Posts tagged: Production

Digital Print, Expanding Horizons in Woodworking

Ron Gilboa
 Sep 20, 2018

The biannual International Woodworking Fair, which took place August 21-25 in Atlanta, GA, held its inaugural Digital Printing Symposium, which was created in partnership between IWF, the organizers of the show, Surface & Panel Magazine, and Keypoint intelligence. While this symposium is new, digital printing has actually been part of the woodworking industry for some time. That said, the need to short-run cost-effective decorative surfaces, as well as ongoing development in digital inkjet printing sector, is creating a perfect storm for the technology to meet woodworking’s market needs.

Inaugural IWF Digital Print Symposium

Inaugural IWF Digital Print Symposium

Participating in this inaugural event were industry-leading companies such as Barberan, Baumer, Cefla Finishing, North American Plywood, and Schattdecor, as well as household names from the graphics arts industry like Canon and Vanguard digital.  While these companies may appear to work in different sectors, they all share a common strategy to address the growing needs of suppliers, as well as a desire to address the mass customization in an 11 billion M2 per year décor laminate market and an over $140 billion annual woodworking industry in the U.S. alone.

About 60 attendees from various woodworking segments such as cabinetry, panels, and flooring learned about the benefits of digital printing and heard firsthand experience from companies that already use digital printing in production.

The opening presentation by Keypoint Intelligence provided context for key dynamics in the market, namely the continued demand by consumers for richly decorated surfaces that are customized to their needs, as well as the desires of commercial architects and contractors looking to add unique elements to their projects. Furthermore, digital printing technology can aid in improving operational efficiencies such as just-in-time manufacturing, reduction of inventories, and reduced waste and obsolescence of designs. These are addressed with a range of digital technologies capable of creating décor surfaces for high-pressure laminates, flooring laminates, and direct decoration onto boards.

Schattdecor Oversized digitally printed pattern

Schattdecor Oversize digitally printed pattern

In his presentation, Chief Technology Officer at Schattdecor Inc. Roland Heeger noted that digital printing can offer opportunities to create new products that were previously impossible with rotogravure, such as designs that may exceed 15’ in length, or larger than the typical circumference of a gravure cylinder, as well as a ‘rainbow roll’ of décor paper. These rolls contain several lengths of print jobs with different designs based on client requirements. Remember to keep in mind that a typical minimum order for décor paper is one ton of paper. This old limitation necessitated that clients order individual rolls of décor, and manage inventory until they were consumed or became obsolete. Rainbow rolls only include the décor designs the line needs in the exact quantity required.

 

Another producer in the event was Don Kuser, General Manager of North Americal Plywood. His company has a full production line for manufacturing decorated board, from sanding and priming to digital printing and coating, NAPL meets clients’ needs for “digital staining” of natural wood and veneers, as well as printing on panels that require full coating. NAPL has taken advantage of a unique feature of its UV printer, namely printing without immediately curing the ink. This process allows ink that is printed on natural wood or wood veneers to soak into the wood prior to final UV cure and coat. The result is a wood face that looks naturally stained, or resembles a premium wood species, simulated on a less expensive baseboard.

NPLY Inca based print line

NPLY Inca based print line

These two examples were followed by discussions from equipment suppliers including Barberan,  Baumer, Canon, Cefla, and Vanguard. Each highlighted various opportunities that digital printing offers to small and large producers alike. From scanning head to single pass inkjet printing, they all noted that the key to successfully implementating digital printing in woodworking required investment, not only in the technology but, more importantly, in a clear business strategy, production workflow, and quality assurance. Each also stressed the investment in trained staff.

Grand Burkholder from Sauder Woodworking Company noted, “The capabilities of it (digital printing), creating depth of pattern, reproducing wood species, using pigmented inks, is amazing.”

The symposium concluded with attendees noting that digital printing has unique capabilities, some of which they had not been aware of beforehand. Many attendees felt these features would be useful when incorporated into their existing product workflows, allowing their companies to differentiate themselves and create new opportunities for business growth.

Keypoint Intelligence believes that the benefits inherent to digital printing will provide new opportunities for woodworking producers and brands to offer creative high-value products that meet industry standards, as well as offer consumers customized products that meet their lifestyle at a cost effective price.

Xerox Iridesse – After the glitter settles! Well what if? or Sure why not?!

Marc Mascara
 Jul 2, 2018

Xerox unveiled their latest production printing press during two jam-packed events in the US and Europe. The first event took place May 9th outside Rochester, NY at the Xerox Gil Hatch Center for Customer Innovation — the largest digital print showcase in the world.

Images courtesy of Xerox – Iridesse launch Webster, NY

 

Customers, prospects and the media were invited to the unveiling of the Iridesse press and given the opportunity to kick the tires. The second reveal took place on May 23 in Warsaw, Poland during the 2018 Xerox Forum, where Xerox Premier Partners (customers) and Graphic Communication Resellers attended.

Image courtesy of Xerox – Iridesse launch Warsaw, Poland

 

Both events could be worthy of an Oscar with the pomp and circumstance of a professional product reveal that introduced the global availability of the press.

My colleague Ralf Schlozer’s first impressions of the Iridesse, launched by Fuji Xerox last December, can be found in the post Fuji Xerox Iridesse – Two specialty colours is better than one. I invite you to re-visit Ralf’s blog for all the launch and specific details of the press while I answer the philosophical question of “do printer’s need a press like the Iridesse now that the glitter and dust have settled?”

So, if you ever worked production you know that manufacturer suggested limits are always ignored, especially if you need to get a job out or when client work is accepted in lieu of going to the competition. You see this in the offset world all the time and that is why successful print companies know that being able to configure equipment for different needs trumps equipment with a “wow” factor. Print customers first question is always can you do this, and the printer wants to respond sure, why not?! Digital equipment sometimes puts the printer into the “what if” situation. Basically, well what if we do this instead?

Quality CMYK for the most part is expected in this class of press, but in terms of flexibility, print providers expect numerous options for not only resolution but multiple halftone screens. Having the ability to respond to real time production needs based on image quality and media range gives production the flexibility to confidently accept work. Iridesse meets that challenge with Ultra HD Resolution which delivers 1200 x 1200 x 10 bit RIP resolution and 2400×2400 imaging resolution, enabling screening options from stochastic to fine line screens up to 600 dpi.

Image courtesy of EFI – Xerox EFI Exp6 5/6 color image Viewer

 

Media plays a huge role in just how many jobs and what type of work a print provider can accept. Just as in offset, digital presses must address a wide array of media while running at rated speeds. I would say most equipment manufacturers are fighting it out on this front regarding the range of media weights and types being supported. Iridesse tops out at 400gsm but gives a respectable range from 52 to 400gsm. Production flexibility comes into play when the print providers press supports a wide array of media types and weights, multiple pick points  (i.e., multiple paper trays), that allow for a broad range of supported media and media sizes along with multiple insertion options all running at rated speed. To meet these extreme requirements Xerox equipped Iridesse with technologies integrated throughout the press called “Mixed Media Xceleration”  giving the operator a wide array of run time media options with no slowdown of output.  Its this production flexibility that digital press manufacturers continue to expand upon, driving machine innovations which adds to the acceleration of the offset to digital migration and the continued ability to drive manual labor cost out of the production process. With that said, Iridesse is highly configurable, supporting many finishing scenarios from square fold to booklet making with Plockmatic’s advanced capabilities, again reducing the overall production touch points with greater production flexibility.

One could say that most digital press manufacturers are competitive in all these areas offering their own set of production capabilities, but Xerox upped the ante by making the print order of colors configurable without the need for a service technician!  As in the offset world, you just run a cleanup and change ink, or in this case you swap out the dry toner. As a PSP, you not only have the ability with Iridesse to produce 4, 5 and 6 color work, but you can self-configure which special color will underlay and overlay the CMYK opening a whole host of design capabilities for high value applications.

Xerox calls this snazzy feature “EZ Swap” which allows operators the ability to swap and run two specialty dry inks in a single pass. The key phrase is single-pass. Just imagine what you could do with a press that supports multiple pass capabilities with very accurate registration. I think offset press operators can see where I’m going with this.  Xerox has tapped into one of the last frontiers left for digital press capabilities in opening the ability for the operator to decide the dry ink lay down order with multiple specialty colors and to expand that capability with multiple passes.

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Going Silver, Gold, Fluorescent and more with BiancoDigitale

Ralf Schlozer
 Jun 18, 2018

With all eyes on high volume production solutions we often overlook the small solution that can add value and enhance print at a very affordable level. At Print4All – the Italian print show combing all kinds of print from commercial, to packaging, to industrial – Xerox highlighted its recently launched Iridesse. Simultaneously in the corner of the booth, Xerox’ Italian concessionaire M.C. System showed its BiancoDigitale print and print enhancements system, based on a modest Xerox C60 Light Production device.

M.C. System srl is a family owned Xerox concessionaire since 1984 and is based close to Perugia. The company has 45 employees and provides full sales and service for Xerox equipment. BiancoDigitale is a registered trademark of M.C. System srl which developed the entire project. BiancoDigitale is actually a range of solutions consisting of the Multiverse as a kit for the C60 and C70 or as a modified C60 device and the BiancoDigitale White Printing Series for desktop printers (Phaser 7800, Versalink C400 and C7000 and old models as the Phaser 6600 and 7100) for printing on transfer media or coloured paper. The specialty colour kits were previewed at drupa 2016 and became available in 2017. By now there are more than 100 kits sold. While the kits for the desktop printers are restricted to the very occasional users, the solutions based on Xerox’ Light Production devices have real appeal to the production market.

In its base version the BiancoDigitale Multiverse is a replacement toner kit for the Xerox C60 and C70. Two kits are currently available: silver/gold/white/clear or with 3 fluorescent toners + black. Two more kits are under development using silver/CMY or gold/CMY. To turn a standard C60/70 into a print enhancement system the existing CMYK toner cartridges and developments systems are removed and placed on a special rack (supplied as well) and the special colour kit is loaded. According to M.C. System this should take no longer than 5 minutes. A kit does cost about €9,000 for end users.

Xerox C60 with BiancoDigitale Multiverse kit

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Velox IDS 250: A Spike In the Chart For ‘DTS’ Printing

Bob Leahey
 Jun 13, 2018

Israeli technology developer Velox, Ltd. announced recently its first installation of a production-level direct to shape (DTS) printer at a major packaging manufacturer in Israel. The news marks the first commercial installation of Velox IDS 250 printer, a UV inkjet-based system that Velox says will print plastic and aluminum tubes at up to 250 containers per minute with seamless, photorealistic images, and offer other embellishments such as tactile effects. Most importantly, Velox says the new system’s capabilities and costs will allow it to replace analog decoration systems even for the printing runs of many thousands of cans or tubes.

Velox, based in Rosh Ha’Ayin, Israel, has placed this first IDS 250 at another Israeli company, Lageen Tubes, a packaging supplier to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals companies worldwide. Velox and Lageen note that the IDS 250 is now in operation printing full runs of tubes that will soon be on retail shelves globally.

Velox IDS 250 Digital Decorator

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HP T-Series for Corrugated: Up to 6 Colors & 1,000 FPM Speed Options

Bob Leahey
 Jun 5, 2018

In the crush of news from last month’s FESPA in Berlin is one corrugated story that merits extra attention: HP’s PageWide Industrial division, which pioneered the high-speed CMYK pre-printing of corrugated liner media with HP PageWideT400S and 1100S in 2014, announced at the show the introduction of two new versions of the 110”/2.8m wide press, the HP PageWide T1170 and T1190. Each prints six colors (CMYK plus Orange and Violet), extending the color gamut to meet brand colors, and also feature HP ColorBoost technology. The presses feature HP A30 water-based inks do not use UV-reactive chemistry, so the products printed are food safe. The T1190 also offers a big increase in productivity to 1000 fpm/305 mpm, up from the 600 fpm/183 fpm of HP T1100S. Both the T1170 and T1190 presses are suitable for both coated and uncoated media, from 80 gsm to 350 gsm. They are available now, either as new installations or as on-site upgrades to the twelve T1100S installations that exist today worldwide.

 

HP PageWide T-Series

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Xeikon: Inkjet, EP Both Strong, Get Equal Focus

Bob Leahey
 May 24, 2018

Xeikon, a big presence at Labelexpo and many other tradeshows, is also one of the rare vendors that in effect hosts its own tradeshows, namely the Xeikon “Cafés” that occur yearly in Belgium and the U.S. The latest Xeikon Café occurred last week near the company’s North American headquarters in Itasca, IL and hosted over 200 guess and 30 exhibiting partners. Xeikon, the main focus, showed all its printers at the company’s nearby demonstration center and hosted a big conference program, with presentations by Xeikon managers, customers, and industry analysts.

Quick Impressions:

  • Xeikon, an electrophotographic (EP) pioneer, now is equally focused on inkjet
  • Xeikon inkjet at first will be for labels, but soon it will be for finishing and, next, for corrugated
  • Xeikon’s EP core had strong growth in the last twelve months, especially in label and packaging
  • Flint, maker of analog print supplies and Xeikon’s owner, is a helpful and ambitious partner

Xeikon’s recent inkjet history is fairly well known. In early 2017 this EP printer vendor surprised the market by announcing its plan to offer its first production-level UV inkjet label printer, the PX3000 (“Panther”). Then in November 2017, Xeikon announced that it was taking over service and support duties from EFI for the EFI Jetrion installed base, over 200 UV inkjet label webs, mainly in North America and Europe. PX3000 is just now having its first placements, but, all things considered, 2017 and 2018 have been years when Xeikon, an EP stalwart, jump started an industrial inkjet printer business.

Xeikon Panther PX3000

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HP Latex R Series: First to Print Rigid Media for HP Latex, and First White Ink

India Tatro
 Mar 27, 2018

Ten years since the introduction of HP Latex Printing Technologies in 2008, HP unveiled the latest addition to that series of wide format printers recently at ISA Sign Expo in Orlando. The new “HP Latex R Series” builds on existing HP Latex technology but is the first HP Latex printer to print on rigid media. HP Latex R, which also prints flexible media, is designed to print a wide variety of rigid substrates including foamboards, PVC cardboard, fluted polypropylene, solid plastics, aluminum, wood, and glass.  The Latex R Series is also notable because it marks the introduction of HP Latex White Ink. Like its other water-based Latex inks, HP says the Latex R’s  white ink will maintain the appearance and texture of the substrate, a desirable quality when printing on materials like aluminum or wood. HP also claims that their new white ink—the first for the HP Latex line– will not yellow over time, which can be a problem with some white UV inks.

HP has also included fluid management technology in the R series  to combat  problems typically associated with white ink. Pigments in white inks are prone to settling due to the larger particle sizes of white pigments; their larger particle sizes can make such inks a problem for print heads, causing clogs or blockages during printing or while the printer is idle. To counteract possible problems with settling and clogging,  HP has added an ink recirculation system to keep ink moving both within the ink delivery system and at the printhead. The ink storage system will also feature an automatic ink agitator to prevent settling over time.

 

HP has not yet released photos of the new R Series, though a teaser video can be found on their website

 

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Kodak NEXFINITY – More than just a new paint job?

Marc Mascara
 Mar 12, 2018

On February 28th to March 1st, during Oscar week in Rochester NY, Kodak opened the Kodak Center to 250 printers, distributors, media, designers and publishers. With an unbelievably warm 60-degree winter day in Western NY, Kodak hosted over two days of product session, industry speakers and customer panels.

Flexcel NX Sample

Attendees would hear firsthand about new product innovations from Kodaks Print Systems Division regarding processless plates, digital printing and functional printing categories. While the event would mainly focus on Sonora printing plates and the Nexpress digital press, other Kodak divisions were also represented.

On hand at the technology fair were:

  • William Schweinfurth represented the Flexographic Solutions with Flexcel NX samples.
  • Joan Taylor and Carlos Muniz were on hand for the Unified Workflow Solutions with demonstrations of the latest in Prinergy Workflow offerings.
  • Stream and UltraStream products were represented by Randy Vandergrif from the Enterprise Inkjet Systems with Prosper Press literature and samples. Preliminary samples of Kodaks UltraStream technology was also on hand, that looked very promising.

    Transparent antenna demo

  • Carolyn Ellinger demonstrated Kodaks latest technology play in material science and deposition with a demo of their transparent antenna application.
  • Demian Gawianski rounded out the fair with a Portrait 3D Printer.

The two-day event labeled Taking PRINT Further focused on sustainability, profitability, simplicity, growth, transformation and partnering. Kodak’s main message centered around how they are focusing on removing cost from their customer’s manufacturing process. With processless printing plates like Sonora, the cost savings becomes quickly evident which remove associated costs in chemistry, processors, water, waste disposal, electricity and floor space. With digital presses like the Nexpress the story is a little more nuanced.

Strategy beneath the new paint job!

Kodak NEXFINITY Press

In the week following the official launch of the Kodak NEXFINITY Press platform, opinions on forums and boards have ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other. So just what is underneath that new paint job? Peel back the new press cover and you discover a bold strategy and advanced technology planted as the cornerstone of the NEXFINITY platform. Read more »

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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Highcon Releases the Euclid IIIC

India Tatro
 

Highcon, developer of the revolutionary “Euclid” digital cutting and creasing technology for paperboard, recently announced the commercial release of a new machine, Euclid IIIC, which can cut and crease thicker media, in particular several grades of corrugated. The new machine features can work with single ply paperboard, laminated stocks, and N, F, G, E, and B-flute corrugated from 1mm to 3mm in thickness (40-120 points). The Euclid IIIC thus allows the Euclid series to expand further, thanks to the new printer’s ability to finish thin to medium grade corrugated media. That media category has grown quickly in the past few years because of is use in packaging, in particular for primary packaging such as small but sturdy boxes for cosmetics, consumer electronics, and home furnishings.  Read more »

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