Pre-media: A 2012 retrospective
By Hannah Jordan Thursday, 27 December 2012
There is not a sector in the print industry that can say it was not touched by the continued downward economic spiral during 2012. However perhaps the one that showed the most resilience and adaptability amid ongoing contraction is the pre-press sector.
Great leaps in digital technology for one, have meant that printers increasingly were looking for more powerful workflows capable of keeping pace with higher speed production and driving output across both digital and traditional printing methods.
Additionally an anticipated explosion in tablet sales in 2013 has kept software developers busy as they look to meet the increasing demand for high quality digital publishing platforms that are optimised for any mobile device.
Others have capitalised on the increasing understanding of and therefore demand for cloud-based technologies and growth in web-to-print services.
So while there may have been the familiar mergers and acquisitions in the pre-press sector - barely a month went by without EFI announcing another launch or buyout - progress in printing technology has pushed the pace of software development and seen the sector adapt and thrive from that through powerful collaborations and partnerships.
If that is possible during the harsh economic climate of 2012 then, with a smattering of green shoots beginning to appear, 2013 should make for an exciting year.
EFI launched US-wide recruitment drive for print consultants following a record 12-months that saw turnover increase 17%. Lüscher and MacDermid launched the Accent flexo coating plate that can be imaged like a normal litho plate. Image2output was appointed as the main distributor for Oris colour management products in the UK and Ireland. GMC Software Technology joined the partner programme for Screen's Equiosnet. FMG chief executive Simon Berg left the North London pre-media business to head up the group's digital publishing platform Ceros.
Esko premiered its latest i-Cut Suite, at Fespa Barcelona, combining all elements of the software for the first time. Flint Group Flexographic Products announced the global roll-out of its Nyloflex FAM digital plate following its North American launch. FFEI launched an engineering apprenticeship scheme in an attempt to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists. UPM announced its first print workflow, cloud-based ColorCTRL developed in conjunction with Dalim and GMG. Tharstern launched an entended version of its e4print pro e-commerce platform with integrated Chili Publisher.
W2P expert Tim Cox became managing director of software developer Vpress eight months after joining the company as head of business development. Pantone and X-Rite launched a cloud-based colour management tool PantoneLive for the packaging sector. Agfa reported double-digit growth in its industrial inkjet business, but gross profits were hit by raw material price hikes and fell by 15% across the group. Superior Creative opened its new design studio in Wiltshire, part of a £2m investment programme. Global Graphics released details of its latest Harlequin RIP, Harlequin Host Renderer3, designed to keep pace with high-speed digital printing.
Print pioneer and founder of Crosfield Electronics, John Crosfield passed away aged 96.
Fujifilm revealed details of its cloud-based XMF Colourpath workflow system. US firm Northplains acquired rival digital asset management vendor Xinet. EFI launched cloud-based MIS Fiery Dashboard for digital presses driven by its Fiery RIP. Esko owner Dahaner Corporation made a $625m cash offer for X-Rite Pantone. Agfa Graphics launched prepress workflow Apogee Suite 8.0 with cloud-based web-to-print platform.
Communisis acquired web development firm Kieon and strategy and insight firm Yomega in a £1.1m deal. Heidelberg and Luscher teamed up to produce UV platesetter XDrum! UV. Agfa Graphics signed up to distribute Serendipity Software's Veripress on-press softproofing system to its worldwide newspaper customers. PODi unveiled a strategy working group to capitalise on cloud computing technology for the print industry. Quark bought UK-based app software developer Mobile IQ in order to expand into cloud-based digital publishing.
Colortrac launched the SmartLF SC 42 wide-format scanner for AEC, CAD, mapping and bureau markets. US-based Crowd Fusion acquired digital publishing platform Ceros with Ceros chief executive Simon Berg becoming CEO of the new entity. US-based Innolutions launched a cloud-based, pay-as-you-go ink presetting system compatible with any sheetfed or web offset press.
XMPie launched a web-to-print Facebook app allowing users to embed web-to-print onto their customers' Facebook pages. F1 Colour was named sole pre-press supplier to contract publisher Sunday Publishing. Mailroom equipment manufacturer Neopost acquired software developer GMC in a bid to expand beyond the mailing sector. EFI cited its industrial inkjet and productivity software businesses for a 117% year-on-year increase in Q2 pre-tax profits.
FMG appointed former regional director of consulting at Ogilvy & Mather, Mark Inskip as European managing director. Shire Leasing launched a finance scheme to help printers finance investment in software, training and consultancy. Schawk posted a $4.4m H1 pre-tax loss due to staff, restructuring and business improvement costs. Pageflex announced that it was cutting 26% of its staff primarily in research and development in a bid to save £1.6m a year.
Taopix commercial director Alex Granat moved across to head commercial activities at sister firm Transeo Media. Xeikon launched its Xeikon Vectorizor software for the X-800 DFE that eliminates operator intervention during the die-cutting stage. Global Graphics upgraded its wide format RIP Jaws 3.0, claiming an average speed improvement over its predecessor of up to 500%. Web-to-print firm Moo.com acquired personal identity platform Flavors.me for an undisclosed sum. Esko launched its structural design software suite AritosCAD v12, for the packaging, sign making and POP display markets.
EFI acquired web-to-print and cross media software developer Online Print Solutions. UK pre-media software distributor Workflowz announced a new base in Sydney after being appointed sole distributor for Chili Publish in the Oceania region. Flint Group Flexographic Products announced that it would raise the price of its photopolymer printing plates by 3% from 1 January 2013. Tangent Communications revealed details of its £10m acquisition of rival web-to-print firm Goodprint. Tag Worldwide chief executive Steve Parish announced that he would step down at the end of 2012. Fujifilm unveiled the second generation of its Brillia Pro-VN lo-chem newspaper plate.
US firm Monotype Imaging Holdings bought Northern Ireland-based web design company Design By Front. EFI acquired UK-based MIS provider Technique. Quark released a free update to its DesignPad app, a grid-based design package for amateur and professional designers. Wide format RIP developer Caldera launched version 9.10 focussing on colour standards compliance. Printing.com said it would boost its online presence as it reported a dip in sales in its H1 results, across the web-to-print franchise.
EFI launched Fiery Workflow Suite, a digital workflow for large single and multi-site printers to streamline output across multiple digital print engines. Linkz launched an augmented reality app that tracks response rates to printed marketing. Esko and Espon signed an OEM agreement that will see the Surepress L-4033 digital label printer series driven by a customised Esko DFE. Web-to-print business Pixartprinting launched a file verification service for customers headed by a dedicated team.
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