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3D or not to 3D?

Business writer Walter Hale takes a view on its relevance to wide-format PSP diversification.E - MakerBot Printing1

Don’t believe the hype. We’ve all come across that cliché. It certainly applies to 3D printing - although not in the usual way.

The hype doesn’t come close to conveying the potentially disruptive power of 3D printing. Here is a technology that can make replacement body parts, cars, spare parts for the International Space Station and, in China, 10 new houses in 24 hours.

ON TEST: Colorific Lightbar

This kit is an optional addition rather than a printer in its own right, but it’s in an interesting process as G - Lightbar Front DC16252 PQNessan Cleary finds out.

Most printers fit into an easily definable category, such as solvent or UV-curable, but for this month's test we've looked at a hybrid approach. The Colorific Lightbar is based around its UV Light ink, which is effectively a UV-curable ink in a solvent carrier - and thus promises to give the best of both technologies while eliminating their downsides.

The Red Carpet treatment

Lesley Simpson joined over 300 PSPs in Belgium last month as Agfa attempted to wow them with its A - Jeti Tauro rigid straight shuttlescale and scope. Here’s the upshot.

Displayways, Beautiful Design and Print, Kolor Skemes, McGowans … these and a handful of other UK companies were among 300 PSPs invited by Agfa to a Red Carpet Event at its home in Mortsel (Antwerp) last month for the European debut of the Jeti Tauro and Mira large-format printers.

Special: In praise of global perspectives and local initiatives

Ya?ar G?venen is the new president of Fespa. Here he sets out his stall in his own words.A -Ya ar G venen

I first attended a Fespa exhibition in Berlin in 2007. It was my first visit to such an impressive, international exhibition, and the scale of the opportunity for the wide-format print community blew me away. Not only the incredible technology innovation on show, but the chance to question and learn from ideas and practices being implemented in other countries.

Over to you...Mark Bradley, MD, Digital Imaging Services

Mark Bradley,A - MB
MD, Digital Imaging Services

What’s having the greatest impact on your business at the moment?

DIS was founded in 1997 as a wide-format digital graphics company with no direct links to the traditional print areas of screen and litho.

Riding with the free-riders?

Kevin Bray of K J Bray and Associates is the new environmental consultant to the Fespa UK A - freeriderAssociation. Here he asks if you should be delving deeper into rules and regulations governing the kit you discard.

It has become clear to me over the past few years that there are many in our industry who, perhaps through oversight, and hopefully only through oversight, do not comply with all so-called ‘Producer Responsibility’ legislation. From the outside, many of these regulations can seem somewhat esoteric and arcane, so non-compliance is often not entirely deliberate, but happens because it is easier to see them as someone else’s problem or responsibility. But it’s not.

Management trends

Last issue’s Top Tips feature focused on how to manage change. Here Dr Colin Thompson, managing B 60718627 Mpartner, Cavendish, delves into the data behind the need for such actions to deliver lean business transformation.

When the printing press was invented in 1450, the population of Europe was 50 million people. The literacy rate at the time has been estimated at 1%, equal to 500,000 people capable of reading what was printed at that time. It took over 100 years to raise the literacy rate to 50%. By then the population was about 70 million people, so it took 100 years for the number of people who could read what was printed to hit 35 million people. Therefore, it took more than 100 years for the number of `users` of print to reach 50 million people. It took the iPad less than one year years to reach 50 million people. And Facebook added 100 million users in just nine months, highlighting the vastly disruptive nature of digital technology.

Way to go with W2P

As a wide-format PSP that runs a W2P service, the Simpson Group is well placed to offer advice on how to successfully integrate the offering. The group’s online print manager Rachel Tait explains.

When people think of Web-to-print they tend to think about two specific markets:

a B2C market that is gradually filling up with those offering birthday cards and business cards, simple products on a hosted site; and perhaps larger corporates with a B2B print portal through which customers can regionalise and personalise branded print to ensure their marketing message is consistent and correct.

IR talks to….. Richard Clark, Founder, Racoon

Raccoon, in Kent, has been going since 1992 and has become synonymous with vehicle wrapping. But A - Richard Clarkit is branching out. A few years ago it introduced Promohire - a promotional vehicle hire service. Now it’s launched for creatives and trade work. So why has such a specialist print company decided to diversify and is it yet paying off? I asked founder and MD Richard Clark.
By Lesley Simpson

Lascelle Barrow, Co-founder and joint MD, Augustus Martin

Las Barrow keeps his poker face when asked what he thinks makes him a managerial ‘Leading Light’, which he C - Las barrowundoubtedly is having turned a £2 stake in a new business venture back in the mid ‘60s into the £53m turnover Augustus Martin of today. Then there’s his co-ownership – with his Augustus Martin joint founding partner and joint managing director Barry Dix – of Manchester-based Walkers Instore and London-based TJ Finishing, plus two-thirds of inks business Small Products. And at getting on for 70 he shows no sign of letting up, having latterly overseen the new Augustus Martin set-up called Audit, Fix and Display.

Over to you...Peter Leyland MD, PDQ Print

Peter Leyland,A - Peter Leyland
MD, PDQ Print

What’s having the greatest impact on your business at the moment?

There does seem to be a general upturn in business across the board - tongue-in-cheek there is not so much competition around.

From Carnaby Street to Cannes

How personalised T-shirts are in vogue thanks to the likes of YR Store’s interactive offering. CouldA - YRStore Topshop  bespoke fashion while you wait you make a similar fashion statement?

YR Store’s interactive printed garment concept is catching the imagination of fashion retailers including the likes of Topshop and Selfridges. Now the system - that lets people create personalised clothing on easy-to-use touchscreen terminals then sends the finished design for printing within minutes via Epson SureColor printers - has global brands Nike and Google hooked.

Thinking Bigger: Guandong

Fabio Elmi, marketing director Guandong, explains how the company works closely with the market to G - Fabio Elmi Fabio Elmi Marketing Director Guandong Italia srldevelop new products for ever more creative applications.The natural vocation of Guandong is that of a real visual communications – a trendsetter if you will.

The natural vocation of Guandong is that of a real visual communications – a trendsetter if you will.

Alongside a comprehensive range of large-format digital printing media, the company is engaged in researching original products, capable of extending demand in new application sectors and anticipating emerging market trends.

Turning the tables

The latest developments in automated cutting tables point toward a demand for faster throughput and A - Acorta 18x13cm tcm601-157919better quality finishing as Nessan Clearly reports.

It's generally acknowledged that automated cutting tables are an essential rather than luxury accessory for flatbed printers. The trend when it comes to those flatbeds is for bigger and faster machines, which in turn means that it's even more important to get the work through the finishing stage as quickly as possible. Thus Peter Giddings, sales director at Zund UK, says that people are looking for more than just cutting capability, adding: “They want to see how the machine fits into the workflow.”

Busting big data

Yes, you can make use of it, even if you’re a small company. Walter Hale explains.D - 62007706 M

The term ‘big data’ doesn’t help. It sounds expensive, technologically complicated and something that only big companies can take advantage of. The hype doesn’t help. As technology critic Evgeny Morozov noted: “If you have a treasure trove of unpublishable papers, just add the words ‘big data’ and see them go viral.” In truth, the issue isn’t that complicated. When we talk about big data what we’re really saying is, let’s do the kind of analysis that helps us make decisions based on facts, not gut instinct. Put it like that and the real question is: can your company afford not to invest in big data?

ON TEST: Longier Hunter FR3750

Longier has produced a flatbed printer at a reasonable price but does it have the print quality to F - LongierFR3750 Carriage DC16048 PQcompete in the UK market? Nessan Cleary puts tries it out.

Whether deserved or not, Chinese inkjet printers have generally had a poor reputation here in the West for quality and reliability. But Paul Serellis of Eazy Print, whom we met for last month's Hands On, was so enthusiastic over his Longier flatbed that we were intrigued enough to have a proper look ourselves.