Author Archive

  • Print21 Aussie Kiwi Fespa party on tonight

    First Stein free: The Aussie Kiwi Fespa Party, Hofbrauhaus, Thurs May 16, 8pm-midnight

    The Print21 Aussie Kiwi Fespa Party is on in Munich tonight, with all Australians and Kiwis at the Fespa Global wide format trade show invited for a stein in the world’s most famous pub, Munich’s Hofbrauhaus.

    The party is taking place at 8pm onwards. All partygoers will be given their first stein (one litre) of Hofbrau beer free, with the hospitality provided by suppliers association Visual Connections and by industry supplier Starleaton.

    Hofbrauhaus brews its own award-winning certified pure beer, and is the full Bavarian event, with waiters in lederhosen, waitresses in dirndls, and a nightly oompah band pumping out those irresistible German party tunes.

    Wayne Robinson, editor of Print21 said, “Hofbrauhaus is an unmissable evening in Munich, with a brilliant atmosphere. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Visual Connections and Starleaton, all Aussies and Kiwis making the trek to the Fespa Global show will be able to enjoy a free refreshing stein in the legendary pub tonight, after a long day in the expo halls. They will also be able to network with their peers from the ANZ printing community, and with printers from around the world, all in Germany for what is the biggest event in the wide format calendar.”

    Hofbrauhaus is located in the heart of the Aldstadt (old town). The Aussie Kiwi Fespa Party will kick off at 8pm on the Thursday and run until midnight, and will be located in the main Schwemme hall, near the oompah bandstand.

    All Aussies and Kiwis will receive a beer token on arrival at the party, from Print21 editor Robinson; Jenny Harris, event manager at Visual Connections; or John Buitenkamp or Cleition Schneider from Starleaton – all of whom will be be near the oompah bandstand – which they can then exchange at the Hofbrauhaus bar for their free stein.

    Robinson said, “We thought 8pm is a good time to start, so printers can eat something before they get to the beer. You can actually eat in Hofbrauhaus, it serves a top selection of traditional delicious Bavarian fare. There are also multiple restaurants in the vicinity. Hofbrauhaus is open until midnight so there is plenty of time to get to the beer.”

    Hofbrauhaus has been serving beer and atmosphere on the same site every night for the past 450 years. Its beer is brewed according to the strict German beer purity regulations, enacted in the year 1516, and believed to be the world’s first food and beverage law.

    Oompah action: The Aussie Kiwi Fespa Party, 8pm-midnight, Thu May 16, Hofbrauhaus, Munich

  • First Panther inkjet label press lands in Aus

    Panther in Australia: First customer up and running with Xeikon inkjet

    Xeikon is expanding its range of digital presses to include UV inkjet for labels, and the first has landed in Australia. A label converter on the East Coast, whose identity is being kept secret by the company, has already got the first Panther up and running.

    Continuing a focus on naming its label presses after big cats, Xeikon has followed the Cheetah CX3 toner machine with the Panther PX3000, its first step into inkjet printing. Long recognised as ‘the other’ high-end digital press manufacturer, Xeikon continues to promote its commercial, carton and label presses as being best in class, now with both toner and inkjet.

    Following its purchase of the Jetrion inkjet press from EFI two years ago, Xeikon has embarked on a path to offer upgrades to the existing customer base. As there will be no further development of the Jetrion presses, label converters will be faced with a decision. While continuing service will be maintained for the Jetrions, the arrival of the Panther is designed to reset the conversation about what Xeikon digital label customers will get in the future.

    The Panther PX3000 (and the PX2000) is the latest UV inkjet machine to launch into the already crowded digital inkjet label market. With a top speed of 50 m/min it is being promoted as having a high level of image durability, to appeal in particular to health and beauty, industrial chemical, household chemical and industrial markets. The UV inkjet is a major strategic move from Xeikon to expand its offering.

    According to Trevor Crowley, the Xeikon manager in ANZ, there’s been plenty of local interest in the Panther. With Labelexpo only five months away, he is expecting to close a couple of extra orders for not just the Panther but the toner presses as well.

    “While this is the first here [in Australia], the Panther is going great guns around the world. As more label printers are converting work to digital, it provides them with a viable alternative for shorter runs,” he said.

    The first Panther coincides with the latest installation of another Xeikon toner press in Victoria. Again the identity is being kept secret, and while it may be an open secret in the industry, I promised Trevor not to reveal who it is.

    With one more installation scheduled for Q2, this brings to 18 the number of Xeikon presses in the local market. It’s still some distance behind the market leader, but with what will soon be press number six installed since February 2017, this is still a respectable number and one that’s now set to grow as Xeikon settles down as a well-financed Flint company.

  • No relief on the way for paper prices

    No end in sight for high paper prices this year.

    Printers expecting a reversal of the price hikes from last year are doomed to disappointment as industry bible Pulp & Paper Edge predicts they’ll hold steady at best or even rise again this year.

    In the latest report from Pulp & Paper Edge, industry guru Tim Woods predicts that prices for printing and communication paper grades will not be going down in 2019, with importers and overseas mills feeling the squeeze from sustained input price pressures.

    Tough conditions: Tim Woods, IndustryEdge.

    “Paper producers, importers and merchants continue to subsidise paper prices for printers, as their contribution to dealing with tough market conditions.

    “There is no simpler way to put the pricing situation,” he said.

    Pulp and chip prices are set to remain high, according to Woods, with no relief in sight.

    “After the big spike in global pulp prices recorded in 2018, the correction later in the year was expected by many to see prices tumble. That did not occur,” said Woods. “There is one thing we can assert confidently: those anticipating a pulp price crash should not hold their breath.”

    Despite this, cost increases to the Australian printing industry have remained minimal, especially when compared to other manufacturing sectors.

    “As pulp and chip prices increased over the last decade, the input costs to the printing sector in Australia increased only marginally,” said Woods. “Over the decade, the input costs to manufacturing in general rose 18.8 per cent, and those for the pulp, paper and paper products sector rose 8.3 per cent. For the printing sector, input costs were kept under tight control, rising just 2.1 per cent over the decade.”

  • ABC of Konica Minolta’s digital label ecosystem

    Mastering digital labels printing: (from left) Joseph Brown, QLM; Adrian Flemming, printIQ; Paul Ross, Holmesglen; Enda Kavanagh, XMPie; and David Cascarino, Konica Minolta

    Konica Minolta invited XMPie, printIQ and QLM to Holmesglen Institute to give a master class to the Victorian print industry on the future of short-run digital label printing, with the Konica Minolta AccurioLabel 190.

    A good roll up of industry professionals at the printing industry’s Melbourne TAFE of choice, Holmesglen, early Thursday morning was taken through developments in short-run digital label printing by David Cascarino, industrial print executive, Konica Minolta. His focus was on the latest AccurioLabel 190 label press the company donated to the school of printing.

    With ten installations in Australia, 300 worldwide, since its launch at drupa 2016, the AccurioLabel 190 seems to have found a niche in the market. It concentrates on small to middle volume print runs of four-colour labels with increasing interest from businesses beyond the professional industry. Part of its appeal is the ease of use and when combined with a Centra HS finishing system is touted as being able to have an operative trained within a couple of weeks to run both machines.

    Featuring a Miyakoshi unwinder at the front, the roll-to-roll xerographic machine has a throughput of between 9.45 meters and 13.9 meters a minute. According to Cascarino the 1200 x 1200 dpi imaging guarantees the same level of quality and colour the brand is recognised for at a unique cost performance point.

    Enda Kavanagh, XMPie, (now what does that name stand for? ed) was up front on the integration of personalised data with labels. He also donated a system to Holmesglen, to allow students to have first hand experience on the XMPie software.

    He advocates a holistic marketing experience across all media using data. He makes the point that labels are often the first touch point between a brand and the customer. H e says with the digital label sector growing at 13 per cent per year, now is the time to ensure that all consumer touch points can be measured.

    Following on came Adrian Flemming, sales director of printIQ, who pointed out that label production was nothing as straightforward as your average commercial print job. He gave three examples of jobs where everything takes a different path … a new job with a new die, a job with an existing die and the same jobs to be printed on different presses. He ran through printIQ’s estimating, and production scheduling, aimed at making the process as automated as possible. The two softwares, XMPie and printIQ, when they work together are rapidly becoming the flavour of the month across many printing sectors.

    Last up was the team from QLM demonstrating the Centra HS roll-to-roll digital converting system. Able to laminate, die-cut, strip and slit custom labels in one production pass at 500 frames per hour it comes at much less cost than a semi-rotary die machine. It has an operating cost per month of $50. No wonder at least six of the AccurioLabel 190s in the local market went in with a Centra HS finishing unit attached.

    And talking of finishing Cascarino wrapped up the high-energy event with a preview of the new JetVarnish 3DW Color+, which will be released later this year, likely at Labelexpo in Brussels.

    Finally Paul Ross, CEO of Holmesglen gave an overview of the revitalised apprentice and print training going on at the TAFE. He told of how private schools with stratospheric fees were sending their students to him to learn how apprentices work. One of the free Victorian government apprenticeships is for Printing Certificate II. He has 17 students now enrolled in on-campus study with a day a week outside doing work experience. There are 25 more on the waiting list. Who said printing didn’t appeal to the young?

    All in all, a fine morning dedicated to the increasingly confident future of the industry.

    Learning labels at Holmesglen: Owners of Revolution Print, Ballarat and Konica Minolta fans John Schreenan (left) and Leon Wilson share notes with Sue Threlfo on the progress of their KM-1 press as it approaches its first anniversary.

  • Graphics Grab Bag – goings on around the printing traps this week

     

    Is it only me or do others have a difficulty with the evolved name of the largest web press manufacturer … manroland Goss? I’m sure there’s every good marketing reason to keep both brands in the name, but to me it’s missing something – such as a vision for the future. Such mergers are often actually takeovers with one partner unable to survive without the other. Goss has gone through so many owners, even enjoying a Chinese buyout from Shanghai Electric Corporation (SEC) at one time, that there is little left of the original company, apart from the installed base. Its current owners, American Industrial Partners (AIP), a US-based private equity company is unlikely to have an appetite for long-term web press manufacturing. It’s more than happy to pass the running of the business over to manroland.

    So how long will the name continue?

    In our market it’s been a long time since Goss sold a press, whereas manroland has enjoyed something of a winning streak. While there may not be too many more web presses to go – although I’m told News Corp has to make a decision soon on its ageing Melbourne operation – there is a solid market in retro fits to keep older presses up to the mark. It has bitten the bullet at its Yandina plant in Queensland, opting for a retrofit for additional formats and an e-retrofit of the controls of the existing UNISET and REGIOMAN presses.

    And yes they will be manroland Goss retro fits.


    An outrageous slur on the industry came from Zoe Samios, an online commentator for Mumbrella, who tried to blame the ‘declining print industry’ for the demise of Cosmopolitan magazine. How she can construct an argument that efficient, productive printing companies are somehow to blame for failed publishing strategies is beyond me. Someone should point out the robust health of the catalogue sector that’s growing every year.

    Talk about shooting the messenger!

    _______________

    Is there an association war brewing? This week Printing Industries under Andrew Macaulay CEO hosted a well attended Print2Parliament dinner for printers and federal politicians in Canberra. He told me he was very pleased with the resulting mix of ministers, backbenchers and working printers who travelled to the capital at their own expense.

    Graeme Russell, CEO Media Super, the industry’s super fund, spoke at the PIAA’s Canberra event.

    A day or two before, the new Real Media Collective, a collection of three industry associations – Australasian Catalogue Association, the paper group, APIA and Two Sides Australia – under industry identity, Kellie Northwood, CEO, also went to Canberra to lobby government, especially about Australia Post.

    It’s a good thing to engender activity and get our industry noticed in the halls of power, but the pollies are likely to become confused if we don’t get our act together. I don’t imagine there’s much chance of a common approach, is there?

    _______________

     

    And speaking of printing associations, perhaps we can learn from the Canadians. The Canadian Printing Industries Association (CPIA) is a new peak body. It brings together different industry stakeholders, including suppliers of graphic arts equipment. The idea is to provide a national voice and platform for the graphic arts industry, and to serve as a connection point for Canadian regional associations.

    There are seven members of the CPIA within the new structure:

    • PrintForward Printing and Imaging Association,
    • Printing and Graphics Industries Association of Alberta (PGIA),
    • Saskatchewan Printing Industries Association (SPIA),
    • Manitoba Print Industries Association (MPIA),
    • Ontario Printing Industries Association (OPIA),
    • Quebec Association of the Printing Industry (AQII), and
    • Printing Equipment and Supply Dealers of Canada (PESDA).
    • In addition, the CPIA Board includes an at-large position representing the Atlantic Canada provinces.

    Canada has population of 38 million, a bit more than us, but there are plenty of similarities. Here, instead of rallying together we seem to be hell bent of splitting the industry unity with a proliferation of associations, each with their own executive and agenda. Maybe we need a Canadian solution.

    _______________

    Wednesday morning at Jet Technologies to see Jack Malki host the Innovation Series for the label sector. Excellent event and well attended, as were the other two in the series, one in Auckland and in Melbourne.

    One of the presenters, Gary Seward, of Bristol-based Pulse Roll Label Products, had a word or two about the challenges faced by label printers meeting the labelling requirements of the EU, even before Brexit.

    As an aside he gave an example of some of the regulations in place by Brussels for the common market. Makes Brexit seem almost like a sensible idea.

    1. Water cannot be sold as a mean to rehydrate
    2. It is illegal to eat pet horses.
    3. Bananas must have a bend of at least 1/10.
    4. Jam is only jam if it’s 60% sugar, any less and it’s fruit spread.
    5. Children under eight cannot blow up balloons.
    6. Eggs must be sold by the kilo and not by a dozen.

     

  • Holy rollers pre-empt PrintEx

    Sydney’s major print trade show PrintEx has been pushed back to August 2019, owing to a double booking with Hillsong Church at the venue, Sydney Olympic Park.

    The best laid plans: Peter Harper, Visual Connections.

    The best laid plans of mice and printers oft go astray, especially when they come into conflict with supernatural forces.

    The organisers of next year’s PrintEx exhibition, originally scheduled for 9-12 July 2019, were unexpectedly overwhelmed by the sound of music. No, not Julie Andrews and the von Trapp family, but Hillsong, the evangelist megachurch in Sydney’s Hills District, which is scheduled to hold its Conference at the Qudos Bank Arena, close to the Olympic Park Showground at the same time. Church founders Brian Houston and his wife Bobbie are expecting around 35,000 charismatics to assemble, booking out every available room, filling the air with hosannas and undoubtedly inviting all and sundry to come and be saved.

    Ignoring the question whether printers or indeed printing itself may be in need of a little divine intervention, the PrintEx organising committee bowed to inevitable and shifted the dates of the show to 13-16 August.

  • Graphics Grab Bag – this week in printing

    Grab Bag – definition: a miscellaneous collection: a potpourri.

    Welcome to the latest issue of Graphics Grab Bag, a weekly record of engagements and observations from an observer curious about the printing industry here and around the world.

    A change at the top of the funky-named media group, HTE, hasn’t rattled the shareholders too much. Shares have slumped from a year high of $2.95 to $2.73. The company previously known as APN sold its outdoor media arm Adshel to oOH!Media this year with the transaction waved through by ACCC last month. Seizing the moment to step off at the top as the company took the $570 million cash, interim chairman, Chairman Robert Kaye, took off. Paul Connolly, who is titled as acting chairman, replaces him. The difference between interim and acting is a fine one I don’t pretend to understand.

    Readers will perhaps know the company better as APN News & Media, the provincial newspaper and printing group before it changed its name to Here There & Everywhere. It’s now mainly a radio business with its eye on eSports for gamers.


    Mark your diary and prepare to do your bit. International Print Day is coming up on October 17. According to the organisers, Print Media Centre, the day kicks off 9AM in Australia (AED). Sorry New Zealand, the US-centric organisers appear to have missed you, but don’t let that stop you joining in.

    Using the hashtag, #IPD18, print enthusiasts are urged to engage with the event by using #PrintWith as part of this year’s focus on collaboration and working together.

    As to how real the event is? Last year, it generated almost 30 million social media impressions in 24 hours across six continents. I suppose that’s a lot but who knows in the internet swamp? So let’s get engaged and generate some local activity to help promote print.

    Connect with International Print Day on Twitter

    and on Facebook


    German guillotine manufacturer, Schneider Senator, is in and out of admin for the past six months. Now there’s a skeleton staff handling spare parts inquiries. At one stage local distributor, Tom Ralph, Graph-Pak fielded queries from Germany about buying the business, but he declined the offer.

    The company is a victim of its own success, a not uncommon fault in German-built equipment.

    “There are a lot of guillotines in use throughout Australia, some of them dating back to the 1960s and 70s. I had a call from a printer a while ago with a 1972 Schneider guillotine. The clutch had finally gone and he was at his wits end. I called Schneider and they came good with a new one. Unbelievable!” said Ralph.

    “That’s part of the company’s problems, the machines never break down.

    There’s a sea of second hand Schneider guillotines out there. A new one might cost you $100,000 while a second hand one with lots of life left in it you can easily get for $50. It makes it hard.”

    Ralph is waiting on a response from Schneider’s parent company Busch on the situation for spare parts. He’s currently travelling in Europe so watch this space.


    So what does Berlin mean to you … The Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag, the remaining bits of the Wall? For the new combined press manufacturer, manroland Goss, visitors to the IFRA World Publishing Expo in October, will want to fit in a visit to the Currywurst sausage museum. The invitation reads … get to know more about the exciting history of Germanies (sic) favourite dish – the “Currywurst”. Try the different variations of the one and only timeless classic.

    I fear the wurst is yet to come.


    Sonja Mechling

    And staying in Germany, good to see Heidelberg broadening its mindset as it transitions to a digital future. No more engineers elevated to management positions where they struggle to adapt to a changing world. People from outside the company and the industry have filled all the new top management positions. Sonja Mechling is joining the company from a stint Robert Bosch Smart Home and is taking over as Chief Marketing Officer at Heidelberg. She is also set to become Managing Director of the Heidelberg Digital Unit. She’s an acknowledged expert in e-commerce and in building up new business units and has many years of experience in Asia and around Europe.

    Dr. Stefan Heizmann will be the company’s new head of IT. He was in charge of IT for the Gühring Group and in 2017 won the Industrial Internet Award for digital innovation.

    Finally Robert Franz is a sales manager from Rittal. He’ll oversee global sales at Heidelberg and by extension for refocusing the organization at Heidelberg on digital omnichannel sales.


     

    And finally, how about the guy who claimed to have invented a new word … plagiarism?

     

     

     

  • Graphics Grab Bag – this week in printing

    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 an observer curious about the printing industry here and around the world.

    The big news this week was the Visual Impact show at Olympic Park, Sydney. The sold out show was a testimony to Peter Harper’s belief in the format and persistence in bringing it into being. Peter (above) is the GM Visual Connections, the graphic merchant’s association that runs the events. He’s now the sole GM or will be soon, when Karen Goldsmith leaves at the end of the month.

    I spent a couple of days at the show, trying not to get between sales people manning the stands and their prospects. It’s not something a wise person will do.

    Good to meet David Currie at the ‘big truck,’ always has the largest exhibition stand at these shows. He was chatting with a revived Steve Dunwell, back from a hiatus after finishing with manroland last year. No title on his Currie business card but he says his wife wants him out of the house. He’s helping young Will Currie at the NSW office. Welcome back Steve.


    1st-day sale: Martin Stacher with Sharlene Sach, Kissell+Wolf

    Honours for making the first-day sale at the show went to Martin Stacher of Kissel + Wolf, formerly known as Kiwo. He sold a Mutoh ValueJet 626UF to Melbourne printers CMC Gold, setting the tone for what I believe was a good transactional show. Clever inkjet machine the Mutoh compact unit is being used in shopping centres to print on anything and everything: wood, cups, plastic etc.

    Russell Cavenagh, the new GM of Mutoh holds great hopes for the prize-winning printer.


    Cameron McLachlan gets ready to fly with bon voyage from IanParkinson & Sylene Poncet.

    Across the way the cheers were ringing out as contestant’s battled it out in a wraparound ring. The Hexis people hosted the competition for best wrap artist to cover a 3-D boarding pass with shrink-wrap. Cameron McLachlan from Gold Coast Wraps beat off some strong competition. He won a 5-day trip to France to visit Hexis HQ in Montpelier. He was presented with the boarding pass by Sylene Poncet who flew here for the occasion and Ian Parkinson, managing director Hexis Australia.

    Talk about stoked.


    At Print Promotion in the Marriott, Pitt Street: Peter Scott, managing director Screen Australia, Dr Markus Heering VDMA and Scott Telfer, Customer CX.

    Away from the show, the German VDMA Print Promotion caravan rolled through Melbourne and Sydney on Monday and Tuesday. Promoted by Printing Industries, the hugely informed contingent was led by Dr.-Ing Markus Heering, VDMA, Geschåftsfuhrer (managing director for those without German). The level of technical knowledge and expertise of the German printing industry always impresses me. The line-up of products and processes shows why German technology is regarded as best in the world.

    Highlight for me was the description of a sheet-fed gravure press from HC Moog, a 3rd generation family-owned, press manufacturer from near Frankfurt. It was presented with enthusiasm regardless of the fact that, insofar as I’m aware, there’s not a single sheetfed gravure press anywhere in Australia or New Zealand.

    UV driers from IST Metz, the latest in laser die cutting from Polar and box making from Kolbus, filled out the program. Dierk Wissmann who’s been with Heidelberg Australia long enough to be considered a local, presented the press manufacturers digital ‘FIRE’ line up of presses, while David Murphy, from foilmaker Kurz, definitely one of ours, born and bred, showed what can be done with foils. I scored a couple of excellent posters.

    Kurz embellished posters from drupas past.

    Pity the free event wasn’t better promoted as I’m certain many more printers and owners would have found it as fascinating and informative as I did.


    And finally …

    Just when you thought it safe to go back onto the aisles, here’s a throwback to well before the #metoo world. Heck of a way to attract partners.

    See you around the traps.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • IPMG merger punishes PMP share price

    The loss of Coles catalogues along with the Pacific Magazine printing contract to IVE Group as a result of the IPMG deal saw PMP’s share price take a 13.7% hit on publication of its annual results.

    The region’s largest commercial printing operation said sales were up $132.1 million to $734.0 million but when compared on a like for like basis with the previous businesses, they actually dropped by $108 million from $842 million. It posted a net loss of $43.8 million for the year.

    Kevin Slaven, CEO PMP.

    Acknowledging the task of bringing the two companies together had led to an increase in manufacturing costs, Kevin Slavin CEO in an executive summary, declared the integration was now complete. He declared the consolidation of the businesses was an important and necessary step that has helped settle the pricing and capacity issues that have long plagued the sector.

     As part of a plan to retire older inefficient presses and reduce overall print capacity PMP is buying a new manroland 80-page press for Warwick Farm to be installed in the second half of next year.

    It maintains the new $20 million press will provide production efficiencies through wider web width, increased running speed and faster make-readies, and in addition cost efficiencies through reductions in labour, energy, and repairs and maintenance. Replacing older presses allows for a net reduction in our overall fleet capacity (circa 10-15%). It will be paid for largely through export credit funding with a four-year payback.

     In an upbeat report the company reported that print volumes as well as revenue from its top 20 retail customers increased with expectations of further growth in the coming year. Despite overall unaddressed volumes to household in slow decline, large retailers remain committed to catalogues as a key driver. PMP delivers to 6.7 million Australian households every week.

    Citing an improved industry structure and realignment of capacity it predicts that heat set prices will stabilise. However falling print volumes for newspapers and magazines will likely offset the savings gained from the merger next year.

    PMP New Zealand’s results were dismal with revenue down 6.8% to $120.1 million. Heatset volumes there dropped by 3.5% along with earnings, which were hit by lower selling prices.

     

     

  • Aussie customers get Nanographic preview

    Impremia NS40 … Nanography from Komori.

    It’s been a long time between drinks for local printers who’ve put their hands up and their money down for the Landa-inspired Komori Impremia NS40. The select group was given a tour of the Komori factory in Japan at IGAS last month ahead of field testing next year, but will have to wait a while yet to get their hands on a press

    The Nanographic Impremia NS40 is to be field tested in Japan early in 2019. First shown at drupa 2016, the Komori Impremia NS40, a sheetfed inkjet press equipped with Landa Nanography technology, has been in development at Komori in Japan for more than two years.

    “Our local customers saw the machine during IGAS on a special tour in the Komori factory,” said Carsten Wendler, managing director, Print&Pack, the exclusive Australian Komori agent. Most Australian printers signed up for the Komori machine ahead of the Landa version. They include printers such as Blue Star, Hero Print and CMYKhub, who signed on at drupa.

    It’s not expected that any press will be available for local printers for a few years. General availability is planned for late December 2019.

    The NS40 is designed to combine the versatility of digital with the quality and speed of offset printing at a low cost per page. It has the capability to print on any off-the-shelf substrate, from coated and uncoated paper stocks to synthetic substrates and paperboard—up to 32 point—without the need for pre- or post-treatment of any type. Operating at an initial throughput rate of 6,500 straight sheets or 3,250 perfected sheets per hour, the NS40 will be available in multiple configurations, from a 4-7 colour straight press to an 8-color perfector with in-line coating.

    Based on the progress of the development of the Impremia NS40, Komori plans to carry out the first field test of the beta press in the Japanese market in the northern spring of 2019. This will be followed by similar plans to further test the NS40 in other countries as well.

    “Komori has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring this game changing technology to the market so we are very excited that this product will soon be a reality,” says Scott Robertz, NS40 product manager for Komori America Corporation.

     

  • Printers locked out at high-tech Reserve Bank print plant

    Note Printing Australia locked out half its work force this morning in retaliation for ongoing industrial action by the AMWU, provoking the remaining workers to go on a one-day strike in support.

    The workers will return on Monday maintaining their ongoing work bans on overtime and software implementation. They’re demanding a pay rise from the NPA, whose board of directors is made up of Reserve Bank members. The prolonged negotiations are snagged on a difference of one per cent with the union demanding 3.5 per cent to the NPA’s offer of 2.5 per cent.

    According to Mick Bull, AMWU organiser, this morning’s picket was the result of the company’s actions. “We’re open to negotiations with the board but they won’t meet us. They only send their HR people who don’t have any authority to negotiate,” he said.

    A petition signed by the entire workforce demanding a meeting with the Board was presented to the company. The enterprise bargain at the Craigieburn plant covers three unions, with the majority, 120 workers, belonging to the AMWU. One hour industrial stoppages are planned to continue with the threat of further escalation next week. A mass meeting of workers voted to continue the bans.

    Bull points out what he terms the hypocrisy of Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, who’s on record as encouraging workers to demand largest pay rises. He is reported to have told politicians that average annual wage increases need to be about 3.5 per cent to achieve average inflation of 2.5 per cent, the middle of the bank’s target.

    NPA was contacted but didn’t get back with any comment or explanation before deadline.

    The industrial strife comes as NPA is congratulating itself on completing the ‘next generation banknote’ series (NGB) with Malcolm McDowell, CEO, claiming the production and issue of the complex banknotes highlights the company’s ability to industrialise innovative new security technologies, and high-end security printing. NPA took part in the international SUSI Optics Specimen Note project along with suppliers LenSys, KBA NotaSys, SICPA and KURZ. In addition to printing Australian banknotes and currency for such countries as Singapore and Chile, NPA also produces Australia’s passports.

  • Hits & misses make the most of IGAS

    Tokyo Typhoon Number 12 of the season was a fizzer, a bit of a blow but nothing to bother the printers attending IGAS at Big Site out in the Bay. It came and went within a few hours; rain and wind enough to alarm the woman at the Heidelberg showroom where I was on Saturday afternoon. She urged us to get out quickly to avoid being stranded. Perhaps a little over the top, but …

    So, why was I at the Heidelberg showroom in Tokyo? Well here’s how the second part of my IGAS went.

    IGAS is an international exhibition, although overseas visitors are still only a small part of it. It’s international in that every manufacturer of note exhibits and as is becoming increasingly obvious that means most are Japanese firms. There are the large well known brands, but a walk around IGAS shows clearly the depth of ingenuity and industry in small firms and startups driving the printing equipment industry in Japan.


    With notable exceptions of course – HP is the eight hundred pound US gorilla in the centre of printing. Its digital reach is immense, encompassing every aspect of printing and packaging. In a prime position just inside the entrance in Hall 1 visitors were treated to a display of printed packaging that leaves no doubt that the future is definitely digital. It provided a testament to just how far the technology has been pushed and how this show was mostly about industrial printing mostly packaging.


    Konica Minolta Australian and Japanese colleagues (L to r) David Cascarino, Toshitaka Uemura, Koji Asaka and Anthony ‘AJ’ Jackson.

    Friday afternoon I had an appointment to meet with people from Konica Minolta who took time to talk about the 145-year-old company. Toshitaka Uemura, GM industry print business and Koji Asaka, assistant manager, are fine examples of all that’s best about Japanese corporate life. Dedicated and loyal they not only know the technology, but also are also deeply versed in the ethos and history of the company.

    There’s plenty of disparagement about the supposedly oppressed Japanese ‘salary men’ but they’re a remarkably hardworking and loyal bunch and these two were anything but put upon. Well informed too, as Uemura-san took me through the development of the company, its history as a photo and camera business and its prospects as a manufacturer of leading digital technology.

    There’s no doubt the Accurio KM1 is the flagship, a B2 inkjet press that is the first real contender to HP Indigo’s dominance. But there’s more in the portfolio too. The MGI digital embellishment JetVarnish 30 engine was prominent on the stand.

    Watch for a re-worked version of the Accurio Label press in the next few months, moving away from its BizHub-box appearance while still sticking with toner. It’s the technology the market wants, says Uemura-san, who was part of the planning team. He reckons the inkjet label sector is very well served but there’s a gap in the market where toner works in terms of cost and quality. And he gives every impression of knowing about what he speaks.


    Label specialist, Taishi Motoshige, (left) showed me around the Screen stand and introduced me to Ayaka Sasaki who looks after the CTP.

    Just next door Screen, another iconic Japanese manufacturer had a very busy stand. Based in the imperial city of Kyoto it has successfully reinvented itself as the market for its emblematic platemaking technology dwindled and almost died. But Screen is one of the few in the world still manufacturing CTP machines and lo and behold, there’s a new version released at this IGAS. A stripped-down unit aimed at the replacement market in developing countries, the PlateRite 8600NII can be upgraded with all the latest technology. As with much of Screen’s well-regarded technology, it’s widely rebadged and OEM’d.

    If you think a new CTP verges on the anachronistic, I was astounded to see a new proofing press on the stand, the Proof Jet F780 Mark ll. Who’d have thought sections of the Japanese media and advertising industry still insist on a proof from a proofing press? I mean, what’s the point, when it’s not going to be printed on the proofing press? Still, that’s what they want and Screen is happy to provide it.

    However, don’t let me give you the impression that Screen is caught in a weird time warp. Most of its stand was a model display of high-powered digital printing with two versions of the high-speed Truepress Jet, one for direct marketing production, the other for graphic arts; very impressive results. No sign yet of a cut sheet version.

    Fascinated to see the developments of Screen’s label press, with a new version out for the show, the TruePress L350UV+LM. The LM stands for low-migration; an ink set aiming to avoid any challenges to its suitability for labels on food products. Next to it was an Italian laser die cutter, a Cartes GE361L producing the best results from the technology I’ve seen. The label roll is split as it enters the machine with the printed layer being laser cut from the rear before being reunited with the liner. Clever solution that solves most of the angle cut problems from using lasers.


    Nothing to see here again, I’m afraid.

    One of the disappointments of IGAS was the no show of the Canon Voyager, the much-hyped flagship graphic arts digital press. I saw it at last drupa, but it wasn’t operating. The samples on display were tremendous. Same at IGAS. Lots of fabulous samples behind glass, lots of banners promoting the model, but no actual press. There were no English speaking staff, insofar as I could find, so I’m no wiser as to what’s happening with the Voyager. Perhaps it’s not for the Japanese market.

    There was an Océ Colorado there, promoted as a Canon product.


    David Currie, Australian IGAS-san and still a formidable printing equipment salesman.

    After a couple of days of missed calls, I managed to get in front of David Currie, executive chairman Currie Group, on the Saturday morning. I was keen to meet in Tokyo because David, if anyone, is the Australian IGAS-san. He tells me he’s being coming to the show for 31 years, ever since he hooked up with long-term friend and partner Hori-san, founder and owner of Horizon. (Hori-san… Horizon. Geddit?)

    We forget that at that time in the 1980s there was a sense, much promoted by competitors, that ‘Made in Japan’ was somehow dodgy and inferior. Certainly the trail David Currie blazed at the time was the road less travelled. Of course, nowadays, Japanese technology is the benchmark of quality and innovation.

    Such is the case with the vast range of equipment on the Horizon stand, the largest at IGAS, and not only on the Horizon stand but on others too, such as Ricoh and HP. In fact almost all the digital press manufacturers are using Horizon finishing kit.

    We tried to track Hori-san for a celebratory photo, but he wasn’t to be found. Then true to form, David Currie transformed into a younger version of himself as a Horizon equipment product manager and gave me a pretty comprehensive tour of the stand. Sure, he’s got people to do that for him, but once a printing equipment salesman …


    Anniversary celebrations for Richard Timson, whose 30 years with Heidelberg, man and boy, was commemorated with a gift of saki from Shuya Mizyno, president of Heidelberg Japan and Thomas Frank, head of sales Asia Pacific, who is also a 30-year Heidelberg veteran.

    Saturday afternoon with the typhoon closing in it was time to taxi to the Heidelberg showroom in Shinagawa. (Travel tip: never trust the driver over Google maps.) The German press manufacturer, represented by the redoubtable Thomas Frank, was showing off its Smart Print Shop concept while virtually promoting the new digital Primefire. There was no actual showing of the inkjet (at the Heidelberg IGAS stand visitors donned goggle-style glasses for a virtual tour) but there was a mighty Speedmaster XL 106, which proceeded to print 12 jobs of 150 sheets each (20 waste sheets per job) in 30 minutes, without operator intervention.

    While the printing was underway, the plates changing automatically and the press autonomously adjusting the settings, we were taken on a tour of the full print process, including the Versafire, which produced 26 digital jobs at the same time, again without operator input.

    Heidelberg promotes the concept as digitally controlled printing. Hugely productive to meet the challenge of the digital world, Frank also mentioned the ‘r’ word as in ‘rent a press’ with all the consumables supplied. This is the reality of the ‘subscription printing’ scheme being promoted by the company to drive new sales. It’s attempting to change the concept of how you go about owning productive print. Richard Timson, managing director ANZ says he’s close to getting the first Australian customer signed on.


    Determined to win: Tomomitsu Harada, is new managing director of the Australian company.

    Monday morning saw me heading west out of Tokyo to Tomi, halfway across the main island to visit the Mimaki plant. The aggressive and competitive wide format brand makes no bones about its drive to win market share in Australia and New Zealand. Tomomitsu Harada, the new managing director of the Australian company, unabashedly takes pride in his determined sales drive. At 31 it’s his first overseas managing director’s role and he’s determined to make the most of it. Bringing his family here in September, he’s settling in Chatswood, where else?

    Mimaki has one of the largest ranges of wide format equipment in the sector. With a company goal to double its revenue to $US1 billion within five years it’s the very model of a ‘win at all costs’ Japanese company. Fascinating to hear Harada quote the ‘beat sheet’ used by his salespeople; equipment that’s half the investment cost of rivals, ink that’s always cheaper, service that is aiming to be 100% performed by the company with a few years.

    There’s no doubting the engineering quality of Mimaki, but what makes it stand out for me is its sheer sales drive to win. It’s only been going direct in the local market for four years but expect to hear a lot more from the full-on Harada. He’ll be here in time for Visual Impact in Sydney where he promises to unveil a few surprises.


    The Epson stand, where I missed my walk through with Alastair Bourne, was packed with good gear such as the Surepress L-6034VW. It also provided my first sight of the LX-10000F, the Workforce engine that’s bringing PrecisionCore inkjet technology into the office and small production sectors.

    And that’s it from me in Japan. It was a great show. I messed up with a couple of appointments, notably with Epson on Monday (my apologies Alastair – see photo above). Check out the next issue of Print21 magazine for full IGAS report.

    Now I’m off to Haneda airport for an overnighter to Sydney. See you at the Yaffa LIVE Forum on Friday.

    Sayonara.

  • Print looks to the ‘Next’ at IGAS Japan

    There was an enthusiastic opening to Japan’s international graphic arts trade show at Tokyo’s Big Sight exhibition centre as crowds queued to get into the halls on the first day.

    Ushers at the entrance had to calm the throng as the doors were finally opened after an extensive ceremony to celebrate what the organisers themed as ‘Venture into the Next.’ Hard to imagine such enthusiasm in Australia for getting into a printing trade show, but the Japanese industry has embraced its opportunity to step up to international centre stage.

    Unlike many previous IGAS there is a sizeable international presence here, not only in exhibitors but also in visitors. I ran into a number of locals in the aisles having made the trip in a year when the late lamented UK Ipex would normally have provided a reason for overseas travel.

    As this is Japan, the people at the show are largely a homogenous bunch of locals, keenly attending to the numerous exhibits and presentations, all of them in Japanese. The international visitors are completely dependent on their compatriot contacts on the exhibitions stands for any information. Luckily, many companies seem to have sent representatives to handle the overseas visitors’ questions.


     

    No printing trade show in Asia Pacific is complete without the attendance of the delegates from the Forum of Asia Pacific Graphic Arts, and so it is with IGAS. Decked out with red and white rose buttonholes the great and the good from the trade associations in the region assembled for their conference. Representing Australia was long-term chairman of FAPGA, Peter Lane (far left) as well as Andrew Macaulay, CEO of Printing Industries (far right). They stolidly sat through the speeches before Lane joined in the ceremonial cutting of the opening ribbon.

    Afterwards I ran into Walter Kuhn, president of Printing industries, with the others heading in for a daylong session of presentations and speeches.

    I couldn’t attend myself, having too many appointments on the exhibition floors, but I’m sure it went a long way towards defining whatever the ‘Next’ is we’re invited to ‘venture’ into.

     


    In the Big Site swelter, David Cascarino and AJ flew the flag for Konica Minolta.

    No one told the crowds that the opening was at 11.00 on the first day to allow for the speeches, so it got a little testy in the lobby, in polite Japanese style, of course. I came upon two Konica Minolta representatives who were in danger of getting run over in the crush as the doors were finally opened. David Cascarino and Anthony ‘AJ’ Jackson are here to meet and assist a fairly substantial complement of Australian and New Zealand visitors to the Konica Minolta stand. I haven’t made it on there yet, so I can’t tell you what they’re looking for, but I will.


    Then and now, now and then: Moggers with Mike Boyle.

    As always HP is at the show with a massive presence, the largest non-Japanese exhibitor here. HP Indigo B2-size presses dominate the stand but there is a plethora of segments and products illustrating just how diverse are the uses to which digital printing is being put. I ran into the non-stop Alon Bar-Shany, honcho of HP Indigo, well known to Australian and New Zealand industry. He was with Mike Boyle, vice president graphics solutions Asia Pacific, our local guy who’s claimed a senior role in the company’s operations in the region.

    The two of them share more than common business interests – both are accomplished rock guitarists who take any opportunity to get together on stage.

    No sooner had Bar-Shany moved away than Michael Mogridge, Landa Corp vice president for Asia Pacific, joined us. Surprising to me, Boyle and he didn’t know one another, so I was pleased to make the introductions. In another life, Mogridge occupied almost the same role in HP. Many of Biyle’s current team came on board during his tenure, although it’s a far larger enterprise now.

    It’s a small world, this printing industry.


    Tesuya-san leading the Ricoh revolution.

     

    My first scheduled appointment was with Tetsuya Morita, vice president commercial & industrial printing, Ricoh. Fascinating company and very well helmed by efficient management, insofar as I could tell. I didn’t realise the depth of experience in Ricoh, or the amount of technology collateral it has invented and accumulated over the years. On a tour of the considerable stand it became obvious that Ricoh is a Japanese technology leader intent of leveraging its position to gain greater prominence in the industry. Centrepiece of the stand is the VC60000, a high-speed duplex inkjet that has as good a repro as any I’ve seen. Another version, the VC70000, is about to be launched with a new ink set and a top-secret drying system. This style of digital press is a little high-end for our local industry so I’m not sure when we’ll see one. Apart from the well-known production print work horses of the brand, the Pro C7210s up to the ProC9200 for commercial printing, more likely for our market is the new hugely productive wide-format flatbed, the Pro T7210, outputting at over 50 square metres an hour, double that of its nearest rival.

    We had a good in-depth interview, Tetsuya-san and me, so keep an eye out for a full exposition in the next issue of Print21 magazine. It’s a story worth the telling.


    Guru & pupil: Dayne Nankervis with Bernie Robinson.

    Trawling the aisles after lunch I came upon one of the industry’s elder statesmen, Bernie Robinson, managing director Currie Group. He’s over here with David Currie, executive chairman, to attend a Horizon worldwide channel partners conference today. All good news seemingly; Hori-san, founder and owner, has some announcements to make. To emphasise the point, Horizon has the largest exhibition stand at the show, not bad for a company that makes digital finishing equipment.

    Bernie was showing Dayne Nankervis the ropes, the scale of the industry and who’s who in our zoo. Remarkably for a member of the prestigious Melbourne printing family, this Nankervis is only a recent entry into printing, after a career in engineering. Now with CMYKhub, a good Currie Group customer, he’s here for the duration of the show, soaking up as much information as he can.

    Nice to see the traditions continue of the wise passing on their wisdom to young.


    Leading the charge for Mutoh is Isobe-san.

    I left the show in the late afternoon to go with Maeda-san on an interminable train journey through the sprawling city that is Tokyo to visit his boss Yasuhiko Isobe, senior managing director of Mutoh. One of the industry’s best kept secrets, Mutoh is an example of just how the Japanese do it. A company founded on the invention of the first the first drafter (designated part of Japanese mechanical engineering heritage) in the 1950s, it prides itself on the quality of its engineering. According to Isobe-san it’s not seeking to compete in the general market, preferring to invent its own category of production, especially in industrial printing. It’s a big ask but there’s a certain samurai-like determination about it.

    With Russell Cavenagh in place as the new Australian GM, Mutoh is set to use this year’s Visual Impact in Sydney to launch three world first machines. Not an everyday event, you’ll agree.

    At the Visual Impact show you’ll be the first to see:

    1. ValuJet 1638 UR, a UV inkjet that expands the range and is the first to use a new Mutoh-invented ink, the US11 that has the qualities of ‘bendability.’
    2. ValuJet 626 UF, a UV flatbed, a first for the company.
    3. ValuJet 1948 WX, a high-speed textile printer with another new ink, DH21, specially designed for the segment.

     

    Finally Maeda-san, who’s the deputy GM sales, took me to dinner at Shibuya, the jumping sector you always see in Tokyo videos where everyone crowds onto the intersection. It was packed and hot … did I mention there’s a heat wave in Tokyo? Dinner was sushi and sashimi in a nice low-key diner. Japan does it very well.

    Now I’m up for another day at the show, before the typhoon hits on the weekend. Oh, didn’t I mention the typhoon?

    Gotta love this place.

    Sayōnara!

  • P21 Issue 1026 – July 11, 2018

    News Corp and Fairfax have again floated the pipe dream of sharing newspaper printing plants across the country in an effort to protect dwindling profits. The scheme misunderstands the basic elements of newspaper competition and is something only MBA executives without newspapers in their blood would consider. Breaking news is important. At my coffee shop this morning the Sydney Morning Herald reported a tense wait for the Thailand cave boys to be rescued. The Daily Telegraph trumpeted their successful release. Guess which newspaper I picked up?

    The prospect of any professional newspaper editor politely giving way to a rival so they could be first on the press is ludicrous. Better to close the title than pretend this is a viable way forward.

    Welcome to your latest issue of Print21, the premier news and information service for the printing industry across Australia and New Zealand.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor

  • Print is ‘classic’ outdoor media

    In a world divided between digital and printed outdoor signage, oOH!Media, one of the ‘big two’ operators in the out of home space keeps a focus on print by terming its static billboards as ‘classic’ media.

    Despite the attention paid to digital and video screens, the number of printed billboards still heavily outweighs digital across the country. However the revenue generated by digital is now almost half of the total $837 million in out of home spend, according to the Outdoor Media Association.

    You’d never guess print or ‘classic’ billboard media still provides the lion’s share of money at the glittering, wham-bam! presentation ‘A world of the unmissable’ by oOH!Media this morning in Sydney’s Hilton Hotel. The focus was clearly on new media campaigns driven by measurable data and ‘six second’ creative

    According to Brendon Cook, CEO, the restructuring of the company he began in 2011, is still on track, even ahead of schedule. Promoting out of home as the “oldest advertising medium” he emphasized the social responsibility as well as the delivered effectiveness of the medium. He said how for oOH!Media “standing still was not an option.

    Working on the theme that in a fractured media landscape brands have ‘six seconds’ to get the message across, Cook curated a series of presentations from clients such as QANTAS, Lion, Contiki and Junkee Media, that not surprisingly, demonstrated the effectiveness of  the medium. The fast-paced show emphasized the importance of using data in location-based campaigns.

    Presenters talked of the problems of banner blindness and ad blocking across internet and mobile channels in contrast to the ‘unmissable’ presence of out of home. “Know the consumer and know the data,” was the message.

    For instance did you know there are nine million ‘cheese occasions’ across supermarkets with most coming from regional areas and, singularly, Queensland? Accurately targeting these locations with engaging creative produced a significant increase in sales for beverage and grocery conglomerate Lion.

    This morning’s timely event came as the out of home media scene is in the news with the arrival of French-based JC Decaux buying APN Outdoor for $1.2billion and oOH!Media taking up Adshel for $570 million. According to Cook, if the acquisitions go ahead, the two big group will emerge as roughly of equal size.

    “And it’s good to have an Aussie company in there, isn’t it,” he said, gleefully.

     

  • EFI has its eyes on mid-range printers

    EFI power trio in Sydney; Andy Yarrow, director Asia Pacific, Jeff White, GM small & medium business software, with Daniel Aloi, Senior SDM.

    Medium-sized printers are an increasingly important  destination for the EFI software team in ANZ as  the company focuses on lifting its profile and presence with the vast majority of  middle-size printing companies.

    Following its success at both the top end of the industry with the largest printing companies almost universally using systems such as EFI Technique  as well as in the franchise sectors where its PrintSmith Vision is the preferred software with brands such as Snap and Kwik Kopy, Daniel Aloi, Senior SDM at EFI, is now sharpening his focus on medium-sized enterprises, the heartland of printing. “Workflow is the key differentiator in commercial printing. It’s what enables one printer to stand out from the others,” he said.

    He admits that while it’s often difficult for owner operators to see the value of software investment, he’s convinced that a company such as EFI, which has the scale and the stability, can deliver serious ROI for commercial printers. “Many printers don’t take the time to research the advantages of different software. There’s a lot of ‘me too’ products out there, but we are the only supplier with a complete system for printers. We deliver it all,” he said. “And you know when you invest in EFI software we’re not going to fall apart and go away.”

    Faced with almost market saturation at the top and bottom Aloi is looking for new fields to conquer. He is addressing the many mid-size printing companies where he believes the benefits of a good software system can make all the difference.

    “It’s a more difficult market to reach because there are so many stand alone companies. But these are the printers who can gain the most from EFI’s R&D in software,” he said.

    The message he and US-based Jeff White, GM small & medium business software who flew into Sydney last week, are getting out to commercial printers is that the right software is actually a business development system. As printing hardware becomes ever more standardised software has become the most important investment for a commercial printer.

  • Dragon Printing ignites 2nd Labelfire

    Paul McCullum, (centre) pictured with Chiara Prati and James Rodden earlier this year at the Dragon Printing factory.

    A massive remake of the Mascot-based company’s printing hall is transforming the well-known trade label converter ahead of the installation of its new Gallus Labelfire 340 hybrid digital press.

    One of the best kept secrets in the closely-knit label converting industry is out in the open with Dragon Printing owners Paul McCullum and Fareydun Pourshasb revealing they are the buyers of the 2nd Gallus Labelfire 340 press in Australia and the 1st in Sydney. (The initial press went into Rapid Labels in Victoria last year.) Putting an end to months of speculation as to their identity, McCullum laughs about the level of interest and questions he’s fielded in recent times.

    “People were calling me up all the time. I told them it had nothing to do with me. But now that the engineers are actually here installing the press, it’s time to come clean,” he said.

    The installation is the final stage of a major revamp of the company’s production facility, with the entire press hall remade. New water, air and power supplies are now in place in the climate-controlled factory as the Gallus-Heidelberg installation personnel get to it. McCullum expects the new press to be in production by the end of the month.

    “We’ve been looking at digital for a long long time, but I’ve never been happy before about the quality or the speed. We knew we had to move, to make the change to digital sometime,’ said McCullum.

    “There’s always been work we’ve avoided. Short runs and other jobs we’ll be able to do now. Some job preparations are complex and can run into the thousand of dollars. The Labelfire will extend our offering to customers.”

    McCullum is convinced he’s made the right choice with the inkjet hybrid press after travelling extensively to Europe and beyond to observe different digital presses in operation. Quality and speed were main factors in his decision.

    “The output from the LabelFire is just astronomical. I first saw it three or so years ago and I’ve been keeping a close watch on it ever since. I’ve seen it in action at numerous sites in Europe, especially in Strasburg. We’ve waited ‘til they ironed out the bugs. I didn’t want to be the first.”

    The Gallus Labelfire 340 is the digital flagship of Heidelberg in the label sector and is the latest in a long line of Gallus presses for Dragon Printing. Its arrival makes sense of some aspects of the earlier ECS press already in production here.

    “We had the ECS 340 here and there were certain parts of that that didn’t make sense to me. I asked myself, ‘why the hell have they done that?’ Now I know. They’ve been working towards this for a long time.

    “Look, it just fits in with what we do. It’s a hybrid machine and there are finished products coming off the end. I always said we’d never consider digital unless it had inline converting.

    “I believe it’s got higher quality than any other technology on the market. The output is not too bad at 50 metres per minute no matter how many colours you’re running.”

    Once the press is in place, there’ll be some weeks of training from the Swiss instructors to bring Dragon Printing people up to speed. After that, there’s likely to be an Open House for customers.

    McCullum is looking forward to powering up the new press and getting back to business. “It’s a lot of work but we know it’s going to be worth it,” he said.