Look back at…September 2023

Britain is quite literally crumbling, thanks to the liberal use of Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete or RaaC in many public buildings such as schools, courts and hospitals. Many of these buildings, particularly schools, have had to be closed as a result. Who could have possibly guessed that a form of concrete that is full of air – not exactly famed for its load-bearing qualities – might fail over time?

There are two problems here. Britain is full of old buildings dating back several centuries that were built to last. But over the last 60 years or so we’ve thrown up buildings using materials that only had a 30-year life span, even though there was no plan to replace these schools, hospitals etc every 30 years. The second problem is that we didn’t bother to maintain these buildings properly and even though the government was warned about the growing problem, no one acted until the ceilings started falling down in classrooms.

Naturally there is no extra money available to repair or replace these buildings. Just as there is no money available to pay our doctors and nurses. Though we are building a London to Manchester train line that might not go into London and will probably stop at Birmingham. 

The biggest problem facing the UK is the enormous imbalance in the distribution of wealth. According to the Office for National Statistics, the richest 10 percent own roughly half of the country’s wealth, primarily in the form of private pensions and property. So it’s not particularly radical to suggest that they should pay the lion’s share towards rebuilding Britain’s infrastructure to make it fit for the next century since those who own the wealth will benefit the most. 

It’s worth remembering that one of the justifications for Brexit was that Britain was such a big, wealthy economy that the EU was simply holding us back. This month also saw a large march in London calling for the UK to rejoin the EU. This comes amidst widespread acceptance that Brexit has failed and reports that the EU is preparing to offer Britain some sort of associate membership. The Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is widely expected to win next year’s general election, has already said that he will try to renegotiate the terms of the Brexit deal should he become prime minister.

In the meantime the UK has finally rejoined the EU’s Horizon science research program. This is one of three key European research programs. The UK has also rejoined a second, Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation program, which affects climate research and satellite contracts worth hundreds of millions of euros. However Britain has not joined the EU’s nuclear research program, Euratom, instead pledging to spend up to £650 million on home grown alternatives. 

The G20 summit in India demonstrated the weakness of the West by failing to mention the war in Ukraine or censure Russia in anyway. In the end the Western leaders preferred to issue a weak communique to preserve the illusion of unity within the G20. This is because of the fear that the developing countries might shun the G20 structure, which the first world nations still control, in favour of an alternative, such as BRICS. Or to put it another way, the developing nations are developing but not necessarily in a way that suits the G7 countries. 

Inflation in the UK is currently at 6.3 percent. This along with better than expected news on employment convinced the bank of England to hold its base rate at 5.25 percent. However, the bank has already warned that interest rates will remain high for the foreseeable future. This echoes a similar warning in the US from the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile oil and food prices are continuing to rise, and the war in Ukraine continues to grind on, all of which will affect any potential economic recovery.

Xerox showed this Iridesse toner printer that can create metallic effects.

In the graphic arts, Xerox has repurchased its shares from Carl Icahn, while Durst has acquired Aleph and Dimatix has introduced a new printhead for 3D printing. September has also seen Domino upgrading its ink factory in the UK, while HP has partnered with Fosber corrugators to integrate its inkjet web presses into corrugating lines. Naturally there has also been plenty of news around the labelling sector thanks to Label Expo Europe taking place in September. Thus Xeikon showed its new Lion LX3000 press while Bobst announced the Digital Expert 340 inkjet press and Avery Dennison introduced new linerless labels.

Elsewhere, CCL Industries, a group that produces labels and packaging, is planning to build a new label printing plant in Novi Ligure in northern Italy specifically to cater for the spirits and beverage industry in that area. It’s the company’s second Italian site after it acquired a pouch production plant earlier this year. The new plant will feature an art department with printing ink kitchen. The building itself will be equipped with energy-efficient and renewable features such as solar panels and the latest air filtering and air conditioning technology. Production is expected to start in Q2, 2024. 

PrintFusion, developed by Hybrid Software, includes ProofScope for soft proofing

Hybrid Software has partnered with Koenig and Bauer to develop a new software package, PrintFusion, specifically for use with Koenig and Bauer’s Rapida sheetfed offset presses. PrintFusion automatically takes information that can be used to set up a press from Hybrid’s Packz prepress software and CloudFlow production workflow so as to minimise the set-up time between jobs to create a more integrated packaging workflow. It includes a ProofScope module for soft proofing. 

Ralf Sammeck, chief data officer at Koenig and Bauer, commented: “The strategic decision to join forces stems from a mutual understanding of our industry’s needs, with the prioritisation of best-in-class standards and innovation. PrintFusion is the result of a symbiotic partnership: what is achieved together is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Screen Europe is working with the software company Scantrust, which has developed a secure QR code for packaging and labelling to enhance anti-counterfeiting and improve product traceability as well as offering more brand information to customers. The Scantrust system embeds a secure graphic with very dense information in a QR code. Any attempt to copy this code will lead to a degradation in this information density, which can then be detected. Screen is able to create these codes in its Equios workflow and to print them on its L350 UV SAI inkjet label press.  Nathan J Anderson, CEO and co-founder of Scantrust, stated: “Screen Europe’s Truepress L350 is ideal for printing Scantrust secure QR codes on labels, as it is designed to produce the high-quality prints required for Scantrust’s patented copy detection process.”

Fujifilm is to offer Infigo’s web-to-print software alongside its upcoming Jet Press FP790 single pass inkjet press for flexible packaging. Paul Bromley, head of global sales for Infigo, said: “We have seen the Infigo customer base increase its need for ‘micro print runs’ which ultimately aligns to digitally printed solutions meeting this increasing demand. And this demand is only set to continue.”

Kodak has upgraded its Prinergy workflow software with the release of v10, which promises improved productivity and application security. There are new Job Ticket Processors, including the Marks JTP Pooling and the Archive & Retrieve JTP Pooling that are both intended to avoid processing bottlenecks and increase speed. There are also improvements to the SmartMarks placement in the Preps Imposition module for better efficiency and accuracy. Kodak has also added the ability to put comments in individual RBA (Rules Based Automation) rule actions to help users better understand those actions.

Kodak Prinergy v10 now allows comments on rules-based-automation actions.

Solimar has updated its SolSearcher Enterprise or SSE, which is designed to securely deliver electronic documents as well as for e-presentations. It allows users to index, store, search, and distribute large volumes of transactional and customer-facing documents as a service. The new v4.1 adds support for Microsoft Windows 11, Windows Server 2022, and SQL Server 2022 though it does need the 64-bit version of Adobe Acrobat DC. There are also improvements to the system administration. 

Mary Ann Rowan, Solimar’s chief experience officer, stated: “Version 4.1 underscores the relevance of SSE in an increasingly paperless CCM marketplace. SSE, combined with SOLitrack, enables piece level tracking, online proof and approval of jobs, and suppression of individual items within a job —  truly essential capabilities for many print centres.”

Color-Logic has certified the Gallus One inkjet label press for use with its metallic effects system. Mark Geeves, director of sales and marketing for Color-Logic, said: “The new Gallus One digital label press with white ink has been found to produce outstanding metallic labels when imaging on metallic stock, and thus has been added to the roster of presses qualified to utilize the Color-Logic metallic color system.”

Mutoh’s XpertJet 1462UF is an A1+ sized industrial inkjet printer that can print to objects up to 150mm high.

Mutoh has officially started selling the XpertJet 1462UF industrial flatbed in the European market. I’ve covered this device earlier this year when it was shown at Fespa. Stephan Heintjens, product marketing and product application manager for Mutoh Europe comments: “Feedback on our new printer from the prelaunch at Fespa has been very positive.” He added: “This is a machine that will prove to be very attractive to lots of businesses, in particular screen printers looking to add more digital direct-to-object printing to their workflow and industrial printers wanting to add more versatility and colour to their services.”

Additive Manufacturing

Inkbit, which develops additive manufacturing solutions, has teamed up with Makelab, providers of on-demand 3D printing services, to help promote Inkbit’s Vision-Controlled Jetting (VCJ) technology. This technology allows for a high degree of precision in using materials such as Vulcan Soft Elastomer and Titan Tough Epoxy for applications such as liquid-holding seals, and specialized gaskets.

Davide Marini, co-founder and CEO of Inkbit, commented: “Working with Makelab allows us to harness their expertise in on-demand 3D printing and pair it with the Inkbit VCJ technology, creating new avenues for functional prototyping and streamlining the transition from design to production.”

Nexa3D makes this QLS 236 laser sintering 3D printer.

Nexa3D has made a strategic collaboration with Headmade Materials to use its ColdMetalFusion technology, which combines the advantages of polymer laser sintering with established powder metallurgy processes. Essentially this means that Nexa3D’s Q-series of Selective Laser Sintering printers will now be able to use Headmade Materials’ metal powder feedstock. The printers were originally designed for polymer-based materials such as PA11 and PA12 as well as thermoplastics like TPU88 and TPU75 but were also compatible with titanium and steel cold metal fusion materials. 

Formlabs has cut the price of its Form 3+ SLA 3D Printer and introduced a couple of new resin materials to use with it. These are Silicone 40A Resin, which allows users to print 100 percent silicone parts, and Alumina 4N Resin, a high-density and high-purity technical ceramic material.


All4Labels has installed a HP PageWide Advantage 2200 inkjet press for use in labels and packaging. This should allow All4Labels to print its Extended Content Label on a paper weight of 70-100gsm and to cut delivery lead times to 8-10 days. 

Roger Gehrke, plant manager at All4Labels Hamburg, said: “Adding the HP PageWide Advantage 2200 to our fleet of presses enables us to expand our digital capabilities and address new market segmentations, including serialization, QR codes and evolve our anti-counterfeit protection layers into new and emerging markets.”

Anjou Etiquettes, a family-owned label converter based in Montreuil Bellay in France, has bought a Bobst Digital Master 340 hybrid press. The press includes the Accucheck calibration and quality control module. 

Laurent Bossy, co-manager of Anjou Etiquettes.

Laurent Bossy, co-manager of the company, explains: “Inspecting all of our labels ensures that we deliver the highest quality to our customers, and we maintain an average production waste of just 2 percent.”

He added: “The machine effortlessly handles print runs ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 linear metres or more. We run the press every day, and I must say I’m impressed by its print quality and speed. We can achieve a resolution of 1200×1200 dpi at a speed of 100 metres per minute.”

Large format printer Quadrant2Design, which mostly specialises in designing and building exhibition stands, has become the first UK company to install InkTec’s Jetrix XGR320 roll-to-roll LED UV printer. The 3.2m wide printer will be used to create photo floors as an alternative to exhibition hall carpets. 


Screen Europe has gained a new president, Osamu Yamagata, who takes over from Akihiro Fujii, following his promotion to the board of Screen in Japan. Yamagata joined Screen in 2018 as Sales Manager Label Printers, having previously spent more than 16 years in Argentina, Brazil and Hong Kong.

Osamu Yamagata has been appointed President of Screen Europe.

Yamagata commented: ““On this exciting journey, I am truly delighted to embrace this new role. I look forward to the opportunity of connecting with both new and longstanding Screen customers to showcase our cutting-edge inkjet digital printing solutions as well as our traditional CTP products.”

He added: “Building on our high-tech printing technology and renowned after-sales service, I see great potential for Screen Europe to increase our market share across Europe as well as in the Middle East and Africa.”

Fujifilm Europe has taken on David Parker as category manager for analogue packaging where he will manage analogue products across Fujifilm’s Flenex product portfolio including water-wash flexo plates, processors, CTP devices and software solutions. He has more than 20 years experience working within the printing industry across various press-room production and business development roles, including an earlier spell working with Fujifilm UK and most recently as sales manager for Miraclon.

Manuel Schrutt, head of packaging for Fujifilm EMEA, commented: “David’s appointment marks an exciting time within Fujifilm’s strategy to promote Fujifilm as an integrated packaging supplier. David’s previous knowledge and experience of both Fujifilm and the industry prove that he is an ideal fit for this role. His expertise is greatly valued here at Fujifilm and we are truly excited to have him on board.”

Graphtec GB, which recently took on Mutoh’s UK distribution, has now appointed Lawrence Hebron as UK product manager. He has previously worked with Spandex, Signmaster and Roland DG. Tom Kneale, Graphtec GB’s managing director, stated: “Lawrence has a proven track record in sales and business development. His deep knowledge of the market, coupled with his passion for innovation, makes him the ideal candidate to lead Graphtec GB’s efforts in promoting Mutoh printers to our reseller channel.”

The company has also set up a technical team to handle installations, support and engineering requirements. James Allshorn, Steve Dabrowski and Jaydon Clarke are the new technical engineers while Brian Pickup will handle software support and service callout management.

Tune in next month for another round up of the monthly goings on in the printing industry and wider community.



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