PrintCity heartsearching over an Ifra breakfast

Nov 09, 2008 at 03:37 am by Staff

Given the very democratic forum-style seating arrangement at its IfraExpo press breakfast, it was easy to interact with members of the PrintCity consortium and tempting to criticise their sometime overt partiality. Pick up a copy of one of their many publications, and the use of brand and model names, proprietary illustrations and the like distract from what is on the whole valuable generic information. In the newspaper sector, this means manroland presses are typically used in examples (although Manugraph is also a member) and studies - such as that of UV curing recently - focus more on the limited use of inert-UV systems in double-width sites than on the multitude of smaller single-width installations. In the environment of their Ifra event, I was among those who wanted to know more about this: Why spoil the credibility of their work with such displays of partiality? Why ignore the work of other non-member companies? The answers seem to be (a) that they may not realise the extent of proprietary content, and (b) that other companies are welcomed in as project partners. And for an organisation which was actually formed as a DRUPA 2000 promotion of open systems - and specifically a response to Heidelberg's 'single solution' marketing philosophy - we should probably be amazed at what has been achieved. They are - as a promotional video proclaims - a group of companies that 'know how to work together', and in some segments, these may be notional competitors. Ten years down the track, it would be churlish not to acknowledge that they've done some good work: Notable in the newspaper sector is the VAPoN project on improved newspaper printing, but there are several others which deliver an information base useful to newspaper printers. New for 2009 will be a focus on ultra-wide web offset which will interest not only 6x2 newspaper users but also those in the heatset sector. Recent publications include reference on energy efficiency optimisation for web-offset, and sustainability, energy and the environment, as well as a VAPoN resource book checklist. All three can be downloaded free from the PrintCity website ( At IfraExpo, UPM, Trelleborg, Sun Chemical, Megtec and manroland updated on their work and also explained what they got out of membership. And to some extent, asked their audience what they thought should be tackled next - an area where the newspaper sector saw a need to promote the value of print more strongly. As it happens a decision for the period to 2010 has already been taken ... with a move into value added printing in magazines which recognises the increasing level of convergence between these and newspapers in both products and production. PrintCity says its aim will be to better understand the marketing and technical issues. The new Ultra Wide Web Offset project focusses on technical parameters, economics and the best practice knowledge needed to support customer interest in ultra-wide systems for heatset. Shown as a discussion area at DRUPA this year, the project has started with a study of the issues and opportunities involved with web widths up to 2850 mm ... the width of a 96-page long grain press. Project team members are Lüscher, manroland, Megtec, Müller Martini, Sun Chemical, Trelleborg and UPM. Would Goss - with its extensive ultra-wide experience - (or KBA) get involved? It's a leading question to which the official answer is that "nothing in the constitution says we don't want groups of suppliers" and that it is "theoretically possible" for Goss or KBA to take part. But "there has been no application". Somehow I think I sensed a feeling of relief!
Sections: Print business


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