Archive for February, 2016

  • Fujifilm Superia

    Fujifilm Australia, Graphic Systems, has announced the Australian release of its Superia system of prepress innovations, with the goal of reducing wastage, emissions, water use, energy use, labour and materials in the offset litho printing sector.

    “Superia is a brand for twenty-first century offset businesses,” says General Manager, Fujifilm Graphic Systems, Lindsay Barnes. “Litho offset is still incredibly strong in global printing but must adapt to cost and environmental pressures to remain viable from the point where digital cuts out due to run length. We believe that the Superia system delivers the right answers in the five key areas where every cent saved counts.”

    The five key areas, says Barnes, are:

    • Saving on materials
    • Saving on labour/man-hours
    • Energy savings
    • Reduction of emissions
    • Reduction of water use

    “Superia is all about doing more with less,” Lindsay Barnes, GM Fujifilm Graphic Systems.

    “Fujifilm’s new Superia range addresses all of these savings with processless and processed CtP plates, low energy-use hardware, press chemistry without IPA, Superia XMF workflow and hybrid screening. Each of these key technologies can contribute towards the printer achieving more stable quality, improved productivity and cost reductions.”

    “Superia is all about doing more with less,” says Barnes, “and that will translate into a reduction in costs.”

    Several Superia products have already proved their worth with Australian offset printers, such as the ZAC low-chemistry system that monitors plate developer replenishment needs, calculates the exact dosage required using advanced sensors and software, and meters out only the precise amount. Printers such as Sydney’s Heroprint, Perth’s Scott Print and Percival Press have experienced chemistry usage savings of up to eighty percent. Heroprint’s Prepress Manager Brad Sampson commented at the time of ramping up the ZAC system: “Immediately, we noticed a remarkable reduction in replenisher chemistry usage and this has been sustained in the first six months of using the ZAC Lo-Chem system. In tandem with this, our water usage has plummeted, and yet we are making more plates.”

    Within the Fujifilm prepress product range, those that make contributions towards the Superia philosophy will bear the Superia brand name, a brand that Fujifilm has readopted from its popular camera-film range used more than 10 years ago.

     

    “Superia is a total solution,” says Barnes, “and the thrill of it all is that we can look back at customers who have converted or upgraded to Superia, and clearly demonstrate measured cost savings that any finance manager or business owner would be very pleased with.”

     

    For more information, visit http://www.fujifilm.com.au/Superia

  • Issue 783 – February 26

    Printing has always been an industry made up of technology tragics, often to their own cost. The newest, latest, best’ist printing presses have an undeniable attraction for many of us. In this drupa year the move is away from the biggest and fastest towards the more appropriate engine for your business model. I’m presently on the road in Europe visiting manufacturers and attending media conferences where everyone is focused on the Düsseldorf show in May. So far I’ve seen Heidelberg, Bobst and manroland, and I can assure you there’ll be plenty for the tragics to salivate over at this show.

    Welcome to Print21, your prime news service for graphic arts professionals across Australia and New Zealand.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor

  • PIAA president pleads with members for unity

    PIAA headquarters in Chatswood, NSW

    The PIAA board will meet next week to ‘quickly address’ a range of issues raised in Tuesday’s emergency meeting between board members and the Members Action Group (MAG) over the direction of the peak industry body.

    In a statement, the PIAA said: There are of course some key areas of concern where differences have not been resolved.

    “I cannot guarantee the Board will make decisions which meet everyone’s expectations on every occasion,” said acting PIAA president Kieran May. “But as acting president of the association, I have committed to conduct a review in a number of key areas.”

    'I have committed to conduct a review in a number of key areas': Kieran May, acting president, PIAA

    May appealed to those members who have threatened to resign from the association to give the board more time.

    “I ask those who are considering their future as a member to pause to let the Board make the changes they need to again be satisfied with the service and value they want from the PIAA,” he said. “I will make myself available to meet with as many other members in the short term to canvass their views and to provide some context to decisions.”

    May told Print21: “To people who are considering pulling the pin, I would say: let’s sit on it and see what happens in the next couple of weeks.”

    The acting president described Tuesday’s meeting at the Mascot Graphic Arts Club in Sydney as ‘productive.’

    “Everybody in the room understood the need for change and the need to reset the narrative for the printing industry. Right from the start we made it clear that we were there to listen and we gave everyone an opportunity to talk about the issues that concerned them.  It was a very fruitful and open conversation.  We were able to demonstrate that some of those issues raised were already under consideration and I have committed to investigating some other things that came out of the meeting.

    “Communication and leadership style featured strongly in the discussion. I cannot guarantee that decisions already made can be overturned but I will talk to people about what we can and can’t do.  In recent weeks, the board has copped a lot of criticism that may have been justifiable but there has also been some discourteous remarks that bordered on slander. The board will meet next week to make good on its commitment to quickly address the issues that led us to the low point of recent weeks.”

    The Board took the opportunity to hear the concerns of the members who took time out of their busy schedules to offer their views and concerns, said the PIAA, in its statement. It was also of interest that a number of member concerns were also concerns of the Board. The meeting ended with agreement on the direction the Association needs to take. There are of course some key areas of concern where differences have not been resolved.

    MAG spokesperson Tom Eckersley said on Wednesday that he was happy with the way the negotiations were progressing.

    May added that the PIAA also needed to move ahead with filling board vacancies created over the past few weeks and relaunch its search for a new CEO.

    “We have pulled the previous advertisement for a CEO and we recognise the need to reset the job description. We’ve made it clear that we’re listening to concerns in that area but that it’s the board that needs to make these decisions, after consultation with the members.”

     

     

     

  • IVE Group posts 30% hike in half-year earnings

    Newly-listed print and marketing group IVE has posted a strong first-half result with earnings up 30.7% on the previous corresponding period to $22.2 million, on a pro forma basis. Revenue rose 13.9 per cent to $196.1 million.

    'A very strong result': Darren Dunkley, CFO, IVE Group

    “It’s a very strong result that’s in line with our prospectus forecast for 2016 and it’s very pleasing for us to be able to go back to our investors with these numbers,” said Darren Dunkley, CFO, IVE Group.

    IVE – formerly Blue Star – launched on the Australian Stock Exchange just over two months ago on 16 December after postponing an earlier attempt in June 2015.

    Dunkley said the pro forma results provided a more accurate reflection of the company’s result than the statutory figures, which included $13 million or $14 million in one-off costs from the ASX listing.

    “We have a strong balance sheet and it places us in a very good position moving forward as we continue to grow organically and to actively explore opportunities through acquisitions,” he said.

    Major acquisitions in the first-half period included Oxygen8 and the Pareto Group. IVE also successfully integrated acquisitions undertaken in H2 FY2015 of The POS Collective, VaVaVoom and Task2.

    New business added $18.7 million to total revenue, with highlights including: a letter of intent to supply Westpac with graphic design and print management services; managed solutions contracts with Vodafone Australia and McDonalds Australia in the IVEO division; and the successful rolling out of key contracts with Tabcorp, American Express, QBE Insurance, Flight Centre, Travelcorp and others.

  • APN to sell off its regional newspapers

    'Future investments must remain focused on growth assets': Ciaran Davis, CEO, APN

    Trans-Tasman media group APN News & Media has posted a loss of $10.2 million for the year and announced plans to offload its regional newspapers in Australia.

    APN’s Australian Regional Media unit includes 12 daily newspapers, including The Gladstone Observer and Gympie Times, and more than 60 community publications.

    “APN has been a long-term supporter of regional publishing in Australia. However, our future investments must remain focused on growth assets and opportunities,” said chief executive Ciaran Davis, in a brief statement.

    The company said that while it has cut costs by $40 million at its Queensland and northern NSW regional newspapers, conditions remained challenging and more money was needed to develop the digital side of the business. “We have, therefore, commenced a process to divest ARM,” said Davis.

    The loss was driven by $80 million worth of impairment charges and other exceptional items. Revenues for 2015 were flat at $850 million.

  • ASGA launches upskill program for print workers

    Thirty-two staff members from 17 Sydney companies have signed up at TAFE Ultimo for a new Australian Sign and Graphics Association (ASGA) program aimed at upgrading the skills of printing industry workers.

    ASGA sourced NSW state government funding for the pilot project which will focus on increasing the number of skilled workers who can supervise and mentor apprentices on the job.

    'A distinct lack of qualified staff': Michael Punch, GM, ASGA

    “Our research into the sign and graphics industry indicated that not only was there a shortage of apprentices going into the trade, but also a distinct lack of qualified staff in workplaces across Australia able to supervise and monitor apprentices who might be taken on by employers,” Michael Punch, GM, ASGA, told Print21. “Our first course of action was to attempt to rectify the latter challenge and we started in Sydney because we were able to source significant state government funding to mount a pilot project here.”

    “Seventeen sign and graphics companies from areas including Brookvale, Blacktown, Springwood and Mulgrave nominated 32 participants,” said Punch. “Our NSW Industry Reference Group selected ten key units for assessment and in the initial information session last week at TAFE Ultimo, most of those present indicated they were proficient in nearly all the units.  It’s now up to the assessor to get proof of that proficiency by obtaining supportive paperwork or by a visit to the workplaces.  Where top-up training is required, that will be arranged between the assessor and the participant.”

    Once the project is completed, those who receive an accreditation certificate will be able to both supervise and monitor apprentices in their workplace, in accordance with current regulations for the CERT 111 qualification.

    “It is a pilot project but its success will give us the opportunity to seek federal funding so that the project can be replicated across all states and territories in Australia,” Punch said.

     

     

     

  • DTG unveils new direct-to-garment printer

    The new DTG Digital M3 direct-to-garment printer

    Innovative Sydney developer/manufacturer Impression Technology will release a new DTG Digital M3 direct-to-garment printer at Fespa 2016 in Amsterdam. The M3 supplements the current M-series range and offers more productive garment printing workflows with an average 30% productivity increase.

    “We wanted to increase the speed and simplify the user interface to make the new M3 into something that printers will find far easier to maintain and operate,” said Steve Richardson, CEO of Impression Technology, manufacturers of the DTG digital range. “With a rise in volume digital print demands from our customer base, we felt we needed to respond and offer more productive equipment within an acceptable capital investment bracket.”

    DGT Digital is well known for its direct-to-garment printers, with over 8000 installations to date.

    “Customers want to print volume orders reliably,” said Richardson. “We have worked hard to bring about what we believe is the most rugged printer with far less maintenance at a better price point in the market. We know what is needed by printers and this is the core difference with DTG Digital and the reason we are the most trusted brand globally. I’m very confident that printers will adopt the M3 as a breath of fresh air and continue the legacy which is the DTG M-series range.”

    The M3 includes a number of new features. An new Garment platen system made up of 3 sets of 4-2-1 platens allows prints to 3 x XXXXL  oversized garments, 6 x standard garments or 12 x smaller garments in one system, thus reducing the need for multiple platens in production and utilising the maximum field space of 1150mm x 650mm to its full capacity. The 4-2-1 platen system drastically increases flexibility and productivity allowing more opportunities for profit making volume print production requirements.

    The M3 will be available on limited release through www.dtgdigital.com

  • Blue Star acquires LCS Connect

    Blue Star, a division of ASX-listed IVE Group, has continued its expansion strategy with the acquisition of Melbourne-based direct communications service provider LCS Connect.

    LCS Connect specialises in data-driven business-to-customer communications and offers a range of personalised mail and digital communication solutions.

    “LCS Connect’s expert team, customised technology and depth of experience in the market will be a real asset to Blue Star,” said Matt Aitken, CEO, Blue Star. “LCS Connect is a leader in leveraging data for targeted communications, perfectly complementing our Blue Star DIRECT offering.”

    The LCS Connect operation will be integrated into the Blue Star DIRECT business at Clayton, Melbourne, with all LCS Connect staff, including MD Shane Gardiner, to assume roles in the combined business. “Becoming part of the Blue Star network opens many doors for the customers and staff of LCS Connect,” said Gardiner. “The opportunity to expand our reach and build on our existing offering within Blue Star is really exciting.”

    Blue Star businesses include Blue Star PRINT, Blue Star DIRECT, Blue Star WEB, Blue Star DISPLAY, Blue Star PROMOTE and Blue Star CONNECT.

     

  • Two weeks to FESPA Digital in Amsterdam

    More than 450 international digital print and signage companies will exhibit their latest technology at this year’s sold out FESPA Digital 2016 event at the RAI Exhibition Centre in Amsterdam.

    Exhibitors including Avery Dennison, Canon, EFI, Epson, Fujifilm, Mimaki, Mutoh, Ricoh and Roland DG have all signed up for the 10th anniversary edition of the event, which will be the biggest ever. FESPA Digital 2016, from 8-11 March, will cover the largest floor space in the show’s history, showcasing new products and applications for digital wide format print, digital textile, signage and printed interior decoration.

    In the digital halls (1, 3 and 7), visitors will find the latest equipment, consumables, software and applications for digital wide format print, as well as over 50 product launches from both international and smaller manufacturers. Visitors interested in signage and digital textile print will find dedicated textile and sign trails highlighting exhibitors offering these solutions alongside their digital wide format portfolio.

    This year’s event is co-located with: FESPA Textile for digital textile printing, including soft signage and garment decoration; European Sign Expo for non-printed signage; and Printeriors for printed interior decoration. This year, Printeriors will take the form of a Print Hotel, showcasing 16 room sets decorated using digital and textile print. Each room set will be a different hotel room such as a bathroom, bedroom, bar and meeting room, highlighting the many possibilities of using print for interior decoration.

    The educational programme at FESPA Digital will consist of two seminar theatres and both will host daily sessions looking at the trends and technologies in the digital and textile wide format print and signage sectors. Visitors will also find the Wrap Masters competition, which will the host the final of the European Wrap Masters and World Wrap Masters.

    “As the largest FESPA Digital event to date, it’s a must-visit for the global wide format print community” said Roz McGuinness, divisional director, FESPA.

    Visitors can still get free entry to FESPA Digital, which also includes entry to European Sign Expo, FESPA Textile and Printeriors, by using code ADOZ0710 when registering at www.fespadigital.com

     

  • Issue 782 – February 24

    It appears some sort of resolution may finally be on the table in the long-running fight over the future of the PIAA, after the two sides met for several hours yesterday.  In the meantime, watch this space.

    More details are expected shortly.

     

    Welcome to Print21, your prime news service for graphic arts professionals across Australia and New Zealand.

     

    Graham Osborne

    Online Editor

     

    (Publishing editor Patrick Howard is on the road in Europe visiting manufacturers and viewing the latest in printing technology.)

     

  • Blue Star adds Heidelberg Speedmaster

    The Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106-10-P+LX-LEUV colour perfector

    Blue Star Group’s web heatset division Blue Star WEB has become the first commercial printer in the Asia-Pacific to install the Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106-10-P+LX-LEUV colour perfector with coater.

    A team of expert local Heidelberg engineers and electricians installed the 26 metre, 93 tonne machine at the Blue Star facility in Sydney in 28 days. Blue Star WEB built a fully enclosed and temperature controlled room to house the machine.

    “Everybody claims they have the biggest and fastest machine in Australia and the latest acquisition made by Blue Star WEB is just that,” said Richard Timson, MD, Heidelberg Australia. “Heidelberg’s expert printing instructors worked closely with the Blue Star WEB team and the Heidelberg consumables technical team to deliver the press on time. Blue Star WEB is already into double shift production and we’re extremely pleased with the performance of everyone involved and the machine, which is a fantastic example of precision Heidelberg engineering.”

    Timson said Heidelberg’s focus in the pre-planning stage was to ensure Blue Star WEB had the most effective consumables package for a smooth start up. “This involved a lot of investigative work including seeking information from Heidelberg customers in Europe and Japan,” he said. “We also conducted tests in the Heidelberg showroom to establish the right consumables to achieve the perfect start-up.”

    Blue Star Group CEO Matt Aitken is more than happy with the results. “We’re delighted with the Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106-10 and are excited about the opportunities it provides for our customers. Blue Star WEB has a strong future and Blue Star is committed to investing in that future, just as we are across all of our operations.”

    'Delighted': Matt Aitken, CEO, Blue Star

    Blue Star WEB is the market leader in state-of-the-art publication, catalogue, brochure and corporate web heatset printing for Australia’s leading magazine titles, publishers and businesses.

    “The Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106-10 offers single pass productivity which not only enables our production team to produce high quality and high speed work, but also gives us the flexibility to handle both high output and small production batches,” said Darryl Meyer, GM Blue Star WEB.

    The XL106-10 has been purposely designed to produce the widest range of products with a maximum speed of 15,000 sph. The machine has the capacity to print on a wide stock range from 0.03mm to 0.8mm, further enhancing its capabilities and the opportunities for Blue Star WEB.  It’s been specified with up to five drying lamps and is able to run with both Low Energy and Hi Energy UV lamps. This enables Blue Star WEB to produce a wide range of products with all work completely dry as it exits the press and is moved to the bindery.

    Other features include the Interdeck dryers, which are capable of being moved to any position along the ten printing units to suit special work, and the end of press dryers. These dryers are equipped with three lamps following the coating tower and are capable of drying high gloss coating at the maximum speed with the minimum power. As is the case with most of the new Heidelberg presses, this press is fitted with the Heidelberg Inpress spectrophotometric inline colour measuring system for measurement and press register combined with the autoplate pro-plate mounting.

    With the patented Heidelberg Hycolor dampening system and Saphira High reactive inks, the printing is as stable as conventional printing. Blue Star WEB is able to print with the same print characteristics as conventional inks with a small learning curve for the operators to adapt to the new technology.

    The Heidelberg Saphira consumables package allows high speed printing on both sides of the sheet with high quality, instantly dry sheets with full UV Gloss and with full piles. Heidelberg Saphira products featured in the Blue Star WEB package include:

    • Toyo Low Energy UV Inks (supplied by Heidelberg)
    • Saphira UV and conventional coatings
    • Saphira Blankets
    • Saphira LE UV wash up solutions
    • Saphira long life ink duct foils

    Blue Star Group, a division of IVE Group, employs 1,000 people across its operations in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, and includes Blue Star PRINT, Blue Star DIRECT, Blue Star WEB, Blue Star DISPLAY, Blue Star PROMOTE and Blue Star CONNECT.

    IVE Group is an integrated marketing and print communication provider, encompassing four divisions: Blue Star, IVEO, Kalido and Pareto.

     

  • Print21 magazine Workflow Special is Out Now!

    Focusing on workflow and intelligence in printing, the latest issue of Print21 magazine hits your desk with the latest developments from leaders in automated workflow production. If you’re not getting yours – sign up here today.

    There are few more influential roles in the Australian graphic arts industry than steering the fortunes of Fuji Xerox – the number one digital supplier to the print-for-pay industry.  FX’s new man at the helm is Neil Whittaker (pictured), who crossed the Tasman to take up the role.  In an exclusive interview with Patrick Howard, he opens up on how Australia is so different to New Zealand and why he sees himself as a manager of change.

    Click go the sheets, boys: Alison Stieven-Taylor speaks with industry movers and shakers to get the lowdown on what’s happening with click-based print pricing.

    In Passing the baton cleanly, Andy McCourt looks at the generational transition from a baby-boomer dominated industry to one where Gen-X, Y and millennials step up to the mark.

    Tharstern Australia GM Matt Murray and Brad Hall of Picton Press outline some of the latest developments in rapidly evolving print management systems (MIS) technology.

    The digital transformation of industrial printing is examined by Ron Gilboa, Director of InfoTrends’ Production & Industrial Printing Advisory Service, on behalf of drupa 2016.

    And there’s lots more in this jam-packed issue of Print21, Australia and New Zealand’s leading graphic arts publication. Follow us in print and online.

  • Dick Smith drags down PMP profit

    Australasia’s leading printer PMP has blamed the collapse of retail chain Dick Smith and customers supplying their own paper for a 58.8 per cent drop in half year profit.

    PMP booked a $2.7 million impairment charge related to the money it’s owed by Dick Smith – a PMP customer for print and distribution services – into its first half accounts, pushing net profit for the six months to December 31 down to $1.78 million. A year earlier, the printing group posted a profit of $4.31 million.

    PMP added that it was unlikely to recover a total of $3.9 million owed by the electronics chain, which went into receivership in January with debts of $400 million.

    Total revenue dropped 8.7 per cent to $392.3 million, with most of the decline due to customers supplying their own paper, according to a company statement. Catalogue print volumes were down four per cent in Australia as the company exited low margin contracts, but distribution volumes were up six per cent. Lower publishing volumes in New Zealand were mostly offset by cost savings.

    Despite operating in a falling market, PMP’s distribution arm will receive a massive $1.5 billion boost in sales over the next five years after taking over rival Bauer Media’s distribution division, Network Services Company.

     

  • APN and oOh! ride the outdoor digital wave

    Leading outdoor advertising companies oOh! Media and APN Outdoor have posted strong results as digital billboards continue to drive the thriving outdoor market.

    APN Outdoor exceeded prospectus expectations by reporting a profit of $41 million for 2015, with revenue jumping 20 per cent to $300.8 million, while oOh! Media delivered $18.4 million in full year profit with revenue up 7.1 per cent to $280 million. Both companies listed on the ASX in late 2014.

    “Outdoor advertising momentum from 2015 has continued into the early months of 2016,” APN said in a statement. “Demand from advertisers and agencies for our large format digital screens remains strong and as a result, we are planning to accelerate our rollout programme in 2016 to over 20 new digital Elite Screens.”

    APN, which owns billboards at airports and train stations, and on buses and trams, said it increased market share in both Australia and New Zealand during 2015, aided by acquisitions, new products, operational improvements and contract wins. Audience numbers for outdoor advertising had risen in both countries, it said, due to population growth, increased travel habits and expanded urban areas.

    oOh! Media installed 900 new digital retail panels and 17 digital roadside billboards across Australia and New Zealand in 2015, and predicted that digital would generate half of its total revenue in three years.

    “Digital’s added another bow to our string, it’s added another capability to engage an audience and to have advertisers look at different creative ways they can use the medium,” CEO Brendon Cook told AAP. “We are not simply riding the wave of the industry performance; we are actively driving change within the out-of-home industry.”

  • Flint launches takeover bid for Siegwerk web offset

    Flint Group has issued an offer to acquire the web offset business of German-based ink manufacturer Siegwerk, in the latest consolidation deal in the global ink market.

    In a joint announcement, Flint Group, a global solutions provider to the packaging and print media industries, issued a binding offer to Siegwerk Druckfarben to acquire its web offset business, including Siegwerk’s Heatset and News Ink product lines.

    'Very excited': Antoine Fady, CEO, Flint Group

    “We are very excited by this transaction,” said Antoine Fady, CEO, Flint Group. “This investment confirms our long term commitment to customers in these key market segments and re-enforces our unique offering to the market of inks, press room chemicals and transfer media products. This commitment guarantees a long term supply position for our Heatset and News Ink customers and further enhances our strong focus on the Print Media and Packaging markets across the world.”

    Siegwerk’s decision to sell its web offset business is in line with a strategy to focus on its core business in packaging printing and to further build its market leadership in inks and coatings for labels and flexible packaging, where the company sees significant potential.

    “We need to clearly devote our resources to serving the markets of tomorrow and we will do so by focusing on our core packaging printing business,” said Herbert Forker, Siegwerk CEO. “It is here where we see significant growth opportunities, particularly within the strongly accelerating Asian markets.”

    All 76 permanent employees in Siegwerk’s web offset business will be offered a transfer into other areas within their facility at Siegburg in Germany, with Flint Group intending to employ a core team from Siegwerk’s web-offset business after the sale.

    The Siegwerk publication gravure business, which manufactures printing inks for high-end magazines, catalogues and commercials, will be continued. The company’s long-standing expertise and a market share of around 45 percent in Europe gives Siegwerk a strong market position in the area.

    Siegwerk said it would work closely with Flint Group to ensure that any handover of business is completed without disruption. Completion of the deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by competition authorities. Until approval is granted, Flint and Siegwerk will remain separate entities and continue to manage their affairs independently.

    In November 2015, Flint acquired leading digital solutions provider Xeikon, which designs, develops and delivers high-end digital colour presses and consumables for the global commercial, document, label and packaging market segments, distributing its solutions through a worldwide sales and service network.

    Flint Group 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. Headquartered in Luxembourg, Flint Group employs 6800 people. Revenues for 2014 were € 2.1 billion.

  • Turning waste into revenue

    Reinvention and change and change again. That is what survival comes down to, especially in the graphics industry.

    James Cropper Paper has been making paper for a global market since 1845 over which period reinvention has been a constant for the company. Their story is not so unique in that respect; however, this paper company is in the vanguard of new recycling developments. Today James Cropper Paper make paper from conventional materials such as cotton and wood, and unconventional ones including carbon fibre and recycled paper cups. To do this James Cropper Paper is pioneering environmental technology and providing new sustainability models serving markets in more than fifty countries.

    Laurel Brunner

    James Cropper’s technology for recycling paper cups is one extremely significant area of development, not least because paper cups generally end up in landfill. These cups are 95% wood fibre and 5% polyethylene which makes them unsuitable for recycling, so billions of the things go to landfill or are incinerated. James Cropper has built a dedicated facility for extracting the paper fibres and plastics from paper cups and food packaging, converting materials to create raw materials for new paper and plastic products such as garden furniture.

    It’s a simple yet ingenious process whereby the paper cups are softened in a warm solution to separate fibre and plastic coating. The plastic is skimmed off for recycling, and the remaining water and pulp then filtered. What remains is high grade pulp that can be used to produce luxury papers and packaging materials. James Cropper has a deal with McDonald’s and Simply Cups to collect paper cups for recycling. This gives McDonald’s some sustainability salve, but more importantly sets a precedent that other organisations can follow, especially if they are in the coffee business.

    The trick with any recycling project is to have a viable waste collection model that consumers and the food industry can support. It has to be convenient and cost effective and it has to reduce the overall environmental burden, rather than shifting it around. James Cropper and McDonald’s UK have set up a recycling trial at a selection of McDonald’s outlets, with used paper cups collected and delivered to James Cropper’s Reclaimed Fibre Facility. This is the world’s first commercial paper cup processing plant of its kind. The pulp is being used in the company’s Coffee range of papers, containing up to 50% of recycled drinks cup pulp.

    Turning waste into a revenue stream is one of the underlying factors in the Circular Economy. James Cropper Paper is leading the way for all paper companies who want to support the creation of new raw materials from waste. Let’s hope other companies take an interest in their technology and that we see the model spread.

    – Laurel Brunner

    Verdigris supporters who make this blog possible: Agfa GraphicsDigital DotsEFIFespaHeidelbergHPKodakMondiPragati OffsetRicohShimizu PrintingSplash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon

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

  • Heidelberg fires up for digital future

    Offset giant seeks to balance its portfolio by introducing new inkjet digital presses for both the packaging and label sectors while expanding its services to the printing industry.

    Michael Ring, formerly of Xeikon now with Gallus, shows off the Heidelberg Labelfire in St Gallen last week. (photo : Naresh Khanna.)

    The return of Dr Linzbach to an active CEO role with the iconic press manufacturer coincides with the pre-drupa launch last week of Heidelberg’s new orientation towards the printing industry. In terms of equipment, a new B1-size inkjet sheetfed press, the Primefire 106, along with the Gallus-built, Labelfire, web press, are set to define the future direction of the company. A renewed emphasis on services and consumables, which now account for a good half of the company’s revenue, is also remaking the Heidelberg brand.

    The ‘fire’ brand for its digital presses includes the Ricoh-built Linoprint, which will now be marketed as Versafire (as in versatile). Heidelberg is claiming a veritable success with 1000 Versafire engines in the market in the 18 months the company has sold the toner-based digital printer.

    Heidelberg’s digital Damascus moment came with the arrival of Dr Linzbach in 2012 to the top job, along with the realisation that of the 50 trillion printed pages in the market every year, only two per cent are printed digitally. Faced with a stable or declining offset presence, there was little choice for management but to radically reimagine the company’s relationship with the printing industry. Linzbach took the occasion of the company’s press conference in this drupa year to reveal he had been in the textile manufacturing industry, which is now virtually extinct in Europe, before shifting to his present role. It is hardly surprising that he has a sense of urgency in realigning the company’s strategy.

    The new Heidelberg has a two-pronged approach to the market. In addition to its digital developments there is a renewed emphasis on services under the command of board member, Harald Weimer. Everything from a wider range of accredited consumables to high-level performance enhancement consultancy emphasises that it is no longer business as usual for the market leader.

    Stephen Plenz shows off the first ever print from the Primefire, 'outstanding image quality.'

    Despite insisting that new products no longer define the company’s zeitgeist, Stephan Plenz, the board member responsible for equipment, had a grand time at the press launch introducing the Primefire 106. This is the long-awaited industrial B1-size inkjet press powered by Fujifilm Samba inkjet heads on a classical Heidelberg heavy-duty chassis. According to Plenz, it is the industrial digital solution the industry has been waiting for, faster and more reliable than toner-based technologies.

    It is certainly of impressive size, printing up to seven colours and although at the press conference we didn’t get to take away any samples (what is that with digital press manufacturers?), Plenz assured us the prints are of “outstanding image quality.” Running beta sites since last year, the Primefire 106 will be for sale at drupa. The press is undoubtedly aimed at the packaging market in terms of size and speed and also as a one-pass, one-side printer. The limitations of duplex inkjet on many lightweight commercial stocks have yet to be addressed.

    Heidelberg has history with digital print, apart from its Linoprint… sorry, Versafire success. It was a co-developer of the Kodak Nexpress in the 1990s.

    Since then it has played the field with various digital partners before getting into bed with Fujifilm on the Primefire and Labelfire. But it looks like a good match, even if Fujifilm has its own JetPress in the B2-size market. The two top management teams were on hand in Heidelberg last week to sing one another’s praises. It has taken a bare 18 months to bring the project from concept to market, surely a record for such a potentially defining product.

    It wasn’t the only new digital product launched last week, and tellingly there were no ‘new’ offset presses to look forward to at drupa. Before the press wagon pulled into Heidelberg we were shown around the St Gallen facility of Gallus, the company’s new wholly owned subsidiary. The ever-genial Ferd Ruesh, CEO of Gallus, grandson of its founder and the ‘anchor’ shareholder (read, the largest shareholder) in Heidelberg since he relinquished his remaining 70% shareholding last year, was on hand to waft visitors up snowy-topped Swiss mountains and feed them Swiss cheese before unveiling the Labelfire 340 (the press formerly known as the DCS340).

    This is also a Fujifilm Samba inkjet-head press, this time in the time-honoured Gallus complex in-line production style. The version on display was the one we saw at Labelexpo last year in Brussels with two flexo stations in addition to the digital inkjet. Two working presses are due to be installed at customer sites by the end of April.

    Undoubtedly all three partners in this Heidelberg digital renaissance are leaders in their respective fields: Heidelberg in sheetfed offset, Gallus in label converting and Fujifilm in a full range of graphic equipment and consumables. Much is made of the 1200 x 1200 resolution of the inkjet engines; of two picoliter drop size, of the unmatched paper handling and of the inline converting combination of printing technologies.

    But Stephan Plenz is right when he warns against expecting new products to change the world. Digital printing is an advanced science now with numerous contenders all with viable solutions. There is broad acceptance that the long-term future of printing will likely be inkjet, but as the man once said ‘in the long term we’ll all be dead.’ In the meantime companies such as Heidelberg have to reinvent themselves with all speed as the market for offset presses nosedives. Services and digital products are the logical and obvious ways to go.

    There is a real sense of urgency now about Heidelberg under the leadership of Dr Linzbach. It has the broadest customer base in the industry, it has plans for cloud-based benchmarking and performance enhancement and workflow integration consultancies and it has made a start with an impressive range of inkjet products.

    (There is also the Omnifire, a 3D inkjet machine that can print on anything, although the object usually nominated is a football for some reason.)

    These three are businesses that have a history of going out and acquiring whatever technology they imagine is necessary to service the future. Fujifilm, one of the great R&D companies in the world, owes its Samba inkjet heads to the acquisition of the US-based Dimatix. Even Gallus bought a flexible packaging equipment manufacturer, while Heidelberg has become a compulsive acquirer.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It only shows that Heidelberg is prepared to do whatever it takes to secure its future. It knows that only manufacturing sheetfed offset presses is not a long-term strategy. It appears to have no shortage of cash, even if its balance sheet is fairly shaky.

    This drupa it is announcing itself as a new-style enterprise, not only a manufacturer of presses, offset and digital inkjet, but an integrated business facilitator for the entire printing industry.

    For such an iconic brand, the future has arrived.