Archive for November, 2001

  • More news…extra news…overflow column…

    Films sales are declining more rapidly in Europe than Agfa expected – in contrast to the Far East where demand is stable. This has led the company to overhaul its former DuPont-Howson plant in Leeds with a possible loss of 400 jobs. Agfa says it needs to improve the profitability of its analogue plate lines, which are a mature business facing severe price erosion.

    A new production line is being built in China that will be operational by the middle of 2003, producing plates for the Asian market. The plant in Wiesbaden, Germany, which produces around 50 per cent of the company’s analogue and digital plates, will take over analogue plate production for the European market from Leeds.

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    This year’s Ausnewz Pulp & Paper Year Book is now available. The invaluable tome, which is regarded as the paper industry’s bible, contains the latest information together with ‘income elasticity-based forecasts of consumption for the next five years.’ For those who want more, industry guru Brian Stafford is conducting a series of one-day seminars where he will give clients a personal presentation of the conclusions embodied in the Year Book, relating and interpreting them to their particular needs and interests.


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    Great moments in marketing department
    In festive spirit, CyraChrome is giving away a free Pentax Optio 330, 3.34 mega-pixel digital camera (around $1500 worth of digital snap action) with every full version CyraChrome proofing system ordered. But hurry, this offer end on January 31st 2002!

    Contact Andy McCourt (CyraChrome) Tel: 02 9420 8188 mccourta@cyrachrome.com.au

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    Heidelberg introduced enhancements to the Digimaster 9110 and NexPress 2100 at the Xplor 2001 Global Conference in Florida last month. The company has also joined the PrintTalk consortium, which is working towards open standards in the digital printing industry. Employing PDF-based software, the company says the latest version of ImageSmart workflow software enables users of both digital printers to manage jobs more productively and profitably.

    Key to the software is the new SmartBoard software plug-in, which provides full support of job tickets and enables users to change paper colour or size within a document, update paper catalogues, specify finishing options and import documents from the ImageSmart Document Library.

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    PrintEx03 is living up to early predictions with sales already exceeding 60 per cent of the entire exhibition floor space. Two months since its launch and with 18 months still to go exhibition director, Tony Farrington, said he was delighted. “We were expecting a good response, due to the success of the first PrintEx in ’99, but this has been quite remarkable. All the majors have confirmed their participation thus ensuring PrintEx03 will truly represent the local and international print and graphic communications industry.”
    PrintEx03 will take place in Halls 1 & 2, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour from Thursday 29 May to Saturday 31 May, 2003.

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    An upgrade to Adobe InDesign, Version 2.0 adds features such as transparency, table creation, long document support, a superior printing interface, native Mac OS X support and tighter integration with other Adobe products. According to Adobe, new creativity features in InDesign have been added. The transparency feature is the first of its kind for page layout software, allowing designers to quickly and easily produce and edit effects that previously required other applications to accomplish. Users can also apply editable drop shadows, feathering, and opacity settings to objects, and can place transparent Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files into InDesign. InDesign 2.0 integrates more tightly than ever with PhotoShop, Illustrator, and Acrobat through its Adobe standard user interface, native file import and direct export of Adobe PDF files.

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    Staking its claim in a global market for display graphics with an expected annual growth rate of 15 per cent, Océ announced that it has acquired Gretag Imaging Group’s Professional Imaging Division, which manufactures wide-format display graphics products including colour ink-jet and photo laser printers and raster image processors. With 450 employees and combined 2000 annual revenues of US$105 million, the acquired division includes Anagraph, Cymbolic Sciences, Onyx Graphics, and Raster Graphics.

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    Indigo reports a net loss of $7m in the third quarter to September 30, compared with $2.4m in the same period in 2000. The company blames this on the decrease in the gross margin, expenses associated with the Hewlett-Packard transaction and the Print 01 exhibition, and an increase in the bad debt reserve.

    Nevertheless, sales in the quarter improved by 14 per cent to $44m, boosted by shipments of the Platinum digital offset press, which accounted for nearly half of the devices delivered from July to September. Revenue from equipment sales rose by 14 per cent to $23.7m, while consumables and service brought in $20.3m.

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    According to the latest TrendWatch survey in the US, 12 per cent of creatives in general, and 17 per cent of ad agencies in particular see ‘working with streaming media’ as the next major business challenge. According to the report, as web site design and maintenance becomes simplified to the point that customers can do it themselves, creatives need to stay on the bleeding – or at least the cutting edge to stay – ahead of their own clients’ abilities. Streaming media is one such up-and-coming technology that, as bandwidth increases, will enjoy greater implementation.

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    Canon New Zealand has signed up as a distributor of EFI Velocity software for high volume, multiple printer environments. “Copy bureaus, commercial printers and corporate reproduction departments will all benefit from the increased productivity and flexibility of Velocity,’ said Peter Whalan, national manager, Business Imaging Solutions Group, Canon New Zealand. Velocity enables printers to connect multiple devices improving flexibility by enabling users to split print jobs over a number of machines.

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    “As of mid-October, slightly over half of American PIA printers have made no changes so far in their operations. Approximately one in five printers have taken the following actions – reduced investment plans, reduced hiring or enacting hiring freezes, and established wage and salary caps or reductions. Additionally, about 16 per cent of printers have laid off employees” said Ronald H. Davis, chief economist for the PIA in his November Economic and Print Market Update. In the report, Davis says that the current consensus outlook holds that economic recovery is expected to begin by mid-2002, with print markets recovering at a slower pace.

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    And finally..
    An electrical engineer, a chemical engineer and a Microsoft engineer are travelling in a car when it breaks down. They get out to have a look.

    The electrical engineer suggests stripping down the electronics of the car and trying to trace where a fault might have occurred. The chemical engineer, not knowing much about cars, suggests that maybe the fuel is becoming emulsified and getting blocked somewhere.

    The Microsoft engineer’s suggestion? “Why don’t we close all the windows, get out, get back in, open the windows again, and maybe it’ll work.”

  • Initial NexPress sales on target

    According to Bernhard Schreier, Heidelberg’s CEO, while this bodes well for the company’s future development it comes at a challenging time. Following a good first quarter with sales up eight per cent and operating result up just under 22 per cent, the events in the USA had a clear impact on Heidelberg’s second quarter results.

    “Sales in September in particular were poor, being around Euro 100 million below expectations,” said Bernhard Schreier.

    Sales were Euro 2.3 billion in the first half year (April 1 – September 30, 2001), around five per cent up on the same period last year (just under Euro 2.2 billion). The operating result fell during the period by Euro 43 million to Euro 110 million.

    Web Systems sales were especially weak, being 29 per cent down on last year’s figures. The Heidelberg Group received orders during the first half year of Euro 2.54 billion (17.4 per cent below the figure recorded in Drupa year 2000). Incoming orders were up around 25 per cent, however, compared to pre-Drupa year 1999/2000 (around Euro 2 billion).
    Sales for the half year in the Sheetfed Division climbed more than 16 percent to Euro 1.57 billion (previous year: Euro 1.35 billion). The operating result exceeded last year’s figure by a satisfying 24 per cent.

    The company said a comparison of the regions shows just how severely the current situation is being impacted by the economic developments in the USA. Sales in all regions showed positive development, with the exception of the NAFTA region, where they fell by 18.9 per cent over the previous year. Sales in the Asia/Pacific Region, Eastern Europe and Latin America, however, recorded double digit growth rates.

    In the light of the changing circumstances the company is looking for ways to cut costs. “We are looking to a comprehensive cost-cutting program to drive the company towards growth and safeguard our earnings potential”, said Dr. Herbert Meyer, CFO at Heidelberg. To ensure Heidelberg achieves its target of Euro 100 million savings in the current fiscal year, fixed-term employment contracts will not be extended, no new employees will be appointed, overtime will be cut back, and lasting reductions will be made in administrative costs.

    As at September 30, 2001, the Heidelberg Group employed around 26,000 staff worldwide.
    In its sales and results forecasts for the year as a whole, the company had previously assumed that the economic recovery in the USA would begin in the second half of the current fiscal year. Developments now suggest there will be a further economic downturn in the USA with consequences for business in Europe and Asia.

    “Despite the cost-cutting measures that have been introduced, we now believe that last year’s results can no longer be matched if customers become increasingly uneasy about making investments”, explained Dr. Herbert Meyer. He nevertheless anticipated that sales for the second half of fiscal 2001/02 would be just above the figure for the first half. “The profit after taxes for the fiscal year as a whole will lie between Euro 200 and 220 million (Euro 283 million in 2000/01).”

  • Digital printing equipment manufacturer in trouble

    The company had been hoping to raise $40m of additional funding but says discussions with interested parties have not progressed sufficiently to allow ‘near-term closing’. Xeikon now awaits court approval to prepare a restructuring plan for its business while being temporarily relieved from its obligation to service existing debts. The company will continue to manufacture, market and distribute its products during the legal proceedings.

    MAN Roland, Xeikon’s OEM partner, which is represented in Australia by Print & Pack, says it is confident that the relevant courts will approve the preparation of a restructuring plan for the business.
    “We are convinced that the business with the DICO-OEM systems and consumables will continue and expand on a long term basis,” said Paul Steidle, Member of the Board of MAN Roland, responsible for the Digital Printing Systems Division.

    “We have ensured that the supply of consumables, systems and parts as well as second level support is guaranteed on a short- to medium-term basis, meaning that for MAN Roland customers and prospects, it is business as usual.”

    Print & Pack has taken on the role of supporting the installed base of Chromapress engines in Australia since Agfa bowed out. It has yet to install any of its newly branded Dico presses.

  • First 12-colour press in Australia

    Costing in the region of $5 million it raises the technology bar and sends a definitive answer to critics of perfecting printing. It takes its place alongside the only five-over-five in Australia, also installed at Websdale Printing 17 months ago.

    According to Tom Pongrass it was the success of the ten-colour that made him decide on the larger configuration. “In the first 12 months we put through 30 million sheets which works out at almost 60 million impressions. The perfecting mode has proved itself to me. Anyone who still says it does not work is denying themselves productivity and savings,” he said.

    The Websdale 12-colour is one of only a dozen in the world and will replace a six-colour 102 and a five-colour 74 Heidelberg as part of the company’s strategy of replacing equipment every five years.
    According to Richard Timson of Heidelberg the 12-colour will still only require one printer and an off-sider to operate.

    “There are huge savings in labour with presses of this size,” he said.

    The press is equipped with semi-automatic plateloading, operates at 15,000 sheets per hour and takes 20-25 minutes for make-ready.
    Although Websdale Printing is the only printer to take the 10 and 12 perfecting sizes Richard Timson says there are 16 four-over-four eight-colour presses in the country.

    “There are a number of candidates looking at the larger configurations now. These presses are proving to be a big success.”

  • Switch to digital delivery accelerates

    The report claims that the conversion to digital delivery is growing at a fast pace as more and more publishers are adopting CTP and moving away from film completely. In fact, publishers, expect the digital delivery market to expand to more than 80 per cent of the market by the end of 2002.
    This is the first time a survey of this nature had been conducted in Australia and the findings are important in a country that is geographically isolated and where technologies are essential if businesses are to operate efficiently and cost-effectively both locally and in the global market.

    The survey asked magazine and newspaper publishers and agencies to pinpoint how they are currently sending and receiving advertising material, what their preferred method of delivery was and ascertained who they believed provided the best service.

    The total print advertising market volume is 42,600 ads per week.

    Publishers are pushing digital delivery technology as their preferred option as they move to CTP. They maintain that CTP not only saves time and money, but it has reduced the incidence of make goods significantly with a minor six per cent of the ads that are received digitally requiring credits or free re-runs.

    In Australia there are two major digital delivery service providers, QuickCut and AAPAds with Quickcut claiming 53 per cent of the market.

    “We are confident that these makegoods are not occurring from the material that is delivered by us,” said Joffre Carter, CEO of Quickcut. “We are the only service provider with an online database containing all the specifications for nearly every publisher in Australia and New Zealand. And, we now have specs for quite a number of USA, UK, Europe, Asia and South African publications too.

    “This is of enormous benefit to publishers and agencies because any ad files coming to them have been pre-flight checked against our extensive publisher database to ensure jobs comply exactly with specifications for each individual publication. We know this is one of the reasons that Quickcut is leading the market. Our QuickPrint system is unique and publishers are particularly enthusiastic about this feature of our system.”

  • Ian Harry resigns as MD of CPI

    Well known industry identity Peter Carrigan, manager of CPI Digital, is another casualty in what chairman Sandy Murdoch describes as a campaign “”to integrate the sales and marketing teams to successfully present the group as the truly unique one source supplier to the graphic arts industry. The board has taken steps to ensure management structure is best suited to the change in circumstances.”

    Managing director Ian Harry has tendered his resignation after five years as managing director of the group. According to a company statement he will remain with CPI to concentrate on sales and sales development. It said that in these difficult times every member of the company should focus on their core skills.

    “There is much that still needs to be done to. This is the task that Mr Harry will now be devoting his time to exclusively.”

    Finance director Bernard Cassell has been appointed chief operating officer, with Sandy Murdoch assuming the role of executive chairman while a search is made for a replacement for Ian Harry.

    The shakeout comes after CPI reported a sharply lower profit of $1.45 million. The company was hit by the fall in the Australian dollar and contracts fixed in US dollars and Japanese yen. CPI has now renegotiated its foreign contracts to make most of its future purchases in Australian dollars.

    “Nearly all of our purchases will be in Australian dollars other than some machinery which is more one-off specific contracts,” said Ian Harry. “We have managed to change and eliminate our exchange rate risk. Getting our suppliers around took a lot of work, particularly with the Japanese.”

    Bruce McKenzie, general manager of CPI Graphics is also moving, returning across the Tasman to take on the role of group business manager with CPI Graphics NZ.

    The management moves are going on against a background of activity in the share market where it is reported Portfolio Partners Ltd became a substantial shareholder with 5.26 per cent of the company’s shares. Speculation continues on the potential of CPI as a takeover target.

  • Websdale is front runner to buy Potstills

    The transaction would prove to be a good fit for Websdales which, over the past few years under the management of Scot Telfer, has carved out a name for itself as one of the most technologically advanced printers in the country. It has developed a prime focus on the corporate market pioneering full service print management, so the Potstill Press client list of high-end fine printing customers would broaden its reach.

    Another of the major attractions for Websdales is the large trade bindery business of Potstills. “That is a nice separate business in itself,” said Tom Pongrass.

    He also mentioned the Potstill expertise in waterless printing as a factor in making the purchase an attractive one.

    If the deal goes ahead it is likely that there will be management redundancies on the Potstill side and some relocation of equipment, although Websdales will be grateful for the extra room as it is already at near capacity in its Alexandria premises.
    The deal is part of a trend towards aggregation in the printing market, especially in Sydney, which has seen a number of well known companies bought out in recent times. Websdale Printing with its emphasis on keeping at the forefront of imaging technology (see article this bulletin – 1st 12-colour press for Australia) is poised to pick up more assets as the trend continues.

    “There are a number of printing companies out there with no succession plan in place who are now faced with substantial investment choices. There will be further movement in the market,” predicted Tom Pongrass.

  • Overflow…more news…news extra…more news…news

    Baldwin and Varn deal still unresolved. Varn will continue to operate its Kompac business as Baldwin’s acquisition bid for the dampening system hits troubled waters. Unresolved issues between the two companies have seen the previously announced deadline expires. In a release both parties say they are “evaluating their options.”
    Baldwin Technology Company, is a global manufacturer of accessories and controls for the printing industry. Varn International is a manufacturer of pressroom chemicals for use in the printing industry and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Day International Group. Both companies have local Australian operations.

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    O’Reilly to buy Fairfax?
    Irish media magnate Sir Anthony O’Reilly is putting together a $1.5 billion trans-Tasman media group that is likely to have an ultimate goal of putting in a bid for John Fairfax Holdings, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald
    and The Age. His APN News & Media company is in the middle of acquiring 100 per cent of the Wilson & Horton media group, publisher of the New Zealand Herald. The deal will double the size of the APN business, which owns 14 regional Australian newspapers and 50 non-dailies. According to chief executive Vincent Crowley, “Fairfax has always been of interest.”

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    US paper spending remains low, capital spending confidence rises again.
    WhatTheyThink.com, the leading on-line community and research firm in the US graphic arts industry, has released its Monthly Printer Confidence Survey for October, a ‘snap shot’ of trends in spending and confidence levels of print vendors. Overall, paper spending confidence climbed two per cent after falling 16 per cent in September. The significant drop in September was most likely related to the events in New York City and Washington DC.

    • 24 per cent of printers surveyed said they anticipated an increase in their spending on paper in the next 30 days
    • 53 per cent said there would be no change in their ordering of paper
    • 22 per cent of printers said they would spend less on paper in the next 30 days, up from 11 per cent in August and 20 per cent in September.

    Overall, capital spending confidence rose two per cent to 59 per cent. A majority of print executives surveyed said they would make at least one major equipment purchase in the next six months. This is the fourth consecutive month that capital spending confidence has risen.

    • 29 per cent said they plan to purchase production/press equipment in the next 180 days – up two per cent from September.
    • 22 per cent said they would make a near-term investment in finishing equipment went back up four per cent to 22 per cent.
    • 29 per cent said they would purchase a prepress system within six months.

    A new item was added to the capital spending confidence survey: Print Management Software. 18 per cent of printers surveyed said they plan to make a purchase in this area of their business within the next six months.

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    George “W” visited Dixie Printing in Ohio to promote his latest plan for an economic stimulus package. The President is promising additional tax relief to help US small businesses by encouraging additional investment in plants and equipment. The President selected Dixie Printing and Packaging as his backdrop to demonstrate the kind of small, privately-owned business that he says would benefit most from the new provisions.

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    Tutorials for Macromedia Director are on-line.
    A series of online tutorials designed to allow new and existing Director 8.5 users to more quickly learn how to use the product and master the creation and deployment of interactive 3D content for the Web. The tutorials include lessons on 3D for current Director users as well as tutorials for 3D artists and Macromedia Flash developers who are new to Director. The video tutorials take users step by step through building a rich media Web experience that incorporates sound, video, and 3D assets. There are also more specific tutorials for people coming from other 3D modeling and animation applications, such as Discreet’s 3ds max. The tutorials are
    available at
    www.macromedia.com/software/director/productinfo/tutorials/

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    Heidelberg was named best German company in its market sector in its initial application for the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. The indexes take into account the economic, social and environmental dimension of companies. They allow investors to objectively assess the environmental and social commitment of a company.

    “The concept of corporate sustainability has been a central element of the Heidelberg group’s overall strategy for a long time,” said Bernhard Schreier, CEO. In March 2001, Heidelberg’s environmental report 1999/2000 won the Deutsche Umwelt-Reporting Award for the most meaningful and innovative presentation of its environmental commitment.

    “The consistent implementation of the concept of corporate sustainability increases the company’s shareholder value in the long term. It underlines that our company is taking responsibility for its employees, shareholders and customers,” said Dr. Herbert Meyer, CFO at Heidelberg.
    The DJSI which was released for the first time on October 15, 2001, also tracks the financial performance of the top 20 per cent of the companies in the Dow Jones STOXX 600 Index, a total of 152 companies. Here, Heidelberg became the No. 1 German company in the industrial goods and services sector right away.

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    In response to references to a ‘white powdery substance’ in the anthrax cases, some US printers are having to explain to customers that antisetoff spray powder commonly used in printing is inert and not hazardous. Also, the Center for Disease Control has issued a statement that anthrax cannot be transmitted by the handling of paper, ink, or printed paper.

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    Great Moments in Marketing
    In a recent marketing ploy, Hewlett-Packard ran a promotion with Office Depot to give four fillet mignons, four top sirloins, and a “tiramisu” ice cream cake to customers purchasing HP’s LaserJet 1200e printers.

  • First two UK NexPress sites

    The companies took delivery of the machines on September 17 and October 10 respectively and started producing commercial print work almost straight away.

    Mark Clark, Heidelberg head of digital high volume, said the two firms had been chosen to join the Early Partnership Program (EPP) due to their “experience and success” with digital colour. “By Christmas we will have three more EPP sites and commercial orders start in January,” he said.

    IGW first moved into digital colour in 1995 with one of the UK’s first Agfa Chromapresses. It runs three Xeikon-based digital web presses, as well as a Quickmaster 46 DI and litho machines.

    “The quality is a step-change from anything we’ve previously been able to offer,” said chief executive Simon Harris. All but one of IGW’s digital webs will be “ousted in favour of sheetfed digital printing,” Harris added. “The only advantage web has lies in variable formats.”

    Printflow also runs a variety of mono and colour digital print engines. Customer services director Richard Nixon said: “NexPress does have the potential to deliver on its promises, it’s the first digital machine I’ve had this feeling for.”
    The 2100 will get its official UK launch at Ipex. Heidelberg aims to install 500 machines worldwide within a year.

    UK list price will be £325,000. (Aus$937,000). The Australian debut of the NexPress 2001 is scheduled for Q2 next year.

  • SkinnyScript – the vendors get back to us

    Patrick,

    Thanks for your inquiry and for your coverage of SkinnyScript. As you stated, it has generated a great deal of interest and we are very pleased with the feedback.

    I will point out that SkinnyScript is not a shrink-wrapped software package that can be purchased. In the initial phase of deployment, we are working mostly with magazine publishers, to install a “Skinny PDF” workflow on their LAN from which they can forward the Skinny files to us for final prepress. Our primary market for this is North America.

    In phase two, we intend to offer a form of SkinnyScript as an online ASP that could be available on a subscription basis or as a pay-as-you-go service. This would probably be more suitable, at least initially, for folks in your region. Having said that however, I’m afraid I can’t give you any timelines at the moment.

    With the pending acquisition of Copydot Prepress we are re-vamping our marketing material so I can’t send you anything at the moment, but as soon as we do I’ll forward a package to you. If you have any specific questions in the interim, I’ll try to answer them for you.

    Sincerely,

    Bob Archer

    President
    Magna Corp

    SkinnyScript, is a new production methodology for significantly reducing the size of graphic files, with no loss of quality. Publishers, ad agencies and printers can immediately benefit from the smaller file sizes through increased throughput and productivity, and reduced costs of storage and communication and the elimination of couriers to transfer information between publisher and prepress/printer.

    For more background information see Graphics On-Line archives above – GO 15 & 16

  • 3DAP releases new digital colour bar

    Digital files sent to the major magazine publishers must now contain the new digital control bar in order to conform to the proofing requirements of 3DAP specifications. The new colour bar is designed so that prepress houses must apply to their 3DAP approved proofing supplier to get it.

    According to Bruce Sinnott one of the reasons why there was a need to create a unique colour bar is to prevent the spread of unauthorised use of the 3DAPcertification.

    He hailed the new approval process as the first industry-wide digital colour control standard in the world. It is the work of a voluntary industry group of professionals from publishing and printing companies who addressed the need for standardised digital proofing in the face of the elimination of film as part of the move to CTP.

    After extensive research and testing, the 3DAP Committee endorsed the use of a number of proofing systems to produce a high quality contract proof for coated stocks:

    • DuPont Digital Cromalin – CyraChrome
    • Epson 5000, 7000 and 9000’s configured to CGS Specifications – CyraChrome
    • Imation Rainbow 4700 series – Imation
    • Iris 4Print and 2Print – CreoScitex
    • Kodak Approval XP4 – Kodak

    Other systems are currently being evaluated and will be announced in due course.

    The launch came as the largest magazine publisher, ACP, passed the threshold of complete CTP outputting for its publications. According to Barry Smith less than three per cent of advertising coming into ACP is now in film, down from 90 per cent at the beginning of the year, with complete elimination due by the end of the year. All editorial pages are made up digitally.

    At the LIA conference he pointed out that ACP produces 3.43 billion colour pages per year over 105 titles. Advertising files will only be accepted on-line via APPAds or QuickCut and where they are not accompanied by a 3DAP approved proof ‘all care but no responsibility’ is the procedure.

    According to Bruce Sinnott only high-end ‘glossy’ advertisements really need to have a proof. Many digital ads are processed without a proof with very few complications. He foreshadowed the day when proofs will no longer be needed in the face of accepted digital standards and soft proofing on monitors.

    More information on 3DAP can be had on the web site:
    www.3dap.com.au

    In the US it is reported that a market-share swap of about $100 million has taken place in the past two years, between digital and analog proofing. Both types are now about equal, valued at $160 million each (a third segment, analog overlay proofing, accounts for just $20 million or so, for a market total of some $340 million).

    In 1998, single-sheet analog was valued at $260 million, digital proofing at about $65 million. Within the digital category, ink-jet proofs are dominant over halftone systems and dye sublimation.

    On a worldwide basis (as measured in number of finished proofs), ink-jet proofing is big and growing fast. Because of its popularity in Europe, it already surpasses analog proofing. Press proofing, which still is used extensively in Asia but is declining, even today represents nearly one-fifth of the total.

  • IPMG may close Dubbo plant

    The company is looking for pay reductions and shift flexibility to offset operating losses that it claims are running at $9 million per year but it will not guarantee the long-term viability of the Dubbo plant.

    Union acceptance of initial IPMG proposals to cut the number of employees at both the Sydney and Dubbo Hannanprint plants was not enough to ensure that the troubled country print works would remain open. The employees subsequently rejected the company’s demands for greater shift flexibility and pay conditions.

    “Hannanprint workers are not going to take part in a race to the bottom to sell off their wages and conditions only to find out down the track that the plant will close anyway,” said Amanda Perkins, secretary of the AMWU.

    Hannanprint is Dubbo’s largest employer providing 200 jobs in an area where there are few opportunities. Workers accepted the company’s plans to cut the local workforce by 60 in Dubbo as well as 100 in Sydney on condition that the heat-set web regional plant remained open.

    According to a report in the Daily Liberal, the Dubbo daily newspaper, employees said the proposal to reduce wages to save their jobs would only be a short-term measure and be counter-productive. If the company decided to shut the plant down in six months time their redundancy packages would be less as a result of their reduced wages.

    “What’s the use of accepting half a bowl of rice now and have them reduce that by half whenever they feel like it,” said Ben Atkins, union spokesman. “If we’re going we might as well go out with a bit of pride.”

    The move comes as IPMG renews its offer for PMP Printing, the largest heat-set web printer in Australia. The original offer was knocked back by the ACCC on competition grounds. The new offer is understood to include the divestment of PMP’s Clayton Victoria plant, the largest printing plant in Australia, and according to Ross Jones, commissioner of the ACCC, has a much greater chance of succeeding.

    Although the company did not return phone calls from Graphics On-Line it is understood that Hannanprint’s work schedule is light on due to Women’s Day moving to Offset Alpine, another IPMG company, the loss of the BBC catalogue to Victoria because of the Bunning’s takeover and other publication movements.

    Amanda Perkins said that Hannanprint was always recognised as “a Number One employer, a dream to work with. We’ve always had good relationships with them in terms of wages, conditions and consultation.”

    She described the current situation as “a stalemate.”

  • Minolta buys Danka New Zealand for $12 million

    According to Mike Sheeran, managing director of Danka Australia the New Zealand company was ” a bit of an orphan.

    “New Zealand was the only market in which we sold Minolta and we were competing with the manufacturer so it was never going to work out. Here in Australia we’ve just signed a new national distribution agreement with Konica. And the company is going from strength to strength.”

    Danka has sold a number of Heidelberg Digimaster B&W digital printing machines into the Melbourne market in the past 12 months, including into some print-for-pay operations and is gearing up to break into the Sydney market next year.

    “In fact if any of your readers think they know how to sell high end digital printing equipment ask them to give me a call,” he said.

    (Interested parties can contact Mike on (03) 9978 6000)

    David Berg, chief operating officer of Danka’s Canada, Latin America and Asia Pacific Regions, backs up Mike in his assessment of the New Zealand closure.

    “The operation constituted a drain on the company’s Australian business, on which we will now be able to devote more attention and focus to ensure its continued operational improvement.

    “I am certain the business will prove much more strategic to Minolta than to Danka,” he said. “Danka New Zealand was in the unenviable position of competing against the manufacturer of its products in New Zealand and was maintaining insufficient market share.

    Under the terms of the sale, Minolta will pay approximately $1.2m for the assets, which will be offset by Danka keeping certain trade debts. Danka will use the net proceeds of the sale to reduce debt under its newly executed credit facility. The sale is expected to close on November 2.

  • Adobe virtual design space comes on air

    There are no plans to introduce the full fee-paying system into the local markets yet, but Jordan Reizes, Adobe marketing manger, is encouraging our design community to take advantage of the trial period in order to become accustomed to the workflow and business model.

    “This is an exciting development for designers especially as more and more are working as freelancers. They can experience the benefits of a collaborative workflow with agencies and customers without having to invest in the infrastructure,” he said.

    Adobe Studio consists of two main areas to help designers develop more efficient network publishing workflows: Adobe DesignTeam, a subscription-based collaboration service, and a free community area offering a wealth of design-related content. During the beta period for Adobe DesignTeam, design firms were able to test this new collaboration service with employees and clients.

    The Adobe DesignTeam service enables designers to use the internet to collaborate with team members, clients and third-party service providers in one secure, online location. Web and print professionals can securely share and manage visually rich files with version control, as well as organize and track team communication around key project milestones and assignments.

    The service also allows designers to review files and Web sites while automatically collecting, tracking and collating reviewers’ comments without the need for original applications. Designers can use DesignTeam to securely deliver files to customers and service providers, while controlling and tracking the distribution.

    For more information visit www.adobestudio.com

  • Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) buys Imation Colour Proofing for US$50 million

    The deal gives KPG colour proofing in the mid and low price range to complement its industry-standard highly priced Approval product. According to Eric Gans, KPG Australia Managing Director, the takeover will see the company move into the colour proofing area even more strongly now that it has a wider range of products. Imation’s seven colour division employees in Australia will join over 500 worldwide in moving across to KPG.

    The Imation division will add an additional 10 per cent to KPG Australia’s revenue.

    “It gives us the ability to offer a broader range of colour services to the market. We intend to be the leader in colour calibration. Colour is the driver of the future,” said Eric Gans.

    Collectively KPG and Imation have won 14 GATF InterTech Awards, the prestigious US technology recognition scheme.

    Under terms of the agreement, KPG will acquire Imation’s full portfolio of colour proofing, film, plate and colour software offerings, as well as Imation’s Colour Technologies manufacturing facility.

    “Like KPG, Imation has a history of creating groundbreaking products,” said Jeff Jacobson, Chief Executive Officer, KPG. “Imation’s proofing and colour software portfolio complement and expand KPG’s offerings. Upon completion of this acquisition, customers of both companies – and the entire industry – will benefit from even greater choices in colour proofing and the management of colour in today’s workflows.”

    KPG’s proofing portfolio includes the Kodak Approval Digital Colour Proofing system including Recipe Colour software, Kodak Approval Type 2 Media, as well as the new KPG First Check Desktop Colour Proofer. KPG’s acquisition includes Matchprint conventional proofing systems, Matchprint Digital Halftone GT, the Matchprint Professional Server, Matchprint Inkjet System, the Matchprint Inkjet Proofing System 5046/5060 and the Matchprint Virtual Proofing System.

    In addition, KPG will acquire Imation’s Verifi Accurate Web Colour, the Colour Fidelity Module, ColourKey and Rainbow Proofing Systems Models 2040/4700.
    The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2001.

    “KPG places a high value on Imation’s colour proofing and colour software product portfolio and on Imation customers. That’s why we are buying the business,” said Jeff Jacobson, Chief Executive Officer of KPG. “We intend to continue to support Matchprint and other Imation lines. Until the transaction is complete we can’t be more specific than that, but we don’t want customers wondering about the future.”

  • Currie Group is the new agent for Indigo digital presses.

    It will support the 30 plus Indigo presses already in the region with ongoing maintenance and consumables as well as embark on a vigorous campaign to increase the number of sites. It has employed Indigo-trained staff from previous agent ODIS.

    Two of the latest Indigo presses, a Platinum and an Ultrastream will be installed in the Currie Group showrooms in Sydney and Melbourne as part of the promotion campaign.

    David Currie, proprietor of Currie & Company, says the move is part of a long-term plan to develop a future-oriented strategy for his company.
    “We intend to promote Indigo as printing presses for people who want to do real printing. The printing results are now excellent offset quality and Indigo presses fill out our product line in the fast growing one to 500 run length sector.

    “The industry is realising that digital printing is not an overnight sensation and printers are recognising that if they want to maintain a technological advantage over their competitors they have to offer digital printing services,” he said.

    He points out that digital printing is certain of wider acceptance in the printing industry now that the technology has been “ratified” by Heidelberg’s entry into the market.

    Indigo is the most successful high-end digital print supplier in the region with the largest number of installations. Former ODIS marketing manager, Phillip Rennell will head the Indigo division in the Currie Group.

    The move provides a much wider support network for Indigo customers from the nationwide Currie Group facilities. There are offices and showrooms in all states and Currie’s trade-background technical representatives will support the product line.
    New Zealand will be supported through the Group’s AM International affiliate that has offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

    The Indigo agency broadens the product line up of the Currie Group which already includes a wide range of equipment including Akiyama, Hamada and Shinohara presses, Horizon bindery solutions, Purup Eskofot DPX and TigerCat CTP, as well as inks and plates through its AM International Australia wholly-owned subsidiary.

    The inclusion of the Indigo range of presses will give the Currie Group printing solutions from ultra-short runs up to 25,000 plus with its 74-size full colour offset presses. It continues the development of the Group’s goal to be a complete graphic arts solution provider.

    “We’ve sold nearly one hundred DPX CTP units over the past five years to companies that are looking for a technology advantage,” said David Currie. “Within three years I doubt that anyone who does not have CTP will still be in business. Now the early adaptors are looking for something else to continue to distinguish them from their competitors. Indigo digital printing is the next step.”

  • Crown jewel of Australian printing is on the market

    The owner, Independent Print Media Group (IPMG), is seeking initial expressions of interest by the end of this week in a move that signals a strategic realignment of its printing interests. As it focuses more on the development and acquisition strategies of its web printing businesses, it has obviously decided that Pot Still Press, the only stand alone sheetfed business in the group, no longer fits.

    The high profile company has won more Printing Industry Gold Awards than any other during its 30-year life. The 60 strong company is regarded as one of the most progressive in the industry, one of the few that conducts its own R&D on processes and products in the course of completing the complex printing projects for which it is recognised. This year it won a prestigious Benny Award in Chicago.

    The company represents a unique opportunity for a buyer to gain an entry point to the industry or for an interstate printer seeking a mirror operation in NSW. Pot Still Press was acquired by IPMG along with Offset Alpine, which bought it from Rick Gaze of the founding family in the mid-1990s.

    It is a complete Heidelberg shop but is in need of investment in equipment, its main press a CD 102 is five years old. Undoubtedly it was the shortening of this inevitable investment cycle that prompted IPMG to put the company on the market.
    The company is an important trade binding facility with several Muller Martini lines and Stahl folders, counting its printing competitors among its numerous customers.

    According to Hugh Chisholm, Managing Director, there are “a series of interested parties” involved in the sales process, which is going “pretty much as we expected.”