Digital and Offset Convergence — Going Long on Shorter Runs

St. Joseph Print installed a total of three new manroland Rotoman S heatset web presses as part of a $50 million revitalization program.

Smith Litho has kept its existing HP Indigo 5000 digital press in production, since it was looking to boost capacity in response to growing demand. Migration of offset work to digital printing was one factor in the company’s decision to reduce its sheetfed press capacity about 18 months ago, Uslan notes. The department currently operates one six-color, 40? Heidelberg Speedmaster CD 102 with coater.

“The HP Indigo 7000 gives us more opportunity to compete on shorter-run sheetfed and variable data work, while our remaining Heidelberg provides enough capacity to run the medium- and longer-run jobs we are presented,” he says.

The company formerly known as St Ives U.S. has been reinventing itself on several fronts of late, including changing its name to Angstrom Graphics following a management-led buyout under the direction of Wayne Angstrom, chairman and CEO. It also just completed the installation of a second new Komori System 38 web press at its all-web facility in Hollywood, FL. Several 40? sheetfed presses and a Xerox iGen3 digital color press complement three -additional heatset web presses at a sister plant in Cleveland.

Print customers have been looking for ways to reduce their costs for some time now, Angstrom says. This includes taking steps such as reducing product counts and running fewer pages.

“That has led us to installing presses, both web and sheetfed, that cater to a shorter-run-length type of product,” reports the company’s CEO. “We produce publications on our newer web that have a 1,500 count—perfect bound and saddle wire products with 96 or 112 pages. Our average run length at the moment is about 38,000 copies, though.”

Angstrom says he has seen digital and web presses eating into the sheetfed market from opposite ends, but not quite as rapidly as some may think. Sheetfed presses are not encroaching into the web arena, however, even after incorporating roll-to-sheet capabilities to make the company’s machines a more efficient and economical production platform. Drying requirements for sheetfed work and finishing capabilities on web presses mean the latter process can get to a completed product quicker, explains the industry exec.

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