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Woodruff Printing--Scaling New Heights With UV

November 2000
Brent Woodruff was tired of turning down large jobs. If a publication required more than 30,000 copies or was larger than 32 pages, he had to decline the business. And he was tapped out in terms of sales. With his presses running 24 hours a day, he couldn't fit in any more jobs. As vice president of operations for Salt Lake City-based Woodruff Printing, he was taking care of his intermountain service area with his sheetfed presses, but couldn't expand in any direction, geographically or product-wise.

Woodruff was keeping his ear to the ground, though. He kept reading about UV printing in trade magazines and hearing about other printers that were adding UV printing to their mix of options for customers. In 1998, he decided to take the plunge by installing an eight-color Sanden variable-web press with UV capability.

"When we put in the Sanden web press, that was a big jump for us," Woodruff says. "We had been primarily a high quality sheetfed printer for many, many years—the company was started by my dad in 1956. When we put in the Sanden press, that was a risk. It's a different animal. But the biggest thing for us was the UV capability."

Woodruff Printing's web press is equipped with 10 Prime UV lamps for inter-station drying, supplied by Prime UV Systems. The eight-color press has a Prime UV lamp after each printing unit, plus extra Prime UV lamps after the fourth and eighth units for "the little extra drying" that assures a speed of 1,200 fpm.

With the Prime UV lamps, the company's ability to turn around jobs for its customers tripled. Woodruff's sheetfed presses run an average of 10,000 sph with only one side printing per run and a mandatory wait between runs for the ink to dry. The Prime UV-equipped web press runs at about 30,000 sph on both sides simultaneously, the ink comes off dry and the sheets can be fed immediately into the bindery.

Woodruff's decision radically altered his business. In two years, sales increased from $5.5 million to $8 million. Labor costs were reduced as the workday shifted from three shifts in a 24-hour day to two shifts in an 18-hour day. He realized savings of 15 percent to 20 percent in paper costs. His customer base expanded from the Provo-Salt Lake City-Ogden, UT, area to accounts in California, New York, Texas and Georgia.

While other printers in the area had added UV to their Heidelbergs and other sheetfed presses, Woodruff Printing was the first company in the intermountain area to use UV on a commercial web press. While new UV/web business came in, the printer also experienced a simultaneous climb in sheetfed jobs. Woodruff's five- and six-color Heidelberg Speedmasters, two-color SORMZ, and single-color GTO presses are still going strong, producing brochures, magazines and corporate reports. Rounding out the plant's equipment is a Muller Martini stitcher/trimmer, two cutters, three Stahl folders, platesetting equipment and Macintosh computers for design work.

Seeing Is Believing
Woodruff Printing has been able to see the results from its new UV web production by comparing several regular jobs that used to be done on sheetfed presses without UV. Woodruff recalls, "I remember a four-over-four piece—a direct mail brochure that we did for a video company. We started running the job on the new UV web press about 5 a.m. At 6 a.m., the press guys were cutting the first pallet of paper from the press. By 6:30, they were setting up the folder. When I came in at about 8 a.m., they had already had a third of the job folded, boxed, labeled and sitting ready to ship. When they finished the job, about 6 p.m., a truck picked it up and it was out of here. That same job would have taken 30 hours to print on our sheetfed presses, instead of eight hours with the Prime UV, plus cutting time and all the rest. It took one day instead of the usual four or five."

Woodruff is happy with the plant's UV capabilities for environmental, as well as operational reasons. "We were using aqueous coatings on our sheetfed equipment, and if you compare that to the UV process, it's black-and-white," he continues. "The ink is still wet under the aqueous coating. With UV, the sheet is dry and can be handled immediately. Ink wastage has been virtually eliminated, and we don't have the oven costs or environmental regulations usually associated with web printing. Plus, our pressmen love the fact that they don't have to wash the press after each shift. You have to schedule up to an hour's cleanup with sheetfed. With UV inks, they can just go home."

Opportunities Ahead
New products are in the works after successful experiments with different substrates, including metalized paper and vinyl. For example, Woodruff Printing printed labels for bottled water on a silver foil paper and is looking into other applications to expand both its product line and its service area.

Woodruff believes that printers should seriously consider UV web printing because of its many advantages. "It's just something you can't overlook," he claims. Woodruff Printing's bottom line is proof.


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