Offset presses have never offered so many possibilities, as visitors to Ipex will discover when they view a host of added value functions on display
For all the noise surrounding digital presses and particularly high volume inkjet, it is in offset printing that the majority of the world’s print, and profit, is generated. The reasons are straightforward enough; a print quality that is simply unbeatable, relatively easy to achieve these days, combined with consistency across the whole print run. However the issue for offset printers is converting that brilliance of print into profit, competition is fierce, the market has shrunk significantly since the onset of the GFC, plenty of big names in Australia have fallen over, plenty are struggling.
However there is a volume of print out there that is in the offset camp, and that will remain, and hopefully grow once more when the global economy shows some consistent growth. Offset printers have not surprisingly steered clear of investment for the past two years, sales for the big manufacturers have slowed to a trickle, certainly in the western world, and they have been forced to adapt very quickly.
Ipex will see the results of the financial crisis and the impact on presses in different ways, from new presses such as the Heidelberg CX102, which is Heidelberg‘s fourth press in the B1 format, to new approaches to trade shows - manroland for instance will not have a press on the floor, instead it will focus on presentations expounding the bigger picture of optimising the press power - to new owners, both Goss and Akiyama are now owned by the Chinese Shanghai Electric Company.
In recent years, presses have been enhanced in a variety of ways that improve quality, productivity, safety and speed as well as energy efficiency. All suppliers will continue to focus on these factors for future developments, as Thomas Hauser, marketing manager of manroland, explains: “We put a lot of investment into innovations to print faster and more cost-effectively, and to simplify print production. Automated processes, correctly integrated into the workflow, offer added value and promise technological and economic advantages.” KBA is also concentrating on cost-effective and automated production as the central element of innovations. “The most important thing for any printer is a reliable and economic printing press,” says Dave Lewis, director of KBA Australasia.
Environmentally-friendly print production and process optimisation are ultra -important trends in sheet-fed printing, according to Thomas Fichtl, head of corporate public relations at Heidelberg, who says, “Considering makeready times, for instance, the key question is much time elapses between the last sheet of one job and the first good sheet of the next. Our top priority is to help the customer produce more saleable sheets.” He adds that stable production and constant speeds are important for all paper stocks, and that reducing the number of waste copies during makeready also impacts on both cost and environmental factors.
But improvements in printing processes are not the only major trend. Above all, processes before and after printing are the focus of measures to boost productivity. Automated logistics systems to transport paper pallets and webs to the presses and take printed sheets to other processing stations or in-line finishing systems are merely two examples of integrated solutions that manufacturers frequently offer in collaboration with partners.
In the web offset segment in particular, automation important for the future. KBA, manroland and Goss offer various solutions for fully automated production, from plate production to plate transport and automated plate loading and unloading systems. Eric Bell, marketing manager for Goss International, regards automation as a cornerstone of the competitiveness of print compared with other media: “Innovation – particularly in the area of automation – will remain vital to making printed products more competitive and to creating new opportunities, new applications and new business models.”
The manroland’s autoprint machines promote what the company call its one touch vision – printing continuously at the touch of a button. According to this vision the pressroom of the future will resemble a black box, where the process starts with data entry and ends with finished print products being loaded onto pallets to be conveyed to transporters. The manroland modular solution is marketed under the brand name of APL Logistics. KBA also has a solution for no manpower plate transport. The modular plate transfer system – KBA Plate Trans – was developed in collaboration with Beil, the printing punch and plate bender specialist, and closes the automation gap for KBA users. With the autoplate system, Goss has its own automated plate punch.
It isn’t just web pressrooms that are focusing on full automation: automated solutions for sheet fed printing also continue to gain momentum. Komori is introducing the KHS-AI make-ready system, which, according to Komori, requires only 15 to 20 sheets throughput, a figure that represents practically no waste. Long perfector presses are used in many areas for effective production, enabling printers to print four-colours-over-four-colours in one pass.
The Japanese press manufacturers have been more than busy over the past two years, seeking to bring many enhancements to the machines, all of which will be on display at Ipex. As well as Komori the likes of Ryobi Shinohara and Sakurai will all be displaying upgrades to their presses, and in some cases new presses, although at time of writing little has yet been revealed. Among the innovations Ryobi will highlight LED-UV and small footprint B2 on stand. What we do know is that they will all be bringing as much inline as possible, including coating, perfecting, foiling, UV drying. We also know that presses are increasingly becoming available in both the bells and whistles, and basic versions, offering printers different investment levels. Not everyone has the need, or the money to invest in a presses that comes equipped with every latest labour saving enhancement, with the result that the manufacturers have been quick to offer choice. The Japanese quartet have been very well established in Australia, and after a couple of years of slow sales the distributors (Cyber Ryobi, Currie Shinohara, Pressnet Sakurai) will be keen to talk to Australian Ipex delegates about the proiductiuvity and new market benefits of their latest presses.
Sheetfed printers face a number of new challenges in today’s market. High quality and short run lengths have to be printed in a shorter period of time, and the modern print provider can no longer survive just by printing sheets; added value options are essential.
Users of traditional offset presses are accustomed to printing various varnishes and UV colours. Now Presstek – a provider of machines on which plates are direct-imaged inside the printer – is offering its customers UV printing. At Ipex the company will introduce the Presstek 52DI-UV, which is fitted with a UV dryer, and can use all UV colours. This enables users to print plastic and similar substrates with a high quality finish. Another version of the DI printer - the 52DI-AC - features an aqua coater for in-line coating and will make its European debut at Ipex. But the highlight at the show will be the 75DI, capable of printing four pages in five or six colours. Additionally, the manufacturer will show the new CTP thermal plate, Aeon, for long run lengths up to 200,000 copies.
An important trend in the packaging sector is large-format offset printing, with a number of presses already on the market, including the Roland 900, the KBA 142, 162 and 205 machines and the Heidelberg Speedmaster SM XL 145 and XL 162..No new presses in this format wil be launched at Ipex.
In the A3-format sector, digital print systems are steadily gaining market share in sectors where they have a clear advantage, however digital is increasingly carving out its own, new, markets, and small offset presses have plenty to offer printers. Here, offset machines can only succeed if they feature added value options such as UV printing or can print on different print materials, and have minimal waste requirements.
For the offset printer a visit to Ipex will present them with a tantalising glimpse of what can be achieved with investment, an added value press, and an integrated workflow.
Star solution presses – Heidelberg CX102
Heidelberg is launching a brand new press at Ipex, the Speedmaster CX 102. This will mark the world premiere of a new printing press for industrial offset printing with a production speed of 16,500 sheets per hour. The new machine is Heidelberg’s fourth press in the B1 format, it joins the ranks between the Speedmaster SM 102 and Speedmaster CD 102 with a maximum speed of 13,000 sph, respectively 15,000 sph, and the Speedmaster XL 105 with a maximum speed of 18,000 sph. Heidelberg says this press ‘puts the finishing touch to the Heidelberg 70 x 100 cm format and offers the perfect solution for every press speed and level of productivity’. The Speedmaster CX 102 addresses both commercial and packaging printers and can be ordered at the show.
Heidelberg has incorporated peak performance technology from the Speedmaster XL 105 into the design of the CX 102. In addition to familiar XL technologies such as the fully-automated Preset Plus Feeder and delivery and dynamic sheet brake, high-performance components such as the gripper system and cylinder bearings, which were previously available exclusively for the XL platform, are now also incorporated for the first time. The construction of the printing units has also been reinforced to ensure smooth running at maximum speed and to prevent disruptive vibrations. Stephan Plenz, member of the Heidelberg management board and responsible for the equipment sector says, “Thanks to the host of innovations and new maximum speed of 16,500 sheets per hour, the Speedmaster CX 102 is an interesting option for anyone who is impressed with the XL technology and wants to combine it with the benefits of the CD 102 platform.”
The new Speedmaster CX 102 has high productivity and versatility. It can handle flimsy papers, stiff board and a wide range of plastic materials. Its modular design enables flexible, customised machine configurations. In fact Heidelberg says the Speedmaster CX 102 caters for all requirements - from conventional straight presses through to Duo configurations with a coating unit before the offset units. Whether printers opt for UV operation, mixed operation with conventional and UV inks or a dual-coating press, this solution offers a wide range of inline finishing options right through to cold foil application with FoilStar. These properties make this press the choice for packaging printing, label printing and high-quality commercial jobs.
The Speedmaster CX 102 is ideal for reduced-alcohol and alcohol-free printing, for instance, while peripherals such as the AirStar or CombiStar make a major contribution to boosting the press’s energy efficiency. Inline color measuring systems such as Prinect Inpress Control reduce paper waste on average by 100 up to 150 sheets per print job and lower the level of CO2 emissions significantly. What’s more, Heidelberg offers customers the chance to help the environment further still by purchasing emission credits from climate protection projects. This carbon offsetting makes good the greenhouse gas emissions generated during the press production process.