Technology Report

Aspiring authors need printers with the write stuff

Printed books are doing rather well. Bookseller Foyles posted an 8.1% increase, year on year, in printed books sales for December 2014, while Waterstones says sales of physical books rose 5% in the same period.” 


These figures may surprise some people, but what will shock pretty much everyone is that these sales are not just coming from top titles pushed by giant publishers using the biggest book printers: self-publishing print sales are growing. The even better news is that smaller printers can capitalise.

The fact print sales for self-published titles are increasing is surprising as the common perception is that self-publishers don’t ‘do’ printed books. These authors fall loosely into two categories: authors writing for a small

Playing the name game

Printers, on the whole, are not a bashful bunch. They are proud of their work, their skills and their machines and they will happily tell you as much..” Words by Jon Severs



o it’s slightly puzzling that when it comes to having the word ‘print’ (or ‘printing’ or ‘printers’) in their company name, so many of them have become rather coy: the ‘print’ element in the title of print businesses is fast disappearing.  

The driver behind this phenomenon is not as simple as it first appears. You

Combining the best of both worlds

Mention the word ‘hybrid’ and many people will most likely summon up thoughts of motoring, or horticulture. But hybrid is also gaining increasing significance here in printing. At the Drupa exhibition six months ago, a slew of new hybrid applications emerged, covering a plethora of different presses and applications. And here in the UK we have a number of genuine pioneers when it comes to real-world implementation of the latest hybrid systems.
In fact, it’s useful to begin by asking the

Tailoring your business for on-trend clothing work

Digital technologies disrupt supply chains – including print – and establish new structures and new paradigms. However, there are some markets where the barriers to entry will not be demolished just by trumpeting the D-word.

Unfortunately – despite what some faddish print pundits predict – fashion is not a market where a print firm with a graphic arts background can sashay in and steal a rail full of top-end clients with nothing more than a wide-format printer and some supermodel

Opening a new dimension of opportunities



Last year, PrintWeek predicted an explosion of interest in 3D print. Well, it's happened. The technology still has a way to go, but could be the ultimate 'added-value

In the past two weeks, it’s been on Have I Got News For You, on Newsnight (where Paxman looked completely confused by the whole idea), on major TV news reports, most tech websites and in almost all the leading newspapers and magazines. Interest has been fuelled by its first dedicated UK show, held on 19-21 October. 3D

Value packaging: branching out needn’t break the bank

The development of hover boards and flying cars may not seem to have much in common with commercial printers taking on packaging printing, but there is a key similarity: for years all three have been mooted as being ‘just around the corner’ without ever quite materialising.” Words by

 JoHn Severs


Okay, perhaps that’s not quite true. While hover boards and flying cars remain the stuff of Back to the Future, several commercial printers actually have made a success of packaging. And yet

Driving force: evolution or revolution?

Some say the sector is advancing through great leaps forward, some say it's a succession of baby steps. So who is right?

 As well as hogging the post-press limelight at Drupa, the arrival of the Highcon Euclid digital die-cutter to the halls of Messe Düsseldorf also created some antagonism from finishing manufacturers for another reason: it was almost universally welcomed as being the first real post-press technology revolution since the digital revolution got into its stride almost 10 years ago

Stores seek to pack in the products – and the punters


Few sectors have had their business model so radically altered by the recession than grocery retailers,” Words by  Simon Eccles

Inaddition to the rapid growth of online and click and collect shopping, consumers have been spending less on their weekly food shop and eschewing the ubiquitous out-of-town superstores for a series of smaller top-up trips to a number of different retailers, including the hard discounters and pound stores, who have significantly grown their market share over

Ensure your print is out of this world


A new RIP might not seem like a particularly exciting investment (although it could certainly be an expensive one) but upgrading can often prove essential to ensure your firm’s stellar performance



There are lots of things you can get for twenty or thirty grand: a flash new car, a deposit on a new flat, a modest speedboat. All pretty desirable purchases that will hopefully leave the buyer with a sense of having got something nice for their hard-earned cash.




By contrast, a

Can ISO 15339 deliver on cross-process promise?

Colour is the lifeblood of any self-respecting printer. And so any opportunity to further assure all colour is exactly as it should be –particularly where the printer is dealing with highly sensitive brand-matching jobs – will hopefully be gratefully snapped up,” Words by Simon Eccles


Printers may well, then, have had their interest piqued of late by talk of a new colour management standard ISO 15339, due to be launched later this year. Colour management is also often a fiendishly

The forgotten branch of green consumables

From inks, to plates, to wash-up systems and pressroom chemistry, sourcing sustainably makes environmental – and business – sense

It sounds like a health and safety nightmare: a print buyer poking their nose into chemical drums, dipping their hands into vats of non-hazardous ink, and peering into industrial sinks once toxic chemicals are poured away. But this, if many printers had their way, is exactly what an explanation of their eco-credentials would involve. For going green, for some

Success with fabric may be cut from a different cloth


Fabric is both a synonym for textiles and the word for discussing the very essence of stuff. So it’s something of a paradox that in all the talk of printing textiles, the materials themselves are often overlooked in favour of the printing technologies employed.


For any wide-format printer trying to get their head around textiles and how they might be applicable to their business, this omission can confuse things. Which may go some way to explain why the UK lags behind mainland European

Reap the benefits of a long-distance relationship

Remote assistance is an increasingly common element of many service contracts and could cut days off your downtime
If you had told a pre-digital era printer that, in the future, in the event of a machine going down, an engineer from the manufacturer could be tinkering with it in a matter of minutes, images of speedy, futuristic modes of transport and fantastical teleportation devices might have sprung to mind. And if you'd told the same printer that this engineer would also be able to identify a

Fashion favours the personal approach

Imagine changing your home decor as often as you buy new clothes and upgrade your phone. Chances are you won’t be finding this too much of a stretch – or at least you won’t be finding the idea as alien and extravagant as previous generations no doubt would have done


Post-press kit developed for the more trWith throwaway fashion and ever-cheaper and more impressive mobile gadgetry to tempt us, we are after all becoming ever-more demanding, voraciously consuming, consumers. This

The technology that’s been waiting inline to catch on

If you believe 'inline' refers to rollerblading, it's time to update your terminology. The technology, though, does require a sacrifice: are you willing to cash in your flexibility for speedier turnarounds?
Around five years ago, if you'd asked printers if they were considering "going inline", many would have politely explained that, as pressurised as turnarounds were becoming, taking to rollerblades to get around the factory was not for them. Today, however, 'going inline' – hooking finishing

Getting to grips with digital’s post-press requirements


Ripe Digital discovered the importance of finishing the hard way. “When we bought our press, we thought ‘that’s it, we’re printers now’,” says director Richard Penny of when the company, previously a repro house, branched out into digital fine art printing in 2005. “But that was just the start of it; finishing is important, as we’ve learned,” Words by  Barney Cox.


And the latest projections for online reAnd a slick post-press set-up is even more important for digital printers than for

Why printers need readers to judge a book by its cover

While this may have prompted some among the self-regarding literati to ditch their Kindles, Kobos and Nooks, it is also an indication that the book sector may be developing into a two-tiered market, where the 'serious readers' those that like to sit down with some James Joyce, for example continue to buy printed books, while the consumers of mass-market fiction download new releases to their e-readers.

If this situation should arise and many believe it already has it would represent a

Tinkerers in search of the eureka moment

Print’s best-known eureka moment came more than 550 years ago, when Johannes Gutenberg figured out a way to print books using moveable type and a press based on the sort of screw press used for making wine


Whether his creative juices flowed because he was quaffing a passable German red at the time, we don’t know. The details of precisely how Gutenberg put his revolutionary ideas together are not recorded.
What we do know is that Gutenberg’s method drove a print revolution that helped

True colour is no longer in the eye of the beholder

In the world of retail, colour is king. Get it right, and your carefully selected shade can be as good as a free sample in making the consumer crave a certain foodstuff. Get it wrong, or end up with a colour too similar to another brand's, and - as feared by Cadbury, Veuve Clicquot and Christian Louboutin, which all last year fought high-profile battles to gain ownership over their brand's colours - the customer might not think the product's the real deal.

Of course protecting a brand's colours

Boxing clever: how internet sales are repackaging retail


Originally the rapid growth of online sales didn’t seem that startling. It was, after all, coming from a very low base, so annual double-digit percentage growth didn’t seem that remarkable. But even at the height of  recession, when bricks-and-mortar retailers were feeling the pinch, online sales continued to soar spectacularly.

According to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, the online retail market has continued to see steady growth, in October 2013, recording a solid 15%

Will DM technology usher in a new screening revolution?

Whether, conventional, stochastic or hybrid, or to use their respective abbreviations AM, FM or XM, halftone screens have long been associated with improving print quality. From the mid-nineties to the mid-noughties there was a rush of screening advances that, together with the switch from analogue to digital pre-press, coincided with a rapid increase in print quality.

"It was only 20 years ago that 200dpi AM screening was considered as a fine screen and quite difficult to print," explains Paul

Ink makers pledge: you can have it all

The favourite phrase of mums everywhere: ‘you can’t have everything’. Or sometimes: ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it.’ Until recently this was also a favourite of wide-format kit vendors, in relation to ink choice Words bySimon Eccles...

For the past decade or so, large-format inkjet printing companies have had to choose between solvent and UV for their roll-fed vinyl labels and outdoor banners and signage, this year has seen the introduction of hybrid inks from both Mimaki and Colorific

OEM or third-party? N o w a n e w f o r c e j o i n s t h e i n k s f r a y

Plastered onto the high-street window display is a poster of a stunning model gazing out and dressed in this season's garb. But something is wrong. The colours have faded under the glare of sunlight and wear and the shirt, once yellow, now has a tinge of blue. You decide to move on.

On such small margins does high-street success turn and yet, with retail budgets shrinking, this poor print performance could become a more common occurrence. Pressured into lower prices, some printers are turning

Technology hasn’t yet wiped print off the map

usinessmen wrestling with unwieldy broadsheets on crowded trains and holidaymakers carting around several back-breakingly heavy holiday-reads. These are the images that will no doubt entertain future generations, as they wonder why people were ever reluctant to embrace digital alternatives as soon as they came out.
Add another to this bank of hilarious people-persevering-with-print-images: harassed mum and dad leafing angrily through an A-Z while the kids scream in the back of the car. A paper

The future of workflow: it's already in our hands today

When it comes to handling jobs in today's commercial print market, you basically have a hot potato situation: hold onto it too long and you will get burned. Hence, automation to reduce the touch points for the printing and finishing processes is now very advanced. While much progress has been achieved in these fields, print owners may well be casting their eyes at the pre-press department as an area where more could be done.

This is because general estimates put the proportion of submitted

To beta or not to beta, that is the question

For the past year, Stephen Connor, studio manager at Wyke Printers, has spent his Friday afternoons sitting at his computer sending detailed emails about how his web-to-print system could be improved.
It’s the sort of ritual that those who have experienced nightmare installations of new kit will know well. However, in this case, all is not as it seems. For rather than an unhappy customer, Connor is part of a relationship that aims to prevent exactly the aforementioned nightmare new-kit