Archive for February, 2018

  • Book printing drives Opus profits

    The Ligare plant in Sydney.

    Hong Kong-controlled Opus Group – which includes Ligare, CanPrint and McPherson’s – increased its profit after tax by 3 percent to $5.7 million for the year ended December 2017.

    The company, which exited the outdoor media market in 2016 to focus on publishing, reported steady growth in its core business – ‘book and book-like printing in niche markets in Australia,’ despite a reduction in revenue, which was down 9 percent to $79.2 million.

    ‘Steady growth in our bottom line’: Richard Celarc, chairman, Opus Group.

    “With 2017 being the first full year of the group manufacturing exclusively in Australia and solely for publishing customers, the results are in line with the board expectations,” said Opus chairman Richard Celarc.

    “Each of our businesses (Ligare in Sydney, CanPrint in Canberra and McPherson’s Printing in country Victoria) have worked hard to refine core capabilities and consolidate business operations with a ‘continuous improvement’ mentality. This approach is yielding positive results with steady growth in our bottom line against reduced revenue and we will continue to work to be at the top of our game.

    “Investment in equipment and technology will continue and I look forward to enhancing the close working relationships with our key customers and suppliers in 2018.”

    In its statement to the ASX, Opus noted that increasing benefits from joint initiatives with majority shareholder Lion Rock Group (formerly 1010 Printing Group), included “the ability to offer customers multi-country print solutions.”

  • Screen’s Truepress 520HD wins 2nd tech award

    Screen’s TruePress Jet520HD press with SC inks.

    Screen’s Truepress Jet520HD, a digital inkjet press, has won a 2018 technology award from the Japanese Society of Printing Science and Technology (JSPST).

    The Truepress Jet520HD has become Screen’s flagship high-speed web model and, when running Screen’s new SC inks, can print directly on standard offset coated papers, which means no more expensive inkjet coated media or pre-treatment – with attendant cost-savings and quality improvements.

    “This is a great recognition’: Peter Scott, MD, Screen GP Australia.

    “This is a great recognition of Screen’s determination to bring high volume digital inkjet up to offset standards,” says Screen GP Australia MD Peter Scott. “It comes six months after the 520HD and SC inks received the InterTech Technology Award presented by Printing Industries of America, at the Print 17 trade show in Chicago last September.

    “The ability to print on offset coated stocks using inkjet brings down the barriers that have prevented quality offset printers from fully embracing digital. Paper costs have also reduced since standard offset stocks cost less than specially coated inkjet media, or pre-treating of offset papers.”

    The JSPST presents its awards in February each year to recognise technologies that have made an outstanding contribution to the growth of the printing industry or to the development of applications for other fields. In making its selection, the JSPST considers points including the level of innovation, progress, marketability and expandability shown by each technology.

    “Until recently, specialized inkjet paper was the only choice available when using inkjet presses,” said Tsuneo Baba, president of Screen Graphic Solutions. “However, we listened to calls from the market to be able to print directly onto standard offset coated paper and subsequently developed our award winning Truepress Jet520HD and SC inks.

    “Together these products deliver significantly improved cost efficiency and image quality that opens up a wide range of new applications in areas ranging from personalized direct mail to publishing and standard commercial printing.”

    The Truepress Jet520HD is equipped with 1,200 dpi high-resolution inkjet printheads that effectively deliver the rich color gamut, texture, detail, vibrancy and depth required for high-quality publishing and commercial printing. The press enables the achievement of superior image quality approaching offset printing at industry leading speeds.

    Tsuneo Baba, President of Screen Graphic Solutions Co. Ltd, receiving the JSPST technology award in Japan.

  • Mactac signs with HVG Graphics

    Richard Lucas of HVG Graphics Media (2nd from left) and Jordan Leach of Avery Dennison (2nd from right).

    Mactac, a leading global brand of pressure sensitive graphic and decorative products, has appointed HVG Graphics Media as its new distributor in Australia for screen, digital and architectural applications.

    “Since relaunching Mactac late last year, customers have been responding to our full range of quality and reasonably priced products for their needs in interior architecture and visual communication,” says Jordan Leach, business manager, Avery Dennison Graphic Solutions in Australia and New Zealand. “This agreement with HVG Graphics Media will give customers in Australia convenient access to Mactac’s products at HVG offices throughout Australia.” 

    US-based Avery Dennison acquired Mactac in 2016 from Platinum Equity for €200 million.

    “Mactac manufacture creative products perfectly positioned for customers in our core market segments,” says Brett Turner, product manager of Sydney-based HVG Graphics Media. “We consider this partnership to be a perfect blend of the strengths of a great European company with a great Australian distribution company. The industry and end-user will benefit out of the ready availability of such a strong product range.”

    Richard Lucas, GM of HVG, says the company is excited to be launching the Mactac range across its national distribution network.

    “This quality European product range compliments our current consumables range and helps provide many products in crucial growth areas of our portfolio, like perforated window films and the tough area of wall films that provide real solutions. Our team are looking forward to using their experience and knowledge to help support our customers to provide more solutions and more value for the end customer.”

    Mactac is a European manufacturer with over 50 years’ experience and has the strong backing of prestigious brands in areas ranging from architecture, interior design, signage and marking, transport to advertising, supplying reliable quality films, along with a new range of specialty films for architectural and interior decoration.

  • IVE invests in automation on strong profit result

    IVE’s Franklin WEB.

    IVE Group has recorded ‘very strong’ first half results, with revenue up 73 per cent to $359 million and pro-forma earnings before tax up 57 per cent to $38.3 million.

    “The group’s financial performance is well up over the prior corresponding period and strong cashflows continue to support our ongoing high dividend yield,” says IVE Group executive chairman Geoff Selig. “It has been a very important period for the group as we successfully delivered over the past six months on all operational milestones.”

    The milestones included: completion of the Franklin WEB Victoria and AIW merger; the Franklin WEB NSW greenfield site becoming fully operational: the ordering of a 2nd 80-page press & ancillary equipment for Franklin WEB NSW; Blue Star Display Victoria’s merger with Franklin WEB’s retail display business and further expansion completed July 2017; SEMA acquisition completed September 2017 – full integration with Blue Star Direct on track for completion by May 2018; and the Dominion acquisition completed in November 2017.

    Selig says the company is on target to meets its FY18 full year earnings-before-tax guidance of $72m-$77m.

    IVE Group’s Franklin WEB site, Huntingwood, NSW.

    The company is pushing ahead with investment plans to further automate its new Franklin WEB site at Huntingwood in Sydney’s west, which became fully operational on 1 November, 2017. A new high-speed stitcher is now being installed and a second manroland 80-page Lithoman press is due in August.

    To support significant revenue growth and to re-balance capacity between NSW and Victoria to further enhance our ability to service national retailers, $50m has been invested to establish a highly automated and low cost Franklin WEB operation in NSW, the company told the ASX. Expansion of high-speed stitching capability is on track for commissioning in March 2018, and integrated inserting capability is due to be installed in February 2018.

     “A high-speed stitcher is being installed at Franklin WEB NSW at the moment and we’ll be commissioning that at the end of March,” says Warwick Hay, IVE’s managing director. “Our ultimate goal is as much automation as possible, and we’ve taken the best practices out of our sites at Franklin WEB in Melbourne and Blue Star at Silverwater to help set up the new Huntingwood facility. We’re very happy with the progress so far. It’s all about the balancing of loads and capacity across all three of our printing plants.”

    IVE announced an interim dividend of 8 cents per share.

     

     

     

  • Boardroom coup attempt at Xerox

    Major investor Darwin Deason has nominated a full slate of ten directors to replace Xerox Corp’s existing board at the company’s upcoming AGM, in his latest bid to block Fujifilm from taking over the company.

    “Do not let Fuji steal this company from us’: Xerox shareholder Darwin Deason. 

    Deason says that he has a right to nominate directors, despite missing a deadline, because the current board had made a series of decisions and disclosures material to stockholders after the deadline.

    The attempt to change the board follows a lawsuit filed earlier this month as Deason and fellow shareholder Carl Icahn try to stop Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings from taking over Xerox in a $6.1 billion deal that would combine Xerox with existing joint venture Fuji Xerox.

    The two investors, who control 15 percent of Xerox, say the proposed deal dramatically undervalues Xerox and disproportionately favors Fujifilm.

    Xerox was not immediately available for comment, according to Reuters.

    Xerox chief technology officer Steve Hoover said last week: “Change is here…we are not naïve, we know it will take work to dissolve the joint venture partner walls and integrate as a unified one-company team.”

    The company holds its annual meeting in May.

     

  • Australian Paper reopens talks with union

    Australian Paper and the AMWU have agreed to return to the negotiating table in a bid to end a strike over wages at the company’s Preston envelope manufacturing facility that has now entered its 7th week.

    Both parties will be back at the Fair Work Commission in Melbourne this afternoon at 2pm.

    “They made the first step and I think that’s a good sign,” says union delegate Dean Griffiths, who’s led 87 workers on a picket line outside the factory since mid-January.

    “We’ll meet at the commission offices but not in front of a commissioner so it will be the first meeting on neutral ground. It gives us a chance to get the ball rolling. The company got in contact so we’re hoping they will have something better to offer than the last time.”

    Griffiths will join two delegates from Preston and an IR officer from AMWU Victoria across the table from Australian Paper’s legal team and company representatives.

    “We don’t have any further comments to make at this stage,” said Craig Dunn, GM Communications & Sustainability for Australian Paper.

    Australian Paper’s envelope manufacturing facility at Preston in Melbourne.

    The long-running dispute went before a full bench of the FWC in Melbourne last week after Australian Paper – owned by Japan’s Nippon Paper Group – applied for a suspension of the picket line amid reports the company was running low on supplies and had been forced to import envelopes from overseas to meet demand.

    Griffiths says workers are seeking ‘modest’ wage increases of 2.5 percent over three years while the company has offered a four-year deal including a wage freeze for one year, 2 percent rises in the second and third years and 2.5 percent in the fourth.

     

  • Issue 987 – February 28, 2018

    The differing results of the two largest printing companies in the region, PMP and IVE Group, stand in stark contrast. In simple terms, one’s making money, the other’s making a loss. But when dealing with enterprises of this scale it’s never as simple as that. Significant disruption to both operations follows the landmark consolidation in the sector. Plant closures and openings, significant investment in new presses as well as in payouts fuel a dynamic sector and cloud the result.

    While it’s still early to declare winners and losers, IVE Group shareholders are surely enjoying a better result so far.

    Welcome to your latest issue of Print21, the premier news and information service to the printing industry across Australia and New Zealand.

    Patrick Howard
    Publishing Editor

  • PMP posts $19m loss despite IPMG boost

    The region’s largest printing company PMP has posted a net loss of $19 million for the six months ended December 31, 2017, despite a 52% jump in sales driven by the acquisition of IPMG.

    Total sales revenue was $398.5 million, up from 262.2 million in the prior corresponding period (pcp). Net loss (after tax and significant items) was $19.5m, compared to a loss of $14.5m (pcp). Cash significant items totalled $14.6m, with $16.8m cash out  for redundancies and press relocations. EBITDA before significant items was $20.2m.

    ‘The board and management are not satisfied’: new PMP CEO Kevin Slaven.

    “Whilst sales are significantly high pcp, this is because of the inclusion of IPMG Print and Marketing Services revenue, partially offset by lower sales at PMPNZ and Distribution,” said newly named CEO Kevin Slaven, who had been acting as interim CEO since the retirement of Peter George in December.

    “Whilst the overall heatset print volumes in Australia were slightly ahead of guidance given in November 2017, this was offset by lower than expected average prices due to a change in work mix mainly in the publishing/newspaper sector and some minor cost-out timing variances,” Slaven said. “The board and management are not satisfed with this result and are working hard to ensure we improve the underlying Print Australia results.”

    Print Australia revenues jumped 117.9% to $244.7m – with a $132.3m boost in heatset sales from the inclusion of six months of IPMG print revenues.

    Retail market conditions continued to remain very tough with many retailers controlling costs via format changes/pagination while magazine publisher print runs and titles being published are also reducing.

    As announced in a profit downgrade earlier this month, PMP’s guidance for FY18 is now $40m-$50m EBITDA (before significant items). Net debt at June 2018 is now expected to be $35m-$40m.

    “Whilst PMP remains confident that the changes to industry structure and its continued focus on costs will provide the opportunity to improve profitability over the medium term, it recognizes the ongoing challenging conditions in the retail, publishing and newspaper industries,” said Slaven.

     

     

  • Sign & Display delivers for Spicers

    Paper merchant Spicers reported a statutory profit after tax of $1.9 million for the half-year ended December 2017, with net sales down 1 percent to $193.2 million.

    Spicers CEO David Martin

    Spicers CEO David Martin said underlying earnings jumped 38.9 percent to $4.5 million, due to a combination of cost savings and improved trading performance in Australia.

    “I am pleased to be able to report a significant increase in group underlying earnings for the first-half of the 2018 financial year, a result of our people across the group successfully executing against our strategies over the past year.

    “Going forward we will continue to focus on optimising operating returns and cash flows in print and packaging categories, while generating profitable revenue growth in sign and display and other new growth categories.”

    The Australian business reported earnings up 69.9 percent to $3.1 million. The rate of decline in print and packaging sales revenue moderated in comparison to recent periods, while sign and display revenue streams grew strongly.

     “As promised, we are realising cost savings in our Australian organisation by improving operational efficiency and streamlining administrative activities. Further, our structured approach to portfolio management and market engagement is driving improvements in trading and profit returns across all our product revenue streams.”

    “We continue to closely manage working capital and cash across all our businesses,” said Martin. “Inventory levels, in particular, have reduced in comparison to both June 2017 and prior year balances, driven by our focus on supply chain efficiency and return on inventory investment in every product portfolio.

     “Our Asian operations have grown their revenues and earnings, particularly in print and packaging categories in Malaysia. Our New Zealand business continues to deliver healthy returns in flat market conditions, with the recent Sign Technology acquisitions contributing revenues and profits as expected.”

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Better margins boost Salmat’s half-year

    Letterboxing giant Salmat has posted a 75 percent increase in net profit in its half-yearly results for the second half of 2017. Though revenue was down, the boost in profits was driven by improved margins and reduced costs.

    Rebecca Lowde, CEO Salmat

    Net profit after tax was $2.1 million, up from $1.2 million in the first half of last year; this is despite a 4.1 percent drop in revenue over the same period. Dividends have also resumed at 1.0 cents per share. Rebecca Lowde, who took the reins at Salmat as CEO in December, told Print21 that the company was making better use of its revenue. “A number of measures have contributed to the results, including margins from new business being better than from existing or discontinued clients, and a very tight focus on cost savings initiatives including a reduction in discretionary spend, facility expenses and bad debt year on year.

    “While revenue has dipped in this period, the new business that has been won is higher quality revenue, and we are doing more with that revenue in line with our long term sustainability goals,” said Lowde.

    Salmat offloaded a number of its businesses last year, including the MessageNet SMS service in December. Lowde said these sales had allowed Salmat to focus on its core business areas. “The divestments generated $15.3 million and Salmat now has a simpler and more focused Marketing Solutions offering of Search, Email and eCommerce complementing our letterbox distribution and Lasoo businesses.

    “Salmat has made great strides in cost management, net operating cash flow, earnings and net profit.  We will continue to invest and innovate as part of our strategy to ensure long term sustainability. Our immediate focus is on driving new business across our Marketing Solutions and Contact Solutions segments,” she said.

  • Jobs: Technical Team Leader, February 28, 2018

    About Currie

    A proudly Australian owned trading company with clients going back three generations, Currie Group is the market leading supplier to the Graphic Arts industry within Australia and New Zealand. Spanning over six decades, Currie Group represents the best of the best supporting world class technology.

    We have a unique opportunity for an extremely motivated Technical Team Leader to join our Sydney, Australia division.

    The main focus of this role is to provide technical leadership, support and back-up to a group of designated Field Service Engineers.

    What’s on offer:

    • Attractive remuneration package including a basic salary, motor vehicle allowance and superannuation
    • Great working environment
    • A business culture which supports personal development
    • Certified training where required
    • Tool set, laptop and mobile phone

    Responsibilities include:

    • All tasks related to a Field Service Engineer
    • Supervision of designated Customer Support Engineers and Application Engineers
    • Provide timely feedback to the individual and the team on their performance
    • Assist Operations Manager performance reviews
    • Resolution of abnormal customer satisfaction issues relating to poor machine performance
    • Assist in decision-making in respect to issues that require a wider response than that of a single team and to work with and support other technical leaders
    • Playing an active part in the team by spending 70% of available work hours involved in field service activities
    • Record and report the required information in a timely and accurate manner
    • Hold regular team meetings

    Your skill set should include:

    • Experience in leading a service team in a similar technical leader role
    • Experience in Labels & Packaging/General Commercial Print segments
    • Ability to carry out mechanical and electrical repairs
    • Ability to work with minimum supervision
    • Work well under pressure
    • Great communication skills. Can listen as well as have the ability to establish and build both internal and external relationships
    • Disciplined approach to service reporting including service hours and parts usage

    To apply for this role, please send your cover letter and CV to Lyn Geach at lyngeach@curriegroup.com.au or call 03 9810 8888 for more information on this position.

     

  • I, Robot. Maybe – Print21 magazine

    Epson has unveiled a “seeing, sensing, thinking, working” autonomous dual-arm robot named the WorkSense W-01.

    Print21 magazine editor Andy McCourt looks at the rise and state of play of robotics in manufacturing – and print/packaging in particular, in the latest issue of Print21 magazine, and available online here.

     

     

     

     

  • CMYKhub upgrades its digital finishing

    Shannon Nankervis, CMYKhub, with the new Horizon Mark III StitchLiner.

    CMYKhub has installed a new Horizon StitchLiner Mark III from Currie Group into its plant at Heidelberg West, Victoria, as part of a push to improve its digital book finishing capabilities across the eastern seaboard.

    Shannon Nankervis, digital manager at CMYKhub, told Print21 that the company consolidated and updated its equipment in Melbourne and Sydney, and moved some machines to Brisbane. “With the support of Currie Group, we were able to review our current layout, and decide where to upgrade and where to relocate. As a result, our ability to now service clients for short run books in each state has significantly improved,” said Nankervis.

    One of the new machines, a Horizon StitchLiner Mark III, allowed CMYKhub to roll its digital book finishing and collating into one machine. “The improvements to make-ready on our perfect binder also made this compelling. With the StitchLiner, the skill sets are reduced when machines consolidate, which allows understanding of maximum machine parameters, increasing product types for our customers.

    “Honestly this is the machine we have been waiting for since our B2-sized HP Indigo press was installed,” he added.

    Bernie Robinson.

    Bernie Robinson, managing director of Currie Group, said the next-generation StitchLiner Mark III, which was launched at PacPrint last year, features improved production efficiencies and functionalities. “You’re getting a higher-quality booklet sheet job. Scoring and fold, wire length adjustment, booklet folding and trim are all improved in accuracy,” he said.

    This is CMYKhub’s second Horizon StitchLiner – the company has owned an original 5500 for eight years, and the new Mark III was installed shortly before Christmas. “CMYKhub is very happy with it, and we’re very happy to have them as one of our major Horizon finishing customers,” said Robinson.

  • Paper packaging versus plastic 

    There is a lot of chat going around as to the negative impact of plastic packaging on the environment. On the one hand, there’s eight million tonnes of the stuff floating malignant and unopposed in the oceans. And on the other, plastic is a very effective packaging material, especially for keeping food fresh and uncontaminated. It also extends its shelf life and it’s useful for displaying goods and for making carrier bags. Proponents of plastic packaging for bottles, bags, wrappers, tubs and trays will tell you this and they also claim that if some other material, such as metal or paper were used instead of plastic that overall emissions in terms of energy and greenhouse gases, would rise.

    It’s hard to get reliable data that supports this, but it’s true that plastic doesn’t weigh much so it doesn’t add a lot to transport costs and the associated emissions. It’s also durable and reliable so food waste is minimised: think loose versus plastic wrapped grapes. However, it’s also true that many products sold wrapped in plastic don’t need protection: think coconuts and rutabagas (swedes). The benefits of plastic are many, but there is no getting away from the fact that it is overused and that there are alternatives that have less of a negative impact on the environment.

    Paper companies such as Stora Enso and Sappi have made big strides in developing equivalent alternatives based on wood pulp, a renewable resource which also happens to offer an excellent carbon capture method. Trees not only capture carbon but they also consume it via photosynthesis, a process that also produces oxygen as a waste byproduct. Paptic has been developed by a Finnish start-up and it could replace both paper and plastic. This paper-based material is fully recyclable and is compatible with existing packaging lines. Its developers say that it’s “the next generation of paper with all the benefits of paper combined with the critical properties of plastics like heat sealability.”

    In response to such initiatives and to consumer worries, much has been done within the plastic industry to improve the material’s environmental impact. Plastic is mostly made from oil, so it is not easy to recycle. But some plastics can be recycled into new plastics and the rest can be incinerated to generate energy, assuming the stuff is collected in the first place. The recyclability or otherwise of plastic depends on its composition and the complexity of polymers involved: the fewer for instance in bottles, the better. Packages made from mixed ingredients are harder to turn into raw materials for new products.

    In the UK, where households generate 1.7 million tonnes of packaging waste annually, work is being done to reduce waste plastics to their components so that these chemicals can be reused. This work is still in its early stages, and in the meantime plastic continues to pollute the oceans and waterways.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

  • Issue 986 – February 23, 2018 Weekend SPECIAL

    It’s always good to see MPs engaging with their constituents, and this morning’s visit by Trent Zimmerman, MP for North Sydney, to Immij in Lane Cove was no exception. Here’s hoping meetings like this continue, so that politicians can see the importance of print to the economy and why it needs their support.

    Welcome to your latest issue of Print21, the premier news and information service to the printing industry across Australia and New Zealand.

    Jake Nelson
    Editor – Labels and Industrial Print

  • Showing politicians a positive Immij for print

    (L-R) Andrew Macaulay, PIAA; Adam Hanks and Robert Doban, Immij; Trent Zimmerman MP; and James Cryer, JDA.

    Representatives of Printing Industries and JDA Print Recruit met with Trent Zimmerman, Federal MP for North Sydney, at Immij’s offices in Lane Cove today to raise concerns facing the industry.

    Robert Doban, general manager, and Adam Hanks, sales director, showed Zimmerman around the facility, accompanied by James Cryer of JDA Print Recruit, Andrew Macaulay, CEO PIAA, and other visitors. Macaulay told Print21 that events like these were a vital part of the association’s strategy. “It’s critical that we have these outreach sessions with our legislators about the industry, its contribution to the economy, and the issues it’s facing,” he said.

    Macaulay and Cryer met with Zimmerman last November, and the MP says these meetings have given him a great understanding of the industry and its challenges, including high postage costs, environmental concerns, and soaring energy prices. “It’s been good to visit such a great local business in my electorate – they employ about 70 people here. There were a number of issues raised with me that I think are important, ranging from the impact of high energy prices to procurement by Australian governments, and how we can better support an industry that still has a strong skills base,” said Zimmerman.

    Adam Hanks (left) shows Trent Zimmerman an offset printing plate.

    Doban and Hanks, for their part, were happy to demonstrate their operations to their local member of Parliament, and Hanks said it helped them raise their concerns to someone who can help address them. “It was brilliant. I think we got the points across that we needed to get across. In the current status of where printing stands as an industry, I think we need all the support we can get on these issues,” he said.

  • HP PageWide – converting convertors to digital

    David Tomer with an “offset quality” corrugated package in front of the C500 at the HP Scitex manufacturing plant in Caesarea, Israel.

    A watershed moment has arrived for the packaging industry, especially the corrugated carton board sector, with the launch in Israel of the HP PageWide C500 press.

    The digital revolution that has transformed the commercial printing sector over the past two decades is now about to do the same to the packaging industry. Led by the label sector, digital printing is not only changing how the industry works but also how brands and consumers interact. Even as narrow web digital presses, such as the HP Indigo Series 4, make inroads into analogue volumes, while accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of actual jobs, the elephant in the room is the corrugated packaging sector.

    The packaging industry is worth $870 billion globally. The corrugated sector is a major sector and one of the last holdouts against digital. Largely a flexo printed, plain brown box affair in the midst of a colourful and increasingly customised world, it also represents a ubiquitous, but unexploited marketing channel for marketers struggling with the fragmentation of traditional media.

    Digital inkjet, both pre-print and post-print, not only allows brands to utilise the packaging real estate with bright colourful graphics, it also solves a number of production and logistical problems in a fast moving world. As companies move more towards just-in-time (JIT) production there is less opportunity or appetite to retain inventory. With marketers looking to leverage events and seasons to customise their products, packaging convertors are faced with shorter runs and little lead-time. Both challenges can be met by the unique qualities of digital printing.

    This is the opportunity being seized upon by Scitex, the HP company based in Israel. Best known for its sign and display presses, it has leveraged the huge HP technology infrastructure and experience in ink and thermal inkjet heads, to address the corrugated packaging market.

    According to David Tomer, GM HP Scitex, convertors now need to be agile and flexible in order to meet their customers’ requirements. For this they need to move towards digital production. “It has become a necessity for convertors. There is no question that digital printing is the future of corrugated; the only question is how fast it will happen,” he said, at the launch of the HP PageWide C500 press this week in Netanya, Israel.

    The first ‘alpha’ site for the inkjet behemoth is at Carmel Frenkel, a nearby convertor, with a second scheduled to go into Europe in March. All up, Tomer claims five signed orders will be delivered this year, with “dozens more in the pipeline. Convertors tell me they’ve been waiting for this technology for many years. In this case the market’s been ahead of the technology,” he said.

    The revolutionary C500 is a single-pass, post-print, water-based press with just one speed, 75 linear metres per minute. (Post-print means it prints on the already created corrugated board, as opposed to pre-print whereby the printed sheet is attached in the construction of the fluted board.) It utilizes one million inkjet nozzles (1200 per inch) delivering six picoliter drops to produce high-quality graphics with clear distinct type. Robust in construction and designed to work a

    David Tomer (center) with editors, John Kalkowski, US-based Packaging Strategies and Patrick Howard, Print21.

    longside flexo presses in the some times harsh industrial packaging environments, it’s built as a mainstream corrugated press.

    Tomer is keen to make the point that because the C500 is using water-based ink while delivering “offset quality,” it’s unquestionably suitable for the huge food packaging market. This represents more than 50% of the corrugated sector bringing the addressable market for the press to $3.5 billion in 2017 rising to $5.5 billion in 2023.

    “We’re now the only one with both pre-print and post-print technology,” said Tomer, referring to the company’s existing 15500 and 17000 HDR-based pre-print machines, which it’s been delivering for a number of years. There are a good number of them in the local Australian converting sector, which will have to wait at least a year before it can access the new press. The C500 is designed to bring more efficiency to the production process and show all the signs of being the first shot in a revolution that will change corrugated packaging forever.