For an industry that has seen over 5000 operators close their doors over the past decade or so, the printing industry’s premier trade show, PacPrint 2017, was a lively and positive environment.
For photo retailers it signals another parallel industry, with many traits in common, that has experienced massive technical change, reduction in numbers and the significant loss of the main product – printed documents.
And it also shares some brands and resellers with names familiar to Australia photo retailers: Canon Australia, Epson, Starleaton and Kayell, to name but four. And they are showing at PacPrint because they have eked out new markets for products that started out being based in pure photography.
As award-winning printer Michael Warshall of Nulab said, ‘When we switched from silver halide to Indigo we were breaking entirely new ground and taking a huge commercial risk. But it’s those kinds of breakthroughs that are required if you want to stay relevant and continue as a leader in your field’.
Those kinds of risks pay off when you walk away with four category finalist positions, with a gold, a silver, two bronzes and then a gold High Commendation for Excellence in Print.
Over at Epson, leading supplier of fine art large format printers to the photo community, it was great to catch up with Clyde Rodriguez, formerly a senior executive at Kodak.
Clyde proudly demonstrated a speedy inkjet office printer capable of output up to 100 pages a minute. When he showed me documents printed on this device on special photo matte paper, the quality was astonishing. For photo retailers, here’s a volume solution, perhaps in partnership with a local print house, to extend the offering in your business.
Chromaluxe had a broad offering of materials capable of brilliant photo output, including their metal materials. These were in fact demonstrated on the AIPP stand, where a partnership between Printing Industries of Australia, Chromaluxe – who printed and provided the materials – and the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), on which over 200 of the more than 6000 images of Australian WW2 Veterans from the Reflections project were on display.
Toby Warne, Asia Pacific sales manager, Universal Woods, was the man responsible for this painstaking print work. The images printed on specially coated metal plates enable a low cost and simple hanging or display system and provide new opportunities for retailers.
The output, in this case A3 display prints, was of the highest quality. AIPP’s executive officer Peter Myers was on hand. Viewers were both moved and impressed by what they saw. Importantly, many members of the print industry attending saw this as a category expansion for their business too.
I saw similar Chromaluxe materials on display at Black Eye Gallery in Sydney’s Darlinghurst during the extraordinarily successful Head On Photo Festival earlier in May, in which Frank Hoestra of Print2Metal had printed over 470 images in varying sizes for the Festival on the same Chromaluxe materials.
Key to the success of that massive print job was a workflow developed jointly with Head On. Achieving productive outcomes for volume print runs starts with great workflow and care in planning.
The prints were made on Mimaki flatbed print systems capable of handling up to 30-inch metal materials.
Both Rob Gatto and Andreas Johansson of Kayell were present, pushing their Eizo monitors, Epson print output, and a range of colour management solutions. The very smart and bright white shirts with an impressive ‘Colour managed by Kayell’ logo remind one how good workflow consistency can produce the best productive output.
One of the key show organisers, Robyn Frampton, showcased a few more highlights for me in a brief personal tour of innovations at PacPrint. RojoPacific had a remarkable circular booth, with fishtanks embedded in walls that were clad with a removable SupaCling material that could be wrapped on almost anything.
Inside was a table printed with a wood-effect coating. Perfect for promotional campaigns and retail display. If your business gets enquiries for larger print output than you can handle in-house, then their range of specialised substrates could well be the answer.
Over at Starleaton I looked at various Hahnemühle fine art paper materials for print output. Starleaton was also showing a high gloss material that produced gloss output close to what I recall from the CibaChrome days 25 years ago. Watch this space.
Product manager Paul Coniglio showed that a company with photo roots can become a high tech print solutions company in a relatively short time. Service and support the secret.
Canon Australia used the sports imagery of Canon Master photographer Phil Hillyard to show off speed, colour, capture and output in an impressive display. Canon’s Hayden Wills and former photo industry alumna Amanda Ward, showed just how close commercial print, image capture and electronic imagery are integrated these days
Print21’s Andy McCourt, well-known to long-standing members of the photo industry, reported a very upbeat industry. He indicated that while there were indeed fewer printers in business today, the transformation to digital was now delivering turnaround times, product offerings and pricing that could not have been dreamed about 10-15 years ago.
This was a view endorsed by board director Peter Long OAM, of Lane Print in Adelaide. Long was a strong supporter of providing the space so that the AIPP’s Reflections show could be displayed.
The final exhibit that knocked my socks off was from the University of Newcastle.
They were showing a printed solar panel, using conventional printing inks with slight modifications, capable of powering all sorts of buildings, devices and installations.
While less efficient than conventional solar cells the cost per square metre was dramatically lower. Vital and breakthrough work at the Centre for Organic Electronics in Newcastle has developed this world first.
Raymond Castles, a young scientist in the team led by Professor Paul Dastoor, enthusiastically showed off various shapes and forms in which the material could be displayed. The material printed locally could be the next power source for the roof of your business!
– John Swainston
(ProCounter is indebted to John – once again – for his insightful report and supporting photographs.)