Production: Digital Color Breakthroughs

By: Mark Vruno

Production: Digital Color Breakthroughs

Inkjet press technology advancements have extended print production capabilities into higher run lengths, unprecedented productivity and full-color quality on par with traditional newspapers produced on offset presses. Digital production speeds are within the scope of those required for smaller metropolitan, suburban, and country newspapers, according to OEM Océ, which is now part of Canon.

Now, a Belgian printer is using this technology in a real-world application. Symeta is a full-service print provider under the umbrella of Belgium’s leading retail company, Colruyt Group. As an Océ inkjet customer since 2009, Symeta’s predecessor, Druco, was the first one to start inkjet production in the Belgian market.

Featuring a 20.5-inch (narrow) web width and 600-x-600-dpi resolution, the JetStream 2200 continuous-feed printing system is installed at Symeta’s Halle facility, near Brussels. (Océ also has a wider and faster model, the 2800, with a 30-inch web running 656 fpm.) This summer, Symeta began producing color editions of international newspapers, offering a new profit-center service to its outside publishing customers.

The newspapers are produced on the JetStream 2200, which uses a high-speed paper path to yield in excess of 2,000 36-page tabloid color newspapers per hour — 500 feet per minute. Each copy is potentially an individual product, printed digitally with no loss of speed or quality compared to conventional printing methods. Symeta’s target is to produce more than 5,000 digital newspapers during the night shift.

Océ pioneered the digital newspaper market a decade ago with its Digital Newspaper Network (DNN). Symeta is one of six DNN sites in the world, with others in Singapore, New York, London, Los Angeles, and Sydney. Approximately 30 million newspaper copies have been produced globally through this network since 2001.

Newspaper Abroad
The first titles to come on board are produced on behalf of Newspaper Abroad to meet the demand of international newspapers. Newspaper Abroad has its headquarters in Brussels and operates in more than 10 countries around the world. It handles sales, marketing, prepress, production, and distribution of foreign newspapers. The newspaperand hotels as well as subscriptions to embassies, libraries, offices, and the exbatriate community.

“The production of international titles at Symeta is more proof of the viability of digital inkjet technology for the newspaper industry,” said Sebastian Landesberger, executive vice president of Océ Production Printing. “Ensuring immediate delivery in international markets of newspapers printed digitally in color with a print quality comparable to traditional printing provides a steady revenue stream and potential growth opportunity for newspaper publishers.”

Newspaper Abroad also began partnering with Stroma Limited in England this summer. As previously reported in E&P, long-term DNN partner Stroma in June began printing color editions of international newspapers on the latest inkjet digital technology. More than 1,400 titles now are included in Newspaper Abroad’s portfolio, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Moscow Times, The Australian, and the Sydney Morning Herald. Stroma has taken an Océ JetStream 1000 superfast inkjet production press as part of a £1.3 million investment at its west London headquarters and is providing a quality level comparable to traditional printing. Printing in excess of 1,000 36-page tabloids per hour enables longer runs of digitally produced newspapers. The partnership ramped up production with 45 new titles.

“Until now, the newspapers had been flown in at prohibitive cost and then distributed the following day, which didn’t make sense, particularly as there often was the problem of canceled flights as well,” said Andreas Qvist, chief executive officer and co-founder of Newspaper Abroad. “Now, virtually all the editions will be available to the reader before 7:30 a.m. This is a fantastic project. International newspaper sales are important for publishers’ revenue streams and their readers while traveling or living abroad.  They need to think of digital printing, as we have done, going forward.”

Against a backdrop of falling sales for newspapers, Newspaper Abroad’s venture is expected to increase sales — currently “thousands of copies per day” — by 25 percent by year’s end. The cover price will be on par with prices in each newspaper’s homeland. Most new titles are Scandinavian,  but there are also titles from around the world currently unavailable the same day in London.

“This new agreement is proof that the availability of full-color digital printing is a serious growth opportunity for printed newspapers, particularly as it enables newspaper publishers to cut out crippling distribution costs while still offering distant readers the tactile and visual pleasures of a physical newspaper,” said Craig Nethercott, Océ UK’s director of production printing.

Huge difference for publishers, advertisers
“Currently, we run anything between 50 and 60 titles a day,” said Steve Brown, managing director of Stroma. “This is something the publishers have been wanting for a long time and will now be realized. Color has made a huge difference from an advertising and publishing perspective. In addition, the technology lends itself to adding value to companies such as Qantas Airlines, for example. We print a couple of Australian titles for them, and they go on the seats of business and first class. And in effect the passengers are reading tomorrow’s news today.”   The Symeta Story Symeta was launched in January 2011 to make the business communication of both the Colruyt Group and outside customers more efficient. Colruyt has used Symeta to develop initiatives such as the 1.6 million personalized customer folders — an example of one-to-one communication in terms of both content and scale. Symeta will be a major force in the Benelux market with some 275 staff. In the course of 2011, all services will be centralized on two sites — one being the 13,500-square-meter facility at Halle.

RBP Helps Chicago Reader Shine  

RBP Chemical Technology, a worldwide manufacturer of surface chemistry products for the printing and electronics industries, has developed a specific chemical product to address an unusual situation at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The project benefited the Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly that is printed on the Milwaukee newspaper press. As part of a rebranding effort, the free Chicago tabloid wished to wrap each edition with a glossy color cover to attract attention. The outer wrapper, run on the same double-wide press as the newspaper, is saddle-stitched and an integral part of each paper. By working closely with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, RBP modified the fountain solution used by the paper to accommodate the UV inks used on the wrapper. RBP chemists produced a new, mild-acid fountain solution that runs both conventional and UV inks, enabling press operators to move from conventional to UV runs without adjusting chemistry.

“As specialists in newspaper production chemistry, RBP chemists were able to analyze the issues at hand, and we quickly had the press on line to meet production deadlines,” said RBP president Mark Kannenberg. “RBP scientists, together with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel personnel, conducted preproduction tests and confirmed compatibility of the new fountain solution with the inks, plates, rollers, [and] blankets being used.”

First Newspaper UV Drying Order for Baldwin

Baldwin Technology Co., a global manufactureR of process automation technology for the print media industry, has secured a $750,000 order to install UV dryers onto two newspaper presses in Australia. This is the firm’s first order for its water-cooled, high-end QuadCure UV dryer in the newspaper segment, and it is expected to lead to further opportunities as printers around the world add flexibility and quality improvement to their production capabilities.

The QuadCure product is based on Baldwin’s advanced UV drying technology for sheetfed presses and is in the high-end segment of the market. The company also is in the process of developing a new air-cooled UV drying system that will compete in the single-wide newspaper market with expected market release this month at Graph Expo in the U.S. and IFRA Expo in Europe later this fall.

“Our customer, Fairfax Media Limited, one of Australasia’s leading media companies, ordered these UV dryers to be installed on existing press installations to significantly improve print quality and enable use of a wider range of paper qualities,” said Peter Hultberg, Baldwin’s vice president of global sales and marketing. “Baldwin acquired this technology last year and has been successful in adapting it for new segments of the global print market.”

President and chief executive officer Mark Becker added: “We have been very pleased in our order growth over recent quarters. These new UV and other Baldwin product developments enable Baldwin to plan for growth in new segments in the global print markets as well as expanding our technologies for applications outside of traditional print.”

Goss Customer Earns WAN-IFRA Certificate for Standardized Printing

Sing Tao News Corp., a longtime Goss press user, has become the fourth publisher worldwide — and the first in Asia — to be awarded the WAN-IFRA Certificate for Standardized Printing for high-quality newspaper production. Based primarily in Hong Kong with operations worldwide, Sing Tao most recently invested in a new five-tower 4×2 (16-page) Uniliner press to complement production from a four-tower 4×2 Uniliner press line and a five-tower 4×1 (double-width, single-circumference) press line.

To be awarded the certification, Sing Tao had to fulfill strict test criteria that included on-site auditing of quality assurances and a variety of print tests such as accuracy of tone value on plate; screening; tonal range; maximum black color; and the gamut of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. The certificate is valid for two years after which time it may be renewed by successful repeat test prints and an on-site quality audit.

Peter Kirwan, Goss vice president of Asia Pacific newspaper sales, said, “Testing for the award is very thorough, and the certificate can only be obtained if the results of all printing tests and the audit are positive. It is a fantastic achievement for Sing Tao to become one of only four newspaper publishers worldwide to be awarded the certificate.”

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Published: September 19, 2011

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