WEB OFFSET REPORT -- Make Ready for Change
Press peripherals also factor into the outlook for the process, points out KBA's Rehmann. "Production flexibility increases commercial printers' chances in the market," he explains. "For example, the KBA variable gripper folder already supports the production of long- and short-grain products from a fixed-format commercial web press.
Paper may not be web offset technology, per se, but it is a very integral part of the process and key to long-term success, Rehmann adds. "Printers will continue to demand better and cheaper paper for heatset production," he says. "Quality differences between papers remain a problem."
Fluting, in particular, is a vexing problem that needs to be addressed in the future, GATF's Prince adds. The research done so far has been inconclusive, the consultant notes. Fluting is the waviness exhibited in some bound magazines and catalogs, he explains. "Some very expensive papers do it, some cheaper ones don't. Some stocks do it more, some less," the consultant says. "When you look at the findings, it's apparent that we know a couple ways to make it a little bit better and some ways to make it worse, but we don't know how to eliminate it."
The web offset process may be mature, but it's not without mysteries and surprises. It also still holds potential to keep print competitive.