Web Offset Presses -- Spinning a Better Web
"Price competition between printers necessitates ever higher productivity and press availability in order to further enhance operating efficiency," says Rehmann, adding that KBA's newest commercial press, the Compacta 217, was introduced during Drupa 2004. "Large sheetfed printers are enhancing their fleets with 16-page commercial web presses."
On another front, RDP Marathon's focus has always been variable-size presses and combination printing. While variable-size inserts provide printers with the ability to achieve exact cutoffs, significantly minimizing waste—explains Eric Short, president and CEO of RDP Marathon—these can also be upsized or downsized according to customer needs. This can further minimize waste and provide the functionality of several presses in a single press.
RDP Marathon's SmartSet press control system, which integrates with a CIP4 digital workflow, was engineered with touchscreen technology to store and retrieve job parameters, position the print gap, pre-set tension and automatically set register without web movement. Running concurrently with the SmartSet press control system is the recently released Optim+P2, a real-time press and job performance data collection system.
"Inserts continue to provide a very cost-effective advertising option for many different retail markets," adds Don Gustafson, president of the Tensor Group. "As we continue to see more targeted advertising strategies, we will see targeted inserts that will continue to drive the need for more (automated press) features."
Paper costs will also have an impact on this printing segment, Gustafson predicts, and there could be a shift in cutoff sizes in the future, as well.
"We started seeing this several years ago when some large gravure pieces were converted to heatset offset," Gustafson recalls. "We should continue to see more, since much of the 21˝ cutoff equipment in the U.S. is more than 20 years old. A lot of this equipment was stretched from 46˝ to 54˝ and rebuilt one or two times already, so the life cycle is getting near its practical end, in some cases."