Production: Fit to Print

By: Toni McQuilken

Production: Fit to Print

It may be difficult to believe it’s been four years already, but once again it’s time for the Print expo, taking place Sept. 8-12 at McCormick Place in Chicago. With more than 550 exhibitors, 70 educational sessions, and 60 co-located events expected, Print 13 is where any printer will want to be — and newspaper printers are no exception. This year’s theme is “Innovate, Integrate, Communicate,” with a focus on building business relationships and finding cutting-edge technologies.  

Several of the co-located events are relevant to newspaper publishers, including the International Newspaper Group’s annual conference Sept.6-7 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The highlight of the conference will be a keynote address from David Blais, executive vice president of sales and client services at Quad Graphics, as well as updates on the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) and Miami Herald projects, and a variety of other educational sessions geared specifically toward newspaper printers.  

Also on Sept. 7 is the annual Executive Outlook conference, hosted by the Graphic Arts Show Company to examine current trends in print technology, marketing, and economics. This is also where this year’s Must See ’Ems will be announced, which is a great way to see the most interesting new technologies of the year in one place.  

Once the Print show gets underway, the Future Print pavilion is where attendees can go to preview new technologies in the early stages of development. GASC has created an entire educational track dedicated to exploring those future technologies, including a seminar called The Future of Print led by industry guru Frank Romano, and another seminar on 21st Century Print Technologies Explored led by industry consultant Steven Schnoll.   

“Printing technologies and opportunities are always changing and expanding,” said GASC president Ralph Nappi. “Today’s graphic communications professionals use technologies that were unheard of 10 or 20 years ago. Attendees at Print 13 will be able to explore new and emerging technologies that one day will be seen as routine profit centers.”  

For newspaper publishers, the highlight of the show will be the News Print pavilion, featuring live demonstrations of equipment from vendors specific to the newspaper print segment of the industry. Some technologies that will be on display include hybrid production equipment, digital press hardware and software, offset presses, CTP and associated plate bending and punching equipment, software, production workflows, UV and heatset technology, postpress and mailroom equipment, and consumables. The pavilion will be a central place for networking both with other newspaper production professionals, as well as general commercial printers. 

“As society’s communications and information needs have evolved, the graphic communications industry has witnessed an increasing convergence of newspaper and commercial printing,” Nappi said. “Showcased inside this dedicated show floor space will be the latest trends and technologies impacting the newspaper printing and publishing industry to help industry professionals stay ahead of the trends and succeed in a continually changing marketplace. Now in its third year, the hugely popular News Print pavilion will serve as a combination marketplace, education, and networking destination where attendees and vendors can share how best to take their businesses, and the newspaper industry, to the next level.”

Times Union Installs Agfa Graphics CTP System
The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., added two :Advantage N DL CTP devices running chemistry-free :N94-VCF plates with :VCF85 cleanout units from Agfa Graphics in a recent production overhaul that also features a new press.  

The paper switched to a new KBA Commander CL offset press from a letterpress, which had outlived its lifespan. Replacing the older technology gave the Times Union the opportunity to transition from working with a single-source letterpress plate supplier. The new CTP equipment and plates from Agfa are being used to create a smaller-sized newspaper that features higher resolution and greater color capacity.  

“The chem-free plates are working well. Everyone likes them. It’s hard not to. There is almost no difference in how they run versus other chemical plates, which makes them easy to work with. The key is that after imaging the only thing that is needed is gumming the plate,” said Dan Couto, director of operations and facilities planning at the Times Union.  

The Times Union is the latest location of several Hearst publications to utilize Agfa Graphics solutions to meet corporate print production requirements. The facility also uses :Arkitex IntelliTune, Agfa’s image enhancement software, to automatically tone photos for the best reproduction on press.    

Fairfax Media and manroland Partner in Restructuring Project
Fairfax Media chose manroland web systems to make its newspaper production fit for the future. The company’s sites in Chullora (a suburb of Sydney) and Tullamarine (a suburb of Melbourne) are scheduled to close in June 2014. Production of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Australian Financial Review will then be transferred to existing sites in Ballarat, west of Melbourne, and North Richmond, north of Sydney.  

Both sites are already equipped with manroland Uniset presses. To provide the necessary capacity and technology for the increased production volume, four manroland Geoman printing towers and one folder from Melbourne will be added to the North Richmond site. One of the Geoman towers will be combined with the Uniset through a specially designed turner bar system to achieve a greater page output.  

The manroland Uniset in Ballarat will be complemented by a new reel splicer and a new printing tower. Another manroland Geoman tower in Melbourne will be converted for heatset production and added to the Ballarat installation. Additionally, manroland will deliver a new dryer, chill rollers, a turning bar unit, and a folder with superstructure for the production of both newspapers and commercial products. The heatset web can run through one of the Uniset folders for mixed heatset and coldset production. An additional quarter fold has been ordered to optimize heatset production. 

Bob Lockley, chief executive of print and distribution at Fairfax Media, said, “We’ve decided in favor of these fundamental changes to cope with upcoming demands on newspaper production. This helps us to ensure that our papers keep their leading position and remain an important voice in our markets.”    

Autumn Graphics Expands U.S. Operation
Autumn Graphics installed its first Kodak Flexcel NX System in London, Ontario, in 2008 and added a Flexcel NX Wide System in 2010. Now, the company is installing another Flexcel NX Wide System, including a new Kodak Flexcel NX Wide-C Imager, in its new U.S. operation in Fayetteville, Ark. 

“The flexo technology from Kodak has been a real cornerstone of our operation,” said Autumn Graphics president Ben Abray. “We’ve built a very dynamic, differentiated business that includes the ability of the Flexcel NX System to drive significant on-press production efficiencies and a level of quality that is unsurpassed. Our clients look to us to provide the best value for the cost — to help them improve productivity and increase profitability. That means delivering plates that perform consistently and processes that optimize the performance of the press.”  

The new Flexcel NX Wide-C Imager is the latest platform in the Flexcel NX System product line. Developed specifically for users that need a maximum plate size of 42 x 60 inches with a compact footprint, the device is designed with the operator in mind, incorporating new loading features and full support for the imaging of Kodak Flexcel NX Thermal Imaging Layer and Kodak DITR Film. The consistency, plate dot structure, and high densities enable faster start-up times, reduced waste, longer plate life, and reduction in the number of print stations required per job.  

Autumn Graphics operations manager Joe Muller will lead the production team at the new U.S. facility. “We are excited about having Joe and his experience on our team. We look forward to growing our business out of Northwest Arkansas as we continue to evolve as an international supplier to the packaging market,” Abray said.    

GMG Releases ColorMaster 2.0
GMG, a developer and supplier of workflow and color management software solutions, released GMG ColorMaster 2.0, offering a process-neutral workflow and flexible format for image data storage. GMG ColorMaster 2.0 supplies predefined settings and optimized profiles for most popular target color spaces. It also offers a color space that covers all common printing gamuts.  

“ColorMaster helps to provide a color-accurate, late-binding RGB-workflow, meaning that images are not converted from their RGB space until as late as possible. It is ideal for those who create data from a wide variety of media and printing processes, or who process printing data for production in different countries and have to consider different print and online standards,” said GMG director of marketing Michael Farkas. “It is a solution to a problem people have been talking about for twenty years. It offers the right way to work with RGB files in an effective and productive manner.”  

ColorMaster is a virtual color space used as a preview profile for Photoshop or softproofing applications. By viewing an image in the ColorMaster color space the content originator can detect problems in the light or tonal range early and make adjustments — for example, changing the light setting or applying color corrections — before storing the image file into the database. Once the image has been retouched within the ColorMaster color space, the master RGB file can be output many times to any industry standard with confidence of its color accuracy.  

Purchase of a GMG ColorMaster 2.0 annual license provides a customer access to a pre-configured set of updated international color profiles, pre-defined GMG ColorMaster workflows, PDF/X-3 export settings for Adobe InDesign, GMG ColorMaster ICC for screen viewing, and a GMG SwatchBook.    

Goss Introduces High-Automation, Compact 2×1 Press

Goss Intl. launched a first-of-its-kind, highly automated 2×1 web offset press for the production of newspapers, books, and semi-commercial publications. The Goss Magnum Compact press system boasts a range of design features packaged to deliver fast makereadies, simplified operation, and flexible run lengths.  

With the Magnum Compact, Goss has included automatic plate changing as a standard feature, so that plates for the next product or edition can be loaded while the press is running. The full sequence of removing the old plates and loading the new plates requires less than 30 seconds. The old plates can be reused, making this technology ideal for repeat small-batch production of books and other publications.  

Multi-shaftless press drives are also standard on every model, so each cylinder level and inker module is driven independently, as is the infeed roller, providing maximum flexibility and control over changeover waste. This control can be further enhanced with the addition of optional Goss DigiRail digital inking.  

According to Eric Bell, Goss Intl. marketing director, this combination of automation technologies makes the Magnum Compact press ideal for producing run lengths from as low as 500 copies to more than 250,000 copies. “Today’s cost pressures on printed media mean that printers of every size and variety need to streamline production, reduce overheads, and keep their presses running round-the-clock,” he said. “This press system is another example of Goss using its decades of engineering and technological expertise to bring the benefits of automation and large-scale production efficiencies to smaller operations. This latest innovation will deliver more flexibility and opportunity for printers of newspapers, as well as books and specialized or niche publications.”  

The short height (2.2 m) and single-level design of the Magnum Compact press provide clear operational benefits, enabling prepress, press, and mailroom to be operated seamlessly. Maintenance is also simplified — the opening of the inker units allows simple, single-level access to blankets, rubber rollers, and ink ducts for cleaning and setting. The low height means this press can be installed in simple industrial buildings. As a result, both initial investment and ongoing operating costs are reduced dramatically, while environmental impact is also lessened.  

“Tackling the main sources of cost in printing, the Magnum Compact design incorporates features for reducing overheads — including crew sizes — and materials consumption into a press design that facilitates a wider application range,” Bell said. “What’s more, with greater substrate flexibility and the use of standard inks and consumables, the Magnum Compact press even presents a compelling alternative to inkjet presses for a number of applications and business models.”    

Vjoon Pushes for Growth in Asia, Enters China
Vjoon GmbH, a leader in digital and print publishing software, is pushing for revenue growth in the Asia-Pacific region. The company’s worldwide network was recently extended with an experienced reseller and integration partner, Hong Kong-based Compose System Ltd. At about the same time, the Chinese subsidiary of a global media corporation opted for the cross-media publishing platform vjoon K4, and Compose will provide technical support for this new customer. What’s more, vjoon succeeded in fast-tracking K4’s localization so that it is now optimized to meet the demands of the Chinese market. 

“The Asia-Pacific region in general, and China in particular, harbor enormous potential for growth. Like everywhere in the world, customers here expect efficient, forward-looking software solutions,” said Andreas Schrader, chief executive officer of vjoon. “Vjoon meets these expectations and is a top player in multichannel publishing platforms, as we have been demonstrating for over a decade in America and Europe. Now we have joined forces with a strong local partner, Compose, to prove our merits in China.”  

“The demand for professional publishing solutions is high among Chinese publishers and media companies, particularly working toward the multichannel publication,” said Tom Sit, managing director of Compose. “And our customers believe vjoon K4 is way ahead when it comes to efficiently unifying the traditional world of print with the modern digital world.”

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Published: July 15, 2013


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