DIGITAL digest 905
Kodak Continues Integration, Debuts New Products
ROCHESTER, NY—With the PRINT 05 show falling in early September, Eastman Kodak had little time to enjoy the honeymoon period with its acquisitions. The exhibition would serve as the major coming-out party for its newly integrated operations that wed the former Creo Inc., Kodak Polychrome Graphics, NexPress Solutions, Kodak Versamark and Encad entities to form Kodak's Graphic Communications Group (GCG).
GCG officials provided an update on their integration efforts and announced several new products shown at PRINT 05 during a recent press and analyst summit.
"Kodak (today) is a combination of the 11 or 12 best companies that were in this business," stated Jeff Jacobson, president of Graphic Solutions & Services and COO of GCG, referring to Kodak's metamorphosis from a primarily film supplier to a digital solutions provider. "We weren't arrogant to think we could do this ourselves. We brought in best-of-breed partners to accomplish this."
With the new industry paradigms, Jacobson added that printers will increasingly become diversified service providers. "We want to develop all-encompassing relationships with our customers. We are the only company in the industry that can bring CIJ (continuous ink-jet), electrophotography, DI (direct imaging) technology and traditional offset."
In his presentation, Antonio Perez, president and CEO of Eastman Kodak, agreed that the company's digital transformation is on track. He revealed that June was the first month in Kodak's 135-year history that digital sales outpaced revenues from traditional, largely film-based products.
This effort to pursue a digital transformation started two years ago, added GCG President Jim Langley, who believes Kodak's current portfolio of offerings are well-positioned, given the industry trend toward shorter runs. His reasoning: Shorter runs, with more color, result in higher plate consumption. This trend also creates market demand for digital printing equipment and the need for more automated workflows. And it requires proofing solutions designed to quicken the approval part of the job.
One major launch at PRINT 05 is specialized MIS software originally developed by Creo. Kodak's Enterprise Management Solution (EMS) is designed to allow printers to seamlessly integrate their printing and business workflows. At its core is manufacturing enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools tailored for the graphic arts.
Core modules address sales force automation, quoting and estimating, job management, purchasing, production planning and scheduling, as well as financial capabilities. Expanded components include integrated customer and supplier relationship management, quality assurance, lean manufacturing processes, customer and supplier Web portals, and business intelligence capabilities.
The JDF-based software also offers capabilities to deal with complex environments that include digital printing workflows, fulfillment and mailing, among other functions.
Also new are two digital color presses, the Kodak NexPress 2100 plus (entry level) and the NexPress 2500 (high performance). Enhancements include a selection of paper feeders that can be added as business expands; a new high-capacity delivery system; the 2005 PIA/GATF InterTech Award-winning fifth imaging unit that allows for spot colors, watermarking and a protective coating; extended paper handling, up to 14x20.5˝ sheets; a wider range of substrate capabilities; and a new productivity optimizer. The NexPress 2500 prints 2,500 A3 4/4 sheets per hour.
The 2100 plus is commercially available this month and the 2500 press will be offered in the first quarter of 2006, at which time all features and functionality available on the 2500 can be added as upgrade options to the 2100 plus—even speed.
Another highlight of the booth is a demonstration of a Muller Martini Concepta hybrid offset/digital press that features Kodak Versamark's continuous ink-jet technology, which makes possible new capabilities for in-line customization and micro-versioning for large-volume direct mail and other commercial printing markets.
The press uses two high-speed Versamark D-series printheads, the DH91 and DH6240, to print variable data information in-line with four-color offset printing to create highly personalized printed documents at speeds of up to 1,000 fpm—and at a very low cost per page. Kodak Versamark has also signed a reseller agreement with Muller Martini to sell this hybrid system.
On the plate front, Kodak's Thermal Direct Non-Process Plate is becoming commercially available at the show. With a reported 100 customers already using the product, the plate is targeted to small- to medium-size general commercial printers.
Also on display are Kodak Colorflow Custom Color Tools v3.1 software to optimize total color management and PDF Compare and PDF Merge Acrobat plug-ins for managing correction cycles within Prinergy and Prinergy Powerpack prepress workflows. Both products were also 2005 PIA/GATF InterTech Award recipients.
PODi Seeks Digital Case Studies
ROCHESTER, NY—PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative, has issued a call for entries for the sixth edition of the "Best Practices in Digital Print" report and online case study database.
The best practices report spotlights some of the industry's most outstanding digital printing success stories and their proven business results. All types of digital printing applications, covering a wide range of vertical markets, are being sought for the latest edition, slated to be published in the spring of 2006. Submissions need not be from PODi members only.
The entry deadline is October 15, 2005. Visit www.podi.org for instructions.
The online case study database is a searchable repository housing a collection of more than 200 case studies from all five previous editions of the best practices report.
Punch Graphix Affirms Market Commitment
SPRINGFIELD, NJ—Similar to the precision required in golf to negotiate bunkers, water hazards and heavy roughs, supplying equipment to the global graphic arts industry can be fraught with obstacles. But Punch Graphix Americas (PGX-A) believes it has developed, and is executing, a sound game plan to conquer even the toughest courses that may lie ahead.
With the 87th PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club here as a backdrop, PGX-A held a pre-PRINT 05 press event August 11 to highlight recent record growth and to emphasize long-term commitments to its Xeikon digital printing and basysPrint CTP equipment brands.
"Both brands have built a record of solid profits since joining the Punch corporate family and we are experiencing a strong continuation of this trend," noted Kristof Vereenooghe, president and CEO of PGX-A. "Our customers' print volume has grown constantly and we are seeing a rapid adoption of the Xeikon 5000 press—which is underscored by a large increase in the number of companies installing several presses at one time."
These recent sales successes include three Xeikon 5000 digital presses to Banta Corp., five to Vertis, five to Vestcom and a fourth machine to expresscopy.com, among others. Vereenooghe added that year-to-date machine sales stand at 35 systems, a number that exceeds entire Xeikon Americas press sales in 2004. Also, print volumes at Xeikon's installed base have grown 42 percent, he revealed.
To meet this growth, PGX-A has expanded its direct sales and service organization. Rob Mayerson, formerly director of operations at Vertis, has been appointed vice president of sales/digital printing for North America. Jeff Hopkins has been named vice president of sales for basysPrint prepress systems. PGX-A has also hired six additional regional sales managers, as well as seven regional and three national technical support specialists.
Patrick McCarthy has been appointed COO and Glenn Toole, a Xeikon veteran, has filled the role of vice president of marketing and business development.
To support its sales efforts, the company has constructed a 7,000-square-foot technology center at its Itasca, IL, headquarters. Vereenooghe also stressed PGX-A's strategic partnerships with variable data printing software vendors, including Printable Technologies and XMPie, and with several postpress equipment companies.
Dick Tilanus, CEO of Punch Graphix Worldwide, also noted that the Belgium-based company is opening a manufacturing facility in China this year. With a client base of more than 1,300 customers, he revealed that the company's worldwide installed base (as of March 2005) includes 1,110 Xeikon presses, 870 Strobbe systems and 500 basysPrint UV platesetters.
Future growth opportunities, according to Tilanus, include various niche markets, more integrated solutions, a click charge model, printing plate agreements tied in with basysPrint CTP installations, as well as a continued emphasis on expansion in the U.S. and Asia Pacific regions.
He also noted continuing partnerships. In conjunction with Stora Enso, Xeikon has developed a patented solution for on-demand digital printing and production of cardboard DBS (Discbox Slider) storage packs for CDs and DVDs. In the prepress arena, basysPrint maintains its OEM partnership with Agfa for the newspaper market.
PGX-A has won a 2005 PIA/GATF InterTech Award for the Xeikon Print Protector, which enables digitally printed documents to be promptly finished and handled. It can be installed as an in-line option for all Xeikon presses or in an off-line sheet or rollfed operation. It applies a water/wax/silicone oil emulsion (non-UV) on both sides of the substrate. The protective emulsion dries immediately, keeping colors bright and accurate, eliminating damage to images from mail sorting systems and reducing the build up of static charges.
According to PGX-A officials, the Xeikon 5000 duplex press supports the largest available substrate range—from bible stock to 16-pt. board. The webfed machine is rated at 130 pages per minute/3 million letter-size pages per month. The new X-800 digital front end (DFE) is a scalable solution that runs on any Windows PC platform. Customers can use and buy their own hardware; there is no vendor lock-in.
At PRINT 05, Xeikon was planning to operate a 5/5 Xeikon 5000 press with in-line coating to output live a two-sided postcard featuring variable data. An actual job from Xeikon customer expresscopy.com, the postcards are being delivered into the postal stream directly from the show floor.
For its part, basysPrint will continue to target the four-up, eight-up and VLF book and publishing markets. Its acquisition by Punch in December of 2004 will reportedly allow the platesetter provider to bring down its price point through manufacturing efficiencies. Scrolling technology has also been developed for higher speeds and stability, and the company plans to stay with its UV CTP technology that enables conventional plate usage.
Citiplate Runs the Table With No-Process Plates
WESTBURY, NY—Citiplate Imaging Technologies has announced a triple technology breakthrough in no-process plate coatings. This new family of photopolymer formulations from the manufacturer's No-Process Imaging Group makes it possible for users of thermal or violet CTP platesetters and conventional plate imaging systems to go straight to press, with no processing step.
Digital and analog plates based on this technology are said to "self develop" on-press within a few turns of the press cylinders. Citiplate reports being in discussion with U.S. distribution companies about carrying the plates it will manufacture. The first such arrangements are to be negotiated in the two- and four-up (under 24˝) market segments.
According to the manufacturer, the no-process thermal plate technology images at 830nm and is currently released in controlled sales to resellers and distributors. Its violet formulation can be exposed by the latest generation of 405nm laser diode platesetters and is slated for commercialization in late 2005 or early 2006.
The no-process conventional plate, which already has been released, can be imaged in a standard contact frame using a diazo, UV or multi-spectrum bulb. It also can be imaged at 368nm by a computer-to-conventional plate UV platesetter. (www.citiplate.com)
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA—G2 Graphic Service, a family owned company, has installed a Xerox iGen3 110 digital production press. Its unit features the oversize option with a maximum sheet size of 14.33x22.5˝. (www.xerox.com)
ROCHESTER, NY—Kodak's Graphic Communications Group (GCG) has introduced a new "Certified Process for Color Confirmation" for its Veris proofer. The system checks that a proof complies with the color standards (industry or user-defined) specified for that job, then prints the appropriate color-managed color test strip on the proof, confirms that the specified color tolerances have been achieved and prints a proof-specific certification label. (www.kodak.com)
PALO ALTO, CA—HP has logged several installs of its digital color presses. Proven Direct in Menomonee Falls, WI, has added an HP Indigo press 3050 to build on the capacity of its existing HP Indigo press 3000. Having installed an HP Indigo press 5000 at its facility in Irvine, CA, Vertis is looking to expand its one-to-one marketing and short-run direct mail printing services. Communication Specialists in Austin, TX, is employing an HP Indigo press 3050 and DL-100 variable data software from Printable Technologies to increase the volume of its color personalized print business. Ward/Kraft in Fort Scott, KS, has upgraded to an HP Indigo press 3050. (www.hp.com)
REDWOOD CITY, CA—Just more than a year after installing its first machine, Pacific Printing and Fulfillment has added a second Kodak NexPress 2100 digital production color press. Management says the growth in digital demand has not come at the expense of the full-service print shop's offset business. (www.kodak.com)
PHILADELPHIA—Pearl Pressman Liberty Communications Group has added a Xerox DocuColor 8000 digital color press. The independent, full-service printing company claims to be the first printing company in the region to own this type of equipment. (www.xerox.com)
FRANKLIN, TN—As a commercial printer, Franklin Web Printing produces a number of church publications, student newspapers and some suburban newspapers. Therefore, working with Enovation Graphic Systems, it recently made the move to computer-to-plate production by installing ECRM's NEWSmatic four-page violet CTP platesetters to image Fujifilm's new FDT-330 violet plate for newspapers. (www.enovationgraphics.com)
BALTIMORE—Victor Graphics' EPP department has installed a Kodak Magnus VLF CTP system driven by the Prinergy workflow. The company is a full-service printer and book manufacturer. (www.kodak.com)
PITTSBURGH—Professional Graphic Communications has retired its polyester CTP system in favor of Agfa's new Azura chemistry-free thermal plate system and a four-up Acento platesetter. The company, which employs 30 people, made the switch to realize gains in quality and productivity. (www.agfa.com)
COLUMBIA, SC—In a pair of firsts for the U.S. market, Crowson Stone Printing has completed installation of Heidelberg's Prinect Plate-on-Demand and Prinect MiniSpot workflow solutions. Prinect Plate-on-Demand enables the shop to initiate remaking of plates on one of a pair of Heidelberg Topsetter 102 thermal platesetters directly from the Prinect CP 2000 Center press console of its 10-color Speedmaster 102 press. Prinect MiniSpot is a closed-loop color management system that utilizes small measurement fields located in the trim area of a sheet, which are measured in one pass by Prinect Image Control. (www.heidelberg.com)
LONG BEACH, CA—Seaside Printing installed a Fujifilm Saber violet platesetter and Co-Res screening, as well as an Epson 7600 ink-jet proofer, from Enovation Graphics. Co-owner Joe LaCombe reports the shop is using Co-Res screening on every job to achieve quicker makeready times and press checks. (www.enovationgraphics.com)
MONACA, PA—Proving film isn't dead, Datatel Resources reports upgrading its electronic prepress capabilities with the installation of a Fujifilm Ninja Luxel F6000 imagesetter driven by a Strobbe Graphics RIP server with Express Workflow, Auto Gapfinder software and Starproofer. The company produces long-run, custom forms and direct mail. (www.datatelcorp.com)
STATEN ISLAND, NY—Westerleigh Press has installed a SpeedSetter VM violet CTP system with Open-RIP Symphony workflow from RIPit Computer and Exxtra. (www.ripit.com)
NAPERVILLE, IL—Star Total Print Solutions has upgraded its digital printing capabilities with the installation of two Canon production systems—a CLC 5100 color copier/printer and imageRUNNER 110 high-volume, black-and-white system. (www.canonusa.com)
OREM, UT—Rocky Mountain Printing has added a Kodak NexPress Optima color printing system, marking the first such installation by Kodak Polychrome Graphics under a new distribution agreement. The bundle includes the Kodak NexPress 2100 color press, NexStation III XE front end and NexTreme variable data and workflow software. (www.kpgraphics.com)
CLIFTON, NJ—To bolster its prepress operations, Sandy Alexander has implemented Artwork Systems' Nexus workflow system and the WebWay preflight and job submission Web portal.(www.artwork-systems.com)
BALTIMORE—Vertis Inc. has signed a five-year contract to provide premedia services for J.W. Fergusson, a producer of packaging for consumer goods manufacturers. Vertis has placed premedia experts on-site at J.W. Fergusson's Richmond, VA, facility. On another side of its business, Vertis' personalization and production expertise are what enabled The Lacek Group to combine Continental Airlines' OnePass statement and newsletter into a single direct mail piece, reports the Minneapolis-based direct marketing agency. Each month, approximately one million frequent flyer communications are now mailed containing several variable messages, a personalized statement and summary information. (www.vertisinc.com)
MENOMONEE FALLS, WI—In a first for North America, PLUS Digital Print has implemented the print4media software system from diron GmbH & Co., of Muenster, Germany. The Web-based, variable digital printing storefront drives work to the digital print shop's Kodak NexPress 2100 color press. (www.diron.biz)
PRESTONBURG, KY—Williams Printing and Reformation Publishers has invested in an ODM Sticker casing-in machine from On Demand Machinery to produce yearbooks on-demand for schools, churches and organizations. The compact machine can produce soft and hard cover books on-demand. (www.odmachinery.com)