Latest News

Graphics Grab Bag

Friday, 05 October 2018
By Patrick Howard

Grab Bag – definition: a miscellaneous collection: a potpourri. Welcome to the inaugural issue of Graphics Grab Bag, a weekly record of engagements and observations from a curious observer of the printing industry here and around the world.

Ricoh is claiming a clean sweep of the Print18 Red Hot Awards at Print18 in Chicago. The company says that every one of its products that won an award, pretty impressive in a very competitive field. It had four digital presses recognised  … Printware LLC – iJetColor NXT, Pro C7200X Series, Pro C9200 Series, and Pro VC70000. All good gear.

But what stood out for me was the award to Ricohs Clickable Paper. This has taken a while to come to fruition but it’s marvellous technology. It’ll change the way information is stored in print. When it was first mooted at drupa 2012, I recall talking with Kathy Wilson about the prospect of printing a section of Print21 magazine using the technology. It didn’t happen then because the technology had a way to go before it was a commercial prospect. Now it’s back as an enabler of linking print to the online world.

Coincidentally, in this upcoming issue of Print21, we’ve got a similar  ‘print bridge’ technology on the cover and inside. ScanM from Eddie Gulman’s Infinite Technology uses similar invisible coding to augment printed material linking it to multi-channel content. Check it out in the printed version.

All print will eventually be coded so its content is able to be updated without having to reprint.


In the rapid evolution of printing across sectors, it’s nice to see tradition still has a strong hold. German press manufacturer, Koenig & Bauer, has rebranded its various KBA subsidiaries under the one long-standing name that comes from its two founders, Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Bauer who started the foundation German printing company 200 years ago.

Claus Bolza-Schünemann

According to Claus Bolza-Schünemann, CEO, the umbrella brand will cover all the Group’s subsidiaries, sales and service companies. There’s even a new logo, a fittingly literate ampersand.

Even more satisfying is to report that Koenig & Bauer has an order backlog of over €800m this year. Major orders for security presses as well in folding carton and flexible packaging printing enables the second largest German press manufacturer, after Heidelberg, to move into its next century with confidence.



A dramatic fall in the imports of A4 white copy paper into Australia is not the drastic result for printing that it first may appear.

According to the good guys at Industry Edge while paper imports fell 28.9% over the year to July 2018, slipping to 39.7 kt for the full year and less than one-third of total imports from just three years earlier, it’s not all bad news. However in a lovely turn of phrase, Tim Wood’s people warn us not to be seduced by this data into considering the total Australian market for copy paper has collapsed, along with the imports.  It seems that having successful won its dumping case against all and sundry, the local producer, Japanese-owned Australian Paper, is strongly growing its market share. Reflex is the iconic brand and seems to be everywhere.

New Zealand, on the other hand, has no local producer so the fall of 10.4% in imports over the year is a true and fairly dismal reflection of the decline in printing there.



Nice work if you can get it. The new chief executive of the UK’s Royal Mail, Swiss national, Rico Back, got a ‘golden hello’ bonus of £6m for taking the top job. He was moving across from running the company’s European operation. While three-quarters of investors refused to support the pay deal and also rebelled against a £1m payoff for outgoing chief executive, Moya Greene, the payments went through anyway.

This takes place against a background of £800m or 18% being wiped off the Royal Mail’s stock market value due to a profit guidance cut. Stamp price rises are not being ruled out as a means to rebuild profits.  UK postal workers are seething at the huge payouts after they were forced to accept changes to their pensions to help the company save money only months ago.

Part of the problem is a larger than expected slump in marketing mail as a result of the GDPR, the new EU regulations that put tighter controls on personal information. This slammed the amount of unsolicited, junk mail being posted, something likely to be repeated here if new privacy laws go through. 


I took on the novel role of camera operator yesterday at Woolloomooloo Wharf after the Epson annual technology showcase at upmarket restaurant Otto’s. Craig Heckenberg, general manager, took on the role of mine host from Bruno Turcato, managing director who’s travelling overseas. The usual stunning array of Epson products included google-style spectacles, fast scanners as well as printers for graphics, textile and technical applications. High-powered projectors are set to keep the company’s leading market position in that sector.

My role as camera man came when colleague, Wayne Robinson, editor Print21, stepped out onto the wharf to give an on-the-spot  report of the event in addition to his usual weekly news wrap up. A windy day did nothing to deter him, the rain held off , the camera operator’s hands were mostly steady, and the report was broadcast almost before the event finished.

It’s a wonderful multi-channel world.  Sign on here to receive the video updates.



And finally …

A professional gripe about the number of editors of various publications, including the nationally distributed Good Weekend who feel it necessary to write a ‘letter from the editor.’ It’s not on. Editor’s write many things including editorials. They receive letters ‘to the editor’ from their readers.

Who do they think they’re writing their letter to … the Editor?



Comment on this article

To receive notification of comments made to this article, you can also provide your email address below.