WhatTheyThink

Print Finishing Commentary & Analysis

Cutting Safety in the Printing Industry

At any stage in the printing process, a worker may use a cutting tool, which implies a level of risk. As a result, cutting safety is essential, whether in large-scale printing outfits like book printing, or smaller operations like retail screen printing. This feature, sponsored by Slice, offers tips for ensuring the safe use of cutting equipment.  

Cutting Remarks: Finishing Systems Offer New Tools, Greater Productivity, and More Application Options

A rundown of some of the new tools and features that have come to cutting tables for wide-format finishing. Laser finishing systems also offer unique options for cutting and etching.

Selling CYMK+: A Starter Guide (Part 1)

One of the popular additions to print shops around the world is the ability to create products that add white ink, embossing, debossing, foil, iridescent and neon colors, metallics, varnishes, texture, and unique folds to create high value. We call it CYMK+ because much of this work is created on digital presses and the ability to add enhancements is the plus. The breadth of options for enhancement provide myriad possibilities, but that might make it hard to find a talk track for the sales team. In this two-part feature, Pat McGrew walks through the steps to sell CMYK+ capabilities.

Don’t Forget to Finish It!

Virtually every printed document requires some type of finishing. The expanding array of digital printing methods has changed the nature of finishing from large-scale devices focused on offset printing to automated methods that often occur alongside a production digital printer. To reach its true potential, the role of finishing must evolve as well. Recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends offers important insights on how print service providers (PSPs) can leverage finishing to win business and drive profitability.

Actega EcoLeaf (aka Nano Metallography) Digital Metallization Ready for Prime Time

At drupa 2016, Landa Labs introduced Nano Metallography, a new metallization technology to replace foils for embellishments. This process is designed to produce zero waste at less than half the cost of foil. In February of 2017, Actega Metal Print, a division of Altana AG, acquired the technology and rebranded it EcoLeaf. The solution is now going into beta and will be fully commercialized in time for drupa 2020.

How To Sell Enhanced Printing

“Digital enhancement” or enhanced printing is one of the hottest trends in the industry and has been the talk of many recent trade shows—but enhanced print doesn’t sell itself. Pat McGrew offers some tips and strategies for selling enhanced printing to maximize ROI.

Your Postal Strategy: Key Benefits of Postal Resources, Experience and Expanding Your Network

Does your organization have a postal strategy? Mailing may be considered an ancillary service offering for a professional printing company, or it may be your core offering as a mail service provider.

Executive Q&A—Wim Maes, Summa

Cary Sherburne talks to Wim Maes, Executive Member of the Board at Summa NV, a global leader in cutting and finishing equipment for the printing, signage, outdoor advertising, packaging, and textiles industries.

EskoWorld: Packaging Connected

Esko held its 28th EskoWorld in Nashville with an audience of over 550 attendees. Since its inception, this has been a go-to event for those in packaging production and signage, although the audience is now growing with about 25% of which were brand owners. This plays nicely into the theme “Packaging Connected.”

High-Value Digital Applications: New Opportunities on the Horizon

High-value applications and the digital devices that are required to produce them are becoming increasingly prevalent. These solutions are now moving downstream and have become accessible to medium-sized and even small print service providers. This article explores how high-value applications are coming to represent the fast track to the digital transformation.

Embellishments: What’s Old Is New Again and Still Adds Value!—Part 2

Embellishment has been a function of print production for as long as there has been printing. In fact, it almost goes back to the beginning of the writing of documents. There is no doubt that embellishment does add value to the printed product. Especially with the more recent introduction of digital embellishment technologies designed to complement digital printing. Now that embellishments have finally begun to capture market awareness, new developments are happening all the time. In part 2 of this series, David Zwang will look at new mainstream technologies that add embellishments and value to print and packaging production.

Embellishments: What’s Old Is New Again and Still Adds Value!—Part 1

Embellishment has been a function of print production for as long as there has been printing. In fact, it almost goes back to the beginning of the writing of documents. There is no doubt that embellishment does add value to the printed product. Especially with the more recent introduction of digital embellishment technologies, designed to complement digital printing technologies. New developments in digital embellishment are happening all the time now that it has finally begun to capture market awareness. In part one of this two-part feature, David Zwang will look at the added value and long history of embellishments.

Secure Printing Is an Industry-Wide Challenge

Security printing is no longer about just about foiling counterfeiters. From packaging to book printers to retail to businesses that serve the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, along with financial printers, protection of files and products must be considered. There is a need for a broader definition of what security printing means and for a greater number of print providers to think of themselves as “security printers.” Maybe instead it should be called “secure printing.”

Automation on Display at Hunkeler Innovationdays: Watch Out for the Robot!

During odd-numbered years, the Hunkeler-sponsored Innovationdays event in Luzern, Switzerland, features finishing solutions for the transactional, commercial graphic arts, and book industries. This article provides a brief overview of the announcements that brought the theme of automation to the forefront at this year’s event.

Hunkeler Innovationdays Does It Again!

Hunkeler Innovationdays is a biennial event that brings together some of the latest digital press workflows and equipment with the latest finishing equipment to showcase complete solutions. Surprisingly, this is done in an atmosphere that presents exhibitors as equals, without much of the hype or fanfare that you might expect at a print show. The theme of this year’s event “Success with Automation” is a very timely topic considering the growth and impact of production inkjet technology. As they have done in the past, they have accomplished their goal.

MGI AlphaJET: An Industrial Print Factory?

MGI’s AlphaJET is unique and it goes to the core of their company’s DNA: building “application-based” printing presses. However, it is designed to support a much wider range of solutions than just commercial printing applications, with a primary focus on packaging and industrial. It sure looks like a print factory…

Key Print Trends in Packaging to 2028

Smithers Pira shares its recent research that looks at the future of packaging to 2028, quantifying the overall market by packaging type and identifying the major emerging drivers of packaging market growth.

Labelexpo 2018 Part 2—Digital Embellishment Going Mainstream

Labelexpo 2018 in Rosemont, Ill., and PRINT 18 in Chicago are over, and it they were pretty exciting shows. The crowds were enthusiastic and buying from early indications. In this second of two parts I will look at how embellishment is moving from a standalone mechanical process to digital mainstream production.

Trend Watch: The Rise of the Blockbuster Self-Promotional Piece

Trish talks with Scott Engle of Graphic Visual Solutions of Greensboro, NC, about the power—and the pressure—of making visually striking (and costly) print capabilities brochures to inspire, educate, and motivate today’s customers.

Embracing Bindery Automation—It’s Time to Take the Leap

If the bindery is the final frontier of total workflow automation, and the technology has been in existence for over a decade, why are so many companies still passing on the opportunity to gain efficiency and save money? Trish will explore the challenges and benefits of taking the leap into bindery automation.

Faces of Finishing: Mark Nixon of Scodix on the Triumphs and Challenges of Bringing Disruptive Technology to Market

In the latest installment of this interview series, Trish Witkowski talks with Mark Nixon, GM and VP Sales for Scodix NA, about creating a market and elevating print with disruptive technology.

Trend Watch: Popularity of Press Coatings Drives “Designer Presses”

Greater awareness of special print effects and press coatings is driving printers to rethink their press configurations to meet the demands of discerning customers who need high-impact, quick-turn, two-sided printing with press coatings at a competitive price.

The Selling Power of a Successful Client Event

A successful client event can drive a lot of business your way, and deepen relationships with your customers. This week, Trish will share the secrets of successful events, along with some of the biggest mistakes that can trip up even the most well-intentioned host.

USPS Challenge: “Mr. Scratch-Off” Digital Variable Scratch and Reveal Technology

In the ongoing search for new print techniques and technologies for mail, Trish highlights an exciting digital variable scratch-off collaboration between Mohawk, HP and Lawton Connect in Orlando.

Throwback Thursday, Bindery Edition: Trish Asks Trade Binderies About Their Most Useful Vintage Machines

In this special Throwback Thursday feature, Trish reaches out to trade binderies to hunt for funky vintage machines that are still useful in today’s modern workflow. This first edition features fascinating finds from four well-known US binderies.

Faces of Finishing: Julie Watson of Ultimate TechnoGraphics on Building Software for Prepress-to-Finishing Automation

In the latest installment of this interview series, Trish Witkowski talks with Julie Watson, CEO of Ultimate Technographics, about developing software that drives value by eliminating touchpoints in the bindery.

Paul Marino of Impress Communications Puts 100% Accuracy into Practice with “Picture-Perfect” Bobst ACCUCHECK System

Trish visits the team at Impress Communications in Chatsworth, Calif., and speaks with owner Paul Marino about the challenges and the benefits of installing a 100% accurate quality control inspection system on their Bobst EXPERTFOLD folder-gluer line.

To Robotize or Not? The Real Numbers Behind Production Chain Productivity (Part 2 of 2)

In the second of this two-part feature on production chain productivity, guest-writer Henrik Christiansen of Graphic Robotics addresses the quantitative aspects of automation, and how the robotization of finishing processes in the appropriate production environments can greatly reduce labor costs and improve productivity. Read on.

Productivity and the Total Profitability of the Print Production Process (Part 1 of 2)

Henrik Christiansen of Graphic Robotics writes about the real meaning of productivity and efficiency in the print production process. This two-part article will address the quantitative side of automation in print.

Faces of Finishing: BindTech/Finish Line Bindery Owner John Helline On the Trade Bindery As an Investment Target

In the latest installment of this interview series, Trish Witkowski talks with bindery owner and investor John Helline on the pitfalls and the strategic opportunities involved in the trade bindery business.

Dangerous Potential: The True Power of A Strategic Approach to Paper Cutting and Handling

A shop’s cutting department is often thought of—when it’s thought of at all—as an “invisible workhorse”: highly productive—until it’s not. In this feature, Trish Witkowski takes a 360-degree look at cutting equipment, from retrofitting newer features onto older cutters, to the latest automated, and even robot-assisted, cutting systems.

Faces of Finishing: Industry Legend Werner Rebsamen On the Hidden Costs of Poor Material Handling

Trish kicks off a new interview series to introduce perspectives of knowledgeable people in the print-finishing category. The series begins with the legendary Werner Rebsamen, who steps out of retirement to share his opinion on the greatest advancements in bookbinding, and where he feels the trade still has a long way to go.

Welcome to the Future of Finishing!

Today marks the launch of a new Finishing Section on WhatTheyThink and section editor Trish Witkowski gives us an overview of the kinds of things she'll be covering in this special interest area. Welcome to the future of finishing!

In 2018, Take Print Where Digital Can't Go

Much has been written on the benefits of print and how we can help it compete for marketing dollars against digital marketing. But why try to compete at all? In 2018, why not capitalize on the capabilities of print that digital marketing cannot replicate?

Crossing the finish line – a Cinderella story

At drupa 2016, expect post-press to emerge as a Cinderella story. Already, prepress and print have benefited from technologies that speed work through the production process, but for many companies post-press processes are still a bottleneck.

What’s New at “the New MBO” Packaging Production, Among Other Things

Say “MBO” to anyone in the industry, and the reply will be “folders.” That answer still passes the word association test, but it’s far from being the full story of what this diversified supplier of graphic equipment now has to offer printers and packagers.

Industry Veteran Ramesh Ratan Joins Bell and Howell as CEO

Industry veteran Ramesh Ratan joined Bell and Howell as its CEO in January of 2014. He previously held executive positions with the DMA and Pitney Bowes, among others. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne speaks with him about Bell and Howell’s current state and it strategies for the future.

Offline Coating

Successfully integrating digital printing into your manufacturing process requires more than a digital press. Prepress and post press workflow changes and equipment are often required. Most printers have inline coating on their offset presses. Offline coating may be a new area with the addition of digital presses. What is right for you depends on your customer’s needs.

Packaging Brief: Highcon Update

As the digital transformation of the packaging industry continues to present new challenges and opportunities for both brand owners and converters, WhatTheyThink Senior Editor checked in with Aviv Ratzman, CEO of Highcon, to see what progress the company has made relative to Euclid, its market entry for laser die cutting and creasing. Read more.

An Inside Look at Allegra Network’s Marketing Resource Center

Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently had the opportunity to visit Allegra Network’s Marketing Resource Center, established more than two years ago to provide support to Allegra Network’s franchisees as they expand horizons into new business opportunities.

Transforming and Automating Workflows: Preparation is Paramount

In this article, David lays out the key steps necessary to prepare for a successful transformation. While it is important to look toward the final destination goal, without a map delineating the best path to achieve that goal, there are many more pitfalls along the way and unseen problems in the future.

From Bindery to Digital Books… Printing is Good Business for Bridgeport National Bindery

For the majority of its 65-year history, Bridgeport National Bindery (Agawam, MA) established its name by providing bookbinding. In 2003, Bridgeport began printing to satisfy the demand for single-run production. This article outlines how BNB has evolved its services to meet customers' changing needs.

Clean and Simple: FlexoConcepts Offers Uncomplicated Solution for Better Washups

With its microprocessors, relays, sensors, and software, a modern printing press is a marvel at squeezing time and cost out of production runs. But, one maker of press cleaning accessories contends that these complex systems can still get a big helping hand in a key press function from a simple but strategically placed strip of durable plastic.

CEO Fujio Mitarai and Canon Host US Media Tour

WhatTheyThink recently joined other editors and analysts on a media tour to Canon’s headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. There, we were given a unique opportunity to hear from Canon Chairman & CEO Fujio Mitarai on his “5 Year Plan” strategy that focuses on reforming production and a profitable position in the markets they serve.

Everything you wanted to know about UV Lamps

UV curing technology is seeing increased use in the printing industry, primarily for inks and coatings. UV lamps are a high performance component of the drying system. Proper maintenance as well as shopping around for sources can help you get the most from these systems.

Hybrid Printing at drupa

One of the key trends we are seeing today is the rise of the hybrid printing system. This is where a mix of printing technologies are used on a press or finishing system to allow for adding variable data to offset or flexo printed content.

King Printing - The Birthplace of Digital Book Printing?

Digital book printing is one of the hottest areas in the print industry today. Andy Tribute went to visit King Printing – a medium sized printer of modest origins - that may have been the first to provide digitally printed books. He discovered a ridiculously innovative family–run shop that has kept itself on the edge of new print technologies.

Lean and Mean: A Case Study in Remaining Competitive

Today’s printing environment is seeing shorter production cycles, diminishing run lengths, and an increased emphasis on versioning and variable data. The ability to respond quickly to varying customer demands requires the use of manufacturing production techniques and systems that can be reconfigured on the fly. This article discusses the lean manufacturing techniques that printers might utilize in today’s marketplace. It also provides background on RT Associates, who implemented lean manufacturing in 2008.

When It Comes to Technological Progress in Print, There's No Such Thing as A"Recession"

As it happens, and as reported below, both KBA and AccessGroup fared rather well as exhibitors at Print 09. But, like every other exhibitor, they have no illusions about the fact that because their customers are struggling, they too will continue to struggle against a recession from which printing could be one of the last industrial sectors to emerge. That lingering economic drag was evident throughout the show, even when interest in its many technological advancements was keenest.

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