David Zwang travels around the globe helping companies increase their productivity, margins and market reach. He specializes in production optimization, strategic business planning, market analysis, and related services to companies in the vertical media communications market. Clients have included printers, manufacturers, retailers, publishers, premedia and US Government agencies. He can be reached at [email protected].
David Zwang talks with Carsten Bruhn, newly appointed President and CEO of Ricoh North America. Bruhn has been with Ricoh for more than 30 years, and he talks about his journey in the industry and in Ricoh, as well as how he sees Ricoh doing business as we emerge from the pandemic.
In this third article of this series, we continue to look at Industry 4.0, not as a marketing term, but in an actionable way that you can begin or continue to prepare your company and participate in the many benefits. In this article, we take a look at content production software.
The print label market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.2% from 2021 to 2026, and last year had a significant impact on consumer purchasing habits—as a result, it also had an impact on labels and packaging in general. David Zwang runs through some of the trends that have started shifting at an increased rate, facilitated by new technologies.
The Ghent Workgroup (GWG) is an international organization made up of graphic arts experts, users, hardware and software vendors as well as educational members building best practices for print and packaging workflows. David Zwang highlights the accomplishments the organization has achieved over the past 20 years, expanding beyond its initial goals.
In this new series we look at Industry 4.0—not as a marketing term, but in an actionable way so that you can begin or continue to prepare your company and participate in the many benefits. In this second article in the series, we take a look at internal hardware systems.
In this new series, we look at Industry 4.0. Not as a marketing term, but in an actionable way so that you can begin or continue to prepare your company and participate in the many benefits. In this first article of the series, we start at the beginning and look at the state of readiness.
In this Thought Leadership Series video sponsored by HP, David Zwang talks to Jason Raye, VP of Executive Label Inc. The company began with flexo presses and moved into digital printing in 2012 with an HP Indigo 6800. The company is on its third digital press, having recently installed an HP Indigo 8000. The transition into digital completely changed Empire’s business.
Printing is a valuable and versatile platform that provides methods of communication, identification, even interaction. However, what happens when you need your printing secure or validated? David Zwang looks at today’s options.
Pharmaceutical packaging compliance, including safety and supply chain visibility, is an area that demands secure packaging and label identification. Many new compliance regulations are designed to verify the authenticity and origin of raw materials and ingredients, and to effectively, quickly, and accurately track and trace the products as they move across a global supply chain. David Zwang looks at these regulations, some of the new technologies in place to comply with them, and how print service providers can ensure they are in compliance.
Business processes and production workflows cannot be stagnant and need to evolve as the markets and technologies evolve. Understanding the need and creating an infrastructure that supports that is key. The good news is that the options are improving.
Like many other industries, pharmaceuticals is going through a transition, and as we have seen before, industries in transition offer opportunities for those who are willing to learn and engage. David Zwang provides an overview of the latest trends in pharma packaging, and how to identify and take advantage of the opportunities.
Over the years, Kodak has developed many groundbreaking products and, along the way, very strong bonds with their customers. Considering their long history supporting print service providers with consumables and digital process solutions, they have been able to enhance their clients’ business growth and create a great platform for Kodak’s business growth as well, it makes perfect sense.
David Zwang talks to Crit Driessen, Senior Advisor Commercial and Industrial Printing at Canon Production Printing, and Walter Vogelsberger, VP Digital Packaging Printing at Canon Production Printing. Crit shares some of the latest Canon Labelstream installations and other news and, as Walter transitions into this new position, what he envisions for digital packaging at Canon.
The print industry has been going through a major evolution since the introduction of digital technologies. Trying to identify and quantify this shift has been almost impossible since many of the definitions of print and printing technologies haven’t been properly updated in decades. An important new initiative is tasked with drafting an “open” standard taxonomy for the global printing industry to address the issues.
NIXKA may be the new kid on the block, or are they? They actually have 30 years of expertise in developing ink and material jetting solutions, with an impressive track record. More importantly, they have the right philosophy.
David Zwang talks to Louis DeJesus, CEO and Founder of CompanyBox, which specializes in digital, on-demand packaging. The company leverages digital platforms, automation, and order aggregation so that the cost of one package is "the same as the cost of a truckload.”
David Zwang talks to Ernie Crawford, President and CEO of Crawford Technologies, about the evolution of the company. Founded 25 years ago, the company at that time was focused on helping organizations with the transition to then-new architectures like PostScript and PDF. Today, Crawford helps companies optimize workflows for transactional, direct mail, and commercial print.
David Zwang talks to Bob Seay, VP Digital Print Solutions, for Georgia-Pacific Corrugated, which recently acquired an HP T1100 digital press. The Hummingbird business within Georgia-Pacific’s Digital Printing Solutions provides fast-turn digital preprint corrugated. The T1100 press offers Georgia-Pacific new capabilities.
Color Management is the critical part of any reproduction process, especially as it relates to brand identity. We have good tools today, but as print applications expand beyond conventional media—for example, to packaging and industrial applications—we are starting to outgrow them.
David Zwang talks to David Ashton, EVP/Partner at the DC-area's Linemark Printing. Linemark does general commercial printing and transactional work, direct mail, and has a growing e-commerce business. Customers have pulled Linemark into some unique area—in particular, packaging printing.
David Zwang talks to Kasper Tomshoj, CEO of PrintVis, about the company’s almost 25-year history as an MIS provider for the printing and packaging industry. PrintVis recently teamed up with Kodak as an implementation partner as part of PRINERGY On Demand Business Solutions.
Todd Bigger, VP of Software and Services for Kodak, talks to David Zwang about the new iteration of PRINERGY On Demand. Back in May, Kodak moved moved PRINERGY into the cloud with PRINERGY On Demand and this Fall, Kodak is launching PRINERGY On Demand Business Solutions, a fully integrated and managed end-to-end software platform for all printers of any size and any segment that aims to eliminate the need for multiple standalone software products from different suppliers.
Ricoh is not a newcomer to production inkjet. But as a late-comer to cut-sheet production inkjet, how do you compete with both the existing B2+ and A3 presses in the market at the same time? Apparently, they figured it out!
2020 was a transformative year, not so much for new and significant developments in label and packaging printing technologies—although there were some—but for triggering increased awareness of the value of digital packaging production. David Zwang looks back at the year’s label and packaging products and technologies.
Duggal Visual Solutions is a company that has been growing and transforming itself since its inception in 1963, and through it all has maintained their core values of high quality and service to their customers. They have proved that they can, and will, continue to innovate and transform to meet the changing needs of visual communications.
David Zwang talks to Jenny Johnson Wolf and Mike Wolf of Label Specialties. Based in Louisville, Ky., Label Specialities is a trade printer that uses every technology available, especially flexo and, most recently, digital labels using HP presses. They also offer a variety of finishing and die-cutting services so as to be able to handle whatever requirements a customer may have.
David Zwang talks to Michael Duggal, CEO of Duggal Visual Solutions. The company started in 1963 as a boutique photo lab for artists and museums and has transformed with new technologies to offer a full gamut of visual communications—from high-quality photoprinting, wide-format printing and vehicle and building wraps,to fabrication services, to CGI and interactive digital multi-media. Duggal also just recently acquired a Landa S10 to broaden their print offerings even further.
Crit Driessen, VP Digital Packaging Print, Canon, talks with David Zwang about the installation of the first LabelStream 4000 series digital label press at Oschatz Visuelle Medien, a full-service visual communications agency based in Niedernhausen, near Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
In biology, “adaptation is the physical or behavioral characteristic of an organism that helps an organism to survive better in the surrounding environment.” When we look at one of the newer requirements of packaging—sustainability—we tend to limit it to the ecological focus, when the more consequential focus relates to adaptation.
In part 2 of a two-part video interview, David Zwang talks to Matt Reddington, Director of Global Design Services for Veritiv, about Veritiv Vine, the company’s new packaging and brand design offering. Vine is intended to bridge the gap between design and packaging production, combining design creativity with supply chain expertise.
The cost of printing has always been important. For packaging, which has volume counted in the tens of thousands to millions of pieces of each, it is a primary focus. Since the product manufacturing and time to market are dependent on it, not only is the cost of packaging important, but also the level of productivity.
In part 1 of a two-part video interview, David Zwang talks to Matt Reddington, Director of Global Design Services for Veritiv, about Veritiv Vine, the company’s new packaging and brand design offering. Vine is intended to bridge the gap between design and packaging production, combining design creativity with supply chain expertise.
While product counterfeiting has been an issue for many years, brands are now determined to address the issue head on. Security is becoming a crucial part of the packaging process, especially in the age of COVID.
Smithers print consultant Sean Smyth talks to David Zwang and recaps some of the highlights of Smithers' recent “Digital Print for Packaging” virtual event. Key takeaways included the relative resilience of the digital label and packaging communities, the emergence of cannabis packaging, and how ecommerce is changing the demand for and nature of packaging.
Growth projections from the pre-COVID forecast for digital print for packaging are just slightly below the initial 2019 forecast in the short term, while a longer-term forecast looks much more encouraging. However, moving from analog to digital production brings some challenges.
Packaging trends have been shifting since before the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue after it becomes a footnote in history, although perhaps at an accelerated pace. The real drivers for change are the rise of urban living and mega-cities and increased environmental awareness. This all means that packaging-based supply chains will continue to adapt to the growing population centers and drive packaging growth and shifts.
The potential opportunities in corrugated packaging are significant, but like any other process, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. In this article, we will look at some of the technical challenges.
Bespoke or “custom-built” solutions are moving print from a stand-alone process to become a part of the product manufacturing process. David Zwang takes a look at the current bespoke and hybrid packaging solutions, and the advantages they can have over pure digital or analog solutions.
Designing and creating policies and procedures that ensure that essential business functions/processes are available during and after a disaster is an important process for all businesses. If done properly, it can actually prove to be beneficial beyond business continuity and disaster recovery as a way to handle production overflow during peak times
David Zwang talks to thINK Board members Todd Roth and Pete Studer about how the Board made the decision to hold thINK as a virtual event, how they went about putting the event together, and how they approached the selection of specific programs and new topics to cover.
Now that production inkjet has finally reached the offset quality barrier, some believe that it is the death knell for toner. Although as Mark Twain said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” and based on recent developments in toner technology I believe that is the case here as well.
Considering most printing companies have an assortment of presses, finishing equipment, and product types, having disparate imposition workflows is a very inefficient way to manage it. Ultimate has raised the bar again with the just-released Impostrip 2020.
The planet earth and its natural resources have not grown in over 4 billion years, yet the population has increased from 800 million in 1700 to almost 8 billion in 2020, all competing for their share and putting great stress on the environment and the population. It is obvious that this rate of growth can’t be sustained without some proactive behavioral changes.
Over the last 170 years, Heidelberg has developed many new products, some have rewarded them with great success and others not. As an engineering company, it is in their nature to keep innovating, and as Albert Einstein said, “The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas.”
Canon has the leading market share in production inkjet and has the widest range of production inkjet presses available. With the introduction of the ProStream 1800, they are expanding their commercial production inkjet product line to continue to capture both toner and existing offset produced pages.
Is there a way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through printed materials using an antimicrobial paper treatment? Under the current circumstances, no commercial lab has a suitable test environment or authority to test against COVID-19. However, there may be a suitable solution tested against a similar virus.
David Zwang talks with John Beadel, President of Associated Printing Production Inc. (APPi), founded in 1991 by Beadel and his brother. From day one, the company’s primary client bases were the cruise line, hospitality, and leisure industries—the ones that were the hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Facing a “devastated business,” APPi worked with Biomaster on an antimicrobial coating for paper that provides life-time, 24/7 protection for printed materials. As the leisure industry starts to reopen, demand has skyrocketed.
Packaging has been going through a digital renaissance of late, and as the printing and converting hardware has been evolving, the workflow software to maximize the utilization of that hardware has been evolving as well. Based on these latest updates and solutions, it is apparent that Hybrid is looking at the requirements of Industry 4.0 and the interconnected business and manufacturing landscape.
David Zwang talks to Matt Mahoney, Executive VP of Sales & Marketing for Racami, a developer of software and IT services for transactional printers and direct marketers. Mahoney talks about some of the issues Racami customers have with variable-data printing, especially problems stemming from VDP PDF file creation, and some of the solutions Racami offers.
Gershon Alon, Head of HP PrintOS, HP Indigo, talks to David Zwang about how increased print jobs and the greater complexity of those jobs—largely due to variable data—have put great strains on digital front ends. Users thus need to create variable-data PDFs that won’t tie up RIPs and digital presses. HP’s partner Global Graphics recently released the “Full Speed Ahead” guide to variable-data print PDF creation.
There are currently many postprint corrugated solutions out there, yet most have not gained significant traction in the market. Xeikon, their credibility, and the market understanding of Flint, puts them in a great position to enter and even grow the market.
Martin Bailey, CTO of Global Graphics Software, talks with David Zwang about “Full Speed Ahead,” a new guide that helps people make PDF files for variable-data printing more efficiently, especially as VDP is taking off in new markets and applications, such as labels and packaging.
HP has spent the last four years developing ways to overcome the existing production barriers of their EP products and processes. They recently announced LEPx, a unique new imaging technology as an integral component of the V12, their future platform label press.
David Zwang talks with Jim Continenza about where Kodak is today, where it's going in the future, and how some of the changes Kodak made in the past year have helped the company weather the current crisis. The company is also using the shutdown to devote its energy to R&D.
In these difficult times where print and packaging ordering and production are occurring remotely, Remote Director has a solution and special arrangement for those in need of remote proofing. David Zwang talks to Remote Director President Dan Caldwell about the advantages of the company’s solution.
Our current “reality” may not be ideal, but as we come out of this pandemic and begin to redefine our “new normal,” we will find that print will play a big part in engaging that new reality. I am guessing it will also include AR, MR, and VR as well.
Global Graphics has developed the first direct-to-printhead processing pipeline using desktop class CPUs creating a future-proof solution to keep up with the latest production inkjet presses. This is a very significant development and is truly a game changer.
David Zwang talks to Chris Payne, CEO of Miraclon, the former Kodak flexo unit, about Miraclon’s one-year anniversary as an independent company, how the company has fared over the past year, as well as the state of business during the current crisis.
Canon has announced the next generation in its VarioPrint line of sheetfed inkjet presses. The varioPRINT iX series is built on a new platform, based on the experiences from the current i-series platform, and is designed for commercial print applications.
Kevin Shimamoto, CMO for Memjet, talks to David Zwang about how Memjet’s inkjet technology platforms and OEM partners are expanding single-pass inkjet into the mainstream printing market and beyond, into new and different applications.
Xeikon isn’t waiting until drupa 2021 to introduce new products they have been working on. The SX30000, Cheetah 2.0, and an upgraded X-800 are designed to reduce operating costs and increase competitiveness compared with other EP press manufacturers and entry level inkjet solutions like the Canon VarioPrint i300, and Xerox’s Rialto and Baltoro.
As the articles in our series on the cannabis packaging market have shown, this is a high-growth area—but various pitfalls abound. David Zwang talks to several companies producing packaging for the cannabis market and highlights the opportunities they've found and the challenges they faced.
On the heels of the HP PageWide announcement last week, HP Indigo has now announced some significant technology and product advancements which seem to reaffirm industry shifts, but more importantly highlight the company’s direction going forward.
HP likes to combine technology innovation with the release of a new press. In this case, the new innovation is HP Brilliant InkTMand the press is the new HP PageWide Web Press T250 HD. Targeted at commercial and publishing markets, initially Brilliant InkTMadds compatibility with offset coated and uncoated media through the selective use of a new HP Optimizer. This brings HP PageWide to the level of media handling capabilities of the competing Canon ProStream and Ricoh VC70000.
Carles Farre of HP talks to David Zwang about the just-announced HP PageWide Web Press T250 HD with Brilliant Ink. Brilliant Ink expands the range of applications users can produce, as it makes the HP PageWide T250 HD press compatible with offset coated stock.
Kevin Shimamoto is the CMO of Memjet, a company that is positioned to provide the tools for the next generation of printing applications. His background, and the Memjet mission, is a great story that brings energy and innovation to print.
On the 20th anniversary of Enfocus PitStop Server, one of the earliest of the automated workflow tools, there is a broader movement to bring automation tools to the next level in order to support the new business and production requirements of today and tomorrow.
Gavin Jordan-Smith, Senior VP, Commercial and Industrial Print, for Ricoh, looks ahead to drupa 2020, and anticipates the extent to which elements of “Industry 4.0” will play more significant and tangible roles in emerging new products. Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, will be increasingly integrated—not just for predictive maintenance, but also to intelligently control workflows.
Curtis Metz talks to David Zwang about Signs of Success, a company that contracts with sign shops to do installations of major sign projects—analog and dynamic digital—and how the company is growing its digital business. The company also has a side business in embroidery and custom heat-transfer T-shirts.
Greg Salzman, President of Aleyant Systems, talks to David Zwang about the value that a web-to-print/online ordering portal beings to a print business. Not only does it make it convenient for customers to place orders at any time, it also frees up resources within the print business, as it doesn’t require the involvement of sales or customer service reps, or even estimators.
High color corrugated packaging is growing and will continue to grow. The run sizes are getting smaller to adapt to the new market requirements, and the opportunities for print service providers to jump on this moving train abound. In Part 3 of this series, I focus on the available preprint solutions with some limited product mentions. Selecting which method is better is really based on a lot of factors, including your market opportunities, capital investment, production costs, and internal skills. Although making that determination also involves board and run size as well. Both analog and digital presses are and will continue to be in the mix and grow. It’s a pretty exciting time with some great opportunities.
In Part 2 of this series, I focus on the available digital post-print solutions with some limited product mentions. Leading up to drupa, I will cover some of the offerings in greater depth. All of the solutions discussed here are “single pass” printers, where the printheads are stationary and only the media moves. They include complete corrugating equipment with built in printing, to a tabletop printer with lots of other options in between. Equipment pricing ranges from in excess of $4MM to as low as $19K. In summary: Lots of Choices!
There are “two primary” corrugated print manufacturing processes for high graphics: a multi-process method of printing on a top sheet (liner) which is then laminated to the corrugated material, or, alternatively, a single process method of printing directly on the corrugated material, sometimes called “post-print.” In this article, we will look at the award-winning Bobst THQ (Très Haute Qualité) FlexoCloud technology focused on corrugated post-print production, and perhaps some alternative methods.
One of the more active growth areas for print service providers and of digital printing equipment development is corrugated, and for good reason. Estimates of corrugated shipments in North America are in excess of 420 billion square feet and growing. Estimates for three or more color “high graphics” corrugated production is growing as well with actual output for 2019 anticipated to have 20%–30% share of the overall corrugated volume. Overall, this is an exciting market with a lot of growth potential.
Wim Fransen, General Manager of Enfocus, talks to David Zwang about some of the major trends he has been seeing as we head toward drupa, including the emergence of faster technologies, the need to handle shorter job runs with faster turnaround times, and new front-end solutions that bridge the gap between job entry, MIS, and prepress.
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.
Trish Witkowski, Chief Fold Fanatic for Fold Factory, talks to David Zwang about “embellishments”—people love them, but are often scared of them. There is a perception that “special effects” are only for special projects, and embellishment examples are often highly elaborate and aspirational. As a result, printers don’t often see how embellishments can be scaled down and used for more day-to-day print applications.
Uteco and Kodak have just announced that they sold the first UTECO Sapphire EVO W product production inkjet press designed for flexible packaging. The “W” refers to “Wide” since this press has a 1250 mm (49 in.) width. The EVO W is the first press to be powered by the Kodak ULTRASTREAM technology. The press supports a higher resolution of 600 x 1800 dpi at up to 150 mpm (492 fpm). Overall productivity can be 4X over existing digital solutions.
Elie Khoury, President of Alwan Color Expertise, talks to David Zwang about extended color gamuts. The idea of expanding the color gamut of a press goes back decades, but the tools for its effective implementation were often lacking. Alwan Color Expertise is working to develop standards to help make extended gamut printing consistent and reliable.
Wim Fransen, Managing Director of Enfocus, talks to David Zwang about the proliferation of niche printing markets—commercial, labels, textiles, wide format, vehicle graphics, etc.—and how they all share many of the same underlying challenges. Enfocus has been seeking to develop specific configurations of its flagship PitStop software to address the individual needs of these vertical markets.
Patti Smith, Kodak’s VP, WW Business Development & Marketing, Digital Inkjet Printing, talks to David Zwang about the major trends that Kodak has been seeing in the lead-up to drupa 2020. The biggest among them is packaging, especially digital packaging, the demand for which is being driven by the brands.
David Zwang talks to Ernie Crawford, CEO of Crawford Technologies, a software company that focuses on the transactional printing market, helping organizations improve the ways that they deliver documents to customers, in print or omnichannel. The company just launched its new SmartSetup, designed for rapidly onboarding applications into workflow automation and ADF systems.
David Zwang talks to Federico D’Annunzio, Senior Innovation Advisor for the Bobst Group, about some of the new innovations surrounding digital label printing, and how the same automation process can be applied to digital inkjet, flexo, offset, or hybrid label printing equipment.
The most important thing to realize is that as technologies and markets change, the speed at which a company addresses business transformation can position them as a leader or laggard going forward. Examples of this can be seen in these two formerly leading companies, both with roots in Rochester N.Y., grappling with their own transformations while their customers are hav ing to do the same.
Marco Boer of I.T. Strategies talks to David Zwang at PRINTING United about the theme of the show: convergence, or that, in order to grow their businesses, printers need to incrementally add new kinds of print applications.
Simon Beltran, President of 4Over, talks about how the company has grown over the past 18 years to become the premier trade provider to the print industry in North America, with nine locations and 1,400 team members in the US and Canada. The company is continuing its transformation by adding and looking at new print applications, such as packaging.
Matt Miloszewski, Sales Director for the Eastern Region for printIQ talks about the company’s workflow software systems which are agnostic with regard to print process print process—digital, commercial, sheetfed, webfed, wide format, packaging, screen—and can be configured with unique features for specific types of print businesses.
Ricoh USA’s Gavin Jordan-Smith talks to David Zwang about the diverse equipment the company had on the show floor at PRINTING United, the variety of customers—including commercial as well as sign and display printers—who visited Ricoh’s booth, the surprising amount of business Ricoh was closing, and the overall air of excitement at the show.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.