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Year 2015 In Review

Year 2015 was full of big and small events. There were product launches and regional happenings, investment and more. But 2015 was more a year of anticipation for the future and a prelude for drupa 2016. Here’s a round- up on 2015 through eyes of ME Printer.

We started the year by digging deep into digital printing. 2015 was the year when digital workflow and digital printing made their mark. David Zwang renowned digital printing pundit wrote There have been many new digital label and packaging presses released recently, and there are more to coming in the near future. However, these new digital presses will never reach optimal production levels or support and drive the new market requirements, without new standards and workflows. The GWG (Ghent Workgroup) has been diligently working to support this need. This work includes: special color handling with spectral values; support for multiple versions, languages and roles; and extensive non-content and finishing standards in support of the goal of an exchangeable standard PDF file format. The good news is that there has been a great deal of development in this area, and you should be seeing, and be able to take advantage of, some of the results of this work very shortly. Also UV LE and UV LED made some noise during 2015.

ME Printer had a chance to talk to Jean-Philippe Fournier from IST METZ. He said Up until now UV applications have primarily been the domain of packaging printers and specialists. In the current market, when short lead times increasingly bring competitive advantages, UV is becoming an attractive proposition for commercial printers, too. UV has so far discovered a dedicated market. In a nutshell UV is favorite if it comes to fast turnaround, protective functions, inline production and high quality products.

For example if LE, UV is used then there is no need for protective coating, special handling i.e. for perfecting machines and therefore it leads to lower investment. On the other hand LE could also bring higher quality i.e. due to inline coating or less penetration into absorbent paper.

A Prelude To Drupa

Year 2015 was also a prelude to drupa 2015. The news and information about the event started to pour in from February on.  The most important news about drupa was its reorientation.  Under the motto of “touch the future” drupa 2016 will focus more heavily on future-oriented technologies such as printed electronics, 3D printing and inkjet printing with its industrial applications.

These innovative technologies are driving the market forward and are opening up significant opportunities and growth potential worldwide, primarily in the field of packaging, functional and industrial printing. According to Smithers Pira (UK), sales in the packaging print sector will rise annually by four percentage points to US$ 970 billion by 2018. There are also indications of growth in the industrial and functional printing sector.  Since 2008 this market, that includes printing processes for the production of decorative and laminated surfaces, ceramics, vehicle parts, promotional items or electronic products, has risen annually by 13.4 percent and in 2013 achieved a volume of US$ 43.7 billion. Experts from InfoTrends (USA/UK) currently value the market at US$ 100 billion. 

Another rather surprising news during 2015 was a launch of a new press by manroland. It is called Evolution. With the launch of the new machine manroland proved that there is still life in the offset world. 

Regional Printing Industry In Action

2015 was also was full of action for regional printing industry.  To name a few  Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman inaugurated an international seminar, entitled “The Printing and Publication of the Holy Qur’an: Realities and Objectives,” in Madinah. 

The forum was organized by the King Fahd Qur’an Printing Complex at Le Meridien Hotel in the holy city and was conducted under the aegis of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.

Another top event during 2015 was Sharjah International Book Fair which drew Crowds from across the region

More than 1,470,000 visitors from the UAE and abroad, and 450 media person, came to the 33rd Sharjah International Book Fair making it the most successful edition to date. That is a 45% increase from last year’s number of visitors. The book fair at the Sharjah Expo Center from November 5 to November 15, 2014 witnessed the participation of 1256 publishing houses from 59 countries.

On one day alone, November 11, nearly 46,000 students from 350 schools visited the fair. Not only has the fair been successful in terms of visitors but also in terms of sales with the total amount of sales reaching US$ 48.5 million from local and international governmental organizations.

Sharjah was again in the news during 2015 because of the announcement on the establishment of world’s First Publishing Free Zone. The world’s first Publishing Free Zone will be established in Sharjah UAE for promoting and encouraging culture in UAE. The announcement was made at a banquet held on the sidelines of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival at Sharjah. It is one of its kind initiatives in the public sector that is expected to boost the cultural activities and publications in the region.

The establishment of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) was also officially announced during the event by Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qasimi, a member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and ruler of Sharjah.

During 2015 Qatar opened largest Qur’an printing House in Africa. The center is located in Tunisia.  More than 85000 Euros has been invested in the complex .

The Qatari endowment ministry has launched the new print house in cooperation with Egypt’s largest construction company Allam Holding aiming to increase the quantity and quality of Qur’an books in Africa. Also in 2015 saw the participation of  10000 visitors at  Saudi Print, Pack, Plastic and Petrochem shows

The shows, which were organized by Riyadh Exhibitions Company and held at the Jeddah Center for Forums & Events for the first time and witnessed the participation of more than 300 companies from 19 countries.

The exhibitions were opened by Undersecretary of the Industry Affairs Saleh Al-Salmi and were held with the support of Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah.

The shows shed light on the significant investment opportunities being offered by the industry’s sector in the developing local markets. Exhibiting companies confirmed that a number of deals worth billions of riyals were signed during the event.

Xerox also was very active during last year.The company unveiled a new press dubbed as CP 1000i

During a lavish ceremony in Dubai Address Downtown Hotel Xerox Emirates introduced  the Xerox CP1000i and the Gold/Silver metallic inks for the first in the region. This event was followed by a similar event in Abu Dhabi.

The event’s keynote speaker was Pankaj Karla , Xerox marketing manager who explained about the Xerox new technology and the value it brings to digital printing customers. The printer uses Xerox Specialty Dry Inks. The inks belong to the family of EA Dry Ink offered exclusively for the Xerox Color 800i/1000i Presses. The low-melt EA Dry Ink enables a vast substrate range, including plastics and other specialty stocks, that are only possible with low temperature process Xerox Specialty Dry Inks.

Gulf Print and Pack 2015 also created lots of  excitement. 

The four day technological extravaganza was inaugurated by H.H. Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, Director General of Dubai Information Department.

The event that was held at Dubai World Trade Centre from 13-16 April witnessed people from as many as 110 countries. There was a 26.7% rise in visitor numbers whereas the footfall was around 12000.

With the unprecedented and accelerated growth rate of Middle East’s Printing industry, the event proved to be an excellent platform for companies to showcase their latest technologies and product offerings. 

The event witnessed several product launches, demonstrations and signing of major deals. It also provided a wonderful opportunity for smaller companies to showcase their expertise and prove their worth to the world. ME Printer, the official media partner of the event published “The Daily Printer”, the official newsletter of the event. 

During these four days, the team at ME Printer covered the latest happenings, views and exciting news on the exhibition floor, major deals and interviews with the top officials of the companies participating in the event. The Newsletter was printed on Kodak’s flagship digital press, Nexpress and distributed across the exhibition floor.

Positive Feedback From Exhibitors

SGI exhibition also attracted crowds from all over the region and beyond. According to the figures provided by IEC, organizer of the show 12,781 visitors not only from the MENA region but worldwide visited the event. 

SGI is an important event in the international trade show calendar. It influences printer’s decisions on buying new equipment and/or entering new business activities. The multitude of applications that are enabled by large format printing are mind boggling by now. The list keeps growing from formerly printing only on paper, then textiles, to glass, wood and ceramics. For those who are willing to learn about the signage industry SGI has always been and will be an ideal place. 

But that’s not all, SGI is the place that helps you meet the right specialist and find the right equipment. There are many hidden gems on the exhibition floor including small printers that can print on all kinds of difficult surfaces and utensils as well as special media that offers printers that extra edge that is required in today’s competitive market environment.

SGI 2015 had all the ingredients of a world class trade event. Also it seems that the region is once again on the rebound.  The positive mood is reflected in the words of Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Chairman of IEC: “Confidence has returned to the region in a big way post Dubai’s Expo 2020 win and we can see the development happening around us at a breakneck speed. The demand within the printing and signage industry has grown tremendously and I am sure the stakeholders in this industry have experienced this growth since the last few years.”

The upcoming Dubai Expo 2020 will keep the signage industry in the region busy and we can expect a lot more evolving applications till then, including a host of digital signage that most likely will transform and revolutionize the industry once again whereby printed and digital applications will support each other in hitherto unknown and unimaginable ways. We have already seen the first steps at this year’s SGI exhibition.

3D printing was also in focus of our attention.  We offered a round up on regional printing industry.  3D printing technology is finding many new and exciting applications around the world. Not surprisingly a slew of ambitious 3D printing technology is being implemented in Middle East. Here’s a recap.

In International arena Fespa exhibition made lots of news. The exhibition is growing and becoming bigger with every edition. The 2015 edition of FESPA was the biggest technological extravaganza in screen, digital and textile print industry. The hype created around the event worldwide proved to be true with extra-ordinary innovations on display throughout the show. The event that was held from 18 to 22 May 2015 in Cologne, Germany saw 770 exhibitors showcasing their products and demonstrations whereas people flocked in from across the globe to witness this astonishing event. The show gave an excellent platform for businesses to network with industry stalwarts and explore innovative printing technology. Fespa 2015 Global Expo incorporated four events under one roof: Fespa 2015 addressing screen, textile and digital wide-format printing; Fespa Fabric, focusing on garment printing and decoration; European Sign Expo, which explored non-printed signage and visual communications; and Printeriors, which was a new interior decor showcase and conference. This year, the theme was “Discover Your Universe of Print” and surely companies showcased the best of technologies to the world here. Some of the major exhibitors were Fujifilms, Mimaki, ColorGATE, Agfa Graphics almost others.

Last year we had a Straight and Controversial discussion with ENG’s Rehan Merchant who talked about high’s and low’s of signage market. The company now owns a string of wide format printers and one should think, as a major player in regional signage market, ENG should opt for top brands but that’s not the case.

“Regarding equipment I personally believe Chinese equipment today are more than able to rival top European or American brands.  I used to buy American brands but then I switched to Chinese and I am happy about it. They work 24/7 and require low maintenance. They are fast and offer good quality. At the moment I have 5 Chinese solvent machines and a number of Jeti’s that I am planning to replace because they are older generation and less productive. “

Apparently merchant doesn’t believe in UV or latex technology. The question is why? He says that his customers prefer solvent. On the other hand solvent is getting lot of bad PR because big brands are not able to compete with Chinese manufacturers.

“I think it’s more about marketing and lobbying by big western manufacturers. They know they can’t compete with the Chinese solvent market so they highlight the ecological benefits of their own products. They are going out and preaching to go ecological but for 25 years they have been preaching about same solvent based printing and now they want to change the game.

We also covered a diverse range of news which were important and game changing. First stop Dubai who is aspiring to become a benchmark for Smart cities.  “Together with our partners, we are enabling Smart economic conditions, driving entrepreneurship and global competitiveness that will serve as a model for emerging nations. We are continually reviewing and refining the latest technology innovations, from mobile apps to drones, to understand how we may adopt these tools to make city experiences more seamless, safe, efficient and impactful for all,” says Dr Aisha Butti Bin Bishr, Assistant Director General of The Executive Office and SmartDubai Taskforce leader.

Dr Aisha adds that Dubai has begun to collaborate with leading public and private organisations to meet the needs of all residents and visitors through a connected and responsive citywide infrastructure.

Experts anticipate that the fast-growing Cloud market in the GCC, which is estimated to grow from $118.5 million in 2014 to $668.5m in 2020, will support the region to become a global driver in innovations connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).

“IoT extends across many verticals in the technology industry and is shaping up to be the key enabler of smart cities”, says Alaa Dalghan, Director of Middle East and Africa for IoT firm B&B Smartworx.

Another important highlight was the rise of printing in GCC. According to estimates Printing revenues in MENA set to grow at 7.2% per annum.

International Expo Consults (IEC) part of Falak Holding, says that the printing industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will continue to witness rapid growth due to the growing infrastructure and associated developments. As per the Smithers Pira report, the total printing revenues in the MENA region were US$17.6 billion in 2012 and are forecast to grow 7.2% per annum reaching US$26 billion by 2018.

“Print media has a strong turnover in the MENA region with a surge in printing of books, periodicals, magazines, newspapers, large scale banners and other materials. Commercial printing is finding inroads into ever growing sales and revenues regardless of the fact that there is a paradigm shift to alternative technology. This technology fad in terms of digital or electronic books and online communication has taken prominence but cannot scale the popularity of the printed tangibles as yet. Print industry is set to reach new heights with steady popularity of conventional large scale printing and the augmentation of online technology,” said Mr. Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Chairman of International Expo Consults.

Another facet of the printing industry – the textile printing industry in the country, is set to gather momentum as UAE stands as the world’s fourth largest trading centre of textiles, generating an approximate US$17.5 billion annually. Screen printing continues to hold a major share of the global textile printing market, in terms of production volume of printed textiles.

We also published news that infuse hope including the story of a Gaza doctor who makes stethoscope with 3D printer

A Palestinian-Canadian doctor has been able to created a low-cost stethoscope using a 3-D printer, the first in a series of inventions he hopes will help alleviate medical supply shortages caused by an eight-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Dr.TarekLoubani says his stethoscope can be made for just $2.50, a fraction of the cost of leading brands, and some doctors say the equipment is just as good.

The shortage of basic medical devices in the isolated Palestinian territory “is something that I think we can translate from a big problem to a big win for us in Gaza,” said Loubani, an emergency medicine doctor from London, Canada, whose Glia Project aims to provide medical supplies to impoverished places like Gaza.

SIGN Istanbul in Turkey also was a successful event and set new records.

SIGN Istanbul, Eurasia’s biggest advertising and digital printing technologies trade fair set new records for levels of industry participation. Taking place from 10-13 September 2015, this 17th edition of SIGN Istanbul attracted 438 exhibiting companies coming from 30 countries other than Turkey in the fields of Digital Printing, Textile Printing, SIGN Technology, Visual Communication, LED Technologies, Industrial and 3D Printing and was attended by 21,009 local and foreign sector professionals. On display were hundreds of the very latest and most innovative machines, equipment, technologies and applications occupying some 30,000sqm, breaking all previous records in terms of the number of exhibitors, visitors and exhibit area.

Label, Label Everywhere

On international arenas Global Technology Giants gathered in Labelexpo Europe 2015 Which took place in Brussels from 29th September to 2nd October 2015?

Labelexpo Europe, arguably the world’s largest event for the label and package printing industry enthralled the printing world from 29th September to 2nd October 2015. Over 600 exhibitors showcased a full range of machinery and materials for the label and package printing industry. Companies like Nilpeter, PRATI, Avery Dennison, Domino Printing Sciences, Xeikon, and HP Indigo all offered mega launches during the event. The event is aimed at trade professionals including label and package printers, brand owners and designers.

Road To Drupa

During last year we offered a series of articles on printing trends. This series of articles were called road to drupa and was written by professional writers including  Gareth Ward and Carey Sherburne, who wrote about finishing technologies. According to Sherburne post-press binding and finishing in commercial print, packaging, sign & display graphics and other sectors will be a key attraction at drupa 2016.  As they say, it isn’t finished until it is finished … and for many companies, there are still significant opportunities for improving throughput and productivity as well as reducing costs in their post-press departments.

All segments of the market are facing similar challenges. Shorter run lengths, faster time to market, more versioned and variable content – while each segment has slightly different challenges, they are all facing this trifecta, and as a result, are moving to an increasingly digital workflow. While significant focus has been placed on the benefits of digital printing, the analogue technologies – offset and flexo, most notably – are also moving to workflows that benefit from faster make-ready times, less waste and fewer touch points in the manufacturing process.

The other drupa article focused on sustainabiliy. Economic concerns, technological threat and uncertain futures have contributed to a crisis of confidence in print. Throw in rapidly changing market expectations and media choices, and you have an industry that’s been on the back foot for several years. But a reversal is underway. Print is reinventing itself to be more vibrant than ever, an energetic force in a multichannel communications world.

Years of turmoil have forced printers to refine their systems, minimise waste and maximise process automation and efficiency. Streamlined process management and being based on a renewable resource make print a highly sustainable, as well as effective, medium. Rising environmental awareness is encouraging environmentally smart media buyers to refocus on print.

media supply chains can embrace.

See ya in 2016


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