up on 14 x 26 paper sizes, slit-score greeting cards, micro-perforated coupons, direct mailers with tear-away cards.
The DC-646 features a PC Controller and comes with a built-in CCD scanner, making it possible to recall any job stored in memory by reading the printed barcode and automatically setting up the job. The scanner reads registration marks as well to correct the sheet-by-sheet image shift. Users can apply barcodes and registration marks with the EFI Fiery Command Workstation impose tool (Fiery System 10 or newer).
“The DC-646 was a huge hit at PRINT 13 and sold out at the show. Customers were very impressed with the additional capabilities and its price point comparable to the DC-645 model,” stated Si Nguyen, Vice President of Sales at Duplo USA. “In a few months, customers will be able to add folding capabilities for even more versatility.”
The DC-646 will be configurable with the Integrated Folding System which performs as an in-line folder, creating a solution that slits/cuts/creases and folds in a single pass.
Sydney Stone, a Mississauga-based distributor specializing in finishing technologies, announced its plans to launch the Watkiss PowerSquare 224 in-line with a high-capacity sheet feeder at Graphics Canada. This new Watkiss system will be run as a product demonstration during the three-day show, beginning November 21 in Toronto.
Watkiss Automation Ltd. of the United Kingdom officially launched its PowerSquare 224 book-maker back in July 2013. The company describes the new machine as a complete booklet-making system for toner-based printing. The PowerSquare 224 is rated to produce stitched, SquareBack books up to 224 pages thick.
“This Watkiss product and the previous PowerSquare 200 fall in line with what our customers frequently are searching for, a differentiating finishing solution. Booklets can be produced by a variety of different finishing devices but only the Watkiss PowersSquare 224 can produce a booklet up to 10.4-mm thick with a square spine,” stated Michael Steele, Managing Director, Sydney Stone. “This replicates the perfect bound look, packs much more easily and with the wire stitch binding is stronger than a perfect bound book.”
Building from its PowerSquare 200 predecessor, Watkiss increased the specification of this new model to include a larger online sheet size of 14.37 x 19.69 inches, the increased book thickness of 10.4mm described above, and a higher average monthly production volume of 50,000 books.
Watkiss also changed the paper path through the PowerSquare 224 to better handle higher-quality papers used in colour toner printing. The machine also features a new auto-adjustment system for book thickness, allowing uninterrupted running when streaming jobs, or when printing variable content documents that have different page counts.
Finishing machinery vendor Duplo has announced two new offerings in its lineup, the DF-777 Automatic Folder and the DSC-10/20 Suction Collator.
The DF-777 folds documents such as brochures, menus, letters, and invoices at up to 135 sheets per minute. Users can select from six preprogrammed folds for touch-and-go folding or customize their own for non-standard folds. Cross folding is also possible for documents that require right-angle folds. It is suited for the office and other smaller volume environments.
The DSC-10/20 Suction Collator is designed for both offset and digitally printed applications. The machine has 10 bins which handle a wide range of paper and uses Duplo's patented feed system. Up to two DSC-10/20 towers can be connected and configured with Duplo's bookletmakers and due to its modular nature, can be upgraded to increase production capacity.
Duplo was founded in Japan in 1951 before expanding into the U.S. market in 1979 and Europe in 1985. Today Duplo devices are used in 170 countries.
Baum has announced ten new products at this year's Graph Expo. This number exceeds new product announcement than any previous year.
The ten products are:
- 714XA AutoFold Tabletop folder (New automated air/vacuum feed tabletop folder)
- CF20 Creaser Folder (NEW folder for folding stocks in line with creasing/scoring equipment and other applications)
- DG Creaser ( NEW high speed, robust impact creasing machine)
- AutoBaum B12X Desktop Folder (NEW fully automated desktop friction feed folder)
- AutoBaum B12A Desktop Folder (NEW limited automation desktop friction feed folder)
- B12 M Desktop Folder (NEW manual setup desktop friction feed folder)
- 714XLT-2C Folder Gluer (NEW 2-head self-mailer folder/gluer for half and letter folds without dots in the middle)
- 714XLT 4C Folder Gluer (New 4-head self-mailer folder/gluer for half, letter with dots in the middle)
- 714XLT 4Z Folder Gluer (NEW 4-head self-mailer folder/gluer for half, letter, Z, and dbl parallel without dots in the middle)
- 714XLT 8Z Folder Gluer (NEW 4-head self-mailer folder/gluer for half, letter, Z, and dbl parallel with dots in the middle)
In addition to these machines, Baum has also updated its BaumPrint 18 Press, the BaumCut cutter line and other Baum folders.
In Canada, Baum is represented by Wades Bindery Repair and KBR Graphics.
At Graphics Canada, beginning this Thursday in Toronto, Sydney Stone states it will present the Canadian tradeshow debut of the Morgana DigiFold 5000P. First released in 2003, the most-recent upgrade to the DigiFold includes Morgana’s patented “flying knife” technology and DynaCrease, which help to increase the system’s speed to over 5,000 A4 sheets an hour.
At Graphics Canada, Sydney Stone will run two booths with equipment demonstrations. At 3601, the company is focusing on the latest in Duplo, Morgana, EBA, and Challenge products. This will include the Duplo System 2000 and DSF 2000 bookletmaking systems. The other booth, 3806, is centred around Sydney Stone’s Certified Series of reconditioned equipment. The company plans to have 20 pieces of reconditioned equipment on the booth, such as paper cutters, folders and bookletmakers.
Sydney Stone is also holding a draw at Graphics Canada in which entrants can win $1,000 in supplies.
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