menu

Technology Report

Sky’s not the limit for this exporting superstar

Machines that convert large rolls of material into smaller more manageable rolls may not quite count as the unsung heroes of the industry, but they’re certainly vital and need both precision engineering and some of the latest tech. Who’d have thought that you could use Bluetooth in a slitter?

Atlas Converting certainly counts as one of the Best of British manufacturers and has proved an export hero. The company sells into 80   countries and has twice won the Queen’s Award   for Export Achievement.

Since 1976 it has been building specialised and sometimes enormous slitting and rewinding machinery for a wide range of flexible materials, mainly destined for use in the global flexible packaging industry. Continuous development and expansion has

Oiling the wheels of commerce is required

Marseilles had the first – in 1599, when its chambre de commerce was empowered to send consuls, embassies, and commercial missions to certain countries. In the UK, the interests of merchants and craftsmen were protected with the formation of guilds in the Middle Ages. Now we have 110 of them in London alone, including the Stationers’ Company, with more spread around the country.

The benefits of membership

Back in the present day, there are a multitude of trade bodies, associations and

Can paper coatings curb plastic consumption?

We’re just a month and a half into 2018 and the packaging industry’s sustainability agenda has been firmly set for the forthcoming year – and indeed beyond.

Thanks to China’s ban on waste imports, Theresa May’s environmental action plan and, perhaps most influential of all, the depiction of humanity’s devastating impact on sea life in BBC series Blue Planet, plastic has regained its position as public enemy number one. Our consumption of the material is prominently unsustainable, and all eyes

Mental wellbeing is much more than all in the mind

While certain level of stress in our lives is important just to function, it was Reverend WJ Kennedy who, in 1856, as the Inspector of Schools for Lancashire and the Isle of Man, identified that “if you want any business done for you, you should ask a busy man”.

That may be true, but the problem for some is that the relationship between busyness and stress is too incestuous. Too much stress and our human frailties are thrown into sharp relief, too little and we relax..
So, what is the right

What printers can do to recycle their waste

The UK is the world’s fifth largest manufacturer of printed products, and while there aren’t any statistics to indicate the level of overall material consumption in the industry, it is probably safe to assume that it’s a significant amount.

As such, it’s responsible for a correspondingly high volume of waste – and it’s only in recent times, over the last decade or so, that the majority of it has been recycled.
The variety of waste produced by the print industry is vast, and paper – the material

Hire power: secure the right recruit for your business

Employees not only form the core of a business, they are also one of the biggest fixed costs it will have. With access to the innermost corporate secrets and the ability to make or break a firm, having properly drafted contracts in place is critical to success – and survival.

Times have moved on since employers used to take the ‘warm body’ approach, where someone would be hired just because they were there and seemed to fit the job. Now employers rigorously sort through job applicants using

Colour management in digital textile printing

One of the most rapidly growing segments of digital printing is printed fabrics. As in every other area of digital printing this means that it won’t only be textile production experts who will provide artwork for and initiate print projects on many types of fabrics.

At the heart of any print project is the desire to achieve the highest possible image quality, and especially getting the colours right. But to get there all the involved parties need to cooperate fully, and each do their part to

Make sure your people know where they stand

Employees not only form the core of a business, they are also one of the biggest fixed costs it will have. With access to the innermost corporate secrets and the ability to make or break a firm, having properly drafted contracts in place is critical to success – and survival. Words by Adam Bernstein

Take some of the issues that Andrew Rayment, a partner in the employment department of law firm Walker Morris has come across in his years in practice. He’s seen brazen attempts by ex-employees

If you’re looking to bring in punters, join the club

In a Victorian warehouse in Margate, a group of people who have never met each other are carefully cutting out pieces of lino.

Most have never done it before, some never will again, but for a few, this is the start of something long term.
And for one or two in the room, this is actually already a career, they are here simply for some top-up guidance.
It’s a difficult blend of experience and aspiration for the man running this linocut workshop to balance.
“We have a real mix of people who use Hello

Set out a routemap for your firm’s future

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – wise words from Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the US. He’s right and it’s one of the reasons why an industry has grown up to support firms of all sizes wanting to plan for their future, Words by Adam Bernstein

But for smaller enterprises, where time and management bandwidth may be in short supply, the issue of strategic planning may be ignored. So where should a small business start when developing a strategy?

The business

Manufacturers with visionary ambitions

One of life’s minor pleasures is reading old predictions for the future and observing how wrong they were. Flying cars, fusion power stations and consumer 3D printing have all been past examples.

This time last year marketing and technology pundits were confidently predicting that 2017 would be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) really hit the mass market.
But, they didn’t. Partly this was because the two main technologies tipped for the top – Oculus Rift (a VR headset

Inkjet textile printing - The rise of digital textile

According to FESPA’s 2018 Print Census, textile print applications continue to offer meaningful growth potential for many print businesses. The research found that 39% of graphics producers are looking for textile printing capability when they invest.

The Census also illustrated that currently digital adoption for textile is slower than in other segments and production is still dominated by analogue processes. However, among printers with a focus on textile, 56% have made digital investments

Fairytale machines are rewriting bedtime reading

Once upon a time, the personalisation of a children’s book simply meant having a particular child’s name appear on the cover. At the time, it was mind-boggling, like something out of, well, a children’s book.

But, these days, that sort of thing fails to make the most of the technology available. Take, for example, the special edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory published for Roald Dahl Day this year. The complex array of personalisation did not just include the sprinkling throughout of

Processless is getting the chemistry right

Back in 2015, we posed the question: Has processless become the new normal? The answer at the time was not quite sure, but it’s getting there.

Many experts expected the tipping point to be reached shortly with adoption rates of processless technology projected to continue to rise rapidly as the quality and robustness of processless plates increased and the cost decreased.
Three years down the line, with the price of plates soaring thanks to the spiralling cost of aluminium, has that tipping point

Clothing copycats exploit DTG trend

Counterfeit, fake, knock-off, copy, call it what you will, it’s a burgeoning trillion-dollar global market that has touched most of us either knowingly or unknowingly at some point in our lives, and despite efforts to the contrary by international authorities there is always going to be demand.

Fashion garments are of course some of the most reproduced products – the greatest proportion originating in China – and some say the huge growth in the printed textile market, the increasingly

PDF 2.0: Scene-setter, not a game-changer

After 10 years in the making, it looks like PDF 2.0 will finally reach real world users in the next year or so. Since the 1990s PDF has been the dominant format used to deliver document files for printing.

PDF 2.0 is the first real update since 2008, when Adobe handed PDF 1.7 to the ISO for future developments.  PDF 2.0’s print-related new features can be summed up as improving automated workflows, especially across multiple printers and papers, and better colour handling, especially spot

Mail bias: how to deliver value in the digital age

Is there any item of stationery that is more familiar, and yet more often overlooked, than an envelope?

It’s getting on for 200 years since the envelope really took off, after the postal reforms of 1840 saw the use of envelopes increase more than tenfold in the space of a decade, with 300m being posted a year by 1850.
Perhaps the envelope’s very ubiquity is the cause. Millions of envelopes hit household doormats every day, and yet this commodity product is so much more than that, as all savvy

Software superstars in the spotlight

There are a lot of different design programs around that can be used to place text and graphics in specific places, and to draw shapes and add effects such as transparencies or drop shadows, Words by Nessan Clearey

The prices vary as much as designers themselves do, reflecting their different priorities, from professional graphic designers who want to work quickly and to offer the widest range of visual effects to their clients, through to business users creating corporate reports or home users

Mobile workers: keep control of the phone fiends

In 2015, Ofcom headlined the press release to its annual Communications Market Report: The UK is now a smartphone society. It’s hard to disagree. And needless to say, the trend towards greater smartphone usage has continued since.

Ayear later and Ofcom’s 2016 research found that 71% of UK adults own a smartphone – outstripping laptop ownership, and up from 66% in 2015. It also concluded smartphones are the most widely used device among adults for accessing the internet. Almost everyone seems to

Finishing kit with a kind of magic touch on machines

The embellishment market is booming at the moment. From spot UV coating through to hot foiling, more and more printers and trade finishers are looking to invest in embellishment technology driven by growing demand from their customers for something different.

Printers’ customers want to stand out from the crowd and the printers themselves also want to stand out from their competition in terms of what they are able to offer customers,” says Alex North, head of digital marketing at Duplo

Books take off as readers rekindle a love of print

It’s fair to say that the mood at the recent London Book Fair was pretty upbeat. Nielsen Book Research provided its latest findings on the eve of the show and its report made for positive reading – particularly for book printers.

It turns out that the death of the book has indeed been much exaggerated. Rather than being swept away on an unstoppable tide of cheap e-books, sales of physical, printed books rose for the second year running, by 7% in 2016, while sales of e-books actually fell, by

Has fixed-palette come of age at last?

A quarter century has passed since serious proposals were first made for six- and seven-colour process sets to replace the need for spot colour inks. These were taken up for digital processes, especially inkjets.

But adoption has only been sporadic for conventional, ‘analogue’ print processes. And today we are on the verge of easily accessible extended colour gamut (ECG) print for offset litho and flexography.
We have spoken to two of the press makers that are making a particular push for each

4 areas where smart packaging excels

For the last few years, packaging industry professionals have been curious about the future of smart packaging. While barcodes and quick-response (QR) codes, once considered the “next big thing” in packaging, have proved successful, worries remain regarding cost, feasibility and consumer engagement. With the potential to be a breakthrough in the industry, will brands be able to find the key to unlocking smart packaging?
The industry is already seeing some progress in the design and production

What threat does IoT pose to printers’ kit?

Fridge freezers that auto-order milk and kettles that boil water using an app, the internet and things that run on it have come a long way since Sir Tim Berners-Lee decided that a network to share data with colleagues at CERN would be a good idea.

And so world-changing has its effect been, that according to a Forbes report, by 2025 there will be more than 80 billion active smart devices connected to the internet worldwide. But as with most things, the increased interconnectivity has come with

Inkjet: head to head

If you’re new to the industry or are looking to take on a new process, inkjet technology can look complicated. To address this we are publishing a quick, back-to-basics primer on printhead technology.

Inkjets dominate the professional wide-format sector of print, used for everything from signage and vehicle graphics to fine art and photography. Inkjet ‘presses’ are increasingly important, though by no means the only technology, used for digital printing of work such as documents, brochures

Strong arm tactics allows to tackle heavy loads

There are robots and robots. One type inhabits the popular culture of books, movies and TV, where more-or-less humanoid machines may be heroes, villains, evil or good, oppressors or slaves. Then there are the ones that actually exist, that mostly look nothing like humans.

It’s this second class that are sometimes to be found around print factories. They are still comparative rarities, primarily used for materials handling tasks of transporting, loading and unloading.
Robotics is a class of