Look back at…September 2022

September is traditionally the month where everyone is back from their summer holidays and new machines and processes have been introduced at various trade shows and conferences. But once again, geopolitical events continue to dominate the news agenda. 

Protests at the death of the young woman Mahsa Amini in Iran have erupted into other countries, including this demonstration in London.

The UK started the month with the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the country’s longest reigning monarch. This gave Britain the chance to demonstrate the two things that it does really well: ceremonial pageantry and queuing. The Queen’s long reign gave a continuity that linked modern multicultural Britain to a different era, a generation that stood up to the tyranny of fascism while simultaneously running an empire built out of other people’s countries. 

Meanwhile, the new prime minister, Liz Truss, has bet the house on a reckless gamble, borrowing heavily to subsidise rich people in the hope that this will benefit everyone as it trickles down through the economy. This approach has been tried before and proven to fail because money travels up in an economy; only the cost will trickle down with the rest of us having to pay for the borrowing. 

Predictably this has had the immediate effect of a drop in the value of Sterling and an increase in government borrowing costs. The chancellor has now abandoned the most egregious tax cut for high earners but will likely continue with massive state spending cuts. However, the austerity years that followed the 2008 recession have already left Britain’s infrastructure badly underfunded. On top of this, the rate of covid infections, having fallen back after the summer, is now rising again putting yet further pressure on Britain’s already over-stretched health service.  

For now, the government’s response is to wait until the end of November for further clarification. That means that manufacturers will have to pause any plans to invest in Britain until some confidence returns to the financial markets and we can see a clearer picture on the inflation rate and the interest base rates. 

Flint is already planning for high inflation next year, having announced in September that it will put prices up worldwide from 1 January 2023, blaming high inflation, mostly related to labour costs. Flint will also add an energy surcharge to cope with the cost of energy. Steve Dryden, Flint’s Chief Executive Officer, noted: “At Flint Group we are used to successfully meeting macro-economic challenges but we are now entering a new environment of relentless cost inflation of a magnitude not witnessed in decades.”

HP has been on a roll this September, announcing two new continuous feed inkjet presses – the T700i for preprint corrugated and Advantage 2200 for paper – as well as a metal 3D printer, the Metal Jet S100. Remarkably all of these use the same core inkjet technology in HP’s thermal printheads. 

Elsewhere, Konica Minolta put two of its AP 6136P monochrome printers together to create the AP 6272P for faster duplexing; Epson has introduced two new 1.1m wide dye sublimation printers; and Windmöller and Hölscher has  updated its Vistaflex wide web CI flexo press. 

Screen is developing this Truepress Pac520P inkjet press for paper-based packaging.

Screen has announced a prototype for a new inkjet packaging press, the Truepress PAC520P, which is based on its successful webfed Truepress 520 NX platform for commercial print. The 520 series already prints water-based inks to paper so its a logical step to adapt this platform to handle paper-based packaging substrates. The inks will be food-compliant.

Mondi has invested €5 million into a new R&D centre at its Steinfeld plant in Germany to meet growing demand for sustainable packaging solutions. The facility should be completed by the end of 2023 and will include pilot lines for both plastic- and paper-based solutions, from coating, film extrusion and printing to filling lines for multiple products. 

Elisabeth Schwaiger, Head of R&D and IP Flexible Packaging at Mondi, explained: “This R&D centre demonstrates our hands-on approach to developing sustainable packaging solutions at Mondi. We look forward to working with our customers, combining their knowledge with ours to meet their sustainable packaging goals. The investment helps to contribute to our own Mondi Action Plan 2030 sustainability goals, specifically our target to make 100 percent of our products reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.”

Durst has opened its Kraftwerk facility – which hopefully will not lead to any Showroom Dummies* – to house various ventures within the Durst group. Kraftwerk is located next to Durst’s Brixen factory, in a building formerly owned by Duka, which makes shower enclosures. Durst was originally looking for a European base for the US company Vanguard that it acquired in 2020. But since the building has over 5300 sqm there was also space for other Durst companies. This includes Technicon Holding, which owns Durst Group and Alupress. Harald Oberrauch, owner of Technicon Holding, commented: “We aim to create a true innovation center for specialized service providers at the Durst Kraftwerk.” 

The building is also home to the Durst Academy, the main training centre for Durst, as well as the Durst Media Company, which offers B2B marketing communications. Durst also has a hand in 3D printing with Addam, a Durst company that uses high-end 3D/AM printing technologies to manufacture precision components from metals and plastics, also at Kraftwerk. Also present is D3-AM, a spin-off company that uses technical ceramics for additive manufacturing for the automotive, electronics, energy, aerospace and medical technology sectors.

InkTec has set up a European fulfilment hub in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Or to be more accurate, it appears that the South Korean firm Busan Port Authority has set up a 30,000 square metre logistics warehouse for Samsung, and InkTec has been able to use part of this. Joey Kim, managing director of InkTec UK, explained: “Our need to actively expand our European operation and have a base located on the mainland was increasingly imperative. We were keen to work with the BPA to create a seamless operation for our customers, while also giving them a more cost-effective access to our extensive inks and media ranges.” It’s a smart move given that any UK-based company is going to need a European base to distribute products in Europe and avoid all the hassle of exporting to the continent that has arisen from Brexit.

Colordyne will offer EFI’s new Fiery Impress DFE to drive its inkjet engines. Taylor Buckthorpe, director of sales and marketing for Colordyne Technologies, explained: “The comprehensive set of integrated Fiery products add a wealth of capabilities throughout the print process, helping manufacturing facilities produce more with their presses. When it comes to next-level automation and color management, we look at Fiery as the strongest partner to work with. Together, we will help converters drive efficiencies, while increasing quality and reliability as they grow their businesses with digital print.”

Xsys has added Woodpecker Nevis screening to its ThermoFlexX TFxX plate imagers.

Xsys has added a new Woodpecker Nevis surface screening to its range of ThermoFlexX TFxX plate imagers. It’s said to allow for higher imaging speeds of flat top dot flexographic plates for standard white inks. It’s designed to work with the higher volume anilox rollers usually used for printing with standard white ink on film-based substrates in flexible packaging. It’s said to control the ink more accurately, as it is transferred from the anilox to the plate and onto the substrate, leading to smoother, higher opacity ink laydown, sharper line work, and cleaner screens.

Stephan Reis, Xsys’ Global Marketing Director, explained: “Good coverage of white is essential in flexible packaging printing where it provides the foundation for strong colors and impactful graphics. However, white ink can represent as much as 50 percent of the total ink costs, so Xsys continues to develop new products that can help optimise the process, lower costs, and take out more waste. With Woodpecker Nevis, we are bringing to market a flexible and sustainable solution that can be adapted to each customer’s individual needs.”

Phoseon has introduced a new generation of UV LED curing systems designed primarily for fibre and wire coating applications, including optical fibre, electrical and structural wire, and threads for smart fabrics. There’s a choice of air-cooled and water-cooled lights sources, with Phoseon claiming up to 70 percent of energy savings over using conventional mercury lamps as well as faster and more consistent results. 

Stratasys has set up a new certification program for the customer engineers and operators working with its FDM 3D printers. This is said to help those customers adopt 3D printing and will lead to Stratasys Academy certificates. The more cynical amongst you might conclude that this is a way to tie customers more fully into the Stratasys eco-system. The company says that it will continue to introduce certification programs for each of its 3D printing technologies, including PolyJet, P3, SAF and stereolithography, covering everything from software-based design and printer operations to post-processing parts.

Jeff Mandl, Head of Knowledge Management for Stratasys, explained: “Leading companies growing their additive manufacturing footprint need the confidence that their employees bring a proven level of knowledge in industrial 3D printing. Our certification program goes beyond a single remote class. We’re providing a blend of self-paced, remote and in-classroom learning opportunities that bring users up to a proven, certified level of skill.”

Stratasys sells a number of FDM 3D printers such as these F123 series machines.

Markforged has completed its acquisition of Digital Metal, which has developed a binder jetting system for 3D printing metal. This approach does lead to very high resolution parts in large volumes but is best suited to smaller parts. 

Mutoh has announced a new MS51 inkset for its XpertJet Pro range of wide format printers. Strangely, Mitsuo Takatsu, Mutoh Europe’s Managing Director, stated: “The inks will initially be available for Mutoh’s XpertJet 1641SR Pro device, with more models following later this year”. However, Mutoh has already shown this ink earlier this year on another printer, the XpertJet 1682SR-Pro, which I covered at this year’s Fespa show in Berlin.

Aquapak, which specialises in developing polymer-based material technologies, is funding five PHD students to study the impact of plastics on the marine environment. The funding is for four years at the University of Portsmouth. Professor Steve Fletcher, Director of Revolution Plastics and the Global Plastics Policy Centre, at the University of Portsmouth said: “Relatively little is known about how and what speed plastic packaging degenerates in the environment and how industry practice could help to end the damaging impact of plastics. In order to develop meaningful solutions, it is vital to better understand the products causing the pollution, how they pollute and how their damage can be reduced.  Research is key to shaping that understanding and the transformational change that will follow. Having a dedicated team of scientists is really going to help accelerate our search for solutions.”

Printpark Premium Folding Cartons, a family business based in Istanbul in Turkey, has invested in a Speedmaster XL 106-7+LX-UV offset press from Heidelberg. The press is equipped with Push to Stop technology for autonomous printing and also features the new Prinect Inpress Control 3 inline color measurement system. The press is also fully integrated into the print shop’s overall workflow via Prinect Production Manager.

Printpark, which was set up 48 years ago, and is now run by second generation owners Ferit Dansık and Turan Dansık. The company mainly supplies high-quality cardboard packaging for the cosmetics, food, chocolate, beverage and textile industries. 

Ferit Dansık, Managing Director of Printpark, commented: “When we upgraded our production line, the most important criteria were highly productive production and extensive automation. Extensive analyses in the run-up then showed that the Speedmaster XL technology was most likely to meet our requirements. In addition the competent and experienced technical service staff of Heidelberg Turkey was also a decisive factor in our investment decision.”

Furniture maker Cozmo has worked with the Raw Edges design studio to create a collection of cushions for sofas with the designs printed on a Kornit Presto textile printer. Jacob Peres, Co-Founder of Cozmo, stated: “Working with Kornit, we’re not only putting creativity in the buyer’s hands, but also allowing the market to respond quickly to changing customer demand. We’re very pleased of our collaboration with Kornit and Raw-Edges, which is unlocking new levels of creativity with highly sustainable digital production.”

The fabrics on this Cozmo sofa were printed on a Kornit Presto textile printer.

Appointments

Nick Geddes, who co-founded GIS, will now take on the role of Senior Chief Technology Officer at Nano Dimension as well as joining the group executive team following the company’s acquisition of GIS. As such, Geddes will take a leading role in the Research and Development efforts at Nano Dimension, whilst continuing to provide a strategic role in GIS product R&D and key customer relationships. Geddes commented: “As Senior CTO, I can maximise the core values and strengths of GIS and add the most value to the whole company. I am excited to help realise the potential of all the R&D teams, whilst continuing to be involved with GIS product strategy and customers, as required.”

From left: Nick Geddes, Senior Chief Technology Officer at Nano Dimension; and Steve Williamson, General Manager at Global Inkjet Systems.

At the same time, Steve Williamson, who joined GIS in 2021, has been promoted to General Manager at GIS. Williamson said that he aims to build on his initial focus of strengthening the engineering teams at GIS to create a dynamic environment for further growth and to provide additional R&D support to the other divisions within Nano Dimension. Following the acquisition of GIS, teams on both sides have combined expertise and are working to develop technologies for even greater innovation in advanced industrial applications.

Actega has appointed Dennis Siepmann to the newly created role of Global Head of Sustainability as part of Altana’s plans to become climate neutral by 2025. He has worked for the company for over a decade having started as Business Development Manager in Bremen, Germany and was most recently the Global Segment Head for Speciality Consumer Goods. Siepmann commented: “Sustainability is a key priority for our company and a topic I’m incredibly passionate about. My previous roles have given me a broad understanding of sustainability, and I am keen to bring in my experience to address sustainable development topics within our company and within the packaging industry.”

David Preskett has joined Kongsberg Precision Cutting Systems as Vice President of its operations in the EMEA and APAC regions. Preskett spent ten years at Agfa, both in the UK and at company headquarters in Mortsel, Belgium, and subsequently held a mix of sales, marketing, and strategy positions at Canon Europe. Stuart Fox, CEO and President of Kongsberg PCS. “David is a seasoned commercial professional who combines strong sales and strategy expertise to drive business growth. His experience and breadth of knowledge throughout the sector will be a great asset, both to our business and to all of our customers in the region.”

SA International, which develops wide format design and workflow software, has promoted Eyal Friedman to Vice President of Product Management. He joined the company in 2000 as a Technical Support Representative and rose to be Vice President of Technical Services. Don Feagan, SAi’s President and COO, noted: “Eyal boasts the established and extensive experience that blends a thorough technical knowledge of our foremost software packages together with a deep understanding of the design to production requirements of our customers.”

Asahi Photoproducts has taken on Daniel Illmer as International Sales Manager, responsible for managing sales and distributor resources in Eastern Europe, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and other countries. He has over 20 years experience international sales, most recently working with UTB Envirotec, a company in the wastewater sector whose focus was on sustainability, and which required a complex sales cycle. Illmer holds a Bachelor of Science degree as a Printing Engineer from Budapest Technical University. 

Illmer commented: “I strongly believe in the changing trends driven by the climate crisis, and Asahi has an excellent reputation for the quality, durability and sustainability of its AWP CleanPrint water-washable flexographic plates. I look forward to not only increasing market visibility for these outstanding products, but also helping to educate customers and prospects about the importance of carbon neutrality, a goal which Asahi Photoproducts is looking to achieve for its AWP-DEW flexographic plates.”

Amanda Lowe, Global Marketing Director for Drytac.

Drytac has promoted Amanda Lowe to Global Marketing Director. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, majoring in Fashion Merchandising and Design, from Virginia Tech. She joined the company in 2017 as Marketing Coordinator and worked as Global Marketing Manager from January 2019.

Scodix has appointed Ewout Maartense as Sales Manager for the Benelux territories, as the company plans to double its sales and marketing teams this year. Maartense previously worked for Apple, Scitex (later Creo) and Kodak, and most recently for Landa. Mark Nixon, Scodix VP Global Sales & Marketing, commented: “His knowledge of the region and relationships with printers and packaging companies is second to none. With his commercial experience we know he’ll be a hugely appreciated addition to the team.”

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Russian Ukraine war has taken a more dangerous turn this month. The Ukrainians have clearly had considerable military successes, liberating a large area of their country. The Russians have responded with a partial military mobilisation and threats to use nuclear weapons as well as annexing parts of Ukraine. More worryingly, someone has sabotaged three pipelines carrying gas from Russia to Europe with underwater explosions in the Baltic Sea off the Danish coast. Everybody suspects the Russians, and that this is meant as a threat against the new Finland to Poland gas pipeline in the same area in an effort to undermine European energy supplies. Such a move would be a direct attack on a Nato country’s critical infrastructure and represent a big step closer to a wider conflict. 

*Kraftwerk: Showroom dummies.


Usually I end these stories with a note asking readers to consider donating to help support my work but instead I’d like to point readers to the two appeals that I’m supporting:

The International Red Cross, which does incredible work around the world’s troublespots, has set up a special fund for the Ukrainian crisis and is helping civilians caught up in the fighting there.

The International Federation of Journalists has set up its Ukraine Safety Fund to support Ukrainian journalists and enable them to continue to report on the war, including any war crimes that have been committed.


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