Global news that could spur a print surge - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

With no Drupa in 2020 or 2021, the Sunday Column rounds up print news from around the globe that could impact you

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11 Apr 2021 | By Noel D'Cunha

Agfa, Flint up its plate, ink prices
Agfa has announced a big increase in plate prices worldwide, in response to the soaring raw material costs. According to the company, soaring input costs, particularly aluminium, energy and packaging materials, combined with sharply rising freight rates due to global logistic constraints make price increases unavoidable.

In the local market, TechNova, too, has increased its plate prices, but it has not disclosed the percentage of hike.

On the other hand, Flint Group Packaging has announced that it will increase the prices of its ink and coating products, effective 1 April 2021. The company said that it is facing an “extraordinarily turbulent set of supply chain conditions, exacerbated by the global pandemic”. Costs are increasing and supply is tightening across almost all procurement categories. Multiple petrochemical derivatives such as resins and solvents, pigments, and freight are three of the most volatile areas.

Canon revamps TX large-format range
In the large-format segment, there’s news from Canon. The ImagePrograf TX series enhancements include borderless printing of up to 3.2 A1 CAD pages per minute. Five models in the TX family have also received automation upgrades: the 24-inch TX-2100, 36-inch TX-3100 and 44-inch TX-4100, as well as the print and scan TX-3100 MFP Z36 and TX-4100 MFP Z36.

Developed for printing posters as well as AEC, CAD and GIS applications, the new machines are commercially available with immediate effect. The five-colour, 2,400x1,200dpi, 5pl engines run full pigment Lucia TD inks, which can be combined with water-resistant media for outdoor applications.

Back home, Canon India has announced the appointment of Manabu Yamazaki as the new president and CEO for Canon India, effective 1 April 2021.

Esko hives off Kongsberg business
Esko, a global developer of integrated software and hardware solutions for the packaging and label sectors, has confirmed that with effect from 1 April 2021, it has successfully closed the sale of Kongsberg digital finishing business to OpenGate Capital, a private equity firm headquartered in Los Angeles, California.

The new business – Kongsberg Precision Cutting Systems – now employs more than 400 former Esko employees across the globe. According to the company, sales, service, consumables and spare parts will all continue as usual. Customers, including those in India, will receive the same level of service during the transition and they can look forward to business as usual throughout 2021.

Feldmuehle and Mitsubishi HiTec Paper increase prices
Some more paper price hike news. Feldmuehle and Mitsubishi HiTec Paper are the two latest paper manufacturers to outline impending price increases on various products.

Independent German paper mill Feldmuehle will increase prices for its wet strength label papers by 8% from next month, while Mitsubishi HiTec Paper Europe, a German subsidiary of Japanese company Mitsubishi Paper Mills, said a 5% price increase will apply to deliveries of its entire Jetscript range of coated inkjet papers from 1 May 2021.

Sappi Europe, too, has increased its prices of all of its packaging and speciality paper grades by 7%-11% from 1 April 2021.

Fujifilm’s substantial investment in inkjet inks
Fujifilm has announced it is pumping around USD 19 million in a new facility being constructed at its Delaware site in the USA, with the aim of meeting the growing demand for water-based pigment inkjet inks. Fujifilm Imaging Colorants (FFIC) makes water-based inkjet inks, and the new production facility will make pigment dispersions using Fujifilm’s own R&D Reactive Dispersion know-how.

Presently, these pigment dispersions are made at Fujifilm’s site in Grangemouth, Scotland. The new US factory will increase its worldwide supply capacity. Construction of the new site will start next month, with completion slated for next year.

Heidelberg rolls out more cloud services
Heidelberg has opened up access to the cloud-based Zaikio procurement platform and has also launched its Maintenance Manager service. The Zaikio development, Heidelberg said, was a “further milestone” on its route to becoming a platform provider.

Zaikio is a cloud-based system that connects multiple software solutions and systems together. After a test phase, Heidelberg is now opening up Zaikio Procurement to any printer that wants to connect. The system is free for printers and allows firms to establish an automated link with a range of suppliers. Alongside Heidelberg’s own Prinect Business Manager, the participating MIS vendors are Keyline, Printplus, Printvis, Datamedia, Ultraxx, and EPMS.

Heidelberg’s Maintenance Manager service, also cloud-based, has been described as “almost completely digitising the maintenance process”, with the promise of increased uptime and reduced stoppages.

Kodak plans to grow its way out of the Covid-19 crisis
Announcing the Q4 and year-end results, executive chairman and CEO Jim Continenza said he believed the business was now heading in the right direction.

In the calendar year 2020, sales fell by USD 213 million to just under USD 1.02 billion, and the firm effectively broke even at the operational EBITDA level, posting a USD 1-million loss compared to the prior year when it was USD 13 million in the black. However, cash balances increased in Q3 and Q4 and the group ended the year with USD 196 million in cash.

Kodak said, at the height of the crisis, Sonora volumes crashed by 33% and Prosper revenues by 25%, but the business had seen some recovery of volumes in Q3 and Q4. The operational EBITDA was impacted by volume declines because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was partially offset by cost savings including furlough schemes and pay cuts.

As part of a series of financial transactions, at the beginning of this month Kodak agreed a new senior secured loan of up to USD 275 million with Kennedy Lewis Investment Management, and USD 100 million investment from Grand Oaks Capital.

Koenig and Bauer expects a good sheetfed year
The German press manufacturer expects a significantly better year than the industry average – break-even in the current financial year, after filing 2020 results.

Sales fell by 17.4% to just over EUR 1 billion “despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic”, including travel restrictions that affected the group’s sales pipeline. Order intake fell by 14.6% to EUR 975 million. K&B said that it had outperformed its peers in terms of order intake, with the German VDMA association reporting orders down 21.9% in the same period.

Ricoh set to launch a new B2 sheetfed inkjet press
Is the future of sheetfed digital inkjet on its way? Ricoh certainly feels so, as it is set to launch the new Ricoh Pro Z75, which involves a new platform and “groundbreaking innovation” and pitched as a device that offers offset quality with inkjet flexibility. Ricoh claims that the new press uses 1,200-dpi Ricoh piezo printheads made from stainless steel, with “brand new liquid cooling” for consistent results and uptime.

The press, which in all likelihood would have been on show at Drupa 2020, will now be officially unveiled in May 2021.

Sun Chemical’s new LED UV sheetfed inks
Sun Chemical has upped sustainability with the launch of its SunWave  Lumina UV sheetfed inks for commercial printing. The new inks no longer require EU ‘health hazard’ labelling. They also meet the exacting environmental standards of Nordic Swan Ecolabel and are fully compliant with EuPIA raw material guidelines.

The company said the upgraded inks are also de-inkable according to the International Association of the Deinking Industry Method 11 criteria, which assesses the recyclability of printed products.

The inks, which are suitable for all sheetfed press types, are designed for standard offset printing to ISO 12647. The manufacturer said they “consistently deliver outstanding levels of productivity with very high print quality and excellent dot gain”.

Data courtesy: Printweek