Future Links September 23th 2014

Offset sales sag, large format grows
According to a new survey by the National Print Owners Association offset sales in 2014 are in decline. Meanwhile, sales from signs, banners, and large format are seeing growth across the board.
More at Ink World Magazine

Stratasys new innovation lab
Bre Pettis, who built up MakerBot, has launched a spinoff with MakerBot’s parent company Stratasys. Based in Brooklyn, new innovation lab Bold Machines will explore the cutting edge of 3D technology with third parties taking advantage of Stratasys’ industrial printers and resources.
More at Upstart

Pakistan packaging industry expanding
Rising exports and increasing local consumption of packaged food have caused growing demand for packaging products attracting foreign investment. But local packaging industry meets only a part of the domestic demand leaving much room for expasion, according to an article by a Pakistani newspaper.
More at Dawn

5 things to improve your color consistency
Helping companies produce accurate, consistent color is a full-time job for Dillon Mooney, Printing Industries of America’s Technical Consultant for the Center for Technology and Research. In this blog post, he provides five key improvements to achieve the consistent color a customer’s demands.
More at Printing Industries of America

Innovative compostable packaging
Ecovative is bringing an alternative to plastic protective packaging foams to Japan. But it is neither a plastic foam nor a bioplastic but actually grown from mycelium (mushroom “roots”) and low value crop waste.
More at Packaging Europe

Grants to enhance AM
Recently, additive manufacturing has rapidly advanced the production of complex-shaped metal components. However, developing complex geometries remained a problem. Now, engineers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering are developing enhanced modeling and simulation technology and new qualification standards with a three year 300.000 USD grant funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation.
More at Phys.org

German packaging award 2014
61 innovations are nominated for the Deutscher Verpackungspreis (German packaging award). The nominated innovations are from Germany, Austria, Witzerland, USA, UK and Netherlands and include packing machines, displays and promotion packagings,
More at neue verpackung

Universal Flexible Packaging invests in new factory
Universal Flexible Packaging, a flexible film manufacturer and contract packer for the food industry, has announced an 11m £ investment in a new site and equipment in Leicester .The new site is 36,500 m² and creates more than 56 new jobs.
More at Packaging News


Future Links September 19th 2014

Nanoscale printer for electronics
The demand for miniscule electronics in smartphones, tablets and cameras is higher than ever and prices in those markets continue to be high because electronics are made in an expensive process. This might soon change: Scientists from Northeastern University now revealed their NanoOPS printer that prints nanoscale electronics.
More at 3Ders

Hubergroup to merge two German companies
Hubergroup announced that it will further align sales structures and strategic segments by merging its two largest entities in Europe. The group will combine two German companies Michael Huber München GmbH and Hostmann-Steinberg GmbH into the new hubergroup Deutschland GmbH.
More at Packaging Labels

PrintStars 2014
The winners of the innovation prize of the German printing industry “PrintStars” have been announced. This year it featured the new category 3D printing. A list of all winners can be downloaded in German.
More at Print.de

Space printing history on Saturday
NASA has been talking about using 3D printing in space for quite some time. Now they want to find out if it is really going to work. This Saturday, 20th September, a 3D printer manufactured by a company called Made In Space will be launching to the International Space Station to test out the capabilities of printing objects in zero gravity conditions.
More at 3D Print

DS Smith results satisfying
Yesterday, DS Smith held its annual general meeting. According to the company’s statement, it had made progress in line with its plans. Eastern Europe and the UK were highlighted as leading growth.
More at PrintWeek

The best technique for garment printing
In a series of articles, FESPA takes a look at direct to garment printing, this time with Gavin Drake, Director at Garment Printing, and Nick Brunton-Reed, Managing Director of Adlogo. Both explain that selecting the best technique to use is a complex process for the printer.
More at FESPA

New Highcon euclid generation
At Graph Expo 2014 Highcon will launch the Highcon Euclid II series of digital cutting and creasing machines. This second generation feature several new features, for example a built-in waste stripping mechanism and a fine cutting accelerator.
More at Highcon


Future Links September 11th 2014

Print-API-developer Lob raises 7 million USD
Bridging the world between writing, printing and mailing documents, API developer Lob has attracted the attention of venture capitalists. Lob makes printing and mailing standard documents such as postcards, papers and checks easy and has already more than 3500 customers. More at Venture Beat

BluePrint brings environmentally friendly printing to Yale campus
Students at Yale University will now be able to track their paper use more accurately in an attempt to make printing more environmentally friendly and less wasteful. By using the new PaperCut software Yale is also hoping to streamline the printing process.
More at Yale Daily News

SPGPrints launches UV-inkjet label printers for food and pharmaceuticals
To provide safe, uncontaminated packaging solutions to the food and pharmaceutical markets, SPGPrints launched a range of low-migration UV-inkjet inks. The inks meet the guidelines of the European Printing Ink Association (EuPIA) and are compliant with the Swiss Ordinance on Materials and Articles (SR 817.023.21). More at What they think?

Jonathan Sands sees sustainability as a growing trend
In an interview with The Die Line, Jonathan Sands, chairman of the brand design consultancy Elmwood, shares his insights about the future of packaging. While he sees sustainability as a growing trend, he also believes there will be “a second moment of truth”. More at The Die Line

BASF introduces Sustainable Solution Steering
BASF has developed a new process for steering its portfolio based on sustainability criteria. The Sustainable Solution Steering method is used to evaluate the sustainability aspects of the approximately 50,000 relevant product applications in the company’s portfolio, which represent sales of 56 billion Euro. More on InkWorld Magazine

Less paper, not paperless, is the trend
A new study from industry association CompTIA shows that nearly 80 percent of businesses are actively involved in efforts to use less paper. The businesses are trying to reduce cost and become more sustainable by limiting their dependency on paper. More at FierceCIO


Future Links September 4th 2014

Miller Lite and the power of packaging
When Miller lite switched the color of its beer cans from blue to white and changed the label design to a retro-look last year, sales spiked. People even reported the beer in the new packaging tasted better than before even though the recipe hadn’t changed.
More at Ad Week 

Samsung buys mobile printing company
To strengthen its cloud printing services for the business-to-business market, Samsung Electronics has acquired the Canadian company PrinterOn. PrinterOn focuses on three major markets – enterprise, education and printing in public places. It uses cloud technology to facilitate printing from any device in any location.
More at PC World 

Coca-Cola’s Alex Center on the future of package design
In an interview with The Die Line, Coca-Cola’s lead designer Alex Center states that he believes that the future of packaging and design is in-house. Companies need to concentrate on branding and on communicating their brands’ values to remain successful in the long run, Center says.
More at The Die Line 

Millennials prefer eco-friendly packaging
According to a study by Barkley, a Missouri-based ad agency, Millennials prefer packaging that communicates lasting benefits. They viewed products in eco-friendly and re-usable containers favorably and cited freshness as another priority. Martin Predd of Brand Amplitude LLC describes Millennials as “marketing savvy, environmentally conscious and socially empowered.”
More at Retail Wire 

Graphene 3D Lab files patent for printable batteries
While there have been considerable advances in printed electronics, printing whole batteries seemed years away. Not anymore. Graphene 3D Lab Inc. has filed a provisional patent application related to 3D printable batteries with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The batteries are based on graphene, a material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms.
More at 3D Print

Big boxes are internet shoppers’ pet peeves
In a survey commissioned by the UK’s largest packaging distributor, Macfarlane Packaging, more than 25 % of online shoppers complained about receiving packages that are too large for their mailboxes even if they ordered a relatively small item. A large percentage of online shoppers also criticized the quality of the packaging that was often prone to damage during transit.
More at Packaging Europe


Future Links September 2nd 2014

Australian university houses first rapid nanoscale 3D printer
Melbourne’s RMIT University is becoming a pioneer in 3D printing and nanotechnology. The university launches a micro nano research facility that will house the world’s first nanoscale 3D printer. It also offers a unique 3D bioprinting master’s degree.
More at 3D Printing Industry 

More than 65 billion recycled PET bottles in Europe
In 2013, the recycling rate for PET bottles in Europe increased by 7 %, compared to 2012, making PET the most-recycled plastic in Europe. Around 56 % of PET containers in circulation were collected for reclamation or recycling. While this is encouraging, there is still room for improvement.
More at Packaging Europe 

A critical look at CRM systems for printers
As more customer interactions happen online, CRM systems should be a logical and valuable addition to any print MIS. However, there are several factors to consider so that the CRM software truly adds value and contributes to improved customer relationships.
More at What they think 

Smag and Spartanics join forces
Smag and Spartanics have entered into a partnership that will merge their core technologies to develop a digital converting system for the label market. The partnership will combine Spartanics’ laser cutting technology with Smag’s traditional roll-fed label converting system.
More at Labels & Labeling 

SpexyMe uses 3D printing to offer customized glasses
Finding a pair of perfectly fitting sunglasses can be a challenge. The Australian start-up SpexyMe is trying to help. Customers can take pictures of their faces with cameras on their computers or smartphones and select models that fit their faces. SpexyMe is in the crowdfunding stage and shows once more how 3D printing can take customization to the next level.
More at 3D Print 

Packaging design trends for 2014
Consumers are increasingly driven by environmental and health concerns. These trends influence their buying choices as well as the packaging material and design they find most appealing. Packaging Digest identified five emerging packaging trends for 2014.
More at Packaging Design 


Future Links August 21th 2014

Lake Image Systems recommended as “Must See”
At the Graph Expo 2014 at McCormick Place in Chicago from September 28 to October 1, many exhibitors will present their new products and processes. A panel of industry experts has found the ones that shouldn’t been missed and recognized them with a “Must See ‘Em” award. One of the companies is Lake Image Systems with their Discovery Enterprise inspection system in the color management and quality control category.
More at Print Week

Sweet packaging made of sugarcane
The demand for environmentally friendly packing is growing internationally and some promising solutions have entered the market. One is Green PE, a packaging material made of sugarcane that was developed by Braskem, the largest petrochemical producer in the Americas, and is distributed by Resin Trade Ltd. Resin Trade has now selected polythene bag manufacturer Duo UK to be the first UK-based manufacturer to produce mailing bags using Green PE.
More at Packaging Europe

Charlene Sims named ‘Printer of the Year’
The AMSP/NAPL/NAQP Printer of the Year Award recognizes a small commercial printer who operates a successful, customer-responsive business, demonstrating creativity, exhibiting service to community groups and industry organizations, and serving as a role model for future generations. Charlene Sims, president of The Master’s Press in Dallas, TX, received the award this year. She started her business in 1976 and has since led it with dedication and a strong customer-focus.
More at What they think?

Printers offer protection against check fraud
While the majority of payments in Europe are made electronically, the U.S. still relies on paper checks for a significant portion of its noncash payments. This poses a risk: Check fraud is still persistent, including forged checks, altered checks, duplicate checks and counterfeit checks. Secure magnetic ink character recognition (MICR), protected fonts and inks are solutions that can help combat fraud at the printer level.
More at Bai.org

3D printing industry expected to quadruple within four years
Research firm Wohlers Associates Inc. expects worldwide revenues in 3D printing and additive manufacturing to reach $12.8 billion by 2018. The growth will be driven mainly by the production of actual parts for manufacturing as well as by sales of personal 3D printers costing less than 5000 USD.  By 2020, Wohlers Associates forecasts revenues from all products and services in the industry to exceed $21 billion.
More at Plastics Today

In print decisions, volume and price are key factors
Brand owners are most strongly influenced by price and volumes when selecting a printing process, a new study by market researcher GfK found. The study ‘Demands by the brand owners for their packaging printing’ was commissioned by the European Rotogravure Association (ERA). According to the study, print quality was also an important factor while environmental aspects ranked lower on the scale of considerations that went into the decision-making process.
More at Labels & Labeling


Future Links August 20th 2014

Epson managed print services win silver medal
Epson’s managed print services are well received by small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). Epson was awarded with a silver medal in the Channel Pro Readers’ Choice Awards. The award highlights the products, technologies, services, and programs that best fit the requirements of SMBs and the channel pro organizations that serve them.
More at CNN Money

Research and Markets’ new report focuses on printing
The market researchers’ new analysis “Value-added printing and finishing for improved profitability” shows which value-added enhancements can be implemented with no additional capital investment, which services are in demand and how brand managers view value-added printing services. The 240-page report also covers specialized inks, coatings and substrates.
More at Businesswire.com

New compact print engine for flexible, custom OEM designs
Memjet, a leader in color printing technologies, introduced the Sirius-12G compact color print engine sub-system developed for OEMs. The printer easily integrates into existing media handling systems and is suitable for wide range of applications including label printing, package printing, mail processing, and print-and-apply labels in product manufacturing operations.
More at What they think? 

Paperlinx offers printing services and office space in London
Paperlinx’ customers often travel to London for business but find themselves stuck in crammed offices or noisy coffee shops when they need to answer emails or get an online quote to their clients. The printing company Paperlinx now offers its clients an alternative: Office space with printers, WiFi and desk spaces near Elephant & Castle in central London.
More at Print Week

3 million USD grant for university research
To find new 3D printing solutions and technologies, 13 different university programs in Pennsylvania will receive a total of 3 million USD for their research activities. The grant was provided by 3D Systems, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and ‘America Makes’. More than one million USD will go to Carnegie Mellon and Lehigh University for the development of medical instruments and devices.
More at 3dprint.com  

Business data and services can help printers expand their business
Columnist Jennifer Matt believes some printing companies do not fully integrate business data and other services into their presentation, which makes them vulnerable to competition from brokers, distributors and print management companies. She offers suggestions how printers can grow their business with additional services.
More at What they think


No justification for braving the gap

fmp-Ruediger Maass

A guest article by Rüdiger Maaß, the managing director of the Fachverband Medienproduktioner e.V., the Association of Media Production Executives. The f:mp. aims to tackle the new challenges of media production caused by current technical and social changes. They want to support the development of innovative concepts and ideas that open an entirely new value chain and future-proof business models.

It seems that the integration process towards sustainable media production has come to a standstill. It is still true that far fewer than 10 % of all printing companies show a convincing commitment to environmental protection. What we lack are concepts and clear strategies for a credible implementation of the sustainability triad – and not only in case of print providers.

It really is a paradox. Consumers want to see more ecological and social responsibility in these sectors. The market for organic as well as fair-trade or regionally produced goods is growing steadily. On the other hand, a huge number of companies use the term “sustainability” in the widest variety of contexts. This means that many companies “pledge their support for sustainability, but they do not all refer to the same thing.

Of course, there are numerous showcase companies which not only live up to this consumer requirement but are very serious about their own responsibility. But communication does not come into play. For media production specialists, brand owners and print buyers, it is still very difficult to find partners in the media industry whose products and production are really sustainable.

A crucial problem certainly is the wide variety of labels, seals and certification processes. Sustainability labelling shows more and more signs of uncontrolled growth. In this context, it is often difficult to identify clear strategies of individual print providers. The situation is fully underlined in a study by Print & Media Certification Ltd. entitled “Printing, Standards for Sustainability and Communication”. In a survey of European print providers, only 7.3 % of all participating companies stated that their sustainability message is communicated properly.

According to the survey, especially the smaller print providers shy away from their first steps on the route to sustainability because of the allegedly high cost of standardisation, for example. This is confirmed by a representative survey, which was carried out by druckdeal.de among more than 2,500 print buyers and featured in the “Nachhaltige Medienproduktion” (Sustainable Media Production) magazine published by German Publishing Group, GPG, in summer 2012.

Admittedly, many certification processes are not only demanding as such but also cost money. But the crucial factor really is that the associated change processes often have a far-reaching impact in the companies. In this context, it is often overlooked that the impact may lead not only to ecological but also to concrete economic advantages – and should therefore be one of the prime motivations in a situation of shrinking margins.

301 years of sustainability

As long as 301 years ago, Carl von Carlowitz coined the term and developed the modern philosophy of sustainability. With such a high-calibre anniversary, we could suppose that this idea has meanwhile been implemented adequately, and that it has mostly become established in the sectors. Far from it. Many aspects of the concept providing the basis for sustainability still seem to be in their infancy. And this also applies to the communication sector. Sustainable media production inspires many people, but it overtaxes just as many.

There simply is no generally valid guideline for producing at a particularly high level of sustainability. There are only definitions of the objective, which show the way towards approaching this matter. In addition, companies also have to implement totally different and seemingly much more important projects. As a result, sustainability continues to slide further and further down in their hierarchy.

Another stumbling block is the individual and its behaviour. Sustainability and climate protection require an active change of behaviour, and only very few people are ready to do that. After all, there are no legal requirements (yet). Everything is based on voluntary action. And who really likes to make changes voluntarily?

The economic approach

In addition to active environmental protection, there is another powerful justification for sustainable activities. After all, the second column of sustainability is economy. In the graphic industry, there are a wide variety of options for working and producing more economically. The most effective and quickest wins will probably be realised in the areas of energy efficiency, standardization and an optimized input of resources.

The gains realized as a result will have a direct impact on a company‘s success, and environmental protection will be a positive side-effect. There will be less consumption of resources such as energy, paper and printing inks. These factors will already have a positive effect on earnings. But at the same time, these mechanisms of action will also enable a lower rate of complaints, higher customer satisfaction and last, but by no means least, a perceivable change of the company‘s image.

Does anyone have a clue?

Sustainability means future. Establishing this idea in the sector probably is the most important task of the few players promoting sustainability. They must not tire in communicating the relevant topics and must not miss any opportunity of publicising the inherent potential of a sustainable conduct of business activities.

Furthermore, it is necessary to develop simple and effective processes, and recommendations to demonstrate the sustainability aspects of the entire decision-making and development process in the media to print buyers, media managers and deciders. This does not require a new meta-standard, which would have to tout for recognition yet again. But it is the task of sustainability missionaries to enable a meaningful credible navigation through the jungle of possibilities.

The insecurity of sectoral players becomes more and more obvious, when they discuss the term ‘sustainability’ as a stumbling block. When the printing industry wants to stay in the game in future, a transparent, open debate must be launched – to take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of a sustainable conduct of business. Settling these questions within the sector will considerably facilitate any communication with the target groups.

The tasks and potential responses

A professional facilitation of the dialogue between industry, associations, organisations and companies is primarily ensured by specialist congresses and trade fairs. In the context of related platforms and professional bodies, there are meetings of associations, print companies, environmental agencies, institutes, businesses, experts and environmental service providers such as recycling companies. This is where they start talking to each other. And even if no generally applicable results are available at this time, the constructive process has already produced initial models for action, which are suitable for participation.

Especially f:mp. – the Fachverband Medienproduktioner e.V. (Professional Association of Media Production Executives) – has played a key role in defining sustainable media production as a term, and, thanks to its Media Mundo Initiative, it has established itself as the “Green Round Table” for the media sector. Consequently, the sector also assumes some degree of responsibility for an important process for the protection of our environment while taking the principle of economics as well as social responsibility into account. Sustainability is not an easy task, but it can be done.


Future Links August 19th 2014

3D printed parts perform in actual racecars
3D printing is no longer confined to the lab: Nissan Motorsports just announced that it used additive manufacturing for parts that are currently used in several of their V8 super cars. Nissan’s announcement is the most recent one in a series of news releases about the use of 3D printed parts in actual racecars. More at 3Dprint.com 

3D print: Forecasters assess the industry’s potential
From simple toys to complex aerospace components, 3D printing is revolutionizing the production methods and supply chains all over the globe. While speculating about the future is easy, finding ways to assess the actual potential is not quite as simple. Louis Columbus has summarized the most important market research publications in his blog. More at A Passion for Research 

GE uses new electron gun for 3D printing
News about GE’s plans to print parts of their turbines for the GEnx engines and the new GE9X engines has sparked great interest throughout the industry. The engines will be used in Boeing’s Dreamliner and 747-8 aircraft. Now, new details have emerged: GE will use a new breakthrough technology, a type of electron beam melting (EBM) developed by the Italian aerospace company Avio together with Sweden’s Arcam. More at 3Dprint.com http://3dprint.com/12262/ge-ebm-3d-printing/

Spinning platform for smaller scale scanning and printing
Blacksmith, a startup from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, has introduced the Blacksmith Genesisa, an all-in-one 3D printer, scanner, and copier. The machine uses a rotating platform for printing and scanning, which brings a series of advantages such as smaller-scale and faster printing. More at Gizmag http://www.gizmag.com/blacksmith-genesis-3d-printer-scanner/33376/

Ultrasonic 3D printing potentially extends sensors’ lifespan
A new technology may protect sensors from force, corrosion or simple wear and tear. Until now, embedding sensors in metal casing has been problematic, since the high temperatures used in the process have caused damage to some of the sensors. The new technology, ultrasonic additive manufacturing, a solid-state printing process uses sound waves to merge layers of metal. More at 3Dprint.com 

Seufert presents new transparent packaging
The German company Seufert Transparente Verpackungen GmbH (STV) introduced a new transparent packaging solution for bottles and flacons. STV’s new packaging can incorporate low migration inks and R-PET materials with up to 85% recycled material as well as carbon neutral printing, thus offering an environmentally friendly solution to its customers. More at Packaging Europe

Latest issue of Labels & Labeling now online
The issue provides a preview of the Labelexop Americas 2014 from September 9 to 11, 2014, in Rosemont, Illinois, including the program and a detailed list of exhibitors. Other articles take a look at new technologies such as a new mineralized resin technology. More at Labels & Labeling 


Future Links August 18th 2014

Top five reasons for labeling errors
The special promotion is over but newly printed labels still feature the contest rules. This is an annoying and often costly mistake but not uncommon in the label printing and packaging industry. Food industry expert Wayne Johnson takes a closer look at the five most common reasons for mistakes. They include human error, equipment errors and insufficient lead-time.
More at Packaging Europe 

Hong Kong printers integrate books with digital apps
Hong Kong print manufacturers see the future in applications like patent-pending Bridging Book and TouchCode. These technologies offer additional content, games and music for traditional books. Bridging Books also synchronizes the digital version of a book to the page the reader has read in the traditional print version. Publishers’ Weekly has an in-depth story about the major publishing houses in Hong Kong and the current trends that they view as the most promising.
More at Publishers’ Weekly

Hinterkopf receives InterTech Technology Award
The Printing Industries of America (PIA), the world’s leading graphic arts industry association, has recognized Hinterkopf GmbH, based in Eislingen, Germany, with the prestigious InterTech Technology Award for its digital printer D240. Dr. Mark Bohan, VP of Printing Industries of America, summarizes: “The judges were extremely impressed with the quality, the productivity and the possibilities for new product design.”
More at What They Think

SmartKem attracts series A venture investments
SmartKem, a British developer of high performance organic semiconductor materials for flexible displays and electronics has completed its series A financing. Among the investors are well-known names such as BASF Venture Capital, Octopus Investments, Entrepreneurs Fund as well as Finance Wales, the company’s principal shareholder.
More at Printed Electronics World

Kiian Digital and J-Teck3 join forces
The two companies decided to work together and to form a new group to meet challenges present in the digital printing sector. The well-established companies will work together but each company will retain its independence. The decision to cooperate closely reflects the wider consolidation trend in the digital printing market.
More at Fibre2Fashion

Digital Harbor Foundation teaches the teachers
You know your technology workshop is going to be a success when it attracts even the interest of NASA employees. That was the case with a four-day 3 D printing workshop that the Digital Harbor Foundation offered last week. 14 educators who hailed from institutions like NASA but also public and private schools learned the ins and outs of the new technology that enables them to educate students and co-workers in their institutions.
More at Technical.ly Baltimore 

New software tools for shrink-wrap packaging
The British software developer Creative Edge is launching new design and visualization tools for carton and shrink-wrap creation. The company’s software is especially suited creative agencies, brands, pre-press companies, packaging printers and also commercial printers who are offering packaging work.
More at Print Week