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GRAPH EXPO WRAP-UP -- Traditional Offset Gets a Booster Shot

November 2002

On the web offset front, Heidelberg showcased its Autoplate system now available on the gapless Sunday 2000 web press, as well as presented Prinect PrepressInterface technology that can be used to preset web and sheetfed presses.

It also introduced an A24 version of its 16-page M-600 press. Gardena, CA-based Southwest Offset Printing, a short-run publication printer, will be the first site in North America to install the press this fall.

In addition, Goss promoted its new 16-page Goss Baker G15 commercial web press; Timsons talked up its T48A ZMR (Zero Make Ready) book press, as well as its 24-page Zirkon 9621 commercial web; Super Web offered a new receding stacker designed for use with Super Web or Didde web presses; Solna highlighted its full-size C800 commercial web featuring shaftless drive technology; and RDP Marathon featured its 201⁄2˝ SR-200 variable-size press.

Komori America was happy with its Graph Expo results, announcing orders for 35 new presses. Stephan Carter, president and COO of Komori America, says he started to see business pick up prior to the show and was pleased with the feedback he heard during Graph Expo. "Conversations on the show floor confirmed that printers are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and are making equipment purchases to position their businesses for the future."

The star at the Komori booth was its sleek new 40˝ Lithrone S40 (LS40) sheetfed press incorporating, among other benefits, a console-driven makeready, the KHS inking system and standard features like a double diameter cylinder configuration. Carter adds that customer interest was also high for Komori's Lithrone Super Perfector, the System 20 web press and the Lithrone 28 half-size press.

Another mid-size sheetfed press, MLP USA's (Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses') 231⁄2x29˝ Diamond 2000, was introduced. Rated at 16,000 sph, the press can print six-up, 81⁄2x11˝ signatures or three-up, 11x17˝ forms. Jobs were run at the show using GATF InterTech Award-winning Hydro H20 ink from Midwest Ink, which enables offset printing with plain tap water and without fountain solution additives.

In the 40˝ format, Mitsubishi also debuted its Diamond 300R—Ultra Coat, claimed to be the first sheetfed model of its kind in North America. It is a five-over-five perfecting press with two coating units, one after the fifth printing unit, enabling coating to be applied to both sides of the sheet. The inaugural press is expected to be operational this month at Dynagraf Inc., a Canton, MA-based combination sheetfed and web operation.

Also announced was the sale of two six-color, 40˝ Diamond 3000 LS presses with tower coaters to Franklin/Trade Graphics in Miami. With the initial press to be delivered this month, it will mark the first customer installation of Mitsubishi's new Diamond 3000 series in the Southeast region, according to Ric Buchanan, MLP USA senior marketing executive.

Graph Expo also served as the North American launch pad for MAN Roland's new Roland 500, an extended (23.23x29.13˝) six-up press that is touted—at 18,000 sph—as the world's fastest full-color sheetfed press. Aside from commercial work, the press handles substrates up to 1mm (40pt.) thick, making it suitable for packaging applications. The first Roland 500 is set to be installed in North America during the first quarter of 2003.

From an open systems standpoint, both MAN Roland and Komori illustrated their interface capabilities with Printcafe as part of the computer-integrated manufacturing workflow of the future.

In addition, MAN Roland announced the sale of seven new six- and eight-color Roland 300 (29˝) and Roland 700 (41˝) presses. Several of MAN's new PECOM modules, JobPilot and PressMonitor, were also purchased by existing customers. According to company officials, a six-color Rotoman web press was sold, and letters of intent were signed for both a Cromoman web and a Lithoman insert web press. One of the six-color Roland 700s went to FCL Graphics, Harwood Heights, IL—its fourth 706 installed since 1994.

Ron Haug Inc., an Elk Grove Village, IL-based trade binder, purchased its fourth Wohlenberg 137 cut-tec cutter. And Salem Printing, of Winston-Salem, NC, bought a Kama diecutter to augment its existing six-up, 23x29˝ Roland 300 press.

A coater version of KBA's 20x29˝ digital offset press, the 74 Karat, made its U.S. debut. Job changes on the four-color press take less than 17 minutes. One of the advantages of the machine's new aqueous coater is that the sheets can be finished immediately or passed through the press a second time as soon as the plates have been re-imaged.

Highly regarded for its small-format presses, xpedx/Import Group used Graph Expo to launch the 23x29˝ Ryobi 750XL series. The 750 incorporates a double-diameter impression cylinder and double-diameter transfer drum for each printing unit. A variety of automation devices are available, and the series can be combined with an aqueous or UV coating unit and an infrared dryer or UV curing unit.

Don Trytten, xpedx vice president and general manager, reports that a five-color 755XL model with coater was purchased at the show by Las Vegas-based Imageline Graphics. LPP Fine Printing, of Houston, acquired a four-color 754XL.

Jumping Into Four-color

A.B.Dick moved upstream with a four-color offering—the new 4995A-ICS with Ink Control System, which is said to offer all of the benefits of a four-tower portrait press. According to A.B.Dick officials, its unique streamfeeding vacuum conveyor and pull guide are what set the press apart from competitive offerings.

Sakurai USA was also pleasantly surprised by the strength of the show, according to Mike Grego, marketing manager. Interest was high over Sakurai's 466SIP series of sheetfed presses. He notes that the 26˝, fully automated convertible perfectors incorporate plate changers, perfector changeover, roller washup and sheet size presets—all standard, but at a comfortable price point.

Pricing certainly was an issue that permeated all areas of the show floor, including press manufacturer booths, with reports of discounts/creative financing used to attract potential buyers. Also, loan approvals continue to be an issue, especially for smaller printers seeking third-party financing.

With many print shops battling weak and unprofitable sales, their balance sheets are currently not very appealing to lenders. But even the larger press suppliers, with their own financing arms, are being more diligent in making deals to avoid the loan defaults and press repossessions that have plagued them during this recession.

As one printer commented wryly, "The strong activity at Graph Expo showed that the printing industry may have finally hit bottom. The market may be slow to get better, but at least it's not going to get worse." Based on the success of Graph Expo, we're surely heading in the right direction.
 

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