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Don't Touch Those Ink Keys --Waldman

November 2004
I dropped my fork and asked David Motheral to repeat what he had just said. Some at the table stared while others continued eating as if they hadn't heard. However, as David began to talk all eyes were riveted on him and the food quickly became incidental.

It was lunchtime, August 30th, at the 2004 PIA/GATF Digital Workflow Conference in Pittsburgh. I was there as both a speaker and a roundtable discussion moderator. My talk, scheduled for the afternoon, was "Digital Workflows: Does It Matter How or Where I Print It?" The topic covered how digital workflows increasingly need to be versatile since, in today's world, files may be routed to large-format ink-jet devices, toner-based presses, offset presses, flexo presses, flat-screen monitors, the Web and other output devices. I felt comfortable that I had my topic under control.

Instant Interest

It was the roundtable the next day, though, that had me a little concerned. The discussion assigned to me was titled "Standards—Are There Any and, If So, Who's Leading the Charge?" This appeared to be a topic that was about as exciting as watching water evaporate. But, as David talked, I quickly realized that if he came to my roundtable it could turn into a fascinating and very lively event.

David Motheral is COO of Motheral Printing in Fort Worth, TX, whose roots trace back to 1934 when Fitzhugh Motheral and his wife, Ella, purchased the C.C. Paxton Printing Co. Today, the third-generation of the family—which includes David along with Jim, Roger and Bill Motheral—are in command of a well-equipped company featuring a four-color Heidelberg Quickmaster DI press; a five-color, 40˝ Komori; an eight-color, 40˝ Mitsubishi; and two 38˝ full-web heatset presses.

No question Fitzhugh's vision for growth and expansion has been achieved, perhaps well beyond his dreams.

But Motheral Printing's most stunning achievement goes well beyond its muscular press capabilities. For, at the lunch table in Pittsburgh, David was telling us that his $13 million web press, as well as all presses at Motheral, are run with no proofs and the press operators are not allowed to touch the ink fountain keys. You see, Motheral is in the process of actually putting into practice JDF, PDF and all the other standards that are either readily available or emerging technologies. It is an ongoing effort that has already made monumental progress.

According to David Motheral, they have succeeded in automating color to the point where the traditional fountain game of color matching at the press is eliminated, resulting in an astonishing 35 percent boost in productivity. Even more astonishing, David told us that quality increased by 50 percent—which would have to shock old Charlie the Pressman, who thought that the only way to achieve a high-quality print job was through his skill of playing with the fountain keys to match the proof.
 

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