Baldwin to acquire Digital Ink System From QuadGraphics

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Baldwin to acquire Digital Ink System From QuadGraphics
Karl Fritchen

Baldwin Technology Company has reached an agreement with QuadGraphics to acquire the intellectual property rights for the Digital Ink System. This will enable continued development of the technology. Baldwin is a world leader in providing process automation solutions, consumables and services for the print, packaging, textile and corrugated industries and has acquired several companies in these related areas in the past two years.

The Digital Ink System is a computer-controlled ink injection technology that replaces traditional open fountain ink trains—or can upgrade existing ‘pump and rail’ systems—providing more precise density control at all press speeds with significant cost savings. The system eliminates ink contamination and delivers consistently high-quality results, metering the correct volume of ink delivered to each control zone across the printed image.

In late 2017, Baldwin acquired QuadGraphics’ research and development division, QuadTech, combining it with PC Industries and Web Printing Controls to form a new ‘Baldwin Vision Systems’ business segment. Baldwin Vision Systems already owns the rights to the Digital Ink System technology used in newspaper and commercial printing markets. This most recent agreement brings to Baldwin additional ownership of new developments underway for future applications of the technology.

“We are very enthusiastic about the new possibilities this agreement affords us, and more importantly—our customers,” said Brent Becker, president, and chief executive officer of Baldwin. “We see enormous potential for the Digital Ink System technology beyond the efficiencies already being realized by commercial and newspaper printers. With our new Vision Systems business segment in place, we plan to hit the ground running to deliver inventive new solutions and adaptations of proven technologies to new industries.”

Karl Fritchen, president of QuadTech, said being part of a larger organization means bringing more diverse technical capabilities under one company umbrella. He further stated, ‘We plan to expand automation capabilities …. Our focus remains the same: innovating and delivering world-class color measurement and management, registration and vision system technologies. By combining engineering talent and expertise, and with the infusion of more financial resources, we plan to expand automation capabilities to include and connect other workflows within print operations.

According to Fritchen, the new agreement will give printers the ability to choose the option that best fits their specific needs and budget. “For example, in newspaper and commercial printing applications, Baldwin Visions Systems not only offers standalone color-to-color registration and color control systems, but also combined functionality from the same camera, if needed. Additionally, customers can choose between RGB-based or spectral-based color control, depending upon process and customer requirements.

“In packaging applications, our combined product portfolio includes options for offset, flexo, gravure, and the unique requirements of digital print. We offer pre-press proofing solutions, as well as on-press and post-press solutions across narrow-, mid-, and wide-web applications—as well as sheet-fed applications. Furthermore, we offer connected tools across pre-press, production and post-press workflows that help our customers monitor and manage much more than just the print process—but also their inks, job data, production quality and reports.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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