Web Offset — Turning Up the Heat

BY ERIK CAGLE

Shorter runs, longer runs, less waste, reduced makeready time, skilled labor shortages, increased automation—some of the biggest issues facing the commercial printers who use heatset web offset presses are also some of the oldest issues. They are issues constantly being addressed.

It is a flourishing market, as some of the open web industry’s manufacturing stalwarts now offer enhanced commercial models or are breaking into the heatset specialty for the first time. That gives the printer more variety of choices in both the quantity and quality departments.

For the manufacturers already entrenched in the heatset web market, the quest is to answer the evolving value-added requirements of their customers who, in turn, also find themselves trying to give more bang for fewer bucks.

Timsons Printing Machinery is geared toward book markets with shorter run lengths, thus, make-ready time and paper waste are two of the hot-button issues for President Kenneth DeVito.

“We’ve been speaking to our auxiliary suppliers for years on the subject of saving product on startup as quickly as possible,” DeVito remarks. “During a makeready, for example, a dryer manufacturer can help by keeping the dryer temperature high without breaking the web. This helps us to save product in a more expeditious manner because the dryer reaches its set temperature much faster, eliminating the time and waste associated with the purge cycle.”

DeVito says that the trend today is to train press crews into the equivalent of racing pit crews—make plates ready and obtain good product in record time. Saving product quickly is a culture in its own, he remarks—like presuming that the signature is innocent until proven guilty. The idea is to save first, and check for position and ink density later.

“If book printers’ thoughts are not in this direction, their competition will be more efficient and will produce at a lower cost,” DeVito states.

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