Look back at…October 2023

There’s only been one story throughout October, with the unfolding crisis in the Middle East and the palpable fear that the fighting will spread further to other regions dominating headlines. Already this crisis has led to a further polarisation within the global community, though more than ever the world needs unity to deal with the real problems of our climate and the ongoing need to combat SARS and other likely pandemics.

And yet instead we are now all focused on the tragedy in Gaza. Neither Israel nor the world can afford to tolerate the savage attack from Hamas. Western governments have rushed to give their unequivocal support to Israel but are becoming increasingly concerned at the Israeli response and the terrible slaughter of Palestinians. 

For me personally I know many people in the digital printer manufacturer community in Israel and it’s clear from their anguished social media posts that the country feels the pain of this atrocious attack very deeply. But at the same time, everyone with a heart can see that killing thousands of Palestinian civilians is not acceptable and will do Israel more harm than good in the long run.

Winning wars is simply about having the resolve and the military hardware. Winning at peace is much harder and requires a political will that neither side seems to have right now. But ultimately both sides will have to find a political accommodation that they can both live with as they both have legitimate rights and grievances.

In the meantime, there are large Jewish and Palestinian communities living in many other countries meaning that the division from the Middle East is now sowing discord right across the world, which may prove to be a major factor in many upcoming elections. 

In Britain, the ruling Conservative Party held a conference at the start of October to kickstart the next election – not next year’s general election, which even the Tories expect to lose – but the party leadership battle that will follow. Thus Rishi Sunak, who is still prime minister, is being stalked by his predecessors, who are doing much more damage to the Conservative brand than the official opposition. Liz Truss is back, having set up a new Growth Group to pressure for more of her policies, even though these failed disastrously when she was in charge. Nonetheless, 60 Tory MPs have joined, which is enough to wipe out the Government’s majority and hold Sunak hostage in Parliament. 

And many of Boris Johnson’s former acolytes have joined another pressure group, the Conservative Democratic Organisation, which suggests donors should stop giving money to the party to force more powers for party members. The last time those lunatics had any say they installed Truss as prime minister. Meanwhile the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, is pitching her vision of leadership, which mostly seems to involve the police locking up more people from the ever-lengthening list of groups that she doesn’t like. 

Elsewhere, the British government has accused the International Monetary Fund of underestimating Britain’s economic outlook after the IMF forecast the UK to have the highest inflation and slowest growth next year of all the G7 countries. The IMF says this is due to the high interest rates used to combat the high inflation – currently around 6.3 percent – and suggests that interest rates will stay around 5 percent until 2028. The IMF also predicts that global growth will fall from 3.5 percent in 2022 to 3 percent in 2023 and 2.9 percent in 2024.

Meanwhile the British government has committed to spend £2.5 billion over the next ten years as part of its National Quantum Strategy to take advantage of quantum computing. The hope is that quantum technology will lead to much more powerful computers that will be able to push further developments in areas such as financial services, healthcare and measures to combat climate change. As part of this, the UK has given £9 million to the American firm PsiQuantum to set up a new advanced R&D facility at the existing Daresbury Laboratory in Liverpool. PsiQuantum is working on advanced cryogenic systems that are critical to developing ‘fault tolerant’ quantum computers.

Plymouth Science Park has picked up £507,000 from the UK’s Digital Investment Program for a new digital engineering test facility for its existing Advanced Digital Manufacturing Innovation Centre. The DREAM (Digital Reverse Engineering And Metallurgy) project will offer businesses a digital engineering test facility for reverse engineering, design, manufacturing and validation of additive manufactured prototypes and products. This is a crucial step in producing components and replacement parts that were not originally designed to be 3D-printed.

Heidelberg has invested in a photovoltaic system to provide clean power to its site in Amstetten.

Heidelberg is taking part in the UN Global Compact, which is billed as the world’s largest initiative for sustainable and responsible corporate governance. It includes ten sustainability principles on human rights, labour standards, environmental protection, and anti-corruption. More than 21,000 companies and organizations in over 160 countries are already signatories to the UN Global Compact.

Dr. Ludwin Monz, CEO of Heidelberg, commented: “We see our participation in the UN Global Compact as a logical step in our efforts to have the smallest ecological footprint along the entire value chain in our industry. The company has already actively promoted environmental protection and social responsibility in the past and will further strengthen these efforts by becoming a part of the UN Global Compact.” 

Agfa is to join the Hydrogen Council as a supporting member from the start of 2024. The Hydrogen Council is a global initiative that brings together major companies with a united vision to help foster the hydrogen clean energy transition. Agfa is involved with this through its Zirfon membranes, which are used at the core of alkaline water electrolyzers to produce green hydrogen for industrial processes, energy storage, fuel, heating, or ammonia production.

EFI Fiery has introduced a new 11.1 version of its Digital Factory RIP software, which is used for Direct-to-Film, Direct-to-Garment and dye sublimation textile printers as well as wide format and production presses. The latest version features a more intuitive user interface, redesigned layouts, enhanced workflow automation, and true shape nesting, which should help save wasted materials. 

John Henze, vice president of sales and marketing at Fiery, commented: “Collaborating with our extensive customer base, we developed a next-generation interface with the user in mind. With this latest update to Digital Factory, businesses of all sizes can quickly find the right tools and dial in the perfect settings to achieve efficient, high-volume production with the highest possible quality.”

Ricoh has developed this Auto Colour Adjuster.

Ricoh has introduced a new Auto Colour Adjuster to help commercial printers cope with colour management between different devices by generating ICC profiles. 

Eef de Ridder, vice president of Ricoh Europe’s Graphic Communications Group, commented: “Time taken to manually adjust colour to meet print buyers’ demands can quickly impact profitability, while the costs of trial and error, blocking precious press time to troubleshoot and employing a colour expert all mount up. Ricoh Auto Colour Adjuster speeds up the process. It empowers commercial printers to take on new jobs and work that was previously out of reach, and so expand their client base.”

Mutoh has set up a new remote monitoring service, Mutoh Direct, which runs in the cloud and allows its dealers to keep an eye on the status and usage of their customer’s printers in order to offer more pro-active support and cut down on the need for on-site maintenance. It works as an additional service to the existing Mutoh Club that gives users access to data on their printers. 

EFI has beefed up its manufacturing facility in Castellon, Spain, where it produces single pass inkjet printers, initially for the ceramic market followed later by the Nozomi packaging presses. Evandro Matteucci, EFI’s vice president and general manager for packaging and building materials, noted: “EFI has placed a particular focus on the packaging market as it has worked to transform the Castellon manufacturing facility as well as the research and development arm located there.” He suggested that in the future EFI would also develop single pass inkjet presses for other applications including metal decoration and folding carton. 

The Portuguese company Zarrinha, which produces corrugated cardboard and packaging, has installed a HP PageWide C550 press. The press uses water-based inks, which was a major factor behind this purchase as roughly 85 percent of Zarrinha’s work is related to food applications. The press should also allow the company to save on the need for expensive high quality papers, which were necessary for some applications when printed with flexo. 

Fujifilm has developed this B2 dry toner press, the Revoria GC12500.

Fujifilm will be bringing its B2 dry toner press, the Revoria GC12500, to the European market. I’ve previously covered this when it was shown as a prototype at last year’s IGAS show in Tokyo. It was recently shown at the Printing United show in October in the US, and will be demonstrated at Fujifilm’s new Print Experience Centre in Ratingen, Germany, in late January 2024.

Printware has introduced a new inkjet envelope printer, the iJetColor 1175, which uses HP’s thermal inkjet heads. It features a new autoloading system with better feeding and can print up to 10,285 enveloped per hour in full colour. Tim Murphy, president of Printware, commented: “Our customers tell us we’ve made traditionally- expensive and problematic envelope printing both easy and profitable.  Our iJetColor systems respond directly to our customers’ need for more affordable, profitable, easy to use and reliable solutions.”

Appointments

Brigitte de Vet Veithen will take over as CEO of Materialise in January 2024.

Materialise, which develops software and services for additive manufacturing, has appointed Brigitte de Vet-Veithen as chief executive officer. She joined the company in 2016 and is currently executive vice president of Materialise Medical, which develops software and 3D printing solutions for healthcare.

She succeeds Fried Vancraen, who co-founded Materialise in 1990 together with Hilde Ingelaere. He has been the company’s CEO for 33 years and will now become the new chairman of the board of directors.

The Plockmatic Group, which is based in Sweden, has employed John Elliot as vice president of Group Marketing. He will be responsible for development and implementation of comprehensive corporate marketing strategies. He will translate the company’s business objectives into actionable marketing plans and oversee all marketing initiatives. He has over 17 years experience, including most recently as the marketing manager at 3nine AB, where he was responsible for overseeing international marketing strategies and operations.The company has developed a wide range of finishing devices, mainly aimed at digital printers. 

John Elliot, vice president of group marketing for Plockmatic.

Drytac has promoted Glen Fitzgerald to director of sales for the Americas, where he will be responsible for overseeing all graphic and industrial sales across the Americas. He was previously technical sales manager for Industrial Products for Drytac’s operation in Canada. He is bilingual in both French and English, has a Bachelor of Commerce degree, and is a graduate from the Schulich School of Business.

Drytac has also hired Chris Crawford as territory sales manager for the Southwest USA. He has 18 years experience in the print and sign markets, having held a range of senior positions with various leading print and sign shops, as well as at major print and graphics distributors.

In the UK, Drytac has promoted Emily Butcher to the role of customer service manager for the UK and Ireland, which includes taking responsibility for overseeing the key relationship between Drytac and its recently appointed exclusive UK and Ireland distributor, Premier Paper Group. Hayden Kelley, CEO at Drytac, commented: “Emily’s unwavering commitment to customers, exceptional industry knowledge and outstanding interpersonal skills have made her a beloved figure among both customers and vendors alike.”

I’d like to think that next month’s report will be more upbeat, that peace will have broken out and world leaders will start to do the jobs they are paid to do. But realistically I’d settle for West Ham winning a football match. I won’t mention the Hanshin Tigers baseball team because, well I’m more of a realist than an optimist…


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