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SMALL-FORMAT PRESSES -- Small, But Powerful

April 2001
BY SCOTT POLK


What do The Little Engine That Could, Allen Iverson and Vern Troyer (Mini-Me) all have in common? They're proof of the old saying that good things come in small packages.

You can add another item to that list from the printing world, specifically small-format sheetfed offset presses. For small- and mid-size commercial printers, as well as quick and franchise printers, small-format presses are ideal since they provide a quality product with fast turnaround time, while meeting the requirements of a tight budget.

Last year, A.B.Dick introduced one of these models, the 9995A-ICS, a line extension of its highly successful two-color 9995 offset press. The 9995A has a semi-automatic plate loading feature for metal and polyester plates, and the ICS (Ink Control System) allows for automatic adjusting of the ink fountains.

"The 9995A-ICS gives a printer the ability and automation to produce four-color process work in a very efficient, cost-effective manner," reports Scott MacKenzie, director of machine marketing for A.B.Dick. "Because of its automated capabilities, it helps produce work faster with less waste. We have heard many favorable comments about how easy it is to use and that's important because finding good, qualified help is certainly much tougher today than it was even five years ago."

Indeed, automation plays an important role in small-format presses, especially with the dwindling number of skilled press operators. According to John Santie, product manager for Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses (MLP USA), the trends that move the larger format presses (40˝ and larger) also affect small press manufacturing.

"Customers are looking for faster makereadies, all the automation they can get, closed-loop scanning systems—either densitometric or spectrophotometric—and interfacing to CTP devices," Santie notes. "All of our presses have these features. We offer highly automated presses in the half-size market with fast makeready times and interfacing to CTP devices utilizing CIP3 information. Our presses offer sheet size change, impression pressure change, dampener positioning, delta dampening, automatic roller rinsing, registration (all done from the console through our Press Link System), as well as semi-automatic plate changing."

Doug Schardt, assistant product manager for Komori America, shares a similar view of the industry. His company has found a way to overcome the shortage of skilled workers by making the presses easier to operate. Komori achieves that by enhancing its small-format machines to accept digital ink key data from prepress, just like large-format presses. This enhancement greatly improves color acquisition on a makeready and decreases setup time.
 

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