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COLOR DIGITAL PRESSES--Decisions, Decisions . . .

February 2001
Now there is a color digital production press to suit every printer's desire. Is it time to throw your hat in the ring?


BY CAROLINE MILLER


Color digital press manufacturers are setting their sights on the commercial printer. No longer is digital printing just for the on-demand and quick printing market segments; it has finally matured to the point where commercial printers can begin to seriously consider integrating these output devices into their business strategy. Today, digital presses offer print quality that is close to offset quality. The mix of improved quality, coupled with quick turnaround, speed and flexibility, is a recipe that digital press manufacturers are betting on as the industry heads into 2001.

But it's not just manufacturers who are wagering on the impact that color digital printing will have on the graphic arts industry in 2001. An NAPL "State of the Industry Study" found that 46 percent of the printers polled expect that digital printing will be the fastest growing market over the next two years.

Similarly, almost 40 percent of those polled said that if they could add one new product or service in the next two years, digital printing capabilities would be their top choice.

The move into digital printing can be a profitable one for commercial printers. A CAP Ventures study concluded that DI users have a gross profit margin of 42 percent, on average, when compared to the industry average of 29 percent.

As the commercial printing industry begins to migrate toward digital printing, vendors have responded by creating color digital presses to suit every need. Whether you are looking at entering the digital sheetfed market for the first time or you are ready to upgrade to a web-based digital press, manufacturers are able to fulfill every digital press fantasy.

Here's a look at what's currently, and soon-to-be, available in the market.

Heidelberg USA
Heidelberg currently has two offerings in the digital color press market: the Speedmaster 74 DI, a four-up direct imaging system, and the Quickmaster DI 46-4, an entry-level direct imaging press.

The Speedmaster 74 DI has a maximum printing speed of 15,000 sph and offers thermal imaging technology that attains "first-generation" dot quality without the dot gain that can occur with conventional platemaking processes, reports Eric Frank, vice president of marketing, direct imaging and digital printing, for Heidelberg USA.

The Speedmaster 74 DI images processless thermal plates at a resolution of 2,400 dpi. The press is available in 17 configurations featuring up to six colors, perfecting and in-line coating. It also offers Alcolor, Heidelberg's digitally controlled, speed compensated, continuous film dampening systems. The imaging time for plates is just 31⁄2 minutes.

 

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