Archive for September, 2003

  • The Germans hold their fire for Drupa

    In the spirit of supporting the home team, the European, i.e. German, manufacturers are keeping their powder dry for Düsseldorf. The Americans also are focused on next week’s GraphExpo in Chicago.

    Which leaves whatever new products and technologies are to be launched at IGAS to the Japanese manufacturers, who are as fiercely parochial as anyone else. Here the strengths of the industry in press manufacturing become clear, with many of the largest companies premiering new press lines at IGAS. (see accompanying story – Press Power from Japan)

    There are other premiere products on show here especially in the digital printing and CTP plate sectors, although most are technology demonstrations, with market availability next year. Which means, I suppose, that even the Japanese producers are developing with the Drupa cycle in mind.

    Other launches represent international debuts to the local market, with Heidelberg launching its NexPress with kanji fonts and Japanese DFE, and HP Indigo presenting itself in its new corporate guise for the first time. There is no sign of the Creo thermal plate, with FujiFilm providing the plate du jour for its potential rival.

    Coming from the land downunder

    Familiar faces are few and far between in the halls, with estimates of Australian and New Zealand visitors hovering around the 60 – 70 mark. Many visitors were hosted to tours of the Screen plant in Kyoto, and the Horizon plant etc. Again, the influence of Drupa next year tends to keep all but the serious buyers away from here. Which is a pity, because apart from anything else, the jet lag for us is non-existent when compared to Europe and the USA, believe me.

    As this bulletin goes to air, IGAS has two more days to run. The launch of the 1st World Printing Technician’s Conference is scheduled for today, which is promised to be a world-class event with multi-lingual translations of all presentations. A report on this next week.

    Meanwhile, the halls today are less packed than yesterday, which was a Japanese national holiday, with throngs of industry people attending the show on their day off. Looking at the seried ranks of enthusiastic industry types queuing to register yesterday morning (expectations are for 150,000 visitors), the thought occurs that even if the English-speaking world responds with lacklustre to IGAS, the show’s hold on the local and the rapidly growing Asian Pacific market, assures that its importance will only increase over the years.

  • Digital printing – the battle is hotting up

    The technology demonstration of the new press at the show from the Japanese ink-jet developer reveals printed product that is of quite acceptable quality, but the actual imaging process is being kept tightly under wraps. The use of liquid toner has drawn the attention of HP Indigo, which is jealous of its patents in this area. The company cannot make an assessment of the potential patent infringement until the press is actually launched and product is available. A technician was supposedly flown out to IGAS to have a closer look.

    The TM 1200 uses a non-electro magnetic field transfer system which sounds very like the electro-ink of Benny Landa’s original Indigo concept, but I’m assured by Satoshi Itakura, senior general manager, that the company is confident its corpuscle liquid toner imaging system does not impinge on any existing patents. He predicts a launch early next year, so this is one to watch at Drupa.

    On the other side of the stand the company had its MJP 600A, a new inkjet machine that produces process colour at 400 metres per minute at 600 x 600 dpi. That ;level of production challenges all the assumptions of conventional printing. This is the company that makes the imaging heads for the Scitex Versa. It does seem we are going to hear a lot more about Miyokoshi in the future.

    HP Indigo is launched in Japan

    Meanwhile, HP Indigo launched itself into the Japanese market in which it claims an installed base of 150 machines, including its largest single production facility – Toppan Printing. This site has seven very fast HP Indigo Publishers producing 20 million fully variable sheets per month for the education market. A private study programme delivers monthly workbooks to thousands of students with each book personally addressing the student, focusing on the results of previous work and setting new tasks.

    Michael Mogridge, who is now responsible for the HP Indigo product in Japan as well as South East Asia, introduced Walt Sledzieski, vice president worldwide sales (pictured at right with Mogridge) to the industry at the show. Sledzieski was bullish about the prospects of digital printing, which he claims has only four per cent of the print for pay market. Citing HP’s determination to lower the cost of electro ink – the company is building two new toner manufacturing plants, one in Singapore, the other in Israel – he predicts a major take-up of digital printing over the next 18 months.

    NexPress but no iGen3

    Rather surprisingly there was no iGen3 on the Fuji Xerox stand at IGAS. The Japanese company decided to showcase its high speed LED imaging product, the DocuPrint 1100 CF . This is a transaction printer, which runs at blistering speed. The company also continues to focus on developing applications for the technology, with many examples of transactional printing displayed.

    Which was also the case at the Heidelberg stand where the NexPress was launched into the Japanese market. It has taken this length of time to develop the digital front end and the kanji fonts for Japanese users.

    The peripatetic Peter Foley was in attendance. (It seems Australians are leading the digital printing charge into Asia; Peter Foley for NexPress, Michael Mogridge for HP Indigo and Patrick Bernau for Fuji Xerox.) Foley was enthusiastically detailing a newly launched digital printing application that involves a printing franchise called 55 Station, which has 7,000 points of presence throughout Japan. An internet photo file sharing site of camera buffs allows them to create books from templates and have them printed out at their nearest outlet, ready for pick up next day. The scheme has received widespread publicity throughout Japan.

    At the Canon stand most interest was on the showing of the Pixel, a colour proofing engine using a newly developed toner that goes a long way towards expanding the gamut available. There was also the ImagePROGRAF W8200, the flagship large format printer that can be used with either pigment or dye inks.

  • Clancy in Japan . . . IGAS shinbun . . . itsu? . . .nani? . . doko?

    HAN has no intention of bringing the product into the local market. Heidelberg is such a large global company that initiatives are formed to suit local conditions, and this particular project has no application here.


    At IGAS there is a special tech trend zone where manufacturers and printing companies came together with universities to show where the industry is headed. Central to the display is an exhibition of advances in electronic paper. The renewable surfaces are becoming more flexible and convenient. Companies such as Dainippon Screen, Fuji Xerox and Toppan Printing are all involved. The ultimate benchmark the developers are striving for is . . . is it as readable as paper? And the answer is, well, yes and no.


    A big hit at the show is the Screen full body scanner, a man-size scanner that imaged the standing form of the customer. This is then reproduced on a Screen wide format inkjet printer with spectacular, if occasionally really ugly results. Clancy decided to spare the world the necessity of dealing with a full-length portrait of himself.


    John Hansen, pictured left, and Richard Rudzki were spotted at the MAN Roland stand in the halls at IGAS. Richard owns The Bindery at Burwood , Vic. and his presence at the press manufacturers stand could give rise to speculation. But he assures he’s meeting with Jonathan Clark, m.d. of IPP Print & Pack on the subject of bindery equiment only.


    The main impression of the show is the bewildering variety of imaging technologies available to the printing and graphic arts; from toner to inkjet, to offset, to gravure, to flexo, to every variety of digital transfer. A fine example of how the imaging industry is developing is the MPLD (multi-polygon laser direct-imager) on show here. This technology images onto photosensitive materials at a very fine 5,080 dpi due to the thin laser which has a beam approximately 20 times slimmer than your average imagesetter. It makes continuous tone look ragged.


    The best party of the show was undoubtedly the FujiFilm bash at a place called Happo-an, out at Shinbuya. A gracious Japanese setting with musicians and kimono-clad hostesses, it was the epitome of legendary Japanese hospitality. Peter Carrigan of GSA played host to the Australian and New Zealand contingent and he’s pictured here on the left with Patrick Howard, Print21Online publisher. The delicate blossom sandwiched between the two of them is the delightful Miko.


    And finally . . . there is no doubt the Japanese are very serviced oriented. The customer comes first, as this IGAS banner makes, er, plain.

  • Processless plates come a step nearer

    The thermal imaged plate, which is still in beta mode, was on show at IGAS, albeit beneath glass covers. It joins a list of processless projects from all the major platemakers including FujiFilm, which also has a plate in beta mode. Both companies promise to launch at Drupa. Agfa and KPG are also working towards the solution but have not made any announcements yet.

    The Konica Minolta product, which rejoices in the snappy title of High Quality Plate TF-200, is simple in concept. The parts of the photosensitive layer that are imaged by the thermal laser are ‘cooked’ onto the newly developed plate substrate. These hydrophobic areas resist the washing effects of the fountain solution once on the press. The other areas are dissolved away, leaving the plate ready to print.

    The Konica Minolta solution has its own platesetter, the SS-830. The plates come in a flexible roll that is cut to size, are daylight safe and touted at being good for 20,000 prints.

    The benefits of a true processless plate are obvious; no chemicals, no waste, no processor. The makers claim the same printing latitude as with existing thermal plates, so they are aiming for the high quality sector of the market.

    One of the major drawbacks of the process is that the plates are ‘blind’ when they are placed on the press. There is no way to visually check the imaging until the first sheets come off. It’s a problem.

  • Konicihwa from Big Site Japan

    IGAS has struggled over the years to get itself taken seriously as a trade show on the international calendar. Dismissed as a regional event, the Japanese industry has continued to promote its international importance, putting a lot of effort into providing a comprehensive display of the latest developments in the imaging world.

    Held every four years in the spectacular setting of the Big Site international exhibition space out in Tokyo Bay, the show is making its presence increasingly felt, and is now accepted along with Drupa, IPEX and Grafitalia as one of the four major non-US shows on the calendar. Its influence is becoming important not only to its natural constituents of the rapidly developing Asian countries but also to the industry in the Australia and New Zealand where many firms run entirely on Japanese-made equipment.

    The Japanese manufacturing industry for the graphic arts is on a par with the Europeans, and in some sectors is, arguably, well in front. While the big three press manufacturers are German – Heidelberg, MAN Roland and KBA – the Japanese provide a strong second line-up with such names as Shinohara, Komori, Akiyama, Mitsubishi, Hamada, Ryobi and others. In prepress Dainippon Screen and FujiFilm are at least as important as Creo and Agfa – in Screen’s case providing many OEM products for other manufacturers. In postpress Horizon, Seika and Duplo are world leaders.

    The powerhouse of Japanese manufacturing names encompasses some of the best know imaging brands in the world and they are all here at Big Site; Fuji Xerox, Canon, Sony, Epson, Konica Minolta, Panasonic, Hitachi, and more.

    But the company names familiar to us in Australia and New Zealand represent only the tip of the iceberg of Japanese graphic arts manufacturing. There are 450 companies displaying at IGAS with three quarters of them domestic Japanese manufacturers, all operating in the highly competitive local market and therefore quality assured. These days ‘Made in Japan’ is synonymous with quality and advanced technology.

    Because Japan is the second largest economy in the world, with an annual print production of US65 billion, every major international manufacturer makes a concerted effort to penetrate the market. Most of the usual suspects have a significant presence here; Heidelberg, MAN Roland, HP, Creo, DuPont, Agfa Kodak Polychrome Graphics, CGS – a notable exception being KBA.

    Most of the iceberg is below the surface

    While the organisers, the Japan Graphic Arts Suppliers Committee, make an effort to attract international visitors by having English as the second language, with plenty of signage and translations of the presentations, IGAS still presents a challenge to the non-Japanese visitor. The character-based language signs are opaque and give no clue to their meaning. The visitor relies on the occasional line in English to pick up the sense. A frustrating number of booths showcasing intriguing technology have no English literature at all – I’m thinking here of amazingly realistic three-dimensional screen printing – so the visitor is reduced to looking at the pictures and trying to decipher the narrative.

    Which is a pity because, as with every major exhibition, a lot of the truly useful and fascinating products are to be found in the sideline small booths away from the blaring razzamatazz of the large stands. While most of the software sector is preoccupied with the conversion of Japanese kanji fonts, the ingenuity of the small manufacturing concerns in areas such as binding, material handling and coating provides many practical solutions. But alas, almost all are out of reach without a determined effort to solicit a translator at some expense.

    Nonetheless, for the inquisitve, open-minded visitor, a trip to IGAS is a true delight and a valuable resource. My advice is that you should factor it in for next time in 2007.

    Sayonara from Big Site, Tokyo.

    Patrick Howard

  • Press power from Japan

    The new Akiyama Jprint 4p440 takes the double-decker concept up into the larger press sizes, delivering to 11,000 perfected sheets per hour. Komori is also showing its four-over-four stacked Lithrone 40SP, claiming a slightly higher, industry standard 13,000 sheets per hour. The main selling point of the double-decker design is its smaller footprint when compared to a straight four-over-four perfector – stacking one printing press on top of another is a radical solution to a very real concern for print factories in crowded metropolitan areas.

    Its flaw in the eyes of critics is the rigid configuration, which makes it difficult to get flexible production such as six-over-two, or other combinations. However Bruce MacKenzie of CPI reckons the critics are wrong and that perfecting presses are best run in standard format. He is bringing in one of the new LithroneS40Ps early next year and expects to give Heidelberg and MAN Roland, who have had the market to themselves, a run for their money.

    In more conventional releases Shinohara is showing its new 66IVP, low-pile press, which lifts the speed bar to 17,000 sheets per hour, a very neat press with all the automatic options. On the stand there is also the Uno52 (pictured with printer Satukawa), what appears to be a direct imaging (DI) press, another contender for the ‘green button’ offset printing market. Details on this technology demonstration were scarce.

    Ryobi also launched a new (DI)press, the 3404DI, an A3 size portrait format with a direct UV curing unit. It is running Presstek plate material.

    Mitsubishi launched its large-size Daiya 308TP, which stands for ‘tandem perfector’ and its Daiya 108R convertible perfector, both end-to-end perfecting presses. It also showed the scope of its press range, one of the largest in the industry, with presses from half-sheet size up to newspaper and commercial heatset web.

    So far the Japanese industry has shied away from the really long perfecting machines that are such a hit elsewhere. While there are a good number of four-over-four machines in the market, there are practically no 10 or 12 unit presses yet. The advent of the Komori may change that.

  • David Currie – Shogun of Japanese printing technology in Australia and New Zealand

    In the halls of Big Site Toyko, few visiting graphic arts merchants have the same connections and authority as David Currie (pictured). He is greeted as an old friend by the heads of companies on the Shinohara and Horizon stands. People stop him in the corridors to shake his hand. Everywhere he goes doors are opened, welcomes extended.

    He and his company’s involvement with Japanese printing machinery goes back a long way. He made his first trip to IGAS in 1976, at a time when very few Japanese presses were in Australia and New Zealand and the industry here was decidedly Euro-centric.

    The mission then was with erstwhile business associate, Gerald Brandjes, the KBA agent for Australia, and partner with David and his father and another, in Integrated Printing Equipment Services (IPES). His goal was to investigate the opportunities afforded by a favourable exchange rate for bringing Japanese equipment into Australia.

    He tells the story of being stranded for two days during that first trip in Hong Kong waiting for a visa for Japan, totally unlike the free movement we enjoy today. When he eventually landed in Tokyo, from the multitude of manufacturers ready to deal he picked Shinohara for presses, and Itoh and Shoei for saddlestitchers, guillotines and other finishing equiment.

    So began an involvement that has flourished to this day. Horizon finishing followed in the early 1980s, and along with Shinohara has provided the foundation of the Currie Group’s Japanese equipment range ever since.

    It is no coincidence that Shinohara and Horizon are both family-owned businesses, with the principals now in second generation engagement with David Currie. As the owner of the largest privately-owned graphic arts merchant in Australia and New Zealand, he appreciates the personal touch and attributes much of the Group’s success to the desire of printers to deal with similar companies.

    First customers remain as customers

    The first Shinohara brought in under the IPES banner was a Fuji 58, sold to the Finkelstein family of Patterson Press. Nothing ever goes smoothly and the original machine was not in specification when it arrived. It had to be taken out and re-engineered with larger cylinders that were flown down from Japan, a relatively easy job for Currie & Company, which was the preeminent printing engineering firm in the business.

    A member of the Finkelstein family, Robert, long sold out of Patterson Press, now owns Neon Press in Melbourne – and is still a Currie Group customer.

    It took until the mid-1980s before Shinohara got around to manufacturing a multi-colour press and the first 66 4P was brought in for GT Graphics in 1986. Partners Mike Gleeson and Steve Thistlethwaite still operate GT Graphics in Melbourne and have flourished to the stage where they now operate one six-colour, two five-colour, and a two-colour press, all Shinoharas, and all from Currie Group.

    These days David Currie (right) is to be found at IGAS in the company of Bernie Robinson (centre), general manager Currie Group, and Ian Wood (left), of AM International New Zealand with whom he has close ties. Together they make a formidable team, with the keen eye of experience to note what will and will not suit the local market.

    This time around they are enthusiastic about the new Shinohara 66IVP low-pile press. They have already brought in the Horizon StitchLiner 5000 for this year’s PrintTec in Sydney.

    These days it is not only Japanese equipment that makes up the Currie Group range (it never really was with a stint of delivering KBA presses following the takeover of Planeta). The Group has branched out into digital print with the HP Indigo agency, and is also enjoying great success with the ECRM Mako and the EskoGraphics DPX platesetters.

    There is little wonder that at this IGAS David Currie has reason to be proud of how far the cooperation between his company and its Japanese suppliers has developed. The Australian and New Zealand industry is transformed for the better from the days when there were few Japanese presses in operation, and its transformation owes not a little to David Currie’s love affair with Japan.

  • 1st Creo PTP plates to arrive in Australia and New Zealand by November

    The company is “looking to become a major player in the plate supply industry, otherwise we wouldn’t do it,” said Steve Dunwell, Sales Director, Creo Asia Pacfic. “It’s quite exciting for us and we’ve had a lot of very positive customer feedback now that they know we are selling our own manufactured product.”

    The implications of Creo’s decision to buy a plate manufacturing plant in South Africa from First Graphics, for approximately US$11.25 million, will cause a major realignment of the CTP industry. As the leading CTP platesetter supplier, the company is well-placed to capture a considerable chunk of the market from erstwhile collaborator KPG. The Creo PTP (Positive Thermal Plate) is being marketed as a high performance thermal plate, suitable for most commercial printing applications.

    “Obviously our relationship [with KPG] will never be the same again, but we look forward to continuing working with them, especially in the newspaper industry,” said Dunwell.

    While Creo maintains it will continue to sell its equipment for full value, the ability to provide bundled solutions will give it an advantage and put it on a the same footing as competitors Agfa and FujiFilm. Customers, especially new ones, can expect an aggressive plate pricing policy when looking at equipment.

    The Creo press release gave the background to the well-kept secret move into the sector.

    “The introduction of the Creo plate represents the culmination of a long-term effort to develop our own plate and developer technology as well as characterize imaging behavior and optimize on-press performance of the plate. We now have a comprehensive intellectual property portfolio, underpinning a mature and well-tested product,” stated Amos Michelson, chief executive officer of Creo in the press release.

    “We have supplied our plate emulsion under license to several manufacturers who have commercially produced and sold plates under their own brand names over the last 18 months. Printers in Europe and North America have been using those plates in daily production. These same suppliers are contracted to supply portions of our future plate requirements in various regions.

    “More recently, Creo has leveraged its existing sales, distribution and service organization to enable logistics and field support for the new plate. We engaged a number of customers in North America and Europe in a confidential pilot program to assess our delivery and support capability. Those customers have used the Creo plate in daily production with all delivery, logistics and support handled by Creo.”

    “Our customers’ experience to date has shown that the Creo Positive Thermal Plate has high resolution, low water consumption and quick rollup. We believe that the Creo PTP plate is suitable for long-run lengths without pre- or post-baking; offers wide processing latitude; and is well suited for most commercial print applications.”

    The Creo plates will be produced through a combination of wholly-owned and outsourced manufacturing. The South African Pietermaritzburg facility of First Graphic has a modern, recently installed plate manufacturing line currently producing the Creo
    PTP plate. The total capacity from these arrangements is sufficient to meet anticipated demand for Creo plates for some time.
    For many years, Creo has qualified suitable plates from a variety of plate suppliers and in some cases in markets other than Australia and New Zealand has bundled those plates with equipment and software to provide a complete packaged solution to existing customers. In the past two years Creo has increased the number of CTP systems sold bundled with plates and now sells approximately 20 percent of new systems in North America as part of a bundle.

    Creo will continue to support all existing qualified plates and to qualify new plates from other vendors and is firmly committed to its digital media partnerships for plates as well as thermal proofing media.

    “The digital plate market is the fastest growing portion of the estimated US$3 billion worldwide market for printing plates. Creo has the largest installed base of any CTP vendor and our customers collectively represent the largest market for digital plates. By selling printing plates as well as equipment, software, services and support, we expect to substantially increase our total addressable market and improve our competitive capability to offer complete end-to-end solutions to our existing and future customers.

    “We believe that by utilizing our infrastructure to sell and support end-to-end solutions, we will gain substantial operating leverage,” concluded Michelson.

  • New Victorian pulp mill for Australian Paper

    The pulp mill project is the first time the company has re-entered the pulp mill market since the ill-fated Wesley Vale mill in Tasmania was aborted in the 1990s due to environmental protest. This time around the company is taking the environmental concerns very seriously and is already scoping the plant with all the stakeholders.

    The pulp mill, costing more than $200 million, will go a long way towards eliminating the necessity to import 140k of pulp presently sourced from South America. It will make Australian Paper self-sufficient in pulp and may even prove to be an export earner.

    The project is still in feasibility stages and if given the green light will operate to the highest environmental standards as part of the company’s sustainability commitment. The company realises that during the Wesley Vale fiasco the concerns of the environmental stakeholders were not taken seriously enough and is determined the same thing will not happen again.

    The chances of the project being successful are strengthened by the upswing in the price of pulp on the world market as demand increases in Asia.

  • Print finishers start with a bang

    The good turnout reinforced the relevance of the initiative, with 64 industry professionals taking advantage of the opportunity to network. Mostly Victorian finishing firms, they were joined by a considerable contingent from Sydney, many representing suppliers with outlets in Melbourne. Suppliers are welcome to join the ApfA but will not have a vote or be eligible to sit on committees.

    Also present were Steve and Richard Wilkinson of Protecta Print in South Australia, who professed interest in starting a branch in their home state.

    Wayne Eastaugh of Marvel Bookbinding, President, made the presentation, detailing the aims and aspirations of the fledgling organization and encouraging people to spread the word. Companies that sign up before Christmas will be regarded as foundation members and will have the joining fee waived.

    “The response from the sector has been very positive and I’m well pleased with the result,” he said.

    According to Trevor Hone, Avon Graphics, Secretary, the ApfA is well and truly launched and is set to play a more influential role in what is a major strategic sector of the printing industry.

  • New presses prove a bonus for local lamp maker

    The company’s UV lamp production has increased by 20 per cent this year with more than half that being fitted to new presses. The growing popularity of ultraviolet curing reflects the increase in production speed of large offset presses, the growth of flexo printing and the abatement of safety concerns with the technology.

    UV curing is now regarded as being as safe if not safer than conventional solvent-based printing. It is being used increasingly in packaging production in combination with UV coatings. Although UV inks and coatings are generally more expensive than conventional materials, and require a lamp to dry, they provide a high-gloss thin-film finish. Narrow web presses in particular have embraced the technology.

    Established in 1982, Amba Lamps is a pioneer in the field of UV lamp development, and currently manufactures over 6,000 medium pressure mercury arc lamps and metal halide lamps per month in a new purpose-built factory in Banbury, UK. The local operation, with headquarters in Melbourne, was founded in1989 and is Australia’s leading supplier of UV lamps to the graphic arts industry.

    “We have always specialized in producing just lamps, and have resisted the temptation to branch into equipment manufacturing, although we work together with equipment manufacturers to create the perfect UV lamp/system match,” said Tess Fitzpatrick of Heraeus Amba Australia. “This means that we have concentrated on continually improving the quality of our products and processes to become experts in our particular field. By making our own lamps rather than sourcing from a variety of suppliers, we are also able to guarantee consistent quality as well as a superior product.”

    The UK company was taken over in 1999 by the large privately owned German firm, Heraeus, acquiring a stake in the Australian-owned company. The German company has been making UV lamps for more than 150 years including UV lamps for a variety of applications from curing print inks to water disinfection to sun-tanning plus Infrared lamps for myriad heating & drying applications.

  • Big hitters look up at Bowral

    David Campbell, NSW Minister for Small Business, Regional Development and Illawarra (pictured with Conference Chair Scott Telfer of Pongrass Communications) was the keynote speaker at the conference.

    Campbell reminded the conference that the printing industry, being comprisd mainly of small businesses was part of the vital engine of the economy. He made the point that NSW has 2,100 printing businesses employing 40,000 people, mostly in workplaces of twelve or fewer staff. He noted the conference was taking place during NSW Small Business Month.

    The batting order

    Themed Sales-Success-Synergies, the opening night dinner session, saw a few googlies hurled down by visiting CEO of a UK print company – Sir Nigel Pemberton. His presentation on British print philosophy set the realistic tone for the conference. There would be no funny stuff here; this conference was to be a serious working event.

    “In business deals there are four accepted scenarios,” growled Sir Nigel, “win-win; win-lose; lose-win and no deal. What’s wrong with plain old winning?”

    With the ice well and truly broken, the next morning heralded some serious play. In welcoming all delegates, Printing IndustriesNational President Chris Segaert noted that things are finally looking up for the industry. “Our latest quarterly survey indicates that margin pressure is decreasing, sales are increasing, profitability should also increase and raw material prices such as paper may be stable or falling.”

    Marketing the buzz

    Keynoter Michael Keily, editor of Marketing Magazine and an experienced direct marketer, swung the willow with great effect. Keily’s Buzz Marketing – the Power of Word of Mouth was packed with well researched statistics, tips and strategies that emphasized the ‘one customer at a time’ philosophy that is evident in personalized, variable digital print.

    Citing figures that most individuals know between 650 and 1750 people; 10-15 intimately, about 150 socially and 500-1500 as acquaintances; he demonstrated that it is from this group that people get their most trusted information about products and services. “People don’t trust companies, they don’t trust governments but they trust family and friends. Tapping into this dynamic market of ‘recommenders’ has resulted in some spectacular marketing successes,” he noted.

    Using the launch of Windows 95 as an example, where 400,000 review copies were given away, Keily advocated seed marketing to what he calls ‘networked hubs’ of people. The popular game, Trivial Pursuit, sold 20 million copies without advertising, all by word of mouth. Print marketers could to well to use Keily’s advice to ‘develop contagious products; cultivate network hubs and seed these networks with ideas.’

    Benchwork and Big Science

    Next up it was benchmarking time with a three-way presentation from Printing Industries executives, CEO Gary Donnison, Economist Hagop Tchamkertenian and Policy Director Philip Andersen. Printing Industries Benchmarking has come a long way in a short space of time and is now available online.

    “Benchmarking is a method for companies to compare their processes, practices and performance with others,” explained Donnison. Volume Two of Benchmarking is due out shortly and identifies best practices for the industry. The online demonstration by association economist Hagop Tchamkertenian clearly showed what a powerful tool is now at the disposal of Printing Industries members. By logging on to the secure site, printers can enter their own data and view easy-to-understand charts that compare their performance with the benchmarked industry averages. 120 KPIs (key performance indicators) are covered, each a vital measuring rod for a business. Try it yourself on .

    Big science came on stage next as John McConnell from the National Print Laboratory explained just what those boffins are doing at Monash University, Victoria. Outlining an impressive array of testing and measuring instruments including spectrophotometers, tensile testers, surface analysers, viscometers, absorption testers, dyne measurers and the delightfully named ‘Thwing Albert Inkometer,’ McConnell related in detail the NPL’s research on plate/substrate interaction, rheology, ink-water-fount balance and the environment.

    Not too much on toner and digital printing at this stage but Australia can boast a world-class research centre for offset that uses a supercomputer to process data and create 3D, 360° rotating models of, say, an electron microscope slice of paper fibre.

    At NPL, the smarts have taken a leaf out of NASA’s book in calling common objects by fancy names, (e.g. Vertical Environmental Control Structure for a wall). We suspect that a Functional Communication Surface, possibly might be just plain paper to you and me.

    Creating winning teams was the theme for Colin Howe of Colin Howe Consulting. Sales, success and synergies cannot be achieved without teamwork and, unlike a certain media magnate (OK, it’s supposed to be Kerry Packer) who claimed ‘Teamwork is all about a group of people doing what I say!’ Howe maintained that 10 per cent of staff are drivers, 80 per cent are regular workers and 10 per cent are challengers, (the kind that right now are saying ‘the only reason the boss is at this conference is because downsizing is in the wind!’)

    Howe’s positive style emphasized that motivation and a common, well-articulated, goal are essentials for success and enjoyment of work. The morning session was wrapped up by Fuji-Xerox’s Brett Maishman with a run through the whole range of F-X digital printing solutions right up to the 1 million copies-per-month iGen3. He also had the best videos of the conference, a marvellous 1950s Xerox advertisement, and one about a huge linebacker employed to motivate people in a company – you would do what that man says.

    And then there was tea

    Workcover’s Craig McBride opened the batting after lunch with some timely tips on compliance to the workcover legislation.

    The afternoon’s gold sponsor was the new firm with old heads, Graphic Systems Australia, Fuji distributors since April following CPI’s switch from Fuji to Agfa. Not-so- old warrior Peter Carrigan brought delegates up to date on the first six months of this IPP-owned distributor. GSA has found good success with its thermal CTP solutions and looks set to go forward strongly now the worst of the transition is out of the way.

    The conference then split into four elective workshops; Risk Management by Kim and Harold Schekeloff; Succession Planning by Peter Longhurst; Sales Success Strategies by Neil Brown and Graphic Design with David Whitbread.

    Aussie secure file delivery whiz kids Quickcut were the gold sponsors for the final session with Daniel Daly giving the run down on the latest software from this Brookvale, NSW based tech firm.

    Then it was industry commentator and raconteur extraordinaire, Andy McCourt’ turn at the crease. His job was to polish the crystal ball in order to take a look at the Future Print – Emerging Markets of Profitability. He laid out the landscape of the digital printing revolution in a clear, engaging manner, taking as his starting point the arrival of the Canon colour copier in the 1980s.

    He hit a couple of sixes by challenging those present to take a good hard look at themselves an their operations, and recognize if they were part of the solution or the problem. He emphasized the perils of traversing the Technology Chasm between the early adopters and the mainstream followers. Move too early and you can become a technology casualty; leave it too late and you’re getting out of the industry.

    His provocative style and well-researched facts set the seal on the professional and useful information style of the conference.

    Later at the official dinner, even the execrable routine by comedian Anthony Achroyd could not dampen the enthusiasm of the members in applauding the long service members who stepped up to receive their awards.

    The festivities continued long into the night and it was well into the morning before stumps were finally drawn.

  • Clancy column . . . the overflow . . . best bits . . .funnies

    Punch came to the conclusion that the business could not be made profitable in a reasonable time and walked away. The company was looking for Esko-Graphics digital front end expertise to bolt on to the front of the Xeikon imaging engine technology it bought last year.


    Heidelberg chief executive Bernhard Schreier had a fairly bleak take on the industry when he addressed the group’s AGM last Friday. He described the industry as suffering from “one of the most severe crises . . . since the Second World War.” Quoting figures from the USA he maintained that 10 per cent of printers there had become insolvent. The total number of presses shipped by Heidelberg in the US had fallen by 30 per cent over the past three years. He maintained that growth would only come from Asia and Eastern Europe where the industry was still relatively buoyant.

    However, undeterred by the grim outlook, he announced that Heidelberg would launch around 50 new products at Drupa next May.


    Here’s an item that may lift the gloom – Heidelberg has sold 18 Digimaster 9150i digital presses in the US. The purchaser, Iowa printer, Alaniz, will add the 18 to the six Digimasters it already has, marking Heidelberg’s largest sale to date of its highest-speed black-and-white digital press.

    Alaniz creates a broad range of direct mail pieces distributed by non-profit organizations, from personalized address labels and cards to personalized letters and notepads. It employs the Digimaster 9150i systems to create some of the most complex variable data jobs produced in the U.S.


    Lower salaries, negative perceptions regarding stock option grants and the taxation system are all preventing Australia from becoming an R&D centre of excellence. Sydney in particular is perceived as, and in reality is, a very expensive place to live. These insights came out of an R&D roundtable hosted by Hill & Knowlton, where Wayne Morris, CEO and Managing Director of industrial automation provider, Citect, claimed that higher salaries or additional stock options or share plans become hard to justify given profit pressures and shareholder activism regarding executive pay. “The government could help here with some incentives for either bringing international talent to Australia or for offshore deployment of Australian employees,” he said.

    A bit of a two way bet really.


    You wouldn’t want to be an Italian working in Yorkshire, not if the experience of Sicilian Salvatore Barresi is anything to go by. According to a report in Print Week he resigned after working for seven years at P Garnett & Son, the West Yorkshire papermaker, where he was subjected to racial abuse and discrimination. He was awarded $89,000 in damages for what Tony Burke, deputy general secretary of GPMU described as “one of the worst cases of racial abuse that I have heard of in a long time.” He claimed managers failed to sort out the problem.


    Next week Print21Online will be coming to you direct from IGAS at the Tokyo Big Site. A good number of Australian industry professionals are making the trip to this important trade exhibition, many of them as part of the Currie & Company party. Japanese products play an important role in the Australian and New Zealand printing and graphic arts industry, so Clancy reckons it’s only right that he should get a guernsey to go over to the Land of the Rising Sun and stay up all night to make sure that it does.

    Stayed tuned for all the latest news. Sayonara.


    And finally . . . another one of those category jokes.

    Guidelines for hiring new personnel.

    Take the prospective employees and put them in a room with only a table and two chairs. Leave them alone for two hours, without any instruction. At the end of that time, go back and see what
    they are doing.

  • If they have taken the table apart in that time, put them in
  • If they are counting the butts in the ashtray, assign them to
  • If they are screaming and waving their arms, send them off to
  • If they are talking to the chairs, Personnel is a good spot for
  • If they are sleeping, they are Management material.
  • If they are writing up the experience, send them to Tech Pubs.
  • If they don’t even look up when you enter the room, assign them to
  • If they try to tell you it’s not as bad as it looks, send them to
  • And if they have left early, put them in Sales.
  • Perfect scores for four workflow systems in Seybold Shootout

    Four PDF workflow systems achieved perfect technical scores, RIP’ing the ‘Altona Suite’ of PDF test files: the Visual and the Technical pages, which contain 891 individual test targets to test a RIP for a wide variety of situations in print publishing. For each component, the contestants were required to submit both a colour proof and a set of separation films.

    The films were evaluated, while using the proofs for reference only, by a panel of three experienced PDF users

    The rankings were based primarily on the accuracy of the films. In case of a tie, the price of the system was used to determine the final ranking. (Lower prices ranked better.) The final ranking of the companies and their systems were:

    • 1. RipIt–OpenRIP
    • 2. Dainippon Screen–Trueflow
    • 3. Esko-Graphics–FlowDrive 5.0
    • 4. Agfa–ApogeeX
    • 5. Heidelberg–MetaDimension 3.5
    • 6. Dalim–Twist
    • 7. Artwork Systems–Nexus
    • 8. Creo–Prinergy
    • 9. Creo–Brisque
    • 10. Fujifilm–Celebrant

    In addition to the perfect scores posted by RipIt, Dainippon Screen, Esko-Graphics and Agfa, three more systems (from Heidelberg, Dalim and Artwork Systems) performed almost as well, with scores above 95 percent.

    A report describing the test and analyzing each contestant’s performance will be available from Seybold Publications in October. The report will also discuss the tabulations of Seybold’s 2003 PDF Usage Survey.
    For more information or to place an order, contact

  • Heidelberg to develop online print management capabilities

    Prinect Systemhaus, which provides software solutions and system integration operates in Germany and Switzerland but will in the future expand services throughout Europe and internationally. The Noosh partnership will concentrate on developing collaborative project management for print suppliers.

    “We carefully evaluated many developers of print solutions that could extend across the print supply chain to buyers and suppliers alike,” said Wolfgang Weber, Heidelberg Vice President and Managing Director of Prinect Systemhaus. “Noosh was chosen because of its clearly superior technology, its commitment to delivering proven results to its customers, and its strong market and financial position.”

    Prinect Systemhaus will provide:

    • Product development for related print lifecycle applications
    • Sales and marketing of the Noosh print management solution in German speaking markets
    • Customisation of Noosh for Heidelberg customers
    • System integration with other enterprise and print supplier applications
    • Local hosting and localization of the Noosh application suite
    • Training, deployment, and support services

    The announcement of the partnership between Heidelberg and Noosh comes one year after the two companies began working together.

    “Heidelberg has a clear vision of how print will be managed in the future and has a rich tradition of delivering value, quality and innovation to the printing industry,” said Mike Gardner, Noosh CEO. “In developing the process solutions strategy around its modular JDF-enabled software family Prinect and its specialized integration services provider Prinect Systemhaus, it extends its production equipment leadership into the vital areas of how to improve management practices throughout the industry. We are proud to be partnering with Heidelberg and excited about the many ways we will be working together with our mutual customers.”

  • Call For Entries – Spicers Paperpoint 2004 Letterhead Design Award

    The competition is free to enter. A panel of leading industry figures will judge Australia’s best letterhead design.

    “100% Design is a commercial contemporary interior design exhibition
    and an acclaimed, globally influential design event,” explains Chris Gombos, Product
    Manager, Spicers Paper Limited. “100% Design is the only event of its kind bringing
    together dynamic young designers and world-renowned manufacturers in an innovative and vibrant showcase of the best contemporary interiors products.”

    All entries must arrive at Paperpoint, 259 Coventry St, South Melbourne, Victoria, 3205 before 6pm on Monday 31 May 2004. Entries must be printed on paper purchased from Spicers Paper and include five copies of each letterhead not mounted folded, stapled or marked.

    For more information about the Spicers Paperpoint 2004 Letterhead Design Award
    contact Chris Gombos 0407 125 327/ or Mathew
    Higgins 0407 325

    Keep an eye out for the official competition poster.

  • Digital watermark from Xerox

    Time was when high-quality paper and ink were enough to prove that an official document such as an insurance policy, birth certificate or coupon really was official. Not anymore. Nowadays, digital printers, scanners and image-editing software make it easy for just about anyone to alter or reproduce a basic document at home, and they make it harder to tell the legitimate documents from the fakes.

    But a new technology could change that. Three scientists at Xerox’s research laboratories in Webster, New Tork, have discovered a way to use an ordinary xerographic printer to insert hologram-like images in common documents. The researchers believe that their new patent-pending Glossmark technology could be used to help people identify authentic documents, acting in the same way as a watermark. It could also have novel printing applications – in greeting cards or advertising specialties or for special artistic effects.

    Information embedded in a Glossmark print – for example, a seal or a date and time – catches the light when it is tilted and can be seen as an additional and separate image. But the embedded information cannot be reproduced on a conventional copier or scanner.

    Glossmark technology has two advantages over holograms and other laminates that are used to create similar effects: the process does not require any additional printing steps or incremental costs, and it accommodates variable information, like a name, a time-stamp or a code.

    Sometimes you can be just lucky

    It was serendipity – and proximity — that led to the discovery. Uneven glossy patches, called “differential gloss,” are typically considered a defect on a print. Chu-heng Liu, who works at Xerox’s Wilson Center for Research and Technology, was struggling with the problem of overcoming differential gloss. He discussed it with his wife, Beilei Xu, and her co-worker, Shen-ge Wang.
    They both worked in an adjacent laboratory, which studies ways to improve the quality of digital printing systems.

    Suddenly the trio realized the problem could be an opportunity. Could they make differential gloss appear on purpose -– and embed images in documents? Experimenting with the concept, they developed software and a special combination of halftones, toner, paper and fusing that would distribute different levels of gloss on the page. The result looked almost like a hologram, but could be produced on an office or high-end production printer.

    “Improved printing technologies have made it much easier to counterfeit documents,” said Shen-ge Wang, a principal scientist in the Xerox laboratories. “Glossmark prints offer a promising deterrent. Because the differential gloss cannot be reproduced in a second-generation copy, it is a secure technology.

    “It could be used to put authenticating marks on high-value items, like tickets, and on ID cards and other valuable documents. But it can also produce printed materials that are amusing and fun.”

    Xerox scientists are developing the Glossmark technology to work on a range of printing devices and with a variety of media, as well as creating associated applications to design and print Glossmark images. Xerox is commercializing this technology for use in its products and working with business partners to develop specific market applications. Glossmark printing technology is available for licensing.

    Document and information security is an active area of research at Xerox. Long an expert in anti-counterfeiting and related techniques, the company continues to investigate an array of “hidden imagery” technology to enable today’s documents to communicate in more sophisticated ways or offer new levels of security.