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Small- & Medium-Format Sheetfeds — Small Presses, Tall Orders

January 2005 By Chris Bauer
Managing Editor
In the not-so-distant past, it was easy to look at small- and medium-format sheetfed offset presses (29˝ and smaller) as the less-coordinated sibling to large-format units. While small-format machines could print with similar quality, they lacked some of the automated features and bells and whistles of their larger counterparts.

Today’s generation of smaller-format presses refuse to be overshadowed—most features offered on large-format presses are now available on smaller machines.

“For the past few years, equipment manufacturers of sheetfed presses have been adding the same automation that can be found on their larger 40˝ presses to their mid-size and smaller sheetfed presses,” says Thomas Goecke, director of corporate marketing, KBA North America. “Automatic blanket washers, automatic plate changing, computerized consoles and CIP3 are just a few of the features being added.”

Know Your Role
Since these presses are often dedicated to the small- and mid-size market, efficiency and economy play an important role, Goecke notes. These presses are able to offer short makeready times, easy operation, high quality and the ability to print on a variety of substrates. Smaller presses are also being sold with more color units than in the past—some with six, seven and even eight colors.

KBA’s new 20˝ Genius 52 offset press is a cost-efficient, high-quality machine that requires only one operator. It is designed for small printers who are seeking to replace an older four-color press or move up to a more automated machine. It features a makeready of less than five minutes and has the ability to print on a wide variety of stock up to 32-pt. The Genius 52 can also be equipped with hybrid UV technology. It has a low startup waste of less than 10 sheets.

There is good reason for small presses to receive big upgrades.

“Printing has become more competitive than ever in recent years,” explains Christian Cerfontaine, director of marketing, MAN Roland. “But the mid-format market is a particularly hectic place in which to do business. It is a natural niche for mid-size companies, but it is also the marketplace to which quick printers aspire when looking to expand their businesses.”

Cerfontaine reports that even high-volume printers are purchasing mid-size presses to keep their customers’ short-run work in-house. The result: Anyone who wishes to succeed in this segment requires a press that is highly efficient in terms of makeready and production speed. Those are the minimum requirements for admission, he says.
 

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