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Ryan Fairweather, MD, Revolution Signs

Image Reports speaks to Ryan Fairweather, MD, Revolution Signs.

We are looking for companies who are nurturing industry talent to feature in Image Reports

We work in such a creative and innovative industry, but we have a problem...It isn't considered sexy!

If we're going to make this an attractive career proposition for the hottest talent out there and prevent ourselves from stagnating we need to do something about it.

Are you proactively attracting new talent?

In response to this, Image Reports have launched the Turning On The Talent campaign: a search to find wide-format digital print companies proactively working to attract new talent into our sector.

We want to feature your company

In each issue throughout 2014, Image Reports will focus on one of 10 chosen companies with illuminating and illustrative stories to tell. These companies will demonstrate how they are helping to push the envelope in terms of identifying, recruiting, training, retaining and enthusing new talent.

What are we looking for?

To be considered for selection your company must match the below criteria:

  • Printer based within the UK or Ireland
  • Have a wide-format digital capability
  • Explain what you are doing to entice new talent into a career in print – whether it is in management, design, production, sales, marketing or new business development...
  • Outline the strategic thinking behind your new talent identification and development actions

This sounds like my company, how do we take part?

Nominate your company by emailing the Editor, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and providing details about the talent story you have to tell. 

The successful companies will be notified and the Editor will conduct interviews for a series of Turning on the Talent features that will appear in Image Reports throughout 2014.

What you need to know

altEnvironmental consultant Clare Taylor brings you up to speed on environmental standards, systems and schemes.

This year has seen a number of new environmental initiatives, as well as changes to familiar standards, systems and schemes. They affect a wide range of activities: clothing and textiles, paper and packaging, management systems and reporting. Here are some of the most noteworthy.

What you get isn’t always what you see

Paul Schwartfeger and Simon Griffin from design firm Etre explain how you could be losing out by not optimising your website for the colour-blind.

Focus on finishing

Focus on finishing…and you know it’s likely you’ll significantly improve your margins. So where are the main advances taking place. Nessan Cleary investigates.

There’s been a development frenzy when it comes to cutting tables, but don’t expect the same level of activity elsewhere on the finishing kit front. So in some instances you’re going to continue to suffer from that production bottleneck until manufacturers put the same levels of R&D into other tools as they have into cutting technology. It’s easy to see why the focus has been on such devices – the demand for more automation has been almost palpable. And the developers have risen to the market’s expectation.

IR talks to... Bob Usher, Chairman of Picon

This summer Apex Digital Graphics managing director Bob Usher was elected chairman of Picon, the UK confederation of print industry manufacturers and suppliers. One of his aims is to broaden Picon’s membership, with a focus on attracting more companies from the digital and cross-media sectors.

Given that a key priority for Picon is to ‘increase the effectiveness of the UK print industry’s representations to government and other bodies’he will also working hard with the GPMA, the new print trade association collective headed by previous Picon chairman Peter Morris.

So what role can we expect Picon to play in promoting print as a whole and digital wide-format in particular as we move forward?

Mutoh ValueCut

Nessan Cleary investigates how this cutting plotter handles a range of materials at high speeds.

Earlier this year Mutoh launched a new series of cutting plotters, known as ValueCut, which are essentially improved versions of the Kona series.

Will cross media save my business?

“Not a chance” according to print management specialist Graham Reed, a founding member of the Print Tribe, part ofglobal consultancy firm PrintFuture. Yet it does need careful consideration as he explains.

Hopefully the headline got your attention: it should. What really concerns me about ‘our’ industry is the emerging trend that when a new technology comes about that has even the remotest association with images on a substrate, it is going to be the saviour of the printing industry. Take Web-to-print (W2P); more than half of organisations that have bought W2P systems across the globe have not implemented them so that they bring a profitable outcome to their organisation. So why is cross media going to be any different?

Colouring in between the gaps

Phil Thompson, head of BPIF Business, talks us through independent colour quality certification based on ISO12647 and 9001.

The BPIF has developed a UK Certification scheme for ISO12647, knowing that as with quality and environmental standards, buyers expect independent auditing and certification from UKAS accredited certification bodies. In response to such customer demands, a growing number of UK printing companies are now working towards the ISO12647 standard which is specific for colour quality.

Bridge over troubled waters

altCan visual QR codes help print cross over into the digital world? Nevo Alva thinks so. He’s co-founder and CEO of Visualead, which aims to aid engagement between the offline consumer and the online brand via this latest QR development.

When the barcode, developed in 1952, was first used as a solution to standardise grocery shopping, label military supplies, and track packages and shipments, it was considered sophisticated technology. But it quite quickly came to be perceived as incredibly mundane and out-dated. Enter the QR code.

Hands On: Optimus MIS

Nessan Cleary talks to users about how this package has evolved from being financial management tool to a vital part of the production system for the modern wide-format operation.

Management information systems (MIS) have become increasingly important to print businesses, partly because there’s more emphasis on automated throughput than there was, but also because the role of the MIS has changed. Traditionally such systems have been all about gathering financial information so that managers can make the best decisions for the smooth running of a business. But increasingly the MIS now sits at the heart of the production process, running everything from estimating and quoting to generating delivery notes and invoices.

NE plastics - your secret service

altIf you’re looking for a sheet plastics distributor that can offer you a whole lot more, then you should be talking to Nick Warne and his team at NE Plastics. “Following our successful debut at FESPA in London, earlier this year, we have experienced a significant growth in sales; not only in our core business of flat sheet but also for our new roll media range and for trade fabrication work where good quality and fast turnaround is our mantra. “

The fabric of life

Textile printing is said to be one of the fastest growing areas in wide-format, but you do have to tailor the applications around the available materials? 

There’s no doubt that digitally printed textiles is a huge and growing business. But this is partly because it is made up of several very distinct markets. The biggest of these is the garment sector, which itself can cover a huge range from high street fashion to the occasional promotional    T-shirt. This includes printing to various materials from cotton to silk, which require specialist printers with inks suitable to these materials, and plenty of washing before the garment is ready  to wear.

Textile transformation

According to InfoTrends’ ‘Transforming Textile Printing’ report published at the start of this year, the global textile industry is worth approximately $1 trillion. While the digital textile printing market is tiny in comparison to the entire textile industry, it is growing rapidly from a global perspective. So are you in on the action?

The Image Reports Widthwise Survey 2013, which polled 223 UK and Ireland companies involved in large-format digital inkjet, showed that almost a quarter (24.7%) are now involved in textile printing for flags/banners – 9% are involved in garment printing, and 8.5% in textile printing for home/interiors. When asked which print sector is the fastest growing within their own operation, 4.9% said textile printing for banner/flags - under 1% listed textile printing for garment or home/interiors.But, asked which wide-format markets respondents are looking at getting involved in over the next two years 11.2% said textile printing for homes/interiors, 9.9% textile printing banners/flags, 4% printing textile re. garments.So what’s the story? We asked five companies to comment.

Epson SureColor F7000


Nessan Cleary takes a look at the machine that heralds Epson’s move into the textile printing market.

Late last year Epson announced its intentions to get into textile printing with two new dye-sublimation printers, one of which was the 64in wide Surecolor SC-F7000. This machine was subsequently officially launched at this year’s Sign and Digital show with quite a number now established in the field.



IR talks to ….. Jos Bastiaans, Director Print Unlimited


Jos Bastiaans, director of Netherlands-based textile print specialist Print Unlimited, has been involved in digital textile printing since it was merely an idea. He worked as a development and software engineer at Océ Netherlands before joining Stork, where he was part of team that developed the first inkjet plotter for textiles back in 1989. During the 1990s Stork set up a commission printing operation, which in 1999 became Print Unlimited. When this operation was hived off in a management buyout at the end of 2003, Bastiaans led the executive team responsible. And there he’s been ever since, so what he doesn’t know about textile printing isn’t worth knowing! Here are his thoughts…