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Graph Expo 2010: Sheetfed/Web Litho Printing - Diagnosis: ‘Iron’ Deficiency

October 2010 By Mark Michelson
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Those lithographic printers walking the show floor earlier this month at Graph Expo in search of a bevy of heavy-iron, offset presses were sorely disappointed. With press manufacturers Heidelberg USA, Komori America and Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses opting to pass on this year's show, the South Hall at McCormick Place lacked the all-encompassing lineup of traditional press vendors that visitors in years past have come to expect.

And, despite the stimulus incentives for exhibitors created by the Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) to help defray the costs of installing heavy equipment at the exhibition—as well as new union work rules and cost reductions initiated by the Illinois legislature to make McCormick Place more competitive with trade show venues in other states—the jury is still out on whether future Graph Expos will ever look the same from a traditional printing press standpoint.

There was plenty of equipment on the show floor this year, but it primarily consisted of digital presses, wide-format printers, mailing and bindery gear.

Only Gronhi Graphics had a Chinese-made, four-color sheetfed offset press on its stand; Epson featured a Ryobi press to help demonstrate its new Stylus Pro 7900CTP metal platesetting system geared toward small print shops; and Baum showcased a small-format, two-color model in its booth.

Service and Substance

Presstek actually had the largest pressroom presence by bringing three DI presses in the 34cm, 52cm and 75cm format sizes. Shown for the first time in North America following its Ipex debut was Presstek's new six-page, 29˝ 75DI digital offset press. With a 31x23˝ maximum sheet size, it features waterless printing, on-press chemistry-free imaging, and built-in automation that accommodates last-minute changes and rush jobs. Available in 4 to 10 colors, the 75DI can also be equipped with an optional in-line aqueous coater.

Also shown were the Presstek 34DI, as well as the Presstek 52DI-AC featuring in-line aqueous coating. These DI presses are best suited for runs of 500 to 20,000, bridging the gap between digital toner and conventional offset printing.

Other lithographic press manufacturers that did sign up for booths, namely manroland, KBA North America and Goss International, opted not to bring any equipment. Instead, manroland shuttled printers to its technology center in nearby Westmont for breakfast demos of its quick-makeready Roland 708PLV DD (DirectDrive) press (which CEO Vince Lapinski says has been sold to a not yet named printer). Also announced were the sale of a 64˝ Roland 906XXL press with coater to Strine Printing in York, PA, and a partnership with RedTie for an offset-based Web-to-print solution. At its booth, manroland highlighted its PrintValue services, including process optimization, contract services and maintenance programs.

Similarly, KBA emphasized its Service Select program, which encompasses an array of packages and solutions customized to a customer's exact needs and budgets. Product solutions include statistical analysis; evaluation programs for production, workflow, color management, pressroom and press operating procedures; training for optimizing press operation or learning new processes such as UV, plastic, coating and other techniques; machine audits; remote maintenance with 24/7 online and phone support; press relocation programs; and upgrade components for presses already in the field.

During a press conference, KBA Vice President of Corporate Marketing Eric Frank mentioned several 41˝ and larger format sheetfed press sales nearing completion, building on installations at Card Pak, Boehmer Box, Hammer Packaging, Meredith-Webb and Meyers. Also of interest is KBA's new 16-page C16 commercial web press and its new service offering in partnership with ClimatePartner that calculates the greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions generated during production runs.

Goss International promoted its new variable repeat Sunday Vpak packaging presses designed for folding carton and label applications, and new Universal newspaper and semi-commercial models.

Goss also used Graph Expo to announce the sale of the first Sunday 3000 web press with an extended 75˝ web width to Waseca, MN-based Brown Printing. The four-unit, 32-page press can produce saddlestitched and perfect bound products up to 9˝ wide, a first for single-circumference web presses.

In addition, Dartmouth Printing, Hanover, NH, ordered a nine-unit, two-web Sunday 2000, and St. Louis Park, MN-based Japs-Olson acquired an eight-unit Sunday 2000 equipped with Autoplate and Automatic Transfer technologies.

Nothing Without Ink

A sampling of other lithographic pressroom products highlighted:

• Sun Chemical featured its new spot color ink dispenser program, which can decrease a commercial printer's overall ink spend by up to 35 percent when blending the inks in-house and up to 46 percent if blended inks are purchased. A GFI dispensing unit is provided at no cost as long as printers purchase a minimum annual amount of Sun Chemical conventional commercial sheetfed bases and inks.

• Van Son Holland Ink showcased its Quickson Premium ink, a new solvent-free ink formulated to deliver high performance, dot retention and color vibrancy on all sheetfed presses.

• INX International Ink offered several environmentally friendly inks, including energy curable, UV LED and green products.

• Fiberweb promoted its pre- saturated, low-VOC, Elixir Automatic Blanket Cleaning (ABC) rolls that work with most blanket cleaning systems.

• NELA highlighted its fully automated, On-Press Register Control (OPRC) solution that provides color register and cutoff control.

• Essex Products featured its KeyColor automated ink-key setting, ColorSpec color measurement and ColorInspec defect detection systems. PI



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