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Technology Report

PDF 2.0: Scene-setter, not a game-changer

After 10 years in the making, it looks like PDF 2.0 will finally reach real world users in the next year or so. Since the 1990s PDF has been the dominant format used to deliver document files for printing.

PDF 2.0 is the first real update since 2008, when Adobe handed PDF 1.7 to the ISO for future developments.  PDF 2.0’s print-related new features can be summed up as improving automated workflows, especially across multiple printers and papers, and better colour handling, especially spot colours. How much it will be noticed is debatable, as people in the know suggest its main significance is to pave the way for the next-generation PDF/X-6, still in development for release in the middle of 2019.
At the beginning of July, Adobe made a fairly

Software superstars in the spotlight

There are a lot of different design programs around that can be used to place text and graphics in specific places, and to draw shapes and add effects such as transparencies or drop shadows, Words by Nessan Clearey

The prices vary as much as designers themselves do, reflecting their different priorities, from professional graphic designers who want to work quickly and to offer the widest range of visual effects to their clients, through to business users creating corporate reports or home users

Mobile workers: keep control of the phone fiends

In 2015, Ofcom headlined the press release to its annual Communications Market Report: The UK is now a smartphone society. It’s hard to disagree. And needless to say, the trend towards greater smartphone usage has continued since.

Ayear later and Ofcom’s 2016 research found that 71% of UK adults own a smartphone – outstripping laptop ownership, and up from 66% in 2015. It also concluded smartphones are the most widely used device among adults for accessing the internet. Almost everyone seems to

Finishing kit with a kind of magic touch on machines

The embellishment market is booming at the moment. From spot UV coating through to hot foiling, more and more printers and trade finishers are looking to invest in embellishment technology driven by growing demand from their customers for something different.

Printers’ customers want to stand out from the crowd and the printers themselves also want to stand out from their competition in terms of what they are able to offer customers,” says Alex North, head of digital marketing at Duplo

Books take off as readers rekindle a love of print

It’s fair to say that the mood at the recent London Book Fair was pretty upbeat. Nielsen Book Research provided its latest findings on the eve of the show and its report made for positive reading – particularly for book printers.

It turns out that the death of the book has indeed been much exaggerated. Rather than being swept away on an unstoppable tide of cheap e-books, sales of physical, printed books rose for the second year running, by 7% in 2016, while sales of e-books actually fell, by

Has fixed-palette come of age at last?

A quarter century has passed since serious proposals were first made for six- and seven-colour process sets to replace the need for spot colour inks. These were taken up for digital processes, especially inkjets.

But adoption has only been sporadic for conventional, ‘analogue’ print processes. And today we are on the verge of easily accessible extended colour gamut (ECG) print for offset litho and flexography.
We have spoken to two of the press makers that are making a particular push for each

4 areas where smart packaging excels

For the last few years, packaging industry professionals have been curious about the future of smart packaging. While barcodes and quick-response (QR) codes, once considered the “next big thing” in packaging, have proved successful, worries remain regarding cost, feasibility and consumer engagement. With the potential to be a breakthrough in the industry, will brands be able to find the key to unlocking smart packaging?
The industry is already seeing some progress in the design and production

What threat does IoT pose to printers’ kit?

Fridge freezers that auto-order milk and kettles that boil water using an app, the internet and things that run on it have come a long way since Sir Tim Berners-Lee decided that a network to share data with colleagues at CERN would be a good idea.

And so world-changing has its effect been, that according to a Forbes report, by 2025 there will be more than 80 billion active smart devices connected to the internet worldwide. But as with most things, the increased interconnectivity has come with

Inkjet: head to head

If you’re new to the industry or are looking to take on a new process, inkjet technology can look complicated. To address this we are publishing a quick, back-to-basics primer on printhead technology.

Inkjets dominate the professional wide-format sector of print, used for everything from signage and vehicle graphics to fine art and photography. Inkjet ‘presses’ are increasingly important, though by no means the only technology, used for digital printing of work such as documents, brochures

Strong arm tactics allows to tackle heavy loads

There are robots and robots. One type inhabits the popular culture of books, movies and TV, where more-or-less humanoid machines may be heroes, villains, evil or good, oppressors or slaves. Then there are the ones that actually exist, that mostly look nothing like humans.

It’s this second class that are sometimes to be found around print factories. They are still comparative rarities, primarily used for materials handling tasks of transporting, loading and unloading.
Robotics is a class of

The five pillars of sustainable production

Green credentials are no longer simply an attractive business bolt-on. Companies in all sectors demonstrating a commitment to reducing their environmental impact not only enjoy reduced costs, an enhanced reputation and a competitive advantage, but are taking important steps to ensure the longevity of their business.

In an ideal world, then, what would a truly green printing business look like?

Equipment
Investing in new equipment is usually viewed as the biggest single expense in any green

Can paper coatings curb plastic consumption?

We’re just a month and a half into 2018 and the packaging industry’s sustainability agenda has been firmly set for the forthcoming year – and indeed beyond.

Thanks to China’s ban on waste imports, Theresa May’s environmental action plan and, perhaps most influential of all, the depiction of humanity’s devastating impact on sea life in BBC series Blue Planet, plastic has regained its position as public enemy number one. Our consumption of the material is prominently unsustainable, and all eyes

A tale of innovation over two centuries

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Koenig & Bauer, which was the first manufacturer in the world to make a motorised cylinder printing press and is the oldest press maker still in existence.

Today it is a huge operation, the world’s second-largest press maker with a 2017 revenue target of between €1.1bn (£940m) and €1.2bn, but it still remains, at its core, the company set up in 1817 in Würzburg, Germany.
Whether in-house or by acquisition, the company has been a powerhouse of technical

What printers can do to recycle their waste

The UK is the world’s fifth largest manufacturer of printed products, and while there aren’t any statistics to indicate the level of overall material consumption in the industry, it is probably safe to assume that it’s a significant amount.

As such, it’s responsible for a correspondingly high volume of waste – and it’s only in recent times, over the last decade or so, that the majority of it has been recycled.
The variety of waste produced by the print industry is vast, and paper – the material

Packaging trends: today and in the future

In this feature article we are going to see the packaging trends. The content goes around the key trends of current packaging and in the future.

Which factors influence the consumer’s choice of packaging?

I like to use the quote: “Don’t design for brands. Design for people interacting with brands.”
You need to develop an emotional bond with the customer using the packaging.
In other words: say exactly what your target audience is wanting to hear.
The message can be portrayed in various creative

Colour management in digital textile printing

One of the most rapidly growing segments of digital printing is printed fabrics. As in every other area of digital printing this means that it won’t only be textile production experts who will provide artwork for and initiate print projects on many types of fabrics.

At the heart of any print project is the desire to achieve the highest possible image quality, and especially getting the colours right. But to get there all the involved parties need to cooperate fully, and each do their part to

Get to grips with tomorrow’s world

Technology has affected every industry in some shape or form, and in many cases it has completely revolutionised sectors. In the printing industry this has been manifested in the machines becoming more sophisticated as a result, with continuous improvements in both hardware and software.

But will the new high-performing machines that have become available, mean that printing companies need staff with a new skill set? And for smaller businesses that aren’t using the latest machines, will other

If you’re looking to bring in punters, join the club

In a Victorian warehouse in Margate, a group of people who have never met each other are carefully cutting out pieces of lino.

Most have never done it before, some never will again, but for a few, this is the start of something long term.
And for one or two in the room, this is actually already a career, they are here simply for some top-up guidance.
It’s a difficult blend of experience and aspiration for the man running this linocut workshop to balance.
“We have a real mix of people who use Hello

Manufacturing a cure for toxic errors is getting simpler

Swiss-made is synonymous with a meticulous attention to detail, reliable performance and unimpeachable standards. Think watches, chocolate, banking, the Red Cross and Roger Federer. 
Words by Des King

Likewise, the Swiss Ordinance: the definitive set of regulations determining materials deemed safe for use in food packaging. Among any number of global and local equivalents are guidelines issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the British Retail Consortium (BRC) in the UK; and with

Manufacturers with visionary ambitions

One of life’s minor pleasures is reading old predictions for the future and observing how wrong they were. Flying cars, fusion power stations and consumer 3D printing have all been past examples.

This time last year marketing and technology pundits were confidently predicting that 2017 would be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) really hit the mass market.
But, they didn’t. Partly this was because the two main technologies tipped for the top – Oculus Rift (a VR headset

Do print industry standards stand up to the test?

When discussing the merits or otherwise of ISO standards for printers with participants in the printing industry, you end up getting into quite a few conversations that conclude that these badges of honour can be a little like Schrodinger’s cat.

 

Like the Austrian physicist’s fictitious feline, the likes of ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 can, in the opinion of some, be both alive (a badge that represents quality practice) and dead (a badge that hides less than exemplary performance or one that is an

Fairytale machines are rewriting bedtime reading

Once upon a time, the personalisation of a children’s book simply meant having a particular child’s name appear on the cover. At the time, it was mind-boggling, like something out of, well, a children’s book.

But, these days, that sort of thing fails to make the most of the technology available. Take, for example, the special edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory published for Roald Dahl Day this year. The complex array of personalisation did not just include the sprinkling throughout of

More connectivity should usher in a smarter era

An estimated 26 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020, according to technology analyst Gartner. These include ‘smart’ fridges, and thermostats, as well as devices things like smartphones, tablets and TVs.

 

And while consumers will reap the rewards of being able to warm their homes or check they have enough milk remotely, enterprises can also benefit from the huge amount of data at their disposal, and from the various devices they can use to streamline their operations

Clothing copycats exploit DTG trend

Counterfeit, fake, knock-off, copy, call it what you will, it’s a burgeoning trillion-dollar global market that has touched most of us either knowingly or unknowingly at some point in our lives, and despite efforts to the contrary by international authorities there is always going to be demand.

Fashion garments are of course some of the most reproduced products – the greatest proportion originating in China – and some say the huge growth in the printed textile market, the increasingly

Are bioplastics the complete green package, after all?

Bioplastics have come a long way since they were first marketed more than quarter of a century ago. What once began as a niche product with a very limited scope of application has burgeoned into a range of materials with properties that can be utilised by a variety of markets.”

As such, the term ‘bioplastics’ is a broad one, and often confusing to the end consumer. Bio-based polymers refer to a material that is derived from a readily renewable source – such as corn or starch – instead of

Mail bias: how to deliver value in the digital age

Is there any item of stationery that is more familiar, and yet more often overlooked, than an envelope?

It’s getting on for 200 years since the envelope really took off, after the postal reforms of 1840 saw the use of envelopes increase more than tenfold in the space of a decade, with 300m being posted a year by 1850.
Perhaps the envelope’s very ubiquity is the cause. Millions of envelopes hit household doormats every day, and yet this commodity product is so much more than that, as all savvy