At Graph Expo this week, Agfa announced a new addition to its :Energy plate line. The new :Energy Xtra is a positive working thermal plate that offers runs up to 600,000 impressions without baking and longer when baked. The company calls the :Energy Xtra a highly-durable, all-purpose plate. That plate does not require pre-heat or post-baking, which reduces plate-making time and energy.

"The new :Energy Xtra is an example of Agfa Graphics' continued effort to respond to customer needs and to bring new and innovative solutions to market," said Tim Van den Bossche, Vice President Global Marketing and Strategy at Agfa Graphics. "For those printers with very particular press conditions and long runs, our no-bake solution truly simplifies plate-making and offers a more sustainable solution, an important advantage over other plates that require baking." 

The plate can print 1-99% dot at 200 lpi AM, 20 micron FM and :Sublima 200 lpi XM screening. The :Energy Xtra will be available in early 2013.

During Label Expo Americas, which begins next week in Chicago, Durst is unveiling what it refers to as “digital foil” UV ink for metallic label and packaging applications.  

This ink introduction, which is also presented by Durst as the world’s first solvent-free silver UV ink, coincides with the Label Expo launch of Durst’s new Tau 330 UV inkjet label press. The metallic silver UV ink can be used with the Tau 330 and also with previous models like the Tau 150-8C.

According to Durst, the advantage of its new metallic ink is seen in the ability to lay down – in one pass – a “digital foil” that meets all the demands of metallic label applications. “We see our successful development of Durst Metallic Silver UV Ink as a real game changer,” said Helmuth Munter, Worldwide Manager of Durst’s Label Printing Division.

The Tau UV inkjet label presses reach speeds of 65 to 95 linear feet (20 to 30 linear meters) per minute.

Sun Chemical is launching SunLit Crystal as a universal sheetfed offset process ink set. Described by the company as an “all-in-one ink solution,” SunLit Crystal is based on a high proportion of renewable raw materials.

As a vegetable oil-based printing ink, SunLit Crystal can be used on straight or perfecting presses of all sizes. Sun Chemical describes the ink product as an ideal solution for plants where one or more presses are supplied from a pumping station.

"Customers who work with electronic media are used to high quality and vivid images and SunLit Crystal can help replicate this quality in printed material to compete with all forms of media,” said Dr. Bernhard Fritz, Product Manager Sheetfed Systems Europe, Sun Chemical.

SunLit Crystal is also fully aligned with the measures of print standardization (ISO 12647:2), which the company describes as a major benefit for print buyers and international organizations.

Sun Chemical has released two new solvent-ink products, called Streamline ESL HPQ and Streamline Ultima HPQ, for use with wide-format inkjet equipment.

The new additions to the Streamline range, according to Sun Chemical, have been matched to the original products for both colour shade and strength, as well as physical properties, enabling customers to continue using their existing settings when converting from the original inks.

The Streamline ESL HPQ product is designed for use with systems from Mutoh (Valuejet, Spitfire, Rockhopper II, Falcon and Blizzard), Agfa (Grand Sherpa), Roland (Soljet Pro II, Pro III), and machines fitted with Epson 10000/DX4 or DX5 print heads.

The Streamline Ultima HPQ line is designed for Mimaki systems, including the JV33 and JV5 models, as well as all Mimaki printers using SS21 inks or any machines using Epson DX5 print heads.

At drupa 2012, Agfa Graphics unveiled the :Azura CX125 COU cleanout unit, based on what it calls cascade technology, for higher-volume running of its :Azura TS chemistry-free thermal plates. According to the company, this new system yields a 60 percent reduction in gum consumption as compared to previous models.  

The :Azura CX125 COU reduces gum consumption and extends bath life, for higher volume users of :Azura TS plates. The :Azura CX125 COU, which accommodates plate widths up to 125c m, is designed to handle plate volumes up to 40,000 m2, while providing a bath life of up to 7,000 m2.

The cascade technology behind the :Azura CX125 COU cleans each plate in two steps: The primary clean out is carried out in Section 1, the plate then passes to Section 2 where the gum is always fresh from the bottle. The key part of the process is the cascade of gum from section 2 to section 1, where a small volume of water is added to compensate for evaporation.

“The patented technology in the new :Azura CX125 COU clean-out unit results in reliable throughput with fewer changeovers, for greater productivity, efficiency and ease of use,” stated Ralph Hilsdon, Marketing Manager, Pre-Press systems, Agfa Graphics.

At drupa, Agfa also highlighted the previously announced launch of :Apogee Suite 8.0, featuring the new :Apogee StoreFront, which is a cloud-based, web-to-print solution, as well as two versions of the UV-curable :Jeti 3020 Titan series – with a 36-print-head configuration that can be field upgraded to a 48-head version.

The company also introduced two new platesetters for the high-volume newspaper market. The :Advantage N PL HS (Pallet Load, High-Speed) and the :Advantage N TR HS (Trolley Load, High-Speed) both run at speeds up to 350 plates per hour, 50 plates more than the :Advantage N. The :Advantage N PL HS features a completely new design and can hold up to 6,000 plates – two pallets of 3,000 plates each.

Agfa also demonstrated for the first time its M-Press Leopard industrial inkjet system, which has an increased bed size of 1.6 x 3.3 metres, as well as an increase to 75 vacuum zones for positioning of the sheet.

Effective April 1, Flint will be raising the prices of its packaging inks, which include solvent-based and all packaging and narrow web white inks, in North America.

Citing the continuing increases in raw material costs, namely the increase in the price of titanium dioxide, solvent-based inks will increase six percent while white inks will increase upwards of 18 percent, depending on the type and concentration of raw materials of its composition.

Susan Kuchta, Vice President North American Packaging and Narrow Web, commented, “Cost pressure has been constant and the magnitude of the cost increases require we pass them through the supply chain. These costs cannot be absorbed and still maintain a consistent and assured supply of product to the industry.”

Flint Group will communicate directly with its customers regarding the overall impact of the price increases.

Flint Group North America will be raising the price of its black coldset inks (used to print newspapers, directories, and books) nine cents per kilo in Canada (four cents per pound in the US). The company attributes the increase to increased global demand for petroleum-derived raw materials, especially the increase in price for naphthenic oils and carbon black.

“Flint Group is taking every possible measure to mitigate the impact of this increase,” says Norm Harbin, Business Director, News Inks for Flint Group. “We appreciate customers’ understanding of the market conditions that make this price increase necessary.”

According to Flint, there are only a handful of North American naphthenic oil refineries supplying its global demand and a significant amount of that oil is now being exported overseas. Carbon black manufacturers also removed a significant amount of capacity during the recent global recession, but now that demand has increased once again (with demand from the tire industry), manufacturers are now at capacity.

Fujifilm and Kodak have separately announced increased plate production through its European manufacturing facilities. 

Kodak announced it has upgraded a second plate manufacturing line at its facility in Leeds, UK, and will increase its capacity for producing its process-free Thermal Direct and PF-N plates.

"We are fast approaching the milestone of 1,500 commercial and publication customers using process-free technology plates," said Doug Edwards, General Manager, Prepress Solutions for Kodak. "That number continues to grow aggressively. On the newspaper side, a growing number of newspaper accounts in the U.S. and Canada now use PF-N Plates."

Fujifilm announced that a new production line at its Netherlands-based plant will go online in January 2012. It is one of four primary sites where the company produces printing plates. It will also increase the company's capacity for chemistry-free and low-chemistry plates.

The Fujifilm plant in The Netherlands also employs renewable energy produced through wind turbines, which currently accounts for 20 percent of the company's production power needs, and also recaptures waste heat to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Sun Chemical's Rycoline Group announced it will be increasing blanket product prices in North America by five percent, effective January 1, 2012.

“We’ve seen especially high demand in cotton in 2011 because of the year’s poor harvest,” said Dennis Sweet, Vice President, Rycoline. “As a result, there has been a tremendous increase in the cost of cotton, and we don’t foresee any of these costs to go down in the near future. We will continue to work on controlling our own costs closely with our supply chain partners, to improve our internal operations, and to develop new value-oriented products and services that can help customers improve their productivity and grow their business.”

The blanket product lines affected by the price increase include: SunBeam, SunBeam N, SunBeam 116, SunBeam 122, SunDot, SunSpot, SunDual and SunLazer.

Citing the continued volatility of raw material pricing around the world, Sun Chemical will be increasing printing ink prices in Canada, effective December 1st.

The increases are as follows:
  • 8 percent for heatset process inks,
  • 12 percent for coldset black inks,
  • 6 percent  for coldset color inks,
  • 5 percent for water-based inks,
  • 8 percent for solvent-based inks,
  • 6 percent for energy curable inks,
  • 5 percent for sheetfed inks, and
  • 8 percent for water-based coatings.

“Commodity, resin and pigment prices continue to rise and are dramatically higher than earlier this year. We see the supply of many critical raw materials continuing to be constrained due to operational, market, and weather related issues, and there doesn't appear to be any relief anticipated in the near term,” said Rod Staveley, President, Sun Chemical Canada.
“We cannot absorb the drastic raw material price increases and global supply chain instability we continue to see. Despite these challenges, we will continue to deliver on-time, quality products to our customers through significant efforts of our supply chain and technical teams.”

Domino Printing Sciences has launched a new black ethanol-based ink, called BK107, for use with its G-Series range of thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers. The formulation of BK107 has been specifically designed for coding and marking applications within the confectionery and food markets, which includes properties for stronger adhesion.

According to Domino, this includes a high resistance to abrasion and deterioration after application to a range of substrates such as Polyethylene, POPP, Cast PP and Polyester/PET, which are used extensively by confectionery and food manufacturers. The company continues to claim this helps to eliminate the problem of print deterioration commonly found with many wax-based inks. The BK107 ink comes in a changeable print cartridge, while also meeting several guidelines for EuPIA and food packaging inks.

"Choosing the right ink for your application is essential, as the choice of ink affects not only the quality of printed output, but also the performance of the printer,” stated Alan Mutch, Product Manager of TIJ at Domino.

Domino Group employs 2,100 people worldwide and sells to more than 120 countries through a network of 25 subsidiary offices and more than 200 distributors. Domino's manufacturing facilities are situated in Canada, China, Germany, India, Sweden, UK and the United States.

At the IFRA show in Vienna, Tokyo-based Toray International will debut the latest generation of its waterless plate for newspaper and semi-commercial printing. The company says the new MX10 plate will have a 40 percent increased durability.

"Most printers will now be able to use only one plate per print form for over 90% of the jobs further enhancing the economic advantage of waterless," said Junichi Ishii as Sales Manager for graphics and chemical products for Toray International Europe. "Print runs up to a quarter of a million impressions have been obtained with the new plate under normal production conditions during the test period at customer sites. Minimal make ready time and waste which are well known features of waterless will of course be maintained with the new plate."

The company has increased production of plates in its Okazki factory in Japan. The MX10 is expected to be available by the end of the year. 

The company has also announced it is also building a new plate factory in the Czech Republic to deal with demand across Europe and the Middle East. The plant will be operational by early 2014.

"The European manufacturing site is also expected to reduce the adverse effects of currency exchange rate fluctuations," said Toshimitsu Matsumoto, General Manager, Graphics Division of Toray Industries Inc.

At the International Graphic Arts Show this week, Agfa Graphics debuted its :Azura TS System, which is aimed at the high-volume user.

The :Azura TS System combines the company's Avalon N8-80 XT platesetter with the new :Azura Ultima high-capacity clean-out unit. The combo is designed to process Agfa's :Avalon and :Azura chemistry-free plates, which are based on its ThermoFuse technology and will process 40,000 m2 of plates a year.

"The :Azura system now also responds to the needs of larger, high-volume printers," said Ralph Hilsdon, Head of Product Marketing at Agfa Graphics. "We can comfortably say that no other manufacturer can offer this level of productivity, quality, and environmental benefit with one solution. Moreover, in combination with Agfa Graphics' :Apogee workflow and the :Sublima cross-modulated (XM) screening, it outperforms any other solution in the market on speed, ease of use, and process stability."

According to Agfa, the new N8-80XT has a standby mode which saves 88 percent on power consumption without compromising productivity. The Ultima clean-out unit also generates "a fraction" of the waste of comparable systems and requires no water connection.
The Printing Ink Company, Rycoline Inc., of Vaughan, Ontario, has created a behind-the-scenes video about the creation of its offset printing inks. The video is presented by Peter Welfare, President and Head of Research and Development.

Titled The Making of Ink, the video has garnered much attention outside of the graphic arts world, reaching over half a million views to date on YouTube

You can view the video below:

Due to the increase in energy and raw material costs, Kodak has announced it will be increasing the prices of all of its flexographic plates by seven percent as of July 15. The increase will be implemented globally.

“It’s never easy to pass these kinds of price increases along to our customers, and we are committed to working with them to ensure that their plate needs and business requirements are met as effectively as possible,” said Mohan Garde, Vice President and General Manager, Packaging Business, Prepress Solutions, Kodak. “The value that our plates bring to the market—high quality, efficiency, repeatability, and more—continues to make them a sound investment for flexo printers who desire the best possible results. As always, we’ll continue to pursue manufacturing efficiencies that will minimize any future pricing impacts for our customer base.”

Details of the new pricing structure will be communicated over the next month to all customers and dealers. All current contractual commitments will be honoured.

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