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Expanding the Sheetfed Operation?More Than the Metal

February 1998
There are certain rules in the commercial printing industry commonly referred to as sacred—meaning, DO NOT TOUCH, DO NOT REINVENT, DO NOT DEGRADE, DO NOT MANGLE.

In other words...

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Once upon a time, that was the popular view of sheetfed printing.

Today, sheetfed offset presses allow users to print high-quality work more easily than ever before. But with ease, with productivity, comes a high and mighty cost.

Competition.

Without question, the sheetfed marketplace is demanding greater productivity through the application of technological enhancements, which result in improved print quality, increased equipment flexibility, improved integration of prepress, press and postpress functions, and an acceptance of a wider variety of materials.

Sure, you've heard all this before, but it's imperative to remember that these trends are continuing to accelerate—at an alarming rate— forcing sheetfed commercial printers to allocate considerable resources to enhance their traditional sheetfed operations.

Left little choice, sheetfed printers are seeking out new ways to differentiate themselves from the competition and increase market share.

Today's automated sheetfed presses sport plate changers, quality perfecting—with improved perfector transfer mechanics—as well as advanced press accessories such as continuous dampeners, blanket coaters and ultraviolet, infrared and hot-air dryers.

Taking it one step further, sheetfed printers now do more than ponder the benefits of computer-to-plate (CTP) and advanced digital workflows. Implementation is on the rise as the sheetfed market moves into the digital age.

One progressive sheetfed operation is Long Island City, NY-based Cosmos Communications, a full-service sheetfed printer doing mostly agency and commercial work. Cosmos is heavily involved in digital production: Digital cameras and digital proofing are staples for this company.

At Cosmos, where Fuji's LPY digital plates have been in service for more than a year, CTP has been embraced. LPY plates offer a digital sensitivity covering 488nm and 532nm and possess medium-run length capability, with baking extending the range to long run.

To date, the LPY plate is delivering for Cosmos Communications, which specializes in the printing of coin and stamp catalogs.

So, why did Cosmos go CTP?

Tom Ayala, general manager, explains this printer's position on electronic prepress.

"Competition was our catalyst to CTP," Ayala explains. "CTP paves the way for quicker makeready, faster turnaround and more competitive pricing. It was the logical move. CTP has been an invaluable step forward for this sheetfed operation."

Currently, the facility operates at 90-percent CTP, and, thanks to its investment in digital prepress technology, has reduced its film consumption by up to 20 percent. Ayala reports that CTP has allowed Cosmos to bid for—and win—print jobs the company otherwise would have passed up.
 

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