Archive for July, 2005

  • Book Club –

    A new edition of Pocket Pal is always an event in the printing and graphic arts industry. First published in 1934, this indispensable reference work has long been the authoritative introduction to the graphic arts for artists, designers, publishers, advertisers, students and buyers of printing. It has also proved to be a handy reference guide for printing professionals.

    Pocket Pal is the ultimate argument solver, jam packed with facts, figures, diagrams and illustrations of all major imaging processes. It provides concise and detailed information on prepress, press and post press, with individual sections on paper and a graphic arts glossary. Readers will find information on types and typographies, including proofreading, type, colour charts and digital prepress.

    The 19th Edition is edited by Frank Romano, RIT School of Print Media (Michael Riordan, RIT, Assistant Editor) and builds on the millennium edition’s initiative to bring digital printing into the mainstream of the industry’s reference. The result is a thoroughly up to the minute reference work that also retains the solid background knowledge that has made it such a favourite for generations.

    Pocket Pal is easy to read, an inexhaustible resource, and provides printing and graphic arts professionals with the wherewithal to fully understand all facets of their industry.

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    To buy Pocket Pal: Graphic Arts Production – New 19th Edition and to browse the Print21Online Graphic Arts Library click here.

  • Creo secures first Aussie sale of Magnus 400 CTP

    The Magnus 400 is Creo’s new B2 platesetter, capable of handling the new generation of chemistry-free and processless plates. While supporting conventional thermal plates in the best Creo tradition, the Magnus 400 broadens the range and will be ready to image the upcoming Kodak chemistry-free plate, Sword – Agfa has already launched its version of the chemistry-free plate, the Azura.

    This provides print factories with the potential to remove chemicals and processors from CTP production, as well as reduce the impact of plate processing on the environment.

    The machine comes in two versions, the Magnus 400 and the Magnus 400 Quantum, with both models utilising the larger 680x750mm drum and supporting press formats up to 6pp.

    The standard 400 model is capable of producing up to 21 plates per hour, while the 400 Quantum uses SQAREspot imaging technology and Staccato FM screening and can push the production as far 28 plates per hour.

    While specific details of the approaching local installs have not yet been revealed, more information on Creo’s latest CTP technology is expected in August. The Magnus 400 will receive its official launch at Print 05 in Chicago this September.

  • Job of the Week: Account Manager (Technical) – OTE $70-80K

    You must have a strong understanding of print production workflows and be able to develop excellent rapport with high profile key clients. This role will have you pitching for new business and driving new and current world leading solutions in to long-term existing accounts. You will be responsible for reaching your territory’s budget, managing client relationships, resolving technical problems, producing proposals and managing the administration side of the business.

    The successful candidate will:
    o Have and understanding of Pre Press / Print Production
    o Have excellent customer relationship management skills
    o Be IT workflow savvy

    Contact: Bianca 02 9938 7500 by Mon 1st August

    bianca@quickcut.com.au

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    To view more printing and graphic arts career positions click here for Print21 Online employment section.

  • Canon, Xerox, Ricoh, Kodak, Konica reporting season – news commentary by Andy McCourt

    Xerox in the US (in this region Fuji Xerox is in a much better position) reported its Q2 results this week with lower than expected earnings as its sales of lower-end equipment increased, but at sacrificed margins. Revenue did rise two per cent to USD$3.85 billion, but profits dipped.

    CEO Anne Mulcahy indicated costs would be cut further, with 2,600 job losses already announced. However, Mulcahy expects a stronger second half as revenue from more profitable colour products grew 17 per cent and shows no sign of abating. iGen 3 and DocuColor 8000 placements were better than expected and hold good forward orders.

    Canon, about to report in Tokyo, will fare better but is expected to suffer from higher materials costs from oil-derived inputs. Ricoh, FujiFilm and Konica-Minolta are all expected to post disappointing results and analysts are tipping Seiko-Epson to post a very disappointing result, despite good sales of inkjet printers. Apparently, poor margins on low-end LCDs used in mobile phones and consumer cameras are the culprits. Lexmark suffered a 42 per cent profits drop, again due to low margins despite higher printer sales

    Hewlett Packard’s Mark Hurd last week announced a huge workforce reduction of 15,000 and internal restructuring as it attempts to rectify the profligacy of the Fiorina years. However, its printing and imaging business remains lucrative and there has even been talk of a ‘spinning off’ of this sector.

    Océ experienced a 60 per cent drop in operating profits, but also recorded increased demand for colour products. Its shares have been on the slide since March, languishing towards record lows

    Kodak, as reported here last week, has posted three consecutive quarterly losses and announced a further 10,000 job cuts, due largely to a faster than anticipated decline in traditional film sales.

    Most of the above suppliers have been active in the core graphic arts market for only a few years, having escalated their product offerings from office machines and duplicators to production mono and colour with variable print options.

    The question is; is there a digital ceiling for the high-end, where it runs slap-bang into CtP-driven automated offset presses with much lower TCOs (total cost of operation)? Or is digital inventing new markets that did not exist before?

    With Canon taking a record area at IPEX 2006 next April and portending an entry into ‘Big Bertha’ machines, and Xerox now into its eighth year with a dedicated ‘Graphic Arts’ division – what does the future hold for true digital printing? Will it claw into non-digital printing as it climbs up market, or Icarus-like, fly too close to the offset, flexo and gravure sun?

    My Call At least for the foreseeable future, there is indeed a digital printing ceiling, a point beyond which the technology becomes non-applicable. I’m talking of course of the printing end and not the processes leading to it, which are becoming increasingly digital.

    Equally, there is a limitation for offset printing, areas in which it cannot compete – variable printing for example. But it could be argued that this was always ‘transactional’ type printing once carried out by dot matrix line printers.

    A printed phone account can carry personalized advertising messages in full colour and more but this is an evolution of past technology, not a displacement of exiting ones. Then, there are the new markets that variable colour brings, but in percentage terms of the whole industry, they are still small beer.

    The driving factor, even with very high production machines such as the iGen3, is cost-per-page. All of the abovementioned companies are experiencing margin erosion as cut-throat competition bites, and yet the cost per A4 digital page is still many times higher than an offset printed page.

    Short runs and variable data are helpful and great marketing tools but there comes a time when a press running at a rate of three million impressions a month (which can be 48 million pages of A4 colour on a 102cm perfector), makes much better financial sense. According to the ‘click charge’ business model on which digital is predicated, 48 million digital ‘click’ charges would be $4.8 million at 10 cents per A4. That‘s never going to break through the digital ceiling.

    How high the ceiling is, I don’t know, but I know it is there. Perhaps IPEX 2006 will define it.

  • Colour guru to present at the next LIA gathering

    The meeting will address the topic Managing Colour – Can you trust your eyes? Crowther, from DES allied Chromaticity, will demonstrate how viewing conditions affect the colours we see, discussing colour management at a level that can be readily understood by all attendees.

    Bob Lamont, executive officer of the LIA’s NSW division, claims that Crowther’s expert knowledge of colour management will bestow the event with a wide appeal. “It will not only provide a reminder of matters once learned, it will give a valuable understanding for those whose work is in the world of colour, but are not at the cutting edge of colour technology,” he says.

    The event will take place Tuesday the 9th of August at the Burwood RSL Club, 96 Shaftesbury Road in Burwood. The cost is $43.00 for LIA members and $49.00 for visitors, contact Robyn Baker on (02) 8789 7362 to secure a booking.

  • NIPPA networks its name change

    Formally known as the National In-plant Print and Publishing Association,(NIPPA) the organization has changed its name to the Network of In-house Print Professionals Australasia following its recent annual conference.

    NIPPA president David Harrison claims the acronym was kept because of its instant recognition in the printing industry, as well as among the organisation’s sponsors and supporters. “However, we needed to recognise that our membership continues to grow throughout Australasia,” he says. “We have members in all the states and territories with over 10 per cent coming from New Zealand”.

    NIPPA membership is made up of managers from the educational, corporate and professional services sectors. Its main focus is to provide a range of professional development activities for members so that they can continue to provide a valuable service to their host organisation as professionals in their field.

    Harrison attributes his organisation’s rapid growth to recognition that in-house print and publishing services provide a valuable combination of expertise, loyalty and security safeguards. “To a growing number of organisations, outsourcing is not an option,” he says. “There is too much risk in leaving the management of intellectual property, copyright obligations and privacy considerations to an outsider.”

  • ADAPT shows the way for digital art repro

    The innovative exhibition highlighted the growing interest in the use of digital technology to reproduce art works for sale or the home. Pioneering a whole new imaging sector, the exhibitors found the attendance to be serious and well versed in the technical and commercial potential of the giclée process.

    It seems likely the show will become a regular event on the graphic arts calendar with most of the major exhibitors confirming their intention to participate in ADAPT 2006, which will be held in Melbourne next July.

    ADAPT 2005 featured a broad exhibition of professional digital image capture, processing and reproduction technologies, plus more than expected examples of original and giclée art and photography.

    “The show was very good for us and we’ll be back,” commented DES managing director Ian Clare during his address at the ADAPT Awards. “DES is firmly committed to the growth of digital art and photography in Australia at a professional level.” DES amplified the message by hosting the Journey beyond Creation evenings this week in Brisbane, Melbourne and (tonight, Thursday 28th July) Sydney.

    ADAPT’s largest exhibitor and Platinum Sponsor, EPSON also found the event ground-breaking. Pro Graphics Business Unit Manager Craig Heckenberg said; “We are in this for the long haul, the market still has incredible growth potential as professional photographers switch from silver-halide and artworks are multi-purposed in limited editions.”

    Hasselblad distributor CR Kennedy & Co had a strong show with Pro Division manager Damon Rulach saying, “We want a good spot at next year’s show.”

    Giclée pioneer and artist of note Jan Neil of Jan Neil Oz Images commented; “ADAPT was excellent for us, we have gained many more customers and sold both original and giclée artworks.”

    Award winners

  • Stephen Best, of the ACT won the Epson Award for Digital Imaging Excellence laurels with his stunning image of rock formations looking like a pair of hands cradling the granite. He used a 4” x 5” view camera with film which was scanned into a Hasselblad-Imacon Flextite scanner and printed on an Epson 4800. Because the prize itself was an Epson 4800, Stephen has upgraded to a 7800. He also took out the HP Award for Digital Photographic Reproduction, which earned him the latest HP DesignJet 90 A2 printer with Vivera inks.
  • Jack van Gastel, SA’s doyen of art printers, won the DES Award for Digital Art Reproduction with his canvas-printed reproduction of a Phil Morris original “Sailors Wedding’’, scanned on a Screen Cezanne scanner and printed on an HP 5000.
  • Amanda Keuk from Sydney won GASAA’s Digital Imaging Young Achiever Award with here haunting photo montage taken with a Canon D70 camera, worked on in Photoshop and printed on Epson fine art paper.
  • The ADAPT seminar program drew speakers from Australia, the USA, UK, Germany and Spain and was packed with useful information for this emerging market.

    Founder and co-organizer of ADAPT, Andy McCourt commented, “With the excellent operational skills of Exhibitions Pty Ltd, and sponsor support, we were able to achieve a world first here in Australia. Like all ‘first-ups’ there were some rough edges but overall we are very pleased, and so are the nearly 1200 people who attended.

    “One New Zealand seminar delegate and exhibition visitor, Tom Starr from Mozzi Screen printing told me the trip had been well worth while and he had learnt plenty to guide him in his company’s digital strategy. I am sure there were others like that. As the old MGM Studios motto went ‘Ars Gratia Artis’ – Art for Art’s sake.

    The venue for ADAPT 2006 in Melbourne will be announced within the next four weeks.

  • New Printing Industries benchmarking system now online

    The new PrintNet on-line benchmarking system will be launched on August 1st, and a demonstration model is now available on the website for those interested in taking a look. The new system aims to dramatically reduce the time taken to enter data, identified by Printing Industries as a major factor for busy executives.

    Printing Industries acting CEO Philip Andersen claims Rapid Benchmarking is a response to the difficulties expressed by printers when it comes to entering the necessary data. “Rapid Benchmarking fixes that problem by providing essential options,” he says, “including a priority colour coded guide to differentiate between core and non core questions, and options for automated or self-managed assistance.”

    There are four basic benchmarking packages available:

    – Rapid Basic for those who want to enter their data themselves.

    – Rapid Support for those who prefer system consultants to enter the data for them.

    – Rapid Complete for existing MYOB users who can receive a tailored general ledger chart of accounts to integrate with their existing MYOB software.

    – Rapid Network for companies operating multi-sites or involved in franchise operations. This provides a customised macro to suit the users preferred accounting package.

    Printing Industries manager of industry and commercial policy Hagop Tchamkertenian identifies the low price of Rapid Benchmarking as its biggest attraction. “We’ve been able to significantly reduce the benchmarking subscription prices,” he says. “To access Rapid Basic, the annual company subscription will now just cost $550 for members and $1,100 for non-members, and the system also comes with a money back guarantee.”

    For more information or to organise a demonstration, call your local Printing Industries office on 1800 227 425 or (02) 8789 7300, or email benchmarking@printnet.com.au

  • HP tight-lipped on regional job cut impact

    A majority of the 14,500 job cuts worldwide will be in the areas of finance, human resources and IT, and HP expects workforce reductions across the Asia Pacific to fall in similar areas. How employees in Australia and New Zealand will be impacted remains unclear, with HP confirming that specific numbers will not be provided.

    “Decisions by region and country will be taken based on an all-rounded view of our present and projected business strategies and needs,” says Cecilia Pang, vice president of corporate marketing for Asia Pacific & Japan. “We will not be able to share any specific country or region numbers.”

    The overall plan is aimed to help HP “simplify structure, reduce costs and place greater focus on customers”, and will also involve a restructuring of its support facilities and modifications to its retirement benefit programs. HP expects the $US1.9 billion in annual savings to be in full force by 2007, composed of $1.6 billion in labour costs and $300 million in benefits savings.

    The job cuts will be accompanied by a simplification of HP’s corporate structure, which will involve the embedding of sales and marketing directly into the business units in order to provide a tighter link with customers. As a further part of its efforts to streamline the company, HP will dissolve its Customer Solutions Group and merge its functions across several other sectors of the company.

    CEO Mark Hurd claims these measures are part of HP’s efforts to continue expanding and cut operational costs. “Our objective is to implement these measures smoothly, with as little disruption to our business as possible,” he says. “Great companies grow and reduce costs. We will do both.”

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

    It appears that while, yes, the costs of catalogue distribution did go up 5.6 per cent (averaged over three years) the volume of catalogues also rose five per cent in the period. According to Chris Lee-Brown, CEO, Australian Catalogue Association, this equates to a distribution cost rise of 0.6 per cent, a fairly modest affair and nothing to justify the notion that the distributors are in danger of pricing catalogues out of the market.

    Lee-brown writes, ‘the average press advertising rate rise in the same period was 4.5 per cent, consumer mags more than 4 per cent, TV well over 5 per cent, and radio around 4 per cent. Compare this with 0.6 per cent increase in catalogue distribution costs. It’s interesting to highlight that not only have catalogue distribution costs remained very low for more than a decade, in cost per thousand impact terms, since 1990 they have actually fallen!’

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    If Howard Howard says so, it must be true. Fans of the novel Catch 22 will remember the ill-fated Major Major Major, a victim of his parents wicked sense of humour who rose in the air force to the rank of Major. After that he was never going to be promoted. And lose the only Major Major Major we have?

    The marketing manager of Harman Technology Limited in the UK, Howard Howard, is not quite in the same position, but it’s close. He is tasked with assuring the market that the famous Ilford monochrome photographic technology will remain. The management buy-out company has acquired all Illford Imaging assets and rights to the Ilford name and brand on all monochrome products (i.e. film, paper and chemicals). Howard Howard confirmed the complete monochrome range of films and papers would continue indefinitely, as with liquid chemicals.

    Managing director of Ilford Australia, Andrew Stewart, also confirms that Ilford Photo has resumed the supply of powder chemicals including the world-famous ID-11 and Microphen powder monochrome film developers. “We are very passionate about black-and-white and are happy to be in a position to give this true medium a rebirth,” he said.

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    They may be tomorrow’s fish wrappings but newspapers have been around for a long time. Four hundred years to be exact and the Gutenberg Museum in Germany is celebrating with an exhibition Black on White: 400 Years of Newspapers. A Medium Makes History. Star of the show is an 83-year-old MAN Roland web letterpress that once a week prints an eight-page souvenir newspaper.

    So, don’t stop that press!

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    Did he fall or was he pushed? – by Hugh Dunnit

    It’s not War and Peace but industry types have been exercised in the past week by the report that Heiner Müller, director of sales and marketing at German colour company GMG jumped ship to join the opposition CGS Publishing Technologies. The GMG crew is loud in its outrage that Herr Müller did not jump, or if he did it was from a very short plank. The man himself is determined to bite his thumb in the direction of his erstwhile shipmates.

    You wouldn’t want to be in between when the broadsides start up. Who would have imagined there could be so much fire about so little in the German soul?

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    They’re a bright bunch out at The Bright Group in Fairfield in Sydney’s west, and now they’re sparkling a little more since the highly personable David Bertram joined them as account manager. It’s thanks to him Clancy has come into possession of the fact that the grandfather of founder William Robert Bright, one Constable John Bright, is famous for shooting the notorious bushranger ‘Flash’ Johnny Gilbert in the 1900s.

    This is not a comment on the company’s credit collection techniques.

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    And finally . . . for those who came in late, here’s a piece of cultural history from Trevor Hone, that was first retailed here by Astrid S many moons ago.

    Larry La Prise, a great songwriter, the man who wrote The Hokey Pokey, died peacefully at home. He was 93.
    The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin.

    First they put the left leg in …

    and then the trouble started.

  • Australian software awarded US technology prize

    Metrix is an automatic layout calculator for commercial printers, and developer LithoTechnics was one of the 17 recipients of the prestigious award. GSA distributes it in Australia and NZ.

    LithoTechnics founder Rohan Holt said he is ecstatic to receive such international recognition for his company’s software. “We are very honoured to receive this prestigious award,” he says. “Our customers tell us they love Metrix, and I’m glad the judges also appreciate its value.”

    (This is not the first time that Holt is in the news for creative inventiveness. In the 1990s he created SuperImpose/UpFront, which was acquired by ScenicSoft and subsequently by Creo. In earlier iterations of this report we said Rohan had created Pandora. This is plain wrong.)

    PIA/GATF executive vice president George Ryan claims he was extremely impressed with the recipients of this year’s awards. “Vendors have responded to the industry’s emphasis on increasing throughput while improving productivity and providing tools for consistent colour reproduction,” he says.

    “Binding and finishing productivity has improved, colour management tools are now very reliable, and press innovations are delivering on productivity we once thought was impossible,” says Ryan.

    PIA/GATF is the world’s largest graphic arts trade association, and promotes the interests of more than 12,000 of its member companies in the US. The organisation’sorganization’s InterTech Awards are designed to recognise excellence in the development of new technologies in graphic communications.

    The full 2005 InterTech Awards – courtesy of www.printondemand.comare:

    Metrix v1.5
    LithoTechnics Pty Limited –
    www.lithotechnics.com

    Metrix job layout software quickly calculates and creates the most efficient, cost-effective press sheet layouts, making it easy and fast for printers to capitalize on gang jobs, even those with varying run lengths. Estimators and production planners can try “what-if” scenarios in seconds. The program takes grain direction into consideration and also supplies folding data. Metrix can integrate with MIS systems by importing JDF (Job Definition Format) data and exporting JDF, CIP3, and Preps® template files. “Metrix has reduced our planning and layout time by 80–85%,” said one user. One judge commented, “When I was a CSR, I begged for this!”

    Chameleon
    Böttcher America Corporation –
    www.bottcher.com

    Using the Chameleon dual-purpose roller, printers can switch freely among conventional, UV, and hybrid printing jobs without changing rollers. Cutting-edge polymer technology gives the true rubber compound dynamic qualities that equal or surpass conventional compounds. The compound significantly reduces heat load in the roller train (especially important for UV inks) and helps reduce misting. The roller is OEM-approved by major press manufacturers. One printer said, “We have had these rollers running for five months, 24 hours a day, five days a week, without any problems.” Said one judge, “We want that roller on our press so we don’t have unused capacity.”

    X-Rite Pulse ColorElite Systems
    X-Rite – www.xrite.com

    An exceptionally reasonable entry price brings the tools and software for color measurement and management to professionals, creatives, and even those doing their own home photo printing. Users can profile monitors, printers, scanners, and cameras, and they can edit the profiles to suit their needs. Setup involves connecting the colorimeter (monitor profiling puck) and the spectrophotometer (reflective media puck) with the supplied USB cables and installing the software. A professional photographer with 30 years’ experience most likes that “the profile building (which is wizard based) does not necessarily require a sophisticated understanding of color management to get great results.” The judges especially noted the technology’s upstream impact and its potential in soft proofing.

    Stahlfolder TH/KH Series
    Heidelberg Postpress Deutschland GmbH
    Heidelberg USA Inc. –
    www.heidelberg.com

    The high-performance, modular TH/KH family of buckle-plate and combination folders focuses on productivity, maximum flexibility, and intelligent automation to keep today’s bindery up to today’s press output. Key features include modular units, a user friendly touch screen, a constant airstream to control sheets, side guides with digital readouts, a servo-motor sensor that adjusts roller settings using a single sheet of stock, the choice of a flat-pile, round-continuous, or pallet feeder, and more. A bookbinder said, “The simple setup and the fast speed of the KH folders have reduced our production time by 50%.” Emphasizing the folders’ user-friendly interface, the judges concurred that this technology is “a real productivity enhancement.”

    PDF Compare and PDF Merge
    Creo Inc. –
    www.creo.com

    These software plug-ins for the Creo Prinergy and Powerpack workflow systems manage the correction cycles in a prepress workflow efficiently, reliably, and cost-effectively. They ensure that the design master file and the production file do not fall out of sync. Compare analyzes two PDF files—as native PDF—and identifies the differences between them. Merge lets an operator extract all the prior work done on the plate-ready file (traps, screening, geometry, overprint, etc.) and merges all the elements into a new, revised production file. One user who says the plug-ins are easy to handle and stable also uses them for versioning. As a judge noted, “You’ll want to use this to sleuth for customers who try to slide in changes your production people don’t know about.”

    Inline Coating for Digital Presses
    NexPress Fifth Imaging Unit Solutions
    Eastman Kodak Company –
    www.nexpress.com
    Xeikon Print Protector
    Xeikon International/Punch Graphix –
    www.xeikon.com

    Long awaited by digital printers, inline coating to protect digitally printed pieces from damage in the mail stream is now available for the sheetfed NexPress and Xeikon’s rollfed digital presses. Besides gloss coating, Kodak’s NexPress Fifth Imaging Unit also gives digital printers the options of spot coating or adding a fifth dry ink color (red, green, or blue) to a CMYK-printed piece. The fifth ink extends the gamut and optimizes the NexPress for PANTONE® Color reproduction. Xeikon’s Print Protector technology uses a duplex aqueous coating system. The coating, a nonproprietary silicone-wax emulsion, is operator adjustable and so thin that it dries instantly. One Xeikon technology user said, “It eliminates any static from the digital prints so that they are easy to feed into any of my folding or stitching equipment.” “I’ve been waiting for digital inline coating for seven years,” said one judge.

    Arrowlith UV
    Flint Ink Corporation –
    www.flintink.com

    Specially formulated for coldset web presses equipped (or retrofitted) with a UV lamp on each side of the web delivery, Flint’s Arrowlith inks will enable coldset printers to enter the lucrative insert market. Coldset printers will be able to use their equipment to print full-color, high-volume coated inserts, Sunday sections, glossy book covers, and other special projects completely in house. The inks can print on coated, supercalendered, and newsprint substrates. Their tack range, similar to conventional news ink, allows the ink film to split effectively in the coldset roller train. A user said, “The ability to print UV in full web applications is a major breakthrough in the coldset industry.” A judge noted, “This technology will shift the insert market.”

    SpeedyDry
    Genesis, LLC – SpeedyDry –
    www.speedydry.com

    This ink additive helps conventional oil-based inks dry faster and with more rub resistance on any substrate, from matte stocks and coated papers to synthetics. SpeedyDry’s chemistry also makes it easy to solve age-old problems associated with using reflex blue, purple, and violet inks. With SpeedyDry, reflex blue can dry in six hours. A commercial printer that is using SpeedyDry on foils and styrene jobs said, “The product is easy to use; stays open in ink fountains, rollers, and blankets; washes up with ease; and gives a smooth, clean laydown of ink and dots.” One judge offered this insight: “Once you put it in your pressroom, you won’t be able to get it out of there.”

    Goss Automatic Transfer Feature for Nonstop
    Web Offset Printing
    Goss International –
    www.gossinternational.com

    Using the Automatic Transfer (AT) feature for Goss’s Sunday presses, web printers can change jobs without stopping the press. Press operators bring one or more idle printing units on impression while simultaneously taking another unit, or units, off impression. The AT units, which do not use diverting rollers or air bars that could mark the web, can be positioned anywhere within a pressline and print on both sides. With two AT units, single-color changeovers can be completed on the fly. A press with eight AT units can handle complete four-color changeovers without stopping. Said one judge, “Web printers can now efficiently and cost-effectively compete in today’s shorter run and versioning markets.” One printer said, “We can slam imprint after imprint after imprint without shutting the press down.”

    HumanEyes 3D Software
    HumanEyes Technologies, Ltd. –
    www.humaneyes.com

    This patented software significantly eases a printer’s entry into an upcoming, profitable but previously specialized, expertise-essential 3D lenticular market. Using off-the-shelf digital cameras, printers, and presses, HumanEyes 3D Software creates stereo panoramic 3D pictures up to 360 degrees and special/lenticular effects (flip, morph, morph zoom, layered 3D). The HumanEyes 3D process has three simple steps: digital photography, processing by HumanEyes software, and printing using existing printing technologies. “We had no previous experience with 3D and were able to produce quality results in short order,” said one user. “The support is superb,” said a judge.

    KBA Rapida 205 Sheetfed Offset Press
    KBA North America, Inc. –
    www.kba-usa.com

    The Rapida 205’s high print quality and low makeready times take sheetfed press technology to an acme of productivity in a sheet size (59½ x 81 inches) that has never been printed before. Printers can replace two to four older presses with just one high-tech Rapida 205, and they can run paper and board stock ranging from 50 lb. to 64 pt. The press features a fully automatic plate changer, automatic blanket and impression cylinder washing systems, inline anilox coating, and drying options like IR, UV, or hybrid. As one user commented, “The press has differentiated us from our competitors by showcasing how we can handle this press’s unique extra large format abilities and provide customers with products they didn’t know they could afford.” “The technology, an engineering benchmark, is packaging friendly, but it gives offset printers a way to go after the large-format market,” observed a judge.

    Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) Color Flow Custom Tools
    Kodak Polychrome Graphics –
    www.kpgraphics.com

    This modular color management system reliably automates color management operations from capture to output. Especially friendly to upstream creatives, the system uses a Photoshop plug-in as a profile editor. Users can edit profiles and then put them into wherever ICC profiles are stored in the production system. The primary component, the Color Fidelity Module, mathematically converts color from one space to another. Other components include ColorLock Calibration, Device Link Profiles, a Color Adjuster Utility, and Spot Color Tables. Said one 40-year veteran of the graphic arts, “Nothing we’ve ever used has been as steadfast with color as the Matchprint Professional Server [which uses the KPG Color Tools]….it’s a relationship building tool that opens the door to new ones.” According to one judge, “This technology eliminates the bottleneck of having only one person who can handle ICC profiles.”

    MAN Roland TelePresence
    MAN Roland Druckmaschinen AG –
    www.manroland.com

    This remote press diagnosis system enables MAN Roland’s Rapid Response Team experts to troubleshoot any press, monitor the press system’s vital signs in real time, and provide detailed error reports that map out the historical performance of the press. A feedback loop also looks at productivity as well as problems. Easily implemented, TelePresence uses a web camera and communication via standard Internet technology. The system is available on any MAN Roland 300, 500, 700, and 900 sheetfed press, and it can be retrofitted on any post-1995 MAN Roland press. “This is a true 24/7 service,” said one customer. “This technology puts the remote diagnostician right in the pressroom, shoulder to shoulder, with the press operator,” said a judge.

    Maratek Environmental Inc.
    The Solvent Saver—Solvent Recycling System
    www.maratek.com

    The Solvent Saver System distills waste blanket wash to produce solvent reusable back on the press. Solvent is purified using a multistage distillation process, automatically separating clean water and solvent. A blending system then combines the distilled solvent with water and additives. The blended product can be used instead of fresh chemistry, and the distilled water can be discharged to the drain or reused on press. One user reclaimed over 90% of waste sheetfed blanket wash solvent for reuse; another realized a 95% reduction in press wash waste-hauling volumes. As several judges observed, “The payback is here, and it really works as advertised.”

    SigmaLine
    Müller Martini Corp. –
    www.mullermartini.com

    This comprehensive series of trimming, collating, stitching, and perfect binding equipment can be used singly or combined to provide a commercial-quality, fully integrated system for on-demand finishing. Digital printers can create short-run printed products in a single operation with speed, ease, and economies of scale not previously achievable. Besides providing the highest degree of automation, the SigmaLine components required no time-consuming prepress, no manual makeready, and almost no labor. As one user reported, “We can now bind up to 1,000 variable-size books per hour.” “Besides closing the loop in the digital world, it’s a solution for competing with lower labor costs in any part of the world,” said a judge.

    Pageflex, a Division of Bitstream Inc.
    Pageflex Storefront –
    www.pageflex.com

    This easy-to-implement software package helps print service providers with limited Web development expertise to access the variable printing market by making it easy for them to set up an online literature management and ordering site with document customization capabilities. The turnkey, server-based product has two primary components: Storefront Administrator, a browser-based tool used to set up the site, and Pageflex Studio, a desktop application providing layout tools with variable data and customization abilities. “It took us just one day to get it up and running, and that was without training,” wrote one user. The judges described the system as “elegant,” “user friendly,” and “amazingly powerful.”

  • PaperlinX to meet or better its revised forecasts

    PaperlinX is adamant that in spite of its recent highly publicised difficulties, it has tight strategic goals and a sustainable long-term future. The company guarantees that its fiscal results for the 2004-05 financial year, due for release on August 25th, will at least match or better the forecast delivered in April.

    Chairman David Meiklejohn attributes the company’s difficulties to general cyclical factors within the economy as a whole, including weak economic growth, paper selling prices in the region and the strength of the Australian dollar.

    Meiklejohn claims at the beginning of 2005 the company was confident that selling prices would improve and the Australian dollar would soften against the US. “This did not happen to the degree necessary to give the anticipated profit benefit in the 2005 financial year,” he says.

    Robert Eastmant from Industry Edge, publisher of Paper To Paper Edge, argues that PaperlinX’s share price was marked down too harshly following the fallout earlier this year. “Though the announcement was handled poorly by management, the recent statements bode well for PaperlinX coming in above expectations for the financial year,” he says. “Such a result also points to the possibility of much needed upgrades to its Maryvale Mill.”

  • Profits down, credit blows out – industry survey

    Key economic indicators including net profits, orders, production, sales, employment and overtime levels all deteriorated during the quarter. The printing industry is also living up to its reputation as a sector where clients are increasingly unwilling to pay up on time, with the number of outstanding debtors rising, a situation that is forecast to get even tighter over the September 2005 quarter.

    According to Hagop Tchamkertenian, manager of industry and commercial policy at Printing Industries, businesses are growing lax in the area of cash flow. “Because of current industry conditions, many companies are basically providing their clients with banking facilities in order to remain competitive,” he says. “Very few clients are paying within the 30 days, and this creates serious problems for printers – the longer they are left, the greater the chances of bad debts being incurred.”

    Despite the tougher conditions operators remain optimistic in terms of their general business expectations. “A significant improvement has taken place that implies businesses in the printing and associated sectors are more confident now about business prospects than they were 12 months ago,” said Tchamkertenian.

    Other important developments for the June 2005 quarter include:

  • Increased investment in plant and machinery
  • Finance easier to obtain
  • Labour availability deteriorated further
  • Increases across all cost categories
  • Reduced levels of raw material stocks
  • There is a significant blow-out on the critical issue of capacity utilisation rates, with 56.8 per cent of respondents operating at capacity levels of 70 per cent or over; down from 60.3 per cent last quarter and 61.4 per cent this time last year.

    Lack of orders were blamed as the primary barrier to increased production by 90.2 per cent of survey respondents, significantly up from the 80.2 per cent during the March 2005 quarter and slightly higher than the 88.2 per cent reported during June quarter 2004.

    Hope springs unfailing

    Respondents are optimistic the September 2005 quarter will be characterised by strong trading conditions, and expect it to yield the following results:

  • Net balance increases in orders, production, sales and net profits
  • Further falls in selling prices
  • Increased availability of finance
  • Reduced availability of labour
  • Increased employment and overtime levels
  • Further increases in all production cost categories – average wages, other labour costs, and average material costs
  • Declining stock levels
  • The trend of printing companies to invest primarily in equipment and technology was reinforced by the results. Over the next six months (September and December 2005 quarters) the respondents are forecasting increased investment activity in plant and machinery, but reduced investment activity in buildings

    Business expectations remain high across Australia over the next six months, with the most optimistic state being Queensland. The highest capacity utilisation rates were also reported in Queensland as well as in Victoria.

    In the product sectors, cheques and securities, labels and quick printing all enjoyed high capacity utilisation rates. Considerable levels of excess capacity exist in the book binding, desktop publishing, folding cartons, graphic reproduction, other packaging and paper converting, screen printing, greeting cards, calendars and diaries, business forms and continuous stationery sectors. With the exception of screen printing and folding cartons, which are expected to remain static and deteriorate respectively, improvements are forecast for the product sector over the next six months.

    Any one interested in obtaining a copy of the full survey report can contact Printing Industries. Hard copies of the report cost $15 for Printing Industries members and $30 for non-members. Electronic copies of the report are also available on request and cost $15 for members and $30 for non-members.

  • Heidelberg makes its push into packaging production

    The packaging production sector is to become a major target for Heidelberg, and is emphasized by the company as important part of its strategy to consolidate its recent return to financial profit.

    Heidelberg points to the continued process of globalization as the driving force behind the growth in the packaging sector, in particular to the emergence of China as a dominant force. These developments are expected to continue to place a strain on providers in traditional markets for packaging, and Heidelberg claims it will provide the machines to ensure commercial printers can remain competitive in this new environment.

    At a press conference in the German village of Wiesloch, Dr Juergen Rautert, board member for engineering and manufacturing at Heidelberg, confirmed the company intends to throw its full weight behind the push into the packaging sector. “It’s a part of the market that our competitors are very strong in, and it is one that we intend to use our unparalleled industry experience and technology to move into,” he said.

    Rautert also pointed to the emerging global markets as responsible for encouraging Heidelberg to extend its focus into the packaging production sector. “With the packaging capabilities of our new technology, we will be moving into expanding markets such as China, where packaging plays a very important role.”

    The first major signpost of the company’s new direction will be the Speedmaster XL 105, a peak-performance press redesigned from the ground up to meet the needs of the packaging and industrial print markets, and capable of printing at a speed of 18,000 sheets per hour. The Speedmaster XL 105 is due for launch in Australia next month.

  • Flint Ink and XSYS in US$2.6 billion ink manufacturing merger

    Under the auspices of private equity firm, CVC, the American-owned Flint Ink and XSYS Print Solutions, based in Stuttgart, Germany, have agreed to merge. The merged group will rank among the largest ink companies in every region it serves, with an employee base of 8,000 and combined revenues of approximately US $ 2.6 billion based on 2004 figures.

    Flint Ink is the largest privately-owned ink manufacturer in the world while XSYS Print Solutions was formed by the merger of BASF Printing Systems and ANI Printing Inks following their respective acquisitions at the end of 2004 by funds advised by CVC Capital Partners.

    Completion of the transaction remains subject to approval, where necessary, by regulatory and competition authorities, but is expected to be finalized around 30th September 2005. The new company will be jointly owned by CVC funds and the management of both companies.

    Dave Frescoln, currently chief executive officer of Flint Ink, will become CEO of the new group.

    Dr. Christian Wildmoser, Managing Director of CVC, commented: “By building the second largest ink manufacturer in the world, Flint Ink, XSYS and CVC are creating a stronger competitor better placed to serve customers in a fragmented market, where size is of critical importance for the success of the business.

    “We are continuing to globalise the businesses following the needs of our customers in the printing industry. The transaction will significantly strengthen the combined group’s positions in each of its core inks segments.

    “The two companies have a perfect regional fit with regard to operations in North America and Europe as well as a complementary product mix. Flint Ink’s presence in Asia means that the merged entity will have a strong presence in the world’s growth markets. The transaction puts the combined group in an excellent position to further drive growth to the benefit of customers, employees and shareholders.”

    Flint Ink has a major share of the local ink market with substantial manufacturing facilities on both sides of the Tasman. As this is breaking news these was no opportunity to seek management comment on the likely impact of the merger on the local market.

  • Kodak to slash up to 10,000 more jobs

    “Our disappointing start to the first half of this year makes it clear that I need to make some changes and make them now,” announced Antonio Perez, CEO who took over the top job in June.

    “Kodak is a company with product portfolios that are proceeding on two very different tracks. As sales of our traditional consumer products and services decline faster than anticipated, we are moving more aggressively to reduce cost,” he said.

    The $146 million loss comes on the heels of a net profit of $136 million last year. However revenue rose to $3.69 billion from $3.46 billion last year.

    Many of the job losses will be in the traditional manufacturing plants and will cost Kodak $2.7 billion to $3 billion, up from expected charges of $1.3 billion to $1.7 billion announced originally. The rapid decline in film sales, the company’s traditional cash cow, is making it more difficult to service these costs as well as the charges of its switch to digital technologies.

    In the emergent heavily digital company, manufacturing assets, including plants, factories and other equipment will be cut to around $1 billion, compared with $2.9 billion in January 2004. Perez said the new cuts would save the company about $800 million on an annual basis.

    At the same time, Kodak says its digital efforts are succeeding. Second-quarter digital sales increased 43 percent, and digital revenue in June exceeded traditional film revenue on a monthly basis for the first time.

    In Australia Kodak has already closed its Coburg film manufacturing plants and is currently consolidating its diverse workforce following the takeover of Creo. At PacPrint, Garron Helman, managing director, Kodak Graphic Communications Group Asia Pacific said he did not expect to shed many jobs in the region, although he made it clear he would be looking for synergies and improved costs.

  • CAB Audit confirms PacPrint as the printers’ show

    The audited results released this week confirm the fall-off in numbers with this year’s show attracting 19,543 visitors, showing around a nine per cent drop in the number of total visits. However, if the numbers were down the quality stood up with CEOs, company owners and managers accounting for 43 per cent of visitors.

    Most of the visitors came from Victoria (13,637 – 69.8 per cent) with NSW supplying the largest interstate showing (2,640 – 13.5 per cent). A total of 729 New Zealanders made the journey over the Tasman.

    The large showing of designers at PacPrint is taken by organizers to demonstrate the changing face of the industry, but it appears that the traditional manufacturing sectors still dominate with very few (550) of the designers identifying themselves as working in web production.

    The five-day show could have been shorter with over half (54 per cent) of the visitors turning up on Wednesday and Thursday.