Archive for September, 2004

  • National training body moves from Adelaide to Melbourne

    A decision to relocate the National Printing Industry Training Council (NPITC) will see the industry-specific organization move closer to the new Industry Skills Councils’ headquarters.

    According to Roy Aldrich, Eastern Studios, member of NPITC committee and chairman of EPIC, the move is part of a strategy to broaden the industry’s engagement with key stakeholders.

    “NPITC will remain as the peak industry advisory body but it will be located in the EPIC ITAB secretariat in Melbourne. We want to engage more with industry participants in areas such as the newspapers and labeling sectors,” he said.

    Recognizing the changed realities of the training environment, Shane Earls, former executive officer, gave his full approval to the relocation.

    “It makes sense for the NPITC to be closer to the action. This is a really good opportunity for the industry council to re-engage with some of the sectors of the industry it has overlooked,” he said.

    NPITC has been is a relative hiatus while the new training packages were been compiled. These are now almost complete and will be rolled out before a proposed November forum for the industry, the date and location still to be announced.

    Contact details for Rob Gullan are;

    Phone +61 3 9654 1299

    Fax +61 3 9654 5299

    Mobile 0418996750

    The web address and email for the NPITC remain as

  • Business for sale #1 – print lifestyle Central NSW

    Located in a major regional centre (pop. 40,000) in Central NSW, this long-established (1976) printery is highly regarded as a reputable local supplier and well-positioned for future growth. Operated continuously by the same owner for the last eighteen years, it has built up a solid reputation for quality and service. This good will would be enjoyed by the next owner.

    Our client has owned this business for 18 years and has seen it survive through drought and a flood!

    Equipment includes three small-offset presses (two of which are 2-colour), plus relevant bindery equipment – all of which is well-suited to service the local print requirements.

    This opportunity represents the perfect blend of business and lifestyle – being strategically located in the centre of a large commercial, tourist and educational region, with a university campus, motels, theatres, wineries – plus sporting facilities, clubs and a healthy climate!

    This is a genuine opportunity, as the owner (in his mid 60’s) is seeking to retire. Please email your expression of interest to James Cryer at (MS Word only).

    Or call James on 02 9904 6222 or 0408 291 508

  • Report from the CTP front #3 – Andy McCourt fires off a clarification

    is the generic name for all of Fujifilm’s CTP plates. I was referring to the Brillia
    LP-NV which is a photopolymer, violet-light (405nm) plate rather than silver-
    based. Photopolymer plates are more consistent and durable than silver, but
    can not handle as high resolutions and have a narrower tonal range. They have
    recently been commercialised for violet applications so perhaps are not ‘coming
    in’ but readily available. Apologies to Fujifilm and GSA.

    Also, to clarify the speed issue, I stated that ‘Thermal plates CAN be made
    faster’ and also, about violet, ‘The hardware generally costs less than thermal,
    and can be faster in production.’

    This sounds ambiguous so let me clarify. The
    fastest commercial CTP devices I know of are thermal. These are the Luescher
    XPose! 190 ‘Ferrari’ model shown at drupa producing 44 x 8-up plates per hour
    and the Screen Ultima 32000 rated at 46 x 8-up plates per hour. However,
    these are specially configured 16-up machines pairing 2 x 8-up plates.

    Generally, visible light exposure is a faster process because photosensitive
    material requires less energy than thermally sensitive material. However,
    making undeveloped plates should not be the measure. Add processing time to
    photosensitive plates and compare the whole with processless or water-wash
    thermal, and it’s a different picture.

    This is all part of the confusion I referred to, mostly as manufacturers attempt to
    outdo each other in the market, and in some cases hang on to silver-halide
    based technology. The key words in my view are Process Simplification
    unless we achieve this in every department of print production, we will be
    behind the eight-ball.

    In my column next week, I’ll attempt to deliver a map for
    Process Simplification in computer-to-plate, whilst riding a horse into a valley
    with cannons to the left and cannons to the right of me.

    If I don’t survive, remember I said that this CTP debate would generate more
    heat than light!

  • Report from the CTP front #1 – Garry Muratore, Agfa, protects the innocent

    What is becoming increasing frustrating is a vocal group that conducts the debate as if it was a witch-hunt. This group is not necessarily made up of vendors; typically it is a group of people, including some in the media, that are quick to parrot the obvious advantages of CTP, but claim they are exclusively unique to the thermal process. As soon as you dare to mention that CTP users have a choice of technologies this group cries “A witch! Burn him!” and the debate degenerates into a stoush of near biblical proportions instead of providing discussion that gives prospective CTP users information to enable them to choose the right technology for the right application.

    Okay, witch burning analogies aside, which is the right technology? As I said earlier the frustration is getting the message above the white noise, and the message has to be the right technology for the right application. On that score we (Agfa) are happy to promote both technologies as they both have applications to specific market segments. It is wrong to assume that one technology will win over; that’s just not going to happen and the current CTP sales are testament to exactly that.

    With the above in mind my colleague Tony King from our Belgium headquarters has authored an excellent whitepaper entitled CTP – Reviewing the Trends & Technologies. It is exactly what it states to be, a ‘whitepaper’, that gives a balanced and objective overview of what is happening with CTP technology. Tony’s whitepaper has been published on many industry websites (including Print 21) as well as being used as the basis of CTP articles in a range of trade magazines around the world. If you haven’t seen the published article you can download it from our (Agfa’s) website

    What Tony points out is that “CTP has always attracted heated discussions between suppliers about which one technology is the best. Ultimately, the market place itself (rather than supplier hype and clever marketing) decides.”

    Marketing wars have historical prededents
    – an entertaining and educational diversion

    These technology debates are nothing new. Towards the end of the 19th century the new technology of electricity was being touted as the next big thing. Two great American icons George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison went head to head in vying for the hearts and minds of a new generation hungry for the advantages that electricity could no doubt bring.

    Whilst Edison was the first person to establish himself with a DC service, Westinghouse, developer of the newer AC technology, challenged his dominance of the utility industry.
    Edison reacted to the competition by starting a smear campaign against Westinghouse, claiming AC technology was unsafe to use.

    In 1887, he held a public demonstration in West Orange, New Jersey, supporting his accusations. Edison set up a 1,000 volt Westinghouse AC generator attached to a metal plate and executed a dozen innocent animals. The press had a field day describing the event and the new term electrocution was used to describe execution by electricity.

    The above story I found on a technology website, you can read the entire story by clicking on the link below.

    The fact is with good optical design and high-resolution plates quality is assured. To illustrate exactly this point at DRUPA 2000 we imaged stochastically (CristalRaster) a print of a blue tree frog. We used three types of plates – thermal, thermal ablative (processless) and violet, – and the printed results are indistinguishable. (If any one is interested I still have printed copies, I am happy to send them to anyone who e-mails me)

    Right: The Blue Frog imaged on a Galileo on three different plates but identical print result.

    The frog sample proves thermal and silver plates show equivalent press performance. Note that, in the sample image below despite the plate capability of resolving a one pixel line, the press used here can’t print the same level of detail that the plate holds – see how the ink spreads on contact with the paper in the shadow region. In reality, silver and thermal plates have equal quality and both can hold levels of detail that are, in some cases, beyond the capability of the offset printing process.

  • Innocent animal #5

    You can’t under or over expose a thermal plate. This is a comment we used to see bandied about in the very early days of the CTP debate, so I was surprised to see it surface in Andy’s story because it is just not true! Like any digital plate, there can indeed be a negative effect of over and under exposure of thermal plates. Thermal plate users know that increasing or decreasing exposure will have a measurable effect on the plate and therefore the print. Under exposure usually leads to background coating retention of the plates (leading to poor image quality) Over exposure can lead to image sharpening and in extreme cases image ablation (Where parts of the plate coating are removed) This is why the suppliers use digital test files for all plate types to optimise exposure conditions.

  • Innocent animal #6

    Thermal plates cost less than violet. Most vendors will agree that a key factor in plate pricing is consumption. Larger users generally buy at better rates. The biggest users of digital plates in Australia are the heatset web offset market and the newspaper market. Heatset web printers tend to use thermal whilst newspapers tend to use violet. No one plate technology has a pricing advantage in these high volume market applications. Where this statement grows in credence is when a large volume market is compared to a small volume market.

  • Innocent animal #7

    There’s more choice with thermal. In the early days of CTP there was little or no choice when it come to suppliers and no one thought it was a problem. As the market grew so did the choice of thermal vendors. The same is true of the violet vendors, although Agfa pioneered the violet market most of our competitors have (or soon will) develop violet plate technologies. The fact is all of the large plate vendors offer comprehensive plate choice because the market dictates such.

  • I was pleased to see that in the final part of Andy’s story he identified that different markets have different needs and then went on to make recommendations, but my concern is that such recommendations are based on inaccurate information regarding the technology. In one case Andy suggests large format and 8pp printers to go thermal, and suggests to ‘go processless when available.’ In some cases this may be a valid recommendation but in high volume plate environments such solutions may not have suitable throughput (particularly in the case of the much slower processless systems).

    In the B2 or smaller market he has suggested violet systems, again possibly a valid suggestion but some cases thermal may offer advantages. It appears to me that Andy hasn’t considered all of the relevant factors. Such factors will vary from customer to customer but will include run length, plate productivity, CTP purchase cost, cost of ownership (operation), choice of output device (image quality), specialist applications etc etc. The choice of which CTP technology is right for a particular printer depends very much on the specific needs of that printer.

    The key to a successful CTP implementation begins with getting technically unbiased advice on the different CTP technologies available. I am sure that all vendors agree no one CTP technology can be utilised for all printing applications this is why the key vendors offer such choice.

    Armed with accurate information prospective CTP buyers can rise above the “white noise” of the biased and ultimately choose “The right technology for the right application.

    Garry Muratore F.L.I.A

    Marketing Manager

    Agfa-Gavaert – Oceania Region

  • Take-up of black & white Nuvera sparks digital war

    The competition for the mid-production black & white market is red hot as Fuji Xerox shrugs off competition from Océ. According to Fuji Xerox Marketing Manager for Printing Production Systems, Simon Lane the success of Nuvera has come in the teeth of competitor activity targeting Fuji Xerox.

    “It’s no secret that one of our competitors has launched a product into the market at the same time as Nuvera, and have invested a lot of effort in matching themselves against Xerox,” he said.

    “We are flattered to know that our competitors see us as the market benchmark, but we’re aiming a little higher. We want to grow the total eligible market for digital print by educating end users about the print quality now possible on Nuvera.”

    He claimed the number of new customers buying Nuvera has been especially pleasing, particularly offset printers with no previous experience in digital. “There are an increasing number of printers who consider digital as a bona fide alternative to offset, and we are focused on growing that market.

    “Quick-printers, commercial printers, legal firms, education and offset printers are among the customers who have chosen Nuvera,” said Lane.

  • Results from Kenneth James’s auction in Melbourne

    According to industry observers the prices received were in line with expectations

    • 1991 Heidelberg GTOZP 52 with Alcolor and Numbering unit, 31 mio imp.
      $86,000 plus gst
    • 1991 Heidelberg MO-E with numbering unit, 4.6mio imp
      $42,000 plus gst
    • 2 x mid / late 70’s Heibelberg GTO 46’s with numbering units (24 and 35mio
      imp) $11,000 plus gst each
    • 1980’s Heidelberg GTO 52 without numbering unit, with VARN dampening, 16mio
      imp. $28,000 plus gst
    • 1970’s Heidelberg grey KSBA cylinder
      $9,500 plus gst
    • 1995 Polar 92EM Monitor with extended side tables
      $37,000 plus gst
    • 1970’s Polar 92CE
      $ 9,250 plus gst

  • CIP4 finishing operation live at Chicago thanks to Aussie invention

    Visitors to the MBO America booth will witness CIP4 folding data being generated by LithoTechnics’ new automatic layout calculator, Metrix, and being fed into the MBO Datamanager to automatically set up the MBO perfection folding machine with navigator control.

    MBO’s CIP4/JDF integration software, Datamanager, has been commercially available for several years. However, until Metrix, no CIP3 generating system has been able to create complete folding data for custom folds, instead restricting operators to a limited number of standard folds from a catalogue. Metrix on the other hand, does not use a catalogue, but allows users to build their own custom folds using a simple step-by-step graphical user interface that mimics folding a sheet on screen.

    “Metrix can give us complete folding data,” says Hans Max, President and CEO of MBO America, “and our customers will certainly benefit from this new level of integration.”

    Metrix ships with a library of over 80 common folding schemes, but also allows users to build custom folds simply. “Besides being extremely easy to use, Metrix brings unprecedented intelligence to computerized folding” says Rohan Holt, LithoTechnics founder. “As the user folds a sheet on the screen Metrix tracks all the complex relationships between the folds. When the folding scheme is used in a job, Metrix ensures the product can be manufactured, for example, making sure roll-fold pages are always shorter than their parents.”

    Metrix is the first truly automatic layout calculator designed specifically for estimators, customer service representatives, production planners, and prepress operators. Metrix’s patent pending technology considers all necessary parameters, such as grain directions and product bleeds, to automatically calculate optimum press sheet layouts, even for ganging multiple products. Metrix can integrate with MIS systems by importing JDF (Job Definition Format) product intent data, and can also export JDF, CIP3, and Preps template files to eliminate the manual creation of Preps templates in prepress, and to automate the set up of cutters and folders in the finishing department.

  • Report from the CTP front #2 – Peter Carrigan, GSA, weighs in with heavy artillery

    Before I risk life and ink (or megabytes) to address the address, critique the critique, or assess the assessment, I would like to open with a gambit – the customer is always right. This ancient sales adage is not an old philosophy from aging reps or from the 101 ways to close the deal sales manual for beginners – it is fact!

    Today’s customers are well informed, very well informed. Not because of the stirring opinions or interpretations of others, but because they do their homework. They understand their business and have access to the facts, and that equals knowledge. There is a penchant for suggesting ‘confusion’ every time there is a technology debate and out of confusion the consultant is invariably born.

    Come on guys let’s give some credit to the customer.

    The global information highway, chat rooms, ease of access to product information and apple for apple comparison data has empowered the customer with knowledge. With this knowledge comes the ability to differentiate between products and the tailoring of an ultimate decision to best suite the company. The customer’s job clearly, apart from deciding the direction, is to get the best deal and to feel secure in who will provide the servicing and supply. The only other concern is that customers have a right to expect their supplier to be financially sound

    Back to the subject of fact vs fiction.

    In our experience as a proud supplier of both photopolymer (violet/green) and thermal
    hardware and consumables, we see photopolymer plates being faster to make than thermal plates. Our violet plate, with our violet CTP, is the fastest combination for commercial sheet-fed printers and trade suppliers in the industry. We see little or no differences in ‘run up to colour’, ‘dot consistency’ or any other on-press performance from either technology.

    In respect to exposure, we have no doubt that again either plate can be subject to performance problems if not working in or under optimum conditions. Even under-exposed thermal plates can result in plate clean-out issues while over exposure can affect the highlight areas of an image. Like any product continual monitoring and quality control is the key to achieving consistent quality output.

    With reference to Andy’s [McCourt] statement regarding Fujifilm Brilliant visible plate being silver based . . . well that is just wrong. Fujifilm has never produced a silver based plate product and is world leader in terms of environmental responsibilities and practices. Their green paper available on the Fujifilm web site has won world acclaim and is the benchmark for others striving for the same. At the risk of pushing our own barrow here (which is perhaps the wrong forum) Fujifilm chemistries are biodegradable and we do not suffer, as some of our competitors do, from the need of taking chemicals away and paying for disposal.

    Our experience also suggests either technology works on press with similar characteristics as a conventional plate, although obviously both produce a sharper image and faster run up. We are even aware of printers using and mixing the technologies when buying from trade houses and their comments have been along the lines . . . they neither know nor particularly care which technology they were using – as long as it works!

    Pricing is dictated by the market

    As to the statement on pricing, well I can’t talk about the rest of the world but in our Australasian market, thermal and visible square meterage pricing is the same. The market conditions, negotiation skills and importantly the type of deal being discussed, dictate the pricing outcome. It is fair to suggest that when considering consumable purchasing all factors of the offer should be taken into consideration.

    I am at somewhat of a loss to understand Andy’s comment regarding the short supply of violet or photopolymer plates. I would need to understand his rationale and his research methods to get my head around that one. Of our more than 50 visible-light installations across Australia and New Zealand, no one is complaining about supply. In fact, to support this statement and the obvious growth in this area Fujifilm have invested Euro 200 million on new plate manufacturing lines in USA and the Netherlands with additional modifications to existing lines in Japan.
    We are currently supplying tens of thousands of square metres to the market place, so if you require stock Andy please give me a call personally.

    With apologies to our thermal users, who must be enjoying or at least be bemused by the ‘battle’, I believe it is a little insulting (although without injury), to suggest that our current visible light users switch to thermal if they are an 8pp printer or trade house. The many installations
    of our visible light technology and thermal in eight-up format are amongst the best in the world in terms of quality, production and efficiencies. Whether you are better suited to thermal or visible light is a research call.

    So here is my call

    • Study the facts and do the research.
    • Tailor your purchase to suit your business
    • Remember today’s technology investments are short-term depreciating decisions, as all companies have come to appreciate in terms of ‘best business practices.
    • Look at what is on offer in its entirety.

    Finally, and perhaps indicatively, I would like to congratulate all our customers who won at the recent South Australian PICA awards. It was very pleasing to see so many of our thermal and significantly photopolymer users, both large (8up) and medium (4up), win – some in record numbers – these industry and market recognised awards.

    Oh, and by the way did I mention, we proudly, and without apology. sell thermal and visible light hardware and consumables?

    Advance Australasia . . . fair!

    Peter Carrigan,

    General Manager


    PS: Andy, in relation to your comments made to one of our technical people in Queensland and just to get the facts correct, the Melbourne Age is in fact photopolymer, not thermal.

  • Business for sale #2 – niche print business, Melbourne

    Specialised Melbourne based niche business supplying high quality printed items to over 3,000 customers (established 1999).
    State of the art on line web site developed allowing user interaction in design, copy and proofing .

    Capable of adding $180,000 to profit of existing printing company in first year. Excellent potential to grow further.

    Business profile available; confidentiality requested.

    Expressions of interest close 4pm 29th October 2004
    Owner selling for family health reasons.

    Contact Blount Osborne Walsh (Peter) for further information.

    Tel: (03) 9690 6464


  • ORIS Color Tuner top scores in Chicago proofing contest

    “It is very satisfying to be able to reassure the Australian industry that it made the right choice in making ORIS Color Tuner the most popular digital proofing system,” said Michael Laird, managing director of CyraChrome, CGS distributor in Australia and New Zealand. “We were first in the market with high-end digital inkjet proofing and with over 400 sites the CGS ORIS system is the largest installed base by far in printers, publishing houses and prepress shops in Australia.

    “Now Color Tuner has added to its list of awards by being declared winner in the IPA Proofing Roundup in the USA this year.” This follows its GATF 2003 award as the top digital proofing system.

    The 2nd Proofing Roundup, held in Chicago this year, awarded first place to ORIS Color Tuner for superior measured and visual results for proofing Pantone spot colours and Pantone Hexachrome colours. The CGS contract proofing system showed an average delta-e variance of only 2.90 in the spot color test, and matched more colors than any other system. The next best score was 5.00.

    Of the 27 systems tested, 23 were evaluated for Pantone and Hexachrome proofing performance, returning a combined average spot color Delta-E variance of 9.57. Color Tuner also visually matched more Pantone spot and Hexachrome colors than any other hard copy proofing system tested.

    “These results prove that not all proofing systems are the same, that significant differences remain to be evaluated when deciding which way to go. Measurements such as these are vital in the reproduction of high-end contract proofing,” said Laird.

    ORIS Color Tuner also performed well in the measured CMYK portion of the test. Using data from the IT8.7/3 test target, Color Tuner’s average delta-e variance was less than 1.0. The system also achieved perfect results in the demanding Altona technical and visual files, a series of complex RIP and color management tests utilizing the PDF/X-3 standard.

    “It’s not simply that Color Tuner is the most accurate proofing system available, it also has key advantages in outputting remote proofs within the very tightest tolerances. This provides solid contract proofing, which is backed by comprehensive calibration and proof certification tools,” said Laird. “It is an area that CyraChrome has pioneered in Australia, implementing remote proofing for some of the largest companies nationwide.”

    The importance of spot colour proofing

    Accurate, cost-effective spot color proofing is a matter of increasing importance, particularly in the growing packaging market, where custom colors are far more critical than in publication or commercial printing. Digital proofing of Pantone and Hexachrome is considered essential in that market’s move towards digital production and CTP.

    ORIS Color Tuner, a cost-effective contract proofing system for Canon, Epson and other inkjet output devices, won the 2003 GATF InterTech Technology Award for its accuracy and innovation in automatic device calibration and spot color handling.

    The Proofing Roundup was part of the IPA’s annual Technical Seminar, which features multiple sessions on a broad range of industry topics. At the event, 15 companies submitted results from a total of 27 proofing systems. IPA will publish the results in detail, including a comparison of proofing system costs. For more information

  • Spicers Paper recreates old landfill sites

    Staff and clients of Spicers Paper are being encouraged to get their hands dirty by volunteering to help recreate several ex-landfill sites that have been identified by Landcare as requiring rehabilitation. The initiative is designed to combat public perception of printing and paper as an industry closely aligned with high-impact environmental practices.

    According to the company, environmental issues are now a strong focus with consumers and shareholders demanding more sustainable business practices. This is driving demand for recycled and other environmentally friendly papers, beyond the traditional audience of government departments and environmental groups.

    Spicers prides itself on leading the way within the printing and paper industries in the promotion of green issues with, for instance, its publication of the Green Guide. But in an industry so closely aligned with forestry, often invoking strong emotional responses, a lot of industry initiatives have been viewed by environmental groups, and the market in general, with some skepticism.

    To address this the company, through a partnership with Landcare Australia, has developed a scheme called the Spicers Paper Recreate Program, which is raising funds to help ‘recreate’ ex-landfill sites. It considers Tudor RP as the ideal vehicle, being made from materials that might otherwise end up as landfill, namely offcuts from printing and envelope manufacturing processes and collected milk and juice cartons.

    So far sufficient funds have been raised for Wirranendi Park in the Adelaide Parklands and Merri Creek in Northcote, Victoria. Other projects are planned for Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

  • Job of the week – Sales Representative, Agfa, Sydney

    We are seeking a dedicated Sales Representative to join our team, selling consumable products, software and capital equipment into the Graphics Systems sector.

    The focus will be on the sales territory within the NSW market, developing new client relationships whilst maintaining and growing current accounts. You will give technical advice and recommendations on equipment upgrades as well as merchandising support-products and advising on market trends.

    It is desirable that you are experienced in selling into the Graphics/Printing environment or similar. Ideally you will also have previous experience in sales of high value systems, or capital equipment. You must have the ability to work autonomously and be prepared to handle a broad product portfolio. Relevant product training will be provided to the successful candidate.

    A competitive package including base salary, fully maintained car, and incentive program is on offer.

    Please apply in writing by Friday 24th of September, 2004, to:
    The Recruitment Coordinator, Human Resources Department, Agfa-Gevaert Limited, PO Box 48, Nunawading, 3131 or email


    To view more printing and graphic arts career positions click here for JobsOnline21:

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

    Remy Wright, former industry media personality and Garry Muratore, current industry media personality, were way cool when they bumped into one another at hippy haven Nimbin in northern NSW. The talk was about tuning in, turning on and dropping out, but they assure it only had to do with the problems of dot gain and image manipulation.


    Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is notorious as one of the biggest busts in the paper industry, going broke owing an estimated US$7.7 billion in international debt. The paper supplier is also gaining a reputation for flouting accepted mercantile rules, suspending repayments to creditors, and hiding behind Indonesia’s shonky legal system. According to a report in Print Week two US creditors, fed up with not being able to collect AUD $480 million awarded to them by a US court, grabbed what they could at a trade show in Florida. Oaktree Capital Management and Gramercy Advisors seized control of APP’s trade fair booth. AAP rather absurdly claimed the hijacking was illegal, but the creditors say they are determined to seize whatever they can, wherever and whenever they can.

    No, APP does not have a booth at PacPrint next year.


    Applications are being called for attendance at next year’s Heidelberg Winter University 2005 run by the company’s Print Media Academy, this time in Florida. International managers will meet up on February 5, 2005 in South Beach to reinforce their practical management expertise as regards business strategies, production processes and sales in print media businesses. Part of the deal is to encourage the development of networks linking print media managers from all over the world and paving the way for future exchanges of information and ideas.

    If you’re interested contact Greg Grace:


    Just to pass on a notion of the size of the industry, in the US graphic design is a US$5.8 billion business with approximately 16,000+ businesses (with an average of four employees each) that spends more than $400 million annually on capital goods. The industry has over 80,000 independent freelance practitioners without counting designers in agencies, publishers, and other places. The figures come from “The U.S. Graphic Design Business 2004-2009, which will be published by Strategies for Management in late October.


    Now here’s an initiative we could steal; PrintCity is a founding member the Innovation Council – Print (ICP), which is targeting publishers and print buyers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The idea behind ICP is to establish a neutral meeting forum for print buyers and suppliers. The aim is to create additional demand for innovative print and printing technologies. The council will organise congresses and workshops with the theme “innovations for print and paper” and will set up a communications structure to ensure a regular information exchange between print buyers, printing works and suppliers.

    Anyone game to have a go here?


    Digital is proving to be not all bad news for Kodak, despite it drying up the cash cow that was film. According to the company, sales of its digital products and services are expected to increase by 36 per cent between 2003 and 2007. This is whole lot faster than originally predicted and will let the company reach its goal of $22 billion by 2006.

    Still, you have to wonder how much you can trust the projections of a company that didn’t see digital coming in the first place until it was almost too late.


    And finally . . . this week we were going to mention Roger Strong, the studmaster at Wirrawee Pacing Stud farm at Wagga Wagga, NSW, but Andy draws our attention to the latest word wizardry from The Washington Post in which
    readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for various words. And the
    winners are:

    • Coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon.
    • Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
    • Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
    • Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
    • Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
    • Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly
      answer the door in your nightgown.
    • Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
    • Gargoyle (n.), an olive-flavored mouthwash.
    • Flatulence (n), the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are
      run over by a steamroller.
    • Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
    • Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
    • Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a
      proctologist immediately before he examines you.
    • Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish
    • Pokemon (n.), a Jamaican proctologist.
    • Frisbeetarianism (n.), the belief that, when you die, your soul goes up
      on the roof and gets stuck there.
    • Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of boxer shorts.
  • Thermal-vs-violet – McCourt’s column to the rescue

    It’s on again – the charge of the thermal-vs-visible light brigade. At the risk of ending up like most of the ‘500’ I’ll thunder on with them into the Valley of Death.

    Last week, Print21 Online published a reply from Creo’s VP of Marketing, to a ‘Critical Assessment’ article written about them, and published globally, by UK-based industry analyst Andy Tribute. (see Dateline News on this week’s home page

    I’ve read the article, and Creo’s response. I’m concerned that, amongst all the mud slinging, bias and defensive posturing, buyers of CTP are becoming more confused. I receive regular calls from printers asking me ‘what system should I buy’ as I’ve written several articles on CTP over the years. My main concern now is to illuminate the resurrected thermal-vs-visible light debate. Dead cat anyone?

    I know Andy Tribute and he is one very clever bloke. His views are always forthright and often controversial. He wouldn’t be the respected writer he is otherwise. In 2002, I read his critical assessment of Heidelberg, recommending the sale of the digital division. They listened and he was right. He was one of those ‘bright young things’ that the UK produces every now and then. He was European Editor for the seminal Seybold Reports and was sending complete pages to (Monotype) imagesetters before CEPS and DTP was even mentioned. He knows his onions.

    Andy’s critical assessment – actually more critique than assessment – of Creo
    is a different can of worms, and why Creo has been singled out for
    such is a mystery to me. At drupa, Andy was retained by Esko Graphics – a
    company with no thermal CTP technology and to whom Creo represents the
    only real competition to them in the Flexo/CTP area. Michael Mittelhaus, a CTP
    consultant cited in the article, is also listed as having performed
    work for Esko Graphics on their website. Indeed, any visitor to drupa
    only had to stop by the Esko Graphics booth to see Andy Tribute
    presenting, and even showing a ‘commercial for Esko Graphics’ in his
    mixture. It’s still up there on his website:

    Now this is all very well, his business is his own affair and good luck to him, but I am concerned his article might mislead purchasers of CTP faced with a thermal-vs-visible light choice, Creo or otherwise.

    Screen’s affable general manager Gary Seidl once told me “Australia is mostly a thermal CTP market.” This bears out the Creo VP’s retort that, where Andy Tribute noted Creo had lost some sales to Screen, these had largely been to another thermal system.

    Make ready is king
    The most beneficial thing any printer can do for his business is to reduce make-ready time. This in turn reduces wastage, enables them to compete with short-run digital and frees up the press for more work. Thermal plates can be made faster, and usually run up to colour quicker when on-press. Dots are invariably consistent (square or otherwise!), and the promise of processless thermal plates, such as Agfa’s Azura, has obvious environmental benefits. Also, you can’t over or under-expose a thermal plate.

    Having said that, there is a place for non-thermal CTP. Polyester plates get better all the time and, while not suitable for top-notch long-run work, can produce pleasing results for the B3 and B2 press market. Polyester plates are imaged with visible light and developed in a similar way to silver-halide film from an imagesetter. The imaging device costs less than a thermal machine and the material can be on a roll, costing very little per square metre of plate.

    For metal plates, violet light (410nm) lasers are the most popular option for the visible light brigade. Plates such as the Fuji Brillia, Mitsubishi SDP-Alpha and Agfa Lithostar Ultra-V (positive working) are exposed, chemically processed and, being silver-based, (although photopolymer versions are coming in), behave in a similar fashion on-press to analogue plates. Because of this, some printers find the transition to CTP easier with violet machines and plates. The hardware generally costs less than thermal, and can be faster in production. However, one of the champions of violet CTP –Canada’s Escher-Grad (represented here by New Media Tech), has just announced it is developing thermal 4pp and 8pp machines as well. Agfa, Fuji and Heidelberg also offer both thermal and violet CTP.

    The only supplier of UV CTP using conventional visible light plates, Basys Print, got into financial difficulty and was purchased by Punch International (Xeikon owners) in July 2004. I’m not convinced UV CTP has a long future.

    I have read that violet plates are supposed to cost less than thermal plates but every time I’ve checked real prices printers are paying, thermal plates are costing $4-$5 per square metre less than violet. There’s more choice with thermal – more now that Creo itself is making plates. With violet, in Australia it’s really only Agfa. The Fuji Brillia and Mitsubishi metal violet plates seem in short supply.

    So here’s my call.

    • If you can afford the hardware, especially if you are a larger
      format, 8pp, printer, go thermal. Go processless thermal when available (and no, I’m not retained by Agfa, Creo or KPG). No darkroom or safelight needed.
    • If you want cheaper hardware, and are be a B2 or smaller format
      printer and you want less change to the way plates behave when you go CTP,
      choose a Violet CTP setter and plates. Make sure you buy the right processor
      and chemistry. And remember, the hardware may cost less but the Total Cost
      of Operation in making plates will most likely be higher. You need to handle
      undeveloped plates in yellow safelight.
    • If you are an A3/B3 printer or B2 printer doing mostly two-colour work with the occasional four-colour, look into one of the excellent polyester plate CTP choices. ECRM even has one that will do both metal and polyester CTP. For small offset, Silvermaster and Setprint CT Plates have been around for years.

    If you are not thinking of CTP at all (or digital printing); sell now.

    What are your experiences? Are you facing the decision or have you already made the leap to thermal, violet or polyester?

    Get back to Andy:

  • Esko-Graphics bails from commercial printing

    “The Commercial Printing market is served by many suppliers and shows little or no overall industry growth”, said Kim Graven-Nielsen, President and CEO. “Fierce competition leads to price pressure and low margins. It becomes very difficult for us and for many other offset CtP suppliers to maintain a sustainable business in this segment”.

    He claimed that despite more attention and endorsements for violet CtP from the industry, the market development so far has been constrained by the limited availability of plates. “Considering both these elements, we have decided to stop further investments into our PlateDriver violet CtP product line and to direct our efforts towards growth areas where we have a strong product position.”

    In the Commercial Printing segment, Esko-Graphics will concentrate on SCOPE workflow software, on smaller format CtP devices for polyester and violet plates, and on Espresso, the company’s innovative 4-up Computer-to-UV-Plate (CtUP) system.

    “When asked by customers for advice on what strategy they should adopt, we have a straightforward answer: understand the drivers of your business, make clear choices, build innovative extensions to your existing strengths, and help your customers reduce costs and create value.

    “We follow exactly the same principles for Esko-Graphics. We see the rapidly changing market dynamics in the graphics industry, and have evaluated the feedback from the many people visiting us at drupa. We now make the choices that will best serve the interests of our company and its customers, and that will keep Esko-Graphics at the forefront of the industry”.

    Esko-Graphics’ will refocus its distribution organization for commercial printing towards its expanding OEM and reseller channels, carrying the DPX, PlateDriver Compact, DotMate CtF and EskoScan product lines. The company will continue to offer customer services for the installed base of all hardware and software products, directly or through distribution partners.

    More focus on Packaging

    Esko-Graphics’ Packaging activities currently account for over 60% of its revenues. Sales are growing strongly in all regions and have increased by 11% over the first half of 2003.

    “Packaging is our major flagship today”, comments René Delbar, Senior Vice-President Marketing. “We have earned an industry reference position with unique value-adding solutions, and with many products that are leaders in their respective segments.”

    The company’s CDI platesetters image over 90% of the digital flexo plates used worldwide. More than 1,700 Kongsberg sample making and digital conversion tables are installed in 50 countries.

    “The Packaging market is a healthy and growing business environment, attracting many new customers. We have decided to put more focus and resources towards this booming part of our activities, to grow and expand it even further”, concludes Delbar.

    Distribution and service to the Packaging markets will continue through Esko-Graphics’ direct sales organization, as well as through qualified resellers around the world.

  • Ist proofing product from EFI after Best

    Distributor DES released the new software into the Australian market at Sydney’s Australian Technology Park yesterday. Designed to provide fool proof contract digital proofing for a wide range of industry professionals, the company is targeting publishers, printers, packagers, photographers, designers, ad agencies and anyone involved in producing high-fidelity still colour reproduction.

    Anyone who purchased EFI/Best Colorproof software since May 6 this year will receive a free cross-grade to Colorproof XF when it becomes available in November.

    Ian Clare, managing director of DES claims to have introduced the first accurate colour managed workflow in 1999 when the company was appointed the ANZ distributor for Bestcolor GmbH. Since then, over 38,000 copies have been installed worldwide with ‘ordinary’ inkjet and laser printers producing photographic-quality results and contract proofs of publications.

    ColourproofXF drives printers from Epson, Canon, Roland and others and resides on a central server where, once profiled, it can be accessed by lesser experienced ‘clients’ on the network to produce colour prints and proofs of the highest possible accuracy.

    Bernard Sun, Asia Pacific Sales Development Manager from EFI’s Singapore office said Colorproof XF represents the first major change in the approach to drop-on-demand inkjet proofing and printing since 1998 when Best first showed its product at IPEX in the UK.

  • South Australian PICA Awards – the complete list

    Despite competing with the entry of Port Adelaide into the Grand Final for the first time, a good turnout of printing industry types last week celebrated the 17th South Australian Pica Awards at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

    The audience witnessed a domination of the Awards by Finsbury Green Printing, one of the most environmentally sophisticated printing companies in the industry – hence the ‘Green.’ Picking up ten gold medals, seven silver and eight bronze Finsbury Green Printing proved that while it may not be easy being green, it can be rewarding.

    Best overall award for South Australia was won by Van Gastel Printing, while Coleman’s Printing of Darwin picked up the Northern Territory prize.
    Ian Bowden, (centre) regional president Printing Industries presented Jack van Gastel and Tony Coleman with the awards.

    “The awards were very well supported by the industry, as always,” said Al Chizmesya, state manager, Printing Industries. “People look forward to it. It’s not only the awards, it’s also a time for relaxation and meeting people.”

    He paid tribute to the sponsors, some of whom have been on board since the inception of the awards.

    Only one wrong note came with no entry of work performed by an apprentice. According to Al it has since been discussed by the committee and more attention will be paid for next year.

    On the power able of the night Al Chizmesya, state manager, with Chris Segaert, national president and Ian Bowden, SA state president Printing Industries.

    34 Gold Awards

  • Finsbury Green Printing . . . . . . . 10
  • Van Gastel Printing . . . . . . . 5
  • Precision Labels . . . . . . . 2
  • Fivestargrafx . . . . . . . 2
  • Cadilac Printing . . . . . . . 2
  • Lane Print . . . . . . . 2
  • AL Printers . . . . . . . 1
  • Barossa Printmaster . . . . . . . 1
  • Digi Press . . . . . . . 1
  • Graphic Print Group . . . . . . . 1
  • John’s Print Centre . . . . . . . 1
  • Nationwide Labelling . . . . . . . 1
  • Printskill . . . . . . . 1
  • Rodney Robertson . . . . . . . 1
  • Rowett Print . . . . . . . 1
  • The Bureau . . . . . . . 1
  • Visualcom . . . . . . . 1
  • 32 Silver Awards

  • Finsbury Green Printing . . . . . . . 7
  • Van Gastel Printing . . . . . . . 4
  • Precision Labels . . . . . . . 1
  • Fivestargrafx . . . . . . . 3
  • Cadilac Printing . . . . . . . 2
  • Lane Print . . . . . . . 1
  • Custom Group . . . . . . . 1
  • Cutler Brands . . . . . . . 1
  • Design Craft . . . . . . . 1
  • Eureka Corporate Group . . . . . . . 1
  • Graphic Print Group . . . . . . . 1
  • Hansen Print . . . . . . . 1
  • Hyde Park Press . . . . . . . 2
  • John’s Print Centre . . . . . . . 2
  • Nationwide Labelling . . . . . . . 1
  • Price Screen Process . . . . . . . 1
  • Redden Advertising & Design . . . . . . . 1
  • Rowett Print . . . . . . . 1

  • Toasting the winners on the night Gary Donnison, ceo Printing Industries and Alf Carrigan, chairman of the National Print awards.

    33 Bronze Awards

  • Finsbury Green Printing . . . . . . . 8
  • Precision Labels . . . . . . . 2
  • Fivestargrafx . . . . . . . 1
  • Cadilac Printing . . . . . . . 2
  • AL Printers . . . . . . . 1
  • Bowden Printing . . . . . . . 1
  • Carter Holt Harvey . . . . . . . 1
  • Colemans Printing . . . . . . . 1
  • Custom Group . . . . . . . 1
  • Cutler Brands . . . . . . . 1
  • Digi Press . . . . . . . 2
  • Eureka Corporate Group . . . . . . . 1
  • Gillingham Printers . . . . . . . 2
  • Graphic Print Group . . . . . . . 3
  • Hyde Park Press . . . . . . . 1
  • John’s Print Centre . . . . . . . 3
  • Nationwide Labelling . . . . . . . 1
  • Visualcom . . . . . . . 1