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].
More printing companies are finding opportunities in packaging production as more targeted and shorter packaging production runs increase and new digital tools help reduce the skill sets required. However, many are finding that different production tools and workflows as well as new processes are required to optimize and succeed.
EFI and Fiery have been one company under Siris Capital for a while now, and the time has come to let each of them grow to their individual potential. David Zwang talks to Jeff Jacobson, former CEO of EFI and now the Executive Chairman of both companies, about how he will help support the new growth.
Since there is an increasing shift of consumers from large global brands to smaller local/regional brands, so is the amount of disparate packaging required. However, while the diversity of needs commercial print are feeling the pressures, packaging adds many other level of complexities.
David Zwang talks with Clyde Tillman of Lithec about the company’s 25-year-history in developing color control systems primarily for packaging systems. Six years ago, Lithec introduced LithoFlash, an in-press color control system for offset presses.
Hunkeler Innovationdays is not really an expo as you might expect, but is instead a unique gathering and presentation of complete digital print and finishing workflows. There are no expos or other events like this that provide the latest in digital printing and finishing equipment, in live and running complete multi-vendor end to end workflows.
The demand for shorter runs is increasing, driven by consumer market shifts across the packaging landscape. However, justifying the cost of digital corrugated production per package/box, when the ink cost is almost 10X the cost of flexo ink, and close to equal with the media in some cases, is difficult unless there is some added value or a more efficient solution.
Today, Gallus and Heidelberg, after some difficulties in the past, are affirming their roles as “natural relatives” to create the innovation and solution which benefit their customers and the industry as a whole.
As things start to wind down for a little while, many of us step back, think about new year’s resolutions, and take a look at what we do, how we got here, and where can we go in the future. Those reflections, in some cases, also remind us that perhaps life is really about the rewards of giving.
David Zwang talks to Matt Bennett, Bobst's General Mgr. Label and Mid Web Business NA, about how Bobst has found the sweet spot between digital and flexo for label production, and how the market acceptance has been encouraging.
Bobst has taken a measured approach to entering the digital print fray. Mr. Bobst often states that he prefers to wait for market entry until he has products that are deserving of the Bobst name and will deliver against the high expectations customers have about the company. While initially they offered a few all digital devices, Bobst has now started to integrate their inkjet print technology into their analog product line.
With the rise of the digital generation and social media, BookBaby has created the perfect role in the publishing and promoting of independent content creators. David Zwang talks with President James Foley as the company celebrates its 10th anniversary.
David Zwang talks with WCD’s Karen Brookman. WCD is a 70-year-old family owned digital printing and information management company based in Calgary, Alberta. The company offers a broad range of services, from document management and scanning to digital printing and signage. The company is focused on commerce and personalized on-demand print.
David Zwang talks talks with Matt Doran of The Anstadt Company. Founded in 1878, the company is a fifth-generation family-owned commercial print business that has expanded and diversified. It has been shedding its offset equipment in favor of HP Indigo Digital Presses.
The print service provider, their suppliers, and their customers are all a part of a value chain ecosystem, and as such their individual processes need to be aligned and bridged with each other for maximum operational benefit. As a result many of the more successful PSPs have tailored their workflow systems to their specific needs, usually using a modular Lego-like logic.
David Zwang talks with Dwayne Black, COO of Shutterfly. Founded in 1999, Shutterfly started out producing 4x6-inch prints, then expanded into cards, photo books, and gifts, and now can produce whatever the customer wants to personalize. The company has installed more than 30 HP Indigo 100K Digital Presses.
David Zwang talks with Chris Greene, COO of One Touch Point, a print marketing company offering direct mail printing, marketing materials, and grand-format, as well as digital marketing services. Their printing equipment runs the gamut from offset duplicators to the latest digital printing technologies. One Touch Point has worked extensively with HP Indigo, which has helped them address their business challenges.
David Zwang talks to Corefact’s Christopher Burnley. Corefact was founded in 2005 as a company selling analytics software to the real estate industry. They added direct mail printing capabilities to help build the software business and then began growing the print business, specializing in variable-data printing and some transactional. The company now has locations in California and Kentucky.
David Zwang talks to Sammy Shehadeh, President of Print-Hub, a printing company founded three-and-a-half-years ago out of hospitality and real estate businesses that needed printing, had difficulty finding a printer, so decided to start a print business to serve their own needs. They soon started printing for other customers and has since acquired another print business to expand their capabilities.
Even with Ricoh’s background in inkjet and cutsheet digital toner press manufacturing, developing a reliable larger format cutsheet industrial press takes a lot of research, testing, and time. With the Ricoh Pro Z75, this new B2+ press may really be a game changer.
David Zwang talks to Julie Watson, CEO of Ultimate TechnoGraphics, about the post-pandemic uptick in interest in workflow automation, the factors driving that interest, and Ultimate’s portfolio of automation solutions.
David Zwang talks to Mark Little, Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications, for Ricoh about Mark’s new role at Ricoh as a liaison between the company and its customers, helping customers identify specific desired outcomes and what solutions would bring about those outcomes.
At PRINTING United, David Zwang talks to Robert Stabler, managing director of Koenig & Bauer Durst about the joint venture between Koenig & Bauer and Durst to build single-pass inkjet presses for the corrugated printing market.
David Zwang talks to Hybrid Software Group CEO Mike Rottenborn about the evolution and growth of the company. Hybrid Software Group is one company with six operating businesses—Hybrid Software, Global Graphics, ColorLogic GmbH, iC3D, Xitron, and Meteor Inkjet—which serve predominantly, but not exclusively, packaging end users and OEMs.
David Zwang talks to HP Indigo Folding Carton Category Manager Glen Adams about how folding carton is the next big opportunity for digital print providers. This is a great interview to learn some of the basics!
Print technology and production methods have been changing along with the changing market requirements. All of this coupled with the “can do nature” of print and packaging service providers, continues to push technology and equipment manufacturers in new ways. David Zwang looks at how new modular component production solutions can be integrated and combined with almost all printing technologies including digital, offset, flexo, screen, and inkjet.
Designing a digital press for today’s market requirements can be a challenge. Canon’s latest production digital press is the result of years of customer feedback and engineering ingenuity. It focuses on productivity, cost control, automation, quality, and ease of use, individually and collectively.
David Zwang talks to Koenig & Bauer President and CEO Killian Renschler and Sr. VP Marketing and Product Management Eric Frank. Koenig & Bauer has been a powerhouse equipment manufacturer in the commercial print and packaging market for over a century. Through all of the changes, they have managed to keep very relevant and even thrive. Renschler and Frank talk about what the company has been working on.
David Zwang talks with Linnea Keen, President of Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI), a North American association of about 300 label and packaging converters, printers, and suppliers. Like the label and packaging industry in general, TLMI is growing and seeking to add new members in the flexible packaging area.
The integration of Gallus into Heidelberg is beginning to show impressive returns, starting with the Labelfire 340 hybrid press and now the Gallus One digital all-in-one label press, a jointly developed press and ecosystem. This new press is designed for the industry’s digital future and the new normal.
Rob Bullen, Label Production Manager for Calyx Containers, talks to David Zwang at the recent Labelexpo Americas show. Calyx Containers specializes in producing square childproof containers for the cannabis industry—they make the container via injection molding, print labels, and ship them to customers. The company has HP Indigo digital printing equipment, as well as digital embellishment and laser cutting capabilities. Calyx is looking to expand into other markets.
Kevin Karstedt talks to David Zwang about the history of packaging consultancy Karstedt Partners, which helps companies bring new and disruptive technologies to the market. They work with OEMs as well as brands and businesses throughout the label and packaging supply chain. It was recently announced that Karstedt Partners was acquired by Keypoint Intelligence.
Labelexpo cemented the reality that digital is very much on the rise and at lightning speeds. The digital equipment is getting more sophisticated and, more importantly, productive. Digitalization is what will provide the platform for the new normal.
David Zwang talks to Jeremy Letterman, COO of Brook+Whittle, a Guilford, Conn.-based prime label printer with 15 locations across the US. They specialize in pressure sensitive and shrink labels as well as flexible packaging, operating a mix of digital (mostly HP), flexo, and rotogravure equipment. Letterman attended Labelexpo Americas to investigate the latest digital label printing technologies, and especially embellishments.
Deanne Sinclair of Cambridge Label talks to David Zwang at last week’s Labelexpo. A family business founded in 1998 and based in Cambridge, Ont., Cambridge Label is a trade label business specializing in pressure sensitive labels and shrink sleeves. The company started with flexo equipment and in 2013 ventured into digital to take advantage of the short- to mid-size label market.
David Zwang talks to Cor Label’s Bryan Dolbow at last week’s Labelexpo. Cor Label was founded in August 2020 “from scratch,” the founders having no background in the label business. Armed with an HP Indigo 6K and a finisher, the company produces labels, flexible packaging, and shrink sleeves for customers in the nutraceutical and craft brewing markets in North, Central, and South America.
The level of excitement mirrored the general mood of the industry, and “we’re back but different” was the underlying theme of this event. The takeaway was there is no turning back and rapid change is the new normal, with digitalization as the lifeblood of the infrastructure.
Sinalite’s Mike Meshkati talks with David Zwang at last week’s Labelexpo Americas. Sinalite is a family-run wholesale printer founded in 1999. In their 100,000-sq.ft. facility, they offer commercial printing, signage, labels, apparel—“the whole Amazon of printing.”
EFI Fiery DFEs have been driving digital printers for over 30 years. As the digital printers and the market requirements they serve change, there is a need to bring more automated preflight to the production floor to ensure process consistency, EFI has ensured that their DFE meets those challenges with their customers in mind. This includes the newly released Fiery Preflight Pro, available for Fiery FS500 Pro and newer servers.
HP has announced a new PageWide packaging press that has a print width that fits nicely between their existing T400 and T1100 series presses corrugated preprint presses. However, the new T700i is designed for more than just corrugated preprint.
Yale Goldis, Director Commercial Strategy & Products, HP PageWide Industrial, discusses customer requirements and how this can translate into new developments and requirements for the new HP PageWide Advantage platform.
Barbara McManus, R&D Director for HP PageWide Industrial, offers some background to the development of the new HP PageWide Advantage Platform, and discusses the drivers that led to the creation of the new platform.
In 2006, HP commercialized its “Scalable Printing Technology,” and in 2008 they introduced the PageWide T300 production inkjet press. Now, 14 years later, with the benefit of a lot of company and customer experience, they are introducing a newly designed high performance press platform.
Joe Matthews, CEO of Independent Publishers Group, talks to David Zwang. IPG is a 50-year-old, family-owned book distribution business, the first to bring an alliance of small publishers together to act like one big publisher. IPG also operates two publishing companies: Chicago Review Press, which publishes adult nonfiction, and Triumph Books, which publishes sports titles. They recently added a print manufacturing facility which has become their biggest profit center.
Eric Blohm, President of Freedom Graphic Systems, talks to David Zwang at the recent thINK Forum. Founded in 1986, Freedom is a data-driven direct marketing company serving the financial services, insurance, telecom, and health care industries. The company has been primarily litho printing with inline inkjet imprinting, but has been migrating to digital.
David Zwang talks to Scott Williams, Director of Workflow Automation and Systems at Impact Mailing, a 40-year-old, 200-employee, family-owned business that specializes in direct mail, as well as transactional printing and pick-and-pack. The company is 100% digital, built around a Canon platform. As Director of Workflow Automation and Systems, Williams looks for ways to improve efficiency—whether that be new equipment, improved processes, new software, etc.
Christine Esparza, VP of Operations of InfoIMAGE talks with David Zwang at the recent thINK Forum. InfoIMAGE offers printed and electronic transactional materials for banks, credit unions, and insurance companies. The 38-year-old company has two facilities, in California and Texas, and 120–150 employees. She is attending the thINK Forum to help the company branch into color direct mail printing.
Going private again, and being in a position to select and negotiate any financing needs beyond what JBF Finance SA can provide on its own, should minimize and streamline the undue reporting burdens of a public company, and allow Bobst to innovate and focus on the company’s present and future.
Hunter Johnson, CEO, JPS Graphics talks with David Zwang at last week’s thINK Forum. JPS Graphics is a third-generation printer that specializes in book printing and kitting for learning organizations. Originally an offset shop, the company only recently added digital printing and last year added their first production inkjet machine.
Jeff Alexander, President of Alexander's Print Advantage, talks with Dave Zwang. Founded in 1979 as a retail copy center, the company gradually evolved into a trade printer producing one-off books, invitations, etc. Alexander’s Print Advantage has developed an automated system for onboarding customer orders.
With the aging out of skilled labor in the print and packaging industry, engaging and training new hires in the intricacies of print is becoming a problem. David Zwang looks at Canon’s Press automation modules, which can simplify the process while optimizing quality and productivity for new and even older digital presses.
There is a growing increase in orders for short-run on-demand packaging to satisfy shifting consumer purchasing requirements and operate at the “speed of retail.” However, while there are opportunities, there are many complexities not seen in commercial print that require a level of expertise not necessarily found in the producers’ kitchen, basement, or garage.
Industrial revolutions have been driving global change for centuries, and one thing is certain: they will continue to happen at an increasingly rapid rate. As an industry, we have a way to go, but to succeed you need to look at the transformation process as a journey and not expect to do it all at once.
Heidelberg Gallus has a long running program that offers silkscreen creation services as well as equipment and consumables for silkscreen creation on their flexo presses. Heidelberg has now opened up that program to the owners of competitors' presses as well.
David Zwang talks to Carl Joachim, Partner at ePAC, which is continuing their substantial growth globally to support the increased need for flexible packaging—and have also introduced "Connected Packaging."
Production inkjet is not new, but increasingly we are seeing it used in bespoke solutions that address many disparate manufacturing requirements. Importantly, this technology can also provide sustainable solutions.
Just as in web-to-print software solutions for commercial printers, online package creation is facilitating the rapid growth of shorter-run packaging to address the shifting market demands. These new online transaction design and procurement web-to-pack solutions, in combination with digital presses and laser die cutters, are also enabling many commercial printers to find a lift into becoming a packaging converter. David Zwang takes a look at the current web-to-pack landscape.
David Zwang talks to Perry Klein, VP Business Development of Mittera about the company's growth to 17 plants organically and through acquisitions, all the while keeping up with changing market requirements and challenges. All of this with an equipment list that covers most of the industry manufacturers!
David Zwang talks to Clarence Penge, Executive VP Product Management,
Heidelberg USA about the company's new program to instruct customers' employees in a variety of press, postpress, and general printing-related topics at the Print Media Center in Kennesaw, Ga.
David Zwang talks to Allen McNeill, owner of Jubilee Brands, who shares his fascinating story of using a digital press and some converting equipment to build a printing business around a specific product.
Does your business have a common informational structure? The US Navy and the rest of the Armed Forces do, and you can as well by converging people, process, and technologies. David Zwang talks to Marty Groover, Partner at C5MI, about how the benefits are significant, and if you haven't started, you may have to catch up later.
The challenges faced as a press manufacturer or even a print service provider when moving from commercial print to industrial and packaging market are very real and can be elusive and daunting. Most of all, though, it’s not just about technology.
There has been a running joke amongst some analysts and media that it takes at least two drupas—or about 8–10 years—before an initially shown product is ready for production. Granted, some of what is “envisioned” as new product technologies may never make it, but many products do successfully make it to market, ready for reliable production.
Paul Hudson explains his transition through a variety of digital and analog technologies to strenghthen and grow his business offerings. His recent purchase of a secnd Landa S10P digital B1 press rounds it out.
David Zwang talks to David Stevenson, Product Manager, Global Graphics, about how, by using its vast experience in RIPs and rendering, Hybrid Software has been able to create a high-performance framework for print inspection systems.
Press speeds, resolutions, and the use of variable data is growing, and with it the need to inspect the print for defects before it comes off the press and goes into finishing and converting is essential. Global Graphics Smart QI is a solution targeted at that increasing and demanding requirement.
David Zwang talks to Golan Landsberg, R&D Director and Head of Product Development for the HP Indigo V12 Label Press. This groundbreaking label press is a combination of an evolution and revolution in design and application. Take a behind-the-scenes look at its development.
Xeikon Café, held at the company’s headquarters, was full of great information, partners, and products, including some new ones. The takeaway was that Xeikon is positioned for good future growth with the confidence of their customers and a lot of new products.
David Zwang talks to Keren Yakolev, Head of Product & Business Development at HP Indigo, about how HP Indigo has been a leader in changing markets and market behavior in print and packaging. It’s not magic, its a process.
Agfa is in the process of acquiring two very synergistic operating units from SCREEN. These acquisitions could provide Agfa with the necessary technologies and strength to reinvigorate this distinguished company and provide the platform for future growth in packaging and industrial print.
David Zwang talks to Eli Mahal, Head of Marketing, Labels & Packaging, for
HP Indigo. HP Indigo and its customers have not been idle during the pandemic—growth has been significant for Indigo and for their customers in all segments.
HP Indigo held a VIP event at their facilities in Israel, the first one since February 2019. While a lot has changed for everyone since that last event, both the company and their customers have been knowingly or unknowingly preparing themselves and the market for these changes since 1993.
David Zwang talks to Andrew Mansfield, New Business Development for Harkwell Labels. The UK-based Harkwell has developed a great application that promotes a circular economy—and it can put a smile on your face.
Automated workflows are discussed a lot, yet the vast majority of print service providers still don’t have a comprehensive job preparation and prepress automation workflow in their operation. Fiery JobFlow is an easy to install and easy to use solution.
There are lots of moving parts in print manufacturing, and lots of new technologies and applications. David Zwang talks to Dr. John Anderson, Director of Advanced Print Applications for Miraclon, about some of the issues and advancements that will provide the new growth.
Increasingly, printing technology is changing to accommodate many new applications, from legacy printing and packaging to industrial print. David Zwang
talks to Kevin Bourquin, VP Operations, CyberGraphics, to see how CyberGraphics has figured out the way to keep up.
At Labelexpo in 2019, there was a smattering of hybrid presses, but since then the market for hybrid presses has grown with a proliferation of hybrid presses from many manufacturers. At that event, Bobst showed the Master DM5, their first take at a digital/flexo hybrid, which they identified as an “All in One” press. Over the years, they have enhanced the design and interface based on early customer feedback. The result is the just-released updated Digital Master 340 and Digital Master 510.
David Zwang talks to Dianne Kennedy of PQX Initiative about PQX and PRX, which now provide a "standardized" way to communicate print quality between the brand or consumer and producer for all forms of print and packaging using all types of equipment and ink.
David Zwang takes a look at the personnel shortage in the printing industry, and some ways of overcoming it. Market outreach and education is an important requirement, and it is the shared responsibility of the manufacturers, print service providers, suppliers, and industry associations.
Shifts in consumer purchasing, will continue to have an impact on packaging growth due to disruptions in the supply chain, shifts in consumer purchasing, and labor availability forcing consumer packaging groups (CPGs) to think about how they can be more efficient at what they do. Automation and even robots are a big part of the answer.
After three years, the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) was able to host a very successful forum and exhibition. Joe Tuccitto, FTA's Director of Education, takes us behind the scenes on creating this event.
David Zwang talks to Chris Raney, VP Postpress Product Management, Heidelberg US, about Heidelberg's updated and expanded postpress offerings. These include introducing push-to-stop folding, more automated cutting for commercial print, and die-cutting and folder gluers for folding carton production.
After three years, “there is a lot of catching up to do.” That was the mood at the FTA event in Ft. Worth. About 1,000 very energized people were there to meet colleagues, see new developments, and hear about how they can optimize their production systems.
David Zwang talks to Alon Bar-Shany Chairman of Highcon, Executive Chairman of Redefine Meat Ltd., Chairman and CEO of Twine Solutions, and former General Manager of HP Indigo about the digital transformation of graphic arts, printing, and packaging.
There is a wave of innovation in print and packaging equipment and workflow systems that are beginning to implement artificial intelligence, not just within an individual system but across complete supply chains between different systems, processes, and even extending to semi-autonomous labor. David Zwang rounds up the current state of the art.
As Heidelberg continues to broaden their press and postpress offerings, keeping up with the constantly changing Print Media Center is challenging and fun. David Zwang catches up with Jeff Powalisz, Director of Demo Room Operations, Heidelberg US, from the Demo Room.
As Rainer Hundsdörfer prepares to close out his successful tenure as Chairman of Heidelberg, he discusses the inherent company strengths and expertise along with a plan that will ensure Heidelberg will continue to grow in addition to and beyond print.
Rainer Hundsdörfer took the helm of Heidelberg in 2016 when things were not looking great. In his five-year tenure, they have been able to turn the company around financially and develop a roadmap for the future. Printing plays a big role in that future, but their strengths and opportunities extend beyond.
David Zwang talks to Dan Maurer, VP Product Management, Digital Print at Heidelberg US. Heidelberg has been selling digital presses for more than 11 years, and they are expanding their efforts and offerings.
David Zwang speaks with Alon Bar-Shany who has been on the front line of digital print and packaging transformation for more than 25 years. At HP, ultimately rising to the GM of HP Indigo, he was one of the leaders in the transformation of the printing industry to digital printing, and now is taking what he has learned and transforming other industries.
There is no doubt that digital packaging is a huge growth area for production inkjet, and SCREEN seems to be targeting the high growth areas. They have been developing a range of digital packaging presses including their currently available prime label presses, and the new flexible packaging press and a folding carton press.
The roots of SCREEN are in imaging, dating back to its founding in 1868. The company has leveraged that expertise to create a significant imaging powerhouse which includes industry leading equipment for the production of displays, printed circuit boards, and semiconductors. They also continue to maintain a significant role in the production of printing equipment including high performance inkjet presses for commercial and packaging.
David Zwang talks with Dawn Lindsey, Director of Product Management and Implementation for Heidelberg US Prinect, about how the Heidelberg Prinect solution suite has evolved beyond prepress workflow to include connectivity to all of the equipment Heidelberg offers as well as business intelligence.
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