WEB OFFSET REPORT -- Make Ready for Change
"We were not able to integrate our equipment into the hottest (first) section of a heatset web offset dryer, where our technology would be the most effective," reports Lukas Hahne, managing director. "However, we were able to demonstrate the principle in other dryer sections."
The future of the concept remains an open question, Hahne admits. "It is difficult to integrate our technology with a state-of-the-art dryer, therefore we cannot prove our technology on a existing dryer. Our original cooperating partner stopped the project, and the industry in general doesn't seem ready to accept new drying concepts."
Returning to inks, the potential for single-fluid formulations has created a lot of buzz in recent years. As with the water-only technology, the greatest progress has been made in sheetfed applications.
Flint Ink, in Ann Arbor, MI, has been one of the companies leading the way, and already has trademarked SFI (Single-Fluid Ink) as a brand name. But even it has pulled back in the web arena.
"After early testing, it was determined that single-fluid ink (SFI) would be more cost-effective for sheetfed printing," says Rita Conrad, director of corporate communications. "For that reason, the decision was made to focus our efforts on developing a more robust product for sheetfed applications, and that work continues today. Once we are fully comfortable with that product, we will re-visit possibilities for web applications. So, for all practical purposes, the web formulation is currently on hold."
Heidelberg's Clement characterizes the technology's outlook as "almost a certainty" that it will still become a reality for web offset applications. Once a commitment is made to single-fluid ink, he says there could be a need to reengineer presses.
"Dampeners on presses could hinder the technology's development," the product manager explains. "In challenging situations, printers would be tempted to revert back to traditional dampening rather than overcoming any problem with single-fluid formulations and thus advancing the new technology."