Sheetfed Presses--Big Performance, Small Packages
Being able to run a 20˝ (or smaller) sheetfed offset press without a broad operator learning curve tops commercial printer demands of press manufacturers.
BY ERIK CAGLE
Commercial Printers have felt the pinch recently, with the amount of skilled press operators seemingly dwindling each year. Rather than choosing from a long list of prospects to operate their presses, many employers are faced with few options.
As a result of the tight employment market, printers seek equipment that doesn't require lengthy operator training sessions—one of several issues facing not only those who buy small-format (20˝ and under) presses, but also those who manufacture them.
While there have been many inroads made in manufacturing presses that are easy to operate, Scott MacKenzie, director of machine marketing for A.B.Dick, feels this trend needs to continue.
"The ease of operation of the product has to evolve futher in this portion of the market," MacKenzie remarks. "The reason is that operators are hard to find, especially in this high-employment period, and when you do find someone, it can be difficult to keep them. The automation—increasing productivity and ease of operation—has to be a part of the future development of this marketplace. Today, printers we serve are being asked and challenged to provide higher quality and more color work."
MacKenzie sees strong demand for two-color products. A.B.Dick currently offers the 9985 and 9995 models, and has another press, the PowerPro 34, currently in beta testing. The PowerPro was introduced at GRAPH EXPO last October and he anticipates it being in production for delivery in early April.
According to John Santie, product manager of sheetfed presses for Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses (MLP U.S.A.), CTP interfacing is having a strong effect on small-format sheetfeds, as well as on the press market at large. He believes printing companies are interested in incorporating CIP3 data for use in setting the ink keys on the press.