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GRAPH EXPO & CONVERTING EXPO 2003--Sheetfed and Web Offset

Pressing Ahead

November 2003
By Mark Michelson
Editor-in-Chief

It's no secret that the stagnant U.S. economy has wrecked havoc on graphic arts industry suppliers the past three years. And, with many printers hesitant to make major capital equipment expenditures, sheetfed, and especially web, offset press manufacturers may have suffered the most of any industry segment.

But--partly based on exhibitor reports from the recently completed GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO exhibition--interest in upgrading pressrooms and in the computer-integrated manufacturing concept (CIM) seem to be building. New press sales levels are still a far cry from the go-go '90s, but press suppliers at the show generally reported increased buying activity, as well as numerous requests for quotes from existing customers and prospects.

With a 42,000-square-foot exhibit space, Heidelberg featured 10 presses in its booth, including its new 20? sheetfed press, the Printmaster PM 52, designed for small and midsize shops. Available in one- to five-color models, the PM 52 is positioned between the Printmaster GTO 52 and the Speedmaster SM 52. Shown for the first time in the U.S. was Heidelberg's 20? Speedmaster SM 52-D with in-line rotary diecutting capabilities. A 10-color Speedmaster 74 perfector also running at the booth was sold to Grand Junction, CO-based Colorado Printing, supplementing an eight-color model installed by the commercial printer less than two years ago.

On the web printing front, Heidelberg debuted its gapless Sunday 3000/32, said to be the world's first single-circumference web press to offer advantages of an eight-pages-across (2x8) cylinder configuration. Its 72? web width allows the press to print 32 magazine-size pages per revolution at speeds up to 100,000 iph.

Quad/Graphics signed a mega-deal for two eight-unit 3000/32 presses in a two-web configuration, as well as another six-pages-across Sunday press. All three presses are to be delivered next spring and will be operational in one or more of Quad/Graphics' Wisconsin plants by August 2004. Likewise, the purchase of a five-unit Sunday 3000/32 was announced following GRAPH EXPO by Arandell Corp. for its Menomonee Falls, WI, facility.

Komori America also came away from the show feeling optimistic, especially after announcing that Joe Davis, chairman, president and CEO of Houston-based Consolidated Graphics, had renewed a five-year, $50 million purchasing agreement with Komori. Consolidated, which boasts 65 companies in 25 states, made its first acquisition under the new deal by installing a six-color Lithrone S40 with coater at Mount Vernon Printing in Landover, MD. Davis says he envisions buying five 40? sheetfed and one half-web press in the coming year, depending on future company acquisitions that the industry consolidator would like to make.
 

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