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Fontana/Affiliate--A Waterless Course

October 1999
The team at Fontana/Affiliated had already incorporated waterless offset printing and moved to a new facility. The next logical step was waterless CTP.


BY CHRISTOPHER CORNELL


Waterless? The team at Cheverly, MD-based Fontana Lithograph/Affiliated Graphics knows a number of different meanings for the word "waterless."

That word could be used to describe just one of the problems the printer had to overcome as it built its new facility here. Through a revitalization project with the state of Maryland in December 1997, Fontana/Affiliated took ownership of a condemned property, which was nothing more than a slab with a leaking roof and three walls, that had been vacant for 10 years.

Joseph Fontana, a partner in the firm, recalls, "When we stumbled upon the property, the town administrator insisted on a police escort. We had to wipe our feet after leaving the building!"

All that has changed. The new, custom-designed facility that now stands where the old shell stood gives Fontana/Affiliated 70,000 square feet of work space, an increase from the 48,000 square feet available in the former site.

"This is such an exciting milestone for all of us," President Joseph Connors noted as the site was opened. "We will have the space to continue investing in future technology, so Fontana/Affiliated can remain at the top of our industry." And that's just what the 51-year-old, growing company—with approximately $25 million in sales and 120 employees—has set out to do.

As Brendan Connors, partner, notes, "We want to maintain our personal touch as we grow. We want to be the best printer possible, while keeping the feel of a small business."

But even before the move, the firm was dealing with another challenge: How to stand out in the increasingly competitive Washington, DC-area printing market.

"There are plenty of six-color printers in the Washington market," Connors notes. "We wanted a different spin, to attract the attention of the high-end ad agencies and design firms in the area."

Early in 1994, following extensive research into how to set themselves above and apart from their competition, part of the solution to the problem, as it turned out, was in the solution—the fountain solution, that is. The decision was made to go waterless.

"Waterless printing allows us to provide our clients with greater detail and more vibrant colors," Connors says. "There really is a difference."

Fontana/Affiliated installed a six-color, 40˝ Heidelberg Speedmaster CD press with a coater and another 40˝ two-color Heidelberg, and began operating both without fountain solution. They even went so far as to hang a sign in the plateroom forbidding conventional platemaking on jobs that would run on the waterless presses.
 

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