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Large-Format Sheetfed Perfectors -- Seeking Perfection

August 2004
by chris bauer

Managing Editor

Printers live by the mantra that time is money. As more steps can be cut out of the prepress, printing and binding processes, more profit can be achieved. Large-format (40˝ and larger) perfecting presses ensure faster printing results by printing both sides of the sheet in one pass through the press. Many printers have put two and two together, and like the sum that sheetfed perfectors provide.

"The drive towards large-format perfectors is stimulated in a large degree by the need for process time reduction," explains Doug Schardt, product manager, Komori America. "In other words, why do in two passes on a press what can be done in one?"

Schardt admits this rhetorical question seems self-evident—if it was that simple, all printers would have moved to perfecting presses years ago. But perfectors of the past brought with them a host of issues that slowed the process down to the point that it actually was more efficient to run two passes, he says.

"Today's perfectors have many of those issues beat—and the quality is outstanding—so one pass versus two is the ideal workflow in certain circumstances," Schardt points out. The key elements are fully automated plate changers, fully automatic paper size adjustments, fully automatic perfector changeover and fully automatic washups, he says.

"Furthermore, perfectors must have the ability to run a wide range of work and not become a marking monster," Schardt adds. "The more marking that is inherent in a press, the longer the makereadies until it actually becomes more efficient on a straight press."

A Perfect Fit

One company that has found perfecting presses to be effective for its workload is the Jerome Group in Maryland Heights, MO, which recently installed an eight-color Komori Lithrone S40 sheetfed perfector with coater and extended delivery.

Jerome Group specializes in direct mail work and produces a lot of 4/4 work that requires personalization on both sides. The company often preprints shells on the LS40 and then does personalization using its arsenal of digital presses.

"The interesting thing is that the mix of traditional and digital presses complement each other very well," says Andy Kohn, Jerome Group president. "We have two Indigos and six sheetfed black-and-white digital presses that do personalization." The addition of perfecting presses has also opened the door to short- to medium-run catalog work, Kohn reveals.

Trying to peg the typical large-format perfecting press user can be tough. According to John Dowey, vice president of sheetfed product management for Heidelberg, the typical profile for printers buying 40˝ perfecting machines include industrial commercial sheetfed or combination sheetfed/web printers. Most are looking for ways to cope with several factors: increased competition; shorter lead times; price erosion; the need for added capacity; and a desire to improve the output/labor ratio.
 

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