Archive for November, 2015

  • Augmented Reality for Media Super Yearbook

    This year’s Media Super Yearbook will feature innovative augmented reality technology that allows readers to bring some pages to life by using mobile phones and other digital devices. “We wanted to highlight some of the great work being done by our members in the printing industry,” said Joel Clapham, GM Communications & Marketing, Media Super.

    'Amazing technology': Joel Clapham, Media Super

    “We’ve just released the 2015 Yearbook online and the 96-page print version will be going out next week,” said Clapham.  “This year’s edition features amazing new augmented reality technology from South Australian-based printer Openbook Howden. They embed code in images on certain pages and when a reader uses an Augmented Reality app to hover over the page it comes to life and a video will play on your device and people in the video speak to you. It’s very recent technology and as a partner to the printing industry we want our printing work to showcase the expertise of our members and the latest techniques they’re using.”

    Clapham said Media Super would continue to support the popular Future Print Transformation Program, with more than 260 printing businesses signing up this year to take part in workshops, briefings and seminars.

    “A key component of the program is the Media Super Business Benchmarking service, which allows business owners to find out how they’re performing compared with other ‘like’ organisations within the industry and across the general business community.”

    The Future Print apprenticeship program* had also proved a great success, he said.  “Attracting new talent is vital for the survival of the print industry and 240 apprentices have joined the Future Print apprenticeship program, with more to be recruited before the project concludes at the end of the year.

    Media Super, with 107,000 members and $4.2 billion in assets, has a long history with the print industry. “We’ve been supporting print workers since Print Super was formed in 1987, and now we’re working with Future Print in a number of ways to help ensure the ongoing success of the industry and our members.

    The Yearbook also reveals the company has doubled its investment in the Australian film and television industry and over the past five years has lent $66 million to help fund projects including The Dressmaker, Last Cab to Darwin, The Rover, Strangerland, Partisan, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and many others.

    * Future Print held a National Apprentice Forum in April where apprentices and key industry representatives gathered to to discuss the new training model being developed and tested by Future Print. Some of the apprentices speak about their experiences in this video.

  • Issue 762 – November 27, 2015

    A new phase in the history of the Printing Industries Association began yesterday when the HQ moved from its Auburn building to offices in Chatswood, on Sydney’s North Shore. With the expressed intention of leasing out most if not all of the different state office buildings, the Help Street facility may turn out to be the sole functioning real estate location of the Association.

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

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor


  • LIA called in to help safeguard industry’s history

    Printing Industries refutes what it terms a ‘false and highly inaccurate accusation’ that it adopted a less than rigorous and caring approach to the storing of items of historical significance during its move to new offices in Chatswood.

    It maintains it is working with the Lithographic Institute of Australia (LIA) along with others to catalogue, curate, store and display the material. It has written to members to state its position.

    We would also like to clarify some innuendo surrounding the apparent actions of the association, in throwing out valuable history and artefacts. Sadly, this is a false and highly inaccurate accusation. Your association is working with the very respected Lithographic Institute of Australia (LIA), to curate and store our marvellous history, as we undertake a very important step in our transformation journey.

    We are very passionate about securing our history and PIAA will be working with other parties, including LIA, in an ongoing agreement to catalogue, curate, store and display, so our history and journey can be enjoyed by all, for generations to come.  

    The Association moved to the new offices yesterday advising members they can access hot desks there whenever they are travelling to and around Sydney. It maintains the move is necessary to simplify and consolidate the operations in order to grow its services network.

    We appreciate that change can be uncomfortable, and that is both physical and with personnel, but we need to make this step and look forward to your support as we move forward. Our changes are about a brighter future for the Association.

     The new offices are at Level 3, Suite 3, 9 Help Street, Chatswood.

    (Reader comments below):

  • Survival of the fittest in wide format boom

    Roland DG's SOLJET PRO4 XF-640

    The rush into wide format shows no sign of abating but printers need to be aware of the structural changes reshaping the marketplace and adapt in order to survive.

    “It’s so busy we can hardly keep up,” said Ben Eaton, GM of Starleaton Digital Solutions, the Sydney-based, family-owned supplier of wide format consumables and hardware. “We’re having a wonderful year with our entire wide format range, including printers, inks, printable media, laminates, adhesives and mounting, boards and substrates, and finishing equipment.

    “We’re installing machines every month and we’re seeing hot spots on different products in different states, with some really good traction on new products launched over the past couple of years,” Eaton told Print21. “We’ve doubled our sales in Roland DG printers and products this year and another big success has been Neschan’s Easy Dot Print’N’Walk, a slip resistant film for floor advertising.  But it’s been across-the-board on all wide format products.  We’ve had the best year for some time and we go into the Christmas break feeling confident about next year.”

    Installations of wide format presses are now set to continue to rise, according to the latest data. Sales have risen from an average of 18 a year just four years ago to an estimated 54 machines last year. But industry analyst Richard Rasmussen thinks that figure is grossly under-reported and suggests the figure is closer to 100 machines, or two a week.  Ben Eaton believes “it’s more than that” and others in the industry go further.

    However, one man’s boom is another’s bust. “We now have an oversupply of flatbed machines,” according to Tim Straford, owner/director of Melbourne-based trade printer Q Print Finishing Services, which last month collapsed into voluntary administration.

    “The work is not increasing but there are more machines in the market so it’s a situation where the industry is eating itself,” he said. “It’s at a point where if you’re not increasing your prices by 15 or 20 per cent every year, then you’re going backwards.”

    This suggestion was downplayed by Mark Tailby, owner of leading supplier Graphic Art Mart, who reckons there are good opportunities “right across the sector but owners and managers need to be able to adapt to the changing needs in the marketplace.

    “Wide format is not the problem.  I wouldn’t call it a boom but it is an evolving space.  Wide format offers the ability to customise in an infinite variety of ways, whether it’s printing on fabrics or wallpaper or anything else.

    “Running a long-term sustainable business is really about managing technological needs. The business we bought 37 years ago was a paint and brush business, so we’ve had to adapt and change along the way. The printing industry is going through structural change and business owners need to recognise that the market is evolving and recognise the changes within their own technological space.”


  • The beating heart of the machine

    Ricoh's Inkjet Test Centre lab tests inks to see how they react with Ricoh printheads.

    Printheads are a key component of any wide format printer, so it’s important to understand how they work.  Fespa consultant Nessan Cleary explains the latest printhead technology for large format printers.

    Nessan Cleary

    There are many bits of technology that go into making a large format printer, but arguably the printhead is the beating heart of the machine. It is the thing that pumps the ink directly to the media and it’s the printhead that determines the defining characteristics of the printer.

    It dictates the type of ink the printer uses and the resolution, so the heads play a pretty big part in the overall image quality and the printer’s productivity. This is why vendors will often release new versions of their printers as new printheads become available.

    Most inkjet printers use drop on demand (DOD) printheads, where each drop of ink is generated only when it’s needed. There are two main techniques used in DOD wide format printing engines: thermal and piezo-electric. In both systems the trick is to create enough pressure to force some ink through the nozzle.

    The pressure must subside almost immediately, so that some of the ink is drawn back to the nozzle causing an individual drop to form, rather than having a continuous stream of ink flowing out through the nozzle.

    Thermal printheads, as the name implies, heat the ink within the ink chamber until it vaporises and creates a bubble and forces a drop of ink through the nozzle. The main drawback of thermal is that it is mostly limited to water-based inks. It has been widely used by Canon for its ImagePrograf range and by HP for its DesignJet wide format printers.

    HP has also developed water-based resin inks, better known as latex inks, for use with its thermal printheads. Another issue with thermal heads is that they have a very short life span and are usually replaced alongside the ink cartridges and treated as a consumable item.

    However, the most commonly used DOD technology is piezo-electric as is used in the Mimaki UJF-6042. A voltage is applied to a piezo crystal to change its shape, so that it expands and pushes against the ink chamber within the printhead. Some printheads do still use a piezo crystal actuator but there are other variations now, such as using a sound wave.

    The basic principle remains the same: when a voltage is pulsed through the actuator it changes shape, forcing a drop of ink from the ink chamber and out through the nozzle. This approach works with a wide variety of different inks including solvent and UV curable inks. The printheads can have a reasonably long life – up to two years in some cases – but they are more expensive than thermal heads.

    Binary or Greyscale?

    The actual size of the ink droplet can vary considerably, with some having a tiny drop size of just three picolitres and capable of reproducing very fine details, particularly on small text and intricate patterns. Others such as the Fujifilm Acuity Advance HD2545 use a much larger drop size, typically up to 42 picolitres, which lets them put a lot of ink down quickly, useful for a high production printer.

    The simplest approach is to use a single fixed droplet size, which is usually referred to as binary. But it’s easier to optimise the printer for different applications by using multiple drop sizes, a practice known as greyscale printing. There are a number of advantages to using greyscale printing.

    Firstly, mixing bigger and smaller dots makes it easier to deal with gradients and subtle tonal shifts, such as in a skyline. It can also lead to reduced ink consumption, partly because some of the dots are quite small, but also because it’s easier to get smoother gradients with four colours without needing additional colours.

    There are several different greyscale approaches. Some printheads eject different volumes of ink to make different sized droplets. Others eject the same amount of ink, but vary the frequency at which they fire the ink so that the different drops merge in flight, or land at the same spot on the media to form larger drops.

    Greyscale printheads can be slower, and as they are more complex they can also be more expensive than their binary counterparts. However many wide format printing devices use some form of greyscaling, with anything from three to seven different drop sizes being quite common now.

    Single pass

    Traditionally inkjet printheads cover only a very small part of the printable area and must scan back and forth to print a complete line. This ensures that any gaps are filled in, thereby generating quite high-resolution images from relatively low-resolution printheads. But this also takes time so clearly the easiest way to speed up a printer is to reduce the number of passes, with the holy grail being just a single pass.

    In recent years single pass inkjet printing has become quite common for both label and document printers and many vendors privately believe that it’s only a matter of time before we see single pass wide format printers. The main issue is the cost of the printheads, with only the very expensive machines such as Fujifilm’s Onset having enough printheads to cover the full width of the bed. Even these still use several passes to achieve reasonable print quality.

    HP A53 Printheads with twice as many nozzles as its predecessor use large and small ink drops to get finer colour resolution inside the gamut of HP A50 Pigment Inks.

    Memjet has developed relatively low cost single pass printheads for wide format use, having stitched five of its heads together for a 42ins wide print engine. The actual heads are 220mm wide and capable of 1600 dpi resolution, with the latest version, codenamed Aspen, capable of running at 68mpm.

    These printers are incredibly fast but for now this technology is limited to waterbased inks, ruling it out for outdoor applications. Instead, the Memjet-based printers are mainly targeted at the CAD graphics market though Memjet is developing a version of its printhead that will take solvent inks as well as a newer design that would be suitable for other ink types such as UV-curable.


    It is tempting to assume that printers that use the same printhead will have identical performance. But the heads can be tuned to satisfy different needs so that although the physical characteristics will remain the same, there will be plenty of differences. Thus each vendor could use their own electronics to drive the printheads, which being analogue need a digital signal in order to fire the ink.

    Also, individual inks will have to be optimised for each head to ensure, for example, that the inks don’t corrode or otherwise damage the heads. The inks must also have the right viscosity so that they can form droplets that eject accurately from the heads.

    Finally, it’s worth noting that most printheads only really fail when they become clogged, usually with dried ink. A rigorous approach to cleaning them can save a fair bit of money both in head replacement costs and keeping the machine in service.


  • Women in Print seeks new sponsors

    Women in Print 2015

    The popular Women in Print (WiP) program is seeking new supporters for 2016 after original sponsor Heidelberg decided to step back and hand over the reins to local industry associations Visual Connections and Printing Industries.

    Originally an initiative of Heidelberg Graphic Equipment, WiP has evolved into a national industry-wide program. More than 2500 women have taken part since it was established nine years ago to provide a forum for women working in the print media industry to expand their networks and knowledge.

    Karen Goldsmith, GM, Association, Visual Connections

    “Heidelberg has been incredibly generous and has done a wonderful job establishing this popular program but it is now time for it to be owned and driven by the industry,” said Karen Goldsmith, GM, Association, Visual Connections, and WiP NSW State Patron.

    “Printing Industries and Visual Connections have been working closely with Heidelberg for a number of years to ensure that we attract keynote speakers of the highest calibre and now we’re looking for other industry businesses to support us,” she said.

    Heidelberg will stay on as an associate sponsor, alongside Visual Connections, and Media Super already is on board as a major sponsor.

    “A lot of the admin came from their office so they’ll remain an associate sponsor.  They just won’t be running it,” Goldsmith told Print21.  “PIAA and Visual Connections will now be taking care of the organising and we’ve already divided up everything that needs to be done.

    “The WiP initiative has been a great success and keeps going from strength to strength. But as a not-for-profit event, it can only continue to attract high calibre speakers and deliver the high standard of event its delegates expect with the support of the industry – and corporate sponsorship opportunities for 2016 as a Major Sponsor, Associate or Supporter are now open.”

    To find out more go to  For information about sponsorship, contact Tom Sullivan at Printing Industries in Sydney on (02) 8789 7300 or

    Women in Print events will be held in May 2016.

  • Keys to growth in a tough market: new survey

    Almost seven in ten printers either matched or increased growth over the past year despite a continued overall decline in the Australian printing industry, according to a new survey.

    The Printing Industry Report 2015 by Sohraen Consulting found that 67% of those surveyed either matched or increased revenue growth over the last financial year and over 15% of businesses grew by more than 20%.

    “This is a significant result,” said a lead researcher. “And if there is one thing to take away, it is that many, many printing businesses are growing; some of them by significant amounts.“

    However, the growth potential of the printing industry remained generally weak and was expected to continue its decline, according to the report.

    Profitability throughout the industry will be squeezed by declining buyer demand and industry overcapacity. Globally, the shift to more electronic media and communication is reducing the consumption of printed collateral. The impact of this has been significant on many areas of print industry. These changes have resulted in some businesses closing their doors while others have diversified and adapted.

    Nevertheless, while industry uncertainty is increasing, it can be stabilised by strong customer relationships and securing long term, repeat business. While the industry is declining and competition is growing weaker, industry players have an opportunity to position themselves as a strong performer and capitalise on the vulnerabilities of competitors.

    The growth enjoyed by the successful print businesses was attributed to two main factors:

    Firstly, they diversified. Some moved away from just ink on paper and offered services such as design, web-design, warehousing and merchandise. They also broadened their production capabilities particularly around digital printing and large format.

    Secondly, they focussed increasing sales. It’s easy to tell your sales team to sell more, but that probably won’t deliver robust results. Strong sales results come from implementing strategies that support your sales team. It is about getting all parts of your business working congruently toward your objectives. Growing sales is everyone’s responsibility: not just the sales team.

    To purchase a full copy of the report, compiled by researchers and business analysts, go to

  • Fastest-growing photo printing app returns to NZ

    The world’s fastest-growing photo printing app has come home to New Zealand, allowing users to hit print from their phone, anytime and anywhere.

    Printicular – a free to download app for iPhone & Android devices – started as the brainchild of Kiwi app developer and creative agency MEA and was launched first in the US market. It’s already available for photo printing at over 9,000 Walgreens stores in the USA and 1,600 dm-droguerie pharmacies in Germany, with ten million photos printed using the app to date.

    New Zealand users are now able to print social media photos directly from their phones for local pick up at 66 Warehouse Stationery stores across New Zealand. Users can download the app, select photos, print to their nearest Warehouse Stationery store, and pay when they collect their photos.

    “We’re excited to work with MEA to bring Printicular back home to New Zealand, and to be involved with a Kiwi company that is leading in photo printing innovation,” said Pejman Okhovat, CEO of Warehouse Stationery.

    “In the age of the smartphone, people still love printing photos,” said MEA co-founder and CEO Rodney Macfarlane. “Whether it’s for scrapbooking, home decorating or sending new baby snaps to Granny, Printicular makes photo printing easy, convenient and much quicker than conventional kiosks.”

    The app lets users print in a range of sizes including square print formats suitable for Instagram, and from every major online photo sharing site including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Dropbox.

    For more on Printicular, please visit here.


  • Victoria’s oldest paper turns 175

    The Geelong Advertiser's souvenir edition

    Victoria’s oldest newspaper, the Geelong Advertiser, has celebrated its 175-year anniversary with a dinner for 200 guests including business leaders, celebrities, athletes and politicians.

    The first edition of the Addy was printed on Saturday November 21, 1840 making it Victoria’s oldest morning newspaper brand. News Corp acquired the paper in 1987 and today the Geelong Advertiser continues to be a leading source of news, sport and entertainment in the city, with a significant reach across the Bellarine Peninsula and the Surf Coast.

    To mark the milestone, the newspaper produced a souvenir wrap edition using an historical format. For inspiration, editor Nick Papps and his team looked at a 1969 copy of the paper and used the same fonts and style.

    “It is today’s news told in the way of the past,” said Papps. “To celebrate 175 years is just a marvellous milestone and just shows the power of the print medium to tell a story. The Geelong Advertiser is the pulse of the city and surrounding regions and the glue that keeps the community connected to local, domestic and international news and events. The population is growing rapidly and, importantly, the region is developing into a hotbed for new and emerging industries.”

    Politicians, business leaders, athletes and celebrities who hail from Victoria’s second largest city gathered to celebrate the milestone, including Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, Geelong premiership captain Cameron Ling and Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons.

    The Advertiser is encouraging readers to vote for the paper’s top 10 stories over the years and is also producing a 12-part magazine, celebrating the best of the Advertiser, which will be included in the Saturday paper.

    Papps is proud of the paper’s active campaigning over the years. “We are a paper that passionately campaigns for its region. On our masthead it says ‘the voice of Geelong’, and we have been the voice of Geelong since 1840.”

    The Advertiser, which is a multiple winner at the PANPA newspaper of the year awards, has had many campaigns over the years. Recently, it successfully campaigned to keep Avalon Airport open, and was also successful in getting a hospital for the northern suburbs.

    Papps added: “I think, for a newspaper, the most important thing is to support your community, to celebrate your community, shine a light in dark places, and walk shoulder-to-shoulder with our community every day, and that’s what we do.”

    Guests at the Geelong Advertiser 175th. (photo: Glenn Ferguson)


  • Giant atlas rolled out this weekend

    Gordon Cheers of Sydney boutique publisher Millennium House with the Earth Platinum

    The award-winning Earth Platinum atlas produced by Sydney boutique publisher Millennium House will be a draw card at the 50th birthday celebrations of The National Library of New Zealand in Wellington this weekend.

    There will be a tour of the underground maze of library stacks and seldom seen items on display from the Alexander Turnbull Library will include: the 128-page Earth Platinum, which at 150 kilograms is the largest atlas ever published; hand-made bike engine parts by legendary NZ motorcycle racer Burt Munro; and writer Katherine Mansfield’s passport.

    “We know that many people are surprised by the richness and diversity of our collections,” said National Librarian Bill Macnaught.  “Saturday is a special opportunity to gain some surprising insights into the treasures we care for on behalf of all New Zealanders.” Special activities and viewing times begin on Saturday 28 November at 10am and finish at 3.30pm at the National Library of New Zealand, corner of Molesworth & Aitken Streets, Thorndon, Wellington.

    The limited edition Earth Platinum measures 6ft x 4.5ft (1.8m x 1.4m) and features the craftsmanship of more than 100 cartographers, geographers and photographers. According to the Guinness World Records, it surpasses the Klencke Atlas at the British Library, which held the record of the world’s largest atlas since 1660. The Earth Platinum print run was limited to 31 individually numbered copies that sell for $US100,000. It won the best overall mapping award 2013 in Boston, USA.

    For a full timetable of the National Library of New Zealand birthday activities, visit



  • Issue 761 – November 25, 2015

    One of the perennial complaints from the printing industry is about over capacity. Too many presses standing idle for too many hours puts pressure on prices. It’s not a complaint that really stands up to examination, it’s a harking back to the times when printing was a restricted craft, where master printers would decide who could operate how many machines.

    Yet it illustrates there is no shortage of capital to invest in printing equipment, which may explain why so few companies seek a public listing. IVE is an exception that will again test the investment waters.

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

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor

  • $75m IPO to decide IVE’s fate

    Bell Potter Securities and Evans & Partners have launched a $75 million initial public offering (IPO) for print and marketing company IVE Group.

    The brokers aim to sell 37.8 million shares at $2 each in a deal that would value IVE Group at $177.7 million, according to a report in The Australian Financial Review. A spokesperson for Bell Potter confirmed that the IPO was launched on Monday morning.

    It’s the second time in six months that IVE’s owners have attempted to float the business on the stock exchange.

    In June, IVE Group chairman Geoff Selig and senior executives met fund managers in Sydney ahead of the company’s first proposed float that was eventually postponed due to “underlying market conditions.” Prospective investors at the time were told that the company was forecasting revenue of $355.7 million and net profit of $19 million in fiscal year 2016.

    'Exploring the possibility': Geoff Selig, chairman, IVE Goup

    Selig, who’s out of the country at present, was reluctant to go into detail about the latest move.

    “We have been exploring the possibility of an IPO again, as we said we would after our earlier postponement,” Selig told Print21.  “No decision has yet been made as to whether we will proceed this side of Christmas or not but we’ll have a clearer read of the situation next week.”

    According to AFR, the brokers said that IPO funds would be raised at an institutional bookbuild on November 30, with a prospectus to be lodged on December 1 and, if all goes according to plan, the company would commence trading on December 18.

    A financial analyst said the final decision on whether to proceed would be made only after the results of the institutional bookbuild became known.

    IVE’s owners, including Wolseley Private Equity and the Selig family, would own 57.5 per cent of the listed company, according to terms sent to potential investors. Wolseley would hold a 38 per cent stake while the Selig family would own 15 per cent.

    Earlier this month, IVE continued its aggressive expansion policy by acquiring direct marketing agency Digital Logic Marketing Solutions as well as Australia’s largest not-for-profit fundraising and direct communications group, Pareto.



  • Flint Group adds digital pioneer Xeikon

    'An excellent opportunity': Flint Group CEO Antoine Fady

    Global printing and packaging giant Flint has acquired digital innovator Xeikon, a leading digital solutions provider to the packaging and commercial markets, for an undisclosed sum.

    Flint Group said it had entered into an agreement to purchase XBC B.V., a company that holds more than 95% of the shares in Xeikon.

    Xeikon’s products and services will be the foundation of a newly created division called Flint Group Digital Printing Solutions that will broaden the group’s conventional and digital printing solutions.

    “This acquisition represents an excellent opportunity for Flint Group,” said Antoine Fady, Flint Group CEO. “Xeikon has a proven history of delivering exceptional value through high-quality, high-productivity, innovative and sustainable solutions for their customers.  [This deal] will propel the organisation further into the digital solutions market, where we will continue to deliver on our long term strategy of driving growth through product innovation, focus on developing markets and portfolio expansion.”

    Xeikon CEO Wim Maes will become president of Flint Group’s Digital Printing Solutions division, reporting to Fady.

    'Next chapter': Xeikon CEO Wim Maes

    “We are very pleased to be joining Flint Group and excited by the opportunities this acquisition presents to accelerate business growth,” said Maes. “Xeikon has shown that dedication to the digital label, folding carton, commercial and document printing market segments has paid off in terms of market share, customer satisfaction and financial contribution. This next chapter in our more than 20-year existence opens many opportunities for Xeikon as a company, as well as for our customers, employees, partners and stakeholders.”

    The deal will have little impact on the operations of Xeikon’s Australian distributor Absolute Electronics, according to Absolute MD Grish Rewal.  “We’re looking forward to the future because Flint is an integral industry player and brings extensive experience in areas like inks and adhesives.  But we understand that operationally it will remain the same,” he said.

    Flint Group, headquartered in Luxembourg, employs 6800 people around the world, with revenue of € 2.1 billion in 2014. Flint develops, manufactures and markets an extensive portfolio of printing consumables, including: conventional and energy curable inks and coatings for most offset, flexographic and gravure applications; pressroom chemicals, printing blankets and sleeves for offset printing; photopolymer printing plates and sleeves, plate-making equipment and flexographic sleeve systems; pigments and additives for use in inks and other colourant applications.

    Xeikon, based in Eede, the Netherlands, is an innovator in digital printing technology and designs, develops and delivers web-fed digital colour presses for labels and packaging applications, document printing, as well as commercial printing. It’s estimated that Xeikon currently has around 20% global market share of the digital print equipment market, second to digital giant HP.

    The transaction remains subject to closing conditions, including approval by competition authorities, and should be completed by the end of 2015.

  • Boyer Mill starts bio-chem joint venture

    New era for Tasmanian mill: (from left) Tony Duncan, CEO Circa, John Laugher, Norske Skog, Hon Will Hodgman, Premier of Tasmania, Professor James Clark, University of York.

    Norske Skog’s Tasmanian paper plant will begin sustainable chemical production in a joint venture with Tony Duncan’s Circa Group as it seeks to diversify from paper.

    The Boyer Mill has been selected as home for a commercial demonstration plant that will produce Cyrene, a non-toxic, green chemical alternative to existing solvents used in pharmaceutical and agrichemical industries across the world.  The $6.6 million plant will produce around 50 tonnes per annum of Cyrene and is due to be up and running within 12 months, following a grant of $1.5 million from the Tasmanian Government.

    According to Tony Duncan, CEO Circa Group, the company’s focus is the research, development and commercialisation of bio-chemicals from sustainable cellulose feedstocks. “We’ve been working on the current project since 2009 and it’s great to have Norske Skog on board given their knowledge and experience in processing wood residues and large scale manufacturing.”

    Norske Skog earlier this week revealed it was trying to restructure debt that has hit €1 billion and threatened the company’s operations in Australia and New Zealand.

    Norske Skog’s Regional President, Andrew Leighton, said the diversification into bio-chemical production was a good fit for Norske Skog’s Australasian strategic direction of “building our future from fibre and energy.”  He said the company had been working with Circa Group for the past 12 months and he looked forward to a long and productive relationship.

    The commercial demonstration plant at the Boyer Mill would be the fifth and largest scale up to date of Circa’s Furacell technology. The plant is designed to demonstrate the commercial viability of the technology, while providing increased volumes for researchers and customers in Europe, North America, Asia and locally.

    Customer trialing, which has been underway for 18 months, has shown Cyrene to be one of the very few new solvents capable of competing in a global market of over 900,000 tonnes per annum, where many traditional products are under increasing regulatory pressure due to environmental and health concerns.

  • For Sale: Victorian Print Management Business

    If you’re looking for a highly systemised, seriously profitable print management business with a diverse range of suppliers (offset digital, apparel, wide format, screen, signage, label, overseas, web mail etc.), warehousing, on line ordering, quality customers, some of which are contracted, and a great platform to grow, then this is a business you should look at.  

    Perfect as a stand-alone business or as a bolt-on to an existing print business wanting to enter print management and expand their service offering. This business is truly “best in class”. Sale Price $4.4 million. Contact Ascent Partners’ Richard Rasmussen on 0402 021 101.

  • Heidleberg stretches eco boundaries

    Auto Paper Stretch Compensation might not sound desperately exciting, but it can save a lot of waste and cost, especially for packaging production. This new technology from Heidelberg will be shown at drupa next year and although Auto Paper Stretch Compensation isn’t positioned in ecological terms it should be. It cuts paper waste, plates, makereadies and emissions.

    Laurel Brunner

    Based on an analysis of a paper’s stretch characteristics, this software works out what needs to be done to the imaging data to take the paper’s tendencies into account. This means that the imaged plates are accurate first time around and there is no need to remake plates once the effects of the paper’s stretch are apparent on press. Not only does this save the hassle of having to make a new set of plates, it also saves the associated energy and consumables.

    A common way to deal with this problem is to make mechanical adjustments of the plates on press. But this is a solution that only works through trial and error, so it can be costly and time consuming. Another approach is to manually adjust the data once it is clear what needs to be done to fix it. This too is expensive and slow. In both cases the press waits idle while the compensation for paper stretch is done and new plates made.

    Heidelberg’s solution is a software module that compensates for stretch. The module is ready now and will be available as an integrated module within Prinect next year. Heidelberg are still mulling over how to charge for this software. It makes no sense to charge a high price for companies who will only need to use it from time to time, say for papers they use only occasionally. However the software has a much higher value if it gets used on a regular basis and yields massive savings.

    Ten, even five years ago the effort involved to modify page image data before plate imaging would not have seemed worthwhile. It was easier to ignore the waste and emissions associated with inaccurate data processing. But today such a cavalier attitude simply won’t do, if a printer wants to stay in the game. Even little things must be considered and acted on if they can make a difference to productivity and efficiency.

    Throughout industry, companies are using software to improve the capacity and performance of manufacturing systems. Printing and publishing are not immune to this trend, however it will take vision and imagination to work out how to exploit software to create new and profitable business models. The newspaper industry is already struggling with this quite visibly, but we expect the creative need to infect all areas of the graphics industry. The good news is that waste rates for materials and energy are coming down all the time.

    – Laurel Brunner


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

    Verdigris is a industry research initiative that examines the environmental impact of print media.

  • Changes in printing, proofing and measuring devices

    The X-Rite Spectrophotometer

    Most print and prepress professionals will be aware of the recently announced updates to ISO 12647-2: 2013. As the largest provider of proofing solutions to the industry, DES is now completely set up to assist new and existing customers to manage this important change to their workflows, said Sales & Marketing Director, Russell Cavenagh.

    “Our proofing Medias have recently been recertified to the Fogra 51 standard and both CGS and EFI have updated their Proofing Rips with the new standards.

    “In addition, we are pleased to announce a 20% off promotion on all X-Rite for new spectrophotometers (that read in M0, 1, 2 &3) between now and Christmas to help users manage the investment required to measure to the new standards.”

    All this is due to the new and added paper classifications for closer proof matching, new CIElab target values for primary solids and new curves for tone value increase. Part of the update to ISO 12647-2: 2013 is new characterisation data (Fogra51, Fogra52) to allow for the OBA (optical brightening agents) content in the printing stocks.

    A complete list of the changes are:

    • New prepress and proofing specifications
    • New tone curves for the printing process
    • Changes to measurement technology with spectrophotometers devices now requiring to be able to read in M0, 1, 2 & 3 instead of just the old M0 standard.
    • New ICC-profiles
    • New reference printing conditions

    For more information please contact your proofing professional at DES on 1 300 728 411 or