SHEETFED PRESSES -- Sizing Up the Options
"Presses like our Roland 300 and 500 are redefining the half-size category," agrees Christian Cerfontaine, director of marketing at MAN Roland in Westmont, IL. "Both models feature a six-up, 23x29˝ format instead of the classic four-up size, and they are fast (16,000 sph and 18,000 sph, respectively). Since they can compete with 40˝ presses, the move to high-speed, six-up sheetfeds is a growing industry trend," he claims.
The breadth of high-quality, high-productivity product offerings is leading to a trend in printers "right-sizing" their pressroom lineups, says John Dowey, vice president of product management, sheetfed, at Heidelberg USA in Kennesaw, GA. "What that means is printers might consider adding an efficient and modern half- or even three-quarter-size press into their 40˝ pressrooms. Jobs that in the past might have be run on a 40˝ with a smaller sheet can be moved to the smaller presses and produced very economically. These presses offer a lower capital investment and reduced labor costs."
In the current market, 40˝ printers are feeling more of a pinch than half-size shops, believes Grego. "Run lengths are coming down. Jobs that might have been considered to be traditional, 40˝ work are now being produced on half-size presses more efficiently."
The trend is toward trying to create a good blend of press sizes and balance out the pressroom, Mitsubishi's Mullen agrees. "If a shop primarily has 40˝ capacity, it will tend to look at 20x28˝ or 23x29˝ presses next. In less frequent cases, commercial printers may look at larger (45˝ on up) presses."
Packaging work still is the dominant application for larger format sheetfed presses, but high-volume, dedicated commercial printers have been showing more interest in the machines, reports Bob McKinney, director of marketing at KBA North America, Sheetfed Div., in Williston, VT. "The installations started about a year ago and are growing in number," he says. "We're talking about the top end of the printing world. These are three-shift operations running the big machines side-by-side with 40˝ presses," he says.