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Technology Report

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 two names of your choice and bespoke story details, but personalised treats, too.
That sort of personalisation is now normal, and personalised books as a sector is expanding.
“It’s growing by about 30%,” reveals Kevin Spindler, co-owner at Signature

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

Weighing up your options in the great green paper debate

Twenty years ago forests around the world were in crisis: more than 200 million hectares were lost between 1980 and 1995 in developing countries alone. In response to this alarming trend, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – a global alliance of governments, NGOs and paper and timber industry representatives – was created in 1993.”

 

Thanks in part to the FSC – and an increasing onus on recycling overall – global deforestation has slowed down significantly, but with the environmental

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

Stronger teams build stronger businesses

Lindsey Halewood was scared of heights until she went on a staff engagement exercise for Prinovis, where she works in the press room. 

 

It’s not the first time the multinational magazine and brochure gravure printer had put its 400 or so staff at its Liverpool base through similar exercises. As a business that buys into the concept of lean manufacturing, improvement is not good enough.

Continuous improvement is a must, says human resources director Vicci Tatton: “It can’t be a one-off

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

Go fourth and automate

At Drupa we saw the future and its name is Print 4.0. It is a ‘mega trend’ all about automation and integration. Here we look at what this paradigm shift in printing practices may mean for the industry.

 
Anyone wandering around Drupa last month, or reading the megawords of coverage in print or social media will have noticed the number 4.0 cropping up. Messe Düsseldorf, the Drupa organiser, pronounced Print 4.0 as one of the ‘Mega Trends’ at the show.

In a Drupa pre-show statement Claus

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

Techie tips to back up your presses

A printing business is a technology business, with many elements vital to its smooth operation – from fast networks and file storage systems, to security and e-commerce platforms. PrintWeek asked a raft of experts in these fields, as well as printers themselves, about how they’re dealing with these challenges, and what’s on the horizon to be aware of.” 

 

Hardware: High-end desktop machines – usually Apple Mac devices – are common in most printers. After all, fast, powerful processing

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

Well-dressed mail delivers the right first impression

“You wouldn’t give someone a present unwrapped, or give it to them in a carrier bag,” observes Alistair Hall, director at London design company We Made This. 

 

Hall is using this ‘inappropriate outer’ analogy while discussing a form of wrapping that’s a multi- million-pound business for the printing industry and can sometimes be a missed opportunity for printers and print specifiers – envelopes. 

As he points out, in the worst-case scenario using the wrong type of envelope for a job can

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

Digital plays star role in astro art

When Chris Baker decided he could make his serious astronomy hobby help to pay for itself, it was natural that he’d turn to digital printing. 

 
He has three decades of experience in the printing industry, starting at Crosfield in the 1980s and including 13 years at digital press maker Indigo as UK general manager and European sales manager. More recently he’s worked with digital cutting and creasing maker Highcon and 3D printer maker Objet, now a part of Stratasys.

In the past year he has

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

Don’t let aged files byte the dust

There’s a fine collection of old Macintosh computers in my attic and garage. A 1988 Mac SE, a 1995 PowerBook laptop with tiny mono screen, a 1996 Performa 6200 and a huge metal G5 from 2002. They all work, but my wife doesn’t understand why I want to use up all that storage space.

 

The reason is that every other blue moon or so, I need to open up computer files dating back to the dawn of digitally produced magazines – roughly from 1990 onward.

Surely in these enlightened days of clouds

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

Killer content will click with customers

Prior to the internet if a company wanted to order some printed collateral they would typically pick up a copy of the local Yellow Pages and thumb through the alphabetised list of printers in the area before randomly selecting one. It was as rudimentary as it gets. 

 

T

oday companies looking for a local printer simply need to type the word ‘commercial printing company’ into their search engine of choice and it will instantly recognise the geographic location from which the query was

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

Machines take on manpower for materials handling

In the early days of wide-format inkjet printing, the technology was held in check from encroaching on screen and litho markets by limitations in printing itself. 

 

However, subsequent advances, such as flatbed printing, UV inks, ever-faster speeds, and higher image quality, have eroded many of the advantages of those analogue processes. Digital wide-format technology is now at a stage where the biggest challenges are no longer printing, but materials handling and overall process

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

Has processless become the new normal?

 

 

When processless plate technology was originally introduced in the 2000s it was met with a healthy dose of scepticism from many people in the printing industry. Words by Simon Creasey

 

 

Some felt that processless, chemistry-ffree and low-chemistry plates oweren’t hard wearing enough to cope owith long run jobs. There was also a perception that the quality wasn’t up to scratch, that these plates could contaminate presses, and then there was the considerable price premium over

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

Keep staff and your name out of the media minefield

Sometimes it feels as if the rise of social media is unstoppable. For many of us it has become second nature to share personal updates, images and opinions on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

 

The proliferation of smartphones means it’s become easier than ever to keep an eye on the status changes and amusing tweets of friends and family; even when we should really be doing other things…such as working.

The massive reach of social has of course created enormous marketing

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