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Gravure vs. Web-offset!: a changing world in publication printing 1986-2006
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Numerical Analysis and Computer Science, NADA.
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The European publication printing industry and its markets have undergone profound structural changes between 1986 and 2006. This thesis is an investigation of these changes and of how the publication industry has been affected, as well as of the balance between publication gravure and commercial heat-set web-offset. The publication printing market has grown substantially during 1986-2006, and the increase in volume is about 250%, from 5 million tons to 13 million tons of paper. In 1986, gravure was the dominating publication printing technique. Since 1986, however, web-offset printing has grown substantially, and the process has today a much larger market share of the European publication market. This domination is also reflected in the investments in new printing capacity since 2000, where 70-75% has gone to commercial heat-set web-offset press manufacturers.

This thesis focuses on the reasons why the balance between the two competing publication printing techniques, gravure and web-offset, changed between 1986 and 2006. It also studies the main driving forces determining the developments of these techniques and their related processes as well as their competitive strengths. Is gravure a printing process suitable only for very large runs, for huge volumes and for large markets? The changes in the European media market have affected the two major segments of the publication market; magazine and catalogue printing. In the magazine market, print runs in the segments of medium to large titles have decreased, and catalogues have changed from a single, thick catalogue to thinner; more targeted catalogues.

This thesis is based on two studies. The first, focused on the market requirements and techno-economical comparisons of gravure and web-offset in 1985-1986, was carried out by the author as the Secretary General of the European Rotogravure Association (ERA), and the second, in 2005-2006, has investigated the present situation on the European publication markets. The methodologies used in the investigations have been questionnaires (the originals 1985-86 have also been used in 2005-2006), surveys, literature studies and a substantial number of interviews with representatives of print buyers (publishers and catalogue producers), printers and all the major suppliers to the industry.

Given these changes, how can the competitiveness of publication gravure be improved and what strategies should a publication gravure printer use in order to survive in a very competitive European market? With shorter runs in very fast running gravure presses, the turn-around time in the cylinder-engraving department becomes very critical. A Double Ender gravure press for paginations from 16-64 pages, with an alternative up to 96 pages, where only four cylinders are needed, in combination with high-speed laser engraving of the cylinders, may be the answer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2007. , viii, 134 p.
Series
Trita-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2007:4
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4394ISBN: 978-91-7178-641-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-4394DiVA: diva2:12114
Public defence
2007-06-05, Sal F3, KTH, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100629Available from: 2007-05-28 Created: 2007-05-28 Last updated: 2012-03-19Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Converging technologies in prepress from 1980 to 2003
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Converging technologies in prepress from 1980 to 2003
2005 (English)In: Proceedings of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA, 2005, 238-257 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The author suggests that there have been three paradigm shifts during the 20th century. The first shift was at the turn of the 19th and 20 th century, when the first modern typesetting technology was introduced. The new technology, the first major step since the invention of loose types by Gutenberg in the 16th century, became the most important contribution to mass market circulation of newspapers, magazines, textbooks, books and other publications during the years to come. A supervening social necessity of change was urgent, and there was no suppression from competing technologies. Previously newspapers were very thin, because the manual typesetting, which was slow and expensive, made it impossible to produce more than a few pages every day. Books and textbooks were expensive to produce, and only a minority of the population could afford to buy them. With the new technology textbooks became available for large circulations, which together with school reforms in most civilized countries quickly spread knowledge and information among their citizens. The line casting technology was more or less unchanged during the major part of the 20th century, and only a few technical changes, such as the introduction of punched paper tapes after WW II, improved the productivity. A major concern for quality was the excessive wear of the brass matrix, which made frequent and expensive maintenance necessary. In the beginning of the 1950's many attempts were made to replace the hot metals with other methods such as phototypesetting. The first attempts were more like an emulation of the line casting machines, but soon other technologies were introduced. A major step forward came when the first affordable computers were introduced on the market, such as the PDP-8 from DEC in 1964 and later the PDP-11 in 1970. Again the supervening necessity was created because the competition among publishers was extremely hard. But now there were many forces who wanted to suppress the new technology. The major force was the traditionally very strong labour unions, in particular organizing the labour in newspaper production on Fleet Street but also in Sweden and Denmark. Their influence started to diminish during the second paradigm shift and was more or less completely over a decade later. With the entrance of computerized composition systems for newspaper and other publishers the first step towards the second paradigm shift was taken. The shift was the transfer from all analogue technology in producing text (as hot metal), line works and images to a digital technology. Colour separations made by electronic drum scanners became a standard procedure during the 1970's. A major breakthrough occurred when Scitex Corp. showed the first colour page make up system (CEPS) - the Response system, which was quickly followed by other major suppliers - Dr Hell and Crosfield Electronics, both leading suppliers of digital drum scanners. The graphic art industry went digital. A supervening necessity evolved during the end of the 1980's when publishers were looking for cheaper production methods. The systems of the major suppliers were extremely expensive, and yet there was no simple technique available of exchanging digital information between different systems. The law of suppression held up the introduction of the third paradigm shift, but the Apple Mac and Adobe PostScript slowly became the major technologies in the digital age of publishing. To-day, Apple is still in the market, small but influential in the publishing world, but Adobe - the inventor of PostScript and PDF technology - is the new giant on the world market. Never before has a company had such a position in the graphic art industry. Previously, many customers were complaining about the lack of competition and industry standards in the front-end market. Now, however, Adobe has created a de facto world standard with the PDF-process, which is also backed by the ISO. A new monopoly in the front-end technology has been created by default. Never before has one single company been in a similar position in the graphic art industry. This is like falling from the frying pan into the fire! Many observers - mostly those outside the graphic art industry - believe that the next paradigm shift is imminent. The Internet might be the first paradigm shift in 21st century. The web may have a great impact on the graphic art industry, but this has yet to be proven.

Keyword
Analogue, Colour Scanner, Composition, Computer, Desktop, Digital, Paradigm, Postscript, Prepress, Typesetting
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13800 (URN)2-s2.0-33845444541 (Scopus ID)
Conference
57th Annual Technical Conference of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA 2005, Rochester
Note
QC 20100629Available from: 2010-06-29 Created: 2010-06-29 Last updated: 2010-11-24Bibliographically approved
2. Power in the media - Robert Maxwell - a study of power in leadership
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Power in the media - Robert Maxwell - a study of power in leadership
2006 (English)In: Leadership in the media industry: changing contexts, emerging challenges / [ed] Lucy Küng, Jönköping: Media Management and Transformation Centre, Jönköping International Business School , 2006, 179-185 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: Media Management and Transformation Centre, Jönköping International Business School, 2006
Series
JIBS research reports, ISSN 1403-0462 ; 2006:1
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13803 (URN)
Note
QC 20100629Available from: 2010-06-29 Created: 2010-06-29 Last updated: 2010-11-24Bibliographically approved
3. Benchmarking gravure cylinders vs. web-offset plates
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Benchmarking gravure cylinders vs. web-offset plates
2005 (English)In: ADVANCES IN PRINTING AND MEDIA TECHNOLOGY, VOL 32 - DIGITALISATION AND PRINT MEDIA, Stockholm: KTH , 2005, 71-89 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper deals with an important part of a forthcoming Survey of the European Publication Printing Industry - and highlights the developments in recent years of the processing costs of producing either offset plates or gravure cylinders. In 1985-1986, one of the most comprehensive studies of the publication printing industry was carried out by the European Rotogravure Association in Munich. This study was the first of its kind and a comparable study has, to author's knowledge, never been compiled. The objective of the present paper is to determine what factors are important when the choice of a particular printing method is made, and if this process was fundamentally different in 1985 than to-day. The hypothesis is that there were some determining factors in 1985 such as the economic consequences (processing costs and market prices), the speed (lead-time) and finally the quality of the printing process to be chosen. In order to make the two studies comparable a statistical analysis of various European macro economic indices has been used, and now 20 year later the first follow-up study is now available.

With an abundant number of players marketing and selling CTP-solutions, there is a tremendous competition in the world market. Hence, most industry observers have the opinion (or belief) that producing web-offset plate's to-day is much cheaper and easier than processing gravure cylinders. The gravure cylinder processes are still considered to be very expensive, cumbersome and old fashioned to the great disadvantage of the gravure printing process. What is often forgotten is that the recent web-offset plate technology is in fact emulating the much earlier developed gravure technology, going directly from the digital file to the image carrier. The big difference is that modem PC and networking technology has made the direct digital interfaces very much cheaper for the gravure printing industry than it was 20 years ago for the first pioneers, and the reliability of the engraving process has reached a level where gravure proofs are no longer necessary.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2005
Series
Advances in printing and media technology, 32
Keyword
Gravure cylinder processing; Computer to Plate (CTP) Technology; web-offset-plates; Electro-mechanical engraving; Direct digital engraving
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13804 (URN)000267123700008 ()978-953-7292-01-0 (ISBN)
Conference
32nd International Research Conference of the International-Association-of-Research-Organisations-for-the-Information-Media-and-Graphic-Arts-Industries, Porvoo, Finland, Sep 04-07, 2005
Note
QC 20100629Available from: 2010-06-29 Created: 2010-06-29 Last updated: 2011-10-13Bibliographically approved
4. Market conditions for European publication printing: a twenty year survey 1985-2005
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Market conditions for European publication printing: a twenty year survey 1985-2005
2006 (English)In: Proceedings of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA, Rochester: TAGA , 2006, 24-42 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper deals with an important part of an ongoing survey of the European Publication Printing Industry - and highlights the present market conditions and product specifications in relation to the conditions which prevailed twenty years ago. In 1985-86, one of the most comprehensive studies of the publication printing industry was carried out by the European Rotogravure Association in Munich. This study was the first of its kind, and no comparable study has, to the author's knowledge, ever been reported. The objective of the present paper is to determine what factors are important when the choice of a particular printing method is made, and to consider whether this process was fundamentally different in 1985 than it is today. The hypothesis now being formulated is that the determining factors in 1985 were the economy of scale, the speed (lead-time) and finally the quality of the printing process to be chosen. In order to make the two studies comparable, the same questionnaire has been used today as twenty years ago, with only one minor amendment concerning what digital format that present customers prefer. In the present investigation, a qualitative approach has complemented the quantitative study, and most questionnaires have been answered during rather extensive personal interviews. The recent investigation includes in-depth interviews with the leading managers in various sectors in the industry, and this time not only printers but also the most important suppliers - printing press manufacturers, paper and ink manufacturers, plate processing equipment suppliers, cylinder processing equipment manufacturers and other important contributors to the printing process, were interrogated. This approach has also given the author the possibility of explaining some of the issues in greater detail, and this will give the reader a deeper understanding of the current European market situation. The extremely fast progress of digital technology in the 1990's had a great impact on the printing industry, particularly in the prepress area. New and affordable software packages for editorial and image manipulation were quickly accepted by the printing industry, and within a short time the previous analogue technology was abandoned. During the recent interviews, it became clear that most prepress work is now done outside the printing companies (outsourced). Even the integrated publisher/printer prepress work has moved from the printing to the publishing division. These new techniques created a dramatic change from the way in which the industry had previously worked. Suddenly, the customer gained complete control of the work flow, mostly based on PDF technology (a subset of Postscript) and of the prepress work, previously created and controlled by the printing industry. Digital advertising materials are today centrally produced according to the new ISO standards for publication printing (gravure or weboffset). Larger multi-European campaigns can be produced by one agency, whilst the different language versions are later distributed via the Internet. This paper shows that the changes in the market conditions and product requirements have been dramatic in Europe during the last 20 years, and that further changes are about to happen. These new developments in both prepress and press for web-offset have put the gravure industry under immense pressure, and it has become very clear during the interviews that the mid-size gravure concept has fallen between two stools. Most efforts have gone into the development of the super-wide presses, today 3.8 m or wider, whilst little effort has been put into the lower end of the market. A new approach to defend the mid-size markets in Europe may be needed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Rochester: TAGA, 2006
Keyword
Commercial web-offset; Gravure cylinders; International markets; Plate-making; Press proof; Publication gravure printing; Quality
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13805 (URN)2-s2.0-33847362630 (Scopus ID)
Conference
58th Annual Technical Conference of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA 2006; Vancouver, BC; 19 March 2006 through 21 March 2006
Note
QC 20100629Available from: 2010-06-29 Created: 2010-06-29 Last updated: 2010-06-29Bibliographically approved
5. Compensation by black: a new separation?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Compensation by black: a new separation?
2006 (English)In: TAGA 2006, 2006, 193-217 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper is to examine the differences between UCR (Under Color Removal) and GCR (Gray Component Replacement) by testing these separation functions in three applications: Adobe Photoshop CS (an image editing application), Gretag Macbeth's Profile Maker 5.0 (profile maker), and Heidelberg's Print Open 4.0.5 (profile maker). A review of the literature pertaining to the different types of separation was made and compiled. An Internet search was also made to check what a prepress employee would find out if he or she was to search for a definition of one of these types of separation. The conclusions of the tests made suggest two alternative proposals and indicate a need to either: 1) Discard the term UCR and use only GCR, as it really only concerns gray component replacement. This would make it easier for people in the business to focus on the process itself instead of trying to understand the difference between the two types of separations, a difference which actually cannot be seen visualy in reality. 2) Discard both terms and introduce a new term CB (Compensation by Black). The software should give the user the possibility of choosing how much black will be used and where it will replace the use of a combination of the CMY process colors. In addition, a single term would make the user more aware of the problems of separation and of how separation will affect the print result. The suggestions imply an extensive review of accepted terms and abbreviations within the graphic arts industry with the aim of giving them a uniform scientific meaning and definition. Thus, it is strongly recommended that the term, CB (Compensation by Black) should be implemented.

Keyword
Compensation; GCR; Separation; UCR
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-6576 (URN)
Conference
58th Annual Technical Conference of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA 2006; Vancouver, BC; 19 March 2006 through 21 March 2006
Note
QC 20100617Available from: 2006-12-12 Created: 2006-12-12 Last updated: 2010-06-29Bibliographically approved
6. Break-even analyses gravure vs. web-offset: a new approach!
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Break-even analyses gravure vs. web-offset: a new approach!
2007 (English)In: Advances in printing and media technology, xxxiii / [ed] Enlund N; Lovrecek M, Stockholm: KTH , 2007, 55-73 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The objective of this paper is to determine what factors are important when a particular printing method is chosen. In 1985-86, a study of the European publication printing industry was carried out by the European Rotogravure Association (ERA) in Munich, and contemporary industry leaders considered that Study to be one of the most comprehensive ever made in the publication printing industry. This paper deals with an important part of an ongoing survey of the European Publication Printing Industry - and highlights the development in recent years of the break-even level between gravure and commercial web-offset printing. These studies were the first of their kind and comparable studies have, to the author's knowledge, never been reported.

In 1996, the Summary showed that commercial web-offset printing was very competitive when printing signatures with 16 or 32 pages, and that gravure printing was very competitive from 48 pages signatures upwards, even though the manufacturing costs in the bindery for gathering together a number of smaller signatures in web-offset were not included. Further, the data collected also showed that for those gravure printers who were engraving cylinders directly from digital data Without having to proof the cylinders, the break-even level even for a 32 page signature became very competitive.

About 15 years ago, some commercial web-offset press manufacturers were redesigning the commercial web-offset press, and the Sunday press concept was launched by Harris (later taken over by Heidelberg, now Goss) in 1993/94. Within a few years, a completely new breed of commercial presses was presented for the publication printing markets; not only the traditional 16-32 pages (in short grain), but also larger and wider presses capable of printing 48 to 64 pages oil a single web. There was not only ail increase in the signature pagination but also a significant leap in web speed. Automation of plate processing (CTP-technology), plate Mounting and other press variables led to a sharp increase in productivity and print quality. Web-speed and productivity in web-offset became close to or in sonic instances even higher than in gravure printing. Recently, some indicators have shown that during the last decade gravure has lost its previous market dominance to web-offset printing, and recent investments in new printing capacity in commercial web-offset have outnumbered gravure by 4:1.

These recent developments made it clear that a new survey comparing printing costs, lead-time and quality for printing was needed. During 2005/2006, interviews have been conducted with a Substantial number of printers - both gravure and web-offset printers - using the same kind of Questionnaire as in 1985-86. Data from internationally renowned printers using gravure and/or commercial web-offset have been collected and analyzed in order to determine the relevant break-even level. A similar non-disclosure agreement as in 1985 has been used to ensure that confidential data will not be disclosed, and that it will not be possible to identify any single printer. For the first time, a scientific methodology has been used to compare the printing costs of a few well-defined signatures.

In 1986, the following hypotheses were formulated concerning the important and decisive factors of a customer's choice:

the economy (printing costs and market pricing),

the required lead-time (process speed and productivity),

the market requirements of the product (format and print quality).

In 2006, the hypotheses have been adapted to the present market situation (chapter 3).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2007
Series
Trita-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723
Keyword
Automatic make-ready; break-even; commercial web-offset printing; long grain printing; publication gravure printing; short grain printing; short runs in gravure
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13807 (URN)000267935100007 ()978-953-7292-03-4 (ISBN)
Conference
33rd International Research Conference of Iarigai/International-Association-of-Research-Organization-for-the-Information-Media-and-Graphic-Arts-Industries Leipzig, Germany, Sep, 2006
Note
QC 20100629Available from: 2010-06-29 Created: 2010-06-29 Last updated: 2011-03-14Bibliographically approved
7. Is there a future for the European publication printing industry?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Is there a future for the European publication printing industry?
2007 (English)In: Proceedings of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA, 2007, 1-37 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper deals with a survey of the European Publication Printing Industry - and it highlights the potential development of future markets and some of the techno-economical factors which are important to the industry. Previous research has indicated that the cost of producing signatures in either gravure or commercial web-offset have been reduced by 65-70% over the last 20 years. Nevertheless, it is believed that most of the economic benefit of lower costs has not remained within the printing industry, but has been transferred to the customers. It has been a buyers' market during the last decade. The extremely fast progress of digital technology since the middle of the 1990's has had a great impact on the publication printing industry, not only in gravure but in particular in web-offset. New and affordable software packages for editorial and image manipulation were quickly accepted, and within a short time the previous analogue technology was abandoned. These new techniques led to a dramatic change from the way in which the industry had previously worked, and the customer gained complete control of the work flow. Since the autumn of 2006 until January 2007, a series of in-depth interviews were conducted with top managers in the industry, both customers and suppliers to the industry. A scientific methodology has been used to evaluate the responses, and those have been discussed during extensive personal interviews. The investigation includes interviews not only with the leading managers from the customer to the industry, but also some of the most important suppliers - printing press manufacturers, paper and ink manufacturers, plate and cylinder processing equipment suppliers, and other important contributors to the printing process. This approach makes it possible for the author to explain some of the issues in greater detail and to give the reader a deeper understanding of the current and future European market situation. Are there new technologies to be seen in the near future which will have a strong impact on the structure of the industry? The findings indicate that those publication printers working in the segment of catalogue printing may find the market becoming increasingly difficult. Many of the major catalogue producers are changing their marketing focus from catalogue to E-commerce, which means that today's few but very thick products will probably be replaced by thinner but more frequent issues. The total volume of print will also be affected. Those printers working in the magazine market will also see major differences in the near future. Despite the fact that publishers are increasing the number of titles, the total volume is not expected to increase. The print runs will be more fragmented, and split editions aimed at targeted groups of readers will increase. This means a threat to very large gravure printers, because the newly installed superwide presses may not be sufficiently flexible. This paper shows that the changes in market conditions and product requirements have been dramatic in Europe during the last 20 years, and that further changes are about to take place.

Keyword
Catalogues; Commercial web-offset printing; CTP-technology; Gravure cylinders; Magazines and periodical products; Market segmentation; Prepress operations; Publication gravure printing; Publishing markets
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13809 (URN)2-s2.0-52349085322 (Scopus ID)
Conference
59th Annual Technical Conference on Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA; Pittsburgh, PA; 18 March 2007 through 21 March 2007
Note
QC 20100629Available from: 2010-06-29 Created: 2010-06-29 Last updated: 2010-06-29Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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