Author Archive

  • Graphic Grab Bag – New Xerox and EFI CEOs face tough beginnings

    John Visentin

    New Xerox CEO John Visentin is coming face-to-face with the fact that the presses that come out of the US are less popular than the ones developed by Fuji Xerox in Japan. In his first presentation since taking the top job he reported that sales on the US-made iGen and Versant machines fell by 17%, while there was ‘better than anticipated demand’ for the Japanese-made Iridesse.

    His first quarterly figures were fairly dismal even as a New York court lifted the injunction against the two companies discussing their merger. Overall equipment revenue fell by 3.8% to US$511 million compared to $531 million 2017. Revenue for the quarter was 5.8% lower at $2.35 billion ($2.50 billion), delivering a pretax profit of $192 million ($167 million).

    Not surprisingly he wasn’t happy with the result. Addressing analysts he said, “We were disappointed in the revenue in Q3. We have an action plan to improve revenues that include, among other things, simplifying the organisational structure, improving alignment of compensation and evaluating contracts that are not profitable.”

    Reports are that part of the action plan includes reviewing the development of Xerox’s overall engagement with inkjet. “We are examining our RD&E investments in xerography and inkjet to ensure that we maintain technology leadership and that we have the best approach to realise the high rates of return that we require.”


    There was a similar result, if a different problem, for another new CEO in his first Q3 presentation. Bill Muir of EFI also faced disappointing financial results, despite declaring record sales and record revenue of $257 million for the quarter. A combination of delays in shipping the new Vutek superwide-format hybrid printers plus a slump in sales of existing engines as customers hold off waiting for the new machines, saw the company report a pretax loss of $2.3 million.

    Add a drop in the rivers of gold that are the sales of ink due to a shortage and higher prices of essential photoinitiators from China and the outlook is challenging for the new boss who replaced long-term honcho Guy Gecht.

    The bright spot comes with growing sales of Nozomi, the high-end inkjet packaging press. Seven machines shipped in the quarter with eight more expected before the end of the year. Revenue targets for the Nozomi have been lifted from an expected $50 million a year to $65 million and likely to go as high as $70 million. Next year EFI is banking on $120 million from the Nozomi, mostly from equipment sales. This is set to grow even further as users hit optimum ink usage of between $500,000 to $1 million per machine.

    EFI is continuing to shift towards being an inkjet company: the industrial inkjet division has sales of $154.9 million up from $142.9 million, and software continues to grow to $40.4 million while the iconic Fiery RIP declines to $61.8 million.


    There goes ‘the cheque’s in the mail’ excuse.

    Well OK, so few people mail cheques any more but for those that do a new innovation from the US Postal Service allows people to check if it the payment is indeed in the mail. Informed Delivery is a service where letters are scanned as they pass through the system and a greyscale image sent to the addressee.

    This means you can see what’s coming your way in the mail, even when you’re away on holidays.

    Users can get notifications through email, online dashboard or mobile app. They also have the ability to interact with digital content, such as special offers and related links. So far 13 million US Postal users have signed on to the free service.

    Next year users will be able to sign electronically for their deliveries when away from home.


    Some marketing campaigns work while others crash and burn.

    The Epson sponsorship of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team is one of the more successful. The team secured its fifth successive FIA Formula One World Constructors’ Championship bearing Epson logos on the winning car. The victory came on November 11 after drivers Lewis Hamilton, who won the race, and Valtteri Bottas, combined to outpoint their nearest rivals at the Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paolo.

    “Everyone at Epson is delighted to see the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team win this year’s championship,” said Munenori Ando, executive officer and general administrative manager of Epson’s Sales & Marketing Division.

    And why am I telling you this?

    The genesis of Epson’s engagement with Formula One came from a certain innovative Australian marketer and long-term Japanese resident, Nathan Fulcher. Now back at the company’s North Ryde HQ, I’m sure he’s very pleased with the result.



    And finally … I came across this laudatory paean of praise for books from astronomer Carl Sagan.

    What an astonishing thing a book is. It is a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts, on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person. […] Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. Books are proof that humans are capable of working magic.



  • 1st XMPie innovation event flies into Palm Cove

    Coding in the tropics; Enda Kavenagh & Ayelet Szabo-Melamed, at the XMPie Innovation event.

    An elite troupe of Israeli software engineers delivers two days of in-depth workflow and cross media presentations to local printers and coders at the inaugural XMPie regional innovation event.

    Hosted by Enda Kavanagh, Sales Manager – Asia Pacific at XMPie, the series of technical and commercial expositions drew more than 30 industry professionals to the far-north Queensland resort. Comprising a good mix of commercial printers, web professionals and software vendors, the occasion reinforced the company’s status as the leading multi-channel, automated marketing, web2print and VDP solutions supplier.

    The range of industry professionals emphasized the growing importance of software solutions to printing companies seeking to become multi channel providers. XMPie’s top technical and administrative team, led by vice presidents, Ayelet Szabo-Melamed and Idan Youval flew in to update their customer base on the latest developments and new products in the industry standard software.

    Addressing such topics as using XMPie server APIs, powering ecommerce operations and introducing uStore X, the sometimes deeply technical presentations were avidly attended and well received by the software community. Head of XMPie R&D, Yaron Tomer, made no bones about the company’s intention to collect feedback and expectations on the upcoming release of a new version of the web products uStore. He was not disappointed in the informed and enthusiastic engagement by the audience. Gathering customer feedback and input is a noted attribute of XMPie’s operations.

    According to Kavanagh, the response from the XMPie community was very encouraging for more local events in the future. “We’ve seen the numbers of customers attending the XMPie event in the US grow in the past few years. This is the first time we’ve held an event here and I’m very happy with the result,” he said.

    XMPie is a Xerox company with HQ in New York and R&D in Israel. Individuals from iconic digital graphics developer Scitex and EFI founded it in 2000. It provides a customer communications management suite (CCM), a scalable end-to-end Adobe with open architecture. It has become widely used among commercial printing enterprises in Australia as well as providing modules for such leading management workflow system developers as printIQ. Both Mick Rowan and Adrian Flemming from printIQ made a presentation at the event along with will Furphy of Technique.

    A full report on the XMPie Innovation event will feature in the upcoming issue of Print21 magazine.

    Between sessions at Palm Cove the Dashing Group mingled with the hosts, Yaron Tomer (XMPie) standing, Chris Collier,Dashing Group, Nimi Gorali, Dashing Group, Ayelet Szabo-Melamed (XMPie), Dan Ries, Dashing Group, Yaron Mohaban and Enda Kavanagh (XMPie).




  • Graphics Grab Bag – XMPie in Palm Cove

    This week Patrick Howard is at the XMPie Innovation Event in Palm Cove, Queensland. Here is an edited version of his scheduled presentation to the 70 industry professionals who attended.

    Hello, good to be here. Always a pleasure and an honour to meet with such a bunch of engaged professionals. I sat in on some of the coding sessions yesterday and understood not a word. But there was commitment and concentration in the audience. Very impressive.

    When Enda [Kavanagh] asked me a few days ago to talk to you today, he suggested a review of the local printing industry might be an appropriate topic. It’s a tall ask in the three minutes he gave me, but let’s see how we go.

    There is, of course, no single printing industry: there’s packaging print, signage print, labels, newspapers, books, catalogues and of course, general commercial printing. They’re all very different, and we in the industry are the only group that talks about printing. Everyone else talks about packaging, signage, labels, and newspapers, i.e. the products themselves.

    And despite predictions of the death of print, it’s not doom and gloom by any means. Most of these sectors are thriving and growing.

    • Packaging and labels are powering on with the growth in population and the arrival of digital printing.
    • Signage is still riding the wave of wide format inkjet, which for the past five years has resembled a boom in the number of machines purchased and installed.
    • Catalogues are at least stable if not growing, and still produced in huge numbers..

    However other sectors… newspapers, books and general commercial printing while still accounting for the largest market in terms of money and volume, are in decline. When I’m talking with paper merchants, they put the fall in the volume of printing papers at between 5 -10 per cent per year, and that’s been going on now for at least a decade.

    As most commercial printing is in the form of marketing collateral, the drop can be squarely attributed to the decisions made by the marketing community. This market is changing fast. John Wanless of Melbourne printing company, Bambra Press, tells me it’s changing by the month, sometimes by the week.

    Young marketers see print as yesterday’s technology. While we can still argue that print is a valuable element in marketing, we’re pushing uphill to convince them it’s anything more than an a campaign add on.

    Will it change? Can a push back succeed in the face of the overwhelming influence of online in every aspect of our lives? I doubt it.

    So what does this decline mean?

    In terms of printing businesses it means fewer and fewer, with more consolidation to come. It means less presses bought. Offset manufacturers are working hard but the market is drying up before their eyes. Digital is doing better, but the transition from offset is not growing the pie very much.

    The printing companies that are still out there are becoming more polarised between the very large, such as Blue Star in Sydney and, say, the Nankervis group in Melbourne, and the smaller ones, those with less than $10 million with less than $5 million turnover.

    Wayne Finkelde of ABB is on the acquisition trail. He tells me he’s looking to buy more print companies along the east coast but can’t find ones of the right size of around $20 million, to fit his purpose.

    At this rate it’s not unthinkable there’ll only be three or four large printing companies in both Melbourne and Sydney.

    Funnily enough, this was the rational behind the ill-fated Geon venture. Roy Mackenzie of private equity fund Gresham, told me so in the early days of his hectic ride. Roy, a tall Scottish bluey bloke was running two funds worth  $13 billion. I thought he knew what he was talking about, but I was wrong.

    “M’boy,” he said to me in the spectacular setting of his penthouse office on Macquarie Street with expansive harbour views all the way to the Heads. “M’boy,” he said, disregarding that I was his senior by at least 20 years, “I’m going to do to the printing industry what happened to video rentals. A few years ago there were Mum and Dad video stores on every corner. Then along came Video Ezy and Blockbuster and mopped them up.

    “That’s what we’re going to do to printing. In three to four years time there’ll be two or three big printers and that’ll be it.”

    Did I mention he was running $13 billion in funds? When I get there, I thought, I’ll tell him he’s insane. But then I held my tongue.

    As we all know, Geon went terribly wrong, but perhaps Roy wasn’t as crazy as I imagined; perhaps he was just ahead of his time.

    Will it happen? Will printing be shared between three or four large companies in Melbourne and Sydney?

    You’d have to say it’s on trend.

    But the production of print is only part of the story. Trade printers such as Whirlwind, CMYKhub, LEP, and Hero are enabling a very different kind of SME printing enterprise that can outsource its actual production. While battling rising prices in ink and paper, the trade printers appear to be in good health. Paper went up 20 per cent this year, with another 20 per cent due in January and yet another hike forecast for May next year. Ink is following suit, especially as more printers move to more expensive UV curing.

    This kind of printing enterprise is becoming more and more sophisticated. And that’s where XMPie comes in.

    Surviving print businesses, large and small, whether massive factories, production hubs or outsource portals, all rely on a ‘no touch’ model of production. Their goal is a hugely automated process to output as much as possible with as little labour input as possible.

    The much touted ‘dark’ printing shop is to all extents and purpose already here and the software and production management guys are the ones enabling it. XMPie is enabling it. And it’s a good thing.

    Yes, they’re putting lots of people out of work, which is inevitable, but they’ve an even greater challenge ahead; to put themselves out of work.

    The skills of the printing industry have long moved beyond craft. They’re now moving past assembly line manufacturing, no matter how productive, towards automation and robotics.

    The code writers are the power behind all of this. You are the geeks, if they’ll pardon me the expression, who have assembled at the XMPie Innovation Event in Palm Cove. You’re enabling a hugely productive, automated and largely robotic printing industry. This is the future and you are the masters of the universe.

    But some educators have a different take. They tell me there’s no point in teaching kids how to write computer code because in a few years time computers will be able to do it faster and much better. It means that these esoteric code jockey skills are set to become as redundant as those of the lithographers of old, the film setters, and the craft printers.

    What these futurists reckon kids need to learn now is how to live with accelerating change, how to navigate a future world where nothing is certain and the jobs that will be available are currently largely unimagined.

    And the best way to do that?

    Well, it seems the old philosophers had the answer all along.

    Kids today have to learn life skills, mostly around the ageless imperative to … Know Thyself.

    In an increasingly fluid and uncertain world, a firm sense of self is likely to be the main, possibly the only, constant in your life. And that’s the software code that really matters.

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

    Adriano Gut shows off the swissQprint.

    Out this week to CMP, otherwise known as Clarke Murphy Print, in Chatswood to witness the performance of its latest swissQprint Nyala 3S flatbed printer. A relatively small turnout showed yet again how difficult it is to get industry people to attend events in Sydney. Which is a shame, because Adriano Gut, long term swissQprint product manager who spent years working with Phil Trumble’s Pozitive in Sydney, flew over from Switzerland to make the demonstration.

    Good to see him again and he confesses to still balancing hometown loyalties between there and Australia. He flies home today and I’m sure he spent his time productively meeting customers during the week.

    Full marks too for Ben Murphy who allowed Pozitive to hold the event at CMP’s premises. Normally he jealously guards what goes on inside the plant, and even on Tuesday we were allowed to see the signage section, but no more.

    Warren Davey

    Still on the Pozitive event at CPM, I met with Warren Davey who’s now the Melbourne representative of Phil Trumble’s business. I’ve known Warren for many’s a long and noted his progress through a succession of jobs and companies, including his own. No one knows the wide format sector better. He was last with Spicers in Dandenong but left last year in a downsizing before joining Pozitive in January.

    Goes to show that a good hand is never without good work. He tells me there’s another swissQprint Nyala 3S flatbed printer going into Melbourne in the near future.

    Lynette Vella and Geoff Power partners in Digital Graphix.

    And finally on the CMP event, I met two people who illustrated something I’ve known for a long time. For a start-up business, the best working model is a partnership. Lynette Vella and Geoff Power kicked off Digital Graphix sharing their talents and ambitions in the early years of the century. They bought the first swissQprint ever to go into Australia in 2012 and have expanded into not only printing but outfitting food franchises across Australia through their Showpiece Graphix. All in all a very successful business.

    But what struck me was the enthusiasm with which he spoke about the working partnership and the level of trust and support the partners give one another. Their two families also go on holidays together.

    It made me recall that to my knowledge one never has more than one business partner in their life. There’s something about the relationship that’s so special it can never be replicated.

    I’m be interested if anyone can let me know of a subsequent business partnership after the first one dissolves.

    Because never say never.

    For something completely different, if Shanghai can, why can’t we?

    Shanghai Telecom has announced the completion of its fiber network deployment program. The company now claims to lead the world by providing 10Gps throughout the citywide wireline broadband access network.

    This connects nearly 20,000 communities across the city, providing 10 million households with access to a 1Gps bandwidth connection

    Best speed I can discover from our NBN is 100Mps for the top price structure. Why they can do it and we can’t, I don’t know.

    To celebrate the rollout, Shanghai Telecom gave users the opportunity to nominate street and lanes that embody what they termed the history and characteristics of the renowned “City by the Sea”. One thousand streets and lanes were eventually selected to be printed on the specially designed, limited-edition cans. About 40 million internet users participated in the campaign.  


    And finally

    A man was found murdered in a bathtub full of milk mixed with corn flakes.

    The police are looking for a cereal killer.


  • 1st swissQprint Nyala 3S goes into CMP

    Celebrating the first swissQprint in Australia in 2012, Adriano Gut (left) and Phil Trumble (right) with Lynette Vella and Geoff Tower of Digital Graphix at the CMP open house yesterday.

    Full service Sydney printer steps up for its 5th flatbed machine, with another to come from the Swiss company after seeing it operate at FESPA.

    The normally private Clarke Murphy Print opened its signage division facility to allow Phil Trumble’s Pozitive, the local swissQprint agent, to host an open house where it could showcase the latest Nyala 3S to a select group of customers. The fastest flatbed ever to come from the highly regarded manufacturer was put through its paces by Adriano Gut, product manager, who made the trip from Switzerland.

    The Nyala 3S (the S stands for speed) is a single pass CMYK production unit with a top speed of 370 M2 in billboard mode on the 3.2 x 2 meter flatbed. The highly engineered machine has tandem print mode and an endless vacuum that eliminates masking on the table. According to Gut, who is well known to the local industry from his time with Pozitive, it’s very energy efficient – one hour’s operation uses the same power it takes to boil two kettles of water.

    Already up and running at CMP over long shifts, six days a week, the Nyala 3S produced a number of jobs in different speed modes during the demonstration, including four different sheet jobs, front and rear with zero down time. Trumble made the point that although jobs are often printed on large sheets, most are cut down to poster size. The endless vacuum makes sheetfed printing just as productive as roll to roll.

    swissQprint regards the new generation Nyala as a radically changed model even though it looks the same as those that came before. It has LED curing and a completely new wiring system for its electronics.

    “The Nyala 3S prints in a completely new way for us. We always focused on delivering the very highest quality and we had to convince management that a fast billboard mode was what the market also wanted,” said Gut. “It’s still high quality but it’s productive and very reliable at the highest speed.”

    He made the point that it’s ten years since the first hand-assembled swissQprint machine came from the factory. It took the company two and a half years to reach 100 installations. By the end of this year he expects 1,100 installs.

    Pozitive is the exclusive swissQprint agent in Australia for the six years since Geoff Tower and Lynette Vella, Digital Graphix, bought the first Impala here. It’s still running strongly at the Castle Hill plant. Both were at the open house yesterday at CMP and a beaming Tower reckons that first Impala, “made our business.”


  • Landa launches Nanography into China

    Getting the deal done: Michael Mogridge, GM Asia Pacific & Japan, Landa Digital Printing, Rich Wu, CTO ZRP Group, Yishai Amir, CEO Landa Digital Printing and Song Deng, Sales Manager, Greater China, Landa Digital Printing

    ZRP Printing Group, Zhongshan, is the seventh printer around the world to be confirmed for installation of a Nanographic digital press. The Chinese printer joins a growing list with four presses already installed; in Israel, Germany, Switzerland and the USA, along with announcements of the first UK and French customers.

    Local Australian and NZ printers who’ve signed letters of intent will have to wait until at least after drupa in 2020 before there’ll be one in our neck of the woods.

    To support the first Chinese installation Landa Corporation has opened an office in Guangzhou to service what it hopes will be one of its largest markets for the new inkjet technology.

    According to Michael Mogridge, Asia Pacific regional director, the move signifies the next stage in the ramp up of the company’s production. “It’s starting to pick up well. We’re taking it carefully, making sure it’s all deliverable. The print quality is fine; now we’re focusing on the dependability, like with any new technology,” he said.

    Landa is no different to other press manufacturers in focusing on the Chinese market. Mogridge confirmed the importance of the Chinese market to the company, especially for packaging. “Twenty years ago practically no Chinese women used cosmetics. Now over two hundred million do and there are two hundred more who want to.”

    He identifies a growing requirement for ‘green’ printing, especially for water-based ink, as a key driver in favour of Landa Nanography presses. There is increasing pressure on printing companies to clean up their processes if they want to remain in urban areas close to their customers.

    ZRP is a major packaging print provider with four plants throughout China.


  • Wayne Finkelde – the pragmatism of printing

    Determined: Wayne Finkelde

    Printing is a tough game, a hard fought competitive space with little room for dreamers. It is a manufacturing and service industry under pressure of consolidation as printers battle for a share of a decreasing pie.

    No-one understands the fierce dynamics of the printing hierarchy better than Wayne Finkelde, CEO of AAB Holdings, owner of several leading print business. He knows there is only so much room at the top, and he is determined to be in the winner’s circle.

    Read Patrick Howard’s absorbing interview with Wayne Finkelde in the laest issue of Print21, which has just hit your desks, or click here to read online.

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

    The publishing date of a magazine is always an occasion of heightened expectation, especially for the people who appear in its pages either as subjects or as advertisers. The arrival of the printed copy is an affirmation of print’s undeniable physical presence, real world solidity in a universe of ephemeral tweets and twitters.

    The latest issue of Print21 is a cracker, even if I do say so myself. Packed full of good information, personality and news of the industry on both sides of the Tasman Sea, its arrival is a worthwhile occasion to brew a cuppa, close the office door and take a few minutes to enjoy being part of the huge world of printing.

    Which is why it’s so frustrating when Australia Post, the sole monopoly provider fails to perform its part. Print Post is the publication service for magazines. Like everything else now there are two levels of service, Standard and Priority. Unfortunately it seems as though Australia Post takes the Standard service as an excuse to leave pallets of magazines sitting on the warehouse floor for as long as they feel like.

    And that’s my whinge for the week.


    Speaking of postal services, I see the US Post wants to raise its mailing services product prices by approximately 2.5 percent from January next year. The new prices will include a five-cent increase in the price of a first-class mail stamp from 50 cents to 55 cents. That’s about half what it costs us to post a letter in Australia.

    Blowing its on trumpet US Post adds, that … The Postal Service has some of the lowest letter mail postage rates in the industrialized world and also continues to offer a great value in shipping. Unlike some other shippers, the Postal Service does not add surcharges for fuel, residential delivery, or regular Saturday or holiday season delivery. It receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.

    Christine Holgate, CEO of Australia Post.

    The Postal Service made $1.4 billion profit and $522 million in ‘controllable income’ in the first quarter last year. The difference is that one figure includes workers pension scheme and the other doesn’t. The $1.4 billion number was in the primary earnings table provided by the USPS to the Postal Regulatory Commission, while the $522 million figure was included in the footnotes of the report. Either way, it proves there’s money to be made in postal services, even as ‘granny mail’ declines.

    Australia Post under its new CEO, Christine Holgate, this year posts a full-year after tax profit of $134 million, up 41 per cent. This is despite an 11 per cent decline in letters volume that was offset by parcel growth up 10 per cent.


    The deal is going down at Xerox in the USA. Not only have the private investors repudiated the merger with Fujifilm they’ve now made good on their promise, or threat, to return 50 per cent of what they term ‘free cash flow’ to the shareholders. The company, which was on its knees only last year, has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share on Xerox common stock as well as a quarterly cash dividend of $20 per share on the outstanding Xerox Series B Convertible Perpetual Preferred Stock. Under CEO John Visentin, it clocked up a 5.8 per cent fall in revenue to US2.4 billion. Earnings per share took a hit too but luckily the ‘free cash flow’ went up by $157 m to $251 m. Mind you in a footnote the report says … * Prior year cash flow compares adjusted to exclude incremental pension contribution of $500M and to include deferred proceeds and beneficial interest from sales of receivables within working capital. So really, who knows?

    Finally Xerox is declaring financing debt at $3.4 billion, which includes leasing of equipment, as well as unfunded pension costs of $1.4 billion. So that’s all right then.


    Meanwhile, I understand the rift between Xerox and Fujifilm is so deep – the two are heading to court in the US to sort out a case that’s likely to last for generations – that personnel are not allowed to communicate with their counterparts across the Pacific. It’s slowly edging towards all out war with both companies threatening to sell directly in to the others territory.


    In North America, OKI Data has issued a warning that people are trying sell ‘clone printers’ into the market.  I hasten to add there are no reports of the same thing happening here.

    The company warns that the ‘clones’ are not covered by warranties, not eligible for OKI service and will not receive firmware or driver updates. It seems the motive is that the counterfeiters are altering the machines in order to use ‘white toner.’ OKI says these companies are not “partners” and have no business relationship with us.


    Then there was the guy who turned 80 and the nursing home threw a party. Up walked a gorgeous woman and offered him some super sex as a birthday present.

    He thought for a moment.

    “I’ll take the soup,” he said.

  • Label innovation show rolls into Sydney

    Innovation presenters: (l to r) Jack Malki, Gary Seward and Peter Scott with Dieter Niederstadt in front.

    Jet Technologies and Screen drew a good crowd of industry professionals for the Sydney leg of a three-part series presenting the latest in labelling and narrow web printing.

    Jack Malki hosted the event at the company’s Rosebery HQ introducing a heavyweight line-up of speakers that includes Gary Seward of UK-based Pulse Roll Label Products, Dieter Niederstadt of Asahi Photoproducts in Dortmund as well as Peter Scott, the local managing director of Screen. Topics ranged from colour management between digital and flexo, how to improve overall equipment effectiveness with flexo to what we can do to ameliorate the amount of plastic waste going into landfill.

    Seward took a light-hearted approach to the bewildering array of regulations in the EU, the UK and Australia/NZ for food packaging. With a stereotypical British penchant for making light of serious matters he illustrated his presentation with examples of extreme regulations from the EU. He made the point that apart from tin and ceramics all material, including plastics, allow migration of chemicals through to foodstuffs. Much of the regulations are about finding an acceptable level of migration. As the managing director of his own ink manufacturing company this is a major preoccupation for Seward and essential knowledge to be passed on to his label and packaging printing customers.

    Clean transfer technology and a fixed seven-colour palette are the latest developments in flexo printing. Niederstadt proved to be a technology guru for the sector. He showed how printers by changing to Asahi’s new CTT plates were able to get the press running at 33% faster with one set of plates able to print for up to 22 hours.

    Peter Scott pressed the point that while the global print market is worth US$790 billion it’s only increasing at 0.8 every year. The packaging-printing sector on the other hand is at US$329 billion with a growth of 5.3%. Of that only US$10 billion is currently done by digital, which is increasing by 12% per annum. There’s a lot of upside there for printers looking to get into the digital end of the market.

    Jack Malki bookended the session with a piece on the impact of sensory packaging on consumers. It’s a favourite topic and valuable information for label printers to present to brand owner customers. Then he spoke with great conviction of the need for printers to get in front of impending regulation with OXO-biodegradable films. These can reduce landfill waste by up to 70%. It’s obviously something Malki feels very strongly about.

    The Innovation Series was in Auckland on Monday night, hosted by SALMA. Tomorrow Thursday it’s in Melbourne at the Yarra Yarra Golf Club, Bentleigh East, kicking off at 7.45am.

    It’s well worth your time.








  • Inkjet makes a splash on Print21 cover

    Inkjet technology takes centre stage and front cover in the latest issue of Print21 magazine.

    The road show by Jet Technologies and Screen across Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney set the tone for the industry’s most popular and engaging publication. Check out Eddie Gulmen’s Infinite Coding on the cover and link into Jet Technologies Innovation Series to register for the event. Download the free ScanM App to see the future of printing.

    This latest issue is jam-packed full of exciting features and articles, news and views of the people who power the dynamic and progressive graphic arts industry across the region. Put together by the leading team of experienced editors and journalists it’s required reading for anyone who wants to keep up.

    Highlights include the arrival of the latest HP Indigo 20000 at Read Labels and Packaging delivered by Currie Group, the massive array of printed solar panels in Newcastle, Sydney’s first Gallus Labelfire at Dragon Printing, and the installation of an Océ VarioPrint i300 in Fred Soar’s plant in Auckland.

    It’s a well-travelled issue too with a report by Patrick Howard from the IGAS trade show in Tokyo, and a review by Jake Nelson of the largest group of Ricoh customers ever to fly to the company’s Experience Centre in Thailand.

    Were you among those who attended the inaugural LIVE! event in Sydney? There’s a full report on the PKN co-promoted seminar on page 18.

    Meet Wayne Finkelde, boss of AAB in Sydney, the well-known, dynamic printing identity. With his eyes firmly set on growing his business he talks about a life in print and what it takes to succeed in this tough competitive business.

    Looking to add value to your print? Andy McCourt shows you how in a double-page spread.

    And let’s not forget, this is the first issue from Print21’s new editor, Wayne Robinson, who has stepped up and put his personal mark onto the leading industry publication. Meet the new man on Page 13 and throughout the magazine.

    Then there’s our star line-up of contributors including Andy Yarrow from EFI, David Crowther from Colour Graphics Services, Andrew Macaulay and Ruth Cobb from the leading industry associations on both sides of the Tasman as well as Doris Prodanovic with her popular insight into the challenges of the publishing industry.

    There’s heaps more to read, including the venerable Keith Ferrell’s views on grand format inkjet – no one knows big ink better.

    Click here to read it online and if you’re not already on our mailing list for the printed copy, sign on to get the premier printing and graphic arts industry publication in your mailbox every two months.

  • Print21 newsletter Issue 1052 – mid-week SPECIAL

    It’s always an exciting time for us here when a new issue of Print21 magazine lands on our desks. The culmination of two months work from our dedicated publishing team; lots of writing and interviewing, ad sales and graphic designing, meeting and talking with people in the industry and this time around, hosting the first Print21/PKN LIVE! event in Sydney. This time around it’s come together to reinforce Print21’s position as the leading publication for the printing industry across Australia and New Zealand. You can read it here online, while you wait for Australia Post to deliver it to your mailbox.

    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

    This is the sole Print21 online news bulletin this week. Yaffa Media will be closed on Friday as a mark of respect for the passing of David Yaffa.

  • Graphics Grab Bag – goings on around the printing traps.

    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.

    Luke Newbold shows how ‘skiver’ leather is used.

    In an age when records are digitalised at a great rate, this week I took to the road less travelled and collected bound volumes of Print21 magazine up to the year 2017. The latest additions, Number 15 & 16 in the series, were produced, as were all the previous ones, by Newbold and Collins, Bookbinders, Chullora, NSW.

    In a modern business park in a cluttered workshop, surrounded by hundreds of rolls of buckram and binding leather, Luke Newbold is carrying on the family business started by his father David, preserving the skills and craft knowledge of a trade no longer taught, even by TAFE. From the moment you enter the workshop you’re assailed by redolent smells of glue and old books. It’s like stepping back in time to learn from a master about the operation of blocking presses, how to use gold leaf and varnish, repair paper in decaying bibles and match the embossed spine labels with thin ‘skiver’ leather.

    Most of the bookbinding trade is from people wanting to restore and preserve the libraries of previous generations; Grandmother’s handwritten recipes, improving books won as prizes at school annotated by the headmaster, diaries and family histories. Business also comes from law firms looking for impressive volumes of The Law Report to decorate barrister’s chambers. Council records figure too, their leather covers fraying and tattered, at risk of disintegrating. Then there are the family bibles, easily the most common volumes in need of restoration.

    It’s a glimpse into a time when print was rare and valued; it does the heart good.

    Luke Newbold with his Easter Show ribbons.


    Luke Newbold is a master bookbinder, a craftsman taught by his dad who was recognised as one of the best in the trade. David Newbold was a long-term judge of the bookbinding competition at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. As such, father and son agreed that young Luke would not enter to avoid perceptions of bias.

    That’s changed this year now his father has passed on. For the first time in his 15 years at the tools Luke entered two volumes for competition and came away with two ribbons: one Third Prize and one Highly Commended.

    Philosophically he accepts with good grace being beaten by John Turner, the president of the Bookbinding Craft in NSW and by Ted Chapman, his old TAFE teacher. You can’t say fairer than that.

    But now he’s got the taste, he’s determined to go back again.

    I’ll keep a close eye on next year’s results.


    It’s not widely known but I am the proud possessor of a t-shirt bearing the image of Stephen Hawking, the great theoretical physicist and author of A Brief History of Time. It was one of the first printed by a Ricoh Ri100 in the company’s showroom at North Ryde. Marvellously quick and simple. I thank Henrik Kraszewski and Dean Edelman for the demo loot.

    So why do I mention this now? Kayell is a Ricoh channel partner and has a demonstration model at its North Sydney offices. It’s produced a fascinating business model for any printer looking at buying the direct-to-garment printer.

    From $2.50 a print selling 10 t-shirts per day equates to $23,000 per year after all costs, or 10 x polo shirts for $42,000. It reinforces something I’ve always believed, that printing is the manufacturing industry with perhaps the lowest barrier to entry.

    According to Andreas Johanson, sales director, Kayell, the printer has a street price around $8000, which includes the heat press. The really simple to operate press prints A4 images on white and he reckons it’s a no brainer. He’s got a great speil for printers supplying tattoo parlours.

    Now there’s an idea.


    Mind you, when it comes to low entry barriers, 3D printing is hard to beat. A quick search on Google shows that a basic desktop printer goes from $200 -$900 with a do-it-yourself 3D kit costing $200 -$600 and an advanced desktop printer at $1200 – $4000.

    I suppose the problem is that it takes forever, the results are so dodgy and you can’t expect to sell the output. Besides, it’s not really printing, is it?


    One week to go to International Print Day and it’s good to see at least one local organisation is organising an event. The LIA in Queensland is inviting industry professionals to come together on Wednesday 17 October at 5.00 pm to mark the occasion.

    Printers are urged to bring along print samples that demonstrate the value of printing. A showcase will highlight the best of local printing production.

    Drinks and nibbles are provided, of course and importantly it gives everyone a chance to catch-up and network with industry colleagues.

    It’s on at Ricoh’s offices, 450 Thompson Street, Bowen Hills.

    RSVP by Friday is essential as numbers are limited.


    And finally…

    “Do you want to hear a good Batman impression?” asked my mate Dave.

    “Go on then,” I said.

    “NOT THE KRYPTONITE!” he screamed.

    “That’s Superman,” I said.

    “Thanks, I’ve been practising.”.

  • Graphics Grab Bag

    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?



  • Böttcher buys Brissett in major roller merger

    Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Mulligan, Bottcher Australia.

    Long-term roller rivals, Terry Brissett and Mitch Mulligan, will join together in a super Smithfield site to ramp up the local manufacturing of graphic arts rollers.

    The move is aimed at shoring up the onshore printing roller service for most of the major printers in Australia as the German-based multi-national commits to investing in Australia. According to Mitch Mulligan, managing director, Böttcher Australia, the merger is in line with the company’s global strategy of broadening its manufacturing base. “It’s a natural development for us. Initially we’ll focus on servicing the graphic arts industry but we have other interests in packaging, steel, textiles and wood,” he said.

    The two businesses will locate to a new Smithfield site within weeks with most of the Brissett workforce transitioning from the Tempe site. It’s Böttcher’s first significant foray into local manufacturing as it seeks to build on the market strategy and industry knowledge of the Brisset family’s business. Being able to service the larger printing rollers for big web presses requires an Australian manufacturing site. While most presses entering the country arrive with Böttcher rollers, Brissett Rollers has always maintained a vital refurbishing and replacement service.

    Mulligan maintains that the primary focus of the merger, while driven by ongoing industry consolidation is on retaining and developing a seamless local service for customers. “We genuinely believe this is a ‘win-win’ for the industry, securing the future of a trusted local roller manufacturing business and offering our customers an expanded value proposition – the improved lead times, flexibility and continuity of supply which local manufacture ensures, combined with the competitive edge that Böttcher’s world leading technology, compounds and processes provide,” Mulligan says.

    The combined credentials of the two companies are impressive. Böttcher is a 293-year-old family-owned business which is renowned globally for its quality printing rollers, blankets and pressroom chemistry. Terry Brissett (pictured) has built his business into the largest manufacturer of printing rollers in Australasia over 60 years of operation. An iconic figure in the industry he has maintained Australian roller manufacturing as a viable alternative.

    He credits the fact that both companies are essentially family-owned with being able to merge so successfully. “While our backgrounds differ, we share much in common and have been ‘friendly competitors’ for years. Both Böttcher and Brissett believe strongly in partnering with our customers and building relationships on the basis of quality products, reliable service, honesty and loyalty,” he said.

    Terry Brissett

    “We’ve both successfully navigated enormous change, from hot metal days to the high-speed, digitally-controlled and highly automated offset operations we see today, so we understand that the ability to evolve is vital in such a rapidly changing industry. Our merger with Böttcher is just the latest step in that process for us.”

    Terry and his son Craig will move over to the new company as Böttcher Group acquires the plant, goodwill and equipment of the business. The other member of the team, Glenn Brissett, is taking the opportunity to retire following a farewell ‘hand over’ national tour of customers with Mulligan over the next few weeks.

    “While securing the future of a local manufacturer is important to us, it’s even more pleasing to be able to retain the invaluable expertise, knowledge and relationships which Terry and Craig Brissett enjoy with so many print businesses in Australia and New Zealand,” said Mulligan.

    “Brissett has a proud heritage and an enviable reputation for quality, service and expertise in this part of the world. Terry’s contribution to the industry, in particular, has been outstanding. We are absolutely delighted to be able to bring both he and Craig into the Böttcher Australia fold.”

    The relocation of the Brissett Tempe plant and Böttcher’s headquarters in Castle Hill will begin in the second half of October. Official handover date is 1 November, 2018.

    After a ‘settling in’ period in the fourth quarter, the two manufacturing teams and processes will be fully integrated into the combined operation at Smithfield, where the entire business will be converted across to Böttcher’s world-leading manufacturing methods and compounds.


  • Print21 Newsletter Breaking NEWS – Tuesday October 2, 2018

    Watershed event in the local printing industry with the merger of Böttcher Australia and Brissett Rollers. The two major roller suppliers will come together to service and supply the consolidating printing industry.

    Good to see that Terry Brissett’s invaluable industry knowledge and expertise will not be lost.

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

     Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor

  • Printing paper imports plummet 43%

    Decline from peak year 2010-2011 is offset by increased share of paper from Australian Paper’s local mills even as overall demand continues to track south.

    According to the 27th annual edition of IndustryEdge’s Pulp & Paper Strategic Review, printing and communication papers are under constant pressure for falling demand a depreciated Australian dollar and sharp rises in global pulp prices. Keen competition from the local producer also made imports less attractive.

    Last year imports fell by 5.5% compared to the year before. Since peaking at 1.090 million tonnes in 2010-2011, imported printing paper has dropped to 621,000 tonnes.

    At the peak imports accounted for close to 80% of total consumption of printing & communication grades, other than newsprint . Last year they accounted for less than 63%.

    Tim Woods.

    The figures are taken from the Review, which is a comprehensive analysis of Australia and New Zealand’s pulp, paper, paper products and related industries. According to publisher Tim Woods, the industry bible’s commentary and analysis is informed by IndustryEdge’s field work and ongoing research program. The Pulp & Paper Strategic Review combines market detail with expert insight to provide a valuable and reliable business tool and will be available in the first week of October.

    The Review details all relevant manufacturing, imports, exports and distribution and end use markets within Australia and New Zealand, for the decade up to and including 2017-18. A full chapter describes the industry context from a macro and trend perspective, lighting up the pathways to the future. It includes new trend consumption forecasts for the next five years for all major grades.

    The printing and communications papers section focuses on all grades of paper, all markets and end uses, production, imports and exports. This section includes detailed coverage of office and writing papers in Australia. It analyses the latest developments for catalogue and magazine papers

    Order your copy here.



  • Blue Star logs on with Rima

    Blue Star’s presiding technocrat, Darryl Meyer oversaw the Rima installation.

    Australia’s most significant post-press web printing installation in a decade cements Rima’s dominance of the sector. The yearlong installation of state-of-the-art finishing and automated technology at IVE Group’s Sydney printing sites proved to be a definite win for Tom Ralph’s Graph-Pak.

    Blue Star’s decision to refresh its manroland high-speed web presses in Sydney sparked a campaign to reequip the finishing department with the latest log stacking, trimming and palletizing equipment from German company, Rima. The new post press equipment represents the biggest investment Blue Star Web has made in its finishing area for some time and encompasses not only the Silverwater site but also the new Huntingwood green-field catalogue production factory. Five Rima RS610 post press lines and palletisers, along with new high speed rotary trimmers and log stackers ensures the two sites are among the most automated production facilities in the country.

    According to Darryl Meyer, group general manager web offset at Blue Star Web the upgrade came about when the company replaced its original manroland Polyman with a new Rotoman. “We took the decision then to completely automate our bindery at the same time. Rima has been a Blue Star partner for many years, and during the course of our technology evaluation it became clear that the Rima technology was the best fit for our post press requirements,” he said.

    “Also important was the service and support from Rima and local supplier Graph-Pak. The Blue Star Web site has five heatset presses running 24 hours a day, three manroland webs and two Goss lines, so we need to know our equipment supplier has the service levels to support our operation, which Graph-Pak has proved it has.”

    Tom Ralph, owner of Graph-Pak, says Rima provided a lot of support right throughout the installation. Axel Tuebke, the German-based owner of Rima, along with Jacky Ng, its Asia director, came to Australia in the early part of the sales process. A good mix of nationalities among the installing engineers over the 12 months reflects the group’s international status. Rima has manufacturing facilities in Germany and the USA and both sent members of their installation teams to support Graph-Pak’s own support staff to ensure the installation went ahead smoothly and on time.

    Improved performance throughout

    Now that the five lines are up and running, Blue Star is already reaping the benefits in every part of the production process.

    “Rima gives us the reliability and flexibility we need. We worked with the company to design the workflow concepts for the log stackers, palletisers and rotary trimmers. The aim’s been to create seamless performance in the collation of the magazines from white reel, through printing and post press. The new post press solutions from Rima have enabled us to achieve this. We’re seeing the increase quality in our internal performance, and have less downtime and less engineering demand. Uptime performance of our post press operation is increasing. Press performances have increased and press stoppages have decreased.

    “We actually installed five Rima log stackers; three in Blue Star Web and two in the new Franklin Web facility in Huntingwood. We’ve transferred some long run magazines from Silverwater to Huntingwood as that plant is more suited to that type of work.”

    The new Franklin site at Huntingwood runs two 80pp manroland Lithoman presses, feeding into the Rima log stackers.

    Blue Star Web produces everything in house. As well as the five heatset presses it has a new ten-colour low energy UV Heidelberg sheetfed press to produce covers, and has its own saddle stitch and perfect binding lines. Blue Star Web is part of the publicly owned diversified IVE business.

    Tom Ralph’s relationship with Rima stretches back over 17 years to the time when he was working with Edward Keller. When he formed Graph-Pak in 2005 the equipment brand proved a natural fit. Since then Rima and Graph-Pak have won most of the web finishing equipment contracts in Australia and New Zealand. The IVE Group installation is a typical example, with Rima replacing another brand’s finishing equipment.

    “I believe this is the largest post press installation in the country in the past ten years,’ says Ralph. “We brought in fifteen forty-foot containers and used 450 meters of conveyor rollers in the process. We’ve a very good relationship with both IVE Group and with Rima. It’s a great match,” he said.