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Archive for November, 2011
Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
When phrased as a question, its one we get all of the time. What is the shape of the industrial printing industry? What is industrial (as compared to graphic)? When, if ever, can textile, graphic and commercial printing be considered industrial? Also, why do we refer to it as “imaging” rather than printing? In many cases it’s a subtle difference. In others it’s not so subtle at all.
A few years back, the SGIA Industrial applications committee put their heads together and came up with an answer. Industrial printing/imaging is defined as any imaging that is done as a manufacturing process (meaning the final finished part is created by the act of printing) or that is done as part of a manufacturing process on sub-components that are part of another finished product. Further refinements of the answer stipulate that in general, industrial printers are not standard print-for-pay or print by contract facilities open to the public. For the most part, industrial printers support one facility as an in-house printer (an OEM printer) or contract to a very narrow band of constituent companies within a specific industry.
As you can already conclude, this answer did not make everyone happy. Although this definition goes a long way toward covering the most business types, there are many gray areas. Let’s look at a few of those and see where it helps further define certain print operations that slip through the cracks.
Textile/garment printing: Most people would claim that garment printing is a contract business and cannot be industrial. What they are not taking into account is that when garment printing reaches a certain scale….it becomes industrial by default because it starts using unique and dedicated equipment and falls outside of general public venue. Examples are the large cut-and-sew mills in Asia and Central America. Designs are printed on large strips or rolls of cloth that are then laser or plotter cut and sewn together. In other cases, raw bolt-goods textiles are printed with rotary screen, inkjet and belt printers to produce yard goods for any number of sub-industries. These businesses are industrial by scale alone.
Deposition printing: The other necessary mindset when trying to define industrial printing is to realize that printing does not always use ink (in the normal sense) nor does it always produce an image. The most common form of industrial printing is actually deposition printing. As the name suggests, this is printing that may use any platform from screen print to inkjet to flexography to deposit a precision layer of ink, suspended particles or virtually any liquid or semi-solid material. This is typically done to make a substrate into a functional part of some other product by adding a material to it that allows it to interact elsewhere. These can range from colors to medicines to conductive products to adhesives. The possibilities are endless.
Additive and subtractive imaging: A refinement to the deposition mindset is to not always think of industrial imaging as printing at all. There are many types of industrial imaging whose substrates (metals, glass, plastics, and composites) start with coatings that are not printed at all. For example, metals may be anodized, electroplated, powder coated, oxide coated, painted, sputter-plated, vacuum deposition coated or dip-coated. Plastics and glass may be laminated, painted, sputter-plated, vacuum deposition coated or flame sprayed. This is only the first step in making a raw substrate into a material that may then be imaged by laser ablation, etching, chemical machining, sandblasting, routing, plotter cutting, die cutting and a range of other methods. These are subtractive methods. There are also additive methods of imaging that use appliqués, decals, in-mold decoration (IMD) in-mold labeling (IML) and still further methods of working with deposition printed and direct printed products that can be referred to as leveraging or multiplier technologies like roll-to-roll processing and converting of printed materials.
The world of the industrial printer may have little to do at all with printing as the consumer normally perceives it. With a little better grasp of the range and detail of industrial printing, check out the 4th quarter SGIA journal for an overview of industrial imaging technology
Ray Greenwood, SGIA Staff
Monday, November 21st, 2011
At the end of this year, the CPSC’s stay of enforcement for the testing and certification of children’s products officially, and finally, expires. So what does that mean to the manufacturer?
First, it means that all children’s products must be tested prior to release to the marketplace. Prior to this, all products must meet both the lead and phthalate content limits, as applicable; however, testing was not a requirement. Now, before you can send your product to market, you will need to both test and certify that all limits are met. And, how does one do that?
Thankfully, the CPSC has issued a final regulation that does allow manufacturers to use component testing to confirm compliance with both the lead content as well as phthalate content issue. Caveat – the use of component testing is voluntary. What does this mean for our community – especially those producing decorated apparel? Since the textile garment itself is exempt by the CPSC, meaning that it does not need to be tested; only the ink, zippers, buttons, etc., that may be used on the garment need to be tested to meet the limit. Now, this testing can be done by the manufacturer of the component, such as the ink, or by the final product manufacturer, such as the screen printing operation. And, this is the information that must be included on the general conformity certificate showing that the product meets all CPSC required testing and safety standards.
The General Conformity Certificate – yes, there are required elements that must be included, but no there is not a required form that must be used. And, yes, it can be transmitted electronically. And, for all products manufactured after December 31st.
Now is the time to start developing your documentation, recordkeeping and other systems that you will use to both track and manage this information. I will be presenting two webinars focusing on these issues – December 7th and 8th. They are free of charge – so take a moment to register. http://www.sgia.org/training_and_education/webinars/index.cfm
Our goal is to help you both understand and comply with the requirements.
Submitted by Marci Kinter
Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Ever since wide-format digital printing came to the fore and profoundly changed our world, there has been discussion of “blur” within the industry. Specifically, it denoted a slight (and in some cases, dramatic) overlap between industries, such as when wide-format graphics producers and sign shops – not traditional competitors – suddenly became competitive because they were using similar technologies to similar ends. For the sake of this post, I would call this an example of primary industry blur, which is often based on technology used, and takes place within the confines of the broader graphic communications industry.
At the recent SGIA Expo in New Orleans, I became aware of a secondary blur in our industry, one that is most often based on materials used. One strong product area in our industry is vehicle graphics, where printed or other specialty vinyl products are applied to vehicles for pay, most commonly for commercial applications. What was amazing to me is that the same manufacturers who produce materials to support our vehicle graphics areas are also strongly invested in the automotive aftermarket industry, where the same materials are applied to vehicles for pay, most commonly for personal or decorative applications. Get it? The same materials, in many cases installed to the same types of vehicles by the same installers. Secondary blur. Similar areas of secondary blur can also be found in the interior design and décor industries, where the materials we use to enhance signs and displays are also used to create convincing, tactile faux finishes.
So the question for our industry is first, what are we going to do about it, and second, is there opportunity to be had in these areas? Can we enter the blur area and make it worth our while, or is it better to keep our focus sharp, and our efforts closer to the core? That question is like many faced by company owners across the business spectrum: How do I grow my business and diversify, and have it be the right decision for profitability and the growth of my business? If you can answer this key question, there may be additional opportunity for your company.
Submitted by: Dan Marx, SGIA
Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
With the passage of legislation to raise the debt ceiling, President Obama also authorized the creation of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also referred to as the Super Committee. Under the deal President Obama signed, the top four Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress each appointed three members to a special committee that must recommend by November 23 at least $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction through 2021. If a majority of committee members endorse a proposal, that plan is guaranteed a floor vote in both chambers by December 23 without amendment or Senate filibuster.
The reductions were to come in two steps, with $900 billion being decided upon immediately, based on spending cuts negotiated between Republicans and Democrats in the months of talks that led up to the pact. The second round of reductions is the business of the Joint Select Committee and what must be decided by November 23rd.
The stated goal of the panel — evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, the House and Senate — is to reduce the federal budget deficits by a total of at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Any recommendations it makes are to be voted on immediately by both chambers of Congress, with no filibusters or amendments allowed.
If the committee cannot agree on a plan, or if Congress does not enact its recommendations by Dec. 23, the result would be $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts — called “trigger’’ cuts — in January 2013, half of which would come from Pentagon programs. Medicaid and Medicare benefits would be exempt, although provider payments could be reduced.
The committee got underway in September. In late October, a majority of Democrats on the panel offered a proposal that built on President Obama’s previous proposal that had been rejected by Republicans during the debt ceiling talks. It would cut a total of $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion, through cuts in the growth of federal entitlement programs, including Medicare, and more than $1 trillion in new tax revenues.
The proposal, which came after weeks of silence, has virtually no chance of winning approval from Republicans on the committee, who has repeatedly said they would not accept a package that included tax increases.
Republicans responded to the Democrats’ plan with an outline of a proposal that counted on $200 billion in new revenue from economic activity the Republicans said would be generated by tax cuts — a position rejected both by Democrats and the Congressional Budget Office.
As the Committee deadline draws near, there is little sign of progress. A stalemate could lead to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts; and President Obama has stated that an extension would only be granted for households with taxable income under $250,000.
November 23rd is the key deadline. The President’s preference remains a package that contains short term stimulus measures and long term deficit reductions greater than those mandated for the committee’s consideration. Key difference: Democrats would like to see new revenues go towards deficit reductions while Republicans would like to see all go towards cutting tax rates.
Stay tuned. November 23rd is right around the corner.
Submitted by Marci Kinter
Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
For three days (October 19-21), the 2011 SGIA Expo was home to more than 16,000 imaging professionals and some of the hottest specialty imaging products in the marketplace. With a packed show floor and optimism in the air, calling this year’s Expo a “success” just doesn’t cut it.
What attendees said:
“If you are looking for new equipment, SGIA is the place to test and review the best available.”
“Best show to see all that is out there in the large-format area. Best show all year ”
“Fabulous. The SGIA Expo provides a common marketplace with a global reach, which engages the most creative minds, products and services.”
“The SGIA Expo gave me the opportunity to quickly compare equipment and products to arrive at the right purchasing decision for my company.”
In addition to innovative technologies, the SGIA Expo featured unrivaled learning and networking opportunities. With topics ranging from “the newest developments in materials for applied graphics” to “what it really means to be a marketing service provider,” educational sessions filled up fast. And on the show floor, the Expert Advice Zones demonstrated the latest equipment and techniques for every industry segment.
Attendees also enjoyed the Thursday Night Awards Party, where they gathered on the balcony of the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel for drinks, dinner and industry recognition.
If you missed this year’s Expo, get ready for Las Vegas! Sign up now to be notified about the 2012 SGIA Expo, (Las Vegas, October 18–20).