Look back at…July 2022

Letter from London

43
Caption: Protesters put a banner on an underground station in Central London. Photo: Nessan Cleary
Caption: Protesters put a banner on an underground station in Central London. Photo: Nessan Cleary

The main story from July, at least in the UK, has been the downfall of the prime minister, Boris Johnson. This has triggered a contest in which a collection of MPs, none of whom could safely be left in charge of a BBQ, let alone a country, vied to replace him both as leader of the Conservative party and as prime minister. We’re now down to the final two – the foreign secretary Liz Truss and the former chancellor Rishi Sunak – neither of whom appears to have the slightest clue as to how to deal with the looming economic crisis.

Meanwhile, the American public have been treated to shocking testimony that their former President really did attempt to stage a coup. Most worryingly, the highly polarised nature of American politics, coupled with the politicisation of many aspects of American civil life, mean that it would only take slightly better organisation for such a coup to succeed in future.

Amidst all of this, the assassination of the former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe sent shockwaves around the world. And of course the war continues unabated in Ukraine, exacting a terrible toll on the Ukrainian people, and dragging the rest of Europe into a recession.

The most significant story from July affecting the printing industry is Bobst’s plan to privatise the company. This involves JBF Finance, which already owns 53% of Bobst shares, buying the group’s remaining publicly held shares. JBF Finance is itself owned by around 60 shareholders from families that descend from Bobst’s founder, Joseph Bobst.

JBF has offered to pay CHF 78 in cash per Bobst Group share, which represents a premium of 22% compared to the average price of the last four weeks. Not surprisingly, Bobst’s board of directors is recommending that shareholders take this deal. That in turn would allow JBF to delist the shares from the SIX Swiss Exchange. The rationale is that this would allow Bobst to take the time needed to transform the business into a digitized, connected and sustainable packaging supply chain. Bobst will publish further details of this offer on 5 September with the expectation that it will be settled by November this year.

Jean-Pascal Bobst, CEO of the Bobst Group
Jean-Pascal Bobst, CEO of the Bobst Group

EFI has acquired CadLink Technology Corp, a Canadian software developer that started off by developing RIP and design solutions for large format printers and expanded that into solutions for Direct to Garment and Direct to Film.

Toby Weiss, chief operating officer for EFI Fiery, explained, “The synergies between our two companies are tremendous and we look forward to providing customers with more world-class software and support to accelerate their adoption of digital print and imaging.” He added: “This acquisition will directly benefit our customers and it significantly strengthens and expands our presence in growing markets.”

Naturally, neither company has revealed the terms of the deal other than to say that CadLink’s existing staff will join EFI Fiery and continue to work from their current offices. It’s worth noting that EFI also acquired InEdit earlier this year. EFI does have a history of targeting certain market niches, such as MIS, and then hoovering up independent software suppliers, which in my opinion is not good for the print industry as a whole as it stifles competition and innovation.

EFI Reggiani has broken ground on a new textile campus to accommodate ongoing growth. The new 20,000-square-metre campus in Comun Nuovo, Bergamo, Italy, is expected to be completed by the middle of 2023. It will include a 3,000-square-metre demo centre, which is nearly twice as large as the current EFI Reggiani demo centre, as well as a canteen and gymnasium for employee use. EFI plans to install 400 kilowatts of solar panels that should supply 60% of the facility’s total energy requirements. In addition, thermal insulation will reduce heating and cooling costs and numerous skylights will provide better natural lighting and a reduction in artificial lighting usage.

Adele Genoni, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EFI Reggiani, commented, “EFI Reggiani has always worked diligently to take our offerings to the next level, thinking ahead and developing high-tech, high-quality and reliable textile solutions.” She added: “The new campus is an important step in our journey, and it is proof of EFI’s strong commitment to continued development of the textiles business unit. Not only will this provide us more space to continue our growth, but it will also be a welcoming and sustainable environment for our employees.”

EFI Reggiani marks the start of construction on a new factory with general manager Adele Genoni in the centre cutting the ribbon.
EFI Reggiani marks the start of construction on a new factory with general manager Adele Genoni in the centre cutting the ribbon.

Miraclon has said that later this year it plans to open a third Flexo Hub, with this one located in Oakdale, Minnesota, in order to give a reasonably local access point for customers and partners. Grant Blewett, Miraclon Chief Commercial Officer, explained, “With our hubs positioned across the globe – one representing the Asia region in Shanghai, China, and the other co-located in Europe with Miraclon’s corporate headquarters in Brussels, Belgium – Miraclon is well positioned to collaborate with customers, partners and stakeholders in the flexo industry from a truly global, yet local perspective.”

CloudPrinter announced at the start of July that it has raised €7 million of seed funding to further develop its print-on-demand platform. This includes adding more shipping and tax options as well as new tools to help customers expand into new markets.

Color-Logic has certified Ecofoil Digital for use on Xerox Iridesse presses with white ink. Mark Geeves, Color-Logic director of Sales and Marketing, said, “Ecofoil Digital, an exciting new substrate developed specifically for the digital market and now available in the UK, North America, and Europe, is certified for use with the Color-Logic metallic color system on Xerox Iridesse presses. The wide range of Ecofoil Digital silver substrate with various GSM weights and the Color-Logic metallic color system and embellishments will enable Iridesse users to open up new market opportunities. The samples we have produced with Xerox Dry White Ink and the Ecofoil substrates are great door openers for showing designers, agencies, and brands what is possible with the Iridesse digital press.”

Fujifilm has introduced a new free Connector app for Enfocus Switch for its Jet Press B2 inkjet press that will allow customers to manage printing from Enfocus Switch workflows. This app should work with most variations of the Jet Press and will allow users to configure many of the Jet Press parameters within the Switch workflow. Different sets of parameters can be set depending on the workflow or job type to be printed and the app can also use scripts to translate generic terms such as ‘B2’ into specific parameters to use for printing.

John Davies, Product Management and Support manager for Workflow Products for Fujifilm Europe, explained, “Fujifilm first developed a link between Enfocus Switch and its Jet Press many years ago in the form of a configurator and scripts. To make these capabilities easily available to all Jet Press customers, the original functionality, and more, has been developed as the freely available Enfocus Switch App. This provides customers with easy access to further integrate the Jet Press system into their print operations.”

Additive Manufacturing

Stratasys has developed a radiopaque 3D printing material, called RadioMatrix, for its Digital Anatomy 3D printers. These printers can create full-colour visual models and biomechanically realistic functional models for training simulations, pre-surgical planning and medical device development. The Radiomatrix material can produce radio-realistic anatomic models that are visible under CT scans or X-ray images, which will lead to more realistic and functional models.

Stratasys has developed a radiopaque 3D printing material, RadioMatrix, for its Digital Anatomy 3D printers.
Stratasys has developed a radiopaque 3D printing material, RadioMatrix, for its Digital Anatomy 3D printers.

Ben Klein, Director of product management in healthcare solutions for Stratasys, commented: “This new material is allowing our customers to print radio-realistic models that exhibit defined and predictable radiopacity properties under medical imaging such as CT or X-ray.” He added, “This material development was driven by customer requests to create radiopaque anatomic models, ones that can mimic human anatomy visualization under X-ray. We continue to push the boundaries of medical modeling with multi-material printing.”

3DEO, which offers metal 3D printing services, has now added design and engineering services so that it can handle products through their lifecycle.

The company, which is based in Torrance, California, in the US claims to be one of the world’s highest volume manufacturers of 3D printed precision metal components using its patented metal 3D printing technology. The company put together its Manufacturing Cloud, an end-to-end manufacturing platform built to scale 3DEO’s proprietary metal 3D printers into mass production through software, 3D printing, robotics, automation, augmented reality, and materials innovation.

Matt Sand, president and co-founder of 3DEO, commented, “This evolution in service offerings positions us as a premier, highly differentiated partner. We are unique not only because of the services we offer, but because our 3D printing platform is built with patented, proprietary technology. As a result, we have the ability to customize our technology platform to help our customers solve their hardest engineering challenges.”

Sand noted, “We take a lot of pride in being a partnership-driven organization that works in concert with our customers to overcome difficult engineering problems.” He added, “So adding design and engineering services seemed only natural to answer the call of our customers that need expertise in designing for additive manufacturing to gain a competitive advantage with innovative designs and breakthrough products.”

Appointments

Esko has promoted Eddy Fadel as Vice President and General Manager of its packaging suppliers business unit, where he will be responsible for the sales, services, product management and R&D of the Esko CDI flexo platemaking and AVT print inspection solutions, as well as the sales and service activities for the expert packaging and label software solutions.

Fadel joined Esko and Danaher in May 2017 as Regional Business director EMEA South, before being promoted to EMEA VP in June 2018. More recently, he became VP of Commercial Esko Suppliers in November 2021, where he oversaw global sales, services, marketing and product management. He holds a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Ecole Polytech’ Orsay.

Eddy Fadel, Vice President and General Manager of Esko’s packaging suppliers business unit.
Eddy Fadel, Vice President and General Manager of Esko’s packaging suppliers business unit.

Fadel commented, “I am delighted to take on the role of VP and general manager as we continue to develop integrated software and hardware solutions that achieve our goal of digitizing, automating and connecting the go-to-market process of consumer goods. After what has undoubtedly been a period of market uncertainty and volatility, I am looking forward to taking the business forward as we underline our clear focus on delivering innovations that support our customers along their own digital transformation journey.”

Ink supplier Nazdar has appointed Shuyang ‘Shaun’ Pan as vice president and chief Strategy officer, where he will be responsible for both the development and implementation of Nazdar’s strategic planning process and marketing activities. He has 17 years experience in global sales, marketing and team leadership. He commented, “I am thrilled to be joining Nazdar at such an exciting time for the business as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.” He added, “I’m very much looking forward to working with the team to identify ways to build on Nazdar’s proven, long-term success and pursue further strategic growth.”

Screen UK has appointed Jason Longley as National Sales manager, responsible for sales of the Truepress Jet520HD range of high-speed inkjet printers in UK and Ireland. He previously worked as an operator and production manager and also set up and ran his own commercial print business.

Longley commented, “Historically, continuous feed has been a solution aimed at the direct mail and transactional market. But I firmly believe the commercial print space is at a tipping point where the proven reliability and longevity of continuous inkjet hardware is now matched by quality and running costs. The capability of the new-generation 520HD to print on traditional offset stocks is a real game changer.”

Fujifilm Europe has appointed Dr Karl Borsky as Category manager for Analogue Packaging, where he will manage flexo inks, printing plates and curing systems. He has more than 16 years of experience within the packaging industry, having started at Sun Chemical as part of the R&D team working on ink formulation, followed by spells at Constantia Teich and pigment company Habich.

Manuel Schrutt, head of Packaging, Fujifilm EMEA, comments, “Karl’s appointment is another milestone in with Fujifilm’s wider strategy to promote Fujifilm as an integrated packaging supplier. Karl’s experience and connections prove that he is an ideal fit to this role. His expertise is greatly valued here at Fujifilm and we are truly excited to have him on board.”

Drytac has promoted Dennis Leblanc from territory manager in the Eastern Canada and Greater Toronto area to senior Business Development manager for North America. This role involves liaising between production and sales to help give customers better feedback on product availability. Hayden Kelley, CEO of Drytac commented, “Dennis’ promotion to this new role is in recognition of the positive impact he has had on the company since joining in 2015.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here