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Market Trends

Paper Horizons

Although the paper market has come under pressure in recent months due to an increase in prices, Rob Fletcher discovers that there is still plenty to be positive about

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Fedrigoni has seen its speciality papers used in a wide range of creative projects

Paper power

Regular readers of Print Monthly will be all too aware of the issues that currently face the paper market in terms of higher prices. Mitsubishi Hi Tec Paper recently became one of the latest firms to increase its prices, with the cost of deliveries to rise between 6 and 8 percent from June 1st.
However, as reported in the magazine, Mitsubishi Hi Tec is not alone and follows a number of other suppliers that have taken a similar approach. Spanish paper manufacturer J. Vilaseca recently put its prices up by £45 per metric ton, citing a “continuous increase in the price of cellulose, energy and other raw materials, exacerbated by excess demand” as the reason behind the move.

Smurfit Kappa, The Navigator Company, Arjowiggins Graphic, Arctic Paper, Asia Pulp and Paper, International Paper, and Stora Enso are also among those to have increased prices in recent times, as the market faces pressure. However, despite ongoing concerns over rising costs, there is a lot to be excited about in the paper market. Manufacturers and suppliers are continuing to push for greater quality in products, and a number of innovative solutions have come to market, bringing with them opportunities for new types of work.

Invest in quality

Antalis is regarded as one of the leading paper manufacturers in the market and has a whole host of products on offer. James Jarvis, channel director for print and visual communications, says it is critical for print service providers (PSPs) to use quality papers in production in order to achieve a high level of output.

Jarvis adds that the dangers of using lower quality products could lead to poorer output, which in turn could mean customers go elsewhere.

James Jarvis  of Antalis urges PSPs to invest in and use quality papers to avoid losing work to competitors 

“With an abundance of printers all vying for new business, a quality service is a given standard,” Jarvis says, adding: “Fall short of this by churning out jobs on cheap papers, and your clients will likely move to a rival printer the next time. 

“Printers are telling us that, if you want to stand out from the crowd and retain your clients’ business time and time again, it’s imperative that you use high quality papers and produce stand-out quality print. Increasingly, printers are opting for creative and specialty papers that offer eye-catching effects such as translucents and metallics.  So you need to do the same.”

Jarvis continues: “The other danger of using cheap papers is that each job can take longer and cost you more. It’s important to remember that, whilst you’re paying less for the paper itself, you may well be paying a high price elsewhere due to machinery issues caused by the paper’s poor runnability—for example, in increased make-ready, downtime and maintenance costs.”

With this in mind, Jarvis picks up on Antalis product Claro Silk, a high bulk paper he says offers “excellent runnability”, which in turn will boost press speeds, and reduce machine hours and overall job costs. Jarvis comments: “In a tight market, this can make the difference between making a profit or not, or giving enough of an edge to win the job in the first place.”

Jarvis goes on to say that with the digital print market experiencing such a high level of growth, Antalis has responded by launching digital versions of its range of Arjowiggins Creative Papers. The Arjowiggins Digital portfolio features well-known brands such as Conqueror, Curious Collection, Keaykolour, Rives and Pop’Set.

Available from Antalis, the new Arjowiggins Digital range features brands from the Arjowiggins Creative Papers portfolio

This extended range is compatible with the latest liquid and dry toner printing technologies and consists of just under 170 products, each of which is available in a host of weights, sizes, colours, textures, and finishes. In addition, it features Mohawk’s exclusive i-Tone technology, which Jarvis says is renowned for its “impressive, consistent, high fidelity print quality and extremely quick drying time”—thus ensuring cutting-edge digital printing presses work seamlessly with the papers without compromise.

Conqueror Connoisseur 100 percent Cotton from comes from Arjowiggins’ digital portfolio

Jarvis adds: “Already, we’ve seen these papers used for all manner of creative applications, from stationery, publishing and promotional collateral, to gift cards and photography—as well as folding cartons, gift bags and hang tags for the growing packaging sector.”

Responding to demand

Arjowiggins Graphic is also able to offer customers a number of other options in terms of heat transfer papers. The company used the recent FESPA 2017 event in Hamburg, Germany to launch one of its latest solutions to the market in the form of Digi Peel HD.

Billed by the firm as a “superior digital and screen paper”, the product offers full-colour printing on all textiles, including coloured, white, and even fragile fabrics. Visitors at FESPA 2017 in May were able to see the new paper being printed on a Ricoh Pro TM C7110X digital colour cut sheet press.

In a statement, Arjowiggins says: “This new range brings flexibility to industrial printers with the ability to transfer offset quality printing, which saves time and provides limitless possibilities. Printers are able to switch colours, produce perfect colour reproduction and mix variable data into the design, with screen printing through plastisol or water-based backing guaranteeing perfect ‘stretchability’ and washing resistance.”

Arjowiggins also used FESPA 2017 to show various other products, suitable for screen, offset, and digital printing. Among the other papers on display was T105, which Arjowiggins describes as the “perfect paper” for screen and offset printing, while X90 and HS 90 are designed, respectively, for hot peel/hot split transfers.

Fabienne Cocheteau, specialities marketing manager at Arjowiggins, comments: “Arjowiggins has been market leader for over 40 years, with papers for both cold peel and hot split/peel heat transfers available worldwide.

The new paper has been designed to offer large and small printers the quality and flexibility the
textile market requires

“Today, Arjowiggins, is one of the only European manufacturers able to offer a digital solution for the textile heat transfer market. The new paper has been designed to offer large and small printers the quality and flexibility the textile market requires.”

How does it feel?

Another respected paper manufacturer is Italian-headquartered Fedrigoni. The firm offers a wide range of products, including special papers suited to certain types of work. Chiara Mediol, marketing director at Fedrigoni, says that while the look of printed work is ultimately the main goal for printers, how the finished product feels is also of paramount importance.

Chiara Mediol, marketing director at Fedrigoni, says that paper needs to feel good as well as look the part

Mediol explains: “We tend to invest all our efforts in giving a satisfactory and engaging visual experience, and reproducing images or bright colours on coated papers certainly does a good job for this purpose. But the sense of touch is very important, so special papers play a big role here: a box or a publication made on an unusual paper, with a subtle felt-marking, a natural hue, a haptic effect can get the job a vital extra mile.

“It is through the neural connection of hand and brain that often an action or purchase decision is triggered. I see the object, I take it in my hands, and if the whole thing clicks together, I purchase, read, or take action.”

Drawing attention to the many papers on offer from Fedrigoni, Mediol focuses on a new product that launched at D-Scoop in Lyon, France. Touch Class, the latest addition to the Soho range, is available in two finishes: nature-smooth and Tintoretto-felt marked.

Billed as the only uncoated paper on the market that can be treated on Scodix machines for digital hot-foiling and UV relief effects, Mediol says it is particularly suitable for the restaurant market, given its properties of resistance to grease and fingerprints. Mediol says this in turn makes lamination obsolete.
Also new from Fedrigoni are four new shades of its Sirio smooth coloured paper, as Mediol explains: “This is the best performing coloured range in the market for tone stability and smoothness, three of which are neutral tones such as Nude, Cashmere, Antracite (a grey) and one is Iris, a vibrant Klein blue.”

Mediol adds: “We encourage people to come and see and touch the papers in our London Showroom, Fedrigoni Imaginative Studio, in the heart of Clerkenwell, or request samples or a visit from our team for their jobs. Papers can be chosen only in your hands, so my written words here are only useful as an invitation.”

Fedrigoni offers a wide range of speciality papers to the market, enabling print companies to take on work that requires a certain type of finish

For those outside of the industry looking in, it is easy to think there is only so much that can be done with papers; after all, it is only paper. However, for those in the know, they realise how important it is for papers to develop alongside other technologies so that print companies can continue to produce quality, good looking work.

O Factoid: Paper-making is believed to have been invented in 105 A.D. in China. O

But as Mediol of Fedrigoni says, it is not all about how a product looks, but also how it feels. How often do we hear people say they love the ‘feel’ of a printed product like a new book? Paper plays a major role in this and it is up to the print company to ensure they invest in quality so as to achieve the desired results.

Mediol concludes: “Visually, a cheap paper looks what it is: cheap. Then there are technical issues one must look out for: a cheap paper may not have a perfectly orthogonal squaring/cut and jam a digital printing machine. It may not have the right degree of humidity, it may have a cloudy sheet formation, or some specks detaching from the surface if it has been coated in a hurry.

“Then there is service: the paper may be cheap, but how quickly is it available? If I order another batch in a few weeks, or months, or next year, is the hue going to be consistent?

“If one has a limited budget it is better to give it to a supplier whom you can trust.  Going cheap can be really expensive, further down the road.”

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