The product of a merger of Esko-Graphics and Artwork Systems in August 2007, EskoArtwork employs more then 1000 people worldwide including over 100 in the Asia Pacific region. Headquartered in Ghent, Belgium, EskoArtwork is owned by Danish private equity investment company, Axcel A/S and senior management. The company has R&D and manufacturing facilities in Belgium, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, the Czech Republic and the United States.Its global sales and support organisation covers Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and Japan and is completed by a network of distribution partners in more than 40 countries.
EskoArtwork’s regional headquarters is located in Singapore and headed up by vice president, Jean-Pierre De Moor. Locally, EskoArtwork Oceania serves Australian and New Zealand customers and is based in Melbourne, with Peter Henderson general manager.
The merger that brought two of the printing, packaging and graphic communications’ industry’s most respected workflow and prepress vendors together is the most recent link in a chain of successive mergers of ‘clever’ and iconic Belgian and Danish prepress technology companies, among them Barco, Purup, Eskofot and Enfocus.
A combination of solid financial backing with proven and successful productivity enabling technologies, has placed EskoArtwork in a very strong position to both head off competitors and to supply its customers with powerful tools which add value to their businesses at a time of great and constant change in the printing market space specifically and in business generally.
The meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, presented the first opportunity for senior EskoArtwork people led by CEO, Carsten Knudsen and chief commercial officer, Guido Van der Schueren to present the new organisation and its expanded product portfolio in the region.
A global supplier and integrator of innovative solutions for packaging, commercial printing and professional publishing, EskoArtwork develops, supplies and services products and offers services which enable customers to increase productivity, reduce time-to-market, lower their costs and expand their businesses.
Knudsen says that whilst his company is already the worldwide market leader in supplying and supporting pre-production and collaboration software for packaging buyers, designers and manufacturers, it now intends to become a leading solutions integrator to the commercial printing value chain.
EskoArtwork’s portfolio of software products integrates graphic, structural and process management functions for packaging, label, sign and display applications and Van der Schueren says it will now apply technology developed for packaging towards professional workflow in the commercial print market.
According to Knudsen, 80 per cent of the professional pre-production software market is dedicated to commercial printing and EskoArtwork will increase its focus on this segment – largely a market for replacements and upgrades – which is estimated to be growing at up to 5 per cent each year.
On the other hand, the packaging segment in which EskoArtwork is dominant, is said to be growing at between 5 and 15 per cent each year.
In packaging hardware, EskoArtwork’s CDI computer-to-plate imager developed in partnership with DuPont, is legendary and, it says, offers the highest quality and productivity for digital flexo platemaking.
Its packaging hardware portfolio is rounded out with the Kongsberg range of flexible cutting and creasing and short-run converting tables, which are also used in the dynamic and rapidly growing sign and display industries, the latter being a particular development focus for EskoArtwork which will demonstrate its competence in the field at FESPA Digital this April.
The adoption of flatbed digital printing in the sign, display and POP sectors has dynamically expanded creative design possibilities and placed a greater emphasis on digital finishing solutions.
EskoArtwork’s Kongsberg i-XL series complements digital printing of signs and displays by delivering a unique finishing solution for the widest range of materials (including plywood, acrylics, polycarbonates, Dibond, rigid PVC, wood, corrugated cardboard and high pressure laminates), providing automation, high productivity and outstanding precision.
Among the solutions to be demonstrated at FESPA DIgital on stand K70, EskoArtwork will present SignUp, a nesting workflow application for digital sign production. Recognising that competition among sign and display businesses is intense and companies need ways to reduce costs to increase margins, the company has built on its expertise in layout technology for packaging printing to develop SignUp.
This program efficiently matches graphic designs with the available substrate, nesting jobs based on size, shape and ordered quantities, placing designs as tightly as possible onto the substrate, minimising waste and, thus, reducing production costs.
It also reduces preparation times dramatically for operator-intensive tiling jobs, particularly for specially shaped large format displays and substrates that require milling. It fully automates the digital printing and the finishing by reading the printed barcodes with the camera on the finishing device.
More smart thinking
MUCH of EskoArtwork’s success can be attributed to the application of software solutions to make old jobs simple.
A powerful example is Visualizer, software written to more seamlessly create and share realistic on-screen mock-ups and soft proofs of complex packaging and label designs with high-value special finishing effects.
Part of the Studio suite of software tools, Visualizer can even show how packages and labeled products will look when handled and moved as well as the effects of a variety of in-store lighting environments and backgrounds.
Visualizer users can save money by making and delivering fewer mock-ups and comps and because mock-ups can be shared instantly by email or web, much less time is needed to move through the design and production cycle.
EskoArtwork says Visualizer will be a valuable tool not only for CAD users but also label printers and converters, design agencies and brand owners in their production and marketing efforts. This is typical of EskoArtwork’s ongoing commitment to cutting-edge product research and development in response to or anticipation of market demands.
The company’s development of smart technologies such as 3D imaging which can be rendered in an Adobe PDF and its Braille emboss/deboss ‘ink’ emulation as an Adobe Illustrator plug-in are further examples of just how serious it takes its role as a leading global supplier and integrator of solutions for packaging, commercial printing and professional publishing. Readers will be able to see more EskoArtwork innovation on Stand A23 in Hall 8b at drupa 2008.
Commenting about the fast and seamless integration of Esko Graphics and Artwork Systems, Knudsen says that “the two companies, the ideas and the people were a perfect fit. Based as we were both in the same town, coming together felt like a school reunion.”