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Twice as nice

Feb 1, 2005 12:00 AM

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New perfectors offer double-digit productivity gains

When printers and vendors discuss perfecting, adjectives such as efficiency and flexibility begin to fly. Unlike a straight press, a perfecting press requires only one makeready for both sides while virtually eliminating manual paper handling and drying time. New press improvements have drastically reduced marking problems, enabling printers to pursue new applications.

But as one printer told us, "You can’t add a perfecting press and expect it to generate business just because it’s an efficient press. It has to be part of a solution to a customer’s business problem."

Jobs sail smoothly on double-size drum
The Roland 700 41-inch press from MAN Roland USA (Westmont, IL) can be configured for two to 10 colors with a single or double coater. Christian Cerfontaine, director of marketing for MAN Roland, notes, "Thanks to its unique ‘single drum’ perfecting system (a double-size drum), sheet travel stays smooth even in straight printing, and the press can still print up to 24-pt. stock with a minimal number of sheet transfers."

With 10 units, the R700 perfector can print five colors on two sides in a single pass. It runs at 15,000 sph in straight production; 12,000 sph in perfecting mode.

Cerfontaine adds, "For more flexibility, the MAN Roland 700 10-color press can integrate two perfecting devices 5/5 and 4/6. Varnish can be applied before and after perfecting to protect the job in the bindery, and special coating effects can be added with a coating unit at the end of the press."

The 700’s CIP3-compliant PECOM console interfaces to management information systems, storing and retrieving information for up to 5,000 jobs. It provides remote control inking as well as automatic format setting and ink/roller blanket washing.

MAN Roland reports the optional QuickChange bundle of new makeready enhancements (introduced to North America at Graph Expo 2004) can further reduce makeready times by 30 percent.

Knepper goes long
Knepper Press (Oakdale, PA), a 90-employee commercial printer that has been in business since 1873, recently extended its production facility by 10,000 sq. ft. and installed a new 10-color Roland 700 perfecting press with a roll/sheet converter. It is the company’s longest sheetfed machine and, equipped for 5/5 perfecting, it typically runs 4/4 plus a spot color or varnish.

Knepper Press also runs three half-web Didde presses; a 41-inch, six-color Roland 700 with an inline coater; and a 29-inch, five-color Roland 300 with inline coater. All three Roland presses run in the PECOM system linked to EFI’s Logic MIS, and both 700s have automatic plate loading. Knepper Press’ new machine also has Opti-Print Jackets mounted on the impression cylinders after the perfecting device for consistent front-to-back printing quality.

The company’s decision to purchase its newest perfector was demand-driven. "We’ve had trouble keeping up for about the past year," says Knepper Press co-owner Ted Ford.

Ford notes that some of the shop’s large customers are excited about the raw paper savings available to them because of the roll/sheet converter.

"We’re doing things better," Ford concludes. "Lots of two-pass, 4/4 work goes on our existing presses that can run in one pass on the long perfector with less waste. And, you can save 15-25 percent on paper, probably, buying it in rolls as opposed to sheets. We think our pricing and our productivity will be that much better, and we’ll grow from there."

‘Ultimate flexibility’
"Perfectors increase printers’ capabilities and allow for increased efficiencies," says Eric Frank, vice president of marketing, KBA North America (Williston, VT). "Buyers are looking for the ultimate in flexibility, a press that will enable them to handle a wide range of jobs."

Frank says the Rapida 105 with perfecting between the second and third units is the vendor’s most popular configuration. He cites the the 105’s speed (15,000 sph perfecting; 18,000 sph straight) and ability to run a wide range of stocks as key advantages. The 105 can print on stock ranging from 40-lb. paper to 48-pt. board.

KBA unveiled the completely redesigned Rapida 105 in 2004. It has a new cylinder geometry, delivery concept and infeed. Users can opt for a side-guide-free infeed, said to be a world exclusive.

At Drupa, KBA demonstrated its new Qualitronic II inline sheet inspection on the 105. A color camera is mounted near the delivery and aimed at the impression cylinder through a narrow slit in the floor plate. On perfecting presses, a second camera can be installed o monitor both sides.

Tru Line updates its pressroom
Established in 1965, Tru Line Lithographing (Racine, WI) is one of the Milwaukee area’s leading printers. The $15 million, 65-employee printer is a member of the Garvey Group, a network of seven companies in Wisconsin and Illinois with sheetfed, web and digital equipment that produce commercial printing, business forms, direct mail and wide-format jobs.

Tru Line strives to provide turnkey service for corporate accounts, most of which are located in the Midwest. High quality and fast turnaround are essential components in its strategy to be a single-source solutions provider. "We pride ourselves on providing personalized consultative service to all of our customers," explains Dave Arnone, Tru Line’s sales manager.

As demand for 40-inch color work increased, Tru Line outgrew its press iron. After seeing the 64-inch, six-color KBA Rapida 162 a fellow Garvey Group printer installed in March 2004, Tru Line decided to go with a KBA Rapida 105 41-inch four-color perfector. The Rapida 105 replaced three older presses (a two-color 40-inch press, a 40-inch two-color perfector and a six-color 25-inch press). The new press has been producing live jobs since October 2004.

"This press gives us the flexiblity to produce 2/2 jobs or straight four-color work," says Arnone, Tru Line’s sales manager. "Plus, it gives us the ability to perfect on coated stock, which is something we couldn’t do before."

Arnone cites two recent jobs to illustrate the new perfector’s efficiency. "One job was for a repeat client that we produce often. But this time, we were able to bill the client less than before because the job was produced so quickly and efficiently. Another job produced on the Rapida 105 allowed our customer to save $10,000 on postage due to our rapid response."

At least two of the replaced presses were more than 15 years old, so the Rapida’s automation has been a welcome change of pace. "It’s not even in the same ballpark," says Arnone. "We can do four-color makereadies in less than half the time it used to take for two-color jobs."

Because Tru Line is currently running close to capacity, it hasn’t been actively marketing the new press. But Arnone expects it will ultimately attract more books, catalogs and other two-over-two work. "With our prepress capabilities and presses like the KBA, we’re able to do more with less," he says. "Our sales per employee are way up."

All perfecting all the time
The Diamond 3000TP Tandem Perfector 40-inch, 4/4 press from Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses (Lincolnshire, IL) runs at 13,000 sph without turning the sheet. It can be configured with up to six reverse-side and front-side units connected by a Translink Unit, maintaining the same leading-edge gripper throughout the run.

"This press is geared toward printers in niche markets," says John Santie, Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses’ product manager, sheetfeed presses. "The TP presses are dedicated perfectors—basically, they print only in the configuration they were built. If a TP is built as a 4/4, the most colors a printer can get on the sheet in one pass is four, whereas with Mitsubishi’s R machines, a printer can do 4/4 or six colors or eight colors on one side of the sheet. The TP press, however, has a wider stock range for printing on both sides of the sheet." The press can run 0.0016- to 0.024-inch paper or 0.008- to 0.032-inch board.

A perfect fit for directory work
A wholly owned subsidiary of BellSouth Corp., Stevens Graphics (Atlanta) operates two directory and catalog printing plants in Atlanta and Birmingham, AL. The 570-employee company, which produces more than 550 titles and 65 million directories annually, recently installed a Mitsubishi Diamond 3000TP, the company’s only sheetfed press, with top-side coater.

The DiamondLink III system takes CIP4 data from the shop’s Creo Prinergy front end and performs press presets. Simmons says it is not yet networked to the MIS, but that’s being developed. The press also incorporates spectrophotometer-based closed-loop color control.

Stevens Graphics was running an older sheetfed press at about 8,000 sph nonperfecting when the decision was made to purchase the Tandem Perfector. Simmons says the new press is running at its maximum rated speed of 13,000 sph. Simmons adds, "Previously we had to do a second makeready for backside printing, and now we’re able to do all of that in the startup makeready. On a 4/4 cover, we’ve cut our makeready by half or more.

"It allows us to compete more cost-effectively," Simmons concludes. "The justification for our purchase was cost reduction through efficiencies and increases in paper savings. It gives us an advantage over where we were in pricing out for new work."

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