Adding value to the printed sheet is vital in order for print companies to break free from commodity pricing. It is easy to get a quote for 16pp A4 brochures printed four colour throughout and on 130gsm silk. And it is just as impossible to charge any kind of premium for this type of work. To be effective in this sector of the market therefore a printer must be the most efficient possible, be printing for 20 hours a day and must standardise on this type of job to keep costs to an absolute minimum. And must reduce the touchpoints between receiving the job and getting it on press. It is what has stood online printers in good stead.
Alternately, the printer can offer something that rivals cannot, be that lamination, foiling, additional colour or varnish effects, embossing or die cutting. Each adds a layer of value to the finished product and makes each job less subject to commoditised pricing. The challenge is to sell this added value to a buyer that seems to be interested only in the most competitive price.
The Print Show is a perfect platform to begin to explore the added value techniques that can be applied to a piece of CMYK print and to find out some of the techniques that can help sell this approach. All vendors will have samples on hand and can provide others to show specifiers before making a commitment to invest.
And this is generally welcomed. Designers are unable to keep pace with all the options that are available, in terms of varnishes and coatings, foils and laser cutting.
They are well catered for by the back selling operations of the paper merchants so will have samples of the latest substrates, but there is little inspiration about the neon inks, the white and clear toners, the foils and different finishing techniques that will provide the finished print with the greater impact that the designer is looking for.
Smart Print has worked with customers and the likes of VPress to stage open houses, inviting designers to these events. Sales director Paul Stead says: “We get the designers picking up samples of print asking ‘how do you do this’ or ‘I didn’t know you could print white or a clear toner’. The design agencies enjoy being involved, but all too often printers see reluctant to tell these customers what they can do.”
The problem may lie with the inclination to talk to the printer late in the day, once the design has been finalised and signed off. Printers are considered to be much of a muchness, not adding value to the process. If even at this stage, but preferably well before this, the contribution of innovative ideas can be welcomed: a different lamination film perhaps.
There will be plenty of this at the Print Show, starting from white toners courtesy of InkTec and OKI (on the Magic Touch stand) on the simplest digital print engines. Smart Print will have Ricoh presses capable of printing white, clear and neon toners on an expanding range of materials. Multiple journeys through the Ricoh Pro C7200 five colour press will expand the range of effects (and value) that the printer can achieve.
By tradition Smart Print has smothered its display with samples of all kinds of products, using the additional colours and effects to show what is possible with print. If printers do not understand what is possible, how they they offer new ideas to their customers? If printers do not discover what is possible, how with the buyers? Everyone wants, needs, new ideas.
HP will have samples of what the Indigo range is capable of, now including different neon toners, clear and white toners. The greatest interest will be shown in the Xerox Iridesse, due to make an appearance on the Xeretec stand. This can be configured to run with six colours, adding a metallic silver or gold to the CMYK set or clear toners to both enhance and protect the print.
The combination of silver then four colour overprint opens a new universe of colour effects, applying ColorLogic style software to achieve the results that designers will swoon over for brochures and labels.
The new digital press has raised excitement because it can print those gold and silver toner in a single pass as well as clear and additional colours, depending on the toner modules used. Users can easily switch between them using a purpose built trolley system.
The additional of metallic colour opens a huge range of special added value effects for printers using the press. It also includes a new type of toner for the process colours, with automated registration and colour control to improve the quality and consistency of four colour printing, precise back to back registration for example.
At the show, Xeretec plans to put the press through its paces working with Infigo, Antalis and XMPie to create a workflow from a web to print portal through personalisation to output on Antalis substrates. Antalis plans to have coloured papers, Invercote boards and the Magnecote magnetic paper run on the new press, while also working with Smart Print and with samples on its own stand.
Infigo worked with Xeretec at the show last year and returns with its Catfish and MegaEdit platforms. These will be used to build the products that will be printed on the Iridesse. Personalisation can also be added through the XMPie software, including unique QR codes to link paper to the digital world.
Xeretec marketing manager Rhiannon Phelan says the aim is to showcase as many ideas for printers as possible. “Last years’s show was a real success for Xeretec. This year we are thrilled to be able to showcase the Iridesse,” she says.
There is even more value to add after the printing has finished. Lamination will be represented at the Print Show by Vivid Laminating, Friedheim International, D&K Europe, Encore Machinery. Gloss and matt films continue to dominate the market with after many years availability, soft touch films starting to sell.
The original Soft Touch laminate comes from Deprosa, but lookalike films are widely available. Likewise holographic, tactile and anti-bacterial films are available, but scarcely known. It is reverse of the chicken and egg: printers will claim there is no demand for anything beyond the standard films, but few volunteer information about these products to their client base.
In recent years lamination in house has taken off. It is an understandable process with relatively low cost machinery that does not need to be in constant use. Shorter print runs mean that the delivery and set up costs that a trade house will levy can wipe out the profit in a job. And trade houses are literally becoming fewer and farther between, exacerbating the problem.
But having invested in lamination, few printers are willing to explore the potential effects that are possible. There is one exception to this: over foiling. This is an opportunity that has been explained to anyone in the last couple of years. Passing a laminated sheet through a press will lay down an extra image which acts as a bonding agent for a foil when the two are brought together in the nip of a heated laminator roller.
Personalised names are just the start: think wine bottle labels for a wedding with bride and groom’s names linked by a horseshoe, a touch of class for key customers receiving a hotel brochure or clothing catalogue. This works for limited numbers or where personalisation is essential. The exact cross over point to a conventional die stamping process will vary according to job and customer, but it is not high.
Again the ability to offer this does not mean that it has yet been widely adopted. Likewise Vivid has a ColorLogic licence to enable customers to print the rainbow of 250 metallic colours on top of laminated silver foil or films. The use of solid laminating films for a deep blue, red or black can achieve an impact that print alone rarely can. This is useful for presentation boxes or packaging for luxury items where the additional cost of the carton is bearable by the end cost of the product.
Highcon has created a market for high end digitally printed and finished cartons. The creasing matrix is created by a UV hardened paste, the intricate cut outs by laser. The Israeli company will not be at the Print Show, but the same impact can be achieved through laser cutting and using standard carton sizes on an old Heidelberg platen or Cylinder or increasingly on the simple rotary die cutters that are coming to market.
Trotec is leader in the laser cutting market with different models for different formats and productivity. It will be making a first time appearance at the show with view to demonstrating the added value of which laser cutting is capable.
This will focus on the Speedy 400 Flexx, a flatbed system with a maximum bed size of 1,000x610mm and capable of cutting or engraving and which is the largest of the Speedy models. It offers a choice of laser power from 10-120W, using different lasers for different materials. They are operated through the JobControl interface which the company reckons is easy to learn.
A 15-minute video tutorial provides the basics. A camera system is used to read crop marks and images to ensure precise registration though comparison with the digital file. This will be demonstrated at the event.
Duplo will bring the DuSense to Birmingham. This is an inkjet powered digital enhancement machine. It is able to add a number of spot varnishes through piezo inkjet heads to deliver both visual enhancement effects and tactile impact through a raised image. This can lift all manner of colours, to deliver a value added impact at short runs where it make no sense to create a coating plate or embossing die.
Print on demand book covers are a perfect application, but it is really about discovering or creating the application that does not currently exist because buyers have not known the technology exists at this level. Scodix and the MGI JetVarnish provide a similar technology, but at a significantly more expensive price point.
Software on the DuSense will calculate the cost of adding the spot varnish effects to a job to make estimating before committing to print both easier and more accurate.
Renz will demonstrate the Argos F400 HD cold UV coater as a vale enhancing flood coater for digital printing and short run work. The cold cure UV system is safer than other UV varnishing devices where heat can build up, especially while the machine is stopped temporarily. The Belgian manufactured device has been designed to remove the fire risk that is posed, with a guarantee that the temperature will not go beyond 25ºC. The innovation for this year is a new try high gloss varnish. It can be configured as a standalone machine with feeder and stacker or else can run inline with a digital press.
There will be plenty of companies able to help create short run hardcover books, developed for phonebooks but suited to high value promotional brochures and other literature. Check Ashgate Automation, Peleman Industries, Opus UK, Caslon and others for low cost tools for producing ultra short runs of hardcover products.
The Print Show is the only print industry exhibition this year. After being forced into exile in Telford by the staging of Ipex at the NEC last year, the UK focused event returns to Birmingham.
It is a show that is worth attending for a day, but do not expect any litho presses, any consumables businesses or any major product launches. Instead expect a good few large format inkjet machines, a host of finishing technologies and the sorts of products and ideas that might spark some ideas for new areas of business or for increasing efficiency.
There will be the almost obligatory business sessions, masterclasses and seminars. There is a showcase for traditional print skills and what the organiser calls the Pinter’s Bazaar, an odd name for an area of the show that acts as an introduction to some of the areas that a printer might consider as an extension to the current focus of the business – printing on textiles for example. It also includes introductions to label printing, printing on promotional products as well as introductions to packaging print and large format inkjet for those that have yet to step into these areas. Friedheim International has decided to sponsor this section of the show.
Doors open at 10am on 18 September and again on 19th and 20th. The exhibition will occupy the NEC’s hall 9.
There is a nod to the longevity of the industry through the letterpress printing and type handling and hand binding area in the Traditional Print Masterclass.
A key part of the show is the presentation of wide format inkjet
printers aiming at commercial print converts. There is also a host of finishing technologies and the sorts of products that might spark ideas for new areas of business or for increasing efficiency.
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This year the Print Show has returned to the NEC and will occupy Hall 9. The longevity of the industry is showcased in the letterpress printing and type handling, and hand binding area in the Traditional Print Masterclass.
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Adding value to the printed sheet is vital in order for print companies to break free from commodity pricing, and discussions about the impact special toners, designer papers and value add finishing are a major reason to visit the Print Show this year.
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The Print Show is the only print industry exhibition in 2018. It was staged in Telford in 2017 because of Ipex's takeover of the NEC, but this year the UK focused event returns to Birmingham.
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