Archive for April, 2002

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

    On-press imaging company Presstek is taking a good hard look at the market following the appointment of a new CEO, Ed Marino. He has embarked on a review of all aspects of the business as a result of a huge fall in DI sales, and is making no projections on future sales.

    He says that while record levels of consumable sales are encouraging, these fail to compensate for a steep decline in equipment sales. The failure of Xerox to sell its offset press and a reorganisation at Heidelberg that impacted on its activity could not be covered by sales to KBA and Ryobi. The sales of the company’s offline platesetters had little impact.


    Canon is claiming its two new inkjet printers, N1000 and N2000 will print colour for less than half the cost of laser machines. The printers employ revolutionary Canon ThinkTank printing technology enhancements including a new permanent one-inch ink head that allows the printers to deliver twice as much ink to the page as existing inkjet devices.

    The ink head includes 4,480 nozzles (640 for black, 1280 each for yellow, cyan and magenta) and deposits ink in droplet sizes of 30 picoliters (pl) for black and 4 pl for colour. The large number of nozzles coupled with the droplet size combines to offer photo-quality resolution of 2400 x 1200 dpi for colour printing and 1200 x 600 dpi for black-and-white printing. The two printers also have bi-directional printing for maximum speed up to 20 pages-per-minute (ppm) in black-and-white and up to 18 ppm in colour.

    Using an industry-standard 5 per cent page coverage measure, Canon estimates each black ink cartridge will yield 2,820 sheets and each colour ink tank will yield 3,470 sheets, with a cost-per-page of $.013 for black-and-white prints and $.049 for colour prints. Pages printed by a comparable colour laser printer are likely to cost up to $.02 for black-and-white prints and up to $.10 for colour prints.


    Quick off the mark UK printers Butler & Tanner had biographies of the Queen Mother completed and ready to roll – except for the date of her death. Debrett’s Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by Valerie Garner for Headline was seven eighths done and held in readiness for the final chapter – the one that made references as to how she died on March 30.

    The Frome, Somerset printer’s manufacturing director Greg Bird said: “The announcement of the death was made at six pm on Easter Saturday. We were printing by seven pm that evening, folding on Easter Sunday, binding on Easter Monday, with books ready at booksellers by Tuesday.”
    The initial print run was of 50,000 copies. Butler & Tanner’s has also produced three more titles: The Last Great Edwardian Lady, The Queen Mother Remembered and God Bless Her.


    A week and a half afterwards there are still no final attendance figures for IPEX with rumours of a major drop in attendance spelling trouble for future shows of a similar format. Organiser say the figures are with the auditors but every indication is that when they are released attendances will be shown to be down by double figure percentages. Inside reports are talking of as much as 25 per cent
    Funny how bad news can often travel really slowly.


    Clear Star Inks has appointed ILFORD as distributor for Jet-Star solvent-based inks in Australia & New Zealand. Jet Star’s range of non-clogging inks is compatible with Vutek, Salsa & Scitex Grandjet printers, [and soon with Arizona]. Change over from existing inks is a simple process of exchanging ink containers and once primed, printing with Jet Star can begin. Andrew Stewart, managing director of ILFORD Imaging Asia Pacific, says “We have positioned this product so that it becomes the most cost effective solution for our grand-format customers.”

    The Jet Star range is available in eight colours, plus a combined flushing/headcleaner product.


    MAN Roland chief executive Gerd Finkbeiner said the firm had proved the critics of DICOweb wrong at Ipex. “It’s been the attraction of the exhibition. Each of the demos has drawn the biggest crowds,” he said. The firm will increase production of the DICOweb next year when it expects to sell seven to 10 machines. “In time, when production has really swung in, we expect to sell 30-40 presses a year,” he said.

    Finkbeiner dismissed claims from competitors that the machine’s wipe-clean imaging technology was not an industrial solution. “That’s just nonsense,” he said. “With its mechanical platform it is as much an industrial solution as our conventional web and sheetfed presses,” he added.

    The DICOweb images at 3,200dpi and can run at 3.5m per second. It is available in 8pp and 16pp versions and can be configured as either heatset or coldset. Flexo or gravure cylinders can also be incorporated.


    Lazarus-like the Xeikon technology is back on the road with the goals of its new owners set as high as can be. “Xeikon was at one point Number One in digital printing. It is our goal to be the market leader in this arena once again,” said Joost De Graeve, business unit manager for Punch International, speaking at a press conference in New York City at the On Demand event. Company officials confirmed they would discontinue production of the Xeikon sheetfed digital colour press and focus instead on the web-fed DCP product family and continue distribution partnerships with MAN Roland and IBM.


    Michael Laird of Cyrachrome was elated when he saw the CGS Oris Page software being demonstrated on the Apple stand at IPEX last week. Traditionally only Quark and Indesign (or Pagemaker) are used by the Apple demonstrators, so the inclusion was recognition of the quality and growing popularity of the German-made combined layout and graphics software. “I firmly believe that the ORIS product is as good if not better than either Quark or Indesign,” said Laird whose company represents CGS in the region. Murdoch Magazines are his reference site here.


    Stora Enso, one of the world’s largest paper manufacturers recorded an operating profit of €274.0m, compared to €286.8m for the equivalent March quarter in 2001. Sales dropped slightly from €3.28bn to €3.22bn.
    “Forecasts are generally expecting a pickup of activity in Western economies over the course of 2002, but for the time being, advertisement volumes remain weak and there are no signs of a sustained improvement in the market for graphic papers,” Jukka Härmälä, CEO, Stora Enso. “However, prospects are brighter in grades with consumption more directly related to changes in GDP, such as office papers and consumer boards.”


    And finally for the wordsmiths among us . . .

    The Washington Post publishes a yearly contest in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for various words. The following were some of 2001’s winning entries:

    • 1. Coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon.
    • 2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
    • 3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
    • 4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
    • 5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent
    • 6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
    • 7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
    • 8. Gargoyle (n.), an olive-flavoured mouthwash.
    • 9. Flatulence (n.) the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
    • 10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
    • 11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
    • 12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanour assumed by a proctologist immediately before he examines you.
      13. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.
      14. Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of boxer shorts.
      15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), the belief that, when you die, your Soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.
      16. Pokemon (n), a Jamaican proctologist.

    • Heidelberg gets out of scanner manufacturing

      The market for all types of scanners has experienced a dramatic downturn over recent years – up to 20 per cent in 2001 alone, depending on market and product, according to a Heidelberg press satement.This downturn is even more pronounced for computer-to-film imagesetters, with falls of up to 30 per cent in some cases. This technology is being rapidly replaced by computer-to-plate (CTP).

      The scanner products set to disappear from the Heidelberg portfolio include all DTP scanners (the entire Linoscan range), the Nexscan and the Primescan. In the computer-to-film sector, manufacture of the Duosetter, Quicksetter 460 and Quicksetter 46 will all be discontinued.

      “This move is a timely response to the changing needs and trends on these markets,” explained Bernhard Schreier, CEO of Heidelberg. “We will be focusing our prepress business on workflow software and plate imaging.”

      The changes have prompted Heidelberg to reorganise the production mix at its Kiel plant (previously the Linotype-Hell factory) in Germany. In the medium term, the site is to become a center of operations for the development and production of the NexPress digital colour press. To date Heidelberg has sold more than 170 of these units worldwide. “Service and support will be continued for all products”, said Bernhard Schreier.

      As a result of the reduction in the product portfolio necessitated by these market trends, the company plans to cut the workforce in Kiel by around 200 over the next few months. At the same time around 60 extra employees will be needed in the site’s digital printing sector for producing the Nexpress digital color press. Kiel currently has a payroll of just under 1,500.

      “The structural changes will have a lasting positive effect on Heidelberg’s results and contribute to securing the site’s future,” said Bernhard Schreier.

    • Fast growing sign franchise picks Epson printers

      Sign-A-Rama is looking to increase the number of its new fully digital stores across the country. It intends to establish 15 this year to bring the total number of sign-making stores to over 70.

      The company has signed an agreement to install an Epson stylus Pro 7500 in every new store from this month, starting with its recently opened Wollongong franchise. Another is installed at the Sydney head office for development work.

      “We chose EPSON because our new franchisees need the best possible digital equipment to give them a fast and efficient start in their venture,” said Brian Pretorius, Operations and Marketing Manager for Sign-A-Rama Australia.

      “Our criteria for selecting the printing system were straightforward; it had to be simple to use, require minimal maintenance, it had to produce high quality results, and it had to be capable of lasting 10-15 years in a demanding work environment,” he said.

      Sign-A-Rama also preferred the piezo ink delivery system on the EPSON printer over the alternative thermal system, believing it produced better resolution and was more reliable, leading to greater productivity from the printing system.

      “Sign-A-Rama franchisees come from all walks of life and we want them to be as productive as possible from the first day they open their store until the day they retire from it. The EPSON print head does not need constant operator attention allowing the store owner to get on attending to other customer needs while the sign is printing,” said Pretorius.

      EPSON’s range of substrates, and the quality of its inks were also important considerations.

      “We need ink and media combinations that are heat and light fast, that can be used outdoors over many years, and that provide a variety of finishes to satisfy diverse customer needs. EPSON pigment inks are first rate, and the integrated printing system delivers on all of these requirements,” said Pretorius.

      Craig Heckenberg, Business Manager Professional Graphics Division for EPSON Australia, said the partnership with Sign-A-Rama entrenches EPSON as the leading high quality printing systems supplier in the Australian and New Zealand signage industry.

      “The EPSON system passed the stringent tests carried out in the Sign-A-Rama research and development centre in West Palm Beach, Florida. The piezo ink delivery system is very reliable and with EPSON’s range of substrates produces high quality results that can be used with confidence indoors and outdoors.”

      Sign-A-Rama expects to open an additional 15 fully digital stores in Australia over the next 12 months. Starting with one store in New York in 1986, the Sign-A-Rama system has grown to cover over 600 locations in 29 countries. Since opening the first Australian store in January 1997, Sign-A-Rama has 60 stores operating in all major capital cities and claims to be the most successful non-food franchise in Australia in the past 15 years.

    • Letter to the Editor

      Dear Sir,

      How nice to receive your correspondence on line. At 10.57pm on a Monday night, as a small business owner, I finally find time to read it, and am moved to respond.

      Of particular interest to my wife and myself, who have run our prepress business (The Bureau, (SA) Pty Ltd) with moderate success for the past 30 years, was reference to a comment from Richard Vines, credited with representing the Printing Industries.

      I can only assume that he is the same Richard Vines who visited our premises some 15 months ago extolling the virtues and benefits of applying for an EPICs grant, an invitation which we initially declined. But he assured us that the process was simple, and that we, having at that time invested some $750,000.00 in new technologies, to add to the approximate $1.3 million of borrowings we already had in place, were just what the industry were looking for.

      And so began the biggest load of bureaucratic bullshit I have been subjected to in my 55 years, which included 6 years of para military service that included a tour of duty in Vietnam.

      Almost 12 months later, at the conclusion of this mindless paper chase, I was informed by one of Richard’s cohorts that the EPICs people (who had changed address and forgotten to inform any applicants) felt some doubt as to the potential of our survival, and that we henceforth represented a bad risk. To this day I remain somewhat bemused by a comment such as this (and I have his email filed) from someone who has
      obviously never had to rely on his own integrity or intelligence to earn an income, let alone support a staff of 12 and cope with the bucketloads of crap that surround all small businesses today.

      Print 21 and its ramifications may be fine for those who have written and distributed it, but for the plethora of small business such as our own, who respond to marketplace demands and their own commonsense, you and the EPICs grant people of Australia have missed the target by about a decade.

      Our company prints books on demand; we export to every continent on the planet, and we service the local printing, silk screening and packaging industry with competence and efficiency – mainly because we listen to our clients.

      Yes, I had my chance to contribute to the Print 21 agenda, but sorry mate, I was too busy at work, and will probably remain so for the next couple of decades. That’s where things actually get done.

      From the coal face.

      Stephen and Karen Lewis


      In the interest of giving readers a full picture we asked Richard Vines of Printing Industries for his view.


      Dear Sir,

      Being a Client Manager for EPICS means providing a bridge between innovative companies like The Bureau and Government Departments which administer the allocation of taxpayers money. The problems outlined by Stephen and Karen Lewis are not unusual, and has provided me with many lessons about how to manage that interface better.

      The EPICS program is one of the most forward-thinking Government programs developed for the industry, and full credit belongs to Printing Industries for negotiating such an arrangement to compensate for the imposition of GST on books.

      However, the management and distribution of funding rarely happens without high levels of accountability. We have found some requirements to be onerous, and have convinced Government to make the application process simpler. It may still have some way to go yet.

      In the meantime, those of us privileged to spend time with those close to the “coal-face” are usually enthusiastic supporters of small business and creative endeavour. Steven’s concepts of using his expertise in variable print book production to do something positive certainly enthused me.

      It is disappointing that EPICS has not provided a vehicle for their journey because there is no doubt The Bureau’s staff are innovators. On the other hand, there are many other EPICS customers that have chosen to persevere with the bureaucracy and are reaping the rewards of embracing new thinking, practices and processes.

      If we are to prosper as a nation, we must all choose to find ways of making these partnerships work – however frustrating we might find this. This is the message of PRINT21 and my observation is that the message is making a difference.

      Richard Vines

      EPICS Client Manager

      Printing Industries

      April 2002

    • 1st iGen 3 for Australia

      After the IPEX signing, Mike Jones (2nd from right) shakes hands with Henryk Kraszewski, flanked by John Loadsman, general manager CDM, and Brett Maishman, Product manager of Fuji Xerox.

      “This is a natural move for us. We are part of the Xerox family and we want to move with them to the next level,” said Jones.

      “We don’t want to keep pulling traditional work from offset. It’s a case of dipping our toe in the water of full colour variable data printing. To do that you need the equipment. With the iGen3 we’d need to be doing between 400,000 and 500,000 copies per month of full colour. It can be done, we’ve already got 2060s that are doing up to 70,000 per month.”

      CDM is one of the most productive digital printing companies in the industry and is often held up as a paragon of the ‘new business of printing.’

      At least two other Australian graphic arts companies – Sinnott Brothers, part of IPMG, and Mercury Printeam in Melbourne – have also signed letters of interest with Fuji Xerox at IPEX, according to Brett Maishman, Fuji Xerox product manager.

      “We have had very strong interest from some of the largest printers and prepress companies in the country,” he said. He expects the first units in the country next year. The press is not yet available commercially although Xerox is taking reservation orders worldwide. Around 100 early iGen3 units have been produced to date.

      At the same time at the Print On Demand show in New York, Xerox announced, price reductions of up to12 per cent on the DocuColor 2060 including a scanner for hardcopy input, and a six per cent decrease for DocuColor 2045. The DocuColor 2000 Series is the most successful product line of its kind with 5,000 installations, one-and-a-half times more placements than all comparable competitors combined, according to company claims.

    • Raleigh Paper and BJ Ball sold for $61 million

      “Both Raleigh Paper in Australia and BJ Ball Papers in New Zealand have been consistent contributors to Carter Holt Harvey’s profitability over recent years. However we also take into account our ability to develop a leadership position and create growth opportunities.

      “At a time of ongoing industry rationalisation, we determined that the potential of the businesses could best be realised by joining with a specialist company in the paper market such as Edwards Dunlop, who are the largest independent paper merchant in Australasia” said Liddell.

      The combination of the Edwards Dunlop and Raleigh Paper/BJ Ball Papers businesses creates a clear number two competitor to PaperlinX in the Australasian market.

      Raleigh Paper and BJ Ball Papers operate primarily as wholesale paper merchants, buying paper from a variety of suppliers and selling and promoting it to printers, designers, stationery and form converters, label producers and retail and office supply distributors. Raleigh Paper operates from warehouses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and BJ Ball Papers from warehouses in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. The acquired businesses will continue to operate as Raleigh Paper and BJ Ball Papers but it expected the company would be seeking to maximise synergies, especially in distribution and administration.

      The businesses have a combined book value of $52m (NZ$63m) and annual turnover of $130m (NZ$157m). They employ 160 people.

      The move is in line with the aggressive growth strategy forecast for GS Private Equity, the venture capitalists who bought Edwards Dunlop from PaperlinX last year as a result of anti-competition requirements following the Spicer’s merger. The enlarged Edwards Dunlop is now a much more effective competitor to PaperlinX, ahead of third runner CPI.

    • Tassie printers stoush with government hots up

      Printing Industries Tasmanian President, Merv Coombs, said he remains unconvinced that the Authority is competing fairly with the private sector. He accuses the Government of holding the will of the Parliament in contempt by allowing the Authority to continue its commercial printing activities after losing legislative approval.

      Following the unwillingness of the ACCC to investigate the Authority, the Deputy Premier claimed any investigation by the competition watchdog would be a waste of time because there was no government subsidy of the business.

      This prompted Printing Industries to accuse the Government of deliberately misrepresenting correspondence from the ACCC to suit its own ends after Lennon released a statement saying the decision not to investigate the Printing Authority vindicated his comments that: “ . . . the government business is not subsidised”.

      This is untrue, according to Merve Coombs. “The ACCC, in its response to our request to investigate whether government assistance to the Authority contravened the Trade Practices Act, said: the conduct is unlikely to contravene the Trade Practices Act.

      “It did not, as Mr Lennon suggests, clear the government of subsidising the Authority, which was and still is of major concern to our industry. He has now escalated the matter by this blatant attempt at misleading the public through the misrepresentation of official correspondence from the ACCC.

      “Is there no end to the extremes Mr Lennon is prepared to go to covering up the government’s financial involvement with the Authority?” Mr Coombs asked.

      He said Mr Lennon’s handling of the issue had only served to strengthen the resolve of Printing Industries to continue its campaign for justice.

      “The facts are that small business printers in Tasmania are hurting when they try and compete against a Government Printer that has a market share of 20 per cent and continues to receive both direct and indirect support from the Government,” said Merve Coombs.

      “Mr Lennon derides all small business operators in Tasmania by his comment that our campaign for survival of the Tasmanian printing industry is nothing more that a “political stunt. There is no stunt in our campaign, just small business fighting to retain their customers against the might of an unfair competitor. That fight has to and will go on.”

    • Fastest printing presses get faster

      Electron beam imaging (EBI) is a patented technology that is used in the printing of high volume variable data print runs. At present it is black and white printing but there is no reason why it won’t incorporate colour in the future.

      It is being demonstrated at IPEX by the newly named Delphax Technologies, formerly the Check Technology Corporation, which acquired the sheetfed printing system from Xerox earlier this year. It has now launched it as the Imaggia range of presses in two configurations – 220 and 300 pages per minute. Previously the company had concentrated almost entirely on its CR continuous-feed cheque and financial statement printing, but it is now turning its attention to wider printing markets.

      “The centrepiece of our longer-term strategy has been the targeted penetration of alternative markets for sheet-fed printing equipment on the strength of Imaggia’s speed and versatility. With the Delphax acquisition, we have greatly expanded our capability to move beyond the cheque and financial document market segments through the addition of high-volume roll-fed product lines.”

      EBI is a toner-based printing technology that gives faster print speeds, more consistent drive pulsing, and improved dot uniformity and control. The company maintains that its presses are capable of being engineered up to even faster speeds.

    • HP gets to work on Indigo

      The industry’s largest range of digital presses remains the same and founder Benny Landa, appearing on a video screen in a long white beard playing Gutenberg, is still as charismatic as ever, but the Indio presentation at IPEX left no doubt that Hewlett-Packard is now firmly in the corporate saddle. In the first outing since the takeover was concluded in March, HP firmly stamped its corporate style on what is now the Indigo digital printing division of the corporate giant.

      For instance, gone are the individual product name badges such as Platinum, UltraStream and Publisher, to be replaced by the bland, HP Indigo Digital Press 1000, 2000, 3000 etc. In the blizzard of signage surrounding the stand you had to search hard even to see the word Indigo, and while Bill McGlynn, Vice President of HP Digital Publishing solutions, assured the industry that the name Indigo would remain, you have to ask the question – for how long?

      The marriage has moved HP decisively into centre stage of the printing and graphic arts industry, introducing a new powerful player to compete with Heidelberg and Xerox for the burgeoning digital printing market. The $45 billion corporation will change the ball game by leveraging its dominant position in the corporate sector.

      According to McGlynn at the press conference at IPEX, the strategy is for HP to convince its large corporate customers that digital printing is the logical way for outputting marketing and communication materials. It will start to include an Indigo press as a standard item on corporate networks, similar to the way it now does with its LaserJet desktop printers. A new workflow, the HP Production Flow and a web-base publishing system is being introduced to facilitate the move.

      However this is not a return to in-house printing scenario; McGlynn was at pains to make the point that HP considers commercial printers as its customers for the Indigo presses, not the corporations themselves. “We don’t believe our corporate customers will want to do the printing themselves. We will provide them with a network connection to nominated printers who are using our presses,” he said.

      In fact HP’s marketing plan is to not only sell printers an Indigo printing press but to also generate much of the business to keep it busy – a radical solution and one that, if it succeeds, will have major ramifications for the way the industry goes about its business in the future.

      Benny Landa made the point that two thirds of printing is generated for marketing and advertising and that most of this is coming from the large corporations where HP is the dominant technology provider. “In HP we have a company whose existing customer base comprises the buyers of virtually all commercial print,” he said.

    • Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox, rallies the faithful at IPEX

      In a presentation that had as much to do with showbiz as printing, the charismatic Mulcahy promoted the company’s philosophy of “the new business of printing.” In a bravura performance she revived the concept that there are three killer apps that will drive digital printing in the future – books on demand, variable data and short-run colour. The statistics she used to back it up were impressive: 30 per cent of all books printed are never sold and are destroyed; the use of personalization can increase response to a printed document by up to 44 per cent; half of all digital print is in addition, not competition to traditional printing.

      Anne Mulcahy at IPEX

      She went public with the price of the new iGen3 press, the company’s flagship digital production press. It will list at US $512,000 (Aus$962,264) and she said that 100 units of the high-end colour press have “already rolled off the line.”

      At the same time she announced the sale of the 5000th DocuColor 2000 (the 2060 in Australia), since its launch two years ago, labelling it the most successful digital print engine ever.

      In nominating the arrival of a watershed for the industry she quoted industry authority Frank Romano’s estimate of the size of the printing industry in the world as US1.2 trillion.

      Of more significance to the Xerox market is the forecast that the market for variable data printing will increase to $6 billion by 2004 and the CAP Ventures projection that digital print-on-demand is outgrowing offset printing six – to – one in Western Europe where it is projected to jump from $13 billion to $32 billion by 2005. In fact, she maintains that the upturn forecast for the printing industry later this year will be fuelled largely by digital printing.

      “A turning point in the printing industry is undeniably underway. The choice is clear: we can make the turn, investing in new ways to work, serving new customers and generating new revenue streams. Or we can choose not to make the turn – sticking with what we know, competing for traditional customers, and selling a commodity based on prince. To secure its future the industry must make the turn from the traditional business of manufacturing to the new business of solutions and services.”

    • IPEX 2002 Report #2

      With only a few days remaining of the event, Patrick Howard is still reporting and posting product announcements and industry trends as they happen.

    • Heidelberg will drive industry consolidation

      The uncertainty as to whether the printing industry has a digital or an offset future is creating uncertainty and contributing to a lack of confidence in printers seeking pointers on investment decisions, according to Bernhard Schreier in his opening address at yesterday’s pre-IPEX Heidelberg press conference. In his vision of the future, digital printing will not replace offset but will coexist in an enhanced world where there is plenty of room for all.

      Bernhard Schreier, Managing Director of Heidelberg

      ” We shun the word replace,” he said. “We prefer the word completion.”

      This is at the core of the company’s embrace of all types of printing, including digital. The concept is that Heidelberg customers will be able to augment their core offset printing skills with digital colour and or black and white printing.

      At the IPEX launch the vision he projected was of a Heidelberg that is unafraid to pursue its goal of being all things to all printers. He emphasized that in the recent hard times the supply side of the industry was subjected to consolidation as one after another of the manufacturers are swallowed up by competitors.
      “This consolidation will continue and Heidelberg will not only drive it but we will be in the poll position when business picks up again.”

      The company regarded as a good thing, the announcement that its major shareholder, the German utilities company RWE, wants to dispose of its controlling 50 per cent share by the end of the year. If the shares are launched on the stock market that would be, what he described as ” heaven on earth” for Heidelberg as it would allow the company to pursue its own destiny.

      Innovations and highlights

      The Heidelberg opening address took place in front of a 12- colour perfecting Speedmaster 102, the top of the range of the company’s sheetfed presses. This was the centrepiece of its sheetfed solution where the company announced a new Prinect module, AxisControl, a spectrophotometry-based colour measuring system.

      Across the way the NexPress was bathed in spotlights and the announcement that four of the digital presses have been sold to an Irish book printing company with its production plant in Birmingham. The company said over 150 of the machines have been placed since it was launched last September.
      Australia is unlikely to see one of them until later this year or early next. New software, NexTreme, which supports variable digital printing on the NexPress was released at the show.

      In CTP there is automation of the company’s violet Prosetter platesetter. According to Schreier, this means that along with its Topsetter and Prosetter machines Heidelberg has the most extensive range of CTP products in the market.

      In keeping with the size of the show there are two large web presses, the Sunday 2000 and the new 64-page version of the Sunday 4000 running demo jobs.

      All the machines on display are connected by the Prinect system, the workflow system that Heidelberg places at the centre of its system.

    • A new styling look for MAN Roland

      The unit at IPEX comes equipped with four printing units, a dryer and a new format variable folder. The quality and flexibility has been markedly improved by the introduction of a new format variable inking unit. It is printing live jobs at the show, a short run magazine and an extract from an art book. At present there is one pilot DICOweb installation with two more planned after this IPEX.

      At the launch of its show Gerd Finkbeiner, Chairman, emphasized the integrated strategy of the company’s divisions and promoted its PECOM product as the core workflow. The company has all its sheetfed presses on the stand in their new colours, as well as the Xeikon-based web presses, DICOpress and DICOpage – the sheetfed DICOpage is a notable absence from the line-up, having been discontinued.

      Gerd Finkbeiner at IPEX

      Gerd Finkbeiner predicted a strong future for the partnership between MAN Roland and the new Xeikon owners, Punch, a Belgian-based electronics firm that bought the troubled digital print manufacturer. He made the point that MAN Roland is one distributor of the engine, along with others around the world.

      The launch

    • UV platesetting from BasyPrint and the new Esko-Graphics

      Esko-Graphics launched its new corporate identity at IPEX and committed itself to continued development and presence in the CTP market. Born from the merger of Barco and Purup-Eskofot it has a large range of thermal platesetters as well as the industry leading DPX system – but its outgoing president William Schulin-Zeuthen only wanted to focus on its UV Dicon technology.

      He said that the company’s future strategy is based on developing the Dicon UV imaging head. This is in the prototype stage and is the result of seven years development by researchers at the old Purup-Eskofot. Although the imaging technology is unique, it is 18 to 24 months away from being commercially available.

      There are a number of manufacturers interested in tapping the potential of UV platesetting such as Agfa and reportedly Heidelberg, but the originator and front runner is German company BasyPrint.

      At its press conference on the day before the opening of the show, BasyPrint launched its second generation UV imaging head and a new range of F (as in fast) platesetters. This is powered by a new UV lamp with a three to four times greater intensity than previously and with new optics if can double the resolution, imaging up to 3000 dpi.

      The premise behind both UV imaging technologies is that they use conventional offset plates, thereby reducing cost and allowing printers to use materials they are familiar with. UV lamps in the BasyPrint system are also much cheaper than any type of laser. There are 35 BasyPrint units installed in the US, 80 per cent of them in 8-up size.

      The downside is that the original equipment costs for UV are reasonably high.

      At IPEX, Esko-Graphics is running a technology demonstration employing a prototype Dicon machine using a single imaging head. The production model is envisaged to use twin heads and be capable of outputting up to 55 negative-working plates per hour at 1270 dpi. The company is convinced that this level resolution has a large-scale application and can satisfy most requirements.

      During the show I hope to inspect the technology demonstration and find out what makes the company so convinced that it is on to a winner. Given the advanced state of the BasyPrint competition, it is in danger of turning into a one horse race.

    • CTP is the main focus at IPEX

      Everywhere you turn at IPEX the CTP revolution is in full swing. New platesetters, new laser light systems, new processless plates are at the heart of most discussions. Suppliers report that the ratio between film and plate sales has reversed from only two years ago with imaging plates now outselling film three to one.

      The benefits of the different methods are hotly debated – thermal versus visible light, on-press imaging as opposed to off line platesetting. All technologies have their adherents and the number of new products being launched at IPEX shows the battles are far from being over.

      The tide appears to be running in favour of thermal imaging as first pioneered and supported by Creo with both Agfa and Screen introducing further thermal platesetters to their range. The Agfa product is the Xcalibur 45, a thermal platesetter that combines a revolutionary Grating Light Valve (GLV) with a 50W laser to produce a wider imaging swathe and slower revolutions. The Screen machine is the four-page PlateRite 4300, aimed at the larger format 4-page presses now becoming more popular.

      On the other hand Fuji and Heidelberg, as well as having thermal platesetters in the range, are showing their new visible light products. The Fuji launch is a Luxel Vx-9600 CTP using the company’s trademark dual lasers, in this case violet light diodes.
      Heidelberg has its entry-level machine, the Prosetter 52, a semi-automatic two-up plate setter, which, depending on the plate type can expose up to 20 plates per hour, at a resolution of 2540 dpi.

      Processless plates are here

      The argument on the virtues of thermal versus visible light centers on the greater stability of the thermal image, the ease of handling plates in daylight conditions and the belief that thermal is the only way towards the nirvana of CTP, the processless plate.
      On the other hand some of the arguments put forward by the visible light suppliers include lower cost of ownership and laser replacement costs. The plates are cheaper too.
      Agfa and Fuji appear happy to have both types in their portfolio, while Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) is entirely committed to thermal.

      There is also the UV CTP technology as developed by BasyPrint and Esko Graphics. This is getting better, imaging faster and uses conventional plates.

      Almost all plate manufacturers now have a processless plate to meet the expectations of the thermal CTP sector. KPG has its model, while Agfa promotes its Mistral plate, and Presstek has its Pearldry for DI presses and its Anthem for offline. These are all ablative models where the laser burns away a protective covering exposing the imaging surface beneath. The fountain solution is usually all that is needed to clean away any debris.

      There were two new processless products launched at IPEX, the Presstek Applause and the Fuji LDN3. Both are in technology demonstration modes with no clear date as to when they will come to market. Processless plates have yet to take off, due in part to their cost. It remains to be seen if the plate manufacturers will be as competitive in this sector as in others. At this time there seems to be so sign of the prices coming down.

      There is little doubt that the large size printers are already well down the CTP path and that the B2 sector is starting to follow. The question now is whether to opt for direct imaging (DI), the computer-to-press scenario that is becoming more popular or to remain using off-line equipment. All press manufacturers now have a DI press, a model that Heidelberg pioneered.

      The MAN Roland DICOweb is another DI technology that employs reusable cylinders, imaging, printing, wiping clean and imaging again. The company showed a new heateset version of the press at IPEX to large crowds.

    • Wheels on fire

      How’s this for a line-up of fading baby boomer talent?

      • Neil Diamond
      • Barry Manilowe
      • The Moody Blues
      • The Temptations
      • The Four Tops
      • Bob Dylan
      • Andy Williams
      • BB King
      • Cliff Richard and last and possibly least. . .
      • The Monkees!

      I can hardly wait!

    • Creo Technology Event in Vancouver

      According to Amos Michelson, CEO of Creo, the company’s strategy of developing unique sustainable solutions for the graphic arts will see it continue to concentrate on simplifying the digital production workflow. He emphasized to a group of Australian industry professionals, the importance that Creo places on maintaining its “three to four year lead” over rival products.

      Creo CEO Amos Michelson (right) with Print 21Online publisher Patrick Howard at the Creo Technology event in Vancouver this week.

      He pointed out that Creo is the only 100 per cent dedicated prepress equipment and solutions manufacturer among the big five suppliers and has a track record of consistently trail-blazing the industry’s technology development. The company has emerged from its internal focus of digesting the Scitex prepress business which it acquired last year and a painful downsizing following the tech bust.

      It now has a total of 300 graphic arts products in many categories with a strategy of devoting around 900 of its 4,000 employees to R&D. Among the projects under development is a direct-to-press imaging system where it is working with Agfa on developing a reusable plate or cylinder emulsion that can be imaged, used to print, then removed and used again.

      Two thirds of the company’s revenue now comes from its software development and service (the other third from manufacturing, mainly CTP). At the Technology Event, it announced new versions of its two workflow software products. The release of Prinergy 2.1 and Brisque 4 provide significant upgrades and develops the concept of networked graphic production.

      The PDF-based Prinergy, which has sold 1,000 systems (2,200 servers, 7,000 Mac and PC workstations), is the high-end production workflow and this latest upgrade moves it onto the web. The modular system has a new Synapse Insite, which is an internet portal that lets printers allow customers to submit jobs, track job status, remotely proof and approve jobs. It is a collaborative module and according to Creo there are now 200 Insite operations worldwide.
      A feature of the new version is the entry-level module; Entro, which allows small graphic arts enterprises to install a fully spec’d Prinergy system, but only initially use and pay for the RIP. Other workflow applications can be turned on by licence as required.

      The Brisque product, which was inherited from Scitex, is now being tailored more towards servicing the packaging industry where the reliable CT/LW file format gives a RIP once output many workflow.