Coldset Web Offset — No Heat, No Sweat


Aretha Franklin herself would have a tough time drumming up a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the coldset web offset press.

While its heatset counterpart struts on by, wearing UV Ray Bans and leading the way as the prime choice for high-end, multi-color commercial work, the dryer-less stepchild ekes out a living churning out newspapers, direct mailers, promotional graphics and other types of printed communications, primarily on uncoated stocks.

Even manufacturers and distributors of open-web presses believe the market for this type of machine has been declining in recent years, but it remains a viable, strong option in several print communications segments. Like the forecasted print demise by some doomsayers, the obsolescence of coldset is unlikely.

Why, given all the tech advances currently enjoyed on the heatset side? Let’s not kid ourselves—for many clients of b&w and color work, maintaining the bottom line is foremost and essential. Also, in certain segments, coldset is still the better mousetrap and has enjoyed some improvements recently. Local niche markets: retail and food stores, small businesses and the like, are still well (read: better) served through coldset. Still, the coldset press will need to find new advantages to remain competitive with its heatset amigo.

In the book segment, for example, coldset reigns supreme. Ken DeVito, president of Timson’s Inc., challenges manufacturers to come out with faster drying inks. In the book arena, dryerless printing makes for a more aesthetically appealing product. Dryers can produce subtle waves in books.

“Many presses today that are running heatset can run coldset jobs, but they [printers] seem to be afraid,” DeVito remarks. “I think it’s an education factor.”

In many instances, coldset has kept pace by sleeping with the enemy. Barb Gora, marketing vice president for Goss Graphic Systems, points out that when coldset presses are “optioned up” in feature levels to include heatset characteristics, the presses can produce either heatset or coldset.

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