SUPERIOR PRINTING — A Waterless Wonder

Faster makereadies are achieved, reducing paper waste and saving energy through the reduction of press running time. And a computer-to-plate workflow eliminates chemicals and materials necessary to output film for proofing and reproofing, as well as for the final film output.

The process of going waterless first began in 1996 when Superior purchased two eight-color Heidelberg Speedmaster CD presses with in-line coaters and a four-color Heidelberg with two-over-two perfecting capabilities. But despite the quality pressroom equipment, becoming a waterless operation was not an easy transformation.

“There were some concerns finding a viable computer-to-plate waterless plate,” Frey recalls. “We struggled with that internally as a company because we wanted to be computer-to-plate.”

Superior was forced to output film to make its waterless plates and the switching from computer-to-plate back to conventional created problems with the workflow. The company also had difficulties lining up suppliers and fine-tuning the new technology. That’s around the time Hill came on the scene.

“I tried to really make sure that everybody was involved and participating,” Hill reports. Frey noticed Hill’s dedication to the push for waterless early after Hill took over control of the 88-employee company.

“He has maintained and even moved along our focus to be a waterless printer,” Frey adds. “I specifically recall a meeting where he said he got into this with the understanding that he was buying a waterless printing operation. That was important to him because, even with his limited background in printing, he recognized that we had a unique product to take to market.”

The Finished Product

About two years ago, Superior finally developed a viable, digital plate. Now, Frey informs, around 99 percent of Superior’s work is done waterless. It produces high-end, environmentally sensitive printed literature for the art, food, automotive and financial markets, as well as decorative and building products.

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