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Joe Demharter of Presstek on the opportunities in packaging

Published on September 25, 2012

VP of Sales at Presstek Joe Demharter talks about getting into the packaging market and the opportunities it presents for the company.

Cary Sherburne: Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink, and I’m here with Joe Demharter, who is Vice President of Sales for Presstek. Welcome.

Joe Demharter: Thank you.

Cary Sherburne: You know, Presstek has been working hard to move up in to larger companies and expand your geographies and so on. Now you’re moving in to packaging market; maybe you could talk a little bit about that. That’s a new move for you, right?

Joe Demharter: Yeah, we’re very excited about the opportunities that exist in packaging. We see that market again moving in to shorter run applications, either going to larger presses, 56 inches and larger, or moving down to our 29 inch format of our 75. You know, we are perfectly positioned for that market; if the folding carton printer is looking for a 29-inch solution.

Cary Sherburne: So, what’s the – how thick a page?

Joe Demharter: We have an option up to 31-point stocks. So we can run thicker board through our press very effectively. Our standard is 24 point but the option to go to 31 point is available.

Cary Sherburne: That’s great and then you’ve actually sold at the – in to the packaging industry. So is that a folding carton application then?

Joe Demharter: Well, we actually have multiple DI process in the folding carton market. We’ve sold a number of our 52cm presses in the folding carton applications. So the 75 – this will be the first 75 going into a folding carton company.

Cary Sherburne: Great. Great. That’s great ‘cause you know we’re not gonna be buying our boxes of Cheerios over the Internet. I mean, we can buy them, but we can’t –

Joe Demharter: Well, we all believe that packaging is gonna be around for a long time. And one of the beauties about packaging is because so much of the consumer product companies are basically buying the same product from the same manufacturer; their only differentiation is the package. So there’s much more design and complexity going into packaging today, and because of our capabilities with up to ten towers, so we can run pantone colors. We can run color logics products. We can run a lot of different sophisticated solutions.

Cary Sherburne: Coatings.

Joe Demharter: Coatings, to really make that package shine.

Cary Sherburne: Plus you have the UV capabilities, right? On each of the – you can actually –

Joe Demharter: Yes. We offer two configurations. One would provide inter deck drying and the other would provide a UV coating over an aqueous coated sheet.

Cary Sherburne: So not probably too good for the food industry, but outside of food.

Joe Demharter: With –

Cary Sherburne: ‘Cause UV, direct contact with food.

Joe Demharter: Yeah. I mean, we were just talking to a customer downstairs that does a lot of work for a toy company and they have been requested, because of environmental reasons, to no longer foil on the packaging. So they are looking at a silver ink that can be coated that will bring out the sparkle of the silver; almost similar with what you would see with the foil stamp sheets. So there’s a lot of applications that we can satisfy with the 75.

Cary Sherburne: That’s terrific. Okay. Thank you.

Joe Demharter: Thank you.

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By Kevin Karstedt on Sep 25, 2012

Very interesting look at DI technology for cartons... So much work is now going to shorter runs... DI has a compelling case... Need to keep an eye on this...


By Erik Nikkanen on Sep 25, 2012

Need to keep an eye on the viability of the company. Not such a successful model just now.


By Pete Basiliere on Sep 26, 2012

Check out recent coverage by the local daily newspaper at: http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/business/976497-464/presstek-merger-details-revealed-in-proxy.html


By Kevin Karstedt on Sep 26, 2012

I think the deal with AIP will help Presstek move forward with no 'cloud' over it...


By Erik Nikkanen on Sep 26, 2012

Unfortunately Presstek is in a technical dead end as far as the DI concept goes. It serves a small niche where a small printer would not want plate imaging and developing equipment but for a larger operation is has a problem and does not make much sense.

It is not a digital press but just a waterless press with presetting capabilities. Consumables are more expensive.

DI is not suitable for large press formats so trying to go into the larger press sizes will not be successful.

If the DI concept is really so good, we would have more suppliers moving into that area instead of less, which has been the history. Also if the concept was so successful, Presstek would not be in the situation it is now. It is basically the only supplier and it still can not grow. No amount of financial backing is going to change that.

The market will decide the eventual outcome.


By Stan Najmr on Sep 27, 2012

I strongly disagree with your post, Erik. It was only few years ago when many “established” companies announced Apple’s “ technical dead end”. Why? Because “established” companies decided not to adopt anything from Apple. Where would customers be today if they would wait for them to “get it”?

I believe Presstek changed and continues changing the printing industry and it has now the opportunity to serve this industry even better.

On August 17th, 2012, you posted: “Most likely, most of the major innovation that will be used by the printing industry will be developed by those outside the industry.”
Presstek is a very revolutionary company which brought unique combination of laser technology, chemistry and digital data management to the entire printing industry.

The goal was to print offset quality as soon as possible. From the computer to a printed piece in only few minutes! In the process of achieving this goal chemical platemaking was made obsolete. Back in 1995 Presstek clearly stated that the future of the printing industry is going to be in the printer’s ability to produce profitable short runs. Their technology enabled many printers to generate good profit and take advantage of digital data handling. I am not sure, Erik, what is your definition of the digital press and what you consider expensive, but I am sure that you can’t get better ROI than Presstek equipment when short run is concerned. Presstek equipment is generating profit for many users all around the world. In the United States Presstek serves tens of thousands of printers and it has one of the best support infrastructures. Their service, on-line web portal and inside sales are to be desired by any manufacturer who is trying to serve printers in North America.

By the way, Eric, show me a supplier who did not and does not have troubles today. The real issue you should address is this nonsense desire for growth at all cost at all time. Presstek technology is very sound and it has a great development potential. Presstek has very large customer base, many loyal customers who purchased again and again Presstek technology and make money with it. You can’t measure technology by the stock price all the time. We are experiencing trying times for printers, manufacturers and everybody else in general. It is clear that the future is not here for anybody yet so before somebody eliminates anybody else from running we should learn from the history of Apple.

As you have said it in one of your recent posts, Eric: “I do agree that things are easy to talk about but hard to do.”

Cheer up!


By Erik Nikkanen on Sep 27, 2012

Stan, my comments were limited to the DI concept of the business and not the other Presstek technologies. DI was wrong from the start as a concept and has nothing to do with short make-readies on a press.

I am not smarter than the market and I will be happy to let the market decide. Let's talk in a year or two and see how things are then.

Of course in that time lithographic offset will get better at short runs and Landa and others on the digital printing side will be attacking that short run market also.

Presstek is not Apple. Who is the Steve Jobs at Presstek?


By Stan Najmr on Sep 27, 2012

DI concept is from the digital file to the printed sheet in few minutes without chemistry, additional resources and additional equipment. Maybe you are used to traditional press make-readies demonstration on the show floor. They all start with plates already made. Somebody has to make these plates, consume chemistry, energy, time and additional resource. By the time you make 4 plates you have a printed sheet on DI press! What is wrong with that, Erik?
You do not have to wait 2 years or so. Just go and visit any Presstek 52DI customer today and learn from them. You may be surprised.
Lithographic offset can do whatever it can but it will not be able to eliminate CTP. What about that concept?

I am also a big fan of Benny Landa, but show me the product making money on the customer site today, tomorrow or year from now. Two years from now everything will be short run.

You think Apple was just about Steve Jobs? Really? Man, stop reading those supermarket tabloids!


By Erik Nikkanen on Sep 27, 2012

Apple made money during these bad economic times and yes Apple was about Steve Jobs. They didn't need to use a bad economy as an excuse. They had amazing products that people wanted in large numbers.

Stan, are you still with Presstek or are you one of the execs that jumped ship?

DI is good for a small niche market and that is about it.

If you have to hang a plate then DI takes more press time. In larger operations with larger presses, press time is critical. Packaging printers tend to have larger presses.

If an operation is so small that DI fits, it is also a nice target for digital printing.

Let's see what the market says in 2 years.


By Stan Najmr on Sep 28, 2012

Erik, update yourself for your own sake, please. I heard this precious press time argument for the last time in the last century. As short run became common even on larger presses and overall print volume went down you could rarely see prepared imaged plates in the pressroom. Most operations run in “on demand mode”. Because printers are not getting more jobs to fully utilize their presses they have to inspect very closely their internal operations and remove bottlenecks and reduce production time and internal cost. All DI presses image all plates on the press at the same time. Try to image 8 plates on one CTP at the same time in just few minutes! Are you suggesting leaving conventional pressrooms as they are today and waiting for something new for 2 years? Why? Many DI owners are making money today because they are handling digital data in the most efficient way. They removed CTP device, CTP operator, chemistry and another opportunity to mess around with digital information and create mistakes because plate processor was not cleaned or because chemistry changed. Printer’s clients do not care what printer has inside but they will appreciate if they can see printed sheet in 10 minutes. You have a point when large press is printing a long run which may be the case in few packaging plants. Do visit Presstek 75DI installation and learn about DI advantages right there.
When you run your own business you can’t wait for 2 years. In today’s competitive environment you need to closely evaluate tools on hand and be as efficient as you can. Print volume is not growing and large runs are getting smaller. Sitting in the pressroom with poorly utilized press with computer-to-plate support infrastructure in the prepress area and receiving mostly short run jobs would move any business owner to some kind of an action. They should look at DI because DI was designed (since 1995) for short runs.
I would like to know your definition of “digital printing”. Are these toner systems? Should we also wait what happens with them in 2 years or should we just select right tools for right job and print efficiently today?
I did not jump the ship. This is not about me, Erik. I am just sharing facts. I am not a printing industry consultant and nobody pays me. I hope I gave you enough information which you can now verify in the field. When you will visit some Presstek 52DI and Presstek 75DI sites maybe you will share with us some new observations. Wouldn’t that be better than waiting for another 2 years?


By Stan Najmr on Sep 29, 2012

One more note, Erik, since you insist Steve Jobs was Apple.

If you have time, read very interesting story about Ron Avitzur. You can find it at www.pacifict.com/Story/.

I do not believe in company of one. Apple example also shows that very same silly hope in miracle of one almost destroyed it when “outside” executives were brought in.

This is what is wrong with global management today; Hope for miracle from one.

One can for sure inspire many. You asked who was Steve Jobs at Presstek. His name was Richard A. Williams and I had a privilege to work with him, travel with him and learn from him. He was a true renaissance man who helped many others and was behind products we use today. Dick inspired many.

Have a nice weekend!


By Erik Nikkanen on Sep 29, 2012

Stan, I can see you have strong views about the future of Presstek. Unfortunately I don't agree with your view or your reasoning.

Steve jobs founded apple and it did innovative things. He was pushed out of Apple and Apple failed. He came back and Apple succeeded. He is now gone and who knows what will happen at Apple.

I am sure Richard A. Williams was an amazing scientist and leader but he retired from Presstek almost 10 years ago and unfortunately died in 2008.

It is the future that is important and not the past. Presstek has a problem with DI in the future.


By Stan Najmr on Sep 29, 2012

With DI you save time and make money on short runs without cutting any corners. When you run your own business you need to worry about now and very near future. In your future, Erik, everybody has potential problems, Apple included. I do not share your gloom and doom.


By Paul Gardner on Oct 01, 2012

Stan and Erik, thanks for the education and perspective.

Having lived through the instability of the early KBA 74Karat presses, I am delighted that Presstek survived, and proved the concept valid.

But after spending a few weeks with a Heidelberg 52 Anicolor, I've come to doubt that making plates on press provides any advantage over other ultra-fast-makeready technologies.


By Erik Nikkanen on Oct 01, 2012

Paul, good point. The Anicolor press is also a lithographic press. The use of fountain solution on a press does not mean the process can not be consistent and not have short makereadies.

The Anicolor press has some limits on the amount of ink that will be fed onto the single form roller of this short roller train due to the anilox ink feed. That limitation also gives it more consistency.

The Anicolor press also has the single form roller concept that turn in register with the plate and this results in no ghosting and similar printing conditions everywhere on the image. That can not be said for the Presstek presses, which are basically old and normal offset roller train designs.

The single form roller fed with the anilox roller also means that the number of impressions to get to good print is less than for a normal roller train design. It has a faster response.

I think the Anicolor is an interesting press but I am not such a fan of it. But it does show that lithography can have very short makereadies. You don't need waterless.

Existing presses can be modified to obtain most of the benefits of Anicolor and new press designs can be developed to obtain all the advantages of the Anicolor and also be more consistent and be able to use different inks and run at different densities consistently.

This is the potential future for offset. The knowledge has already been developed to make it happen.


By Stan Najmr on Oct 02, 2012

Paul, Anicolor keeps prepress very busy. Because it is a press without ink zones color adjustments on the press console are almost impossible. If you decide to tweak color you will have to go back to prepress and burn plate (or plates) with new curve. DI eliminates resources in prepress, you do not need CTP device and you still can make color changes in the pressroom.Just run 3 files from the computer all the way to the paper (including prepress time) on Anicolor press and on Presstek 52DI and make some late minute changes, time it and compare it on the production floor rather than in the demo center. It depends on what you want to do, but Anicolor does not address prepress at all. I see no CTP in the digital world. Why would you buy or maintain it today for short run? Short run is all about immediate delivery and profitability. How many CTPs Indigo has? This is your competition today. Press with Anicolor is slightly faster on makeready than conventional press but it still requires old CTP infrastructure and resource.


By Paul Gardner on Oct 02, 2012


Slightly faster... ? I've seen 3-year old Anicolor do 10 minute, 10 sheet make-readies all day long. The baby Heidelberg is the quickest, most stable offset press I've ever lived with on a factory floor. Bar none!

And I've yet to figure out how to make money by chasing color on-press.



PS - No CTP would mean no Presstek. Computer-to-plate is computer-to-plate whether you burn the plate on press, or on a separate device.


By Stan Najmr on Oct 02, 2012

Komori and KBA also have impressive make-ready times, Paul, but if we talk about short run we need to see the entire picture from the time the digital data is received to the printed sheet. Imagine you have a very fast fighter airplane but you are still depending on somebody else to turn airplane’s propeller. It does not matter how fast you can possibly fly when you are sitting on the ground waiting for a jump start. In case of Anicolor, if for some reason you do need to “chase color on the press”, plane has to land and wait for the very same jump start again. This jump start requires a trained specialist, so now it is 2 of you doing job of one, waiting 6 minutes for each plate you need. You are not printing more, regardless what your make-ready time is, because your competitor without CTP has one operator running 2 or more digital presses producing not CTP plates but actual short run jobs. Can this valuable extra resource run a digital device like Indigo instead of cleaning processors and making plates? Yes, it was done 8 years ago already. In the printing industry you needed aircraft carrier to launch a single plane into the air. Time is different now. We have one pilot flying multiple drones from what used to be called “prepress”. Would you like to run plates for Anicolor or just print on the paper? You can say it does not matter because you still have CTP operator anyway in your existing production. Do you still think he or she would not like to print?


By Erik Nikkanen on Oct 02, 2012

Paul, thanks for your real life comments on the performance of the Anicolor press. It shows that a lithographic press can be stable and predictable for short runs. That is what I have been trying to tell the industry for over 15 years.

The Anicolor press has more capability of having accurate profiles than a press with a conventional roller train. Again, because the single form roller applies ink consistently in all areas of the image, this makes it more predictable. Even Heidelberg has stated this.

A conventional roller trains such as the one on the Presstek presses do not print the same around the plate cylinder in line with the solid control patch. This is know in the technical community.

This means that there is more potential for a conventional press design to have problems with hitting desired colour targets in the image than with the Anicolor concept. Of course some adjustments can be made on a conventional press but that does not fully correct a poor separation so there will be a compromise.

If the separations are not good enough for the Presstek press, it also has to wait until new image data is made.


By Stan Najmr on Oct 02, 2012

Erik, this is how you responded to WTT.com article covering Anicolor on February 1st, 2011:

"Sad situation. How does one get Heidelberg to move in the right direction? I don't know.

Many years ago, one of the top engineers at Heidelberg confirmed that a patent of mine would indeed decouple the ink and water relationship in an offset press. They agreed that it would result in consistent ink feed that was independent of water and other variables.

But would they move on this. No. It was too difficult for them to investigate anything unless it was a part of some kind of organized long term plan.

This kind of development would have been right down Heidelberg's alley but they do not have the imagination to take advantage of opportunities when they come up.

My emails with them will just become an interesting historical footnote of a potentially failed company that didn't know which way to turn on so many issues."

You are also stating today that all conventional presses have a problem because they do not have Anicolor in them. "Even Heidelberg has stated this." Don't you think that if this would be the case Heidelberg, KBA and others would implement Anilox rollers on all of their press models?

Presstek "decoupled" ink and water long time ago. It is called waterless printing on DI. You should check it out in action. Somehow I have a feeling you never saw Presstek 52 or 75 on the production floor.If you would see it you would enjoy it!


By Erik Nikkanen on Oct 02, 2012

As I stated in one of my previous posts above. I am not a fan of the Anicolor press design even though it has some interesting advantages.

I think Anicolor was a mistake for Heidelberg. KBA already has a similar anilox ink feed concept in their Rapida line. I think it is also a mistake.

Yes all conventional presses have problems.

You are in marketing and I am in engineering. We have different views.


By Rossitza Sardjeva on Oct 03, 2012

To compare digital offset(Presstek DI) with Heidelberg offset press with Anicolor ink system is not correct - they are completely different technologies! More rational of course is DI system, not any doubt...


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