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American Printing -- Proof Is in the Match

November 2004
By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

When it comes to auditioning ink, Shawn Welch is no Simon Cowell. Welch, vice president of operations for Madison, WI-based American Printing, doesn't have the same itchy trigger finger displayed by the now-infamous "American Idol" judge. In fact, Welch loves to take a long, hard look at the results on-press, anywhere from two to six weeks.

It behooved Welch to be methodical in choosing his primary ink supplier. Aside from some UV printing, the ink that emerged victorious from Welch's screening would pretty much cover all of American Printing's big press printing jobs.

American Printing is a sheetfed-only printer with 75 employees and annual sales in the $12 million range. It serves the southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois markets with annual reports, art prints, point-of-purchase materials and various products for the manufacturing sector. The company produces a great deal of agency-related work.

"It took months of testing (to make a determination)," he says. "We wanted to give everyone an equal shot, so we ran each ink a solid month, anywhere up to five weeks. Sometimes we'd go back to something we'd already tried and get a second opinion on it. But over a period of several weeks, we got the opportunity to run it on all types of jobs."

When all the inks had dried, Welch found a perfect match with Van Son Holland Ink and its VS5 line, which was rolled out earlier this year by the Islandia, NY-based manufacturer. The VS5 line was chosen from a field of four manufacturers.

Not a Perfect Start

American Printing has been using the VS5 formula for roughly 10 months, and Welch notes there haven't been any performance issues. That wasn't always the case.

"We were having some issues before, but the VS5 allowed us to print sharper, match proofs more consistently, and gave us less scuffing and drying problems in the finishing area," Welch notes. "Our percentage of times that we're having an exact match to proof is far greater because of the sharper printing and reduced dot gain.

"Our press operators definitely have noticed a difference, and the setting time has certainly been reduced. So far, we really like it."

The VS5 formula is part of a coming out party in the U.S. market for Van Son Holland Ink, which previously only distributed products for smaller format and duplicator presses. In debuting in the medium- and large-format sheetfed offset markets, the company unveiled a program through which it funnels sales and service of the ink through selected U.S. regional ink companies.

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