Sheetfed Offset, Web Offset, Digital : Defining Crossover Points
The company currently ballparks its sheetfed crossover at run lengths under 2,000 pieces, and has logged variable runs of more than two million four-color impressions. For static digital runs, "we can do as many as it makes sense to do, compared with the cost of running offset," he says, "but I'd rather do that two million run variable than crank out 500 or 5,000 short-run jobs to get the same number of impressions."
Meeting in the Middle
While digital printing has extended its boundaries upward to challenge sheetfed on the low end (and vice versa), web offset presses configured with color controls, automated plate changers and other makeready enhancements are pushing downward into longer sheetfed runs. Newer web presses equipped with folders, sheeters and other in-line finishing add-ons also bring pressure to bear on sheetfed offset by offering high-volume production, a viable alternative to long perfecting, and outstanding print quality without drying.
The result? A finished product manufactured at comparable cost, with similar operating requirements, delivered within a faster time frame.
"The compression on sheetfed from the web side has been severe and will continue to be severe," notes Anderson. "At Prisma Graphic, we print what we call 'sheetfed quality web work'—direct mail, brochures, etc.—and most clients can't tell the difference between them. Makereadies are already shorter on a web press; as long as you know what papers to keep in stock and that type of thing, you can be very competitive on it."
Lithographix describes itself as a premiere service company specializing in visual communications. Between its In-Home Lithographic, Out-of-Home Digital and Super Large Div., the organization boasts press equipment that runs from its eight-color, 40˝ Mitsubishi sheetfed presses to a six-color, 81˝ KBA Rapida UV; to six- and eight-color webs equipped with sheeters and folders; and a brace of grand- format Durst and HP VUTEk roll and flatbed digital printers that turn out billboards, signage and display work in Lithographix' fastest-growing department.