WEB OFFSET REPORT -- Make Ready for Change
"The web models incorporate many of the same automation features, including KHS (Komori High Performance Inking)," Bradley points out. "The timing for their introduction hasn't been set, but we plan to introduce plate changers and various presets for web width and thickness to further reduce makeready time and waste. These features are particularly important on this press, since it's typically in makeready about 50 percent of the time due to its short-run, high-quality market niche."
In a bit of surprise, GATF's Prince believes the industry does "need" direct imaging (on-press), rewritable cylinder/plate technology. "It is one of the few ways to achieve a strong reduction in makeready time," he explains. "That technology, in part, is already on the market with the DICOweb (from MAN Roland). It may constitute a large segment of the market in the future, say in the next five years."
Off-line imaging—whether of a digital plate or some type of removable sleeve—isn't what is needed because of the time required to install/remove the material, Prince asserts. "That takes too much makeready time."
One of Switzerland's leading commercial printers, Stämpfli in Bern, has become the first facility in the world to commercially run the heatset version of MAN Roland's plate-free DICOweb offset press. The system uses an imaging cylinder that is laser imaged on-press, then erased and reimaged. Stämpfli is running a 16-page configuration with four double printing couples, enabling it to operate at 11.4 feet per second. It is housed in a newly built plant that also is home to three sheetfed presses and a toner-based digital printing system.
According to Peter Stämpfli, company board member, a complete make-ready of the press takes about 20 minutes, while a form change within a run can be accomplished in 15 minutes. The company exec notes that one of the pilot jobs produced was a 16.5x11.6˝ catalog with 1,460 pages and a segmented circulation of 10,000 copies. He says the project was produced considerably more efficiently on the DICOweb than would have been possible on an eight-color convertible sheetfed press.