Archive for September, 2015

  • China deal threatens Australian packaging industry

    'Such an unbalanced deal': Innes Willox, CEO, Ai Group

    A leading employer group has warned that the China Australia Free Trade Agreement could ruin Australia’s fibre packaging industry, which makes cardboard packaging and corrugated boxes.

    Innes Willox, CEO of Australian Industry Group (Ai), the main employer body for the manufacturing sector, told the federal Joint Standing Committee on Treaties that the trade deal could see the local industry facing almost $1 billion of Chinese imports over the next four years.

    Australian companies could start to make the strategic decision to move manufacturing to China, as this is the business model currently being rewarded under ChAFTA, he said.

    In a written submission, Willox told the federal committee he had ‘significant concerns’ with the imbalance of tariff reductions under ChAFTA:

    One entire industry, the Australian Fibre Packaging Industry, expects to face a significant increase in competition from Chinese competitors selling to Australia at zero tariffs from day one, while it has no scheduled tariff rate reduction for selling its product into China under the current terms of ChAFTA.  Australia has a globally competitive packaging industry that currently exports to the world, including China, and it is already facing significant pressure from imports.

    According to a report released by IndustryEdge, Australian imports of pre-converted corrugated boxes have grown at an average rate of 10.6 per cent per annum for the past ten years. Chinese imports have dominated the market for more than a decade, in both volume and market share, according to the same report.  In 2014-15, annual imports from China were 20.9kt, making up 69 per cent of total imports. China/Hong Kong has been the source of 82 per cent of the increase in total imports in the last decade. Using the lost tariff revenue data provided by the Parliamentary Budget Office, we estimate that the local industry can expect to face almost $1billion of Chinese imports over the next four years.

    Given these statistics it is difficult to understand why our negotiators accepted such an unbalanced deal. With the anticipated lost tariff revenue we are effectively providing the Chinese Packaging industry with a $58 million subsidy over the next four years. The Pulp, Paper and Converted Paper Product Manufacturing industry employs 14,900 Australians, and supports many more jobs in its supply chain. Based on the ChAFTA outcome, Australian companies could start to make the strategic decision to move manufacturing to China, as this is the business model currently being rewarded under ChAFTA. 

    ChAFTA is now before parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties for review.


  • Spiffing intelligent print – Print21 magazine

    'All about innovation': Shadi Taleb, director, Intelligent Media.

    ‘Spiffy’ means attractive, intelligent, smart and that’s just what Melbourne’s Intelligent Media has encompassed with its SPIFF rating system for DM print. Substrate, Personal-isation, Ink, Fold and Functionality. But there’s more to this innovative firm, formed by a stockbroker and ad-man, as Graham Osborne reports in the latest Print21 magazine.

    “Nothing will ever replace the experience a person gets from something they can hold in their hands and touch, feel, smell, taste – all of those things that you can’t get from a TV screen or a digital screen or an iPad or an iPod or whatever else you want to put an ‘i’ in front of,” says print evangelist Shadi Taleb, director of savvy Melbourne digital print house Intelligent Media.

    “With the stuff we make, the idea is that they grab it, they hold it, and we work very hard on trying to make it functional so they can keep it and the brand will continue to do its job. The functionality means people will be likely keep it around for a long period of time. Ask any customer, ‘What does it mean to you to have your brand sitting on a person’s desk for six months?’”

    Intelligent Media has grown rapidly in just four years by delivering innovative personalised digital printing options to government agencies and large corporations. Since partnering with Southern Colour at the beginning of 2014, Intelligent Media has been able to expose itself to blue chip companies, offering a more holistic solution to their sales and marketing strategies.

    “Being able to spread our wings and introduce ourselves to these customers and show them things that we could do really opened up a new world for us and we’ve kind of popped from that.”

    The HP Indigo Digital Press 7600

    In late 2014, Intelligent Media moved into bigger premises – around the corner from Southern Colour – adding to its already state-of-the-art tech line-up:

    • HP Indigo Digital Press 7600, (upgrading to a 7800)

    • Horizon finishing line comprising: CF-400 cover/folder; CR-400 creaser/trimmer; AC-400 accumulator; SPF-200L stitcher; HOF-400 feeder; SC-200L foredge trimmer; BVS barcode reader

    • Horizon CRF-362 Creaser and Folder

    • Horizon BQ-280 PUR PUR Binder

    • Horizon RD-4055 Rotary Die-cut system

    • DAEHO i780 paper cutter guillotine at 780mm cut width

    “We now have the best machines in the world thanks to Currie Group, who have been absolutely sensational,” he said. “The support I get from Currie and HP has been amazing and instrumental in our ability to be able to grow. On a service level they’re fantastic. They don’t muck around when it comes to making sure we’re getting the maximum output out of the machines.”

    Taleb is optimistic about the company’s future but acknowledges the industry is facing a challenging time. “It’s no secret that traditional printing material has contracted considerably but I’m extremely optimistic about the future. Our approach is all about innovation. I believe that side of the industry is going to grow and grow aggressively. The industry is at a crossroads now where the skillset required to manage a successful printing company relies on leaders that think outside of what was previously known.”

    A financial conversation

    The ex-stockbroker believes his experience outside the industry has served his print business: “One of the things that worked against us to begin with, which now works for us, is that none of us that were from a printing background. I was an options trader or stockbroker and my number two, Allan Fox, was creative director at an agency – a designer, essentially. So we had a different perspective. I think it has been an advantage to come from outside of print because we were able to approach it from a different perspective – it’s not just ink on paper. Our success stems from the success of the collateral we produce.”

    “In my stockbroking days life was pretty fast before I met my now-wife and found that finance wasn’t really a life conducive to a young couple trying to settle down. So I created a company that focused on managing variable costs for businesses in the hospitality sector. We called ourselves efficiency brokers and managed their liquor, their insurance, their cleaning products, gas, electricity, telecommunications and their print.”

    “At first we were outsourcing the print but then we bought a Fuji Xerox 5000 and started doing a little in-house, nightclub passes and so on. It was working well.”

    Looking at XMPie

    “In 2008 we happened to be visiting the Czech Republic at the same time that drupa was on in Düsseldorf. I decided to take a drive over the border and have a look. I went to the Fuji Xerox booth and discovered XMPie variable data and was really blown away. The whole idea behind that level of personalisation injected into a digital print piece really got me thinking. The opportunity for growth was going to come from commercial print with a focus on adding value to customers’ marketing collateral.”

    Taleb held regular brainstorming sessions with creative director Fox to throw around ideas and map the path forward for their embryonic boutique print firm. “We were very innovative and coming up with different ideas and ways to fold paper and incorporate personalisation and customisation into print but we were unknown; we hadn’t broken into the market yet. We became very focused on paper engineering. We did a lot of research on origami. We did a lot of research on different industrial designs and not just in print. So, we thought: we’ll add dimension. And that became the way we marketed ourselves. We became known, essentially, as paper engineers, focused on delivering an experience to the end user that would make them feel special, that would encourage interactivity with the brand as well as producing high quality general commercial print.”

    Taleb also produces a regular print innovation DM piece for agencies, encompassing the company’s SPIFF rating system. “We came up with an acronym that we use, to score things that we do. SPIFF means that we are studying the Substrate, Personalisation, Ink, Fold and Functionality.”

    The chairman of HP user group Dscoop Australia seems genuinely surprised by the speed of his company’s success and says he’s taking nothing for granted. “The business has grown year on year quite significantly for the past four years. We’re still a small business but we’re growing at a rate that we’re comfortable with.”

  • Issue 745 – September 30, 2015

    Hybrid label presses have been around for years, mixing flexo and offset, screen and letterpress. Label production by its nature is a complex, often hugely sophisticated operation that involves many processes, such as coating, embossing, varnishing and security coding. But just because you can add a digital print engine to the mix, doesn’t mean you should. There are ten digital hybrid presses at this year’s Labelexpo in Brussels. They’re addressing a very small sector of the market, somewhere around five percent. How many will still be doing so in two years time is a very pertinent question for anyone looking at the possibilities.

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

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor

  • Gallus claims double-digit orders for new DCS 340 digital press at Labelexpo 2015

    First showing of a sales-ready model at Labelexpo by the Swiss label press manufacturer reinforces its future as a fully-owned Heidelberg company.

    Heidelberg gets into digital label printing by way of the Gallus DCS 340

    Leading the charge of up to ten hybrid digital presses at the largest ever label exhibition in Brussels, new look Gallus unveiled its inkjet/flexo web press powered by Fujifilm Samba heads. The new press will be the first to be sold through the Heidelberg sales channel, with the company claiming that more than ten buyers have already laid their money down.

    The press launch is the culmination of the buyout last year whereby Ferd Ruesch, iconic label industry figure and owner of Gallus, sold his remaining equity in the Swiss company to reputedly become the largest single shareholder in Heidelberg. That became the catalyst for the worldwide integration of the Gallus business into Heidelberg. The Australian Gallus company is the first to make the move with managing director, James Rodden, moving into the Heidelberg HQ in Notting Hill before Christmas.

    In addition, the manufacture of the majority of Gallus press parts will henceforth be done by Heidelberg at its Wiesloch plant in Germany. According to Klaus Bachstein, CEO Gallus, the integration of the two companies is progressing smoothly with both sides respectful of the others specialised expertise. He maintains the creation of the first digital Gallus press could not have happened without the Heidelberg connection.

    With two test models already in the market, the DCS 340, is also the first Gallus machine to use the Heidelberg Prinect digital front end. It is notable for the Gallus converting system too, being one of the few digital engines at this Labelexpo that features production from reel to die-cut labels in a single pass.

    Digital label production is the overwhelming theme of this show where the organisers are promoting 230 new product launches. Figures bandied about the press room have it there are 52 digital presses at this 30th anniversary exhibition. Most major press brands such as Mark Andy and Nilpeter are showing hybrid inkjets even though it’s estimated that the combination of digital and conventional printing only addresses 5% of the market.

    There are many more standalone inkjet digital label presses on show, including new models from heavyweights such as Epson with its SurePress L-4030, Screen showing the latest model of its Truepress Jet L350UV and EFI with a new Jetrion. HP is a dominating presence at the show with its iconic Indigo 20000 in addition to its market leading WS6800. Xeikon is also notable with a high-profile presence.

    12% of all label presses are hybrids, but not necessarily digital: Mike Fairley.

    They are all riding the crest of a wave that sees digital, mostly inkjet, account for almost half of all label presses sold in Europe last year. At this rate digital is set to become the dominant label technology in four to five years.

    Labels and labelling is a market that is growing strongly throughout the globe at four to six per cent per year representing an industry of $80 billion. It is a complex manufacturing printing and converting process that is well on the way to becoming fully automated, especially the digital engines.

    The success of this Labelexpo both in terms of the number of exhibitors and in the first day crowds is testimony to the expansive nature of narrow web printing. Among the label press manufacturers there are some packaging narrow webs, such as Soma and the venerable KBA.

    No wonder the organisers are promoting Labelexpo as “the labels and packaging show.”


  • Australia Post loses $222m and its 2nd-in-charge

    'New career opportunities': Ewen Stafford, COO, Australia Post

    Australia Post lost its second-in-charge, chief operating officer Ewen Stafford, on the same day as the national carrier announced an unprecedented $222 million loss.

    Long-time COO Stafford, regarded as the right-hand man of Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour, resigned on Friday after five years in the job and will leave at the end of the year.  He’s the latest executive to resign from the postal group and follows the departure of Tracey Fellows to become CEO at REA Group and Richard Umbers, now CEO of Myer.

    Fahour announced Stafford’s exit in a letter to staff on Friday, shortly after revealing that the national carrier had posted its first annual loss in more than 30 years.

    “With regulatory reform now in hand, and with our Part of Tomorrow transformation moving into a new phase that will see us take our place as a leader in eCommerce, Ewen has made the decision to leave so he can pursue new career opportunities,” Mr Fahour wrote to staff in an email obtained by The Australian Financial Review. “I want to congratulate Ewen on his contribution to Australia Post and at a personal level thank him for his support, counsel and camaraderie over what has been an incredibly productive five years,” said Fahour.

    Earlier, in a statement, Fahour blamed a 10.3% drop in the posting of ordinary stamped letters in 2014-15 for a $222 million after-tax loss for the year, compared to a profit of $116 million the previous year.   Total losses in the mail business grew to $381 million. Group revenue remained stable at $6.37 billion, with parcels revenue up 3.6 per cent to $3.21 billion, for the first time delivering more than half of total revenue.

    Despite the loss, Fahour said the business had made ‘headway’ in reforming the letters service and transitioning to an eCommerce business model, which would include partnerships with leading Chinese companies.

    “Addressed letter volumes fell by 7.3 per cent, with ordinary stamped letters falling by 10.3 per cent, as Australians continue to switch to digital alternatives,” he said. “As we had forecast, this has been a challenging but crucial year of transition for our business, reflected in the numbers. We continue to make headway with reforming our letters business and we are investing in the infrastructure and digital capabilities – vital to servicing the changing needs of our customers. We are confident we have the resources, infrastructure and support in place to manage the ongoing transition of our letters business as we become a more eCommerce-centric organisation.”

    Fahour said investments in eCommerce delivered this year included: expanded major parcels facilities in Sydney and Melbourne, doubling processing capacity at both sites; significant growth across the MyPost product offering, including the Digital Mailbox, with two million subscribers now registered; $125 million pledged in annualised payments over the past two years, to support the sustainability of our Licensed Post Offices and Community Postal Agencies; continued rollout of the 24/7 Parcel Lockers network and the introduction of extended post office trading hours and Saturday deliveries; further development on key strategic partnerships with leading Chinese companies to help grow eCommerce trade between the two nations.

    Australia Post’s plan to increase the price of a stamp to $1 and raise bulk mail prices is now before the ACCC and continues to generate widespread opposition from the entire mailing industry.


  • Pact Group appoints Malcolm Bundey as new CEO

    'A very strong leader': retiring PACT Group CEO Brian Cridland

    Australia’s biggest plastics packaging manufacturer Pact Group has appointed Malcolm Bundey to replace long-serving managing director and CEO Brian Cridland, who will retire next year. Bundey is currently president and CEO of US-based Graham Packaging, a US$3 billion global rigid packaging company owned by The Rank Group.

    New Pact CEO Malcolm Bundey

    Bundey held several senior executive leadership positions for The Rank Group in both Australia and the US since joining the group as CFO of Goodman Fielder in 2003 and transferring to the US in 2007 to undertake M&A activity. In a statement, Pact Group said the appointment was effective 1 December 2015, following the relocation of Mr Bundey and his family from the US. Incumbent MD and CEO Brian Cridland will continue in those roles until 1 December 2015.

    Group chairman Raphael Geminder said he was delighted with the appointment.

    “We look forward to an exciting new chapter, as Pact Group continues its journey growing the business domestically and abroad,” he said. “Brian and I have had a great relationship over a long period of time, he is incredibly loyal and a very strong leader, with a tenacious focus on detail. I am thrilled with Mal’s appointment and very proud of our ability to bring home such a highly qualified and successful Australian executive. Mal has a unique and very diverse global packaging skill set, combined with an international overlay that will compliment and enable him to continue Brian’s legacy and lead Pact Group’s global aspiration and transformation.”

    Cridland managed the Pact Group business from the initial acquisition of the Industrial Products Division of Southcorp Packaging in 2002, through its successful $649 million listing on the ASX in December 2013 to now. Cridland will be retained by the organisation until April 2016, to ensure an orderly transition of leadership, before commencing his retirement.

    Bundey will be paid a $1.2 million base salary and will be able to double that amount if he meets incentive targets.

    Pact reported a profit of $67.63 million for the year to June 30, up more than 17% on the previous year. Revenue grew by 9.3% to $1,249 million, underpinned by new sales from acquisitions and favourable currency movements.

  • Finishing out wide – Print21 magazine

    Wide format finishing, as with offset and digital, is what turns a piece of print into a sellable product; it’s a vital part of the process. There are several finishing options, depending on what you want to produce and the effects you want to create. In the latest Print21 magazineNessan Cleary of Digital Dots presents an overview of technology options.

    Nessan Cleary

    Many wide format users tend to concentrate investment efforts on the printing process, which means that finishing can be something of an after-thought. Yet it’s the finishing that turns the printed sheets into sellable products, so it pays to know what options are available. This can best be summed up as laminating, cutting and welding or other forms of ‘joining.’

    Laminating covers both surface protection and bonding printed sheets/rolls to rigid boards. UV-curable flatbed printers capable of printing directly onto 50mm or thicker boards have reduced the need for bonding but it is still popular using roll applicators, particularly for lenticular traffic and safety signs.

    Protection of printed jobs is the widest use of lamination in wide format; either to give fade-resistance for aqueous dye inkjet prints, or to increase the outdoor durability of solvent or latex prints. There’s also a wide range of laminate films available with added effects ranging from anti-glare, anti-slip for floor graphics and anti-graffiti, to textures and finishes such as lustre, pearl and gloss.

    Hot or cold

    There has traditionally been a choice between thermal lamination, which relies on heat as well as pressure to activate the adhesives in the material; and cold lamination, where pressure only is used to force special adhesive to bond the layers together. Top of the range machines still have two heated rollers for encapsulation as well as laminating, but lately there’s been considerable emphasis on ease of use. These days most people opt for a laminator with a single heated top roller and use pressure-sensitive laminates with some heat to help activate the adhesives for a better bond, which is an easier set-up to work with.

    An interesting variation is the flatbed laminator, which is useful for adding laminate effects to rigid materials. The media stays still while a pressure roller moves over it. There are also liquid laminators which are suitable for applying UV- protective coatings for outdoor durability and for enhancing the finish of the print. Protection, bond and evenness using UV liquid lamination is first class and at a lower cost per square meter, but the machine itself costs considerably more than a roll film laminator. Liquid UV also has the advantage of coating and rewinding an entire roll of wide format graphics, with cutting taking place afterwards, thereby increasing productivity.

    Cutting tables

    Flatbed cutting tables, some adapted from other industries such as routing, gasket and leather-cutting, started appearing after the first flatbed printers came onto the market and they can cost almost as much. However, cutting tables are integral to getting the most out of flatbed printers and they are often sold together as a complete package. Manual cutting is a slow process and any mistakes mean the job will have to be reprinted. An automated table can be left to cut multiple identical shapes out of a complete sheet and can also add creasing or V-cuts to create folds for packaging or 3D items such as Point of Purchase (POP) display boxes. Optional camera systems mean that an automated table can pick up registration and cut marks and recognise sheets placed on the bed for cutting.

    There are two distinct classes of cutting tables. On one hand, there are several large, highly automated models capable of handling the largest sheet sizes up to five metres wide. Some of these use conveyor systems to help move the boards on and off the table quickly and can also handle roll-fed materials. At the other extreme, there’s a move towards simpler, smaller and more affordable cutting tables. Tandem modes, whereby the bed can be split, so that a board can be cut on one half while another board is loaded onto the other, can help improve productivity.

    An alternative to a cutting table is to use a CNC router (the CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control). It’s becoming harder to define the differences between routers and cutting tables, because the tables have gained increasingly powerful routing tools. They can now cut more difficult materials including thin aluminium. But equally, most routers now offer a good range of standard cutting tools and can handle materials such as cardboard and foamcore that might otherwise require a cutting table. Routers are still a better choice if you’re routinely cutting through heavier materials such as aluminium and steel. Such is the range of materials that can be cut with this technology that many companies have found that cutting tables and routers have taken them into other more industrial applications, such as cutting out switch panels.

    Another variation on the cutting theme is the cutting plotter, which is particularly handy for making labels and decals. Most are capable of different types of cutting, including through-cuts, perforations and kiss cutting, used to cut through the top layer of pressure-sensitive material, while keeping the carrier backing sheet intact. These are not particularly fast but most can be left running overnight.

    Print and cut machines, as the name implies, combine printing and cutting heads, saving the cost of having to buy a separate cutting plotter, but it does mean that the printer is tied up if you need it for cutting and vice-versa.

    Welding, sewing and grommets

    Another common requirement for wide format print is to add pockets or seams to printed graphics such as banners, so that they can be suspended using cable or cord. Banner production may also require eyelets for lacing onto a framework. There’s a choice of bench-mounted and hand held machines for this type of work and most will work with popular flexible materials from vinyl to synthetics as well as stiffer display materials such as Foamex.

    For textiles that have to be stretched and inserted into a frame, for instance backlit graphics; it’s increasingly common to use a sewing machine. A number of sewing machines are designed specifically to be easy to use for display work but one of the most popular adaptations is to use sail-making sewers as they can handle the large areas. Welders are available for use with banner materials such as PVC, PE plastic and synthetics as well as some for use with textiles. They use heat and are available in both automatic and semi-automatic variations and can weld three to six metres in one stroke.

    Finally, for textile production there’s a choice between flatbed and calendar heat presses to transfer dye sub prints to fabric under pressure. Flatbed heat presses tend to be cheaper but are slower to use. Calendar presses are better suited to faster production environments such as sporting and club apparel and a good calendar press is a wise investment as it can keep up with the output from several textile printers.

    There is no ‘one size fits all’ in wide format finishing so it is vitally important to determine what finished products are required before shopping for solutions.

  • Prepare for rapid transformation: PIAA

    Printing Industries has launched a new series of Future Print workshops aimed at helping printing businesses to navigate ‘the rapidly transforming industry landscape.’

    The Business Transition Workshops, jointly sponsored by Future Print and Media Super, will be run across the country in October and November and provide business owners and decision makers with “a clearer idea of what the future might look like and how they can prepare their business for the inevitable changes required.

    “There has probably never been a more challenging and exciting time for businesses in the print and graphic communications sector, but keeping your business financially healthy and sustainable requires constant change to keep pace with the rapidly transforming industry landscape,” said a Printing Industries press release.

    'Design a solid action plan': Richard Rasmussen, Ascent Partners

    The sessions will be run by Richard Rasmussen, a Future Print business advisor and principal of Ascent Partners Pty Ltd, a specialist industry provider of business appraisals, valuations, business sales and related consultancy services, and Bill Healey, immediate past CEO of Printing Industries and an experienced political, public sector and media executive who has been instrumental in the design, funding and establishment of the Future Print initiatives.

    Rasmussen says the sessions are designed for anyone who is contemplating change within their business, including those who are currently unsure which direction to take or how to effect the change required to achieve their professional and personal goals.

    “Whether you are looking to grow your business, make changes to improve its performance or plan to transition out of the business altogether, these seminars will provide a wealth of valuable information, resources and connections to help you assess your performance, decide on a future direction, and design a solid action plan,” he says.

    Over two and a half hours, delegates will look at: a range of information including the results of recent Future Print industry benchmarking against which delegates can assess their own financial performance, strengths and weaknesses; business transactions and equipment installations which will provide a clearer picture of where the market is headed, what sectors may be flagging and where new potential lies; and the methodology behind business valuation, including the drivers and potential risks, so owners can more realistically assess their options.

    “The aim is to help businesses decide on the best direction, whether that be further training and investment to strengthen performance, growth by acquisition or affiliation, mergers or franchise opportunities which can help strengthen market position, downsizing or rebranding, or realising the value of your business by preparing a successful exit strategies like business sale or management buy-out, and then to work out how they put that plan into action,” Rasmussen says.

    “Once we have a better picture of the industry and individual business performance and options, we’ll look at a range of case studies to see how other businesses are successfully transitioning to strengthen performance, take advantage of new opportunities or leverage the value in their businesses, which will help business owners see how these options can work in practice.

    “And, of course, we’ll be providing details of resources like Future Print financial benchmarking, subsidised training options, Future Print business planning and mentoring services, and a new, one-on-one, Future Print Transition and Succession Planning service.”

    October will see sessions in Sydney on 7th, Melbourne and Launceston on the 14th and Hobart on the 15th. In November, the team will move to Adelaide on 11th, Perth on 12th and to Queensland the following week, with sessions planned for Southport on 18th, and Hamilton and Brendale in Brisbane on the following day.

    To find out more, go to the Future Print website, or click here to book your place at a session near you.

  • Wheys and means to recycle – Brunner

    Maria Beatrice Coltelli, a researcher at the University of Pisa, uses whey granules to create a thin plastic film.

     We are very good at recycling in the graphics industry: paper and aluminium are widely returned to the supply chain to be used as raw materials in other products. And manufacturers such as Ricoh and HP have programmes in place to reuse components in printing devices. But these reuses are just that, reuse and not recycling of materials to create new raw materials for other supply chains. Creating raw materials from waste is a fundamental principle of the circular economy, so scientists are thinking creatively about how to use waste from one industry to create something new in another.

    Our favourite example of this idea is insulation made from sheep’s wool which is otherwise wasted. The wool based insulation’s 10% more thermally efficient than conventional materials. And it doesn’t collapse over time in the same way that ordinary insulation does. Printing and packaging companies probably care more about the creation of new materials, such as plastics from renewables or waste from other industries. Whey is one such possibility and it could have interesting ramifications for packaging printing and inks.

    Whey is produced as waste from cheesemaking, once the protein solids have been separated out. It turns up in protein rich processed foods, carbonated drinks and fertilisers. It’s actually pretty good for you as it contains both protein and healthy sugars and has long been used in baking. Now scientists in Italy have come up with a method to turn whey into plastics. The product has good mechanical properties and has promising prospects for use in packaging materials. It could even end up replacing polyethylene which has enjoyed a reign of over 50 years.

    Maria Beatrice Coltelli, a researcher in material science at DICI-UNIPI in the University of Pisa, uses whey granules to create a thin plastic film. The film can be layered with cardboard and aluminium to create a multilayered packaging material. This bioplastic is easy to recycle and is expected to eventually replace plastic film. “We have tested how simple it is to separate the layers – it’s important to recover the polyethylene, the aluminium and most of all the fibres, which are very useful in producing recycled cardboard,” said Marco Buchignani, head of paper quality control at Lucense in Italy.

    The use of bioplastics in packaging is undoubtedly progress towards improved environmental impact and recycling. The use of whey is also a clever means of recycling waste, however whey is already finding its way into other products. It is very high in protein and easy to add to foods and drinks to boost their nutritional values. The question of whether it is better to use whey for food improvements or packaging has yet to be addressed but it should not be ignored. Maybe the answer would be to create edible packaging. Now there’s a thought.

    –     Laurel Brunner

    Verdigris supporters who make the Verdigris blog possible include: Agfa GraphicsDigital Dots,  EFI,  Fespa,  Heidelberg,  HPKodakMondiPragati OffsetRicohShimizu PrintingSplash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.

  • Last chance for drupa night at the Opera House

    If you want to get all the behind-the-scenes news about drupa 2016, you have until Thursday this week to register for the only Australian briefing session next Wednesday 7 October at the Sydney Opera House.

    Printing Industries is organising the combined visitor/media briefing to give attendees a unique glimpse into what to expect from the world’s biggest printing industry trade show.

    Werner Dornscheidt, President and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf and Dr Markus Heering, Managing Director of the VDMA Printing and Paper Technology Associations and the VDMA trade association for Security Systems will each present on aspects of the exhibition during a whistle-stop world tour – spending only one day in Australia.

    Travel and airline information will also be available and all attendees will receive specially prepared drupa information packs.

    The speakers are also expected to provide an insight into how the exhibition is re-positioning itself through the inclusion of innovative new technologies affecting almost all aspects of print including traditional print, functional printing, packaging production, multichannel, 3D printing and green printing.

    The cocktail style briefing will be held in the Utzon Room at Sydney Opera House from 6-8pm on Wednesday 7 October. Attendees must pre-register by Thursday 1 October via this link.

    drupa will be staged in Düsseldorf, Germany from 31 May to 10 June 2016.

  • Final 15 winners in Spandex giveaway

    Bridgette from Signcraft, NSW is $400 better off with the Bunnings vouchers

    Spandex has drawn the final winners of Bunnings gift cards worth $400 in the Spandex-Arlon ‘Get Handy’ promotion. A total of $12,000 in ‘Get Handy’ vouchers have been awarded. The following sign and display customers will be receiving their vouchers (2 x $200 each) this week: 


    Adelaide Signs


    Stikas N Stuff


    Plastic Printing – Trading as Ink Sign

    Digital Signs & Printing

    Integrity Sign & Film Design


    Globe Sign Company

    Kick Solutions

    PVP Signs


    Industrial Art Sign Co.

    Amazon Design & Print

    Total Fleet Imaging


    Digi Marketing Corporate

    Around Australia Signs

    Forte Signs

    “Congratulations to all of our winners, totaling 30 altogether,” said Nathan Barclay, Spandex Marketing Manager. “All they had to do was place an order for Arlon material over $200 so it’s a nice way for us to put something back into the industry with little effort. Our thanks to Arlon for their great cooperation. Keep a look out for future competitions!”

    Edward Lim of Emergent Designs, NSW is happy with $400 to spend at Bunnings

    Tony and Peter Gardner of Signarama, West Burleigh, Qld - $400 to spend at Bunnings.

    Spandex is one of the world’s leading trade suppliers to the sign making and display industries. The company specialises in the sales, distribution and support of digital printing, cutting, routing, and laminating systems, serving over 30,000 customers in more than 15 countries.

  • PrecisionCore projects Epson into new printing paradigm

    The Japanese-based company is leveraging its ground-breaking inkjet technology across an ever-widening array of products from the label converting industry through to the photo and home printing markets.

    Unveiling the new P-Series large format printer from Epson, Craig Heckenberg, business unit manager and Jennifer Soros, marketing communications manager at the media launch.

    A sizeable turnout of journalists, ‘life-style bloggers’ and sundry other media types at the Park Hyatt in Sydney yesterday were treated to a comprehensive exposition of the latest in imaging technology from Epson. Long regarded as a pioneer in areas such as graphic arts proofing, photo printing and wide-format production, the company also has a major footprint in consumer electronics and home printing.

    Now it is engineering much of this diverse set of products into a single technology, powered by its own inkjet head, PrecisionCore. Since its release three years ago by primary inventor and president of Seiko Epson Corporation, the PrecisionCore micro thin film piezo (TFP) inkjet has revolutionised the industry. Being able to project ink with amazing accuracy in many different sizes, allows Epson to leverage its printheads into imaging arrays of different widths. This means that essentially the same inkjet technology that is powering the large industrial wide-format and label production presses is also behind the desktop printer in homes across the world.

    The advantage of being able to manufacture PrecisionCore inkjet heads for so many different products creates economies of scale and underpins ongoing R&D. It also reinforces the company’s belief in owning and producing all components in its production, from electronics to the inkjet heads, to the ink itself.

    As Epson rolls out an ever-broadening rage of products powered by PrecisionCore, the market is starting to realise the benefits of the innovative technology. Among the newly release products at the media event yesterday was a range of EcoTank printers for the home and the office. Delivering remarkable economy and quality, the arrival of EcoTank gives users an option to escape the high-cost of desktop printing ink cartridges. Equipped with an ‘ink tank’ it takes high-volume inkbottles that can last up to two years of regular printing (60002 pages in black and 6,5002 pages in colour). Output is of a quality associated with PrecisionCore and there are four models to choose from

    Addressing the commercial and industrial printing industry, Craig Heckenberg, announced the release of Epson’s new label press, SurePress L-6034VW. This will be first shown at next week’s Labelexpo in Brussels and is expected to boost the penetration of the label converting market in the region, adding to the four inaugural SurePress label presses already installed.

    SurePress-L-6034VW, new label press showcased at Labelexpo next week.

    There was also a showing of one of the new SureColor P-Series P8070 wide format printers. As the first new addition to the range in seven years interest in this printer is intense. The three different models feature a new UltraChrome HD ink set for an enhanced gamut over the previous industry leading HDR ink, a higher D-Max for blacker blacks and deeper, richer colour, optional HDD support.

    The message was clear, from Bruno Turcato, managing director, Epson Australia.

    By leveraging its PrecisionCore technology, Epson has its sights set on a leadership position across every level of printing engagement. He pointed out that Epson is a sponsor of the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 team, associating with a brand that also has its own technology all the way up from a streetcar metro, to the highest speed-racing machine.

    As far as Turcato is concerned, that’s a message that resonates with Epson, he said.

  • Issue 744 – September 25 2015

    The convergence of technology is eliminating many barriers between different type of printing. Where once printers were confined to fairly narrow specialized production, now printing methods, especially digital presses, are capable of addressing a much broader range. The gradual merging of commercial and industrial printing, of packaging and signage with labels will be on show next week at Labelexpo in Brussels. An exhibition that is going from strength to strength, it reflects the broad interest in the accessibility to new markets powered by digital printing.

    But of course, there’s more to producing labels and packaging than simply printing. That’s why label industry professionals call themselves ‘converters.’

    I’ll be in Brussels next week to find out what’s new in labels and packaging and what it means to ‘convert’. Stay tuned.

    You’re one of almost 7000 industry professional reading Print21 across Australia and New Zealand.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor.

  • Free Fujifilm process audit

    Sign up today for a FREE Fujifilm process audit.

    To get the best from your hardware and software sometimes you need to call in a skilled technician to check the system for bottlenecks that are costing you time and money. In October, Fujifilm technicians are making their broad industry knowledge and experience available to you in most capital city metro areas for an onsite consultation FREE of charge.

    Richard Ramirez, Fujifilm’s Prepress Product Manager, says; “Printers today are facing the difficult task of outputting more jobs with quicker turnaround, on lower margins and with less staff. Small breakdowns in production can leave you stranded. A production failure will damage your customer relationship while blowing out a print job’s initial, estimated cost.”

    A successful printer knows there is no place for re-runs because of small colour issues. Miscommunication between service representatives and their clients can damage an otherwise strong relationship.

    Richard Ramirez, prepress product manager

    Says Ramirez; “We can come into your shop for, say, half a day and investigate where to fine tune your print production and identify potential improvements in your prepress and pressroom system with a free process audit. We’ll look at how your hardware and software mesh together and offer solutions for how it could function at optimum efficiency.”

    Fujifilm’s process audit will focus on:

    • Communications: reliable and clear communication channels are vital for jobs to move swiftly and smoothly from job estimating and planning to prepress then on to production floor equipment and personnel.
    • Proofs: the review process for clients requires easy-to-use and effective approval management and exchange protocols.
    • Consistency: your CtP imaging system should be tuned to provide maximum media processing stability and trouble-free plate processing.
    • Colour management: colour variances across multiple devices, varying printing conditions and locations can cause nightmares in production.
    • Quality: high quality of the final product relies on clear process controls throughout the workflow and quality of plate reproduction.
    • Material use: cut waste and duplication with lean production measures and efficiencies.

    Fujifilm technicians can leverage the understanding acquired through quality control activities at our world-leading manufacturing sites. They can improve the printing process by diagnosing and analyzing the state of devices and the software that drives them. This will lead to consistent quality, improved productivity, and reduced costs of materials and energy.

    Says Ramirez again; “Sign up for a FREE process audit in October and we could help your business in these key areas:

    • Reduce costs
    • Improve revenue
    • Reduce labour requirements
    • Streamline your production
    • Increase productivity

    Get in early and contact Fujifilm today to request a FREE of charge process audit!

    * Free process audit is only available in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra metro areas
    * Limited to one free process audit per site
    * Subject to availability of mutually convenient dates during October



  • A bullet train towards Horizon

    An invitation to visit Biwako. (l to r) Eijiro Hori President Horizon with Bernie Robinson, managing director Currie Group, flanked by Natsuhiko Yamada, Horizon export manager.

    The Horizon plant at Biwako is about an hour by train outside Kyoto, ancient imperial capital of Japan. It’s a finely engineered balance of high tech automated manufacturing and almost craft-like machine assembly. Patrick Howard went to visit while on a recent visit to IGAS.

    Hori-san = Hachiro Hori, founder of Horizon, circa 1946.

    It starts to make sense when you meet Eijiro Hori, president of Horizon and son of the founder, Hachiro Hori. As a man of achievements and accomplishment in Japan, Hachiro was always known with the honorific San after his name, as in Hori San. When he founded his company after the war, the former engineer was unable to continue his career due to the US Army Occupation decree that denied any officer of the Imperial Army the right to work. He set out to make voltage meters for schools, later expanding to making small booklet makers.

    So began what is now the most expansive post-press equipment maker in the world, Horizon, or, as it was known in Japan, the company of Hori-san.

    None of this was obvious on the fast bullet train streaking through the rain towards Kyoto from Tokyo where a bunch of us at IGAS had accepted Bernie Robinson’s invitation to visit the Horizon factory. Riding the streamlined Nozomi train is the kind of experience that brings out everyone’s inner geek, with Shadi Taleb of Intelligent Media and Heath Nankervis of Impact Digital measuring how fast we’re going through an App on their smart phones. Point the camera at the window and watch it climb to 270 kph. That’s quite fast, as the train rocks gently, almost noiselessly, through the non-stop urban development that lines the 500km route.

    It takes a little over an hour and a half to cover the distance and yet again – this was my fifth time along the route – iconic Mount Fuji was invisible, shrouded in cloud and mist. Michael Warshall of Melbourne-based Nulab, photographer extraordinaire, shows me photos of the snow-capped mountain he took a few days before. He assures me it does actually exist.

    Kyoto is the city of a thousand temples struggling under the weight of mass tourism. Our group is escorted up the Kiyomizu-dera, a large temple compound on the edge of a cliff overlooking the city. We shuffle through with the thousands of tourists along the narrow domestic laneways. Later we walk by the river before Matsuhiko Yamada, Horizon export manager and our conscientious guide, hosts us to a good dinner.

    The rain has settled in solidly the following morning as we make our way by train towards the Horizon factory at Biwako, so called because it sits beside Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake. This is pristine country that supplies drinking water to millions of people in surrounding cities.

    The Horizon plant in a pristine environment at Biwako, outside Kyoto.

    Here there are no polluting industrial suburbs. The Horizon factory seemingly springs out of surrounding rice paddies, totally innocuous in its impact on the environment. Despite the serious heavy engineering and metal work going on here, there is not even a wisp of smoke or noxious discharge.

    Eijiro Hori is tall, polite and, as a good host, attentive to the needs of his guests. This is old school Japan and it’s a pleasure to share his obvious pride in the stature of his family business. From his father’s start-up after the war, in the 69 years of its existence, Horizon has grown to be a very substantial business, employing 550 people. It is the pre-eminent postpress equipment manufacturer, with a plant that manufactures 70% of the components it uses.

    There is a controlled passion for his enterprise in this gentle man that you don’t get in your average corporate honcho. The company was hit hard like everyone else during the GFC, but no employee was let go. There is to be no export of jobs from Japan to lower cost countries in order to maximise profits. He tells of the company’s planning philosophy; plan cash for one year; product for 10 years; people for 100 years.

    The factory tour is informal, no fluorescent jackets, no hard hats, just don’t step out side the yellow lines … and even then. The heavy metal fabrication uses automation as advanced as I’ve ever seen. Warehouse robots supply the giant lathes and drills with raw metal during the day, which is then worked on through the night, 24/7, with no intervention. Massive sheet metal stamping and laser cutting emphasize that Horizon machines are indeed serious pieces of equipment. Huge plastic moulding machines look like something out of Dr Who.

    Then we move on to where the machines are put together and the contrast could not be more dramatic. From the land of the robots to what seems to me, to be almost craft-based machine assembly. Here there are no assembly lines moving along with people as mere cogs in the machine. Factory workers, men and women, work surrounded by all the parts they need to build some of the most complex mechanical equipment in the printing industry. They work at a seemingly unhurried pace, quietly concentrating, constructing the complex machines with allen keys and automatic wrenches. When I later ask Eijiro-san about the lack of automation in assembly he explains that every machine is ordered before work starts and there are more than 100 different models, so this is not the place for automobile-factory style production lines.

    Later we get to see the plant’s state-of-art climate and EMC testing chambers, essential for a company whose machines operate in all parts of the world, meeting the highest occupational safety standards in Europe and the USA. This is also where they test prototypes in a continuing search to fulfil market requirements. Listen and respond to market requirements is another part of the corporate philosophy.

    We can’t go to the clean room environment where they create the motherboards and computer circuits used in the folders, saddle stitchers, perfect binders and collators that are Horizon’s stock in trade. It’s off limits while they work on a problem with static electricity.

    Back in the visitor’s room, Eijiro-san shows us slides of the history of his enterprise and also of his friendship with David Currie of Currie Group, Horizon’s long-term agent in Australia and New Zealand. They are close friends, business partners for 34 years. The slightly faded photographs are of young men starting out, of ongoing meetings in Japan and Australia over the years and of their gradual greying. Family snapshots include both of their fathers, their wives and children.

    Hosts and guests; (from left) Heath Nankervis, Rob Dunnett, Patrick Howard, Eijiro Hori, Bernie Robinson, Shadi Taleb, Michael Warshall and Natsuhiko Yamada.

    We assemble for the obligatory photographs before climbing back on the bus to depart through the sodden rice fields. I’m first away at Kyoto railway station back to Tokyo airport then home. Lots of handshaking, even Rob Dunnett is there, totally schtum about his new role to be announced in a few days time.

    Factory visits are useful. I like to do them. They allow you to see behind the marketing hype. They give you the opportunity to gauge how genuine the people are, how fair dinkum the enterprise and whether you’d advise someone to buy their kit. They allow you to sense whether a company is on the rise or past its peak.

    Horizon is a fine company; it’s in good hands, has excellent R&D and an unbeatable manufacturing ethos. It’s not owned by private equity hedge funds that’ll gamble its reputation and intellectual property to make a few extra quid. Eijiro-san is in there for the long-term.

    Serving a printing industry that is still very much an owner-operated sector, Horizon brings with it a reassuring level of confidence and professionalism. People like to deal with people they can recognise and respect, part of the reason why Horizon is such a successful company.

    On the way back to Tokyo, Mount Fuji was again invisible behind the clouds and mist. The mountain gods must want me to return.

  • Heidelberg Australia makes room for Gallus

    Heidelberg Australia will move Gallus Oceania, the label printing and folding carton presses manufacturer, into its east Melbourne facility at the end of the year.

    'A very good move': Richard Timson

    German-based parent Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, which previously owned 30% of Gallus Group, last year took over 100% of the Swiss manufacturer before the two companies launched a digital inkjet label press in September.

    “Gallus Oceania will be transferring its business knowledge across from Bayswater and will move under our umbrella here at Notting Hill later this year,” said Richard Timson, MD, Heidelberg Australia & New Zealand. “Gallus Oceania MD James Rodden will stay on and be focused on driving our labels business.  However, it’s unlikely other staff will transfer over because Gallus is a relatively small operation and we have plenty of staff. There’s not too much equipment involved as most of the Gallus machinery is shipped directly to customers from Switzerland but there will be some spare parts and consumables.”

    Timson is optimistic about the future. “It’s a very good move for both Heidelberg and Gallus and I’m very optimistic that it will work out well. It’s a strengthening of the Gallus brand and it will be very positive for both customers and suppliers.”

    The shift will happen just before or just after Christmas 2015 and Gallus will be fully embedded in the Heidelberg business from 1 April, 2016.

    James Rodden, MD Gallus Oceania

    “The full acquisition of Gallus will further enhance the cooperation of the two companies and together we will continue to foster the development in the growing market for digital label production,” Gerold Linzbach, Heidelberg CEO, said at the time of the acquisition.

    Gallus Oceania has been servicing the Australian market since 1995 as a designer and manufacturer of narrow web printing and converting equipment. The Gallus Group, one of the world’s leading partners for label printers, develops and manufactures machine systems at its headquarters in the Swiss City of St. Gallen and at a second production facility in Germany.

    Heidelberg Australia/New Zealand (HAN), is a fully owned unit of German-based press giant Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg).

    Heidelberg and Gallus are developing a portfolio of digital products for the labels sectors, commercial and packaging printing, utilising industrialised inkjet technology from Fujifilm.


  • ‘Walk the walk’ – 2016 National Print Awards

    NPA chair Susan Heaney at the 2015 National Print Awards

    Entries open next month for the 2016 Media Super National Print Awards, which will feature three new categories and a student award.

    “Success at the National Print Awards is a good way to demonstrate to your clientele that you not only ‘talk the talk’ but ‘walk the walk’,” says NPA chair Susan Heaney. “In the face of ever increasing competition, it’s a remarkably effective way to demonstrate that your print meets the highest standards and will therefore help maximise the effectiveness of your clients’ campaigns and marketing strategies.

    “For well over 30 years, the National Print Awards has demonstrated that Australian printers are equal to or better than their counterparts anywhere in the world,” she said. “With Australia at the forefront of innovative approaches and new print technologies, the quest for quality continues – and now it is time for designers, creatives, agencies and printers across the country to prepare for the 2016 Awards competition.”

    Entries will open mid-October and close on 29 January 2016, with judging held in the first week of February. Jobs printed any time from 1 January this year are eligible.

    Entrants will need to submit two flawless copies of each entered job, which may be produced any time from 1 January, 2015 until 31 December, 2015. Selecting these as soon as possible after production and storing them in a safe and secure space so they can be easily accessed and prepared for entry is advisable, says Luke Wooldridge, who has once again agreed to chair the independent NPA Judging Panel.

    The new categories are typography, illustration, corporate identity and print/digital campaigns, plus a student award focused on unpublished concepts or printed self-promotional work from design students.

    “Now’s the time to start your planning so that you too can enter these important Awards and reap the rewards for your business,” says Heaney.  “Don’t forget to mark Friday 20 May, 2016, in your diary so you can also join us in for the industry’s ‘Night of Nights’, the 2016 Media Super National Print Awards presentation dinner.”