Archive for December, 2014

  • Issue 671 – 22 December 2014

    Whew! What a year that was. The transformation of the printing industry continued apace with consolidation and closures being the defining characteristics. There are certainly less commercial off-set printers now than at the start of the year, even as the number of smaller digital shops continues to grow.

    We’ve seen some big names bite the dust while others have gone from strength to strength. Not too much in the way of new technology, although the choice of digital mid-range engines has never been larger.

    Here are some of the highlights of 2014. We’re off for a well-earned.

     Merry Christmas and best wishes for a Prosperous New Year.

    You are one of more than 7000 industry professionals across Australia and New Zealand reading Print21.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor

  • 2014 – The Year in Review

    2014 was a big year for the printing industry in Australia and New Zealand, filled with moment and movement. Printing volumes held up even as the number of off-set printing establishments fell. Rumours of the death of print proved highly exaggerated… again.

    Here are some of the highlights of 2014.

    January 2014:

    CMYKhub picks up Snap Queensland hub deal

    Snap Franchising has named national trade specialist CMYKhub as official manufacturing partner in Queensland. CMYKhub stepped up following the closure of Snap’s Queensland hub in December last year, with the appointment announced at the opening of a brand new dedicated digital site supported by Snap Gold Partner of eight years, Konica Minolta.


    Anitech “on track” after CEO Pratt walks away

    Barely a year into his role as CEO Stephen Pratt walks away from the Anitech top job. The sudden departure throws the reins to Pratt’s management team and acting CEO Henrik Thorup, who vouches it is ‘business as usual’ for Anitech. Pratt’s brief but turbulent stint saw job cuts and branch closures across the country, in a complete company operations overhaul. A successor has yet to be named.


    New Look for Printing Industries president

    High-profile industry leader and CEO of Look Print, David Leach steps up to the bar as the new president of Printing Industries Association of Australia. A firm change-agent and long-time community advocate, Leach tells Print21 he looks forward to the challenge of creating a dynamic vision for the future and shaking things up a bit for 2014.


    February 2014:

    Australia Post’s ‘Trojan Horse’ has bolted, says PIAA

    Printing Industries has come out swinging as the ACCC rubber-stamps Australia Post’s 17% price rise on mail, from 60 cents to 70 cents, raising concerns for CEO Bill Healey. Healey warns the potential consequences for the printing industry, labeling the move a “Trojan Horse” to sneak through further hikes on bulk mail rates which Australia Post does not have to refer to the ACCC.


    EFI aims for further growth as local market revives

    New hires reflect increasingly buoyant customer response, making Frank Melozzi’s Australian trip a breeze. Coming off the back of a stunning global result, EFI’s Australian business is gearing up for more business in the Australian market. After posting a record US$728 million revenue in 2013, the digital technology provider is hiring new personnel in Melbourne.

    EFI aims for further growth as local market revives

    Aussie printers buy up local Signwave rights

    Two local print owners have gone all in and bought up the Australian master franchise rights to international graphics group Signwave. Dean Rowland and Leo Baker get into the driver’s seat, determined grow the business’s local footprint and provide better support for franchisees.

    1st Komori HUV ink trials held in Sydney

    Komori is conducting extensive trials of its new HUV offset ink before entering the battle with the two other Japanese ink suppliers, Toyo Ink and T&K Toka to supply the rapidly growing local market.  The first printer to trial the new ink in Australia is Rawson Graphics, the dynamic commercial printer that merged ArtVue into its operations last year.


    March 2014:

    $700 million merger of Blue Star & IPMG is set to create a mega printing business

    Australia’s largest printing company will emerge from the marriage between the printing operations of the Hannan and Selig family businesses. The two companies with facilities all along the east coast are set to merge by the end of May.

    Ipex 2014 Farewell – Celebrating the London show at Print21 ANZ party

    Andrew Price and Andy Vels Jensen, the well-known Aussie PaperlinX UK management duo, were among the guests at the Print21 Australian & New Zealand party near the end of the London show.

    While the turnout for the event was not up to the levels of previous Print21 Ipex barbeques, around 40 industry types turned up to celebrate the survival of the show.

    Kodak pulls the pin on Heidelberg plate deal

    Kodak runs the play, ending its five-year Heidelberg plate deal to go direct. Local Kodak top brass Steve Venn reveals he made the call to cut ties with Heidelberg as a distributor to nail down a competitive edge for the business. The move is predicted to kick off a fierce price war among rival suppliers.

    April 2014

    Heidelberg points finger at Kodak

    Heidelberg bites back as Kodak walks away from its five-year exclusive plate partnership in Australia and New Zealand. Heidelberg was sent its marching orders in January, but claims the split has been on the cards for some time and points the finger at Kodak “product issues” losing business for the German offset press manufacturer.

    David Fuller calls in the undertakers

    It’s official! Focus Press is now in liquidation. Corporate liquidators, Worrells Solvency and Forensic Accountants, are winding up the company and preparing to dispose of the remaining assets, including the Matraville, South Strathfield and Illawarra sites. The fate of the Canberra site is still unknown.

    Kia Silverbrook dumps name as business gets thrashed

    The Silverbrook name vanishes from the annals of the industry as famed Australian inventor makes a last-ditch switch when research company collapses. Silverbrook Research, birthplace of the revolutionary Memjet technology, made a name-change to the innocuous Worldwide Specialty Property Services on the same day that administrators were appointed to finally lay the troubled business to rest.

    May 2014:

    CMYKhub powers up with new eight-colour perfector

    Trade print specialist CMYKhub picks up another Ryobi 920 eight-colour LED-UV perfector, its second in just under a year. The state-of-the-art new press supes up the trade network’s Queensland manufacturing plant, more than doubling its capacity to deliver on tighter-than-ever deadlines.

    Anitech proves a drag on results of equity investor HGL

    Tough prices, decreased activity from customers and the difficulty in maintaining product differentiation all contributed to a dismal financial performance for wide-format supplier Anitech.

    Mark Shergill to save 50 Focus jobs

    Focus Print Group is up and running under hands-on owner Mark Shergill, who says he hopes the business will create as many as 50 jobs. Shergill says he wants to save as much of the old Focus Press company as he can and that his focus right now is on working with customers.

    June 2014:

    Blue Star and IPMG merger is called off

    A step too far for industry consolidation as the Selig and Hannan families pull back from the brink of creating Australia’s largest printing company. Too many uncertainties and the potential costs of rationalising up to seven sites with all the disruption that entails in redundancies and transferring of equipment weighed against the benefits of the proposed $700 million merger.

    Heidelberg buys out Gallus and secures Swiss shareholder

    Gallus owner Ferdinand Rüesch cashes in its remaining shares in the Swiss label and folding carton suppier for an anchor stake with Heidelberg. In a landmark trade-off, Heidelberg picks up 100% ownership of Gallus while the share swap deal leaves Ferdinand Rüesch as its single largest shareholder, controlling 9% of the German press giant.

    STI Lilyfield in the bag for Blue Star

    The t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted on the Blue Star buy-out of Sydney’s iconic Lilyfield business from German STI Group. The official handover is now set for June 30, as Blue Star gets serious about boosting its wide format and point-of-purchase (POP) offering with further investment in new equipment and process tipped for the coming months.


    July 2014:

    HK printer buys $51 million Opus debt for $20 million

    Fire sale of CBA debt ‘provides financial stability’ following Opus $35 million loss after tax for the six months ended 31 December 2013. 1010 Printing Group has emerged as the effective owner of the heavily leveraged Opus Group by paying the Commonwealth Bank $20 million in due debt and standing in as the troubled company’s senior debt  provider for the remaining $31 million that falls due in 2016.

    Currie Group turns 65 years – meet the man at the helm

    In running a business, as in sailing a boat, only so much can be learned from books; the rest relies on sense, instinct and experience. Mostly it is a measure of character. It is 45 years since David Currie stepped aboard his family’s business, 65 years since his father, Bill Currie, first set up as a printing engineer in Melbourne, and 21 years since Bill passed away.


    CMYKhub powers up with a HP Indigo 10000

    Trent Nankervis installs Australia’s fourth HP Indigo 10000 press to boost capacity in short-run, high-value print to meet the expectations of its print industry customers.

    The premier ‘for trade’ supplier made over $2 million investments in the Melbourne facility following a survey of its reseller customers that identified a market for such items as high-quality digitally printed short-run A4 landscape perfect bound and saddle-stitched booklets as well as A2 size jobs such as point-of-sale posters.

    August 2014:

    Five new Heidelberg presses stoke offset revival

    ‘A return to the industry status quo,’ is how Richard Timson describes the surge in offset press investment over the past two years.

    Top of the range offset presses going in to commercial and packaging printers  will boost productivity in a sector that cannot be serviced by digital technology, according to the managing director of Heidelberg Australia and New Zealand.

    Family firm offers $200K for Media Options against debts of $3.3m

    The remarkable acceptance of a bid by Sureprint, owned by related parties, for the failed Sydney business, in the face of a competing bid, has caused outrage from creditors and the other bidder alike.

    Sureprint is run by Amrit Chandra, the sister-in-law of former owner of Media’ Options owner, Bhaskar Datta.  Together with another family-controlled business, Sydney Print Hub, it has been operating the Media Options business under licence from the administrator, Veritas Advisory, since it went into administration owing creditors $3,325,500.

    Age has not wearied them – LIA 50th Anniversary

    In 1974 Warwick Roden and Kevin Thomas were two junior members of the inaugural committee of the LIA when it grew from the genesis of the Lithographic Club, founded in 1965, in Sydney. They were both speakers at the 50th Anniversary dinner in Silverwater.

    Age has not wearied them – LIA 50th Anniversary

    September 2014:

    Two-speed PrintPost – same service costs more

    Nine days for magazines to travel from Melbourne to Sydney – is this the future of Australia Post’s two-tier system for publication post?

    How many days does it take for a magazine to be delivered under the new PrintPost regular delivery service? Well, for the September issue of Print21 it can take more than seven working days to travel between the two capital cities.

    Perfectly Bound ties up loose ends of TLC Print Finishing

    It’s hardly a perfect solution for Samantha Rogers but the owner of long established Sydney print business, Perfectly Bound, Michael Smith has come to the rescue of some of the creditors of the failed Sydney print finishing business by buying the remaining equipment and business assets.

    Media Option creditors knock back $200K offer

    Rejection of a phoenix-like resurrection opens the way for a CMYKhub offer to buy the failed Sydney printer but there’s no word from the administrator. The ongoing saga of failed Sydney print business Media Options took another twist last week when a panel of creditors voted to reject the offer from the family-connected Sureprint.  Run by Amrit Chandra, the sister-in-law of former owner of Media’ Options owner, Bhaskar Datta, the company had put forward a bid to take over the business leaving behind  over $3 million in bad debts.

    October 2014:

    Australia’s biggest digital printer – On Demand – goes into liquidation

    Bruce Peddlesden pleads ill health as Michael Wu, Ability Press, leads a team of On Demand senior management in operating the Port Melbourne-based business under a service agreement. A new company, Production Print (Aust) is running the business under an agreement with On Demand but whether it continues will be subject to the decision of Bent & Cougle, the liquidator.

    Australian Paper restarts anti-dumping action.

    New CEO, Kunihiko Kashima, looks for a reversal of proof to make anti-dumping cases easier to prosecute. According to an interview in industry bible, Pulp & Paper Edge, he maintains that re-evaluating Chinese pricing levels for copy paper suggests a ‘new application will this time be successful.’

    Yoshiharu Komori bows out as his company posts impressive profits

    Going against the gloom in the results of other offset press manufacturers, Japanese-based Komori has come good with an increase of 32% in sales value to end its financial year with a profit of US $132 million. The bounce back into the black after six years of red ink is a significant valediction of the tenure of Komori san, who retired as President of the eponymous press manufacturer in June. He remains as Chairman and CEO.

    Yoshiharu Komori bows out as his company posts impressive profits

    Memjet tears up Rapid’s inkjet agreement

    Australian pioneering developer cut off from developing and manufacturing Memjet-powered narrow-web inkjet label presses in a shock, seemingly arbitrary, business manoeuvre by US private equity owners.

    Memjet, the US company that in 2012 acquired the patent portfolio of Sydney-based Silverbrook Research relating to MEMS-based inkjet digital printing, has terminated its OEM partner agreement with Australia’s Rapid Packaging Services. The agreement has three more years to run until 2017

    November 2014:

    Starleaton keeps Rapid customers printing

    The ongoing stoush between Australian label press manufacturer, Rapid, and Memjet, the US-owned corporation selling the micro-inkjet printheads, has resulted in local printers running perilously short of supplies.

    PMP prepares for heat-set takeovers & megers

    Region’s largest printer is back in the black as a result of concentrating on doing what it does best – printing and distributing retail catalogues. Declaring a return to profit and signalling the company will be debt-free by 2017, a remarkably rejuvenated PMP is not only preparing to give money back to its shareholders after next year in dividends and/or share buybacks but it’s building a war chest for the upcoming consolidation battles it expects to see take place in the high-end heat-set web market.

    Michael Wu wins the battle for OnDemand

    Ability Press and Miracle Bookbinding owner buys On Demand business from liquidators through Production Print (Australia), the company that was running the operation under license since Bruce Peddlesden gave it away due to ill health. He is the majority shareholder and sole director of the new company, which will trade as OnDemand. Other shareholder in the new company are former managers at On Demand; Con Maniatis, Tim Farrell and Andrew Elia.

    Michael Wu wins the battle for OnDemand

    December 2014:

    Two years behind schedule but Benny Landa is confident of selling Nanographic presses at drupa 2016 – exclusive interview with Andy McCourt.

    Paper price rises in response to falling Aussie $

    From a high of more than parity with the US dollar to its current 82 cents the falling. Australian currency is pumping price rises into many parts of the economy and paper is no exception.

    Most papers imported into Australia and New Zealand, even those from Asia, are priced in US dollars. Prices from the mill gate are at historically low levels, which give the paper manufacturers no wriggle room when Australian merchants come asking for relief because of a weaker local currency. The inevitable result is paper price rises to printers.

    Paper price rises in response to falling Aussie $

    Allclear gets Brisbane’s 2nd HP Indigo 10000

    A new generation is setting its own expectations about how printing businesses are put together and what is the right technology mix to grow the market. Collaboration and synergy are the key words in the strategy for the partners of Allclear printing in the Brisbane suburb of Yeronga. The three working partners  – Anthony De Stefani, Jason Milligan and Damian Bresnehen  – are developing a printing business, now called Allclear Print and Signs, which is expanding well beyond the original offset business bought ten years ago.


  • It’s official – GAMAA and VISA are in merger talks

     The two major supplier organisations are exploring ‘models of working together, one of which is a possible merger.’ As first reported here at Print21, talks are underway that may result in a radically changed landscape for the graphic arts industry.

    Following preliminary discussions, Mitchell Mulligan, President of GAMAA, and Mark Tailby, President of VISA, have officially announced that both associations are in the preliminary stages of exploring models of working together.

    Exploring synergies: Mitchell Mulligan.

    “It is early days, but GAMAA members have given their support for the two associations to enter into discussions around the possibility of merging,” said Mr. Mulligan. “This is one scenario that we are considering as there are many synergies between the two associations that point towards a closer relationship.”

    Mr. Tailby said, “We also have the support of our members to progress the discussions with GAMAA around the notion of a merger. There are many steps to take before we reach the end point, and both associations are currently undertaking due diligence.” In a joint statement the Presidents agreed that working more closely together was a positive move for the industry.

    “Associations need to reflect the changing face of the industry. GAMAA and VISA are both working towards a sustainable future vision for the print and sign communications sector and this vision may well be strengthened by a combined effort.”

    The two organisations have grown from very different backgrounds. GAMAA (Graphic Arts Merchants Association of Australia) was formed in the 1970s as a loose gathering of merchants, almost a ‘luncheon club’ where mutual interests and the state of the industry could be addressed. Only later did the Association become engaged in the activity for which it is best known, organising and running trade shows such as PacPrint and PrintEx, in conjunction with the Printing industries.

    VISA (Visual Impact Suppliers Association) is a younger organisation formed in the early 1990s with the specific aim of running trade shows and exhibitions for the signage industry. On its website it relates its origins as … Visual Impact Trade Shows began in the early 1990s after a group of supply companies became discontented with the trade show of the time, which was run by a profit making company. This company would dictate when and where our Trade Shows were to be held. Under the guidance of David Saunders and supported by the owners of three of the larger suppliers, the Sign Suppliers Association was formed, a not for profit organisation now known as the “Visual Industries Suppliers Association” (“VISA”). The association has grown from 6 members at its inception to over 100 in 2012, and has continued to run very successful trade shows all over Australia.

    The move towards consolidation on the supply side is a reflection not only of the economic pressures facing the industry but also the convergence of technology. The advent of digital imaging has created a commonality between previous distinct sectors of the graphic arts. Unified workflows have made it easy for producers to output the same graphic file across many different formats.

    Consolidation is a major force among printing companies as well, with continuing mergers and takeovers reducing the number of standalone firms dramatically. For instance there are now approximately 2000 offset-plate printing companies in Australia, down from over 7000 in at the start of the century.

    Discussions and expressions of interest in getting together have also come from Printing Industries with the Packaging Council, although not much progress has been reported. This year GASAA (Graphic Arts Services Association of Australia) merged with Printing Industries. 2015 is likely to see further consolidation from all sectors of the industry.

  • The potential of personalised packaging –­ Nessan Cleary @ Print21 magazine

    Digital printers are increasingly targeting the label and packaging markets with quite a few available or just about to launch.

    The great strength of digital printing has been its ability to handle very short runs, not something that you’d immediately associate with labelling or packaging, which are normally characterised by very long runs. But there are many different strands to packaging and printer vendors are actively looking at all of these now, partly because digital printing is now handling longer runs than ever before, and partly because packaging runs are often split into shorter run versions, but mostly because packaging represents the biggest opportunity in printing right now.

    For now most vendors have concentrated on labelling and in the last couple of years a lot of digital label solutions have become available. Carlo Sammarco, business manager for packaging solutions at Screen Europe, says that the main issue for people is the cost of the ink which is quite expensive compared to conventional inks on a flexo press. He explains: “People focus on the amount of ink and the cost of that ink but they forget the additional cost that you have such as making plates. If you are using the same substrates then you could gang jobs together and print multiple jobs with no makereadies or set up cost and time.”

    Screen has developed its first digital label printer, the L350UV, which can produce 50mpm or roughly 1,000 labels in a minute. It prints white followed by CMYK, with LED pining between the colours, followed by a main cure from a conventional lamp.

    It uses Kyocera KJ4 printheads, which should last from one to four years. However, it’s an engineer call out to change the heads, though Sammarco says that Screen can train the operators up to engineer level for some remote sites.

    There’s a corona unit though in practice Sammarco says that its only needed with certain substrates such as tamper-proof materials. It also has a very short path that uses roughly eight metres of substrate when changing rolls, which is an important consideration given that the substrates could cost more than the ink.

    Marc Tinkler, senior manager for business development of Epson Europe’s industrial printing division, argues that there’s more to digital printing than just shorter runs. He says: “You could order jobs less frequently and try to do something more interesting. You could have events where you personalise a label, say on a wine bottle. Or a food product which might have a recipe on the back. If you could vary that recipe label by label so that there was a variety of labels then you have added value through the label. So the ability to vary labels is quite interesting.”

    Epson, EFI, Durst and Domino

    Epson launched its first label printer, the Surepress L4033AW just over three years ago and has some 120 installed worldwide. It uses water-based resin inks that will work with most conventional label stocks. But it uses several passes to print each label, limiting it to just 5mpm at 720dpi resolution.

    The customer base is mainly established label converters and commercial printers looking to diversify as well as a handful of end customers. Tinkler says that it’s really designed for very short runs of just 100 metres or so but adds: “But they are also used for runs of a few hundred metres where quality is key or they are using something special like textured label substrate or where there are really high value labels.”

    Epson has also demonstrated a second label press, the SurePress L6034VW which uses UV inks and takes a fairly standard approach with the roll fed continuously past the heads. It’s fitted with Epson’s PrecisionCore printhead, which has a native resolution of 600x600dpi and will be slightly faster at around 15mpm. This is still in beta testing with commercial launch due for early next year. Tinkler says there’s a place for both: “UV is great for durability but the water based ink has huge capability in terms of quality and how it looks on certain materials like textured paper.”

    EFI has had considerable success with its Jetrion range of inkjet lable presses. The latest of these is the 4950LX, which has LED curing for all four colours plus the optional white channel. It has a much higher resolution and speed than other models, running at 33mpm at 720x720dpi and 48mpm at 720x360dpi. It takes a 350mm wide web printing up to 330mm wide. There are several inline finishing options, including laser die cutting, varnishing and lamination.

    Durst has developed the Tau 330, a UV label printer sold in both 200mm and 330mm widths. It uses Xaar 1002 printheads with resolution up to 720 x 1260dpi. The basic model prints in CMYK but there are options to add orange, violet and white. It takes standard label stocks from 100 to 500 microns and films and foils up to 20 microns. It runs at 48mpm, though this drops to 37mpm for the highest resolution. There’s also a version that comes complete with an inline laser die cutting system from Spartanics.

    Domino has developed its N-series label printers, with both the four colour N600i and the more recent N610i that takes up to seven colours with the addition of white, orange and violet. Both use Kyocera printheads and can run at up to 75mpm. Both take a web width of 340mm and use UV inks that will work with most standard label stocks.

    HP Indigo still dominant

    HP still has the largest slice of the digital label market, having been selling narrow web versions of its Indigo liquid toner printers for some years now. The latest of these is the ws6800, which can run at up to 30mpm with four colours with 40 m/pm EPM & 60 m/pm 1 or 2 colours. As with all Indigo printers, it can take up to seven colours, but because the colours are laid down one a time, each additional colour slows the press down. However, this uses HP’s Enhanced Productivity mode to create colour images from CMY, which runs at 21mpm. It takes media up to 330mm wide and up to 350 microns and has an inline priming unit so that it can work with standard substrates though the priming will add to the cost of those substrates.

    Xeikon has been a leading player in the digital label space with its dry toner technology. This has a major advantage over the Indigo presses in that it can handle a wide range of substrates without any special coating. Recently Xeikon has been showing off a faster press, the Cheetah, which it claims is 60% faster than its other models. It’s designed for use with self-adhesive and pressure sensitive label stocks from 40 gsm to 350 gsm. It uses CMYK plus white. It can run at up to 30 mpm with a resolution of 1200 x 3600 dpi. It takes a standard web width of 330mm.

    Allen Datagraph Systems has built two complete benchtop label printing systems that both use LED toner printing and work with standard stocks. The iTech Axxis HS has a 216 mm print width and prints at up to 7.6 meters per minute with 1200 X 600 dpi resolution. There’s a larger printer, the iTech Centra HS, that takes substrates up to 330mm. It runs at speeds up to 9.1mpm. Both come with a finishing unit that can laminate and contour-cut labels of any size and shape on-demand using knives.

    A number of the smaller label printers have used Memjet printheads. These systems are very fast and relatively cheap to buy but they use water-based inks and therefore will only print to a coated label stock, which limits the materials available and pushes up their cost. The latest of these is the Colordyne CDT3600, which uses Memjet’s Aspen printhead. This can run at 69mpm at full colour resolutions with up to 1600 x 1375 dpi. It includes a laser die cutting system. It’s also possible to update the core subassemblies as new technology becomes available.

    Hybrid flexo presses

    There are quite a number of hybrid presses around, with most narrow web flexo press vendors now actively trying to incorporate some level of digital printing. There’s an obvious advantage in that you only need to buy one machine. But it could be argued that you have to run all the jobs through that machine, whereas dedicated solutions would make it easier to separate out the short run work and squeeze the most profit from each job.

    Heidelberg has demonstrated its new label press, the Gallus DCS 340, having recently acquired Gallus outright. It uses Fujifilm Dimatix printheads alongside two flexo units and a flexo varnish unit. It prints in eight colours – CMYK plus orange, violet, green and white and runs at 50 mpm with a resolution of 1200 dpi. This should be available later in 2015.

    FFEI has developed the Graphium, which is built on the chassis from a narrow web flexo press from Edale. Thus the Graphium press has a 410mm print width so that although it’s been billed as a label press it could potentially satisfy a number of applications. It can be used as a standalone digital press but can also be integrated with multiple flexo units for a hybrid solution. It uses Xaar 1001 printheads and will run at a maximum speed of 50mpm at a resolution of 180x360dpi. It’s sold through Fujifilm and uses Fuji UVijet UV curable inks.

    Mark Andy has also launched a hybrid press, the Digital Series, based on its existing P7 press. It uses UV-curable inks with in-line flexographic printing modules including metallics, various converting options and cold foil. It has a 336mm web width and runs at up to 76mpm. It uses CMYK plus orange, violet and white and has 600dpi resolution. It includes a corona unit and will handle pressure sensitive paper and films from 25 to 356 microns.

    Digital beyond

    While labels can be considered as the low hanging fruit, many vendors are now turning their attention to other areas in packaging. The biggest slice of the market is corrugated printing, which Ronen Zioni, marketing director for HP’s Graphics Solutions business in Europe, estimates to be worth $91bn globally overall, with digital able to reach $1.5bn worth of this business.

    Thus HP has developed two corrugated solutions. The first of these is the Scitex 15000, which has been adapted from its high production FB10000 wide format flatbed. The 15000 can run at up to 600 sqm/hr and is meant for very short runs of just a few hundred boxes.

    But HP has also adapted its T400 Inkjet Web Press, developing a T400 simplex that can print in CMYK direct to corrugated. This can produce around 12,000 sqm/hr. It’s a web fed device, with a web width of 107cm. It uses HP’s 1200 dpi thermal printheads, with water-based inks and a bonding agent for handling uncoated substrates. The first one has been installed at a packaging printer in the Czech republic and HP is planning on several more sites in 2015 while it learns the market but Zioni says that it will be 2016 before the company really starts to push it.

    HP has also developed two versions of its B2 Indigo platform to target different parts of the market. Thus the 20000, which is due to be launched in Australia in Q2 2015, is aimed at flexible films while the 30000 targets folding carton. Both use the standard Indigo approach of taking up to seven colours. The 20000 can produce 31mpm in four colour mode and takes films and paper from 10 to 250 microns. The 30000 can print 3450 B2 sheets per hour and takes paperboard from 200 to 600 microns

    HP has worked with a number of other vendors to develop complete lines that will work with these printers. This includes AB Graphics, with its Digicon 3000 for converting pressure-sensitive labels and flexible packaging films and Tresu, which has demonstrated its iCoat 3000 with the Indigo 30000, which is capable of using both UV and aqueous varnishes.

    Canon also has turned to liquid toner technology for its Océ InfiniStream. This is a large B1 web-fed simplex printer aimed at the folding carton market. It can handle standard offset cardboard substrates up to a thickness of 600 microns. There’s a separate print tower for each colour and each print tower includes an LED bar that writes a latent image to the imaging cylinder, plus an inking system that adds the liquid toner to that cylinder. The image is then transferred first to a blanket cylinder and then to the substrate so that all the colours come together directly on the substrate before fixing.

    It runs at around 120mpm and can produce up to 14,400 B2 or 7,200 B1 sheets per hour. Canon claims that it will be competitive against offset for runs of up to 4,000 B1 sheets.

    The first unit is currently being beta tested at a German packaging printer, Joh. Leupold GmbH. Bernd Assmann, Managing Director of Leupold, says that he looked at this to counter falling run lengths and increased versioning, adding: “Brand owners are requesting shorter turn-around times and faster campaign execution, as well as waste and cost reduction.”

    The digital packaging market has yet to take off and we are bound to see more presses announced in the next couple of years. Fujfilm, for example, has demonstrated its Jetpress F, a derivative of the Jetpress 720 that uses Dimatix print heads with a hybrid water-based UV inks, that’s designed to handle folding carton. Landa also is due to start beta testing its first nanographic presses shortly, including a B1 press configured for folding carton applications.

    Digital technology has gained a firm foothold in the label market and is likely to grow from here. Several vendors report that customers have asked about running thin films through their label presses and some vendors are clearly thinking about developing wider versions to address the flexible films market.

  • Two years behind schedule but Benny Landa is confident of selling Nanographic presses at drupa 2016 – exclusive interview with Andy McCourt.

    At drupa 2012 the printing world was bedazzled by the showing of the first all-new technology to hit the market for decades – Landa Nanographic Printing. The promise, revealed in Düsseldorf was for faster, cleaner, more colourful and cheaper digital printing; delivered in show-business style by master presenter Benny Landa himself – the progenitor of all modern digital printing via his Indigo digital offset invention, later sold to HP who still enjoys stellar success with it.

    Following a virtual lock-down period as Landa’s team has worked around the clock to re-engineer the presses and get ready for the next drupa, in June 2016, Benny Landa opens the hatches in this exclusive interview with industry analyst/consultant Andy McCourt. 

    For over two decades, his name has been a consistent feature in the development of modern digital printing technology. He’s now into his second round of disruptive invention; having cashed in and sold the wildly successful Indigo to Hewlett Packard in 2002.

    He reaches out; he talks directly like a real person and not in mystical corporate-speak; he puts on great shows, literally with song and dance as we saw at drupa 2012. But behind the razzamatazz there is Benny the businessman; Benny the inventor and holder of over 800 patents; Benny the thinker. He’s a team player but a leader too. In 2012 he set targets for the commercialization of Landa Nanography that he has failed to meet. But, there’s never been a new technology delivered on-time; as the poet Robert Browning wrote, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

    Development is admittedly well behind schedule and involves a major re-engineering of the Nanographic presses he showed in 2012. He has also re-focused on the target markets, brought in a new minority investor, German chemical firm Alanta, while deepening his partnership with Komori, which is not only a licensee but also supplier of the press’s sheet transport system. He continues to partner with EFI for the front-end while adding a conventional UV coater in finishing and AVT for print inspection. After USD$250 million in investment and over 1,000 man-years of sweat, here is Benny Landa opening up as only he can; forthrightly, honestly, pragmatically but still with that showman’s glint in his eyes.

    A McC: Let’s start with the Nanographic technology – a major engineering makeover of the Landa S10 B1 sheetfed has just been announced with its weight rising from around 10 to 30 tonnes and length to over 17 metres. How will this affect the pricing projected at drupa 2012? Will TCO still be similar?

    BL: Landa shares its pricing with its LOI (Letter of Intent) customers but not with the public so I can’t offer specific details. However, I can confirm that the attractiveness of the TCO (Total Cost of Operation) and BEP (Break Even Point) vs. offset is maintained with our new, larger Landa S10 press.

    A McC: The Landa S10 press is looking more like an offset press in proportions: – is most of the additional 20 tonnes in Komori paper handling?

    BL: Yes, the main reason for the weight increase is the enhanced paper handling system as well the addition of the coating unit. You could conclude that our press offers the brains of digital and the brawn of offset.

    “We will emerge from drupa 2016 leading the market.” Benny Landa

    A McC: The focus seems to be on the Landa S10 press – is this because it will be ready for market before the other LDP models?

    BL: Following drupa 2012, we evaluated our priorities based on the needs of our LOI customers. Two things were readily apparent: the first was that our customers are interested in the wide B1 (40 in. / 1050mm) platform used by the Landa S10, W10 and also the 560mm W50 press. The second was that sheetfed is a high priority for the market. These two aspects led us to focus on the Landa S10 press as our first product.

    A McC: With the addition of an optional UV coater – is this unit a non-Nanographic one using available technology? Or does it use a clear Nano-Ink?

    BL: The coating unit on the Landa S10 press is a standard analog unit that uses standard coating materials.

    A McC: The market focus of the Landa S10 press appears to favour single-sided packaging, particularly folding cartons. Is this correct or will we also see a double-sided Landa S10 press for general commercial printing at drupa 2016?

    BL: The first Landa S10 will be a single-sided press focusing on the folding carton, litho-lam and POP/POS markets. The double-sided Landa S10 will be our second press and will serve mostly commercial printers. We will exhibit both products at drupa 2016

    A McC: The new delivery-end ‘cockpit’ looks impressive…will this also feature on the S5 (B3) and S7(B2) models?

    BL: The Landa S7 and S5 presses are further down our roadmap and I am not able to share more information about them at the current time.

    A McC: It looks like the web models, like the Landa W10 press, retain the giant touch-screen on the side of the press – is this the case?

    BL: Our teams are currently evaluating the industrial design of the Landa W10 and W50 presses and we will update the market when appropriate.

    A McC: The Landa W10 and W50 presses look to still be reel-to-reel machines. Is there progress on inline converting, particularly for labels?

    BL: As I mentioned before, we are currently looking at all aspects and specifications of the Landa W50 press. We will update the market when we are able to be more specific.

    A McC: The Nano Ink cmyk gamut is far beyond the offset one and yet there is still an option for +OVG, making seven colours – do you envisage that, for the packaging markets, the 7-colour configuration will prove to be more popular, as it has done for HP Indigo?

    BL: We expect that the Landa 7-color system will cover 85% or more of the Pantone space. The customers and brands with whom we have already spoken are confident that our 7-color solution will be good alternative for the special color system used today with offset and flexo presses.

    A McC: Will all LDP models be released for sale simultaneously or will we see a staged approach as each one ramps up into production?

    BL: Landa is taking a staged approach for releasing our presses. This will ensure that our presses meet the expectations of our customers and that the products are mature when launched.

    A McC: The recent 100 million Euro Altana investment is interesting; can you reveal what percentage of LDP Altana now owns?

    BL: Landa is still a privately held company and we do not share this level of detail regarding the ownership of the company. I can share that Altana is a minority investor.

    “Our press offers the brains of digital and the brawn of offset.” Landa S10 single-sided press for the folding carton market.

    A McC: Why Altana?

    BL: ALTANA is a leading vendor through their divisions BYK (additives and instrumentation), Actega (coatings) and Eckart (metallic pigments) and possess a wealth of worldwide manufacturing expertise. Since they are not direct competitors with Landa or its other partners, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

    A McC: Altana is a speciality chemicals company…do they see cross-benefits to them in LDP’s Nanotechnology R&D or is it purely an investment in printing?

    BL: Altana is confident that Nanography is a game-changing technology that can enable the printing industry to thrive in the 21st century. In addition, Altana sees this investment as a starting point for a long-term strategic partnership in which synergistic collaboration between Altana and Landa can lead to further developments for the printing industry.

    A McC: Will Altana’s manufacturing expertise be put to use in setting up NanoInk manufacturing plants?

    BL: Altana offers a lot of manufacturing expertise that we will put to use. We are committed to providing a continuous supply of ink and blankets from our facilities in Israel and we plan additional ink plants for the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.

    A McC: Could, for example, Altana’s Eckhart technology provide metallic effect capability to LDP machines?

    BL: This is just one possibility. There’s no real need to speculate as I cannot confirm any concrete plans at this stage.

    A McC: Is it likely Altana will increase its investment in LDP, or that you will invite other investors in?

    BL: Right now we have the investment that we need to meet our commercialization plans and do not intend to seek any third-party financing.

    A McC: At drupa 2012, LDP took a sizeable number of 10,000 Euro deposits on presses…what is the retention rate of these advance orders like?

    BL: Overall the number of deposits has been stable since drupa. While some customers have dropped out, new customers have taken their place.

    A McC: Looking forward to the first beta presses in 2nd half 2015: will these be S10 models, and where geographically will they be installed?

    BL: Yes, the first betas will be for the single-sided Landa S10 press. They will be located in Israel, North America and Europe.

    A McC: On partner OEM incorporation of Landa Nanographic technology…is the list of press manufacturers still as it was announced at drupa 2012?

    BL: Our partnership with Komori has progressed at an excellent pace, deepening over time. One key reason is that Komori has been able to meet the high levels of financial and other commitments which we require of our licensee-partners. Not all OEM’s are presently able to make such financial commitments, especially in light of their own business challenges. Perhaps, as the market improves and there is a turnaround in the fortunes of press vendors, we will be able to expand the list of active licensee-partners.

    A McC: We saw amazing scenes on LDPs 2012 booth with standing-room only, queues and outside broadcasts – it’s likely this will be repeated at 2016. Will all of LDP’s resources be inside Messe Düssseldorf or do you think a press will be operating at a nearby printer for site visits?

    BL: Though our detailed plans for drupa 2016 are not yet final, we do expect very high levels of customer interest – which is one reason we nearly doubled our booth size. Although we will have presses at customer sites well before drupa, it’s too early to tell whether it will be possible to host such site visits.

    Andy McCourt interviewing Benny Landa at drupa 2012

    A McC: It is understood that the road to commercialization of radical new technology takes quite a while; how do you feel about being 100% ready to go-to-market by June 2016 when the doors of the show open?

    BL: It goes without saying that, having gone through it with Indigo, we are fully aware of the challenges of bringing new technology to market. Nanography has already been over ten years in development and indeed there are still challenges ahead. However, the pieces are all in place: a great robust core technology, very strong market demand, an extraordinarily talented and committed team and the financial resources to go the course. We are therefore confident that the challenges will be met and we will emerge from drupa leading the market.

    A McC: Will you be presenting the shows yourself again Benny?

    BL: I love presenting our technology to customers and I certainly look forward to doing so at the next drupa as well. But you know, when it comes to drupa, there are always surprises; drupa 2016 will be no exception.

    A McC: Many thanks, Benny Landa.


    Landa has also published a blog on his corporation’s website. It’s well worth reading with strong reassurances such as:

    “Though not yet perfect, we are getting close, very close. Close enough, in fact, to start showing full-size B1 (41 in.) print samples to our Landa S10 customers. Close enough to start building a world class sales and service operation…”


    “That isn’t to say that we are home free. 2015 will be challenging. There is still so much to do. We plan to be in full beta in the second half of the year. We are blessed with the most amazing team of talented, dedicated people committed to making it happen… so it will happen.”

    And the sign-off: “And for what? For making digital printing mainstream. That’s what it’s all about.”



  • Issue 670 – 16 December 2014

    No one fascinates the printing industry like Benny Landa. The father of digital printing is as near as we come to having a Star! Now he’s on the come back trail, but can he do it again?

    You’re one of more than 7000 industry professionals across Australia and New Zealand reading Print21.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor.

  • 40 years selling paper; 27 years publishing calendars – it’s a dog’s life

    There was a time when the printing industry was recognized for producing calendars to give to its customers at the end of year, but few printers or suppliers carry on the tradition. KW Doggett Fine Paper is a notable exception.

    2015 is looking to be a dog of a year for the company, in the best possible way. Entering its 40th year in the paper business it’s using its iconic calendar to mark the occasion featuring, to no one’s surprise – dogs!

    An email was sent to the merchant’s Victorian customers, asking for a bio and pic of their dog. There was only one criteria – their pooch had to be abandoned, then rescued and adopted

    The company has donated money to Pet Rescue Australia in honour of their customers’ pets. From the 200 entries, Marta Roca from Four&Sons, a popular online and international print publication about dogs, along with two students, Caroline Beard and Anthony Stevens from RMIT, along with photographer James Geer, picked 12 photogenic mutts. The result is a year of canine portraits that take their cue from fashion photography, with each image capturing something unique about the dog.

    “When we set up to shoot – on camera – 12 dogs in one single day, it somehow sounded like madness, even for a gang of four-legged fanatics like us! Maybe the hounds could smell that they were surrounded by big devotees, maybe the treats helped, maybe we were just plain lucky. Or all of the above. Whatever the reason, magic just happened! We couldn’t have asked for better models,” said Roca.

    According to Catherine Doggett, marketing and sustainability manager, the 2015 calendar is one of the favourites so far. “We are pretty nuts about dogs and this calendar certainly lets them shine.

    “Every year I think they can’t possibly top the last, but Marta, James, Anthony and Caroline have produced a truly beautiful piece. Surprisingly, most of the dogs were at ease in front of the camera – testament to their new, loving owners.”

    Over the 27 years the calendar has been made, K.W.Doggett Fine Paper has collaborated with many people, mainly students, in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. The calendar, personally delivered to customers by K.W.Doggett Fine Paper representatives, is always hotly anticipated.

    This year’s edition is printed UV offset on Strathmore Super Smooth Ultimate White 176gsm and the cover is Rives Tradition Poison Black 250gsm, featuring a screen printed title. A credits page lists a photo and story about each dog and their owner(s).

    Customers are encouraged to use #underdogs2015 when posting pictures of the calendar on social media.

    Those following the company’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages get the chance to win one of 10 calendars being given away. Competition opens on Monday 15 December 2014.

    The calendar cover was screen printed by STS Creative Printers with the text pages printed UV offset by Immij. The whole was bound by Marvel Book Binding.


  • Paper price rises in response to falling Aussie $

    From a high of more than parity with the US dollar to its current 82 cents the falling Australian currency is pumping price rises into many parts of the economy and paper is no exception.

    Most papers imported into Australia and New Zealand, even those from Asia, are priced in US dollars. Prices from the mill gate are at historically low levels, which give the paper manufacturers no wriggle room when Australian merchants come asking for relief because of a weaker local currency. The inevitable result is paper price rises to printers.

    Spicers is first out of the gate in the current round with a reported rise of between 6-9% to take effect from the 15 December. Already customers have received a letter explaining the reasons why it’s necessary.

    According to Ken Booth, general manager Spicers, it’s not only currency depreciation behind the rise but also the continuing increase in the cost of inputs. “Yes, of course, the dollar is the main reason but it’s not the only one. There is the normal cost of doing business, of wage rises. They keep going up,” he said.

    He maintains there is no room left for any part of the supply chain to absorb costs. “Over the past three to four years we’ve stripped every cost we could from the business. There is nothing left but the bare bones, the minimum that can be sustained without damaging service levels.”

    As the lead price setter Spicers has already received feedback from its customers. Booth maintains the majority of printers are understanding of the price rises, their main concern is that the relativities in the marketplace remain the same.

    Simon Doggett, managing director of family-owned KW Doggett, says he should really move prices at the same time but because it is so close to Christmas he’s holding off until Monday 2 February. “I’ve been landing stock at the devalued rate for weeks now. The pressure is intense and by February we’ll have to move. ‘Til then we’ll have to swallow some position,” he said.

    He says there is no room to re-negotiate prices for the big commodity stocks with mill gate prices at their lowest in 20 years.

    Tony Bertrand, BJ Ball, is another who recognises the big impact of the falling dollar on paper prices. “When’s it ever a good time to raise prices? We’ve seen contract prices, especially from Asia, lift by ten percent in recent times. There is no room to negotiate,” he said.

    BJ Ball is predicting a price rise also in February with the exact levels still to be determined. Bertrand is keenly aware of the need to maintain printing as a competitive form of communication. “We have to do all we can to keep printing as an attractive method of communication in the face of competition from cheaper, electronic forms,” he said.

    As to whether the price rises will damage print’s competitive position in the communication matrix, Tim Wood, industry analyst and director of industry bible, Pulp & Paper edge, claims these price hikes have the potential to resolve the issue once and for all. “Will print buyers alter their ordering because the price rises by this much? Personally I don’t think so. I think buyers will continue with their plans,” he said.

    “If there is no fall in demand for paper as a result it will expose the wrong thinking behind cost competition in the industry. Perhaps it’s not the best way to go after all.”



  • Issue 669 – 10 December 2014

    Paper price rises are a heath check for the state of the printing industry. Printers are hard wired to regard them as damaging but there is little evidence that print buyers are put off by real-world justified increases. We should remember that a healthy and sustainable paper merchant sector is essential to the well being of the industry. Selling print or paper solely on the lowest possible price does no one any good.

    You are one of over 7000 industry professionals across Australia and New Zealand reading Print21.

    Patrick Howard

    Publishing Editor

  • Allclear gets Brisbane’s 2nd HP Indigo 10000

     A new generation is setting its own expectations about how printing businesses are put together and what is the right technology mix to grow the market.

    Collaboration and synergy are the key words in the strategy for the partners of Allclear printing in the Brisbane suburb of Yeronga. The three working partners  – Anthony De Stefani, Jason Milligan and Damian Bresnehen  – are developing a printing business, now called Allclear Print and Signs, which is expanding well beyond the original offset business bought ten years ago.

    Their latest investment is the second B2-size HP Indigo 10000 in Brisbane (the first went into IPG) from the Currie Group, which joins two existing HP Indigo 5500s. It catapults them into the front line of technology with a significant expansion of production capability.

    When De Stefani and Milligan first bought out the original founders of the 15-year old Allclear business, there were six employees and under a million-dollar turnover in the small commercial printing operation. The two had worked together since apprentices in Image Studio in Brisbane.  To De Stefani it was an inevitable step to look for his own business and when the opportunity came he asked his mate to join him.
    “I really wanted to have a crack. I knew I could do it and Jason was just as keen,” said De Stefani.

    Dividing the sales and operation responsibilities between them, their main assets were ambition, a willingness to risk a lot and an energetic drive to grow the business. They later invited Bresnehen, a former supplier with his own business, to bring his wide-format expertise and contacts into the mix. Then the redoubtable Leo Moio of PMG fame became the fourth member of the group.

    “We were doing OK and I was looking for opportunities.  I phoned Leo after missing out on the Moore business here. I knew we needed a national footprint. We had some discussions, he came up to see us and liked what he saw,” said De Stefani, who is the public face of Allclear.

    The eclectic mix of skills, talents and connections that make up the company’s owners is reflected in the technology strategy, which relies heavily on the Currie Group. Paul Roberts, Currie Queensland manager, has been closely linked to the company’s developments over the years.

    They were the main ‘go to’ supplier for Allclear when the company began to grow. Currie Group delivered the A2 four-colour Shinohara press and ECRM CTP for the first expansion, and followed through on the subsequent HP Indigo installations.

    “I liked it that Currie was Australian owned and that David Currie was always there on the end of the phone,” recalls De Stefani. “He gave me the opportunity where some of the others wouldn’t.”

    The drive to grow the business and extend the product offering is at the core of Allclear. For instance, the wide format business is not only producing print but also operating its own signage team that looks after sites as far north as Gladstone.

    A new generation of Brisbane professionals: Damian Bresnehen, Anthony De Stefani and Jason Milligan.

    The factory at Yeronga, the third premises in its history, is growing rapidly, taking over the building next door, building a new warehouse out the back with imminent plans for further expansion. There is an almost tangible air of enterprise between the three working partners.

    With six salespeople on the road, including De Stefani taking the lead, the number of jobs going through the business has doubled in recent times. Like everyone else they are battling the ongoing slide in the price of print that De Stefani reckons is down 15-20% over the past five years. “The technology makes it easier. Where we used to do 30 jobs a day, now we’re able to do a lot more than that,” he said. “We win more than we lose.”

    Since the HP Indigo 10000 went in last month it has produced record numbers of throughput. It has fitted smoothly into the production mix where there is little discrimination between the choice of technologies. It’s a question of what capacity is available, not whether it is offset or digital. Turnaround is everything.

    The three working partners at Allclear represent a new generation of print entrepreneurs. They care little for the traditional accolades of the industry, never enter the awards or attend industry events. Focused intently on their own business and its future, they generate a creative response by working together, setting and meeting their own expectations.



  • Blue Star looks to Heidelberg for ISO certification

    After meeting ISO standards in printing unofficially for many years Blue Star in Victoria decided it was time to use its press supplier’s qualification to make it official.

    According to Neil Pratt, prepress technical support manager in Victoria, Heidelberg’s certification delivers an independent assessment on processes and officially verifies the site is printing to the international standard.

    “We’ve been printing to the ISO standard for the past six years and are confident our processes are robust, but until now we’ve never been independently assessed. Heidelberg is qualified to undertake official ISO audits and we felt it worth our while to attain official certification,” he said.

    Printing to the standard: Brad Hoffmann, GM Blue Star Victoria, Neil Pratt technical support manager and Dierk Wissmann Heidelberg product manager for prepress, CtP and digital

    Heidelberg’s ISO certification service is dedicated to the print and proof processes and focuses in particular on achieving reliable print results by combining state-of-the-art technology. The press manufacturer helped Blue Star Victoria achieve ISO12647-2 Graphic Technology – Process control for the production of half-tone colour separations, proof and production prints.

    Having all parts of the process, CtP, proofer and printing press in proper working order and adjusted for best performance is essential for certification to succeed, said Dierk Wissmann, product manager for prepress. “ISO requires that both proof and press sheets conform, within tolerances, to the values specified in the 12647-2 standard.”

    Pratt pays tribute to Hanno Van Dyke who worked closely with the team in the certification. “He is the key colour management specialist, and knows our processes inside out. We achieved a ten out of ten result in our final assessment which is gratifying for everyone involved,” he said.

  • Local printers pick up most PIXIs in regional comp

    Australia dominated the 7th annual  PIXI (Printing Innovation with Xerox Imaging) awards that recognise the most outstanding and innovative users of Fuji Xerox solutions in the Asia-Pacific region including Australia, China with Hong Kong and Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.