Web Offset Consolidation – manroland Web Systems and Goss to Merge

Ralf Schlozer
 Mar 5, 2018

A few years ago, the prospect of two major offset press manufacturers merging would have easily dominated the headlines. And there was never a great number of preeminent manufacturers of web offset commercial printing and newspaper presses. Together with KBA, Goss and manroland Web Systems were among the big three, complemented by a handful of much smaller, more specialized manufacturers mainly in Japan and India. A few other manufacturers left the market recently such as Swiss newspaper press manufacturer Wifag.

Goss and manroland have a long history of press manufacturing but had a mixed past since the first big slump in web offset press demand following the year 2000. manroland started the millennium as a subsidy of the German heavy industry conglomerate MAN, then became an independent company in 2006, and went bust in 2007. Following the insolvency, manroland was split into a sheet-fed and a web-fed group, the latter being acquired by the German manufacturing holding Possehl Group. The recent history of Goss is even more protracted. After being spun off from Rockwell in 1996, Goss filed for chapter 11 in 1999, and again in 2001, blaming the downturn in press demand. A group of banks as creditors sold the business to MatlinPatterson Global Opportunities Partners. At that time Heidelberger Druckmaschinen had its ambitions set on entering the web offset business and invested heavily. Soon after Heidelberg did shed all low margin businesses to dress books before going public and Goss did pick up the web press activities in 2004. This doubled the global headcount at Goss to about 4,000. In 2010 the Shanghai Electric Group acquired Goss, adding it to its range of (sheet-fed) offset press and finishing equipment manufacturing brands. In 2015 the private equity firm American Industrial Partners acquired Goss. All the while both companies shed thousands of jobs compared to its heydays in the early 2000s

Under the terms of the proposed deal Goss and manroland Web Systems will combine their businesses. Details are still being negotiated, and everything depends on regulatory approval. The main site of manroland Web is Augsburg in Southern Germany. The main site of Goss is located in Durham, New Hampshire. Both have sales and service organisations as well small parts/components manufacturing locations across the globe. The current shareholders, American Industrial Partners and the Possehl Group, will continue to co-own the combined company. The Possehl Group will hold the majority and the combined operation will be headquartered in Germany. Subject to regulatory approval, the merger is expected to be completed by the middle of 2018. For the time being both companies will continue to operate independently.

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Fuji Xerox Iridesse – Two specialty colours is better than one

Ralf Schlozer
 Dec 6, 2017

Less than a year ago, InfoTrends published a multi-client study: “Beyond CMYK: The Use of Special Effects in Digital Printing”. Not only did we find that many printers voiced a strong interest in specialty colours and the desire to have several effects as an option, they also indicated that having two specialty colour stations in the press is their preferred option.

Less than a year later, Fuji Xerox launched the Iridesse Production Press at the Fuji Xerox Premier Partner Conference on the 14th of November in Bangkok for the Asia Pacific market.

For the first time in dry toner production printing, a print engine has been equipped to print six-colours, adding two colour channels to complement process colour print with different specialty colours, including metallic, in a single pass. The Iridesse houses up to two additional specialty toners of gold, silver, clear and white, in addition to standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black. One specialty colour is in front of the CMYK units and one behind, therefore the Iridesse can underprint with one specialty colour, and overprint with another (or the same) in one pass.

Fuji Xerox also revamped toners. CMYK toners are made of Super EA Eco toner, which is Fuji Xerox’s smallest particle size toner to date, citing a particle size of 5 micron for the colour toner. The Super EA Eco toner is able to fuse quickly at a low temperature, and is able to evenly transfer six layers of toners. Another patented improvement is flat metal flakes being embedded into the metallic toner particles. The flat metallic flakes should improve the shininess of metallic prints, and some improvement over the gold toner of the Color 1000i can be noticed – although digital metallic print remains far less shiny than foiling or the like.

A unique feature of the Iridesse is being able to print hues of metallic tones in one pass, by printing silver or gold first and overprinting it with CMYK. Other toner printers would need multi-pass printing, and in offset printing each of the metallic hues would need to be mixed first. This can reduce the effort drastically in hitting metallic effects beyond plain silver or gold. The press supports metallic colours found in colour catalogues such as Pantone Metallic and Pantone Premium Metallic. By using these colour swatches, the operator can reproduce colours similar to Pantone metallic colours by simply designating the colour codes. Also, since the press offers more hues than found in the Pantone swatches, Fuji Xerox has a range of predefined metallic colours on top.

Print sample showing metallic overprinted with CMYK

 

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IPEX 2017 – feeling the pulse

Ralf Schlozer
 Nov 2, 2017

Many print industry pundits will still eagerly remember IPEX as the second most important trade show for the graphic arts industry. Held at mid-term between two drupa trade shows, IPEX was the show to kick the tyres of new products that just reached the market after being previewed at drupa as technology demo.

That held true until IPEX 2014, when the show essentially imploded. Most major exhibitors pulled out leading to a much smaller footprint with 15,000 m², down from 50,000 m² in 2010. Declining margins in the printing industry did take their toll, with exhibitors questioning the return for a costly trade show presence. The show’s move to London did not help IPEX either. The hope of addressing new overseas visitors failed, and UK printers shunned the travel into central London. Although plans for IPEX 2018 to take place from 19 to 24 March 2018 at the Excel, London were announced, everybody expected this to be the end of IPEX.

As a bit of a surprise came the announcement of IPEX 2017, back again in Birmingham. The timing for autumn 2017 was set as the drupa organisers were still aiming for a three-year cycle, so that IPEX would again fall in the middle between two drupa shows. Certainly, the return of IPEX was not on the big scale it once had. IPEX 2017 occupied just parts of one hall of the NEC exhibition centre, instead of 11 of them in 2010, with ample space left to squeeze in more booths. Most equipment vendors did not join the IPEX bandwagon in 2017 either, with Ricoh being the only major digital print equipment manufacturer exhibiting. Other vendors were present via dealers or driving finishing equipment in the booths of finishing equipment vendors. It is noteworthy that finishing vendors did contribute most to the footprint of the show, complemented by software and supplies vendors.

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Happy Birthday KBA (now rebranded to Koenig & Bauer)

Ralf Schlozer
 Sep 27, 2017

The oldest press manufacturer celebrated its 200th anniversary on the 21st of September 2017 at the founding site in Würzburg, Germany.

In November 1814, the first newspaper was printed utilising machine power, using a steam-powered press invented by Friedrich Koenig for The London Times. Not willing to grant exclusivity rights for the printing press to The Times, Koenig relocated to Germany and found a new factory site in a disused monastery in the Bavarian town of Würzburg. In 1817 the company was finally founded by Koenig, as the world’s first printing press factory. To this day the company is partially family owned and is headed by Claus Bolza-Schünemann. He assumed a leadership role in the company in 1989, as the sixth generation of the family to lead the company.

In contrast to the other major German offset press manufacturers, Koenig & Bauer stayed profitable in most years since 2000. Through organic growth and acquisitions a revenue high of around €1.7 billion was reached in 2006 and 2007. In the aftermath of the financial crisis and within two years revenues dropped by 40% and hovered just above the €1 billion mark since, with a slight upward trend recently. More consequently than other press manufacturers, Koenig & Bauer exited unprofitable markets and focussed on new areas. For example, the once leading web offset press business has been scaled down a lot as demand and prices (and profits) plummeted. Koenig & Bauer is also active in many niches that larger offset press companies were not able to address profitably. This includes presses for currency printing (almost all are Koenig & Bauer built), presses for metal print, glass and container print as well as the largest format sheet-fed offset presses.

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The Landa Digital Press – It Is Here and Printing

Ralf Schlozer
 Sep 13, 2017

September the 12th and coinciding with Print 17 Landa Digital Printing invited selected prospects and press/analysts to their VIP event in Israel, to witness the first Landa Press to go into operation at the Israeli packaging printer Graphica Bezalel.

Landa made a big splash by announcing their nanography technology at drupa 2012. Almost everybody in the printing industry eagerly awaited to see the first installation. Without doubts, the start has been bumpy and the date of the first install has been moved several times, but that can be said about almost every piece of truly new technology in the graphic arts industry. Finally, the day arrived by shipping the first Landa S10 press to Grapica Bezalel in July 2017. After a month of installation, the press has been in operation for two weeks at the date of this event.

Landa S10 at Graphica Bezalel

Landa S10 at Graphica Bezalel

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DSCOOP EMEA 2017 – setting the benchmark for user groups

Ralf Schlozer
 Jul 10, 2017

From June 7th to 9th Dscoop EMEA went into its 6th round at the Centre de Congres in Lyon. About 1,300 attendees from more than 45 countries joined the event.

HP went to great lengths to present the latest printing technology live and running to the attendees with four Indigo B2 devices printing at the site (two 12000, one 20000 and 30000), as well as the latest label presses shown in action – including an Indigo 8000 Digital Press. In addition HP shared some installation data, with currently 6,000 Indigo presses installed worldwide in commercial print and another 1,750 presses in label and packaging printing. This includes about 570 B2 engines. Large format latex printer installations amount to about 45,000 by June 2017, outnumbered by one million large format Deskjet devices installed. HP shared some information on the uptake of PrintOS as well and reported 5,560 registered users at 2,400 companies, with 1,700 of them using PrintOS weekly.

At the event HP announced some improvements to PrintOS: notably PrintBeat has a mobile edition now, which allows monitoring and benchmarking press performance from mobile devices. High definition imaging was presented at the event again and although it is set to go into field testing later this year, with general availability planned for 2018. Available now are several new screening options that will help in photo printing and high contrast images.

While pink fluorescent ElectroInk was introduced half a year ago, fluorescent yellow just became available to Indigo users. Fluorescent green and orange were shown at the event and are currently being field tested. Another new ElectroInk just introduced is “Light Light Black”, which is especially intended for smooth gradations in photo printing, underscoring that HP Indigo remains committed to be the leader in specialty colour choice. At drupa 2016 HP showcased more than a dozen of other specialty ElectroInks to gauge user interest – at Dscoop Lyon HP Indigo previewed some of these inks again: thermochromic ink (changes colour depending on temperature), heat seal (the glue is activated at high temperature) and release inks (e.g. for scratch cards), which are apparently moving closer to commercialisation. Additionally metallic ElectroInk was shown again, which should garner the biggest interest, but is likely to get a launch not sooner than 2018.

HP Technology Fair - with new EletroInk types

HP Technology Fair – with new EletroInk types

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B2 digital: less hype – but a lot more placements

Ralf Schlozer
 Apr 11, 2017

Visiting drupa 2012 the new breed of B2-format digital presses for commercial printing seemed to outshine everything else. Despite all the ensuing hype, placements remained low and hopes for growth were dashed in the years that followed. At drupa 2016 B2 digital was already eclipsed in the headlines by other technologies, namely B1 digital, industry 4.0, and packaging/industrial print. It started to look like B2 digital would be a disappointment.

And so it comes as a bit of a surprise that B2 digital really delivered in 2016 – with a steep increase in placements, surpassing our forecast noticeably. According to our recently published 2013-2016 U.S. Production Printing Placements report, U.S. placements jumped from 25 units in 2015 to 80 in 2016. Western Europe did very well too as installations almost doubled according to our 2013-2016 W. European Production Printing Placements report. And all these numbers exclude packaging and label presses, which had a record year as well.

US & WE B2 placements

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Canon targeting commercial print with the Océ ProStream

Ralf Schlozer
 Feb 21, 2017

Continuous feed colour inkjet has put its mark onto digital print for a number of years now, but it has been slow to escape the confines of transactional printing, despite some success in direct mail and book printing. While transaction print is set to decline, the much more attractive market would be moving into commercial print and converting portions of the immense offset print volume to digital. That is easier said than done however, with the demands for print quality and paper range being much higher in commercial print, compared to transaction print. Several devices have been launched to target this market, but success so far has been limited.

With its latest announcement on the 17th of February Canon plans to take advantage of this opportunity with a new product called Océ ProStream. The ProStream supports a print width of 540 mm, a maximum speed of 80 metres per minute, and a duty cycle of 35 million A4 pages per month. The printer is targeted to offer high print quality on a large range of substrates. Canon cites four major reasons why the ProStream should finally be able to gain a larger portion of the commercial print market:

– New 1,200 nozzle per inch Kyocera piezo drop-on-demand inkjet heads

– A new high-density polymer-based ink system – including ColorGrip primer

– A new, non-contact “flotation air” drying system

– A new usability concept supporting native PDF and PDF/VT Read more »

Epson entering the light production arena

Ralf Schlozer
 Feb 7, 2017

On February the 3rd Epson launched two new colour inkjet MFPs: the LX-10000 (with a 100 ppm speed) and the LX-7000 (with a 75 ppm speed). The launch is interesting from several points of view. It is the first venture of a major inkjet office device vendor into the 100 ppm colour speed class. It also demonstrates Epson’s strategy to replace toner with inkjet in high end office printing. The most significant announcement is however that Epson plans to target the device not only at office, but also at the light production market. Epson does have a foot-hold in production print via its label printers (SurePress Series) and some large format printers are used for poster or proofing as well, but so far has not targeted the mainstream production print market yet. Read more »

Xeikon with Trillium on the way to drupa 2016

Ralf Schlozer
 Mar 21, 2016

At drupa 2012 Xeikon made a splash by showcasing a new liquid toner technology under the Trillium brand name. Although it was quite apparent that Xeikon was banking the future of its digital imaging business on Trillium, it has not said much about the technology recently, and then the anticipated delivery to French direct mail printer TagG Informatique in 2015 was missed.

On March 17th 2016 Xeikon finally gave a detailed update on Trillium. The first product will be commercialised under the Trillium One name, as originally announced with a 60 meter per minute (200 fpm) speed, 1,200 dpi imaging resolution and 50 cm (20”) web width. Imaging speed is laid out for 120 m/min, so a future speed upgrade should be possible.

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