Large-Format Sheetfed Presses — Bigger Gets Better

By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

It wasn’t long ago that large and extra-large format sheetfed offset presses were considered primary tools for the package printing market.

In Europe, notes Ken Kodama, vice president of sheetfed sales for Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses (MLP U.S.A.), these oversized machines were not used just by folding carton producers, but also by publication and commercial printers. But the productivity of the super-sized press and its ease of use is winning over favor among U.S. printers in the commercial sector.

“The manning for a large-format is similar to a 40˝ press, so the makereadies are very similar,” Kodama says.

“For example, with perfecting, in order to get a 16-page format, you’re perfecting on both sides. On a 56˝ press, you can do it on one side, although you still have to work and turn the sheet. On a large format, you are not limited by the pagination of the sheet because perfecting requires gutters for the slow down wheels on the back side and ceramic-type jackets on the impression cylinders, which will affect print quality. So there are some advantages to the large format.”

Changing Roles

The role of the perfecting press has made a dramatic impact in recent years, according to Kodama, primarily because the technology has improved. “I think the technology has gotten good enough that it’s easier for customers to use. However, even now, the perfecting unit is an item that will require proper maintenance, which the large format will not require, and perfecting jobs require some extra thought for workflow that is not required for straight printing.

“Considering the ongoing pressure on margins for printers, any time you can accomplish something in one pass is money saved for them.”

Mitsubishi enjoyed a strong PRINT 05 & CONVERTING 05 show in September, promoting the Diamond 5000 (51˝) and 6000 (56˝) models in the large-format realm. Tandem Perfector presses aren’t available for the large format yet, but Mitsubishi is considering producing them in the future.

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